When I was in India and Sri Lanka I met so many different people. A lot of them were yoga lovers, students and teachers. And everyone has its own interesting story to tell.
Today I am happy to introduce Florence. No words can describe the honor to be able to publish her article as the first in the series “Stories of a yogi” It’s an intimate Insight of one of my fellow Yoginis during my TTC in Green Yoga.
In our TTC we were asked to write an article about yoga, connecting it to another subject. When she read out loud her text, I was not the only one with tears in my eyes (and reading it again before publishing I cried again). Her story is personal and heart touching. Today she shares it with the world, being an example of willpower and strength. I really admire what this girl has gone through and the transformation she made.
And at the same time I feel still overwhelmed by the power of yoga. Florence’s story shows that Yoga can be a partner, a companion, when we face the most difficult of the human experience, we all share. And as it’s true of some: we are saved by yoga.
Saved by yoga
By Florence Bouchard-d’Haese
April 4th, 2016
People used to tell me : “You are so strong”, “Do you realize what you are doing?”. Some others were saying: “You are not the worse”, “Some people can’t even walk” or “You should consider yourself lucky”. And the positive as much as the negative were hurting me every time.
I had an accident of ski five years ago. I was 17 years old, not making any sports and already not loving myself. I broke my pelvis 6 times, was defigurated from open skin to loosing a tooth and had now a fractured face. I couldn’t move at all and people were telling that I had to prepare myself to not return to school for a while.
At that moment my life basculated and I denied anything. My ego was so big that I refused to take a break. I went back to school 30 days later for the new semester and stopped using a catch to help me walk after a couple of weeks only, even if I was not ready to walk on my own.
During that period, I was closing myself to everyone telling them that I was fine. I didn’t realize at that time what I was doing to myself. I was letting anger for myself grow and the physical and psychological pain increases a little bit more each time. I was diagnosed with “high-depression” and “chronic pain”. I was now physically and mentally sick. I had never been more ashamed of myself in my life for diseases that were out of my control. I had always been on top of my things and suddenly, everything was falling around me.
Doctors started to say : You will have to learn to live with the pain
Doctors really tried to find where the pain was coming from and gave me tons of different medication to try. But eventually, any solution became unacceptable. Doctors started to say : “You will have to learn to live with the pain” and I was simply not able to endure the pain of another infiltration of cortisone a little bit everywhere to see if it was going to do something. Most of all, I was not able to see me gaining weight again due to the mix of depression and bad effects of drugs on my body.
I took a break for the first time 3 months ago. Going back to University was not an option anymore. I was on pain killers 24/7 increasing the dose, trying new ones and mixing them in some ways I probably should not have done. I hated myself for everything I was and for the way I was talking to the person I love, refusing to talk about it, closing myself a little bit more every time.
I had done yoga before. It had helped me in the past having some closure with problems and also taught me that I was flexible. I decided to go back only because of that idea of my flexibility. It was the only thing I could appreciate about myself at that very moment. Somehow, I was slowly going to yoga more often and something was pushing me to wake up every morning to go do yoga. I didn’t know what was happening to me, but yoga became the only thing I wanted to do of my days. Hot yoga helped me feel great because of the heat and the humidity. My pain was suddenly decreasing and my focus was on what my body could do and not what it was feeling anymore.
If you have ever been to Montreal in winter, you know that the days can be very cold. So each winter when the snow was coming back, so did the anti depression pills and increased need of the pain killers. I was going to yoga less often and the practice wasn’t the same. Yoga wasn’t on my side anymore. It didn’t really want to help me, my well being was all a false impression.
I was angry. Angry at me, at yoga and at everyone around me for not understanding.
Someday, i met a guy (of course). Sometimes I was in love, sometimes I was hating him. But somehow he became the best friend I could have. I was hard to understand, hard to live with and hard to talk to. But he was always there, even when he didn’t wanted to. And again, I was hating myself for making him feel bad.
One day, a friend talked to me about some yoga teacher training programs. I needed change in my life, to try something else and to love myself again. My yoga teachers always looked so calm, so liberated and so happy. It was everything I wanted.
The harder when you have chronic pain is that you are always in a fight with your mind and with your body. One day I wanted to do it, the other I was pushing it away.
When i really decided that I wanted to go, I took a waitress job and did the most hours I was able to do with the maximum of pain killers to let me walk and put all the money I could get in an account reserved for my well being. Even if that was implying increasing my debts, another source of stress, I needed to do this. My body was hurting, but my head wasn’t at the same mindset it used to be.
I had a real goal to focus on and simply the idea of doing it, was making me feel happy. Finally.
The day I had enough money, I stopped school, booked my trip and started to do yoga again. It was winter again, but my mind was so strong and I was so motivated that I wasn’t gonna let my pain stop me again. I started to do yoga almost everyday and all the anger I had accumulated for years, I was now using it to do yoga and “outdone” myself. Slowly, I was forgetting to take my morning codeine and the feeling of sleeping all day wasn’t attractive anymore. I had energy again.
The day I took confidence in me and in my trip, is the day I was trusting myself enough not to take my pain medication with me. People of my age are used to have their cellphone with them all the time, I was never going out without my pills with me.
WHAT I REALIZED
My trip to India for my course is half past now, and not once I wanted the pills with me. My body still knows the pain. It’s still there, always with me, and it’s probably not going away, but I feel that i’m learning to put in something else, the energy focused on the pain.
For the first time, since the day that changed my life, I feel free again.
I would never say that yoga will save everybody from everything, but it will help to find peace and to feel good even for only some short moments everyday. And I know that for someone in constant pain, those moments are precious and rare.
I also had and still have the chance to have friends that I love around me, who don’t realize how they also changed my life and probably saved it. They were a motivation to go to yoga. To not destroy all the energy they were putting in my well being.
Yoga has never asked me anything. Instead, it has been a partner who taught me to feel and to accept, and to cry with no shame.
Yoga has never asked me anything. Instead, it has been a partner who taught me to feel and to accept, and to cry with no shame. It has taught me to inhale the good and exhale the pain. It is teaching me everyday to not depend on someone else to be happy about myself. To appreciate the moment were I improve myself, but also to smile when I remember to listen to my body and to respect my limits.
And for that, I have no shame to say that I was saved by yoga.
So this was the amazing story “Saved by yoga” of Florence. I am sure you are sitting in front of your Display with tears in your eyes. Thank you, Florence, for your strength and honesty, opening yourself up and sharing your story.