As someone in the wellness world, I feel the pressure to heal anything and everything naturally. However, I believe in finding a balance. Western medicine can support the Eastern medicine practices I choose. And vice versa. We don’t have to live in extremes.
Back in May I made the decision to start taking something for my OCD and anxiety. Yes, I am a yoga teacher and I take Zoloft. And you know what? It was the best decision I could have made for myself. I had been in talk therapy for over a year. Most of the time it was enough. But occasionally I have really down moments. That’s where I was in May. My anxiety had been pretty high most of Spring and nothing I was doing could shake it. I continued talk therapy. I meditated. I was doing a shit ton of yoga. I said yes to every extra teaching opportunity because leading a class was one of the rare moments my thoughts didn’t consume me. I was having trouble sleeping so I tried essential oils, melatonin, tea, ashwaganda, and more. I was exhausted, drained, and I just couldn’t take it anymore.
I did not make the decision lightly. I thought about it a lot. I talked it over with my therapist. She said I was high functioning but borderline for medication. If I felt my life was being affected, then she supported me in trying it out. If I didn’t like it or it wasn’t helpful, I could always stop. So I sat on it for a few days. At the end of a rough weekend, I emailed her because I couldn’t wait until our next session to start taking the next steps. Because of insurance, I went to my GP, had a nice long chat with her and I took an OCD test. Based on the results, she agreed I was borderline. It was a number scale and I was one number above the recommendation for medication. She said, upfront, that she thought I should start taking something.
My team was amazing. I felt so supported by my therapist and my doctor. I didn’t feel less than. They didn’t judge me. Instead, they treated me with compassion. They made me feel like it was the right thing to do. So I left the doctor’s office with a low-dose prescription in hand and a sigh of relief.
I kept this hidden not out of shame, but because I didn’t know how the medication was going to affect me. Now, after 3 months or so, I can say that it has worked wonders. I don’t feel like a zombie. In fact, as my therapist described it, the right medication can make you feel more like yourself. And I do. I still get anxious. I still check that doors are locked. And I still rehash conversations over and over again, analyzing and questioning if I said the wrong thing. But now a lot of my other tools are more effective. I can use techniques from therapy to pull myself out of a thought spiral. My meditation practice has shifted from a dreaded chore to something I enjoy. And my yoga practice is no longer an escape – it’s where I can tap into myself and my strength.
I know I’m not the only yogi on antidepressants, but I also know that it is not talked about often. So I wanted to step up. While there are a lot of factors that contribute to mental illnesses, chemical imbalances are one. Zoloft helps restore the balance of serotonin in my brain. It’s not a cure-all, but it can take you from struggling in a dark basement to the edge of the well-lit floor with everyone else. I still have to put in the work, it just doesn’t feel like such an intense uphill battle anymore.
Of course this is just one example of how western medicine has supported my natural modalities. After a series of blood tests, I now know what supplements and vitamins I need to be taking instead of just following the trends. That also helped me take a look at my diet and start incorporating more foods that are rich in specific nutrients. I use my yoga practice to strengthen my weaker muscles to prevent injuries, but if I were to get hurt or feel pain, I will seek a medical professional.
It doesn’t have to be all or nothing. It’s okay to mix and match methods of healing. Find the right balance for you. Take care of yourself in the way you see fit.