• Ruth Steel

Mental Health, Toxic Relationships & Healing ourselves.

15 January, 2019 | BrawYoga

Hello lovely readers, welcome to my Blog, thank you for lending me your eyes - and if you've also seen my latest BrawYoga YouTube video, your ears too - as I discuss some of these important and incredibly difficult topics.

I've been putting this off for the best part of two years now. I filmed some short clips during my Yoga training in India, talking about my experiences with #mentalhealth, abuse & grief however, I never got around to editing and posting that content through my own self-judgement, criticism and perfectionism but this is life god damn it, I am now ready to accept the imperfect qualities of it all and let them be.

The things I struggle to accept are the unjust actions, unfair and downright cruel things that happen in life, that could be stopped if we opened and talked about them more.

I should say, my YouTube video only touches on these topics as a friendly introduction, I wanted to stay sprightly, supportive and give you all some sort of insight into how I live my life currently, plus a chance to meet my three gorgeous pups, Bruce, Mythos & Banksy.

(If you haven't already met them already, find their video here)

I wanted to post this Blog alongside to get into the nitty-gritty, no BS chat about my current mental health, with the How and Why of Yoga being a fundamental tool for my recovery.

I'm no professional writer but this process of adding to my Blog as a sort of personal journal, getting it all out is proving to be cathartic, useful & all part of the journey.

(I highly recommend starting a private journal or writing down your thoughts as a tool for stress, anxiety & depression)

So, let’s talk.

As a privileged white, middle class gal, of fluctuating weight and a background in performing arts, it’s fair to say, I’d taken a Yoga class before. Mostly Bikram Yoga & MAINLY, to lose weight or to maintain flexibility for dancing & an ambitious career in the arts darling. Of course, little did I know, that I’d been missing the whole value & benefit of Yoga through blissful ignorance & a lack of knowledge.

As the years continued, I revisited Yoga many times - During the rocky roads of an abusive relationship which knocked my confidence & brought me down every single day for nearly three years, meanwhile trying to ‘compete’ against endless talent & make some sort of career alongside all the madness. I was seeking stress relief, yet still hadn’t found anything that worked. Of course, years later I now realise, though my body was going through the motions, my mind was all over the place, self-doubting, self-critical and self-abusing, as a result of my surroundings.

Still trying to figure out LIFE, at age 24, I finally escaped that destructive relationship. Until then, I was blind to see the life it had sucked out of me and the effect that had, not only on myself mentally & emotionally but my friends and family too.

I needed a fresh start & moved to Greece, where opportunities presented themselves & over the next three years, I became a Fitness Instructor, met my wonderful Husband and lived happily ever after………or at least, that’s how it looks on social media right!?


Let’s go back a second,

It’s 2014 & one of the many reasons I was able to escape that dreaded dark relationship was sadly due to my Mother developing Cancer. I was working in a Pub at the time & upon hearing this totally unexpected news from my Mother & sister, I was devastated but was trying to put on a brave face & stay strong for Mum. Still cloudy headed and full of emotion, I of course, was seeking support and rang my partner of three years to inform him of the terrible news.

What happened next, haunted me for many years to come. The words I was about to hear, which would instantly crush my vulnerable heart like two orcas appearing from the depths of the ocean, slapping their back together…

“I Hope She Dies!”

Alarm Bells were deafening in my mind – WHAT THE HELL WAS I DOING WITH MY LIFE!? Not only had I just found out that my amazing Mum had Cancer, but my supposed boyfriends’ reaction, had been, not only to think those awful words, but actually say them to me on the phone.

INSTANTLY, something shifted. My priorities had been wronged all these years! I shouldn’t have been wasting my life trying to help someone unwilling to help themselves and neglecting my family & friends support, advise and love in the process. In this moment, the blinkers had been removed, my eyes were firmly peeled, but my heart & head were broken. I was confused & unable to bridge the gap between what was a ‘normal’ way to be treated in a relationship anymore and at a very raw, low point in my life. My mothers support during this time was incredible and her new Staffordshire bull terrier, Bruce was like a best friend who listened & loved me no matter what.

(Those of you who know me, know I’m Dog Mad! Yes I'm the level of hosting their own Instagram page: @bruceandthegang if you're a dog lover too but jokes aside, animals are incredibly beneficial for your mental health!)

This quote by @oneoeight.tv

“He speaks a language, only my heart, understands”

is the way I feel about Dogs and their incredible ability to know, when their humans are sad or unhappy and show support and healing love.

Still with me??? Great 😊 I think it’s healthy to get side tracked by Pup talk, the more the better right….

So, I MUST tell you about my absolute hero Mum, and best friend, Debbie.

She was THEE BEST Mum, I could have ever hoped for. She always supported my sister and I, in every aspect of life, she spoiled us on special occasions, answered every question (there was a LOT from curious adolescent Ruth) and always went without herself, to provide every opportunity for us to learn a new skill & pursue our dreams. A lot more than I’d have liked her too in fact - I wish she’d have treated herself WAY more often with the same care & love!

We had always been close growing up, and I mean close……from picking a spot on your bum to asking detailed questions about sex, no stone was unturned & no subject was off limits with us girls. This bond got even stronger when my parents divorced, and our father left our mother for another woman. I’d never seen Mum so distraught and I was glad to be her support and shoulder to cry on, for once.

Unfortunately, over the years our Dad began to lose contact with my sister and I and this led more, to our Debs becoming one of the gals, a sort of best friend as well as loving Mum.

Some years later, Mum found a new partner and I’ll spare you the hilarious, sordid details and questions which were then, the other way around, between Mother & daughter. I appreciate that, perhaps not all families are that open with each other, but it was just the way we had always been, and I was SO thrilled that Debs was back out there, living her life, finding love & happiness and putting herself first for once.

Looking back - It was when I stopped telling my Mum all the details of my own relationship, that she must have known things weren’t right. I wouldn’t tell her how abusive things had got, how physically, mentally & emotionally draining it was, living in a constant state of anxiety & panic and how it was changing me into a person, I hardly recognised anymore!

She knew, of course she knew but was helpless to do much more through my own rose-tinted glasses which for a long time, I felt a lot of guilt for - putting her through all that worry.

So, it was Mums support that made me travel to Greece, to get away from it all, a fresh start meeting new people, regaining my sense of self & once more, discovering my dreams & passions and all the things there are to live for in life. It turned out, I liked it so much the first season, I decided to apply again.

It was hard leaving for Greece, the second time, after Mum had been diagnosed with Cancer but she was adamant I should go and live my life and do what makes me happy. With close support from her partner & my sister, we all stayed positive that she would make a full recovery and she did, for 5 months she was Cancer free!! My Hero and ridiculously strong Mummy didn’t so much as complain, with all her treatments resulting in her going blind in one eye as well as other challenging complications. She truly was and always will be, an inspiration to me!

Now 2015, I’ve come home from Greece to support my amazing Mum who was battling cancer for the second time. This part of my life was scary, unexpected & completely life changing.

Having been apart for months, it would turn out that I only had 6 precious weeks left with her.

On the 23rd of October, my beautiful Mum aged just 53, lost her battle with Cancer and life as we knew it changed forever.

It may sound strange, but at that moment, when life, breath & energy left her body - it was like no experience I’ve ever had, or could easily explain to others, so bear with me as I open my heart to you all....

This moment, in what I would describe as the most emotional & spiritual, I have ever felt.

It was as if I could FEEL, everything my Mother was, rising up and leaving her body.

We knew she had only days left and was comfortably at home where she wanted to be with my sister and I by her side. We knew this was the time when we should be saying the things that matter, slowing down and cherishing each moment but with caring for Mum around the clock, taking shifts and trying to actually accept that any day could be our last, I’d be lying if I said things weren’t confusing, scary and sometimes heated between us all and when the time came, it was all too soon and still surprisingly unexpected! Mum had spoken to me, just 40 minutes before she passed. (Which brings a smile to my face now, as everyone who knew her, knows she could talk for England)

It was frightening and though I’d witnessed an old age-related, peaceful death, in the past - this was different. This was my Mum, our Debs, painfully passing, before her time. The woman who gave us life & I suddenly realised, was much more a part of my future life plans than I’d recognised as mentally ‘pre-planning’ & expecting. Ideals of a future life where I’d wrongfully assumed our Mum would be there, to share the blessing of her daughters getting married, and maybe one day become a grandma and spend so much more time together sharing memories and laughter, would devastatingly never be!

This spirit, energy or whatever you want to call it, remained in the room and surrounding the house for some hours after her passing. I believe there is a part of my Mother always watching over us but also within my sister and I, as if we sort of, ingested part of her soul into our bodies on that night, dreadfully leaving behind her cancer riddled body, yellow with jaundice and so completely & utterly, still.