Friday, November 1, 2013

RBC Fitness Challenge Days 12 & 13: Hitting the wall, dealing with depression, and why I walk so weirdly

(photo by Irene Liebler)


To see and/or purchase more amazing photos like the one above (which was somehow able to see inside my brain and capture exactly how I felt), visit photographer Irene Liebler's website.



Previous Entry
Days 9, 10, 11



Day 12


I've hit a wall.

Not literally (although I've been known to do that) and not in a physical sense, either. In fact, body/health-wise I'm actually starting to feel really good. The soreness in the mornings is getting less intense, I've got lots more energy, and I'm starting to observe some tangible results (like my old pants fitting).

But the wall I'm hitting right now is in regards to my head space, particularly with my depression. I don't want to make this article focused in on mental illness, but I do think it is worth nothing it as a very strong factor here. That's because if you have clinical depression and are on a normal workout program, than right about now is when you give up.

Like the previously referenced/linked post from Allie Brosh stated, depression can start to make you feel completely helpless and devoid of any and all hope. You get to a point where you feel like nothing you do matters and that feeling happy or content is just something you don't get to experience anymore.

Now before I go on, I'll address two things that I'm sure at the very least my parents might be freaking out about right now as they read this:

1.) I know that my life isn't devoid of all hope. As my wife Karen often likes to say, "Depression is a $%&#ing liar." I know that I have plenty to live for and to keep me going: My faith in God, my wonderful friends in family, those amazing students that I teach, the fourth season of 'The Walking Dead,' etc.


 Although the way they changed Andrea on the show from 
how she is in the comics can send me into a depressive rage.



I also know that with treatment, medicine, and the passage of time, I will get through this. In a weird meta sort of way, I know that this feeling of "Nothing will ever be good again" is temporary despite currently feeling so crushing and permanent.

2.) I'm not going to kill myself. You're not getting rid of me that easily. 

I also know that despite my best efforts, I still have a lot of people in my life that care greatly about me and would be terribly hurt if I offed myself.

As morbid as this sounds, where I'm at is more in a state of "It sure would be a lot easier/preferable not to exist right now" rather than actively wanting to end my own life. Not only do I know what a terrible thing that would be to do, but it's also a permanent solution to a problem that I have overcome before and will overcome again.

When discussing my current bout of depression with my doctor, she asked me directly "Have you been making any plans for taking your own life?"

"No," I replied, followed by "...well that's not entirely true. I really don't have any plans or intent to kill myself. But in my darkest moments when I have to push back the hardest against those thoughts, I do sometimes wonder if I would have the guts to act out one of my favorite comedy bits from Nick Swardson."

I then described it (embedded below and a very NSFW due to language):





Maybe that wasn't the most appropriate answer, but hopefully it lets you know where my head is at in regards to doing anything harmful to myself. And for what it's worth, that made my doctor laugh (after which she made sure once again that I really wasn't going to try and do anything stupid).

That finally brings us to where Tracie and my current exercise program fits in with all of this. One thing to help keep you going through depression is staying busy. Unfortunately, it's also a necessity and often comes from a place of giving more of your fractured self rather than working on it.

I know that if I start failing at my job, than I'm letting down a lot of students that I care about. I know that if I start failing at writing (which I still do with disheartening frequency), than I'll hear about it in the comments section or from regular readers.

But as far as my own health and body go, that's not really an immediate concern. Aside from the long term health effects (which I don't care that much about at the moment due to the whole "devoid of hope" thing), I have spent many years of my life being both happy and fat.



 ...along with making life miserable for Han Solo and his friends



My current/difficult mental state is due to a mixture of pure depression (which latches onto your brain whether it has a reason to or not) and some major and recent issues/triggers that took me by surprise (even though looking back, I should have seen them coming).

None of this was due to my weight. None of this will be fixed due to the loss of weight from my body. That's why on my own, it would be so easy to say "What's the point" and fire up some Netflix instead of going to the gym.

And don't think it's a money thing, either. I've paid for a full year of a gym membership without going on more than one occasion. Spending money on something you don't use sucks, but anyone who owns a bread maker does that on a daily basis.

With Tracie, however, I felt like her and I were working on a project together that was actually succeeding. With everything feeling all types of terrible, something in my life was drastically changing for the better. That something (which in this case was my fat self) was transforming on a daily and noticable basis.

Another one of the factors keeping me moving forward is that I don't want to let Tracie down and waste all the work she was doing with me. Yes, she would still be my friend if I stopped working out. And yes, I am in a very unique situation training with someone that I had already known for a few years.

But I've also seen how Tracie interacts with other clients. They're comfortable around her. They can open up and talk about personal things. They want her to be proud of them.

I know that my entry on Day 10 sounded very tongue and cheek, but there were moments that I really thought Tracie was trying to break me. My memory is a bit foggy, but during the burn out session of the workout, I might have cursed her name a few times under my breath.


"I hope that sign falls on your head..."


But when I get back up off the floor, her encouragement and immediate feedback makes me ready to go again. In those moments, I want more than anything to make sure that I'm not letting Tracie down. It's like some sort of weird fitness based Stockholm Syndrome. We're in this together, and she's holding up her end; I'll be damned if I don't do everything I can to hold up mine.

And as far as many workouts I do on my own goes, those are chances for me to find some sort of relief from the dark clouds swirling around inside my head. My workout tonight wasn't that great; it took me a few more times than it should have to get forms right and I just felt too tired and drained for cardio. This wasn't due to lacking energy from previously working out, but instead a terrible day combined with my brain cells kicking the crap out of each other.

But I got through it, broke a sweat, and knew that I had at least done one thing right and good for myself that day. As I headed home to another night of struggling to get to sleep while reconciling my thoughts, I had at least one thing to hang my hat on...and on days like these, it can feel like the only thing that's working.



Day 13

...and just like that, today I feel much better. Not great, mind you, but not nearly as distraught an hopeless as the previous evening. Such is the wild and crazy ride of bipolar depression! 

Honestly, a lot of it has to do with the fact that a couple of article I wrote did well and a day after a plunge into the mental depths usually results in a tomorrow graced with a little more perspective.

But a consistent factor helping me fight this is the fact that I'm starting to feel better. It's not just the weight loss, either. One of Tracie's primary goals that she had for me was to develop better mobility. After one of our first workouts, she looked at me and said "Six months from now, the kids at school won't be making fun of the way you walk anymore."

For the many of you that have never observed me travel on foot, my walking motion was described by one of my 7th grade flute players as looking like "a velociraptor with a stick shoved up its butt.

Yet as I walked down the hall at school today, I felt like I had a much better range of motion. I supposed it could have been all in my head and/or wishful thinking, but I also didn't feel as "boxed in" physically while I moved. My entire body felt more free, my range of motion felt better, and all in all I felt more...well, mobile.

I also hadn't had any of my new 6th graders ask me why I walk so funny. At nearly a month into the new school year, this has to be a record.

 ...and I can finally hunt the Jurassic Park warden like a reptilian ninja.






If you want to cheer Tracie on while she kicks my butt on a weekly basis, you can find her on Twitter. If you live in the Charleston area and would like to have your butt kicked into shape like mine has been, then take a moment and check out the Long Training Studios website.

Please also feel free to leave a comment below. If you'd like to sing my praises or tell me how terrible I am more personally, I can also be found on Twitter. To get updates on when new articles or podcasts are published (and occasional random musings) 'Like' the official RamblingBeachCat.com Facebook page.