People joke about nervous breakdowns, but I actually had one. Long before I discovered yoga or cared one bit about workouts, running, hamstrings and fitness, I went through a phase where I cried every day and feared constantly that I would never find my old self again.

Anxiety has always run in my family. For me, it hit on the way back from a ski trip in the Spanish Pyrenees… that feeling that there must be something terribly wrong with me.  That I had to get to a hospital, despite the fact that I couldn’t in any precise terms tell you what the problem was.

The episode was followed by bouts of crying, debilitating phobias (some old, some new), and a general feeling that a very heavy weight had settled around my throat and on my chest.

Fortunately for me, a relative of mine who I am relatively close to had experienced something similar in her youth. She recommended going to Brief Strategic Therapy, a kind of solution-based therapy that focuses on providing a series of strategies to cope with disorders like anxiety, depression, anorexia and bulimia.  The point of the therapy is not to find the root cause of the disorder but rather to give the patient the “brain tricks” for permanently overcoming the disorder without relying on medication.

What on earth does this all have to do with yoga (which you’re probably thinking by now is the theme of this blog, given such obvious hints as the name “Average Yogini”)? Eight years after the fact, yoga has become a crucial tool for keeping my anxiety at bay. No meds, no therapy, no co-dependence. Just me and my growing ability to focus on the here and now.

This is why I share my story. If anyone out there can benefit from my experience, the tools I’ve gathered or the battles I’ve won, I want to make sure I pass something on. I hope you enjoy.


13 thoughts on “About

  1. I read your article on anxietyguru.net and was interested in asking you a few questions regarding your journey through anxiety. I agree with the alcoholic analogy. I thought I was cured but am now in the same dark place I found myself 7 years ago. Would this be the appropriate place to ask questions (assuming that you wouldn’t mind answering) ?


  2. Beautiful testimony. And if I may – I’m so proud of how you took ownership of your body, mind, and spirit in the face of crippling fears instead of turning to “professionals” who would end up doing nothing but numbing with drugs what your body was saying.


  3. I had a nervous breakdown, too! Haha. I can laugh about it now but at the time it was pure hell. The constant replay of fearful, miserable thoughts, the crying, the pain in the neck. It runs in my family as well.

    I’d always been able to control it with anorexia and WAY too much exercise, but I had a conversion experience while writing my book and a wonderful counselor who taught me some behavioral strategies. Great girl, that one!

    I’m really lucky because my husband is a rock and he never gave up on me when I was CRAZY!!

    I’m excited to read your blog.


    • I heart you already, and we’ve never even spoken.

      Thank you so much for sharing your experience with me. It sounds so similar to mine. I never suffered from anorexia but at the height of my anxiety I developed a fear of food (well, technically it was a fear of developing a severe allergy to the food I’d ingested) so I basically stopped eating.

      And yes, I can laugh at myself now (and I do, pretty often), but when it happened it was really no fun at all…


  4. I had a “break down” about 3-4 years ago after I hit my head. They called is post-concussion. Ever since my slight anxiety had raised to a medium anxiety. I was able to control it until a couple things happened in my life. They weren’t huge but they were enough for me to be fixated on them and fall into a nervous break down. I am still in the midst of it and trying to recover. I find the mornings are the hardest with DON’T SCAN YOUR BODY, DON’T SCAN YOUR BODY also.. you need to get up and eat this and this and take this vitamin. I liked reading your story so I could feel connected and not alone. The hardest part is accepting that its Anxiety. I kept looking to Dr’s for other things, since I have different medical issues and they just keep telling me I have to take anti-anxiety pills to see if that is the problem. I had to turn to a naturopath who took the time to explain my stress, combined with weak immune system and a yeast overgrowth I have ended up with allergies to certain foods and these different symptoms. I guess I am most impatient about the recovery process. I like how you put that even if you never got back to being the “old you” that your family will still love you. I get worried that I won’t ever get back to the “old me” . I love reading that you did get through it and at that you had a child of your own. again, Thank-you for sharing your story!


    • Oh, I’d forgotten about the body scanning! That was that WORST. I always managed to find something to latch on to. Now I just freak out when something is pronounced enough to catch my attention. 🙂

      You know, I never did get back to the old me. But this new me is so awesome, I don’t miss that old hag at all.

      As for being alone, being this open about my mental health has allowed me to discover just how many people feel this way and suffer in silence. Trust me, we are FAR from alone. I’m glad you found some evidence of that in my story.

      Thanks so much for “stopping by”!!


  5. Hello!

    We’ve read an entry from you at Tiny Buddha and we’d like to invite you to become one of our contributors. We have just started and we cannot promise you dozens of followers, we aim to inspire people and your compositions are undeniably enlightening and inspirational. We thought it would be amazing if you shared it with us and few of our fans. If you want to know more about the website, just visit http://www.thepassionhub.com.

    The Passion Hub


  6. Hi Elisa! Just wanted to say thank you for your article posted on tiny Buddha. I really enjoy your writing. I’ve been dealing with anxiety and depression following the birth of my son a year ago. Would love to connect with you!


  7. Hi Alissa,

    I read a really good post you wrote about anxiety and fears. In the post you talk about a difficult pregnancy and birth and then you mention how anxiety needs a focal point. You mention a strategy you used about wearing an uncomfortable outfit to challenge a fear of flying. This is a little trick you used which I have also used successfully before.

    I am wondering if you have any more tricks like his to ulter the focal point of anxiety? I ask because I am currently 8 weeks pregnant and I am constantly and obsessively fearing the worst, although my last ultrasound was really promising. I can’t stop these fearful thoughts and I am sick of it. Any little tips you might have?


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