Yoga – My Journey | The Man behind the Mask


Today we are gonna talk about one of those taboo subjects, depression. It is, on the face of it, a very simple thing but from my experience one of the most debilitating and complex issues I have ever had the misfortune to bump into.

Yes, you are reading this correctly, in the words of an AA clinic attendee (the booze not the car breakdown), my name is Paul Warner and I am suffering from severe depression.

Despite having nothing to do with the AA, it was in fact triggered by a breakdown, not of my car but of my head. For 47 years, I went along merrily in life assuming all was well, then BANG, literally one single flashback and my world fell apart. At first it was almost like a dream or déjà vu, this vision appeared oh so real in my head, I could see and hear everything, the thuds, the pain, the tears, it would have given Pixar a run for its money. I am not trying to make light of this because it really has ripped my life apart but I can at least now write about it without falling apart.

During my lifetime, I have met people who suffered from depression and whilst I think I acknowledged that it was a real thing that couldn’t just be fixed by ‘pulling yourself together’,

I really didn’t have the first clue what it meant or the impact it had on their lives, until it happened to me.

I have tried to take the cowards way out and been on the worst emotional rollercoaster you could ever imagine but I am slowly getting better. The last couple of weeks have been particularly hard, I take my happy pills each morning and try to approach the day with positivity, but it is not always possible. I go to sleep feeling fine, and during the night the ‘fuck with my head fairy’ comes along and messes with the wiring in my head. I wake up and know straight away that my day will be a challenge. I get defensive, I look for my own mistakes and I say sorry ALOT. I then go into over compensate mode, it’s like I need to be accepted somehow. I don’t want to be liked, I just don’t want to be not liked… I did warn you this was a bit complex!

I can tell you what I don’t want, I can make lists that last longer than Josie’s meditations, but I can’t tell you what I do want, how to ’be’ around me, what is upsetting me, or what triggered it is the first place – that friggin’ fairy to one side.

Today. Today is a good day, I am sat in Starbucks, with Josie and we are working, well at least I am working, Josie is doing her best to avoid class planning. Days like today, I am not just on it, I am all bloody over it, keeping her on track, pushing out work left right and centre and applying a generous dollop of OCD to the mats and blocks in the studio. My head is clear, my chest puffed and I am ready to take on the world… tomorrow, fuck knows which Paul will wake up.

Every day, I put my version of make up on, in my case it is my mask. One that allows me to hide from view but hide in plain sight.

I haven’t got the talent that the late Robin Williams had but I can relate to him. I too can smile, be charming and make the people around me feel amazing. I can show the world a happy face and be falling apart inside all at the same time. Who says men can’t multi-task??

What do I want you to do? The thing you can do is to maybe show your world and the people in it a bit more love, not to me cos that would be just weird, but to the people you meet every day. Say hello, smile and don’t expect something back in return. Everyone has their pain, everyone has their story, even those of us with the power to make people feel special are hiding something.

Be kind yogis, be kind.