My muscles love me. My knees hate me

You guys!!! I ran 3 miles today. After work. After a stupid busy Satuday. It helped that it was sunny and 60 degrees, but still! 

My muscles were so happy. They were all “Omg. I have missed moving! This is great! I love stretching and getting blood. Yay!!!”  

But my knees were saying something less family friendly. Every step was “F~€k you. F~€k you. F~€k you. F~€k you. ” It was very consistent, I’ll give them that. 

To be fair to my shitty knees, I am running in the same shoes that I trained for and completed my Ironman in, so they have many miles and no cushion in them. Don’t fuss. My new shoes have arrived and I will be wearing them next time. 

Here’s hoping this is the start of a beautiful new/old habit!! And that this kicks my brain in gear because I don’t want to have to find a therapist. 

I want to hug you all right now but it’s probably just the endorphins and the lack of oxygen to my brain since I forgot my inhaler. But still. Love you all!

Well, hello there again.

I’ve been visited by Depression’s BFF lately. Anxiety wasn’t really invited when she first stopped by, and she sure as hell has overstayed her welcome. Both Depression and Anxiety make it hard to get out of bed and function in the real world. When Depression sets up camp, I don’t want to get out of bed because what’s the point? Nothing matters. Nothing is worth getting out of bed for. I have no worth and I’m DEFINITELY not worth expending that minuscule amount of energy that I have left in my body. When Anxiety is here, I want to cover my head and curl up into a tiny ball of raw nerves that vaguely resembles the shape of a female adult human. Depression makes it hard to function because I just have no energy and no desire to do anything, even things I love doing. I live in a foggy brain that can’t make sense of the world and the sunshine. And everything feels so. damn. heavy. Anxiety makes it hard to function because every nerve in my body is ready at a moment’s notice to send out signals to run or fight or have a heart attack. Some of those nerves think it’s fun to misfire and send out those signals all day long.

I know, just KNOW in my heart that something bad is happening or is about to happen. I forgot something important or I made the wrong decision or I have a terrible disease or someone I love has something bad happening to them or the car repair is going to be super expensive or I forgot that something is coming out of the bank account or I forgot to turn off something I should have turned off or I will never get everything done that I need to do or why can’t I concentrate on anything right now or my patient is dying or I messed up that routine surgery when everything seemed totally fine but probably isn’t fine or I am going to be fired or I am going to be sued or someone is mad at me or someone is judging me or …

Actually, all those “or”s should be “and”s because all those thoughts are going through my mind at the same time and my body is pumping out crazy amounts of adrenaline and cortisol. And it is exhausting. It’s probably similar to trying to make sense of that paragraph o’ run on sentence. Welcome to my brain when Anxiety is visiting! I just want to cry all the time, but not because there is no point to being alive, like when Depression is here, but because there is just too much and I just can’t deal with all of that at once for days at a time.

Honestly, I’m pretty good in the moment when something is happening. I can deal with unexpected problems in surgery and I can deal with bad news when it is delivered and I can perform in front of big crowds and I can handle an actual emergency when it happens. (Afterward, I shake and sometimes cry, but not until that shit is under control.) I cannot deal with the constant onslaught of hormones that Anxiety brings with her. Our bodies aren’t really meant to. Those hormones and on-edge nerves are meant for sprinting, not marathons.

Anxiety is getting the hint and is starting to pack up her bags to leave, but I am worn out. And I really don’t quite know how to deal with her. She’s visited off and on since I was a teenager, but she didn’t move in with me like Depression did. I have learned some coping mechanisms for Depression (and finally found a medication that helps) but I’m still struggling with Anxiety. Exercise probably helped a lot and since I still have done nothing in the way of making that a routine again, it let Anxiety just invite herself right in.

I do have a half marathon coming up in April. Once I can quiet my mind enough to look at a training plan, I might just be able to get Anxiety out of here for awhile. You all may get tired of it, but I will try to post my workouts daily on here, for accountability.

Um… There will probably be many days (if you follow this blog and don’t “unfollow” when you see the phrase “post daily workouts”) when you think “Oh, she just forgot to post or she was too busy” and I love you for giving me credit like that. In reality, I probably found some way to rationalize not exercising that day.

I love you all and if you have any suggestions for dealing with Anxiety, I’d love to hear them. (Suggestions from experience, please.) Comment away!

Redirected Resolutions

Happy New Year! So, how excited are you all to be starting a new calendar year?!?!?!?! I have mixed feelings about the whole “It’s a new year. Everything starts anew” idea. On the one hand, it’s really just the next day of the next week of the next month of the next year in a reeeeeally (hopefully) long story of a life. On the other hand, it seems like a convenient time to re-evaluate goals and give ourselves permission to forget the failures of previous year and start again with new enthusiasm.

On that note, I was totally planning on getting this year started right!!!!

You caught that, right? “planning” Yep. The new year had different plans right off the bat.

January 1, 2016:

Me: Yay! It’s a new year. THIS year, I am definitely going to re-start training for the next triathlon AND I’m going to eat healthy AND finally get the house organized AND be super organized with meal planning and stuff AND get the mini-me’s room organized AND really be a great veterinarian AND make time for friends AND get places on time AND save lots of money AND make my house look like something out of a magazine that is super chill but really awesome….

The Universe:   Hahahahahahahahaha.   Hahaha.   Whew.  Haha.

 

January 1st I was scheduled to work; it’s my holiday to take care of hospitalized patients. I planned to go run after doing the treatments at work (even though I am still recovering from the virus-progressing-to-bronchitis fun times as is tradition for me this time of year), then head home to get started on the big cleaning day.

 

I woke up with a headache. Not unusual lately. I apparently sleep on my right side, because all fluid in my whole head was lodged in the right side, especially the sinuses. Usually this gets better the longer I am up (being mostly upright and walking around and all…). Not on that day. My headache got worse and worse. I took NSAIDs and a decongestant when I got to work, drank 2 cups of coffee, ate a little something, drank plenty of water… Nothing. Just getting worse.

Got home, after not running, and took more NSAIDs, drank more water, and hid my head under a blanket. Nothing. Plus I was freezing. I took a super hot shower, which made my sinuses feel better but I still had a headache and while standing in the shower, I suddenly felt SO SLEEPY that I almost fell asleep standing up. In the shower. I got out of the shower and went straight into bed without even drying off. Woke up in 45 minutes. Headache was mostly gone, but it was still hovering around the edges and my body felt dead tired.

I made it back to work, came home, ate a sandwich and went right back to bed.

 

I’m still feeling like my body is tired and I am still coughing up my lungs, but the headache is mostly gone.

I learned 2 things that day:

1) I have a wonderful little family. My husband and daughter didn’t expect epic things from me that day. They snuggled with me when I needed it; they did their own things when I needed a nap; they took care of their own dinner.

2) My resolutions needed to be adjusted.

 

Apparently the Universe and my body got tired of trying to nudge me toward a healthier mindset and decided to just shove me in that direction. I don’t have my goals quite right. Turns out, I don’t need to push myself as hard as I can. (Now there’s something that IS REALLY, REALLY hard for me to get my head around.) I need to take care of myself. There it is. My new goal.

Take care of yourself.

Woah. Such a cliché little phrase of 4 words. But that day, it meant something.

Take care of yourself. You only get one go at this. No one but you is expecting you to be perfect and to do everything.

You want to exercise because you know it helps you feel better? You should definitely do that. You want to beat yourself up because you didn’t run as fast or as far or as often as you planned? No. Not this year.

You want to eat healthier because you want to fuel your body with good stuff instead of junk that makes you feel cranky and sluggish? You should do that. You want to mentally berate yourself because you ate too many cookies at work and you worked too late to make the meal you planned and now you’re having a PB&J for dinner? No. Not this year.

You want to organize things so that you can find them easily (since your memory is not so good lately)? Good idea. You want to get frustrated because your stuff doesn’t look like a magazine or pictures on Facebook and Pinterest? No. Not anymore.

Take care of yourself.

I have a hard time setting aside time for me to take care of me. It feels selfish and I have a really long list of things I “should” be doing instead. But that’s silly. I know, I know. I’ve heard the whole “you have to put on your own oxygen mask before you can help others – that’s why they say that in the pre-flight instructions” stories and all the little inspirational quotes. And they’re true and they sound good. But I never actually internalized them. They were just another thing to put in my “you should do this” file in my brain <– which is totally disorganized and often misplaced (the files in my brain, not my brain itself. Thank god that thing is encased in bone or it would have been lost a long time ago!)

My body and my spirit were telling me to take care of myself. I am important and, although I am unique and irreplaceable, I don’t have to do everything. And, even though this is REALLY hard to admit, I can’t do everything. I just can’t. And you know what? That’s not a failure or a weakness. It’s just a fact. I can do a lot of awesome things, but I can’t do everything all at the same time. I’m going to have to pick and choose what I can do. (It’s hard for me to even type that). And the way to decide what I am going to do is to take care of myself. Number one. And not in the “look out for number one” kind of way. More of the “I need to water and nourish this tree so it can provide fruit and shade and protection for others and so it will be able to weather the storms” kind of way.

So I have rested and slept and snuggled with my family and I haven’t put any pressure on myself this weekend. Each day, I still made a to-do list because if I don’t make a list, I feel confused and directionless and like I’m forgetting everything I wanted to accomplish and it’s just not good for my brain. But this time, my list just had 2 tasks on it: one was something I needed to get done that day, but was very attainable since it was just one thing; the other was “Take care of yourself.”

Each day that may be different. The past few days, it has meant that I needed to rest. But tomorrow that may mean I try out the online yoga site I looked at or I might go run or swim after work, even though there are lots of things I “should” be doing then.

Today’s to-do list says:

1.Take care of yourself.

  1. Do laundry.

If I have energy and the desire, I’ll also clean up the kitchen and plan meals for the week.

 

If not, that’s ok.

It’s not even on my list.

 

You know that ridiculous scene…

Hey there, people!! I have been so busy doing productive things and being fit and having tons of energy that I haven’t had a chance to sit down at a computer!!!   Hahahahahahahahahaha. Hahahahahahaha. Oh my. Whew. Not even close.

I’ve been a slug. This “Sad Woman in Spandex” still has the propensity to be sad, but hasn’t worn any spandex in MONTHS. Months. I did wear some leggings during the hilliest half marathon ever. But I only wore the leggings because it was cold and I hadn’t run in MONTHS and knew there would be serious chafing issues without them.

So, I’m still struggling to find my mojo. It’s around here somewhere and I’m pretty sure someday I will find it again because I get glimpses of it every now and then, like in those blurry Sasquatch photos. And, I am witnessing mojo-finding happening right in front of me. Just not BY me. Not directly.

 

You know those scenes in action movies where the hero is getting absolutely beaten to a pulp and then, all of a sudden, he rallies? He finds this strength and a big burst of energy, and he not only defeats the guy kicking his ass, but he saves the whole world at the same time. You know that scene. The one you secretly love because it feels so great, but you also roll your eyes at because, seriously, that DOESN’T happen. I mean, really. It’s up there with having never-ending bullets or all the bad guys having bad aim or all the enemies only attacking the hero one at a time… It’s fun and makes for a great story, but it just isn’t real.

 

Except that it is. I am seeing it in front of my own eyes right now.

 

You may know that I have gone through some… rough patches. I wasn’t the only one affected by the publicity and notoriety of the Incident. I was the sympathetic figure in whatever fantasy the media created. For me, the Incident ended up being liberating. I didn’t have to hide my depression anymore; I could be honest and just be me.

It didn’t have the same redeeming effects for my husband. He was vilified. The media skewed the story (and sometimes downright lied) to make it seem as though he was abusive. People he thought were his friends turned their backs on him. He left his job and was bullied, slandered, libeled, and harassed via social media.  It broke his heart and his faith in humanity.

He ended up taking a position in a city 100 miles away. We were all going to move there, but when I couldn’t find a job, we ended up renegotiating things and moving all our stuff BACK home. He still works there (doing great things!) and for a while was there all alone most of the time (and this is a man who does NOT like to be alone.   When he was a kid, he used to lie down in front of the door to keep people from leaving, and I’m not convinced he wouldn’t do that now…)

It was hard on him. Really, really hard on him. Where I came out of the Incident with a silver lining, all he got was rain and hail.

It was a miserable couple of years for him. He tried to be tough and just power through it, like he does. “I don’t have the body of a runner? Ok. I’ll run 10+ marathons and a couple of ultras.” “I don’t look like a triathlete? Ok. I’ll do 4 Ironmans.” “Oh no! I wrecked at mile 16 of my first Ironman and broke my bike? Ok. I’ll splint that shit with duct tape and a stick and keep going even with my broken bones.” That’s my guy!   That’s why when he got off the bike at that first Ironman and asked me, “Can I do this?” I responded with, “Can you walk? Then go!!”  Because he can and will do whatever he sets his mind to.

It’s been heartbreaking to see his spirit broken and the light in his eyes a little dimmer. His laugh had just an edge of bitterness and he didn’t laugh as easily. I was watching the hero of the story being beaten to a pulp.

But now, I’m watching that unbelievable scene. You know the one. That rally. That second wind, that rush of adrenaline, that light appearing in the hero’s eyes, that comeback. The hero broke those chains in the dungeon or found that sword that was buried or got his sonic screwdriver working or stood up when the bad guy started gloating.

And you know the feeling you get when you watch that scene in the movie theater? With the full surround sound, Dolby Digital, 3D experience. When your heart swells up into your throat and you want to jump up and cheer (but you usually don’t because, well, people…. But sometimes someone else does so you do too and the whole theater goes wild cheering?)

Well, let me tell you, it’s even more amazing when you see it in person.

The hero is back.  He’s winning.  And I’m cheering him on.

One of those days

Today is one of those days. I’m anxious. I’m sad. I dread going to work and having to deal with people and having to think and make decisions. I feel like I can’t really think. I didn’t sleep well, I haven’t been eating well, and, aside from the morning after my last post, I haven’t convinced myself to exercise. 

I’m not sharing this for sympathy, although feel free to feel sorry for me and my first world problems… I share this so that you will you know that there are days like this. I am so much better than I was a few years ago, but I still struggle. Sometimes it’s mild, but sometimes it’s hard to force myself out of bed to go through the motions. 

One big difference now as opposed to before is that now I know that things will be ok and that there is hope. I know that once I start moving again, things will fall back into place. That’s a really hard thing to see when you’re depressed, even if your depression is pretty well under control and it only rears its head every now and then. 
I’m going to keep plodding along today, knowing that things are going to look a lot better once I crawl out of this day. 

Just a Push

I’m still here! It’s been a minute or two since I last posted. Thanks for hanging in there!

I don’t really have anything profound to say, but my doctor prescribed writing another post when I went in for my yearly checkup 3 years late today! (I have the best OB/Gyn ever. THE best. Seriously. A friend who I had referred to her actually chose an insurance plan based on whether Dr Wonderful was in network.) My wonderful doctor also prescribed that I sign up for the local sprint triathlon in August. Which I will totally do. I may not train for it, but I will do it.

Speaking of training – or not training – I haven’t done any. At all. None. I know you are shocked and are currently picking yourself up off the ground. It’s ok. I’ll give you a minute to recover. I’ll just go over here and EAT A HUGE BOWL OF PASTA while I wait. Because that’s what I’ve been doing. Steady yourself because I have another shocker: I’ve gained 20 lbs. And I feel like shit. And I am mad at myself for being lazy while at the same time totally rationalizing why I can’t get back on track. (You cannot even imagine how good I am at this game.)

Exercise time: I’m tired. I had a long day. I haven’t spent enough time with my daughter. I have to drive to another city to be with my husband. It’s too hot. I’m too hungry. My stomach is too full. It’s too early. It’s too late. It might rain. I might get sunburned. The place where the saltwater catfish barb stuck in the middle of my palm hurts (and, yes, it still does a little, even though that was 2 weeks ago). I didn’t bring the right shirt. This shirt doesn’t feel good today…

Later: Why didn’t you go run? You would have felt better. You are so lazy. You didn’t used to be this way. How did you ever do an Ironman? Why can’t you eat healthy? It’s not that hard. You really are so lazy.  And on and on.

Even later (approximately right now): Oh I’ll set my alarm for really early and go before it gets hot. See? I even set my clothes out. I will reward myself with a tasty coffee when I get finished. It will feel so good to get that accomplished.

Morning (probably tomorrow morning): ZZZZzzzzzzzzzz. <snooze> zzzzzzzzzzz <snooze> zzzzzzzzzz Why don’t I just reset this alarm for when I will really get up?

Every. Single. Day.

So, I need a new goal. That’s why my doctor prescribed the triathlon. She knows it’s not a big goal for me, but just the act of signing up for it might encourage me to sign up for something more. Sometimes I need a push. A gentle nudge, or a playful push, or a hard shove, depending on the particular situation.

Planning to move from our awesome city to a small, conservative town pushed me to find new things to focus on. (It turns out that I like to bake. I thought I was a shitty baker all this time, but it was really just that I have a shitty oven. The small town oven is great! I also like to do crafts, or at least attempt them… who knew?)

Not being able to find a job in an area closer to my husband’s job pushed me to talk to my boss and figure out an arrangement that allowed me to stay in our awesome city and house and will allow my incredible husband to try something new!

The Incident was a pretty big shove. But it pushed me out of the dark place into the open where I had to face my depression and the fact that it was serious. It forced me to admit that I couldn’t just “get over it” and I needed some help.

It always takes a push for me. A goal. So I’m going to set one. It’s going to be epic. Exciting. I am going to call it a goal and it will be something to strive for. I am going to put it in writing. Are you ready?!

 

Rather than trying to be perfect (and failing miserably), I will aim to be a little bit better than I was yesterday.

Boom.

There it is.

Once I can manage that for a week, I’ll build on it. I also have a secret goal (Do normal people have “secret goals” or is that just triathletes? Like when someone asks what your goal is for a race and you say, “Oh, I just want to finish.” But really you want to finish in a certain time… No? Just me, then.) My secret goal is to post something (even stream-of-consciousness drivel like this) once a week, maybe even for accountability. I haven’t decided on a day yet, so DON’T PRESSURE ME!

Or you can. Just call it a push.

Yeah, but…

It’s been a long time since I’ve posted.  Ups and downs and ups and downs.  You know the story.  Work is crazy but better than it used to be.  Life in general is ridiculous but better than the alternative.  <——– please note that there was a time not terribly long ago that I didn’t believe this.  Things are definitely better!

Spring is here and things are green and warm and wonderful, even with the heavy coating of yellow pollen everywhere.  I’m back on my steroid inhaler for asthma that I really do try to use twice daily.  Really.  And I realize that my plans for great core training and healthy eating during the off-season have turned into fantasies that continue on into the spring.  Profound thought from Janis Joplin: Tomorrow never comes.  Every night when I think “Tomorrow is the day I start getting back into being healthy by running and eating right” turns into the next day when I think “Well hell.  I just had McDonald’s and a doughnut for breakfast and I hit snooze too many times to run before work and I have to drive 2 hours home and there’s no way I can fit in a run and I guess I’ll just do it tomorrow.” But then “tomorrow” turns into “today” and… well, you get the picture.

I have eaten healthier the past two days though, so there’s that.  A super awesome friend at work made soup this weekend and brought me some.  It was delicious and much better than the Taco Bell I probably would have resorted to otherwise!  Another super awesome friend at work fixed the hot water in the shower so I can exercise before work or during lunch and shower away the sweat.  (The potential to do that is there, anyway.)

Speaking of work, the past few weeks have really opened my eyes to yet another issue I have.  (Geez.  I just never know where these stream-of-consciousness posts are going to take me!)  I had to discuss job stuff.  I have been interviewing for positions near our new town.  This sucks and I hate it.  I hate it because interviews are weird and awkward and you’re being judged and you’re trying to take in everything and judge it and decide if it’s a good fit and then you have to talk about money (oh hell, please let the other person bring it up. it’s their hospital.  don’t make me ask.).  But it has been eye-opening.  Turns out, I know more than I thought I did.

I have been a veterinarian for 12 (TWELVE!?!?!?) years now.  I am starting to feel like I might be fairly okay at it.  (I know this is not at all reassuring to my friends who are also clients who are reading this.  But your pets have survived so far, so that’s pretty good, right?)  And this is my issue.  I totally under-value myself and my abilities.

I’m not sure if I always have, but it’s been there for as long as I can remember.  People are always complimenting me and (like my incredible mother taught me) I accept their compliment gracefully.  But in my mind I am thinking, “Yeah, but…”

Yeah, but I wasn’t sure.  Yeah, but I mess up a lot.  Yeah, but I don’t sing as well as 99% of other people here.  Yeah, but it was luck.  Yeah, but I barely finished the race.  Yeah, but I missed that diagnosis on that other patient last year.  Yeah, but I could have done better.  And that is where it lies.  Yeah, but I could have done better.

My husband looks at me like I’m crazy when I tell him that.  He reassures me and lists all the ways I am awesome (because he is a saint to live with me).  And with each bullet point, I think, “Yeah, but I could have done better.”

I have some confessions:  I almost retook the ACT in high school because I only made a 32.  I almost retook the SAT because a 1450 wasn’t good enough.  I applied to vet school because it was harder to get into than medical school.  (And people are awful.  Bleh.)  I didn’t do a half-marathon until after I did a marathon.  I don’t feel like an Ironman because it took me forever and I had to go to the medical tent.  I’m not a runner because I’m slow. I can sing kind of good, but not great.  (I don’t even have perfect pitch. I can barely sight-read.  I could never be a professional vocalist.)  I am not a great mother because I work and I let my kid watch TV more than she should.  I am not a good veterinarian because I doubt myself and I don’t always just KNOW the answer and sometimes I even get things wrong.

Seriously?  Yes.

The thing is, if someone handed me a list of all the awesome shit I have done or continue to do, I would tell them they are awesome.  I would tell them how amazing they are and how tough they must be to do all this.  I would tell them that no one is perfect and everyone doubts themselves, but that they are doing great.  Better than great.  I would tell them that everything is ok and that life is hard but good.

But as soon as they told me this was a list about me, I’d say, “Yeah, but I could have done better.”

What. The. Hell. Is. Wrong. With. Me?

I don’t think I am alone in this.  And I am aware of it (Knowing is half the battle!  Thanks, GI Joe!!) so there’s that.  But it’s not so easy to change.  It’s been with me for a long time, and I’m having trouble shaking it.  I have to go into these interviews and act like I am worth them hiring me and worth X amount of money, while I’m thinking that maybe I’m not.  Ok, maybe I’m only worth X-Z amount of money.  Maybe I wouldn’t be a benefit to your hospital.  It actually really sucks.  But, like all character building exercises, I’m sure it will be good for me.

I researched this (because I’m a nerd) and it turns out this is not uncommon.  You all probably deal with it too and think I’m just a complainer, but this is my blog so suck it.  It even has a name.  “Imposter Syndrome”  I’m just waiting for people to figure out that I have no freaking clue what I am doing (even though I mostly do, but don’t tell that to my anxiety and my overactive brain…  shhhh) Those articles I read were really interesting, but they didn’t actually tell me how to fix it.  There is probably no cure.  I’m pretty sure it’s terminal.

So I decided that I would make up my own tiny attempt at maybe slightly improving my self-esteem.  Just a tiny bit.  Kind of.  Maybe?

I am going to make a conscious effort to replace one word in my weird internal dialogue.  Instead of “Yeah, but…”  I’m really going to try for “Yeah, and…”  One little word change.  It’s not even a big word.  Three letters.  I mean, that’s what I would say to any one of you.  If you told me your achievements and said, ” …but I would have done better,” I would act like you were crazy and say, “Whatever.  You did this AND you were also dealing with this,” or “Yeah, AND you even did this.”

This may be wildly optimistic, given my track record of failed plans, but I am going to try to catch myself in the “Yeah, but” part and start saying, “Yeah, and.”  It doesn’t even have to be a positive about me.  As long as it isn’t critical about me.  “You sang beautifully.”  “Yeah, and it was such amazing music.”  “Great job on your race.”  “Yeah, and it was such a pretty day.”  “You did a good job with that case”  “Yeah, and isn’t she the cutest cat ever?” “Your resume looks great.”  “Yeah, and I’m a motherf*ckin badass rockstar!!!”  Well, maybe I won’t say that last one out loud.  But, depending on the interviewer, I might.  (And that’s probably the place I would most like to work.)

It’s a tiny change but I’m hoping for at least a little impact.  Maybe it’s about time I try to treat myself like I would treat a friend instead of treating myself like someone might treat a red-headed stepchild…

“I think you’re great”  Yeah, AND I am!    <——- that made me cringe to type.  It sounds so arrogant.  But I’m going to leave it in here.  You all are great for sure!