I remember the feeling of completing my first 10K run in under an hour. I’d never been in better shape. I was so proud of my accomplishment.
My life was filled with crazy work hours, running, working out, and socializing with friends; there was never a quiet moment.
I was on top of the world and nothing could stop me—or so I thought.
Twelve months later everything changed.
My hands, wrists, knees and ankles were so swollen I no longer recognized my own body. My wedding ring no longer fit. I could barely wake up in the morning and when I did my brain was foggy. Pain dominated my every waking moment.
Getting out of bed seemed insurmountable. Having to put my feet on the earth to take a step was excruciating. I couldn’t get down the stairs without help, which was humbling, angering, and frustrating all in the same moment.
I remember driving to work, waiting for the parking garage door to open with tears rolling down my face. I didn’t know if I could survive another day.
After weeks of suffering I finally saw my family doctor. A drug regiment began, and I was referred to a specialist.
I’ll never forget the day I sat in the specialist’s office alone—because I felt alone. He told me I had rheumatoid arthritis. In that moment, my life was over.
I was 36 years old and was told I had an autoimmune disease. Memories of my father suffering from his autoimmune disease flooded in. I was now following the same path.
Nothing would ever be the same. I thought my life was over.
Anger came in and I was ready to fight. This was not my story. I joined a gym, hired a trainer, and took a leave from my job.
I was going to “fix” this.
Except my pain and suffering now included desperation. Nothing was working. Physically, the gym was not the place for me. I tried pool therapy but afterward I’d sleep for hours trying to regain strength. The medications made me ill and deep fatigue had set into each and every cell of my body. All I could do was sleep and cry and exist in that black hole alone.
I pushed my husband away and shut him out—he hadn’t signed up for this.
Finally, after endless struggle, I found myself in a yoga class. Prior to my illness, yoga was about fitness. But this class was an act of surrender—I had nothing to lose. I went in and laid on the mat and did some movement, but spent most of the time in savasana. I left class that day feeling a little better.
That experience led me to a restorative workshop, and in two hours my entire outlook on yoga, fitness, and healing changed. Restorative yoga became my healer, counselor, and sanctuary.
But back then it was difficult to find restorative classes in my city. I wasn’t deterred.
Working with pranayama (breath practices) and the poses, I began to feel lighter; the fog was clearing. I was still on my drug protocol and doing water therapy, but restorative yoga connected me to myself like nothing else could.
My sense of desperation left and hope was cultivated.
As this connection grew, so did I. I sought out books about my illness, information on diet, and tried to understand my health from a more holistic viewpoint.
Restorative yoga took me from a dark place and brought me to the light. It quieted all the thoughts swirling in my mind, providing safe passage for my body to release and let go. It brought me home to my heart.
Have you ever had a complete shift in perspective come from a traumatic event? If so, I’d love to hear from you, in the comments below.
Much love and peace,
Shakti (Misty) Lucas