Thursday, February 21, 2013

Dig deep. . .

I am officially sidelined.  Grrrrr.  After a plague of minor and not so minor injuries ( sprains, strains, bursitis, plus some arthritis in my hips and knees), it seems that running may not be in my future - at least not the foreseeable future.  ( I am still holding out hope that it will be possible at some point - gotta keep the dream alive!)  I am also now on crutches, after my doctor lost it and told me that if I don't actually "rest and do nothing" I will be  a crippled old woman in a wheelchair at age 55.  Thanks Doc.  ( She may have been a wee bit annoyed at my lack of compliance!)  Needless to say, I am trying very hard to "rest and do nothing".

Crutches suck, by the way.

Despite my joking, I am pretty devastated.  It does seem that every time I get to a certain point in my fitness, something happens and I am back to square one, again.  For the billionth time.  I do not dig this.  Not quite sure what lesson it is that I am supposed to be learning from this, but it makes me pretty darn crabby.  I am not fun when I am crabby,  In fact, I am not fun to be around when I am crabby.  (Sorry family and friends.)

So once again I feel like I am at a crossroads in terms of this process.  Along with not being able to exercise at all ( not even old lady aqua aerobics - sorry to offend any aqua aerobics enthusiasts) until they figure out exactly what is going on, my eating has pretty much devolved into a sugar and saturated fat laced disaster.  Oh the predictability of these old patterns - just when I thought I had my sh*t together.  A friendly reminder from the universe that I still have a LOT of internal work still to do ( don't we all).

So now I need to regroup and come up with a new plan.  I am deeply grieving the fact that I won't be running my half marathon.  I cannot bring myself to completely let it go as a goal/dream, but it may be that I need to make some difficult decisions about running in the (hopefully not too near) future.  Honestly, I can't go there right now.  Astonishingly, the thought of giving up running brings me to tears - something I never in my entire life believed would be possible.  A sign of  some progress, I guess.

My new plan will likely include walking - and yes walking enthusiasts, I know you think it is amazing - I am not quite so enthusiastic - and possibly swimming.  No aqua aerobics. Ever. Seriously.  Yes, I am knocking it BEFORE I try it.  My doc suggested cycling when I get the green light to exercise.  I smiled politely, nodded my head, and thought about stabbing my eyes with a fork.  Cycling isn't really my thing (although Freddy Mercury almost had me convinced).  Obviously I have a little resistance to trying something new.  But i will get over that.  I have to.

As for the eating, I think it's time to put the pity party to bed and stop medicating myself with sugar and fat.  And mac and cheese.  And ice cream.  And potato chips.  Did I mention the sugar and fat?  time to refocus, and eat to improve my health and speed my healing.  Hello again, kale chips.

It is time to dig deep - to find the motivation I need to stay focused on my long term goal of  living a healthy life, even the when things go to hell.  I mean really, there are problems in the world a lot worse than me not being able to run a half marathon.  But I will need to dig deep within myself to stay focused and motivated over the next while.  And that is ok, because it is all part of the process - but no guarantees that I won't be a wee bit crabby along the way.  I am good, but not THAT good!

Monday, February 11, 2013

Let's talk. . .

Typically, I try to be somewhat funny and irreverent, and just a little cheeky when I am blogging.  It is a fairly honed skill I have developed over the years - a bit of a stereotype, actually.  You know, the fat funny girl, the one everyone finds hilarious, the one who often does not ever reveal what is actually going on inside.  I like that part of me - it keeps me safe when I don't want to "go there", and plus it is a bit of a bonus that when you are somewhat funny, people like to be around you.  And I really like people around me.

But today I want to be serious.  Partly for me, partly for the many, many people who live with mental illness in this country, and around the world.  Here in Canada, tomorrow, February 12th is "Let's Talk" day, sponsored by Bell.  It is a day to talk openly about mental illness, to try to reduce the stigma associated with mental illness, and to assist people to access resources for diagnosis, treatment and support.  I think it is a very important initiative, for very personal reasons.

You see, I have a mental illness.  Yup, it's true.  The fat, funny gal with the big laugh, and bigger butt.  I have lived with depression for many years, beginning when I was first diagnosed in 1st year university, up to today.  Almost 30 years. Two thirds of my life.

Some of you know this about me.  Most people don't.  There is really no need for me to announce the fact to everyone I meet - "Hi I'm Jacquelin and I live with a mental illness, let's be friends!"  But today I want to share this part of who I am, because I believe it is really, really important that we talk about mental illness, that we are honest about our experiences, and that we seek solutions together.  It is not the end of the world for me to have depression, but at times in my life it has sure felt like it.  I am hoping that by sharing my story, I can break down some of the stigma about who gets a mental illness and what that looks like.

So what does it mean to live with depression?  For me it has meant lots of sadness, lots of dark days, lots of therapy, and lots of love and laughter.  Sometimes, life has seemed so dark that I thought I would never survive, I didn't want to.  There have been moments of absolute profound joy, like when each of my beautiful children were born.  There has been an ocean of tears, hours of talking and thinking and listening with  a therapist, and a virtual pharmacy of antidepressants to figure out what would work for me at any given time in my life.  It has been incredibly difficult at times, and I have been blessed with family and friends and a partner who have chosen to love me in spite of the challenges that living with a depressed person present.  Let's face it - mental illness is not for the faint of heart.  Anyone who thinks that it is an "easy" out has absolutely no clue what it means to deal with mental health concerns on a daily basis, year in, year out.

Despite the challenges, I am lucky.  I have had access to therapy, and medication when I needed it, and a circle of supportive people who have loved me in spite of how crazy I have felt ( and acted).  Sometimes I wish I didn't have to still take anti depressants every day.  I sometimes feel like I want to be "normal", whatever that is, and who defines what that is, anyway?  But like an insulin dependent diabetic, I have a chemical imbalance in my body that requires me to manage it with medication.  It is not an easy way out, or me failing to deal with my problems.  It is what helps me to be a healthy mom, wife, friend, sister, daughter, worker, and coach.  And I am all of those things and much, much more.  So much more than a diagnosis.

So, my secret is out.  Never really was a secret, but it wasn't something I felt comfortable sharing widely.  But talking about mental illness is the thing that ultimately is going to help me, and many others like me, and their families and friends.  Mental illness is not a character flaw, nor is it a disability.  It is simply one piece of the complicated puzzle that makes up me.  I am ok with that.  And I hope you will be, too.
For more information on depression and other mental illnesses, please check out the following links:

For info about mental health and children and youth: