My Favorite Bit of Information For The Week:
I was heading home, on Chicago’s lakefront bike path, when I saw this beautiful trapeze net set up near Foster Beach. I asked about classes and it just so happened that they were starting one in the next ten minutes. I decided to partake, and the class was EXHILARATING! I was able to swing in the air and be caught by someone else, all on my first day! After leaving, I felt elated and happier than I had felt for a long while, and the feeling lasted for four days! I had been in a bit of a low phase before this and it truly brought me out. For those of you who do not know, I go in and out of extreme lows and highs due to my mental illness. Being stuck in a low point can feel awful and being pulled out of it is a BIG DEAL.
Why did it bring me out of my low? As you can imagine, there is still very little research on why trapeze is helpful for mental health, but during my research I found that I am not alone in finding trapeze and other circus training helpful. The following are some of the more interesting stories I found. If you want to check out a trapeze class with me, let me know!
Trapeze and Depression: This article from The Guardian touches on the partnership of a Trapeze owner, and an organization called Status Employment (an organization helping people with mental health problems return to work). And the partnership works! The women that find solace through this art form, and their descriptions as to why it helps, really resonates with me. During my most recent trapeze class, I found myself scared of the next trick, and so I came up with the mantra: “I choose to trust”. When I let go and trusted, I could do the trick I had struggled with for over two hours. The memory of this came up for me again several times in the week, once for an audition, and once when it was (yet again) hard to get out of bed and face the day because I was feelings so low. I remembered the sense of that moment on the trapeze and I was able to say “I choose to trust” and feel good about my audition and to get out of bed. The following quote from the above article reiterates this feeling well:
“People can’t be separated into mental health silos. If you’re boosting confidence through exercise, that helps with therapy and employment support, which you get separately. If you’re feeling physically stronger, you feel mentally stronger. If you can’t overcome barriers and fear in a therapy session and you do it in a trapeze class, it works together.”
Legacy Circus: This group focuses on circus art that is accessible for those with disabilities, both the artists’ themselves and the audience. One of the lead performance duos in this organization deals with depression, and the other is a double below-knee amputee. You can check out more about their story by watching this short video on them or checkout out their website. This group really speaks how the art of circus in general, not just trapeze, is a confidence boosting and inclusive world that can help to balm any kind of limitation that society may place upon the unique and different.
How Circus Helps Anxiety: This article from Self magazine talks about another woman in Chicago who deals with anxiety and uses circus training to aid in her therapy. Her descriptions are amazing, and her medical insights as to why circus may help are even better. My favorite: “Certain types of exercise, such as circus training or even weight lifting, engage our minds to the point where we are intensely present-focused, not lost in worries about the future,” Dr. Vasa tells SELF. She continues, “Studies show a positive impact [of intense exercise] on the central hormonal axis in the body, called the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis,” which plays a role in how the brain and body adapt to physical or psychological stressors. Another possible mechanism is that exercise has been shown to increase the release of natural (or endogenous) opioids, “our own ‘feel-good’ chemicals, Dr. Vasa adds (think: endorphins)”.
If You Want To Try Trapeze: I loved the company I found. If you go within the next month or so you can check out their beach location (which I highly recommend), but their Broadway Armory location looks incredible as well and I will probably check it out in the winter. They are called TSNY Chicago.They were professional, encouraging, and I felt safe and taken care of the entire time. They are $50 per session if you go during the day, and slightly higher prices for evening and weekend classes, but if you buy two your first time the third is free and they have packages going forward as well. I also found this Groupon of theirs for week night/weekend classes.
Summary On Why Circus May Be Helpful For Mental Illness:
- It can boost your confidence when you try something difficult.
- It boosts positive hormones in your body from the exercise but also from the slight danger that your body feels from trying something new and intimidating.
- You can only focus on what you are doing in the moment. It’s like moving meditation, which is something that can be very challenging when facing depression.
- Trying something new can feel elating. Personally I feel trapped a lot and it feels liberating just to do something different. This is good news because, while very affordable for what you are doing and the overhead that they pay, trapeze is probably not going to be affordable every time you need a mental boost. Although I am seriously considering budgeting out for a once a month or once every other month experience!
Update On My Show:
Weekly Updates: Almost there on announcing the official fundraiser date! Also, we have a few more volunteer counselors that have been generous enough to donate their time towards the project! Lastly, more and more edits have been added to the script – very exciting! A big week all in all.
Fundraising: The project is free for audiences and therefore is completely independently funded – any support is appreciated! If you have already donated, I thank you from the bottom of my heart, you have made it possible to get this far. And if you are not in a place to give a dollar right now, thank you for being here and being a part of breaking the stigma on mental health. Much love!If you would like to donate to my show, share this project with a friend, or find out more about it please check out my gofundme here.
Please check out the One Woman Hamlet Website: www.onewomanhamlet.com
AND! my update Video.
Many, Many thanks: Margo Siwak and Joe Siwak for the design of the logo, and to Jillian Best and Bill Best for the Website creation and Design! I feel very blessed to have such beautiful humans in my life.
Ways to Support: If you would like to donate to my show, share this project with a friend, or find out more about it please check out my gofundme here: https://www.gofundme.com/one-woman-hamlet
Thank You: Thank you VERY much to all who have donated thus far, making this project possible.