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Meditation and Wellness Helped Me Navigate GAD and Transform My Life

“I began medication, which can be a bit of a taboo in the wellness and yoga worlds. A lot of people believe you can ‘heal’ yourself through diet and meditation. But I had been trying that approach my whole life and though I definitely had periods where my anxiety was lessened, this was a point where I needed way more help.”

Hello! Who are you?

Hi! I’m so honored to be here. My name is Sarah Ezrin. I’m an author and yoga teacher based in the Bay Area where I live with my two little boys (four and one and a half years old), husband, and our dog. I released my first non-fiction book five months ago today! It’s called The Yoga of Parenting and is definitely my third baby. 

I’m a freelancer for a number of different print and online publications and write on the subjects of parenthood, wellness, and mental health, often interweaving all three.

Though I still consider myself a yoga teacher, I’m not currently teaching on a schedule anywhere. But I still prioritize moving my body and try to do some kind of physical activity every day. I love mindful movement.

I definitely consider myself happy, overall, but I’m also scared 24/7. I have Generalized Anxiety Disorder, so often I will feel anxious or worried without a specific cause. I just walk around with a general sense of dread. It manifests as butterflies in my solar plexus.

Some days I find myself fighting against it, trying to do everything I can to make it go away. This never works and only ends up exacerbating things! Other times, I am able to sit with it and be with it. 

Last night, I was reading in bed and I realized I didn’t feel scared and I tried to savor it, which of course, made me feel anxious!

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What is your struggle and when did it start?

I’ve been grappling with mental health my entire life. I have been anxious for as long as I can remember (and the more I learn about generational trauma and epigenetics, the more I wonder if it’s been since birth!). 

At eight years old, there was a lot of turmoil in my home and I started acting out. I was misdiagnosed as having Bipolar disorder and put on a slew of medicines.

It took four years before I was accurately diagnosed with GAD and weaned off the medicine. For the next almost thirty years after that (I’m now 41), I lived with constant anxiety as my baseline. 

I fell in love with meditation and movement as temporary reliefs, but after class I would be right back where I started. I had my first son a few months before the COVID-19 shutdowns. Postpartum is already an isolating time, but then I was cut off from any support.

I was terrified from the moment he was born and deeply understood what people meant when they said, “Your heart is now walking outside of your body.”

My anxiety got progressively worse. I would be completely overwhelmed anytime I was out of the house with him. Everything seemed too loud. I was plagued by intrusive thoughts.

There were times I would be frozen and unable to take action. Sometimes that would happen while out in public with him. I was also incredibly angry. Angry with my husband, the medical system, and the world. 

When my son was around 8 months old, I found a psychiatrist I deeply trusted and he diagnosed me with Postpartum Anxiety Disorder and mild Postpartum Depression. It was a huge relief to be seen and understood and I started treatment. 

I began medication, which can be a bit of a taboo in the wellness and yoga worlds. A lot of people believe you can “heal” yourself through diet and meditation.

But I had been trying that approach my whole life and though I definitely had periods where my anxiety was lessened, this was a point where I needed way more help. I started Prozac and it literally saved my life.

How did this struggle make you feel at your worst moments?

At my worst moments, I felt frozen with fear and completely locked up. Like someone had poured cement over me and I was unable to move, but at the same time, my heart rate was still super fast and I had the urge to run.

I just couldn’t because I was stuck. I would be physically exhausted, but my mind wouldn’t stop, which made sleep impossible. I was terrified to hand my baby to people. Yes, there was the real threat of the pandemic, but even with close family or pods, I felt this urgency to be with him.

I couldn’t really articulate what was happening, either. Which as a writer is unusual! Instead, it would come out in anger. I couldn’t see the bigger picture. I would only see the threat or disruption.

For example, if my husband took my son for a walk and they came back ten minutes late for his nap time, I’d be furious (read: scared) when they got home that his nap schedule was tampered with, rather than grateful for the break. 

There was very little joy. I’m someone who uses humor and laughter as medicine in the darkest of times, but I couldn’t find anything funny about what was happening. Even the most joyous moments with my son were tinged with darkness and thoughts about our mortality. 

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Was there a moment when you started to turn things around?

The Prozac took some time to settle into my system and in fact, I went through a week or so where I was completely wiped out and needed to sleep most of the day, but we figured out the right dosage, and little by little, everything began to feel lighter.

We had moved from our tiny apartment in San Francisco to a beautiful one-story home by the Bay, which also meant I was spending way more time outside. In SF, it’s often foggy and cold, but in Marin, the sun was shining more days than not and people were out and about. 

I think something lifted around the Fall of 2020 a month after we had lived in our new home. Our garden was filled with fallen leaves and I did a little photoshoot with the baby. I was crying and laughing because every picture was a mess. His eyes were closed or mine or the leaves were blocking the lens.

A few months prior I would have given up or gotten frustrated. Or not have the energy to continue. Instead, I was able to savor every second of the process and appreciate the blunders.

What steps did you take to overcome your struggle?

I’ve learned over the years of trial and error that there is never just one magic solution. It’s a tool kit of support and resources. All my years of yoga and meditation were still valuable, I just needed a little more help from medication.

And frankly, were it not for the Prozac calming my anxiety, I wouldn’t have been able to reap the benefits of my spiritual practices. It’s all cyclical and feeds into the next.

My advice to others going through a similar experience is not to expect any one thing to be the magic fix, but rather to embrace many different tools as a part of your mental health wellness tool kit. Also, don’t give up on something if it isn’t working.

For example, it takes a few tries to find the right dosage but also a few years to find the right therapist. Maybe yoga interests you, but you don’t like doing it in public. Try online courses. It takes time and attention, but you are worth that time and attention.

Have you shared any of this with people around you in real life?

I’m very open about my journey and struggles both within my family and publicly through my social media platforms. Interestingly, I seem to be able to share more openly through my writing and online than in person, but I try to do both.

If you could give a single piece of advice to someone else that struggles, what would that be?

Your gut often knows what’s right for you way more clearly than society’s expectations or taboos. Trust that kind inner voice telling you that you are worth the work. You are.

What have been the most influential books, podcasts, YouTube channels, or other resources for you?

I’m a mom of two very little kids, so my favorite author is Dr. Daniel Siegel. He’s a neurobiologist who’s written a number of books about how our brains respond and ways we can rewire old traumas. My favorite book of his is Parenting From the Inside Out.

Gabor Maté is brilliant when it comes to the topics of trauma and addiction. I love his conversational style. He was recently on Dax Shepherd’s podcast, Armchair Expert and it was brilliant.

Where can we go to learn more about you?

I’m a yoga educator, content creator, and a mom living in the San Francisco Bay Area. I also wrote a book called ‘The Yoga of Parenting‘. My passion lies in supporting others on their wellness and parenting journeys. Through my writing, classes, and social media presence, I strive to create a space where everyone can feel acknowledged and understood. If you’d like to know more or connect, feel free to reach out to me on Instagram TikTok, or YouTube.

Is there anything else you think we should have asked you?

I’m an open book and an oversharer, so I’m sure I covered more than you might have been expecting! A good question might be how things are going now.

I had a second son and the postpartum experience was completely different. It felt like a beautiful do-over and I really got to soak in the magic that is that post-birth time.

Both my sons are older now, my youngest is 1.5yr and my eldest is 4yr. My tool kit is pretty similar, though I meditate for much longer than I used to. I have also added in the program of Al-Anon which is for families and friends of alcoholics and that’s been a great source of peace for me.

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Hugo Huijer AuthorLinkedIn Logo

Founder of Tracking Happiness, with over 100 interviews and a focus on practical advice, our content extends beyond happiness tracking. Hailing from the Netherlands, I’m a skateboarding enthusiast, marathon runner, and a dedicated data junkie, tracking my happiness for over a decade.

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