Thursday, May 18, 2017

What's Up Buttercup?

Before I publish BACK TO BERLIN Week 13 - 17 marathon training updates, I had to write a post "glueing" these weeks to Week 18. 
One of my mini-goals on the way to running the Berlin Marathon 2017 is to have a "seamless" documentation of my marathon training
I have not been able to (personally) satisfactorily achieve this in the 3 previous marathons (2012: Berlin, Amsterdam; 2013:Paris) I finished. Nor did it happen in my attempts after 2013.
Marathon training had often helped me successfully implement changes in my life, which I struggled to realise or was too mentally blocked to complete.   There is something about the structure of marathon training that makes me, simply put : get things done; things, which  I usually procrastinate on.
One of the many things on my "get it done list" is to write a blog post shortly after a difficult period during marathon training.
A blog going back to business but also acknowledging the fact, I went through a depressive episode.
A blog sharing how I got over it, how I am moving on, how recording my process helps me, and how I hope sharing it will help others, may they derive strength from it, during their own difficult period. 
Writing after recovering from a mental health issue, is a ritual (before blogging, I wrote in my personal journals), I often - very often! - skip. After many years, I realized it is necessary for me to write recovery thoughts to help myself heal faster and prevent relapses.
So, here we go.

a snapshot I took after yesterday's run, in between biking home

"The buttercups, bright-eyed and bold,

Held up their chalices of gold

To catch the sunshine and the dew."

- Julia C. R. Dorr, Centennial Poem, line 165.

Yesterday . . .


I ran my 47th training marathon training run in Spanderswoud. It was the hottest run I've ran so far in 2017.  Many said (I did not check the temperature) it was a 28 degrees Celsius day.





Besides the hot and humid climate of the day, what sets this run apart from all the other run was it's "unpredictability".  I changed every direction I took seconds after I checked in with my brain. 


"Mind Games; Meditation in Motion"


What does this mean? I'll try to explain it as simple as I can: the moment I am about to follow what I planned to do, I changed it seconds before I  put myself into action, towards the direction I have to go to follow "the plan".  

For example, yesterday, my route was Loodijk.  I also call it The Windmill route; this is my favourite 5K route.  There are no cars to watch out for, the roads are well maintained, and I can focus on a steady pace because there are not a lot of visual distraction. The path is for the most part, a straight meditative wide space.



After 5 years of running, I revised this route.  2017 5K Loodijk route goes like this: I bike out of our village (almost a mile), and park my bike in front of Restaurant Loodijk.  From there, I start running and as soon as I hit 3 km, I turn to go back the same direction I came from, and end my run at Restaurant De Molen.


My running schedule varies but I always seem to run this route while the restaurant is still closed.

This gives the opportunity to do a few easy short yoga poses in peace before I head back home. I love looking back at work out pictures with the windmill behind me. :)

I have come to call this windmill route my Zen zone.



Spanderswoud


So, how did I end up in Spanderswoud?  


Picnic with M in Spanderswoud
20th of April, 20117

M is personification of fun. Always full of ideas. Always a great energy to be with,


Left, Right, OR Straight Ahead ? Surprise!


I had to create a "Surprise!" moment for my brain to get it "excited", tickle my neurons out of it's inertia, shut the door to the interlopers mania and melancholia.

"Surprising my brain" - keeping it guessing - is  something I do, when my mental block becomes extremely hard to break through or I broke through a major mental block and I feel a new one coming on. 

Is it healthy to practice this method?  Is it counter-productive in the long run? These and many other questions are something I don't dwell on - yet.  It  is a method, that works for me, and as long as I don't have a better one, I will continue to use it.




How did I do this yesterday?

When I finally got myself out of the house, and on my bike, I turned right instead of biking straight on towards Loodijk.  This "surprising my brain in split second" was what I did the next 36 minutes and 44 seconds of my run in Spanderswoud.





It was fun because it was like going through my own spontaneous created maze.  The activity distracted me from obsessing about the heat.


Marathon Training: Week 15-17


2017 running stats, so far


I've been terribly struggling mentally since Week 15.  It was a rapid swing from bad to worst state of mind,  and the time of respite in between was not even sufficient to get back from bad to even a simple okay.

The same old story.  After weeks of great positive flow (14 weeks - not bad in hindsight!) , I dove and fell flat on my face and before I can utter the words, "Not this again!", I am physically weighed down by my depressed body.

This recent experience has led me to the decision of seeking help and taking medication once again, after almost a decade of doing without.


A Minute...

------------------------------------ just a minute, please ------------------------------

I write this post to have something to come back to.  

This is - as I often say in my blogs of the same mind-decluttering kind - not a self-pity party post, OR "I need help" silent cry in the internet (I will ask, if I do need help. Something I have learned the hard way, and practice as often as I can to not lose the skill...), or "look at me, look at how strong I am, and how I prevail...".

No.  This is a documentation. This is me hoping, what I document will help me in my process.  This is me hoping, what I document will help someone else in their process

------------------------------------ read on; thanks. :) -------------------------------

A minute of planking is a meditative minute


My Mind in a Basket (Case)


Sometimes I give myself the creeps
Sometimes my mind plays tricks on me
It all keeps adding up
I think I'm cracking up
Am I just paranoid?
A ya-ya-ya
Grasping to control
So I better hold on


Yesterday, I broke through my stubborn mental block (it started creeping in at Week 15 and it got worst between Week 16, and persisted in Week 17),   of going out for a  run.

I have another blog still in draft (written on the 4th of May), which I wrote when I was able to pull myself out of inertia mid-way through Week 15.

As soon as I have the time and peace to work on that blog again, I will continue to put in details the many things I did to help myself through this episode of depression.  I got a great run after writing that unpublished blog, in Week 17.

In brief, what always help me stay strong during my depression, and eventually help me recover, are these:

  1. The knowledge, that I have been through the same thing, the same cycles before and manage to come out of it, again and again.  I've been recording my process in my journals since I was a teen-ager, and in 2006, I started writing blogs anonymously.  Between 2011-2012, is when I slowly publicly wrote blogs about how life is with with bipolar disorder, my rapid cycles of depression; how I deal with them and strive to focus on a simple life - a life with quality with my family.
  2. The generous and unwavering support of my family, friends near and far, and kindred souls on the net, whom I have yet to meet in person but through the years, have been catalysts in helping me, help myself in ways that changed my life for the better.
  3. Words of kindness.  Words of inspiration. Words of empowerment.  They are everywhere and we all receive them, when we meditate, pray, or ask the universe for them.
  4. Baby steps.  This is powerful. If you've suffered from minor, major depression or have helped or witnessed someone who went through or is going through depression, you know each step, no matter how seemingly random, mediocre, or seemingly pointless - a step is a step. A step is a small movement towards improvement.
  5. Helping others.  It seems ironic that at a time, I obviously need the help, thinking of helping others makes me get better.


Stop and Smell the Flowers...


“The earth laughs in flowers.” 
― Ralph Waldo Emerson


No. 5 on the list of what helps me stay strong and recover from depressive episodes, has come to be one of the main source of positive energy for me.

"Be there for others". These words are words I encounter  the most in my search to make sense of depression, living life with depression, making the best of life with depressive episodes and moving on and living a good in life in spite of scars left behind by each depressive cycles. 

Experts in mental health share this wisdom; people who went through with and still are dealing with mental health issues, when they share their experiences in books, or in various mental health websites - they all speak and write about : being there for others as a way to get yourself out of your head, and  out living life, as one should.

I know I am strong. I know there is a now, and a future for me, where the stories of how I face, and overcome my mental pain and struggles will help alleviate the pain and struggles of someone else.






Last night my partner - exhausted from a day of "everything went wrong" day at work - laid his head on my lap.  He told me for the hundredth time, how he enjoys me caressing his head, running the palm of my hand  up and down his back.  He sighed almost close to falling asleep, how my voice  (no matter, what I am talking about! :D) soothes him, and can put him to a peaceful slumber. 

As I ran my hand through his hair, and ran my palm up and down his back, I renewed a much repeated promise: I will share my story. Repeatedly. I will write my story.  Leave a written legacy for our girls, for those who need the story, for those  who want to understand, for those who do not want to feel alone.

A story of how someone never gave up, how no one should ever give up on life, and how  we can all keep finding ways to not let mental health issues become an enemy but a source of inspiration on being there for others, living, loving, persevering, understanding and sharing.

Sharing is Caring.



Do you have a story to share? Besides sharing your own keep moving stories, stories of helping and being a friend, do you have any other ways of "being there" for someone, who struggles (with or without mental health issues) ?  I always love to read and learn more from others and their experiences.

Please share your story, or questions in the comment box. OR send me a message via Facebook (click the link on the caption above or click on the link at the right side of this page to be redirected).  Or reach out via email: happyfeetinthenetherlands@gmail.com.

The story we share of helping others and ourselves can empower many.


HAPPY FEET IN THE NETHERLANDS



created 18th of  May, 2017 11:00 

1 comment:

  1. I loved this, thank you so much for sharing your story!! I've heard that one of the most effective ways to break the cycle of anxiety and depression is to change "people, places, and things" - and with your "surprising my brain" tactics, you're doing just that! By switching things up and being unpredictable, you're taking steps in the right direction and growing stronger, mentally and physically. I'm so glad to be able to follow along on your journey and see you shine! <3

    ReplyDelete

If I can run, so can you: big dreams are reached with baby steps!