When I am honest about my battle with depression, I am always shocked to see some folks come out of the woodwork, contact me directly, and let me know that they share the same struggle. There are words of encouragement… But from the folks who really “get it”, mostly there are only words of… Getting it.
I heard on a great podcast yesterday, recommended to me by a good friend, this idea: “The fact that you are alive right now is irrefutable proof that there is nothing the world has thrown at you that you haven’t been able to survive.” (The podcast is “Another Round”, well worth listening to. Check it out.) (Also I probably slightly misquoted that, forgive me.)
It’s hard to be open. Hard to be vulnerable. Something I’ve been working on and struggling with this year. Writing is actually sometimes an easier way to do that… There’s a good wall of paper (or LCD screen) between you and me.
To the ones who reached out… I get it too. And maybe just the solid truth of getting it is something that we can each do, to help each other get through.
My last post, I’m sorry… It was a downer. There’s no doubt. I was in a dark place. And some of the folks who reached out were concerned. Thanks for that concern. We should be concerned for each other. We’re all so good at hiding our own struggles.
But we can celebrate each other too. Celebrate the little successes.
I’m here right now to celebrate some small successes. Writing out where I was at was a big help, so thanks for enduring that. Now to the “onward” part.
A day after I wrote that post, I woke up with some sense of motivation. Since this doesn’t happen often, I seized on it. I have known I need to implement a plan for myself to somehow mitigate those depths. I decided to take some concrete steps towards health and self care. Let me tell you… These things are stupid and lame and difficult. And I also know for sure they are things that help me.
A big element for me in self care is routine. Having “blown up my life”, to steal the phrase of one person who reached out, I am now in the land of no routine. Or in a land where no routine is very easy. And, I know know know I need routine.
When I get into the mode of being even slightly excited about life / feeling motivation, I tend to try to ACCOMPLISH ALL THE GOALS at once. This blows up. (You know where the “all the things” phrase originated from? An awesome comic about “adulting” which is very salient to what I’m saying. Read it. It’s great.) It blows up because I can’t actually accomplish all of those things. SO. In making some goals I decided, despite all of my raging impulses, to bite off only a couple important ones:
Get up in the morning
Drink water (ha)
Go to therapy
Be accountable to these goals!
So, I can’t run on the ice. That doesn’t have to stop me from running, or working out. This winter, after evaluating the cost of a boxing gym membership, I decided to get my own punching bag and continue the boxing routine that Mark’s Boxing Gym imparted on me in Alaska. It’s a straight forward circuit: you can check it out here. This workout works for me. It’s broken up into small, accomplishable goals which I can do better at and then elevate.
I also CAN run on the ice, just not with the dogs. This is tough for me, because I feel a lot of guilt when I’m not able to run the dogs. We still go to some areas where the dogs can free run, but with this crazy weekly freezing rain Minneapolis offers, even that is kind of dangerous for them. What I have to realize is that even if I can’t exercise the dogs as thoroughly as desired, I must exercise myself. It’s so very counter to all of my training– dogs first! But this is the airplane-going-down-put-your-mask-on-first method. If I don’t exercise myself the dogs still don’t get that exercise either. So they go with me when the walkways are safe, and when they aren’t I can run myself.
I set a daily alarm for myself. Because I’m still working for an Alaskan company, I start work very late in the day in Minneapolis time. This is a great excuse to sleep and sleep in the morning. A few years ago sleeping in started becoming less desireable to my old-person self, but it’s made a big come back. I don’t like missing those early hours in the day, so I’m adjusting! Not crazy early wake ups, just something reasonable.
To drink more water (and to accomplish some other small daily and weekly goals), I downloaded an app called Strides, which helps me track small goals. This is an AWESOME app. I can’t recommend it enough. It’s easy to use, and has made accomplishing small but important tasks like a game. I have drunk more water in the last three days than I probably did the month before. Try it. It’s way cool. (I mean try the app, but try drinking water too!)
I haven’t yet made it back to Family Tree Therapy, but I will. They offer free therapy during specific hours. They are queer friendly and volunteer based. I was really impressed with them the first time I went, and majorly appreciative. I’m grateful Minneapolis and St. Paul have this resource– I need to use it.
To be accountable, I shared these goals with my super supportive partner-in-crime / personfriend, as well as a good buddy. And now I’m sharing them with you.
Having some small daily goals has made a noticable difference even over the last few days. I know– It could be an up in the constant up and down. But I’m using this up to try to establish some self care habits I know make a big difference to me. And by “I know” I mean, I have sensed a pattern over the last 31 years that when I exercise I suddenly feel slightly better about life…! Who’da thunk?
Another part of my accountability is going to include setting some bigger goals. My goalposts changed pretty drastically after this year, and it’s been tough to get back up. But the time is now, and I’m ready to set out again. I am nailing down exactly what all of those goals will entail. First things first… A race (for my feet). I’ve been bandying about a couple race ideas but hadn’t landed on one yet. Yesterday I talked with a fellow runner (who is more hard core than me!) who suggested we try to meet up for a race sometime this summer. This is an excellent idea– I need something to be in training FOR. (I mean, it’s all eventually for Iditarod, but for now I need something a little closer at hand.)
Once I have that larger goal post set up (and in the meantime too), my plan is to be annoyingly accountable to you. E.g., more posting, and hopefully about less depressing material. There have been a couple good friends who have posted about their workout routines and their own goals on a daily basis. Their forwardness has been inspiring to me… I mean, even if no one reads this, I will still write it, and that will be a good start for me. So if you have a masochistic desire to follow along on this journey, take two, take 94, whatever take it is… you can check in on this blog, you can like and follow my page on Facebook, you can follow me on Instagram (or Twitter though I warn you that right now I’m just angrily reposting political things there, so… visit with a grain of salt).
And if nothing else, if you read through this whole thing, I hope it gives a little reassurance that although things do get dark, sometimes we find flint and steal and start working our way to a spark.
Depression doesn’t just disappear. It’s here. We’re gonna be gooooood buddies. But I’m not giving up either.
“The fact that you are alive right now is irrefutable proof that there is nothing the world has thrown at you that you haven’t been able to survive.”