After getting my daughter off to school last Monday with a smile on my face, I returned home, sunk into my couch…and cried. Feeling sad, alone, overwhelmed and angry. Thoughts swirling in my mind so fast I can’t keep track of one before another pops up. I don’t want to talk to anyone. I don’t want to be around anyone. I just want to sleep. Or watch Netflix and escape into another world. But life doesn’t stop – even for someone battling a depressive episode like me. Several hours later I had to peel myself out of my comfort zone, shower, and head to work. I put on my smile, one foot in front of the other, and stumbled into my reality…
For the past 5 weeks or so, I’ve been in a bad place. That’s really the only way I can describe it to anyone. After starting PT for tendonitis in my knee and being told not to run for at least 2 weeks, I decided that I should probably rest it entirely. So I didn’t workout at all. Apparently even the couch to 5k running program was too much.
My knee jerk reaction was childish, I know (no pun intended). Instead of battling through this roadblock, yet another setback on my road to recovery, I mentally collapsed. I had no fight left in me. I was tired. I was angry. I was frustrated. I literally just gave up.
At the same time, I was moving up into a new role at work. Because of my mental state at the time, emotionally I was a wreck as well. When I feel overwhelmed, I retreat. When I retreat, the thoughts in my head multiply and get much louder. It’s harder to keep the negative ones out.
I had my second panic attack in the last 10 months and the first that I experienced in the middle of the night; it woke me up at 1:00am. My sweet husband was half awake, but knew what was happening. He kept rubbing my arm every time I returned from the bathroom until either he fell asleep or I got up again. My side of the bed was wet with sweat. It took me a couple of hours for my emergency meds to kick in and for me to calm down and fall asleep.
This intense feeling of panic stayed with me for the next 6 days. Almost a week of struggling with daily tasks, with conversation, with working, with putting on an act for my daughter so she wouldn’t be worried. That week I was in bed by 8:30pm and dragged myself out when I absolutely had to. Through some act of God, I moved past the anxiety finally and returned to my somewhat normal self.
But I was still depressed. No exercise, no desire to watch what I ate, no desire to be on Facebook and see all my friends running, working out, etc. So much of my #fitfam I met on social media – common interests and people brought us together and helped us stay motivated and inspired. Again, I realize my thinking is childish. I realize that I do have control over how I react to my situation and that I can let it define me or not.
I totally let it define me. 100%.
Deep down, I knew at some point I would turn a corner. I always do. I just had to do it my way. I had to be ready in my own “aha” moment. As I lay on the couch last Monday just like I had every day for the last several weeks, I literally had no desire to do anything. Even recognizing at that very moment that I needed to switch gears or face more weight gain, more sluggishness, more unhappiness…
I just didn’t give a shit.
I saw my surgeon a few days ago. I told him the pain I was still feeling just to run across my backyard. I told him I’d been resting for weeks, the tendonitis pain was gone, but my knee isn’t right. I told him I wanted another MRI. He agreed, although he wasn’t sure what it was going to show us. He wasn’t sure what was going on and that at this point, he didn’t want to scope me again and take a look.
He told me to see a guy at Luke’s Locker that would fit me for shoes. I told him they recently gave me the “A-Okay” to continue wearing the kind I had been wearing for years – just a neutral shoe. But he was adamant for me to see this one guy. So, I agreed. He also wanted me to get on an Alter G treadmill. You’re weightless as you run, so you can work on form; plus the obvious – no pounding on my knee. I got scheduled for next Thursday on this crazy machine.
After my husband went with me to see this guy at Luke’s Locker, I could feel my energy shifting. Turns out I wasn’t in the right shoe. He pointed out several things to Jim that he could help me work on. We talked a lot about the way I should train, the way our human bodies were meant to run, and that the less I wear shoes in general, the better for my hip alignment, which affects my knee. He confirmed to us that because of the functional movement emphasis that CrossFit workouts offer, we should absolutely be sticking with them. He was a huge fan of Kelly Starrett, another one of Jim’s favorites for mobility work, and told me if I were to work on my left shoulder and my lat mobility, that my right hip and knee would benefit because of the way the shoulder and hip work in opposition when we run #duh
I have been in a bad place. But, I feel like I’m seeing a little light at the end of a tunnel. I’m not out of the woods yet, but the fact that I did a workout this morning is step #1. With a lot of time I’ve had to think, to read, & to fight through my emotions, I’ve re-prioritized. I’ve grown yet again.
I have to do what’s best for me, not for anyone else. I have to put myself first, even though it’s really, REALLY hard for me to do that.
I wanted to share my reality because I know there are women out there who have gone through or are going through something similar. It might be your best friend or your sister. Depression hides. Anxiety hides. Mental illness is a silent threat. But we cannot trivialize it. It’s real.
For those who don’t understand it, I know it’s difficult for you as well. My husband is one of those people. But what he doesn’t realize is that he is my center. He has seen me at my worst and still loves me. He cannot lead me out of depression, but he can walk with me every step by my side. And that is all I can ever ask for.
To those of my #megsmiles friends who reached out to me, thank you. I appreciate you very much. I will be okay; I’m on my way.
If you or someone you know is battling with mental illness, please know there is help available. Visit www.nami.org for information.