Ok so I said I was going to be open to all kinds of therapy and today I tried laughter yoga. I won’t lie, it’s weird. At the beginning you feel a fool but that actually disappears really quickly. The philosophy behind it is that your brain cannot distinguish between genuine laughter and fake. So whichever you do it releases endorphins, which ultimately make you feel better.
We started with some deep breathing and stretching and then walked around the room looking at each other and giggling. It helped that some people had done this before and had no inhibitions. As they say laughter is infectious, that is why you can’t help but laugh when a young child starts. It was surprising how quickly I relaxed into in and I found myself genuinely laughing and not forcing it.
My favourite exercise was when we had to go around the room greeting each other in any language we liked. The first time we did it normally, finishing each hello, bonjour, salut, namaste with a giggle. The second time we had to do it in slow motion; the physical movement of walking up to someone, shake their hand and greet them. We sounded like Dory speaking whale! It was hilarious.
We did a number of different exercises like that and then finished up with five minutes of continuous laughter. I challenge you to try it. You have to start off with just a low chuckle and slowly build to raucous laughter. Even though it’s forced to begin with by the end of the five minutes you are really laughing. True it helps if you are not alone! You’d be amazed how tired you feel after the time is up. Your face hurts, your sides hurt, I was sweating-I felt like I had had a good workout. They do say 30 minutes of laughter yoga is the equivalent of going to the gym for an hour. The session ended with again some gentle stretching and breathing exercises.
I’ll be doing it again next week. One thing that I’ve struggled with since the accident is having any genuine emotions. Everything is very one dimensional. Something deep in me is hybernating (I’d like to think that rather than it’s died as I hope it will come back). I feel like I’ve no energy to get angry about things, which in some ways is good but anger is a needed emotion. Without it can you ever truly feel the opposite emotion?
Part of me has felt guilty for feeling happy. I feel if I laugh and am happy one day then people will think I’m better and when the next day I feel like poop again people might not think I’m being honest. It’s ridiculous, I know. So it felt good to laugh, even if at times it was forced.
People might say these are symptoms of depression and they may well be, but I don’t feel depressed-I just don’t have the energy for them. The doctors have been trying to get me to take anti-depressants but I keep saying no. I don’t want to be on medication. This is a common side effect of PCS and I’d rather it just ran its course.
Last week I went out on my bike for the first time by myself, I went down a hill and really let the bike go. I hit about 35mph. I wasn’t scared of coming off, I was exhilarated. In fact I went round twice just so I could do it again. By the time I got home I felt alive, a feeling I’ve not felt since last July. I couldn’t stop smiling, I want to stand on my balcony and shout to the world how great I felt. So to me this says that I’m not depressed. What I need is to beat this fatigued and get out and do the things I love again. Being here at the rehab centre is going to allow me to do that.
I saw a friend for a walk today. She commented that I looked like a weight had been lifted off my shoulders, that I looked good. I think it’s down to changing my mindset about my recovery. At the beginning when I really needed to rest I was worried about work. I felt like I needed to get back as soon as possible, I knew reports had to be written, the lessons needed to be planned. I never took the time to rest. I felt guilty if I went to sit by the lake to relax in the nature. As a child the family philosophy was: if you’re too sick for school then you stay in bed. If you can get out of bed then you should be in school/work. It’s a philosophy I’ve carried into adulthood, and very much a self imposed guilt.
This time I left work on Wednesday and made a conscious decision that I wasn’t going to think about it or worry about it at all. You only get one life, and when you’re gone no one will be thanking you for working all hours for your job. You’re forgotten pretty quickly and your legacies quickly disappear with you, just look at Obama! No, you have to take the time for yourself sometimes. A job is a job, yes. But it should be a means to aid your enjoyment of your life not the other way round.