Forever That Girl…

This is my fear: that I will forever be THAT girl. That girl who cancels plans with no warning. That girl who prefers to be alone, rather than with company. That girl who says nothing and comes across as quiet when all I want to do is have a conversation. That girl who is messed up and can’t cope. That girl who struggles.

The discomfort in my chest today is almost unbearable. The knots in my stomach feel like they are eating me alive. My body is sending me so many obvious hints that I am not okay, and yet, I don’t know what to do about it. I wander, aimlessly, from room to room, and feel bad because Tunie follows me around. I obsess over the list in my head of things that I know will be unsuccessful today. I am having a bad day. I’m struggling to cope today and I hate days like this. My body shakes and I can’t control it and I’m on the verge of tears. I am craving sensory pain like you wouldn’t believe, because it would be a release, a distraction, a solution. This is what a moment feels like when your anxiety is present. Now imagine all the moments in a day and think about how much you would dread that day. This is my today.

I need to work on being in love with the person in the mirror who is still standing after being through so many struggles. I want to actually forever be that girl who gets really excited when the sky is in lovely colours. That girl who is proud of who she has become. That girl who can talk to anyone without worrying about what they will think when they find out I struggle. That girl who is gentle with herself. Today I will work on being gentle with myself but forgive me for also being that girl who can’t leave the house today.

Until tomorrow.

Stick With the Things That Pull the Magic Out of You

There are so many things I love about this picture. I am genuinely happy in this moment. My sweet little Petunia is exploring her world and I am exploring caring for something else other than myself. It is a wonderful experience. I’m glad I am sharing it with her. Petunia or Tunie for short, was a scared stray cat who appeared at my place one day. Right away I knew she was a creature of love. She needed to be loved and needed to love as well. I told myself if she came back the next morning I would consider taking her in.  Well, return she did, she was hungry and craving help. I still put it off one more day, but the third day showed the return of Tunie and so that day she become my sweet girl. Tunie was a sick little kitty, she was full of infections and had clearly been roughing it out there in that scary world alone. The vet said she was so infected: she had an upper respiratory infection, her eyes were a mess, she was severely underweight, had two large abscesses and there was a potential for feline leukemia and FIV and a white blood cell count that topped the charts. Bloodwork was needed to rule out the feline leukemia and FIV, which thank our lucky stars came back negative. And then so began our journey of a different type of recovery. Together we are learning about each other and what the other one needs. Tunie needs someone to help her get better: her recovery consists of special food for weight gain, lots of antibiotics and more bloodwork in the future, and of course lots of love. She is learning to become comfortable and feel safe, while giving me the love and affection that I need. I truly believe we picked and saved each other. She sleeps a lot and that’s just fine because I know the importance of sleep in recovery and how important it is in assisting medication to work. She slept at the foot of my bed from the first night together, and every once in a while I’ll wake to soft nuzzles in the middle of the night. We love each other. Tunie brings out the love I have in me to give and the magic of feeling happy. I adore her and am grateful for this beautiful creature. I think I’ll stick with her…

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Stressy and Depressy

Two made up words somehow describe exactly how I have been feeling. The worry and stress about the return to work in a few weeks along with struggling to feel joy, make me stressy and depressy.

Sometimes you need to be alone , not to be lonely but to enjoy yourself. Storms don’t last forever. Don’t overthink life. Trust that you made the right decision and continue to grow. Just recently I had to cancel and pass on a social commitment that I was expected to go to. I stressed and worried on how to find the words to tell the other person that I just could not make it. In the end, it was a lame text saying that I was not in a place where I could be around people and that I was so sorry for having to do that. Then it got me thinking….we don’t ever say sorry for when we are happy and excited, so why is there a need to apologize for all the other feelings and emotions that we have? Those were legit feelings that I was having, I knew from learning from past experiences that it was simply too much to ask of myself and so I made a decision. In the end I made the right decision and I should have trusted myself from the start and used it as an opportunity to grow. Yes I may overthink, everything, but I also over-love. The only person I don’t over-love is myself. I’m a work in progress I guess. And now it’s time to go work on some progress and go for a run. Just me, enjoying being alone, but most definitely not lonely.

Run Happy my friends. xo

 

 

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Time to Run it Outta There

By no surprise, only disappointment, did a dark time recently come shadowing down over me. You know when the weather is going to change and you can feel it in the air, the way the night feels, the wind on your face, the smell in the air and the way the leaves rustle – well that is how I knew that some bad weather was headed my way. Oh my, and when it got here, did it ever rain. Not just small showers here and there, but tears of rain that appeared out of nowhere with no warning signs; and boy did it ever pour.  And just when you thought mother nature couldn’t possibly produce any more rain, another storm hits. It rained in the morning, the middle of the day, when I was driving and all night. And I felt no better. It’s so challenging to be around people while trying to hold back your tears.
Lately people and social events have been my weakness. I want nothing more than to be alone, at home, doors locked and in bed with my meds that make me calm and tired; however my sister in law said something to me today that got me out of the house.  I confided in her that I haven’t ran and it’s because I’ve been so down that I can’t get myself dressed let alone out the door. Her reply to me was “wait a minute, isn’t running the thing that makes you happy?” Thank you for listening to me Meo you’re right, it does. I could only log a short 4 km before I came inside to lay down. It’s all I could muster up. I feel like such a waste. There are expectations that are out of reach today.

I have a social commitment this afternoon that I should really go to. I don’t want to bring “Fake Erica”. I hate her. I want to bring “Real Erica” – the girl who loves to laugh and smile, but I don’t know if I can find her today. I don’t know where she is hiding. Is she mad at me? Did I do something wrong?

So I leave you today with this …. when you’re down, run it outta there. It does not belong in your heart. Be patient, things never stay where they don’t belong.

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It’s a Disorder, Not a Decision

I did not choose to have a mental illness. I did not choose to struggle. I did not choose a life with a sickness. However, I can choose to take care of myself and recognize when things become a little too much.

The past week has been a challenge in finding balance. I haven’t been home much and since that is where I feel the most comfortable I’ve been off kilter.  I haven’t ran in a few days and I feel tremendously guilty. My balance has been thrown and I’ve had to finally take some time today to reconnect and even out.

My recovery must come first so that everything I love in life does not have to come last. I love so many things, so many people, so many moments, but in order for me to appreciate those things for what they are and who they are, I need to recover. I’m recovering from new feelings of uncomfortableness and being out of my comfort zone. I’m recovering from making decisions. Making decisions can be so unbelievably exhausting. As a teacher of little ones, you are constantly making decisions from the moment your day starts at a rate of which non-teachers would be astounded by. It takes a good few weeks into the month of July to recover and re-coop from the daily grind of being responsible for little’s education and well-being while being on your A game – because you can’t survive if you’re not. So, making decisions outside of work, reminds me of work, and I’m constantly worried about my choices. Something as simple as paint colour, can make my insides twist and turn. And when it’s time to tell someone that I need some time to myself, deciding how to tell them drives me crazy. I worry that they won’t understand, among many other things.

I also tend to need more recovery time than the average person. Sometimes it’s a few days, sometimes it’s a week – and in especially dark times it’s even longer than that. I can see how that can come across as lazy, or even selfish, but trust me when I say it’s not. It’s a matter of survival. I need it to survive. We all need a different type and amount of recovery time.  No judgement needed.

Mental health is not a light switch you can simply turn on and off. It’s a dial you, and only you, learn how to manage.  Well it’s time for me to dial it down for a bit.

Please take care of yourself.

 

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Sooner or Later

Sooner or later you realize that you have changed…

Life after one too many heartbreaks changes you.  I don’t necessarily mean heartbreaks from love, but those breaks will change you too, indefinitely.  I’m speaking of heartbreaks that come in a personal way. Personal heartbreaks.  From challenging times. Situations that break you down. Circumstances that make you grow.

Through the fight, I have learned that I am still capable of being gentle and caring, even nurturing, but I am no longer afraid to be assertive. Just because I may not be able to pinpoint the origin of my anxiety or the trigger point of a new bout of depression, does not mean that my feelings are any less valid than any other feelings.  I am willing to compromise, but no longer at the expense of my mental, emotional and spiritual health. I am a woman who will give 110% but not for someone or something that gives back only 50%. I’ve finally learned the difference. Sooner or later you will too. This I hope for you.

Be the fighter who decided to go for it. You don’t need to have it all together to inspire others. Go for whatever your heart whispers to you and let others become inspired by how you deal with your mental illness. So stay strong my friends, your story is far from over.

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Depression is…

What exactly does depression feel like? If you don’t suffer from it you will never truly know. Try as hard as you might, be as empathetic as you can, but unless you have it you will not know it.

Depression isn’t feeling sad or unhappy. It is the inability to feel joy. It’s not a decision to feel this way, it’s a disorder.

I’m not ashamed of my disorder. I’m ashamed of how small of a rug it takes for others to sweep it under.

Here’s a quote from Michael Lansburg and #sicknotweak that rings true…

if you ask me how I’m doing and I’m having a bad day – there is a pretty good chance I will minimize and lie to you. The answer is not in what I say rather in the silence that overcomes me. My truth isn’t in my words. My truth is in my silence.”

Listen to the silence of your friends. Listen to the silence of your students. Your co-workers. Your partner. Your children. Strangers. Enemies. Listen. We are not asking you to understand. We are asking you to simply listen. Don’t brush us under the rug.

So please remember to check in on your friends. Check in on your quiet friends. Check in on your happy friends. Check in on your other “happy” friends. Check in on your strong friends. Check in.

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Training Your Mind

This works not only for running but also for depression. I have learned that you need to train your mind to be tougher than your emotions. It’s hard though when it’s your mind that is sick; but it will take you so much further than you ever thought possible. Just because you are struggling doesn’t mean that you are failing. Every great run, every great success, whether it be a day or just a glimpse of a moment, needs some kind of struggle to get there. If you knew how powerful your thoughts are you would never think a negative thought again.  Depression takes that control away from you.

What I hope people realize is that I’m not faking being sick, I’m actually faking being well. I usually feel like I’m either vibrating at an unhealthy level, where I’m drowning in my own mind or I’m isolated in the depths of depression. When you’re on the outside it may seem like I’m fine, because a fake smile goes a long way to those who don’t know. But the reality is that I’m just holding on tight for dear life.

Running isn’t for the weak, pretty ones. Living with depression isn’t for them either. They are both about the fight and the sweat. It’s about pushing through the pain and becoming comfortable with being uncomfortable most of the time. It’s about throbbing legs and hearts and waking to a pain in the middle of the night that is strong enough to wake the dead. It’s about getting out the door, or getting out of bed when you would rather do anything else. It’s about finding reality in the dreams about having the passion that you need to live each and every day. It’s about the lonely road, when you have no company and still pushing ahead when there is not a single soul there to cheer you on. They are both about finding and keeping the desire to train, to continue and persevere until every fibre in your body and mind and heart have turned to steel.  When you’ve finally fought long and hard enough you will have become the best runner you can be, or the best survivor that day.  That’s all that you can ask for, because you should run when you don’t want to and continue to fight when you can’t fathom another moment of pain, because that’s when you need it most.

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Love Yourself Harder

So this picture represents my last few weeks. Just when you think you are strong enough, capable enough, simply enough to handle a valley of low times, you are mistaken.

I hurt. I don’t even know where I hurt sometimes but it’s there. A painful, dull, ache, weighing heavily on every part of my mind and body. My depression hit me like a train the past few weeks. I know I can be a strong person, but every once in a while I would like someone to hold my hand and tell me things are going to be ok. Everything these days seems to make me cry. The past few weeks I have sobbed myself to a bleak and mediocre sleep too many times. The part that people who don’t suffer or relate can’t understand is that there is no reason for it. It just returned. Like an old friend, who is far to familiar. Trying to stay positive when you don’t feel happy means that hard days become harder. Laying in bed at night wishing away thoughts that you have little control over is exhausting. Going to work the next day after you didn’t sleep and battled demons all night is terrifying. I think the worst part is trying to explain how this illness works to someone is almost impossible and so it makes me retreat and keep it all to myself.  Trying to explain why working only part-time is a challenge in itself is almost pointless.  There is a vicious cycle of stress, then worry, then lack of sleep, thoughts of inadequacy, the return of poor coping strategies that can drag you down so unexpectedly. You think you’re ok, you think it will not return, but it always does.  Sometimes it stays away for weeks, months, who knows. But when it comes back it feels like you are drowning in a pool of all of the worst thoughts that you’ve ever had. When the people that you love see you happy for an extended period of time they get used to it. And when you cave, and get hit with the storm again they don’t understand because they can’t see it. All they see is someone who has been happy before and so therefore you must be all better. And then comes the guilt of being the person in the relationship who ruins all the progress.  Some of the most powerful words you can say to someone with an invisible illness is. I believe you. Never give up on someone with a mental illness. It is one of our biggest fears and sadly something that happens, which only adds to the stigma.

Who you were, who you are, and who you will be are three different people; but when you can’t answer the latter, or for that matter, any of them, man that takes a toll on you.

So the day I said I’m “so over this” and put my somewhat funny, yet very truthful shirt on, I went out for a run that meant many things. Perseverance. Survival. Freedom. Everything.

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