Sunday, May 17, 2015

IT hurts

Every time I come out of a crisis, I feel completely lost about how and what to write here. Should I talk about it, should I just brush over the subject, or completely ignore it? IT. The monster living inside my head that takes over my thoughts and chews my brain, inch by inch until it feels about to explode. It's hard to explain if you've never been inside my brain. It hurts, a lot. It hurts my head, it hurts my body, it's rather unbearable the way I feel trapped inside a very tiny room with white walls. I can only make one step in each direction before I start to panic, over ventilating, heart beating out of my chest, in full panic mode. There is no way out, the pressure on my chest, the claustrophobic feeling triggered by the overwhelming amount of thoughts that keep bouncing inside my head. Many times I think there is no way out. It's just a matter of when I am going to lose the fight.
I start folding the laundry. It keeps my hands busy. It keeps me in a state of usefulness. The 3 baskets of clothes have been waiting for me for 2 weeks, but I ignored them. With more clothes added to the pile, the less adequate I feel for the task at hand. I manage to put away 1 basket and a half. But one hour from now, another one will take its place. It always feels like a sisyphean task. And predictably enough, I start crying again. Two hours of crying is quite a workout. Some days, it's all I can do for my family as I leave most of my energy at the office. I live in a constant state of mental drain. If it makes sense, I dream of a brain battery that I can recharge on the spot, like a robot.

Physically, there is a long way to being active to the point where I don't hate myself. I usually feel active enough to work out, but looking in the mirror is always hard. I miss the days when I had the energy to move mountains and I was not broken both mentally and physically. The month so far has been like a long walk through a swamp. Not only I did a lot of physio workouts, but those didn't get me outside of the house enough. This week I tried putting a little spin on my workdays so to speak, by biking to work and back. I've always been fearful of the drivers in my city, they are rather... intense. I made it 2 days back and forth and I didn't die. Now that was surprising. Each ride took just a little under 30min, and overall I enjoyed them. Which means that for the first time in a long time, I biked 3 times this week. And I smiled every single time.
It gives me hope to see these smiles. If I can be outside, if I can focus on things that bring me joy, I feel safe. I may be the least safe on the road, dodging cars and potholes, but being alone with my thoughts is certainly more dangerous.

I also had company this weekend. My friend Carol spent 2 days at my place with her boyfriend. She is training for the mighty Ironman Muskoka and she went on her longest ride ever yesterday with my hubbs and 2 other friends of ours. I couldn't go because I'm not fit to ride over 100km and I already go against my doctor's orders every weekend with the rides that I lead for my tri club. This picture that we took just after a long and gorgeous descent today, reminded me of our best times on the road, training for our first 70.3, two years ago.
In two weeks from now we'll be returning to Muskoka for a training weekend with the club, but once again I won't be allowed to ride long. I'll have to find a lot of mental tricks to stay present. Ideas are welcome... At least my boys will be with me and maybe they will be willing to spend some quality time with their mom instead of staring into their phones.

This post is bouncing all over the place and I'm not sure where to go from here. So maybe I'll just talk about today. It was our club's first race simulation day event, where we swam, biked and ran, just like in a race. We even had transition racks hand made by Zin.
With 16 people in attendance, it sure was a very successful event. We swam in circles for a while, simulating open water swimming, and that was a lot of fun.
Then we went on the bike ride and I chose to lead the 40km group. Other people, more speedy than me chose to go on their own, others did the 55km loop or the 20km one. To each their goals. I have no goals other than staying outside of the dark corners of  my brain.
I found the same uphills and downhills that I've been enjoying in the past few years, but traveling across these roads is always a new adventure. You never know what your legs are capable of. Today, it took mine more than 20km to go from wet noodles to pistons. I made it back with a big grin on my face, then I finished with a run. My longest run this year, 5km, wow. It took me 34min, between walking up the hills, taking pictures of other runners in the group and stopping to smell the lilacs.
My knees started to hurt at 4km, but I ran/walked the last km and made it back in transition where I scarfed down a few pieces of watermelon because it was the best ever. Then I went home, ordered food for lunch and collapsed in the couch with a beer. I am hoping that it refueled me enough to reach the end of another week without banging my head against (invisible) walls.

And since this is a long weekend, tomorrow I'll be riding with friends again, but this time from Burlington. I love me a slice of Escarpement, but I may not be able to keep up with Emma, who just finished the 8 Days in California Trainer Road Challenge. Read all about it here. She has become a beast on the bike... but maybe, just maybe she will be tired enough so we can chat in between hills.

What else? I don't feel like going into too many details of the last weeks worth of workouts. I reached 7h of workouts/week, with the help of bike commutes and picking the garbage on the side of the road at the semi-annual Adopt-a-Road club event. The physio focus is still there, but not as intense. I forget to stretch throughout the day, but I foam roll more often than before. I have made great progress in strength and agility and the physiotherapist seems rather happy with me, but I haven't seen a major difference in my knee pain just yet. Trying to stay patient. And remember to stretch. If you feel inclined to see how I filled in my weeks, here's a Training Peaks snapshot.
As for the state of my mind, one day at a time... it's all I can do. I know that most of you, for not knowing my past, assume that I am still dealing with the Ironman blues, or that I got depressed for not being able to run, or because I am not losing weight, or some other vain trait. Before I end this post, I wanted to tell you that this isn't the case. Why do I feel the need to justify myself? Because of articles like these which are hard to avoid nowadays. You see a lot of smiles on this blog, but I have plenty of pictures crying as well. The smiling pictures help me go back to those moments of joy. The sad ones have their purpose too, but I don't feel like bringing other people down with publishing them. I have been depressed for over a decade. Running and exercise just helps me cope with it. For the rest, there is no magic wand or snapping out of it. IT just is.


  1. I'm sorry for the depression you have been dealing with for so long, and I'm impressed that you can achieve so much in work and home life while struggling with an illness. Hoping you find a good treatment plan with excellent results (for mind and body!).

  2. Just seeing this now. Big hugs to you - it's a nasty beast you are dealing with, and I wish there was a way to just make it all better. Damn that lack of magic wand. You are amazing and incredible and I consider myself very fortunate to have met you. :)

  3. I'm sorry to read that you have such struggles, but it seems that you are aware of them and are trying to deal with them as best you can. I think that's huge, not giving over completely. I'm glad you had a nice weekend with Carol and I hope that things continue to improve for you. Hopefully now that summer is here, it will help out as well. Hugs to you my friend...big big hugs.