The Puzzle of My Grey Matter

Many of you who know me well know that I am a very sarcastic, pessimistic person. “Always prepare for the worst……”. I had a psychiatrist describe me one time as a “catastrophizer”. I remember feeling so much more calm that there was a word for my weird and anxious mind.

Lately, however, I am just confused. It is an odd confusion. Like I am trying to find my place within myself but can’t without breaking into pieces of a puzzle. I have good days, but they are few and far between. I have bad days that are most often where my mind sits.

“Am I doing a good job with my clients? If so, why do they fail? Had I missed something? Why didn’t they ask for help? Maybe they did and I just brushed it off.”

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“This week there is one day where I can go home after work. Monday, gym, work, derby. Tuesday, gym, work, FAN meeting, Wednesday, gym, work, derby. Thursday, gym, work (court), home. Friday, gym, work (court)…………” By Friday I just don’t know what to do, really. I feel very busy in the most not busy way. I feel frustrated. Overwhelmed.

I think it takes me until Sunday to even get used to being home. Not to say that I am not home, or that I do not take care of the fur kids, but it just feels odd being home. By Sunday there is all the things to do that I should have been doing on Saturday. But I have derby on Sunday mornings and then after I feel like resting.

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I am tired in the most awake way. I am mean and rude in the most happy way. But a lot of the time it is like I can hear what I am saying but cannot stop it or change it. I feel like I am “Jonesy” from Stephen King’s Dreamcatcher. There is all of this stuff in my head and all I do is move it around to fit things the best I can. Like a puzzle. I know what I need. What I want. What to say. I just cannot find it. I am not sure any of it is even there anymore…………

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Detroit Women’s Half Marathon

Okay, in an effort to fully release my thought process of reliving the Detroit Women’s Half Marathon, I have laid out my entire thoughts and conversations below. So……a peek into my brain. This entire thought process is over the course of 4 hours and 15 minutes, so, calm down. I know I am crazy!

Pinkish is my brain thoughts.

Green is my verbal discussions.

Blue are my actions.

(At start grouping)

Ugh. My tummy is cramping. What the hell. Maybe it will get better. Maybe I am nervous.

Okay, here we go. 13.1 miles. You’ve done it before. It can’t be much worse.

This isn’t bad. Looks like it will be flat. YAY!

It is hot and muggy, ugh.

Oh, my tummy is better. Just nerves.

Crap, I forgot the bug spray. My luck I will get West Nile.

Oh, look. A dead frog. Poor thing.

(checks watch)

Wow, I am on a pretty good pace. I may finish this with a PR.

Another frog. Ugh. Come on frogs!

Shit. Sunscreen. Forgot sunscreen. Ugh, I am gonna be a big lobster tomorrow.

(going along pretty good)

What? Mile 2? That’s it? Ok, that only a little more than 10 miles, or so. I’ve done that before. As long as I don’t cramp.

Oh, people are turning already! Oh, 5k people. Damn.

Where is the shade? Geesh! All these trees and zero shade. I am totally gonna be burnt tomorrow.

Ok, if I don’t die of West Nile, I will probably die of skin cancer.

Wait? Mile 8? Shit. I gotta make it all the way back here to get to mile 8? That is super disappointing.

Still on good pace, though. Ok. Just breathe.

(pain in left foot)

What is that? My foot? What’s that pain? Ugh, okay. Reset. Walk a little. See if it subsides.

Oh, there is the finish. People are finishing already? The hell! Oh, wait, there was a 5k and 10k option. Why didn’t I do the 5k or 10k instead? I could be done, or mostly done. The fuck was I thinking? But then I wouldn’t get that double medal. Fucking medals. Suck people in every time!

(pass Ron the first time)

Ok, my foot is hurting more. This isn’t good.

Mile 5? Okay. 8 more miles. 8! Shit. That’s a lot. Okay, just keep moving.

Oh, here is a lady at a sign. Okay, people turning towards that mile 8 flag. WOOHOO!

Wait, (reads sign) “first loop straight”? STRAIGHT?!?! OMG! I can’t do this!           

Where was that bathroom? It was by mile 8. Maybe I can, you know, run through the part to the bathroom, then come out the other side……. No. Maybe. No.

(thinks of the article on the Mexico Marathon where 2500 people cut the course and got caught)

Ugh. Both my feet hurt. Are they bleeding? I don’t want to know. Just keep moving.

Oh, a timing mat! See, they read the Mexico Marathon article, too. They knew I would want to cut the course to save my life. Well played, Epic Races. Well played.

Okay, keep moving. Gotta be close.

Oh, a med tent. I need medical. There is a table there. Maybe she will let me just lay down for a few minutes. No, if I stop it will be worse.

There is that yacht club place. Getting closer the that mile 8 flag.

(sees people throwing sticks to their dogs in the water)

Oh, puppies playing in the water! I wanna play with puppies! It would be more fun than this. And cooler. But they don’t give medals for puppy play time. Though, they should. I should work on that.

Holy hell my feet are on fire. I have never felt this much pain before. What the hell is the issue? THE SKATES! Those fucking roller derby skates! They have fucked up my feet! That’s it, no more skating. I will not give up running and triathlons for being wobbly on wheels. I am not good on the skates anywho. Nope. Derby is done.

Man, there are a lot of people using the race area for bike riding. I could use a bike. I won der if I can bribe someone to allow me to hitch a ride for a bit.

Okay, let’s be real. You are not going to stop Derby. But, geez! If it is the skates…..*sigh*

I feel like I am gonna pass out. Crap. Okay, you packed a protein bar in the bag. Get that from Ron. He better not have eaten it! My lord, if he did he is going to carry me, damnit!

(Second time passing Ron. Gets protein bar)

Me: “My feet hurt so bad. I don’t think I can finish this. I think I might pass out.”

               Ron: “You’re doing good. Just keep going.”

(Ron starts to follow me along the course)

Me: “What are you doing?”

               Ron: “Well, if you pass out I want to know where you are.”

(back to eating the protein bar)

This thing is gross. But I need to eat it. I will not make it the rest of these 4 miles unless I do.

Me: “My feet hurt so bad.”

              Ron: “I know. Just breathe.”

              Me: “I have never felt pain like this.”

              Ron: “I know. Just breathe.”

(glares at Ron)

Me: “YOU DO NOT KNOW! AND I AM BREATHING!!!”            

I think I may need to take my shoes off. I am afraid. I don’t want to stop. I need to stop. Wait. Is there a cut off time? There better not be a cut off time! But if there is, that is a good reason the stop.

Where is that second loop sign lady? I just need to get to that lady. Keep moving forward. Forward. Am I moving forward? I can’t even tell anymore.

THE LADY! Wait, what is this guy doing? (Guy who works for the race running towards me)

        Dude: “How are you doing? Are you still in the race?”

No, jackass. I am crying and walking in seering feet pain because I am a masochist and enjoy the feeling of my feet feeling like they have been smashed with a sledgehammer.

Me: “Um, yep. I am moving. Not doing good, but still moving.”

                Dude: “Ok, you are getting close to the cut off time.”

HE JUST SAID WHAT????!!!!?????

                Me: “When is the cut off time?”

                Dude: “Noon. But if you hustle I think they will wait for you.”

Hustle? Hustle. Says the guy who drove here to tell me to hustle. Dude, I will throat punch you in a snap second and beat you with my shoes.

Fifteen minutes. 1.5 miles. No way. Running, yes. But not like this. Just keep moving. Fuck that guy.

Me: “There is no way I am going to make it, but I will try.”

I could stop. My feet would thank me. No. Only 1.5 miles. I have made it this far.

This is the longest race of my life.

(Dude 2 pulls slowly beside me in a vehicle)

Dude 2: “How ya doing?”

                Me: “Not good. But I am still upright.”

                Dude 2: “Do you want to stop? I can give you a ride back.”

                Me: “Am I close to the cut off?” (I look at my watch and it is 11:59am)

                Dude 2: “I don’t think there is a cut off.”

                Me: “What? Some asshat back there told me it was noon!!!”

(I make note to begin a plan of attack on Dude 1 after the race!!!)

Dude 2: “Well, I drive the truck that has all the stuff, so they are not going         anywhere if I am here talking to you.”

                Me: “Well, I want to finish if I can. I am almost done.”

                Dude 2: “Ok. Everyone else behind you got taken in. But I will let them know you are still coming.”

                Me: “Thank you.”

Ok. Pick up the pace. Yes, I know you can’t feel anything below your waist, but try.

(LIGHTBULB REALIZATION!)

Hey…..I have not cramped! Holy crap! Bonus!

I see that finish banner. Okay, you can do this. There are still people there. Is the time clock off? Oh, who cares. Screw my time…..just make it to the barrier there and you can run to the finish.

21617809_10155772879408559_7319709908954952077_nI have to run across the finish. Hobble. Crawl. Fuck it…..just make it across the finish.

 

2017 Come Clean Duathlon

A couple weeks ago I participated in the Come Clean Duathlon in Lansing. This is the second year in a row I have participated in this event. I really enjoy this event. The area and scenery is beautiful, the volunteers and those that work the event are great and everyone that participates is super supportive.

Last year I had my mountain bike. This year I had my road bike. While my overall time was only 2 minutes faster than last year, my overall bike time was 8 minutes faster. I definitely felt more comfortable and enjoyed the race more this year.

Last year I was last. And it was the best I felt at any race that I came in last at. The people, the support, everything was in place to not make me feel like I was a failure. I laughed, joked and had fun with the officers and support staff. This year was no different. They were supportive, welcoming, and overall great people.

The day was perfect. The scenery was amazing. The race….simply……fun.

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Don’t Feed The Monster

So, I have been struggling the last month with intermittent depressive and anxiety bouts that have been peeking through. No idea why this is happening, but there have been some pretty concerning moments. There has been talk of a medication increase, of group therapy in conjunction with my meds and individual therapy and even talk about a short committal stint.

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That being said, one thing I have been struggling with lately is this question. How in the world can I be someone who is qualified to help people with addiction issues when I cannot even seem to manage my own life at times? How can I help others calm down, work through struggles, focus and grow when I only want to run and hide?

That little depressive voice in my head likes to tell me these things. How unworthy I am to help these people. How, if they fail it is because I did not do enough to help them through. How I have totally made the most wrong decision in my life about my life. Dear baby Jesus, what have you done? YOU ARE GOING TO SIMPLY RUIN PEOPLE!!!!!!

Negativity sucks, by the way. And this coming from a super pessimistic person. But when I start to question my daily worth, all I am doing is feeding the monster in my head. That is how my psychiatrist explained it. Respond to the monster talk with “yes” or “no” answers then move on.

“Do you really think you are making a difference?”

“YES” 

“Do you really think these people are listening to you?”

“YES”

It never fails that when I have bouts of good days (and even months) that this fucker comes back into my head. Of course, this time it was much more intense. So……..plan……..Refocus, increase medication, continue to do what makes me happy and keep moving forward. Sometimes, I am even happy with simply standing still. Why? Because it isn’t backwards.

Much Love!

 

Are You Aware?

 

are you aware the shape I am in?

my hands they shake

my head it spins

i am exhausted from trying to be stronger than i feel

trying to stand tall, yet i can only kneel

it hurts, but i am okay

“i am used to it”, i say.

but i haven’t felt alright for a really long time

surrounded by those whom show love and care

yet loneliness is felt almost everywhere

i know the signs and i have a plan

but the longer it takes to feel “right”

the more i am not sure that i can

because behind my smile is a hurting heart

even though i laugh i am falling apart

if you look closely at me

i guarantee you will see

the person i show you is not really me.

Promises, promises…… Or, When you are no longer you anymore.

While I feel empowered by talking about my depression, about accepting my depression, and about growing from my depression……I utterly despise that part of myself.

Sometimes I honestly think that my pharmacist slips placebo pills into my pill bottles. Occasionally, it’s like my meds simply do not work. Now, there are times when I do not take my medication as I should. Many people whom rely on medication to make them “right” tend to test the theory of whether or not meds are still needed. So when I test it and my symptoms rear THEIR ugly side…… My bad! But when I take them and they don’t work……. Who is to blame?

The past few days have been a constant, non-stop ride on a rickety struggle bus. Anxiety attacks, a “resting” heart rate of 95 bpm, and crying while sitting in a seminar because the room is simply too cold.

My brain, in my opinion, is trying to end me. It’s scary to say, and I’m positive even scarier to read for some of you, but it really is trying. And sometimes, it comes startlingly close to convincing me.

Today, as I drove back to my home I had apparently stopped at a rest stop. Not one of my routine rest stops, an unfamiliar one.  I didn’t sleep. I didn’t get out. I didn’t even shut off the car or take off my seatbelt. Next thing I know, as I “came to” I started crying because I couldn’t even remember driving to where I was. What I could remember was the thought of driving my car into the picnic area until it was stopped by something stronger than the gas pedal. No, there were no people in the picnic area (I’m not that much of a monster). But for how ever long, it just all seemed so right. So simple. So…….. Easy.

Sometimes……. I’m scared. Many times…… I’m scarred. And more and more, I feel as if I am forgetting who I am. More and more the “sometimes” gets closer to “every time”.

 

💜💜

A Feel Good Decision

Last week I ran with my run group on Saturday. We are utilizing a new training method, Lydiard Training, which helps to build the legs in longer, slower flat running to create a good base of running before adding in hill training and speed work. It is different, for sure. I have gotten myself into a groove with my interval training of walking and running. However, I was willing to try the change. I decided I would basically forgo all of my previous training with running and try this to see how it made me feel.

Change is difficult. The daunting thought of treadmill running for 45 minutes was definitely a downer. And trying to figure out which running workouts I needed to use for my biking workouts was confusing at first. However, I used Saturday as a way to look at how I was feeling overall. Up until that time my recommended pace to run at was at a walking pace.

I did not end up running as far as was recommended, and I ran faster per mile than it recommended as well. But I realized a few things on this run…….

  1. I was able to run longer periods of time before deciding to walk than I had prior.
  2. I am still not fast, but I feel a lot better after every run overall than I have before.
  3. While I am using this training time to training for the Detroit Women’s Half Marathon, longer distances are simply not for me.

I love running. It has afford me so much since I started 3 years ago. Stress relief, time to process thoughts and emotions, better health and most importantly, amazing friends. But in all honestly, running more than 6 or 7 miles causes feelings of displeasure for the miles after that. I do not want to hate running. And right now, I think that the longer distances have not afforded me enough to want to continue.

I have been going back and forth with the thoughts of this for a while. However, I was still on the fence and able to look at things and tell myself that I was not ready for that decision yet. Now, I am and I feel good about the decision. And this does not mean that I will not look at longer distances in the future, but for now……I am happy!

Much Love!

Superhero Capes

As part of week nine of my online class, I was told to learn more about an individual whom has suffered from bulimia, alcoholism and drug abuse. Glennon Melton Doyle is a popular author and recovering addict. Her Ted Talk video hit home for me very much.

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She used the phrase “Superhero Capes” to describe what we as individuals do to make ourselves look and/or act different. This does not always mean we wear these “capes” for bad reasons. Sometimes they are so we don’t have to explain to people that don’t need to know things. “Superhero capes are what we put over our real selves so that our tender selves don’t have to feel and be hurt”. My cape is purple and green and super flowy!

We all do these things in some way, shape or form. Maybe because we do not know someone well enough yet, so the cape “hides” that which we are not ready to reveal. Or maybe it is because we are around someone we don’t quite trust. For those of us who suffer from addiction, depression, anxiety or anything that we struggle with, these capes are like a warm cozy blanket. No matter how successful others see us, or even how successful that we may be, our capes help us.

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Doyle mentioned in her Ted Talk, “I started to feel like a loser in a world that preferred superheros”. So many times our societal expectations set us up to fail. Look this way, feel that way. Feel bad? Take this pill. Suffer from addiction? You’re not alone. Call us! So many things that surround our lives that cause us to think that maybe we are different. Maybe we do feel bad.

However, the fact is, we are all who we are. Whether you choose to open yourself up, or close yourself off. Whether you are a cat person or a dog person. A writer, a storyteller, a magic maker. Who cares. The only one that it should fully matter to is you. If you are unhappy, search for your happy. It may not always be there. May not always be visible. You happy may even be wearing its own cape. But find it.

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Doyle also quotes another beautiful writer, Brene Brown, in saying, “Courage is to tell  the story of who you are with your own heart”. Your own heart. You know who you are. Who you want to be. And while there may be people around you who think you should be something or someone else, realize that may be their cape showing, or may be their true selves.

 

Much Love

2017 Grand Rapids Triathlon

On June 11, 2017 was my second year competing in the Grand Rapids Triathlon. This race has special importance to me as it was the first triathlon I competed in ever. I had the best experience last year, and this year was no different!

There were a few changes. Changes on my behalf, and changes on the behalf of the race itself. I had a “new to me” bike this year. An actual road bike. So no more of my heavy duty mountain bike with road tires. Of course, still not as fancy schmancy as many of the other people on course, but whatever. I was there to better myself from last year, not to make it to the podium!

I also was able to compete in my new wetsuit. Last year I had rented a sleeveless full length suit that was a cardio workout in itself to actually get on. This year was a softer neoprene “shorty” wetsuit. Stopped at above the knees and short sleeves.

As per my usualness, I arrived super early. My wave (the Athena Sprint Distance wave) was not to hit the water until 7:45am, but transition opened up at 5:15am, so that was my goal. Get there early so as to get the prime spot at the end of the bike rack. And, that is what I got!

Now, differences with the race itself. Transition was super long! I heard one participant say, “at least our legs will stay warm with the 17 miles we need to run our bikes out of transition on”. Obviously transition was not that long. But the “Sprint Nationals” section was quite a ways farther back this year than last year. The other downside was that the transition isle was not very wide. So, if I was riding out, and someone else was riding in, one of us would have to step aside to let the other through. Again, not really my concern as I knew I was not going to make any sort of miraculous time, but, other are definitely more serious.

That all being said……the race was still fabulous and went very much better this year for me than it did last year.

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Last year I did not properly fuel myself prior to race start. I had no real understanding of what to do in the case of a triathlon, so I went along with what I would have consumed prior to a running race. That was a mistake. I came out of the water, weak and dizzy. I needed to sit down in T1 and eat as I was nervous about the bike portion. This year I made sure to eat much more properly, and in small amounts right up until the time to get into the coral with my wave. I exited the swim course feeling on point with no real issues at all.

In transition, I had already prepared my bike with approximately 5 fuel gels. As I got my shoes on I consumed ½ a fuel gel then got onto the bike course. Now, lesson learned this year…..In an effort to save time in T2, I put my visor on under my bike helmet. Unfortunately this made my helmet not sit very properly on my head by the time I got to the mount line. O I needed to take time to adjust this. Also, while on the bike course, I needed to pull my head back farther to be able to see ahead of me properly, so that created some neck discomfort.

The bike portion was definitely much easier this year with the lighter bike. As I was not really yet comfortable with reaching down to grab a water bottle, I wore a Camelback with a reservoir and was able to easily put the tube in my mouth to attain my hydration. By the time the bike course was done I had not needed to consume any of my nutrition and still felt really good. Also, the biggest difference from last year to this year was the fact that my tailbone did not hurt NEARLY as much as last year.

T2 was a quicker transition than T1. I consumed the last half of the fuel gel from T1 and headed out to the run. However, running was not what was going to happen. My legs were shot! By now the sun was really out and the temperature was increasing to match the high humidity. I walked the first have of the run until my legs felt more able to start running. It was not fast at all. And my run time from last year to this year was slower overall, but, in the end I simply felt better.

Looking at this year in compared to last year, my times were generally better, I felt very much better and once I crossed the finish line I did not need to go to the med tent due to hip cramps.

So once again, the Grand Rapids Triathlon has fed positivity into my thoughts about triathlon competing and have continued to assist me in wanting to do more and more!

Much Love!!!

 

The Good, The Bad And The…….

 

We all have good days and bad days. Hell, we all have good weeks and bad weeks. And I know what constitutes “good” and “bad” is relative to each individual person. And sometimes, we may feel that dwelling on our “bad” is not appropriate given the “bad” that some around us are experiencing. But hey, that does not mean the “bad” for you is not just that…….”bad”.

Luckily, for me, I can feel my emotional “bad” days coming. Sometimes, I have no idea how they come into my brain. Sometimes I do. On occasion I swear it is because my medication is playing a funny little placebo joke on me. You see, when I have a “bad” day that I cannot explain, my whole mood changes. My body, my mannerisms, my speech, everything. Most of the time I am at least nice enough to give those around me (usually my co-workers) a heads up. “Hey, guys, just so you know, today is not a good day”. I am sad. I want to cry at everything. Like the time my pen ran out of ink. I mean, I have like 2500 ink pens in my office. But that pen….THAT pen I loved. Silly, I know.

The sadness breeds thoughts of what I hate about myself. Things I have done. Things I have not done. Where I am in life. Where I wanted to be in life by now. Did I make the right decisions about my life? What if I had done this instead of that? Or that instead of this? Sometimes it brings enough for me to think about running away. Starting over. Maybe even not even finishing.

I am always very open with my counselor about my past, and occasionally current, thoughts of suicide. The plan. It is pretty detailed. Not that I do not care for those in my life, but they would all be okay. Because in my mind there is not much that I have contributed to their lives and well-being. But my furkids would not understand.

Sometimes I wonder whether or not I am the right person for the job that I do. How can I, as messed up as I am, be someone who can appropriately counsel people that suffer in ways I am not familiar with. Sure, I know of addiction. I grew up with it. And I am a pretty smart cookie. But alcohol addiction is not a personal experience for me. And some of the people I work with are just not smart. They do not know if they have a problem. Some don’t even care if they do. And hey, more power to ya, but that’s on you if you drink and drive again. But, knowing that we are all broken in some way or another, maybe even my hot mess self can contribute to the lives of these people. Misery loves company….and I am pretty fun to be around.

Sometimes the “bad” day lasts a few hours. Sometimes days. I am working on bringing myself out of the hole when it happens. See more clearly what I have accomplished in my life. See that yes, there were some life detours, but they were most likely meant to be. See that, occasionally, the people that have come into my life most recently, or even comeback into my life again, hold a special place in my heart and life. Those that needed to leave, never deserved to be in that spot in the first place. That even if I do not speak to some as often as before, I think of them daily and send “Andrea posi-vibes”.

So there will be peaks and valleys with my depression. And it is quick and easy to ride that valley down. And it is a struggle to climb back up. But I am getting quicker and quicker at hitting the top of that peak Every.Single.Day!

 

 

Much Love!