My family immigrated from Kharkiv, Ukraine to the USA in 1992 as refugees. When I came to the United States, it seemed like I came from another planet. Everything was different: language, mentality, and environment. It seemed like I lost my identity and I did not belong anywhere. In New York, I went to college. However, I became severely depressed during my second semester and was hospitalized for depression. When I got better, I returned to college and obtained my BA in Liberal Arts and MS in Education. I wanted to become an elementary school teacher but became interested in school psychology and became a school psychologist for New York City, Department of Education. The job was so stressful that i was hospitalized for depression and finally quit the job and went on disability.
One day I saw a yoga studio near where I lived. I didn’t know anything about yoga. I absolutely loved yoga after the first session. Yoga helped me tremendously with my depression. I did yoga in the hospital for myself and the other patients and the nurses. Then I promised to myself and to God (even though I am agnostic) that I will be teaching free yoga to anyone who wants to learn.
I always searched for a cure for my depression and felt the need of a support group in addition to my psychotherapy and medications, so I was happy when I found DA online. My first DA meeting was on September 22, 2020. It’s my first Twelve Step program and I decided to give it a chance. I thought “I don’t have anything to lose except my misery.” I was very skeptical at the beginning, because nothing seemed to help my depression. I couldn’t share anything during my first DA meeting and didn’t have my camera on. I didn’t purchase DA literature for about a month because I didn’t have money and wasn’t sure if DA would help me after everything I had been through. To my surprise, after being in DA for two years, I felt I became less depressed. I didn’t get hospitalized during this time, I made friends by attending daily DA meetings, I was reading DA literature, working the 12 Steps, got a sponsor and joined two co-sponsorship groups. I found my purpose in life by sharing my story and offering yoga to DA members twice a week. I still feel anxious and depressed sometimes but I know that I can use the tools of DA, reach out to my sponsor and DA friends, and count on their support. I can see a tremendous difference in myself. In a sense, I “love my depression” now because through it I found the DA community and feel like I finally belong. I am so grateful to be a DA member and I hope my hard work in DA and my Higher Power (power of DA group, yoga and universal love) will bring me peace and serenity, and I will be able to say one day that I am completely recovered from depression.
Irene S., NYC, October 2023