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Archive for the tag “mental-health”

If I only had a brain, Part 2

#crazynutjobrunner

So the alarm went off at 4:40 am and while I can’t express how happy I am to be training for another marathon, I’ve definitely hit That Point in the process.  I despise the marimba ring tone of my iPhone alarm.   Apple needs a ring tone that says, “Ok, then, sorry about this, but you’re the one who set the alarm, not me, and now you need to get up.”  Preferably Mr. Roger’s voice; there  is no way I could say “eff you, Mr. Rogers.”  I have a Pavlovian reaction to the ring; cringing, heart pounding, slammed out of a deep sleep by the marimba.  Thank God for some multi-flavored chemical laden, artificially sweetened and creamed K-cup steaming in my coffee cup; I’m up but basically making my way through the house by bouncing from one wall to the other in a (mainly) forward direction.

I have also definitely hit the point in marathon training where Taco Bell Fourth Meal happens about 12-1pm as opposed to the midnight-1am (younger!) crowd the campaign originally targeted.  The other day I had lasagna at 9am after already having breakfast.  I did at least warm it but then stood at the counter eating it directly from the casserole.  NOMNOMNOM. Yesterday:  breakfast followed by a cranberry bagel with egg and bacon (yes), then a really lousy salad followed by a nap which was celebrated by death by chocolate ice cream with chocolate sauce and caramel followed by another nap. I made dinner at 4pm.  Then what do you do?  It’s 4:30, you’ve slept for two hours, you’ve eaten five times, you’re too tired to fold laundry and you still have daylight remaining, and after about three hours of Yard Crashers you’ve pretty much seen the best TV has to offer.   I’m thinking I may pay for HBO since I’m never going to finish reading Game of Thrones.

And you both know that Brain 1 and Brain 2 are of no help whatsoever.
brain one and brain two

The other day while scarfing down one of my multitudinous meals I was reading Runner’s World.  Sometimes I read the newspaper, it depends.  It depends mostly on how much I feel like screaming.  Reading the newspaper is like taking algebra so you can grow up and work from home typing stuff; you know it’s good for you for some reason but you don’t actually ever apply it in your life and it makes you feel like screaming the entire time you’re doing it.  I always read the editorial section first, it’s like eating all the Brussels sprouts first so you can have the meatloaf second and enjoy it while also getting that awful taste out of your mouth.  Plus when I read the paper I yell, making the cats run away and causing Murphy to skulk guiltily.  Anyway, I was reading Runner’s World which is nothing like eating Brussels sprouts, it’s more like Three Guys Pizza Pies.  And also it doesn’t cause me to yell, making all the animals happier.

In this article (Beyond the Mantra by Michelle Hamilton, May, 2012 issue, I cannot find a link, sorry) the author visited with a sports psychologist and implemented his suggestions in her running.  It’s taken me about 98% of my life to truly understand that what drives everything in life is not what is happening to and around me, but how/what I think about it.  The Brain.  That little wrinkled up thing in our heads drives everything.  We ‘think’ what’s wrong is that our leg hurts, or the boss is an ass (which, none of my 15 bosses is an ass, let us be clear on this) or that our spouse cannot see the dishwasher which is apparently invisible.   Then we feel like screaming after 20+ years of seeing their dirty dishes in the sink TWO FEET FROM THE DISHWASHER (meanwhile the poor spouse just wants to avoid putting dishes in the dishwasher which may – or may not – have clean dishes in it; he doesn’t know and can’t figure out, since this is a secret hidden from men from the beginning of time.  He knows if he puts dirty ones in with the clean he will get The Look and The Sigh.  His brain is screaming, DON’T MESS IT UP!!  I CAN’T NOT MESS IT UP!!  IT’S A TRAP!)

Not that I’m upset about the empty dishwasher and the full sink.

Basically, as the author notes and as my counselor noted, you think: you live.  Talking to my counselor was the first time I heard the word catastrophizer.  I thought she’d made it up just for me, but I found it later in a book.  You can look it up, it’s a personality subself.  If it can go wrong it will.  Spectacularly.  If it can’t go wrong it still will. Or it could.  So we’d better think about every possible outcome to every possible situation.

3:45 am Brain 1: OMG OMG OMG.  No, wait, it’s just the effing alarm, nothing is on fire.

3:45:01am Brain 1: OMG OMG OMG is it raining???

3:45:02am Brain 2: OhhhEmmmGeee.  So what if it is, we’ll get wet?

3:45:03am Brain 1:  We could get CHAFED

3:45:04am Brain 2:  Yes, that has certainly never happened.

3:45:05am Brain 1:  We won’t be able to see the Garmin clearly!  Our glasses will fog!

3:45:06am Brain 2:  Ok, you’re right.  We’ve definitely got a world crisis here.

It’s the words you think.  For so much of my life I tried to change the way I felt.  I’m so sad because I can’t go to the party (don’t feel sad!  don’t feel sad!).  I’m so mad because that email was mean (quit being mad!  quit being mad!) You can’t.  It’s like slamming your finger in the door.  Don’t hurt, finger!  Don’t hurt, finger!  How about, “Rats, that hurts.  Need to get some ice.”

This morning I realized that I still doubt myself.  I still doubt I’ll get the marathon done.  My friend Elizabeth asked why I would worry about that.  She said if nothing else, you’ll walk it in.  And it occurred to me that I didn’t actually think of that as an option – but of course it is.  Somewhere in my brain I either finish the marathon or … what?  Teleport back to the car?  Get caught up to Oz?  Life instantly ends?  It’s like, in my mind, there is a marathon stretching out on a road with a finish line, and I either reach the finish line or fall off the road into oblivion.  Maybe I end up wherever the Coyote ended up when he fell off the cliffs, I’m not sure.  I’ve already talked with my coach and we have my A, B and C plans, none of which have either the teleportation or falling off cliff option listed.

Think about it.  Spend a day listening to what you say in your mind.  How many things do you think you’ve missed or not tried because you talked yourself out of them before you could even start?  I’m starting that marathon, and I’m finishing it.  No matter what Brain 1 and Brain 2 think.

OCD much?

Hubs and I were out of town last week.  You might think I would feel completely free to leave town now the kids are grown and gone, no worries, enjoy the trip, relax, eat drink and be merry.

But, no.  First, I no longer have that burning desire to desert Rome as it burns, my mother and four children waving forlornly as we back down the drive, desperately repressing the jiggling as my legs begin the Happy Dance under the dashboard.  NO VOMIT!  NO DIAPERS!  NO CRYING AND FIGHTING AND STEPPING ON DEADLY LEGOS!  I’m FREE!

I can lazily drink coffee and read the paper daily now.  I don’t have to put on adult clothes to take the kids to school and work the phones in the office from 8am to noon or help in the clinic wiping snot and blood.  I don’t have to camp out in a hotel to have a bathroom all to myself.  I don’t have to hide the chocolates in a tampon box.  I don’t have to worry about organizing soccer/cheer/homework/scouts/cupcakes for the birthday party before leaving everyone.  No worries, now.  Free Free Free.

Instead I spent three days prior to leaving town waking at 3 and 4am worrying about — The Damn Cats.  What if they refuse to eat?  What if they pee on the bed?  What if they … I don’t know … jeeze, they’re CATS – how much could go wrong??  But, no…wake, roll over, worry.

Obsess much?

Meanwhile – no pressure here – every damn day hubs insists that I need to try on his wetsuit and be sure it fits.  Fine, I tried it on.  OK, right, it was on backward but what the hell.  It’s not like it’s gender specific.  If it fits backwards it should fit frontwards.  No, apparently it didn’t count, backwards negates the experience so now I have to try it on … again.

Then, after I try it on again, he thinks I need to take it to the Center and swim in the damn thing.  Remember the pool running incident (here)?  Where all the senior water exercise class people glared at Becky and me in shock and awe?  What do you think it will do to them if I show up at the pool in a f*cking wetsuit?  How long will it take management to get all the exploded brain matter out of that water?  And can they sue me for the damages?

Still hubs remains – daily – sincere in his insistent insistence that I must absolutely without doubt swim in water with the wetsuit.  I pointed out that if I fail to do so prior to the race, and it is a wetsuit legal race, I will swim in the water to warm up and I will be wearing the wetsuit.  I think that counts as swimming before the race.  I mean, what if I swim in the wetsuit at the Center and I find out it doesn’t work so well?  Is that going to change the temperature of the water Saturday?

Last week I ordered a tri-suit.  It was in the mail when we got home.  I pulled it out of the packaging.  This sucker will not fit a skinny pre-pubescent 13-year-old.  I don’t know why they wasted a 9×13 envelope to send it to me, it would have fit fine in a letter sized and saved some postage, which they handily charged me.  Now I’ve spent $79 + tax, shipping and handling on something that weighs about four ounces and I may wear only once in my life – if I can even get it on.  And hubs is happy I spent the money.  If I buy a new lipstick and he sees it he asks me how much it cost.  Tri-suit?  Wet-suit?  Bike?  Helmet?  Bike shoes?  He’s throwing money at it like it was beads in New Orleans and he might see some boobs.

I spent one morning at the hotel swimming, then got on the spin bike and did 13 miles, then ran three.  There, I’ve done the distance, so mentally I got that out of the way.  What I realized is that I do not care at all about this triathlon like I have all the races I’ve trained for.  I’m just as obsessive about getting everything organized, not forgetting anything, hoping I don’t bonk, but I don’t really care about doing the event.  All I really care about is getting it over with.

Training for halves, fulls, 50K’s, I check weather for weeks, mentally preparing for wind/rain/floods/solar flares and meteors.  I’m scared, nervous – but it’s an excited nervous fright.  It can still get ugly – marathoniritationitis (with a graphic, here) is nothing to laugh at, but there’s still an excitement about the whole thing.  This one:  if it rains, oh well.  If it’s hot, well damn.  If it’s cold, well sh*t.  Oh, well.  If I get there, and I don’t like the weather, I might just decide not to do the event, and right now I cannot dredge up any impending regret, other than I’d be forced to register for another one and go through all this again.

Last night I dreamed I had a curse that if I talked to someone it would take away one of their powers.   Unfortunately Becky asked me a question in my dream.  I replied without thinking and it stripped her power to do triathlons.

Obsess much?? This is going to be a bitch of a week…

You can’t fall off a marathon, and you can’t sink in a 50K, and all you need is some shorts, a shirt and some shoes.

The truth is:  I’m cranky and pissed and obsessed about the cats because I’m scared of this one and it’s not an excited nervousness.  It’s just fear.

Happy freeking Monday.

As you two might already know, I have a couple of Monday issues happening here.

First, I’m supposed to be having an “off” day.  Obviously most of my days are “off”  so I expect you’re both wondering what’s so unusual about that.  Cynics, both of you, I’m supposed to be taking the day off from working out.  So of course I slept wonderfully and didn’t get up until 7am, waking refreshed and enthused about maybe swimming (right, OK, not really enthused, but you know…sorta not hating the idea.  That’s a lot like being enthused.)

I have to admit I no longer look at swimming like it was my second pregnancy and this time I knew what natural childbirth felt like and knew I was going to have to go through it all again anyway.  See?  That’s positive, right?

I remember being pregnant with the twins, sitting in a chair, unable to see my toes.  Hubs asked me about the Lamaze classes, wondering how learning a breathing technique was helpful.  “Does it make it hurt less, then?” he asked.

In the most polite way possible I told him to go shut his buddy in the door over there and work on breathing slowly and deeply, which would be helpful in demonstrating to him both the feeling of labor and the benefit of proper breathing.  He politely declined and indicated he was happy to take me at my word.

So today I’m not going swimming or running or biking (but I am going to sneak in some yard work SHHHH be vewy vewy quiet.)

vewy vewy quiet

Since I’m full of energy and it’s a pretty day and also I put it off for the past three days I decided to go to Kroger’s and buy food.  Secondly, I decided to actually make dinner tonight.  Fasten the seatbelts, it’s going to be a rough ride.  I even looked up a recipe.  Then I decided we don’t need no stinking recipe and I’m going to make up my own plan.  Baked pork chops, rice and veggies.  I’ll let you know if hubs survives.  There’s really no other option because I forgot to buy the Lean Cuisines and I’m not going back to the store.  I figure more than once a week in Kroger is probably a leading cause of brain leakage, and I have reason for that belief.

Part of the problem is the Muzak.  Usually I can handle a little bit of the orchestral remakes of Back in Black or Somebody to Love because once those get stuck in my head, as they will undoubtedly and without fail do, I don’t feel like I need to thread dental floss through my ears and clean out my head.

Oddly, I kept feeling I should not go to Kroger this morning.  Not that I didn’t want to, I was actually feeling rather enthused about buying food and cooking it, as opposed to buying it and letting it rot.  And I kept thinking of other things to take care of instead of going to the store, but I didn’t want to go this afternoon because I want to get outside in the sunshine and rake up 10 millionbajillion leaves from the 87 trees on our lawn.

OK.  FINE.  It’s not really 87 trees. I don’t want to count them though, because then for the rest of my life at some point every freeking day my brain would randomly announce WE HAVE 23 TREES ON OUR LAWN and when I’m in the home and don’t recognize my own toes my brain would still randomly announce out loud to the nurse WE HAVE 23 TREES ON OUR LAWN.  The nurses will all call me Tree Lady and they’ll all know which resident they’re talking about.  Sometimes they’ll just shorten it to “23 needs a bed pan” and they’ll all know then, too.

Anyway, I didn’t listen to my own inner psychic and I went to Kroger.  Probably, too, if I weren’t so damn well hydrated it would still have worked out OK.  But, no, I’ve had like 40 ounces of water already this morning plus three coffees, so of course I had to go to the Ladies’ Room – this is the polite term for bathroom in public places – which when you think about it, they can’t call it a bathroom because it has no bath.  If it did have a bath I would totally not go in there because I have no clue what I might see at that point, but – without meaning to point fingers – if that woman in front of me in the checkout was naked in a bath and I saw that at Kroger’s I would probably go blind or end up in the home tomorrow telling everyone about the freeking damn trees and drooling.

This is precisely why I will never make it as a nurse.  I’ll never play piano either, but if I did, I can tell you one song I would NEVER-NEVER-EVER play: Please Mr., Please which, unfortunately, came on overhead just as I was checking out.

AND THIS IS THE SECOND TIME THIS HAS HAPPENED AT THAT STORE!!  Let me repeat that as I’m sure you are both completely stunned and cannot believe what you just read:  THIS IS THE SECOND TIME THIS HAS HAPPENED AT THAT STORE!

How can the odds possibly work out that I would hear that damn song twice in the same store?  How random is that, anyway?  Shouldn’t I have fallen into a black hole first, or hit a hole-in-one at the Masters even though I don’t golf?  Wouldn’t those chances be better than hearing that song twice in the same place???  AND it happened in the check out line.  If I’d just not gone to the Ladies’ Room.  Dammit.

But, no.  Here I sit, two hours later, and that song is running through my head like a warm murky stream on a grossly hot day.  I even youtubed AC/DC and played it real loud to try getting it out that way, but they can’t seem to kick Olivia out.  Probably by Wednesday or Thursday it should be gone.

Secondly, “at my age” which the doctors seem get some perverse joy out of saying, I think there should be some perks.  One of the perks I think I should be able to enjoy is not have a pimple grow in the middle of my nose.

I’m concerned that hearing Olivia warble about B17 has flashed me back to my teen years and my pores felt obliged to make me feel right at home.  Soon I shall don my jeans that are far too short because my legs are too long and they don’t sell jeans by the inseam yet and get some broccoli stuck in my braces so when I laugh out loud during Monday afternoon Spanish class the popular kids will laugh too.

What do you mean, they weren’t laughing with me?

Dammit.  I HATE Mondays.

Sunday Sunday….

Sunday Sunday, so good to me,
Sunday Sunday, it was all I hoped it would be
Oh Sunday morning, Sunday morning couldn’t guarantee
That Sunday evening my legs would still be here with me.

HAPPY SUNDAY BOY AND GIRL!!  How are you both doing this fine cloudy grey morning?  I had a little crash and burn yesterday.  I’ve been trying to watch the calories and behave and I’m not doing so well with that.  Behaving, in my opinion, is usually rather overrated.  Of course I do not mean you/we/I should not behave within the confines of law.  I’m looking at the self-imposed rules of behavior that we seem unable to quit placing upon ourselves, then self flagellating when we inevitably fail after being harder on ourselves than we are on anyone else.

What kind of rules you do find yourself imposing on yourself – and immediately resisting?

Today I will floss morning and evening for 60 seconds.  I will only drink 12 cups of coffee.  I will not shout cuss words at the Letters to the Editor.  No.  I have to modify that one.  I will not shout cuss words at the letters if hubs is still in the house.  No.  Here:  I will not read the Letters to the Editor if hubs is still in the house.  I will not go to the secret hiding place of the Lindor Truffles.  Ok, I will go to the secret hiding place of the Lindor truffles but I. Will. Not. Pick them up.  Ok, I will only pick up three.

So.  I quit.  I ate everything I wanted.  We went to a Mardis Gras party and I carted around about three plates of food.  I did not snort.  I did kind of gnaw on a rib bone just to be sure I’d gotten all the bbq goodness.  But I gnawed very lady-like.  I’m going to do the same thing today.

I have this idea that all the people around me are mature adults, and I’m living with the brain of a two-year old.  I seem unable to dispel that notion, partly because I try to act like a grown up but find myself responding to a stupid email with the term “Poopyhead” and “Dipshidiot” which I think is very funny and I like to say it out loud because I like how it sounds and rolls off my tongue.

So.  Today I’m not going to bother thinking I’m a grownup.  I’m going to eat whatever I want, and I’m going to drink however much coffee I want.  I’m going to run the Winter Off Road Series 10K this afternoon – slow and in the back – and I’m not going to worry about am I doing too much too soon or will my butt fall off or will my legs crumple.  Because probably none of that will happen anyway.  Like Erma Bombeck once said, of course worrying works.  99% of everything I’ve worried about never happened.

One thing I will not do:

oreos

But that’s only because I don’t feel like it.  Too much mess.  And I’d have to go to the grocery store.

Plus I still know where the truffles are hidden.

What are you going to allow yourself the freedom to do today?

Henri, Ennui

Not all of you know this  but I suffer with/struggle with/live with (depending on the day) depression.  You don’t need to feel you should know this, it’s not the type of thing where I see you and say, “Hey, love those jeans!  Where did you get them?  I’m depressed.”  I don’t try to avoid talking about it but it’s not something constantly on my mind either.  I seldom go about thinking, “wow, I’m soooo depressed”.  Mostly I just live each day and my life involves a certain amount of frequent and nearly unconscious assessment of where I am mentally and how my thought processes are going.  Over time, with counseling, medication and self awareness I’ve ended up in a pretty good place most of the time.   Of course it’s a bit tougher when life circumstances get challenging, in which case people who aren’t depressed would have some issues feeling OK, too.

A lot of people think depression means you go about feeling sad.  That may be true for some people but for me it’s a problem of no feeling.  When I’m having trouble with depression happy things happen and I try to act happy, but I don’t actually feel it.  Inside I feel flat and rather dead and I’d prefer to be home alone in my bedroom reading a book, which takes up a lot less energy except when I have to turn the page.  It takes a lot of energy out of you, always feeling flat and dead when the people around you appear to be energetic, enthusiastic and basically enjoying what they have going on, even if it’s something simple like watching TV.  This is more particularly true when it’s holidays or something special – times you’re supposed to have a ‘feeling’ of ‘happiness’ and ‘enjoyment’ but mostly you feel vaguely tired and a bit brain dead and once again wish you were alone with a book and the pressure of turning the page.

The fortunate thing, as I mentioned, is that there are good medications now that help a lot, and if you can find a bit of counseling from someone whose approach is not letting you wallow in self-pity every hour you meet but allows you to say what’s on your mind and then promptly asks what you intend to do with it, you can get to a place in your life that’s fairly normal.  This is especially effective once you realize no one is normal and nothing is normal, so as soon as you feel pretty normal you can relax and rest assured you are in the same boat as everyone else, which relieves a lot of pressure, mentally.  Try also to surround yourself with friends who are basically crazy, or a least a brick shy of a load, and you’ll feel even better.  Not that I do that.  I’ve just heard it suggested.

This comes up for two reasons.  First, someone I’ve known a long time once again mentioned the words ‘addictive’ and ‘controlled substance’ in a conversation about anti-depressants, in particular the one I take which is an SNRI (Seratonin-Norepinephrine Reuptake Inhibitor).  This has come up in conversation before and this well-educated upper management individual has, for at least the past 10 years, continued to believe that anti-depressants are addictive, that drug companies put something in them that make people addicted so they’ll always have to take them (ensuring the drug companies a lifetime supply of ready cash, apparently) and which can have value on the Black Market for persons addicted to it.  Perhaps this is true.  Perhaps even now there are people roaming the streets desperately searching for their next hit of Pristiq, in which case I need to find them now and make some money.  NO JUST KIDDING.  In the past, and repeatedly, I have quit taking antidepressants because 1) I hate being labeled ‘dependent’ and seen as someone who simply needs to pull themselves up by their bootstraps and put on a happy face and 2) well, never mind, there isn’t actually a 2, just the first point.  So anyway, I’ve quit taking them.  I’ve never had a problem doing this and I’ve never done it with medical supervision, I simply left them in the drawer and went about my daily life.  The only thing that happened is about 6-8 weeks later I felt exactly like Henri with Ennui and eventually I would go back on the medicine.

Secondly, my friend Lisa O posted a couple vids of poor Henri (who suffers with ennui) on FB; poor Henri whose thumbs are not opposable and yet he opposes everything, who is free to go yet he remains, whose 15 hours a day of sleep have no effect as he wakes to the same tedium.   I think humor makes a good defense, if you can make something funny it loses some of its sting.  So, for instance, if you can make up a story about your Hard Rock Classics-hating cat, and then you can write about it on a blog so all your friends can make jokes about it and laugh with you, it’s even better.  And if you get to 1) watch a funny and well-made video 2) pretending your cat is depressed 3) AND it’s in French, plus 4) you experience depression so you totally identify with the cat and with the humor and 5) when you’re having fun you are not having Ennui and 6) you then get write about that on your blog, you end up with a sixfecta of awesomeness.  Also you get to make up the word sixfecta.

Now all I have to do is get Cat addicted to anti-depressants so I can make some money.

And here’s poor Henri:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0M7ibPk37_U&feature=youtu.be and part 2:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q34z5dCmC4M

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