Episode 49: A True Story of Overcoming Depression, Panic, & Shame

Hello, all —

On this little bonus episode, I offer my own story of the panic attacks and depression that plagued me in my twenties and the subsequent shame I felt about being a yogi and making the choice to take anti-depressants. If you’re suffering, I created this podcast to let you know that you’re not alone. And if you’re feeling guilty about taking the meds, I want to help you clear that guilt, to help you NOT put another layer of pain on top of the suffering.

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Happier Than I Ever Thought Possible (My story of depression + a yoga sequence for Yoga Journal)

Ketsa — Always Late

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  1. Thank you for sharing your story! It is helpful to me, as a yogi who takes anti-anxiety meds, to know someone I admire and view as successful has struggled as well. I first started taking them twenty years ago as treatment for an eating disorder, though I’d always had anxiety. Went off for a few years, then had to go on again. I’m otherwise healthy, and each year my doctor asks if I would to try going off them. But it’s helped me so much with no side effects — and I used to be so miserable — I just don’t see the point of quitting. I used to feel like a fraud as a yoga teacher for taking them — and I definitely don’t advertise it now — but I have begun to feel comfortable with who I am. Podcasts like this have definitely helped me. Maybe someday I will be able to share my story in a public arena like you have so I can help others … but I don’t feel quite that brave, yet!

    • Hi Rebecca — Sorry for the delayed response. I’m so glad to hear that the podcast (and the meds!) helped you. I think that the image of the “perfectly healthy, bright shiny” person is just that — an image that’s designed to make us spend money. Most of us just want to live a real, down-to-earth, contented life where we make choices that reduce our suffering. For me, taking meds is part of that. I’m (finally!) not ashamed…but it has taken time and others speaking up to get me to this place. All the best to you on your journey, Andrea

  2. Thanks so much. I havent had that situation but probably have sometimes feel proud of not taking meds like those, a silly pride that is so far away from yoga teachings… your honesty and humbleness are definitely inspiring to me. Great potcast!!!

    • Hi Odile,

      A sincere thanks for your thoughtfulness, honesty, and compassion. I appreciate hearing that this episode was helpful even if it’s not something you directly relate to your own experience.

      Warmly, Andrea

  3. Your podcast is very timely for me as I have just this week started taking my first round of anti depressants after years of just trying to do yoga and various forms of therapy to help me cope with my sometimes overwhelming anxiety. The dilemma of wanting to do it all naturally and not take medication has been a big one for me but I knew this time I was really struggling and recognised the signs of a downward spiral. Fortunately I have a really caring, pragmatic doctor with great counselling skills who talked it through with me. Now I feel relief and very positive that I can better approach this with a combination of medication, therapy and mindfulness along with yoga and nutrition. On that last point I also this week came across the book The Happy Kitchen: Good Mood Food by British journalist and author Rachel Kelly, who has similarly struggled over many years with anxiety and depression and has found nutritional therapy a great supplement to other treatments. Thank you Andrea so much for your candour which has been a great validation for this choice I’ve so recently made and does indeed make me feel less alone.

    • Thank you for writing, Meredith. I support you! So many people do. It’s just not talked about openly. I will definitely check out the book! I love any nutritional info I can get my hands on. Sending you much warmth and best wishes. Andrea

  4. Andrea,

    You are a STAR!

    Thank you for sharing so honestly! It makes everything more interesting when we tell the real stories – when we share the important stuff! And this is where we can feel that interconnectedness that is the hear of the practice of yoga!



    • Kristina — Much love and thank you. Hope to come visit you sometime when Sofia is a bit older! Andrea

  5. Oh Andrea, my love and respect for you keeps growing. This podcast is inspiring and comforting and heart-wrenching and affirming. Thank you for being so brave. X

    • When I hear from people like you that it’s helpful, it makes it all worth it! Thank you. Hugs, Andrea

  6. Hi Andrea,
    Thank you for another great podcast and for sharing your story. I haven’t had a panic attack in years and I get a little frightful just thinking of having another one someday… I wonder if maybe in the future you could possibly do an interview with Gioconda Parker? I just took a somatic yoga intensive with her. Your podcast made me think of it. Just a thought 🙂
    Much love

    • Hi Brittany! I know that feeling of having anxiety about potential future anxiety — haha — we must come up with a work for that! Thank you for the recommendation — I will check her out! Warmly, Andrea

  7. Andrea,
    You are an INSPIRING person, this is so special and important for many people, me first.
    I started to take antidepressiom medications for eating desorders in my twenties, it helped me a lot. Each time i tried to get off I found my self lost in the dark. I am on and it is helpful, though now i am scared because I must get off to take the anticancer medications…. love you everyday more.
    Thank you

    • Susanna: Thank you, my friend. We have so much in common!! So happy to know you. Love you, A

  8. Andrea,
    Thank you so much for sharing. I went through deep depression (post pardum) and it lasted for years. It took almost 3 years to come back from it. I cried many days and nights, hid from the world as much as I could and always had my “its OK” face on- many people didn’t know what I was going through; my husband and friends kept me going and encouraging me-enough to let me know they were there without minimizing what I was going through. Eventually I came through. Even today I look back and cannot believe how deeply depressed I was and how dark it was there. I wish anyone suffering from this nothing but light and joy and the knowledge that they too can come back from it. Your story is inspiring and I feel honored to have listened to it. Thank you

    • Thank you so much, Dagney. And thank you for sharing your story, too. I’m so happy to hear that you got through it. Warmly, Andrea

  9. Andrea:
    Love your podcast & loved, loved, loved this episode—thank-you for bravely sharing your story—I know that it will help so many people!

    • Thanks so much, Ruth. <3 Andrea

  10. I never comment on things. But I just listened to this episode (on my way home from my therapist). I’ve been fighting this for 25 years, 20 years on meds. I have always been really open about it because I thought it might make it less scary for other people and the number of people I’ve had reach out to me because of that is astounding. Thank you for sharing this. Just hearing someone else say things helps beyond words. Everything you said really resonated with me and I needed to be reminded of some of it.

    I’ve been doing yoga everyday for the last six months because I realized it’s one hour where the depression can’t talk to me. Sometimes that’s all you get, but it’s better than nothing.

    I’m sure you have helped more people than you can know. You helped me today. ❤️

    • Hi Meghan – I’m so glad to hear it was helpful. It really made my day. Wishing you more and more ease every day. Warmly, Andrea

  11. so i have been listening to this episode about a year ago when i started to get off anti depession pills. during this year i tried every natuarl thing- ayurveda, acupuncture, saint johns worth, yoga of course, meditation, therapy, swimming, walking, affirmation… today i got back to them. the only thing that makes me feel a bit better towards it is this podcast. it has been with me and on my mind and it makes going back on the pills feels a bit less like a failure and a bit more like making the choice that is good for me. i wanted to deal with my own karma and with whatever it brings to me this lifetime and go back on the pill felt like “cheating” in a way. i am well aware of how ridicules it sounds as im writing this words but that was my belief..
    so thank you for this episode and your honesty and for making it a bit easier and less lonely

    • Hi Shelly, I’m so glad that I could be helpful in some way. I know exactly how you feel in terms of feeling like it’s “cheating” or a “failure.” I don’t feel that way anymore but it took me years of experimenting and trying and self-flagellation. And then I realized — I know myself best. I live in this body and mind. I do all the things I possibly can to be healthy — and taking anti-depressants is one of them. Warmly, Andrea


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