On Michelle

At times like this, I have to write about Michelle.  She is my wife, and I think about her constantly.  I should warn you that this could be a mushy post.

Michelle is the best person I have ever met.  Let me preface this by saying that I am not an easy man to live with.  Since my mom died, specifically, I have not been the person that I was before.  Gradually, I slipped into these tendencies–social anxiety became more heightened, sometimes even being touched gives me anxiety.  But more than that, I’m afraid.  When I look at her and look at myself, I am afraid because in my mind, there is no way I can ever be the man she deserves.

This is a woman who has seen me at my worst, and in worse depths than even I thought I could reach.  Depression makes you tune out everything.  It makes you tune out things and people that you love.  I go through periods where I don’t take care of her, or myself, or anyone, or anything.  I’ve gotten so good at my job that I can muscle through it even when I’m down and still make a good impression.  But when I’m at home, dealing with it right next to the person I love, there is no hiding anything.  Meanwhile, when I’m down, in a way I step outside of myself and watch as I fail to live up to my expectations as a husband to this amazing woman.  And I hate that.  It bothers me deeply.  During those times, I would expect her to just have a meltdown and kick me out, or worse.  But she doesn’t  She just, by some power I can’t wrap my mind around, continues to love me in spite of myself.

I’ve always said that my mother was the toughest woman I have ever known.  But, I see the same strength in my wife.  She is loyal and strong, and will love her family regardless of what they say, do, or become.  I never in my life, not even on my best day, deserved to be a member of such a fold, but I am.

I can’t express how I feel about her.  I stumble over my words at every attempt.  She never ceases to amaze me.  You should see her pursue her goals relentlessly.  You should see how she visualizes the path to something great, fixates on it, and makes it happen.  Sometimes I wonder if I am just an obstacle to all the things she wants to accomplish.

She inspires me to do greater things with my life.  I’m advancing my career and laying the foundations for a family and home.  I’m pushing myself to new levels, all because of her.

When she is in the room with me, it’s like someone is shining a light into my mind.  So little darkness. Sometimes when I’ve been home all day, and she’s out, it feels like everything is a little bit dimmer.  Again, it is difficult for me to put this into words.  Even out pets perk up when she arrives.  It is amazing.  It’s like the sun came up at last.

Sometimes I lay awake at night and watch her sleep, and marvel at how lucky I am.  I have no right to ever complain about my life (even though I do sometimes).

There are a million things that I could do better for her.  I have a running list in my head.  Even though she never says a thing, because she is is so incomprehensibly compassionate, I am fully aware.  I think that fear that you’ll not live up to what you know your spouse deserves is a good thing (in my case, at least).  It isn’t something she has created.  On the contrary, she is constantly affirming.  It is something that drives me to be a better person.

This probably comes off more of a self-criticism than a proclamation of love.  But, that’s not the point of this.  The point is:  This is a woman who doesn’t just see the best in me.  She sees everything, and has stayed by my side.  I want to be as good as her.  I want my children to be as good as her.  I’m going to strive for that as my life’s goal.  Marrying Michelle was God’s catalyst for me to become the kind of man who can fight through the depression no matter how long it takes, and make my family proud.  I’m thankful for that.

I’m Going to Write About It, Because I’m Not Ready to Have a Personal Conversation About It.

Today, I’m going to write about something because talking about it is out of the question.  This is something that I never talk about, hate talking about, don’t want to talk about, will never bring up in conversations and will not respond if someone else brings it up.  I’m talking about the day I found out my mom had died, and the impact it has had on me.

Nearly four years ago, I received a text from my brother, expressing worry because our mom hadn’t replied to him recently.  I became worried as well, and so Michelle and I got in the car and went straight to mom’s house.  Her car was in the driveway when we arrived, and I knew right then and there that it was going to be terrible.

And I was right.

I’m going to spare the details.  It will suffice to say that mom had without question passed away.  I went into a state of panic, and began to make phone calls.  I called 911, and had to force the words out of my mouth, “My mom is dead.”  I called my dad, and just blurted it out.  I decided to call my brothers from the oldest to the youngest.  But, I couldn’t get through more than one, so I told Johnny to call the others.

We’ve all lost loved ones.  Everyone goes through it differently.  I tried to remain stoic, but lost my mind at the wake and funeral.  Early that morning, I drove out to be the first one there, because I wanted to look at mom again and stop seeing that horrible image of her every time I closed my eyes–that perhaps seeing her one more time with more dignity would make it go away.  That day, I helped my papaw walk my poor mamaw up to the coffin (a task that I would repeat less than two years later).

Anyone who has lost a parent can relate to this and the trials that follow:  Adjusting, remembering, regretting, and somehow finding a way to see the good in the world again.  That’s just what I did.  And, I had gained empathy for people who lost their parents.

However, things changed in me after that experience, and it took me a while to realize it.  A little over a year later, my oldest brother John passed away.  I received the call while on the way home from work, and the pain returned.  Again, I remained stoic until the wake and funeral.  That’s when I started to really notice that I wasn’t recovering from what I had been through with mom.

Now, I have always been an introvert.  However, I used to have a lot of friends.  In college, I had a ton of friends.  I raised money to do mission trips, calling on friends and family for support.  I was in the marching band, concert band, and two vocal ensembles.  On top of that, I was a part of a few campus organizations.  Heck, the pastor gave me a key to the church, because I played music there every Sunday.  I used to organize social events.  One year, my friends threw me a surprise birthday (though I figured it out beforehand).  During that time, I was asked to be best man in two weddings.  Yes, I was introverted, but I wasn’t anti-social.  I became exhausted and sometimes anxious at large gatherings, and that was it.  This brings me to my first symptom:

Increased anxiety.

After the traumas, my social anxiety became elevated.  Now, I tend to avoid gatherings as much as possible.  When I do go to them, I have to leave periodically without explanation.  After a party, I usually lay awake all night thinking about everything I said and did.  Just yesterday, I had a short interaction with a coworker, and spent the rest of the day wondering if I had made a “mean face” during the interaction.  It sounds silly, but I can’t stop it!  Birthday parties?  Forget about it (granted, I was never a huge fan).  Last year, I changed my birthday on Facebook to some random month in then summer, and then changed it back to November once my actually birthday had come and gone, so that Facebook wouldn’t announce my birthday to my friends.  I was afraid someone might try to throw me a party.  Afraid, as in terrified.

However, it isn’t only social anxiety that has elevated, but anxiety in general.  I think that someone close to me is going to die every day.  A few months ago, my dad lost his phone for a few days, and I slept for a sum total of four hours in four days, because I had convinced myself that he was killed.  Something is always going to go wrong.  My plans are all based around the worst case scenario (which has actually been to my benefit a couple of times).  When I text someone, and don’t receive a text back, sometimes it causes me to have an anxiety attack.  This brings me to another symptom which is the most annoying:

Fear of phone calls.

When my phone rings, I freak out.  Sometimes, I freeze with my thumb over the “answer” button, and just let it ring.  I used to call people on the phone fairly regularly.  Now, it takes an act of iron will for me to pick up the call.  When I see a phone number that I don’t recognize, I never answer it, and I automatically think it is bad news.  When people call me who don’t call me very often, my mind goes straight to the worst case scenario.  I have trouble making phone calls as well.  To be clear, it gave me some anxiety before the trauma, but not to this degree.

The last symptom I am going to mention is the most terrifying.  Flashbacks.  Now, I’m not talking about the kind of flashbacks where I actually think it’s happening again.  I’m talking about seeing mom on that couch every day 100 times a day, in my mind.  Why doesn’t my brain pick a nice image to recall?  Because that’s just not how it works, sometimes.

So why am I writing this?  Because all of this stuff burdens me with crippling feelings of guilt, and I have a sense that someone out there might be feeling the same way.  I don’t want people to think I’m rude, or don’t care, or don’t like them, but I know that many of them do and with good reason.  So, if you’re reading this and feel the same way, you’re not alone.

Did I gain anything from these experiences?  Empathy.  I understand people who become depressed better now than ever.  When one of my friends loses their loved one, I have a good sense of what they’re feeling, and I have actual compassion.  It doesn’t seem like a fair deal, but it’ll have to do.

Muscle vs. Fat Illogical Nonsense

I, being interested in making myself a healthier person, read articles about health.  This lends to my theory that I fall somewhere on the masochist spectrum (if such a thing exists).

But why?  Why is enjoying health articles the same as deriving pleasure from pain and humiliation inflicted on one’s self?

Well I’ll tell you why.  Most of them are full of crap.    

Now, I could go on and on, listing the veritable ocean of crap health articles based on bunk research (recently, a man demonstrated how easy it is to sway people via the web, using bunk research).  But, I won’t.  I’m only going to address the illogical nonsense that is bothering me the most at this time, the “muscle weighs the same as fat” stupidity.  This is a phenomenon I have encountered in forums and on social networks countless times.  Poorly worded health articles, at least in part, are to blame.

I can’t tell you how many articles I have read that say something along the lines of, “A pound is a pound.  Muscle does not weigh more than fat.”  Then, they go on to say something contradictory like, “Yes, muscle is more dense than fat, so by volume it weighs more.”  Do a quick Google search and you’ll find some.  Many of these articles are padded with verifiable facts.  However, people like to go nuts with catchy phrases like “a pound is a pound.”  It seems like the worst part of the articles are being retained, while the good parts are just…inconveniently there.

For instance, in this article, the author states:

“In the context of fitness and recording body weight numbers on scales, the statement ‘muscle weighs more than fat’ does not hold much weight. It just does not make sense because one pound is one pound.” [emphasis added]

Thanks for the stupid pun, buddy.  Notice how the author skillfully takes credence away from the idea that muscle weighs more than fat, using a sassy truth bomb, “one pound is one pound.”  I guess it doesn’t make sense in the context of simply recording a number of pounds.  What’s odd is, he says this, yet goes on to say that it isn’t really about the numbers.  So, these sentences do not make sense in the context of the article.  Anyway, let’s continue.

“The truth is that when placed on a scale, one pound of fat is going to weigh the same as one pound of muscle – just like one pound of bricks is going to weigh the same as one pound of feathers.”

Ah, I see.  So that’s why “muscle is heavier than fat” doesn’t “hold much weight.”  Muscles, fat, bricks, feather, a pound is a pound!  This is great!  May I proceed to lose weight by laying in a hospital bed while my muscles go into atrophy?  Please tell me more!

“So yes, muscle seems to weigh more because there is a difference in the volume between the two. When a cubic inch of muscle and a cubic inch of fat are measured, the cubic inch of muscle will weigh more. As you add compact muscle mass to the body, body weight may increase. However, pound for pound, muscle and fat weigh the same.” [emphasis mine]

Let me paraphrase that last bit:  “Muscle weighs more than fat.  However, muscle and fat weigh the same.  Because, you know, a pound is a pound.”  Thanks for clearing that up.  The rest of the article contains some interesting information, but I couldn’t get over the opening section.

In another article, from the insanely popular Weight Watchers, you get an even more brazen example (link, if your brain can stand it). This one goes straight to the top shelf:

“Muscle does not weigh more than fat, any more than lead weighs more than feathers.”

Ugh.  Again with this.  Actually, I have a rousing suspicion that Weight Watchers is to blame for the popularity of this nonsense.

I’ll spare you the rest. The author goes on to say a mix of truths and false contradictory stuff.  The idea is supposed to be that people shouldn’t use the “muscle weighs more than fat” fact to excuse unnecessary weight gain.  Fair enough.

However, now we have people throwing “a pound of muscle weighs the same as a pound of fat” and “a pound is a pound” like its gospel truth. I blame poorly written articles like the ones referenced above. Many have devolved it further, resulting in, “muscle does not weight more than fat,” which is untrue (as the articles above ironically manage to point out, while attempting to discourage the notion).

By this un-logic, everything weighs the same. A ton of helium weighs the same as a one ton truck. Hey, a ton is a ton! Fill a gallon container with water, and it weighs 8 pounds. Fill the same container with, say, osmium (the densest element on Earth), and it weights somewhere around 225 pounds. But, you know, a pound of osmium weighs the same as a pound of water. They weigh the same!

Now hear this, people. A pound is not “just” a pound. It is a pound of something, and that something matters. Whether it is a pound of fat, muscle, water, shark meat, or malignant tumor, is important. If you’re trying to lose weight it is important to know that some tissues weigh more than others. If you haven’t reached your weight loss goal and yet your body fat percentage is like Schwarzenegger’s in “Pumping Iron” then you better believe muscle weighs more than fat.

When we’re weighing ourselves on a scale, I think that what we’re really concerned about is volume. The reason for that is, we want to have less fat, more muscle (or vice versa in some cases), or the same of either. Some of us want clothes to fit better, or muscles to be more pronounced. Some of us just want to be sure we are maintaining a healthy BMI. The problem is, we are made up of many different tissues each with a different density, but the scale only tells us our weight. So, we tend to go by weight, sometimes to a fault.

But that’s no reason to go around spreading an array of bull crap, ranging from fluff rhetoric like “a pound is a pound,” to misleading bunk like “muscle does not weigh more than fat.”

There, I feel better now.

How Social Media Fuels My Madness

I love talking about social media.  It has become such a massive part of our culture, and we’ve only begun as a society to learn how to use it.  For that reason, it often drives me mad.

All of this madness led me to an epiphany, which led to more madness.  But first, the original madness!

Source:  Memegen http://m.memegen.com/hkal2m.jpg
Source: Memegen
http://m.memegen.com/hkal2m.jpg

Too many people do not possess a thing I like to call “web literacy.”  Web literacy is a term I use to describe a set of skills necessary to have before one participates in social media.  Here are a few of them:

  • The ability to determine the veracity of information presented on social media.
  • The ability to discern between good and bad research.
  • The ability to consider and address a large audience appropriately.
  • The capacity to understand the purpose, and the intended audience, for posts to social media.
  • Visual literacy–the ability to derive meaning from videos and images; to determine their purpose, and audience.
  • Digital citizenship–the capacity to participate ethically on social media.

To put it in layman’s terms:  The internet is currently full of crap.

Every day, I see highly biased news items shared by someone on a perceived higher ground, looking dumbfounded at the peons below.  It feels good to be right.  Sadly predictable comments begin as a trickle, then a stream, then a river.  At last it becomes a veritable ass-patting session.  Mission accomplished.  

Source:  Dallas News http://www.dallasnews.com/sports/columnists/rick-gosselin/20120307-gosselin-why-jerry-jones-should-kick-the-tires-on-former-colts-qb-peyton-manning.ece
Source: Dallas News http://www.dallasnews.com/sports/columnists/rick-gosselin/20120307-gosselin-why-jerry-jones-should-kick-the-tires-on-former-colts-qb-peyton-manning.ece

The only thing is, it’s a bogus article.

We’ve all seen this happen–people greedy for that “smoking gun” news to break, to prove all their naysayers wrong.  They share uncorroborated news while their mouths salivate for the feeling of superiority that follows.  The addiction is so overwhelming, they fail to realize that they are celebrating a lie.  Some refuse to realize it.  Some don’t even care.  Some, when called out, argue endlessly to defend themselves, without ever admitting defeat.

Source unknown.
Source unknown.

Then, we have the falsely attributed quotations.  How many times have you seen some ridiculous platitude slapped over an image of the Dalai Lama?  Has the Dalai Lama been reading fortune cookies?

Source:  I neither know, nor care, because it's molarchy.

There are tons of these, falsely attributing quotes to everyone from Mother Theresa to George Carlin.  I saw one that attributed a bit–something about hugs being the one gift you can give to others for free– to George Carlin!  Can you imagine?

Anyway, next we have the grammar police.  When grammar police see a typo on social media, they begin to drool.  Their eyes glaze over, pupils dilate, and a cold layer of sweat forms on their foreheads.  Then, their jaws contort–the flesh of their mouths twisting and tearing until a large beak bursts forth.  Black feathers emerge from their pores, covering their bodies as husks of lifeless skin fall to the ground.  At last, two bony appendages sprout from their backs.  With a deafening “Caw!” they take flight and circle the one who made the typo, feeding their egos from the victim’s mistake.

grammar-police-arrest-this-man
Source: Toothpaste For Dinner http://www.toothpastefordinner.com/081005

But I digress.

In thinking of all this, I had an epiphany.  I think that we need to stop judging people because of these things.

  • If a person got their, they’re, and there mixed up, it does not mean that they are unintelligent.
  • If a person posted an article that wasn’t true, it doesn’t mean they are an idiot.
  • If a person posted about a nice thing that they did, or an accomplishment, or anything of the self-promoting nature, it doesn’t mean they are a narcissist.
  • If a person isn’t fully aware of misinformation on the internet, it does not mean that they are inferior.

This could be turned around on those, like me, who like to discuss this kind of thing:

  • You’re not special or smart because you are vigilant with your grammar.
  • Being diligent enough to keep yourself from ever posting a false news item does not put you above those who weren’t.
  • I know you would never post about giving money to the poor.  Does that make you more sincere than the person who does?  No.

Of course, we’re on a slippery slope, now.  This whole thing could be flipped again:

  • You’re not special or smart just because you realize being vigilant with grammar doesn’t place you on some kind of pedestal…

You get the drift.  This leads me to my stunning conclusion.  If I think about this enough, I’ll eventually discover that I’m one of the web-illiterates, who rampantly post hypocrisy.  Generally speaking, with enough brooding over social media, you can figure out how everyone who contributes is a self-indulgent, narcissistic, vapidly unaware hypocrite.

That, my friends, is what I do.  That’s how social media fuels my madness.  I become fixated on the entire mess.  Dwelling on it is both depressing, and exhausting.

What is the solution, you presumably ask?  I don’t know.  I’m not here to offer solutions.  I’m just here to vent. 

 

I Feel Good

I have to warn everyone, this is going to be more like a journal entry than a blog post.  I promised myself when I started this thing that I wouldn’t let myself get too swept into it (like I have done in the past).  But I digress.

I’m up late, again.  I’m listening to music.

Last night, I watched Dave Letterman’s final episode.  It took me back to the many sleepless nights of my teenage years, when I would watch the local news, followed by Letterman, followed by Conan.  That was my ritual.

In closing the show, the Foo Fighters played “Everlong” to accompany a montage showing Letterman’s career which spanned thirty-three years (see the video above if you missed it).  It made me feel…wistful?  Sad for a simpler time?  The terrorist attack on September 11th, 2001, serves as a dividing line where my youthful naivete peaked.  In other words, I look longingly to the world before that happened–to the nineties, being in high school, both of my parents and all of my brothers still alive, and that blissful ignorance.  Seeing the montage and hearing the band play transported me to the other end of that dividing line, for a moment, and the aftereffect of that was staggering.   I didn’t sleep at all that night; I couldn’t get it out of my head, the following day.  I still can’t.

Now, to put it plainly, I feel good.  Amazing, even.  Michelle and I are going to start getting into shape, again.  My first year of teaching in California is winding down.  I feel like myself again.  It makes me wonder if that moment of nostalgia was a sort of catalyst to lift me out of my depressed state.

I’m eyeing a marathon in late 2015.  Maybe in November.  If I am able to pull it off, that’s another good thing in my life for which I’ll owe a thanks to Dave.

A Slight Irony

I used to think that my depression was caused by a spiritual sickness.  Finding my faith at an early age, and becoming involved, has had a decidedly positive effect on my life.  Through that process, I was able to work through a lot of pain from my past.

Yet, the depression persists.

I used to think that my physical health was the source of my depression.  So, I fought.  I cleaned up my diet to a degree at which people labelled me a “health nut.”  My wife and I began blogs about our dramatic lifestyle changes, and how wonderful a result they had for us (and they truly did).  Eventually, I fixed my eyes on running a marathon, and trained like a champion for months, enduring pain, injury, poor weather on the hot and cold ends of the spectrum, and even a broken ankle.  None of it stopped me from crossing the finish line.

But then I fell back into depression.

I used to think that being alone was the cause of my depression.  When my wife and I fell in love, it blew through my life like a healing wind.  There is no question that being with her has been the crowing aspect in best years of my life.  I have a partner who loves me for who I am, unconditionally, and who compliments everything that I am.

And yet, the depression still rears its ugly head.

I used to think that work related stress was the source of my depression.  Then, through a crazy turn of events, I landed myself in a wonderful job that, by comparison to my previous positions, is virtually stress free.  Moreover, I love my job.  Every day of work is fun, and happy.  I am hugged by children, who smile and sing songs with me.  Today, one student–a ten-year-old girl–looked at me and wryly said, “You know who’s a good violin teacher?  Mr. Wood.  He’s a good teacher.  Do you know him?”  My job is so good, I sometimes feel guilty when talking about it with my friends, like I’m rubbing it in.

And yet, I still struggle with depression.

Writing this much about depression is, well, depressing.  But, do you see the irony in this?  Struggling with this disease has made me a defiant person.  I am defiant against the things in my life that drag me down.  So many positive things have come to pass, despite being depressed.

I used to think that depression was going to inevitably ruin my life.  Now I know that, as long as I fight it, positive things will come.

My Catch-22

Last weekend, I ran in the Run United 5k.  It was my first race in almost a year (as Facebook lovingly reminded me with the new “On This Day” feature).  My journey to this race, from registration to run, is pretty interesting.

After a full year of low activity and heavy eating, my weight had risen into the upper 190s.  I haven’t been that heavy in about 5 years.  So, I registered for this 5k, which my school district was sponsoring, and began to train.

Training started out quite well, with “Insanity” workouts.  I followed the “Insanity” workout and eating plan quite precisely for about a month, dropping a clean 10 to 15 pounds in the process.  A familiar rush came over me–endorphins, better moods, willingness to go out and do things, increased level of excitement about “the little things in life”.  I was on one of my “high” phases, evidenced by the fact that I didn’t have to fight with myself to do the workouts and follow the eating plan.

Then, one day, Michelle and I went out and splurged (e.g., I ate a bacon sandwich with waffles in place of bread, which was to be dipped in maple syrup, alongside a pound of tater tots, and a beer, for dinner).  One splurge isn’t bad, right?  Right?  What if that splurge was the first domino in a long line of bad choices?

I don’t know what caused what, honestly, or if there is any correlation to the splurge and my depression cycle.  This is one of those chicken-and-the-egg conundrums.  But I digress.

As a result of the waffle sandwich, I hardly felt like exercising that day, or the next day.  It was then that the all-too-familiar war within myself began.  I managed to squeeze out a few more workouts and runs, but not without a mentally exhausting fight.  I began to fall asleep later and later.  Swiftly (within two weeks), I was completely off the exercise and healthy eating wagon.  My mornings became rushed, my evenings lethargic.  The house piled up with dirty clothes, clutter and trash.  I sat in my desk chair for so long one day that I inflicted a nagging back soreness on myself, which lasted for a week.

But I fought back.  My strategy, that time, was focused on achieving a regular sleep schedule.  So, I devised a night time “ritual” (for lack of a better word).  This involved placing my work outfit neatly into my gym bag, setting out my workout gear so that I could go to the gym before work, dimming the lights at a certain hour, keeping the house neat, putting all of my morning necessities in a designated spot, hygiene, and relaxing in bed by nine o’clock.  For me, getting to sleep at a regular time is absolute combat.  

It worked, for a while.  I found myself feeling energetic all day long.  However, that nagging “down” feeling kept pulling, and pulling, and pulling.  After about a week, I began to sleep in too late to go to the gym, so I had to do it in the afternoon.  Then, my bed time slipped later and later into the evening.  Before long I was back to square one.

Subsequently, three weeks went by, during which I did not run.  I did not exercise.  I did not watch what I was eating.  It was during this period that I fell into the infamous “Oreo catastrophe”.  Then, it was race day.  I will now arrive at my point:

When you struggle with depression, you’re in a cruel “catch-22”.  The things that are truly effective at dealing with the depression are hard to do because of the depression.

  • Exercise essentially combats depression (Veale, 1987), but depressed people find it difficult to sometimes get out of bed, let alone work out.
  • Clutter causes some to have increased stress.  Stress contributes to depression (Pittenger & Duman, 2007).  However, depressed people are often overwhelmed by the site of clutter, and allow messes to pile up.
  • Poor diet contributes to depression (Jacka et al, 2010).  Depressed people often have disrupted eating habits (I know I do).  This makes it extremely difficult to maintain a healthy diet.

The list could go on.  So, what is the solution?  I don’t really know.  I doubt there is one solution to help everyone.  For me, it takes an act (or several acts) of defiance to break the cycle.  Let me explain with an anecdote.

On the morning of the prior-mentioned 5k, I almost didn’t go.  I had good reason not to, in that I was coming down with a cold.  But, I knew that I was depressed (and I still am, to a degree).  I knew that something had to give.  So, as an act of defiance,  I participated in the run.  To my surprise, the run was great!  I ran it in a shorter time than I had anticipated, and experienced the coveted “runner’s high” afterward.  For the first time in weeks, I found myself on the offensive against my depressive tendencies, and it felt good.

I know that this tactic is a simple as doing the thing.  If you just do the thing, you will feel better.  But, I have to find a mindset that will get me through the first steps of doing whatever needs to be done to push me out of a rut.  For me, it’s often anger.  Frustration.  Defiance.

So I’m curious.  If you’re reading this, and you can relate, what do you to to defy your depression?

References:

Click to access 2-Exercise-and-Mental-Health-1987.pdf

http://www.nature.com/npp/journal/v33/n1/full/1301574a.html

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20397785

This Is My Life

Lately, my days have seemed like a twisted Plinko game on The Price is Right–so much potential at the beginning, but the chip keeps landing on zero.

Four nights ago, I had a familiar sense that I would be unable to sleep, prompting me to drug myself with NyQuil.  As I faded, my mind painted its favorite picture of tomorrow (insert familiar “dreamy harp glissando” sound).

I was going to get up early, put on my gym clothes, stuff my work outfit in a duffle bag, hit the gym, wash up, and get ready for work there.  Also, I was going to eat a clean 1800 to 2000 calories, and feel full the whole time.  Of course, I wouldn’t be tempted by the endless supply of Oreos in the teacher’s lounge.  Nay, I would forget all about them.  Miraculously, work was destined not to absolutely ruin my mental and emotional energy, so that I could subsequently clean the entire house, and get my coursework in early.  The pure shock of tomorrow’s (now yester-yester-yesterday’s) turnaround was supposed to turbocharge me into a new phase of my life, where I live as glamorously as my social media implies.

But I slept in.  Plink!  “I’ll run after work,” I said to myself.  Of course, “I won’t eat the Oreos” found its place in the comedy routine as well.  You see, I didn’t just “eat the Oreos.” I started an Oreo crisis.  Plink!  As soon as I got off work, napping ensued, or watching YouTube videos, or eating, or making food.  It’s all blur at that point.  Plink!  Plink!  Zero. So I went to bed.

The following day, history repeated itself with increased intensity (e.g., I ate twice as many Oreos and bought a giant bag of lemon cookies).  Plink plink plink plink Zero.  

But, that night, I meant business.  Forcing myself to bed early, and waking before the alarm went off, “This is my chance,” I thought,  “The Plinko chip is going to land on the prize today (now yesterday)!”  Unfortunately, upon arrival to work, I realized that I had left my coffee at home.  Massive Plink!  This minor catastrophe set off a series of negative thoughts, which in turn started a veritable onslaught of self-destructive behavior.

I’m assuming anyone reading this is familiar with the phrase “seeing red,”  used to describe someone who is rife with anger.  Well, I have coined a similar phrase to describe my mental state when the morning goes sour in even the slightest way:  “seeing Oreos.”  So many Oreos were harmed in the making of this paragraph, I had to give myself a break and eat something else (which turned out to be cheap Chinese food) only to end up purchasing an entire package of peanut butter Oreos on the way home.  Plink!  Plink…why do I even care?  And there I was, sitting in my underwear, on my couch, procrastinating my workout until…I’ll let you know, and switching between Oreos and generic lemon cookies.  Somehow, neither the package of Oreos nor the bag of lemon cookies were empty by the end of the night–small victory.  Though I knew that the cookies would be there to torment me, I humored myself by setting out gym clothes for tomorrow morning.  I can’t give up.

But, today, I slept in again; and I took a sleeve of peanut butter Oreos with my lunch; and I grabbed some more from the teacher’s lounge; and I ate some more when I got home; and I finished off the lemon cookies as well.  As I sat staring into that lemon cookie bag, all I could think was, “I am so sick of cookies.”  That didn’t stop me from washing them down with a glass of almond milk and, for reasons I will never understand, a dinner roll with peanut butter.  Plink!  Plink!  Zero.

This is a taste (pun?) of my life.  Welcome to Depressed Fit Guy.

Over the past 6 years, I have started and ended several blogs on topics like eating healthy, running, exercising, losing weight, and cooking (I even had a couple of my recipes printed in a periodical).  I stopped writing all of them, one after the other, because it was exhausting to present myself as some “go-getter” person, who “takes life by the horns” every day.  The truth is that I struggle with depression; with amazing highs, and deep, lonely lows.  I go through periods where I take incredible care of myself, in between periods where every day is a war not to eat and sleep myself to death.

With that being said, it is now after midnight.  As usual, my mind will paint a better tomorrow, and I’ll do my best to make it happen.  You see, unlike Plinko, we don’t just drop the chip and let it fall however it may.  We have a modicum of say in which way our life turns as the day progresses.  So, here’s to tomorrow.  Plink!