Dance has always been such a huge part of my identity. It kept me healthy and strong, and fed my creativity. Over the past years I have reconnected with some friends from primary school (Yay Facebook!) and have been surprised that they have all made reference to dance being such a part of me when we were so young. I never realized that everyone else saw how important it was to me.
As I grew older and heartaches came along, I leaned on dance to get me through. Dance gave my body energy, my heart love, and my mind calm. I came to understand its therapeutic value to my mental health.
So, when I dissolved into depression, why didn’t dance help? Because I stopped moving. Completely. Pregnancy had been really hard on me physically and there was no time for recovery afterwards. A baby with feeding issues, a toddler, a hubby away with shift work – life was a constant stream of feeding, cooking, washing, caring for others and trying to get more than 2 hours sleep at a time. My body was too broken to dance and my time too stretched.
Depression tends to encourage lack of movement also. As I steeled my mind to get through each day, I also steeled my body – rigid spine, cowered shoulders, squashed stomach – defensive and ready to ‘push on’.
By the time I thought of dance as a way to help, I was so physically immobilized and in pain that I couldn’t do much. I tried moving my arms one day to the music that was playing, but felt so vulnerable and broken that I burst into tears. I felt like vomiting. My dance was taken from me and I felt even more lost. I was so overwhelmed with grief and disgust that I’d lost dance that I didn’t try to dance again for years.
I wish I’d realised that if I kept moving, kept crying, it would’ve helped. Emotion gets locked in the body if we don’t express it. Crying is one way to release it.
Now, if I’m feeling stuck, I move until the tears stop.
If I start to dance and the tears arrive unexpectedly, I let them flow. I don’t worry about why – the back story doesn’t matter.
Tears are just emotions moving – they need to flow or they remain stuck somewhere in our body.