Friday, December 21, 2018

Hello Depression!

It's been a rough few weeks here at Casa Denise: I have a project at work that requires skills I'm not familiar nor comfortable with so it's pushing me out of my comfort zone, my mother-in-law lost her (very young) best friend to cancer, and my father had a cancerous skin lesion removed (requiring a skin graft from his shoulder). Any of these separately would be rough but manageable; all of them together are a lot to process through.

I'm not sure if all of that triggered the really nasty bout of depression I'm dealing with or if it's just a coincidence, or possibly related to the stress of trying to keep up with holiday expectations - regardless of cause, it's here and it's making everything so much harder.

Even simple things, like taking a shower, putting on appropriate, clean clothes for work, and doing laundry feel like huge accomplishments after I've pushed through doing them. Yesterday I shoved the outfit I'd picked out for work the night before back into the closet in favor of skirted leggings and a gorgeously soft cashmere sweatshirt because it felt like the closest thing to staying in my pajamas all day.

And, in essence, that's how I cope: I can't stay in bed at home all day, for a variety of reasons, but I can triple down on tactics that make me feel safe, loved, and comfortable.

Tactics such as -

  • Putting the flannel sheets on the bed - soft, comfortable, and indulgent
  • Buying myself a cashmere robe and slippers - ditto
  • Calling my mother more frequently (we usually chat every morning but recently I'm calling in the afternoon, too)
  • Listening to an Audible book that I love while I'm folding laundry (I really dislike folding laundry)
  • Finding ways to make my comfortable clothes look presentable for work
Of course, there are less healthy behaviors that I've also been engaging in, like -
  • Eating sugary baked goods - flour and sugar pack a one-two punch for me since they both raise my blood sugar and also upset my stomach
  • Procrastinating on things that need my attention at work
  • Skipping scheduled workouts that I don't feel like doing - daily activity is one of the cornerstones of my diabetes self-management plan and it cannot be optional
Something new that I'm using to help keep me safe and secure while the depression passes is a (completely free!) app called Booster Buddy, which lets you check in on how you're doing each day then gives you small missions to increase your coping skills, boost confidence, etcetera. It's intended for kids and teens but I find it very helpful for managing my symptoms while also reminding me to be kinder to myself. In fact, it was the app that sent me over here to write today, so that's a nice win-win.

If you are struggling with depression, know that you are not alone - I'm right here with you - and that there are a lot of people and tools that want to help.

If you don't feel safe right now and need someone to talk to about it, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is available 24 hours a day, even on holidays, and there are trained volunteers there who are ready and waiting to listen - please call 1-800-273-8255 or you can start an electronic chat here.

Depression is so hard because it's wrapped around the inside your brain and all of the horrible things it tells you about yourself feel real, but, with proper care and patience, it will pass. Take care of yourself, reach out, stay safe!

Thursday, November 22, 2018

Why not blog about it?


Yes, after several years of silence, I'm writing a blog post. Why? Well, why not?

I remember when writing something every day was just what I did...sort of like breathing or drinking coffee, but I stopped when I couldn't figure out what my "message" should be and how to "connect to my readers". The thing I've realized, though, is that I just don't care about that stuff, and I don't need to: I have a job that pays my bills (at least for the moment) so "monetization" or whatever the cool kids call it shouldn't be my motivation for writing.

But what is my motivation for writing, then, if not to make money? A few things spring immediately to mind:

  1. To remember what creating something feels like. I have loved to write creatively since I can remember; I miss that
  2. To organize my thoughts about what I want to accomplish. Without goals, I tend to be disorganized, and without writing down my goals and checking in on them occasionally, I don't make progress toward them.
  3. To counter some of the stupid things I read online conflating intentional weight loss with health and happiness. Oh yes, I was one of those people not too long ago - with the proud "before and after" pictures of myself, the weekly weigh-ins, the gnashing of teeth and wailing every time the scale didn't do what I wanted it to; I am sorry for that and promise to do better.
So that's about it: be creative, get things done, and provide a counterpoint to all of the content on the internet saying that, to be "healthy" (as though that's 100% within your control) you need to lose weight or "get lean" or whatever the latest craze is. Nothing fancy.

If anyone ever reads this, drop a comment to let me know how that sounds and if there's anything else you'd like to hear about from me.

And now I'm off to get ready for Thanksgiving dinner - ta ta for now!

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

One down, one to go

Last summer I signed up for two runDisney events: the Disney Princess Half Marathon in Orlando and the Tinkerbell Half Marathon in Anaheim. This weekend I finished the first of these events and the next is coming up in less than 11 weeks now. It's a good feeling to have one of the two done and now I have a lovely medal to admire while I train for the next event. (Yes, it's true: I run for bling and brunch!)

at Epcot World Showcase with my medal and TCB
Wouldn't a picture from the actual race be nice here?

Sadly, neither TCB nor I thought to take any photos directly after the race, so I'll have to see what the official race photographer ended up with once those photos are available next week. The picture above does show my medal, though, and my Princess Aurora running skirt (I threw it on over my shorts with a new/clean running shirt), which I wore all day at Epcot and Magic Kingdom because I trained hard for this event and I wanted to celebrate for the rest of the day.

For my official souvenir of the race, I bought a silver Cinderella Castle charm that I have already threaded through the laces of my left running shoe. After I finish the next one (May 8), I'll add Sleeping Beauty Castle to my right running shoe and my race training will come to an end for a little while.

There are still over two months to go before that day, though, so I laced up my running shoes this morning for my first post-Half training run; it went well. I have been surprised at how little soreness and stiffness I've experienced since Sunday, which is certainly a good thing. I'll run again (another 3 miler) on Friday then a short 4 miler on Sunday to wrap up the week. I signed up for Pilates class on Monday morning so that I can get back into that routine because it makes me happy and helps with my flexibility and core strength (both of which help my running tremendously); I'll start back with weight machine circuits next Tuesday and Thursday, too.

My days and nights used to revolve around food and television, and now I spend most of my time focused on moving and taking care of my body - it's amazing how much better I feel when I stick to this routine. It might not be glamourous, but feeling good, having fun, and staying healthy are my top priorities.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Mixing things up

Part of the reason that I've been going to physical therapy since June last year is that I sit a lot at my job. It took quite a while to figure that out but that's where we are: it's not the running, it's not the walking, it's the sitting. I'm trying hard to take standing breaks at least once an hour - my Apple Watch buzzes in case I forget about it, so that's getting better than it was before I started paying more attention.

The other factor in my continuing hip/glute/lower back pain is a lack of cross training and more specifically not doing any resistance/strength training. I love to walk outside in the morning - it's relaxing, it's a great way to burn calories while getting some fresh air - but combining four mornings of walking with three mornings of wogging (repeated walk/jog intervals) is great for my cardiovascular endurance but not so much for my muscle strength. I keep saying that I'm going to go the gym in the mornings to lift weights but then I get cold feet the night before and decide to just go for a walk instead.

This weekend I decided that if I was going to make a change, I needed to work with my motivational style, which is far more obliger than anything else, so I sent Kay Lynn a text message to ask if she'd meet me at the gym Tuesday and Thursday mornings this week; she said yes. After sending a follow-up text message Monday night to confirm, I knew I couldn't back out.

Not a picture of me from this morning
So, up I got with the 4:30 a.m. alarm, dressed, took care of Alouysius the Pug, and off I went to the gym. Kay Lynn was on time, as always, and we got started. Thirty minutes later, I'd finished two full-body circuits and we still had time to hit the treadmill for a 20 minute walk afterwards.

My new workout schedule looks like this:
  • Wednesday, Friday, and Sunday will remain my dedicated days for wogging
  • weights on Tuesday and Thursday
  • walking plus gentle yoga on Saturday and Monday (day before and after my long wog)

How do you fit both cardiovascular and strength training into your exercise routine? Do you have a preference for one over the other?