The benefits of therapy during quarantine

Sam Desmond
Posted 6/18/20

The worst part of the quarantine was not missing my beloved ballet series this spring, lamenting the canceled fall opera season, or having a whole summer devoid of festivals and concerts, but …

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The benefits of therapy during quarantine


The worst part of the quarantine was not missing my beloved ballet series this spring, lamenting the canceled fall opera season, or having a whole summer devoid of festivals and concerts, but realizing that all of these events were necessary distractions from the most dramatic voice of them all: myself.

Without my daily routine of yoga class, Starbucks run, office meetings, and event coverage, I found myself faced with all the time in the world to think about the things I so desperately avoided sinking into during the day. Ruminations about my weight gain from medication and fear of aging were so present with what felt like nothing but taunting mirrors in my house.

As someone who is bipolar, the thoughts tend to spiral out of control fairly quickly, and a month into quarantine, I had a breakdown. I sat at my desk desperately calculating how much weight I should have lost since the quarantine started and hating myself for the weight I had gained instead. I let out a scream that surprisingly didn’t alert the neighbors to call 911. I was shaking, I was shrieking, I was ready to be hospitalized, but with COVID-19 overrunning the system, that wasn’t feasible.

Thinking back to my yoga studio, I remembered that one instructor had also worked as a therapist, and I reached out to Dr. Corinne Idzal. My previous therapist had been helpful, but after months of sending him pictures of my meals to be chided if any carbs appeared, I felt trapped and eventually gained back the 50 pounds I lost.

But Dr. Idzal’s approach was different; it wasn’t about “fixing the narratives” I had created in my mind, or the minutiae of “correct” eating, but instead a whole mind and body approach. “An alignment,” in her words.

The first session was a barrage of all my insecurities and their starting points: from an eating disorder at the age of 12 that continued into a cocaine and exercise problem into my 20s, to how all of those thoughts of self-hatred that I managed to keep at bay for over 20 years were now just ruling my mind with the stay-at-home order and no art or parties to run away to.

“How does it make you feel to talk about this?” was a recurring question in the early sessions, and always made a point to bring me back to some clarity that my wish to “purge” these thoughts only made it worse because they spiraled out of control and into their own little monsters.

Dr. Idzal, who advised I stay away from the 24-hour news cycle I had become obsessed with, wanted to bring back the healthy link between mind and body that had been severed during quarantine, as my negative thoughts took over and nearly paralyzed me from moving.

We started with something simple: breathing. As the anxiety crept up, she told me to regain control by deep breathing and making a conscious effort to focus on “slowing down.”

Therapy is difficult for anyone, as it involves growth that you’ve likely been avoiding, but therapy during quarantine almost felt like submersion because there was nowhere to hide or distract your thoughts. But Dr. Idzal recognized that and used the elements of the quarantine to work with her alignment therapy.

“You can’t feel bad enough or guilty enough to help someone else, especially yourself,” she said during one of our sessions. This resonated with me because for all my negative thoughts, they never fueled me to get better.

The introduction of some simple, but effective, yoga flows after meditation, brought back the balance in my life to have something physical to set the tone. Dr. Idzal’s approach to yoga is to “slow and simple” postures instead of regimented run-throughs. This was also helpful to quiet the thoughts because it asked for more mental clarity to perform.

While I look back at the quarantine, I realize that it was a turning point and one that forced me to seek the help I needed. I may not have been prepared for the isolation to bring me to that point, but I’m relieved it did. because as we slowly open our world, I have a brighter understanding of what I love about it.

For appointments, please visit: www.alignbodyandmind.com.


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