“Mental illness finds your cracks and fills them in with cement, hardening you until you can’t find your own foundation.” ~ Maris Degener

Her journey drew the attention of media and became the subject of the Netflix documentary, I Am Maris. Her influence has been growing ever since.

Diagnosed with anorexia nervosa in her early teens, Maris Degener learned how to hide things. Feelings, fears, evidence. None came to the surface until all did at once.

“It was almost easier to put on this persona every day of Everything’s fine. I’ve got everything figured out. It’s all under control, then it was to be really vulnerable.”

Her eventual hospitalization began a transformation that a discovery of yoga continues to fuel. She’s identified her practice (and teaching) as “a way to self-study, a way to self-soothe, and a way to finally have that language to understand who I was and what I was going through.”

She also incorporated a love of writing into her healing, bravely sharing her thoughts with others. This continues, as well.

Vulnerability in expression, as much as we fear it and want to run, is the key to connection. I’ve found this to be consistently true. There may be judgement by a select few, but most need to see someone else’s struggle before they can scratch the surface of their own. Maris’s blog posts began to offer that for many. She got “really, real” about what it’s like to experience mental health challenges. She allowed herself to show the mess.

I think most of us can relate to mess. All lives have it, but our cultural obsession with perfection seems to want to dictate otherwise. And, let’s be honest here – facades are exhausting. Not just in the presenting of them, but in trying to get past those of others.

“I don’t really resonate with perfect people or people who present to be perfect, because I don’t think I’m perfect. I don’t think I have it all figured out.”

Nor do most of us. Discovery is ongoing, but taking positive approaches to our challenges and resisting the urge to fall prey to unhealthy distractions is essential.

I recently started practicing yoga myself, and I can speak to the calming centeredness that I feel after each session. It also carries with me. It’s not just a 60 minute relationship.

I’m grateful to Maris for sharing her story, and given the number of followers she’s acquired through her honesty, it’s evident that others are, too.

You can hear Maris’s interview on iHeart Radio, Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Stitcher, Spotify, or by clicking HERE.

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I Am Maris Netflix Trailer