Exercise Leading From Depression To Vitality


by Abigoliah Schamaun

The author Andrew Soloman stated, “The opposite of depression is not happiness, but vitality…”

As knowledgeable slapstick comedian dwelling in London, my job is to create laughter, which is usually a by-product of happiness. But laughter doesn’t imply happiness and happiness doesn’t imply vitality. In reality, this text isn’t even about comedy, it’s about my different ardour: yoga. Well, yoga and depression.

In the dictionary, vitality is outlined as a “capacity for survival or for the continuation of a meaningful or purposeful existence: power to live or grow.” That’s what I attempt for. I don’t need to simply exist on the planet. I need to contribute to it, and be part of it. I need to make issues that the world can take pleasure in. But simply since you need one thing doesn’t imply it’s straightforward to perform.

I used to be first recognized and given drugs for depression once I was 12 years previous.

Not unusual. Everyone I do know is sick within the head by hook or by crook. It’s very fashionable. In current years, psychological health has turn into increasingly prevalent in mainstream media. In my very own comedy circles it’s grow to be virtually trendy to write down an Edinburgh Fringe present about one’s private wrestle with psychological health. Last yr, The Times did an entire write-up and evaluation on exhibits coping with the difficulty. During the London Marathon final week two males have been highlighted for his or her advocacy with the charity “Heads Together” after assembly when one stopped the opposite from leaping off the Waterloo Bridge a number of years in the past. Even the Royals have gone by means of their bouts of depression. Prince Harry and Charles have gone public with their story, speaking concerning the loss of their mom at such a younger age, bolstering charity help all through the U.Okay., making psychological health and depression scorching subjects these days.

However, in Greenville, Ohio, within the late 90s, psychological health was not a topic typically talked about. And I used to be going by means of some stuff on the time—precisely what, I can’t actually keep in mind, particularly. It in all probability was a mix of issues. The stress of faculty and being a pre-teen combined with the stress of my house life.

I grew up in a risky family. My father was an eye fixed surgeon who made an excellent dwelling so I by no means needed for issues. But he was additionally an alcoholic and we by no means knew when the opposite shoe would drop. He could possibly be the nicest most charismatic man on the planet or he could possibly be chilly and emotionally abusive. My mother and father would struggle. Things have been tense at residence and when issues received too overwhelming, I’d go to my room and shut the door and stare on the ceiling. I didn’t dedicate myself to schoolwork or take heed to music, when issues received overwhelming I shut down utterly, as a result of partaking with something, even one thing pleasurable, was too strenuous. Staring on the ceiling was all that was potential. It was white, bland, with small cracks within the plaster. Just the correct quantity of stimulus for me on the time.

Since 12, I’ve been on and off treatment. Once I did it alone; I simply stopped taking SSRI’s chilly turkey which is one thing I’d by no means recommend. If you abruptly cease taking depression medicine, it could worsen one’s depression severely resulting in suicidal ideas and even suicide itself. I used to be in Australia doing The Melbourne International Comedy Festival once I simply stopped taking my meds. I didn’t attempt to kill myself however my ideas throughout that interval have been unsettling.

When I lastly obtained again to the U.S. and advised my physician what I’d accomplished, she simply checked out me and stated, “You know if you just stop taking them it can make you suicidal?”

“Yeah, well I know that now, thanks.”

Other occasions, I’ve finished it underneath a physician’s supervision and tapered off. The docs have all the time advisable I stick with the remedy just a little longer, however I insisted and so we stopped with the prescriptions. I didn’t like the best way medicine made me really feel. Yes, they did raise me up a bit however it all the time stored me numb as nicely. I used to be not depressed however I by no means felt vitality. I used to be beginning to exist with much less dread and going out turned bearable on medicine, which was a step in the proper course. But I wasn’t exalted. I nonetheless lacked the thrill to do issues. I used to be simply hovering above the road however not likely dwelling above it.

I keep in mind, at 12 years previous, my mother and father taking me to the theatre to see a play referred to as Over the River and Through the Woods proper after I went on prozac. It’s a play a few younger man and his relationship with each units of grandparents set over Sunday dinner. The ending of the play was touching. It had a bitter candy denouement that made me really feel each comfortable and unhappy. I felt the urge to cry however I bodily couldn’t do it. That’s not an unusual aspect impact to treatment nevertheless it was greater than my preteen thoughts might wrap my head round so I requested to go off the medicine. And so the cycle started.

In 2011, I began taking an SSRI referred to as Sertraline. I went on it as a result of I used to be struggling in New York with life and the pursuit of an leisure profession. And I went off them once more shortly after my father died. Most individuals would assume that’s a wierd time to cease. But I wanted to really feel that profound unhappiness to mourn my father.

In 2004, once I was 18 years previous, I moved to New York City to review musical theatre and began doing Bikram Yoga, a scorching yoga collection consisting of 26 postures and two respiration exercise achieved in 90 minutes. After my firstclass, I used to be dripping moist with sweat, beet pink and bodily drained. I liked it. I used to be hooked instantly.


For the primary two years I practiced 5 days every week, religiously. I used to be probably the most excessive functioning I’ve ever been. I’d take yoga at 6am, be in class all day, rehearse all night time, then rise up and do it once more. At night time I’d go to midtown and see performs and musicals on a budget. On the weekends my buddies and I might discover the bars within the East Village the place we might drink underage. I don’t ever keep in mind feeling that darkish exhaustion or have to shut every part out. I used to be up, I used to be shifting, I used to be partaking with the world. For the primary time in a very long time I possessed vitality.

As I acquired older and left college, I misplaced that inflexible schedule my musical theatre program offered and, with that, my common follow of yoga began to fade, and so did my capacity to interact with the world. Again, nothing particular occurred to knock me off my schedule, however depression isn’t all the time occasion pushed. Sometimes you simply get up exhausted by the thought of life. That’s one of many irritating issues about it. Everything could be nice apart from no matter is occurring in your head.

I nonetheless apply yoga, however not 5 occasions every week. I’ve different fitness endeavors included now. I run, do CrossFit and typically I simply meet up with a pal and go for a stroll. Other occasions I’m going entire stretches of time with none type of exercise in any respect. As I write this, I haven’t labored out for every week and a half. Partly as a result of I’ve been touring for work and partly as a result of when I’ve been house, I haven’t mustered up the motivation to placed on lycra and transfer. Exercise is often related to aesthetic look. When discovering causes to exercise, individuals stress the calorie burn or the muscle achieve. And though these are legitimate causes, whether or not yoga results my waistline has little to do with why I do it.

It’s that it results my head. If I don’t exercise, I begin to get anxious about easy duties, and lengthy for that previous recreation of staring on the ceiling, on the lookout for the cracks.

But now I’m am thirty one and work must be made so cash may be had, so payments could be paid. I make my dwelling telling jokes everywhere in the the UK, and many individuals assume a life as an entertainer is glamorous, and a part of it’s. But in the long run, it’s simply operating a boutique enterprise. I e-book journey, ship invoices, comply with up on tasks, write stuff that works, stuff that doesn’t and on the finish of all that, I get to carry out.

I don’t have the time to close down and stare at whiteness for every week. I’ve to go to Leeds, or Hull, or Portsmouth and make individuals snigger for a dwelling. But I do know bodily shifting is step one again to normalcy. Back to being excited concerning the duties forward as oppose to checking them off an inventory with mind-numbing dread.

Medication works for lots of people however hasn’t been ideally suited for me. I don’t have the endurance to mess around with cocktails to seek out which one will carry the depression and never numb my thoughts. But I do know if I can rise up and go for a run, or raise a weight, or do a backbend, that may launch sufficient serotonin and endorphins in my physique to maintain me up and shifting.

When I fall off the horse typically, to tug myself collectively, I take every week and simply exercise. For me, it’s step one of restoration. Because as soon as I begin shifting, the fog will raise. And then I can write, pay payments, exit with buddies and so forth… It could also be foolish to spend 90 minutes a day on bending in a scorching room. But that 90 minutes might get one hour of artistic head area. And that’s one hour I wouldn’t have had in any other case. And if I maintain shifting, that one hour turns into two hours, then three, then 4, till I’m not depressed, however I’m approaching my life with energy to develop. I’m approaching it with vitality.

Just since you really feel much less depressed doesn’t imply you’re all the time joyful. It means typically you’re completely satisfied, however typically you’re unhappy, or ecstatic, or indignant, aroused, annoyed, calm, tearful or overjoyed. When you aren’t depressed you are feeling an array of issues and may deal with these emotions. When you’re depressed you are feeling unhappy, and heavy, and it’s all insufferable.

In 2017 there are numerous remedies for depression and that’s good as a result of not one remedy works for everyone. If it did, depression would have been eradicated way back. Maybe as you learn this, the thought of taking scorching yoga appears foolish. That’s OK, you possibly can attempt one thing else—speaking remedy, drug remedy, or simply go for a stroll. But no matter you attempt, let that remedy accumulate extra time in your head the place you are feeling much less heavy, the place you as soon as once more are very important.



* Photos taken by Tom Watts. Find his work at  or on instagram: @tomwattsdop.
* Abigoliah can be debuting her new present “Namaste Bitches” on the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.

Abigoliah Schamaun is a slapstick comedian and Bikram Yoga teacher dwelling in London and performing everywhere in the world. She additionally has a wellness podcast referred to as “Namaste Bitches Podcast” obtainable on itunes and sticher. She will probably be debuting her new stand-up present, “Namaste Bitches” on the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. Find out extra about her at or on twitter: @abigoliah


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