How a Dance Class Brought Me Back to Life When I Was at My Lowest

“When it’s time for something new, you will feel it. It will be a feeling of wanting to release, to remove layers, and to move on to the next stage. Because you will feel subtle changes all around, it will make it easy to know. You will release the old because you are really clearing the path for what’s ahead. Trust the process.” ~Brianna Wiest

Due to a mental illness, I ended up in the ER just three days before my birthday.

The month of January was always difficult. The holiday season tends to be stressful, and I’d recently visited my parents back home, which had led to a resurfacing of depressive and anxious symptoms. I was also plagued by anniversaries and my mood suffered from the early dark and wintery weather.

And of course, my fourth year English literature seminar had left me feeling so overwhelmed, I believed I’d never be able to graduate from university.

I’ve been caught up in the same pattern for many years. My hospitalization left me with not only a broken heart but also the deep conviction that all my loved ones would one day leave me. Roommates asked me to move out; my therapist was discouraged and didn’t know whether she could continue to help me; and I was now unable to complete my course, which meant I had plenty of time on my hands.

It shouldn’t come as a surprise, then, that I found myself in bed, ruminating about the choices I’d made that had led me to experience symptoms so severe I needed to be hospitalized. I was unsure of my options.

One afternoon, as I was wondering what was the point of being alive, I suddenly sat up in bed and exclaimed, aloud, “F*ck it. I’m signing up for dance lessons.” I had nothing to lose at that point, and I did have fond memories of dancing as a kid.

This was difficult. The first step was to search for a studio. There was no way I’d show up alone, so I decided to bring a friend along. The biggest problem was managing my nerves, which I often got when trying something new.

It would be so easy to tell you how I became an instant dance enthusiast. It was because I wanted to shed the excess weight that I gained in the past two years due to the pandemic that I began coming to the studio each day.

This was incorrect.

It was a surprise to me that I found a sense of belonging. I found it helpful that classes could be attended by anyone, no matter their skill level or ability.

It was the time I spent with my dance teacher and other dancers as well as the women at the desk that I liked the best. I felt welcomed and they were an important distraction from my chaotic life.

Over the last few months, I’ve attended about a dozen classes, so I’ve been at the studio for about twelve hours total. It’s not a lot, when you consider the number of hours we have per week. But if anything, at least during that time, I allowed myself  to breathe. It was a time to relax and sometimes even forget.

It’s been a bit of an escape, and like I always say, sometimes it’s the small things in life that matter the most. They aren’t small, after all. I do look forward to Friday evenings now, especially because it’s contemporary dance, so the movements feel more natural to me.

It makes me wonder sometimes how people in the studio feel knowing the truth. It would shock them to discover my private circumstances and what I’ve endured over the past six months.

Just to let them know how a quick hello can brighten my day and their excitement is infectious, I want them all to understand that I leave happy.

In the past week, I’ve even caught myself twirling around in my kitchen, and it feels good to just be.

Perhaps that’s what I have been looking for all along: the ability to just be, to just let my body take space, and give myself permission to dance and move as I please.

I don’t have a lot of wisdom to offer, but I do know that showing up was an act of self-care. I know that it’s scary to try new things, especially when you anticipate feeling uncomfortable and perhaps even judged. My recovery has been made possible by singing and dancing.

If there’s something I want people to remember, it’s that letting go is okay. All gifts should be treasured, including mindfulness and dance.

The world we live in encourages us all to work hard and is focused on achieving fast results. Sometimes I lose sight of the fact that I am responsible for my own health and well-being. It is easy to forget how taking care of myself can help me be a more effective youth peer supporter. It is easy to forget that there are only one life. Tragedies can happen at any time.

Mostly, it is easy for me to forget that others care, that my presence is valued, and that emotions aren’t dangerous; they deepen our connection to those around us.

You should cherish your community members. You will find that they are willing to give you space, just as you need to be open for them. Because you’re worthy of courage, face your fears. You should also take some time to pause. Your body is trying to save you, so listen to it.

About Daphnée

Daphnée tries not to take life too seriously. Daphnee enjoys reading and volunteering in inner-city children. She would like to express her gratitude for the support of the iDance Vancouver community and those she loves.

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Tiny Buddha’s first post, How a Dance Class Restored My Life when I was at my Lowest, appeared first on Tiny Buddha.

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