Tag Archives: Mental Health

Clarity Lost and Sorta Found

This post is a raw and humbling one that I’ve tried to write with honesty. I don’t write it for pity. I write it as both an explanation and for other people who may be experiencing similar struggles. Forgive me, though, if it is muddled; it was difficult to accurately convey some really big feelings through a keyboard.


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I’ve been in hiding as far as this blog goes. I can’t tell you why I continue to get these big ideas that I can train and run and blog and be a “with it” kind of human being. Clearly, that’s just not in the cards for me right now. It gets to a point where I don’t even know what to say here. I don’t know what to write. I don’t know if it’s worth it. I don’t know if I’m making a difference for others or for myself. And if I am making a difference for myself, is it negative?

It’s time to be transparent. I’ve fallen completely off the exercise wagon since mid-summer. I don’t feel my eating has been that terrible, but my exercise and training have been completely lacking. I am in a cycle of despising myself for not exercising and then not having the energy to get up in the morning because my mind has been filled with so much yuck.

I’ve gained 20 lbs in the last few months. That may sound like a lot to most people, but I’ve  fluctuated dramatically my whole life. I can have a 5 lb difference from one day to the next. So I hope this weight will come off as quickly as it came on.

I hate seeing pictures of myself or looking in the mirror. I know it is an image of my own doing, and again, it catches me up in that cycle of being mad at myself and feeling defeated.

I want to be transparent. I’ve been building myself back to a place where I’m documenting my nutrition and my training. I’m cleaning up, both literally and metaphorically…deep-cleaning my house (something else that I fall behind on when I’m in a funk) and sweeping the cobwebs from the nooks and crannies in my brain.

My goal is to have a completely documented log of what I ate and what I did and how I feel. I won’t bombard you with it every day, but I may do a weekly wrap-up to show my (hopefully) progress.

I’m so tired of feeling bad. I gave up on trying to feel good, but I think it’s just going to take a lot more pushing than I was able to give previously. Now, though? I’m feeling like I’m at that proverbial fork in the road. I want to head down a path to all-around health before it’s too late.

I will be transparent. And I hope you can be understanding and patient. I still expect to hit those big and little bumps in the road; I have to learn to be understanding and patient with myself, too.

If anyone else has found themselves in a place like I am, please feel free to get in touch. I think the best thing is knowing that we are not alone in our struggles, whether they be mental or physical, weight-related or otherwise. You are worth fighting for, through all the shit and “yuck” the world throws your way. And I’m going to try to believe I am, too.

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Fitness Friday: 5 Quotes for When You “Just Can’t” + Free Printables

I don’t think it’s a secret that I’ve been having trouble with finding motivation lately. Okay, maybe this has been an issue most of my life. I don’t think I’m alone, though. I hear echoes of others who have days or weeks or months or years where they feel their brains or bodies or hearts yelling, “I JUST CAN’T” at them.

And sometimes, it’s okay to allow your brain and your body and your heart to tell you those things.

There are days, though, when I really, really desperately want to be able to do the things I know will make me feel better. Like running. On those days, I often rely on words to light a fire in me. Since I’m a librarian, it also should come as no surprise that I believe words can have a huge impact, whether for good or for evil.

Scenario: Maybe you’re really excited about this new dress you’re wearing today, but then someone says, “That pattern is…interesting.” And maybe it’s an interesting pattern, but the way they said it, what did that mean? Does this even look good on you? It probably looks terrible. What were you even thinking buying it? You don’t look good in anything.

Four words. Four words were all it took to crack your confidence.

Scenario: Maybe you woke up on the wrong side of the bed. And then your toddler had a meltdown because you didn’t cut the crusts off her toast. The cat threw up and you stepped in it while wearing your favorite pair of socks (that ironically have cute little kittens on them). And your hair just won’t lay right and you smeared your eyeliner right after you put it on and you forgot to pack a lunch and wait, did you even remember to eat breakfast?

Then your kid tugs on your shirt and says, “I love you so much, Mama.”

Six words. Six words stop you in your tracks and melt your heart.

Again, words can have impact in big and little ways that add up.

So when I surround myself with motivation, I find myself feeling better. Here are a few of  my favorite quotes when it comes to running and getting myself moving when I really just can’t.

Clear your mind of can't

Clear your mind of ‘can’t’.

It might sound simple, and in a way, it is. Often, my mind is my biggest enemy. It tells me what it thinks I can and can’t do. And a lot of times, it’s just plain wrong. If I do my best to remove “CAN’T” from my vocabulary, I’m not giving myself the option of giving up. Unless of course I’m saying to my mind, “You CAN’T stop me.”

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You will want to stop. Don’t.

Relating to the last one, I try to make myself believe I am unstoppable. It is so easy to think, “I’m tired! I won’t make it another mile! It’s time to stop.”

Barring injury, illness, or overtraining, don’t let your mind fool you. You can keep going, and you are so much stronger than you even know.

Hard things and impossible things

Hard things take time to do. Impossible things take a little longer.

One of the biggest things I struggle with is patience. I am not a patient person, but my body wasn’t built to be a get-fit-quick machine. Very few people have quick results while training or losing weight or getting healthier. If they do have quick results, the results sometimes aren’t long-lasting.

Dimity (from my all time favorite crew: Another Mother Runner) reminds me that the things I feel are hard will take time, but they will be so worth it. And the things I don’t think I can possibly do right now? They’ll take time, too, but I WILL get there.

If you can't fly...MLK Quote

If you can’t fly, then run. If you can’t run, then walk. If you can’t walk, then crawl. But whatever you do, you have to keep moving forward.

Okay, going back to that first quote: remember when I said to eliminate “can’t” from your vocabulary? Well, scratch that. Sometimes, there are literally times you cannot do something. You may be putting yourself at risk if you do, or maybe you just deserve some rest.

For me, this quote was particularly relevant during my injury. I couldn’t run. I couldn’t walk. I couldn’t bear weight on my foot. It was excruciating, both physically and mentally. But I knew I had to keep going and moving forward. It was the only way to heal.

However you apply this quote to yourself, make sure you only give yourself the opportunities to move forward in life. Learn from your past and keep going, full steam ahead. Don’t keep looking backward. You’re not going that way.

-It is our choices that show who we truly are, far more than our abilities.--Albus Dumbledore

It is our choices, Harry, that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.

You didn’t think I would let you get away without a little book geekiness in here, did you? Although this quote isn’t directly about running, I have attached it deeply to running and many other parts of my life.

When I make the choice to get out of bed and lace up, that is what is important. My pace doesn’t matter. My mileage doesn’t matter. I need to stop beating myself up for feeling like I’m slow or bad or any other negative descriptor. I made a choice to defeat some sinister negative force, and there’s a little bit of magic in that.

Plus, Dumbledore quotes never get old.


As a special treat, please feel free to download the PDF versions of the images above. I made these as pretty little reminders for myself, but I’d love to share them if you feel like you could pull them out on a rough day.

Download “Clear your mind of can’t.”
Download “You will want to stop. Don’t.”
Download “Hard things…Impossible things…”
Download “If you can’t fly, run…”
Download “It is our choices…”


So what are your thoughts, my friends? What helps you to lace up when you don’t want to? How do you defeat the “I can’t” trolls? Please feel free to share a tip or a favorite quote below. You know I can’t get enough of those good ol’ words!

SHOP

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A Happy Place

Sometimes, I go days and weeks without blogging. Sometimes, I check out for days or weeks or months. That’s just a reality of who I am. That’s the reality of living with a mental illness. Even when you’re managing it, sometimes you’re just not “managing.”

This time, I wasn’t particularly sad. It wasn’t a dark-dark-dark time. No, it was just…nothingness. I couldn’t get a grip on my day-to-day operations, and it made blogging seem like a mountain I just didn’t have the energy or equipment to climb. Insurmountable. So I took it easy on myself, and I worked to forgive myself for this and several other things I sacrificed for a few weeks. I celebrated lots of days without pressuring myself to do more than I was capable of.

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Today, I feel a little better. There’s that little spark of warmth in my gut telling me that brighter and stronger times are coming. Which is good. Because the days are soaring past, and I’m watching the calendar get closer to my two big races (1 & 2) of fall. I have a solid training plan set before me. I will move forward.

This morning’s run was humid, but that’s not atypical for this time of year. Still, it leaves me feeling pretty sweaty and gucky afterward. Even after a shower to cool off, I still sweat. And by the time I quit sweating, it’s time to go outside so I can climb in my stuffy car and start sweating again and go to work. Vicious cycle.

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Sweaty selfie. This iPhone camera was kind to me. I swear, I was drenched. 

This past weekend was spent in Duluth, which I have officially deemed my “happy place.” It’s a city I adore on a big ol’ lake I can’t ever stop staring at. Again this year, I failed to get a shoreline run in, but relaxation and sleeping in trumped it. No regrets. (Not many, at least.)

Other than that, life has been filled with the day-to-day minutia of summer. Two weeks from now, we will be with family on a houseboating trip. And then it’s August already. I know a lot of people ask the question, “Where does the time go?” But srsly.

I don’t have much of substance to leave you with. For my bookclub, though, we did read one of my favorite books in the history of the universe. And although I love it for the big, soul-warming laughs it gives me, I also have many quotes about mental health and mental illness underlined, starred, and dog-eared in my copy. I’ll leave you with one that stands out to me every time I read or listen to it (yes, I own the digital audiobook, too).

“Without the dark there isn’t light. Without the pain there is no relief. And I remind myself that I’m lucky to be able to feel such great sorrow, and also such great happiness. I can grab on to each moment of joy and live in those moments because I have seen the bright contrast from dark to light and back again. I am privileged to be able to recognize that the sound of laughter is a blessing and a song, and to realize that the bright hours spent with my family and friends are extraordinary treasures to be saved, because those same moments are a medicine, a balm. Those moments are a promise that life is worth fighting for, and that promise is what pulls me through when depression distorts reality and tries to convince me otherwise.”

-Jenny Lawson, Furiously Happy: A Funny Book About Horrible Things

Wishing you light.

SHOP

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The Sound of Silence

I’m aware I’ve been quieter than usual. Which is really quiet, because I’ve been pretty absent from here lately. My brain has been a completely different story, though. I kinda wish my brain would shut up, because it’s really good at blabbing and chatting and screaming at me until I think, “Brain, I’m mad. Be quiet.” And Brain is all, “MAKE ME.” And then I sigh and try to find various ways to make it shut up. They don’t usually work. If they do work, they’re self-destructive.

But Brain is happier when I’m staying organized and on track and mindful of my thoughts/feelings/habits. That has been my goal these last few weeks. Re-organizing. Committing to meeting my goals and making plans for how I will get there.

My weekly plan comes out in Bullet Journal form, and I like it. It looks like a lot of work to some people, but for me, the work is soothing. I enjoy having some time to just mindlessly draw lines and dots, time where I’m just following my own template to make my days better and more structured. I need structure, and I guess this is just a visual representation of it all.

Last week, I finished Reasons to Stay Alive by Matt Haig. It was such a moving account of mental illness and all the ways it can rock you in your heart and guts and brain. Some things were so well-described that I physically began reacting to them and feeling old feelings. Probably not super helpful for someone currently going through tough times with anxiety/depression and wanting to avoid triggers. I think it would be fantastic for someone trying to understand, though. It has a hopeful message, and we all need that.

Now I’m working on This Is How It Always Is by Laurie Frankel, and I’m hooked. Lots of good stuff sitting in my TBR pile right now, too. Eeek. Never enough hours in the day for books.

Other than that, I’m just working hard to get myself back on that proverbial horse again. This morning’s run was super-humid, which I should probably force myself to adjust to. But I don’t like humidity at all, and it just feels like a punishment when you make the effort to wake at 5:00 AM only to be hit in the face with bathwater when you go outside.

The flowers blooming in our yard, though, provided a pretty end to a very sweaty run.

Here’s to a not-too-sweaty, happy week for all of us!

SHOP

 

 

 

 

P.S. Obligatory goofy kid/goofy dog pictures.

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Ballerinas and Catsby and Wine-infused Coffee

And we meet again. On a Friday. Yay! Long weekend. Woo! Party time. Yeah!

Okay, that’s out of the way. This week was significantly less eventful on my end, and darnit, I like it that way. I still feel like I’m recovering from last week’s hustle and bustle.

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My baby had her first dance recitals this weekend. I was on stage with her (it was a “You & Me” class for caregivers and children, and though my role was minimal, I was still absolutely drained by the end of the weekend.

She did well, though. She smiled. She listened to me onstage (backstage was a different story). I guess that’s what matters. She loves to dance, and I think she’s going to be very good at it.

Other than that, the week has contained minimal excitement or activity. I’m re-framing my goals right now and really taking into consideration the things I need to do to achieve them.

Web-flavored Goodness

  • Sad news coming out of the running community. Gabe Proctor, a former NCAA champion, died by suicide last week. Nobody, regardless of their successes or kind heart or circumstances, is immune to depression and mental health issues. My thoughts have been with his family and friends.
  • I think I’ve referenced Mirna before in my blog. If I haven’t, I should have. Because this article made me say, “YUS, GIRL,” out loud as I was reading it.

“Lastly, I am beautiful. The entire running community is beautiful. And we determine that. Not you.”

  • Wine is good for you. We keep hearing this. So let’s skip the chit-chat, and I’ll break out the corkscrew. (Obligatory: moderation, people. Practice moderation.) (And sidenote, that article opened my eyes to the fact that there is now wine-infused coffee. This really blurs the structure of my day.)
  • One of my favorite cities on this planet held a memorial 5k. For a cat. Named Catsby. If it wasn’t dance recital weekend, I may have considered attending.
  • Yes. That’s all.

H’okay! I hope your long weekend is relaxing and fun and productive/unproductive (depending on what you want it to be) and filled with sparkles and rainbows and love. See you next week!

SHOP

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Grumpy Snow Owl

It’s April 27th, and I saw tiny snowflakes falling from the sky as I let the dog out this morning. She frolicked with happiness. I turned grumpy.

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Re-enactment. We share a stunning resemblance, though, don’t we?

I also have a case of the grumps, though, because I haven’t run in a while. I’m rather run down instead. I’ve had a cold for two weeks now, and I just really wish I could breathe out of my nose and that my eyes weren’t itchy and that my head didn’t feel so gummed up. I also feel like sleeping for days.

I’m being hard on myself for not running, but at the same time, it’s kind of a relief to allow myself some time to recuperate. Usually, I push through my illnesses and train anyway. This time, though? I’m stepping back. Perhaps it’s something to do with the lousy nature of my last long run. Perhaps it’s something bigger. I have some decisions to make, though, and they will have an effect on the future of my running “career.” (Career? Hobby? Lifestyle? I am not sure how to address it.)

I’m considering starting at level 1, if that makes any sense. And I’ll see where that takes me. My ankle injury is reverberating longer than I had expected, and I just don’t feel ready for going too long-distance at this time. After my last run, my heart isn’t in it. I’m trying to re-vamp too many other things in my life right now: eating, self-reflection, meditation/yoga. All things that will give me more peace before I begin rigorously training again. Don’t get me wrong. I love running, and I don’t want to quit it. I still have my big goals to achieve, and I want to get there soon!

But I have to help the other “pieces” of my life fall in place first. I can’t train and lose weight at the same time. I can’t incorporate as much meditation and yoga as I want when I’m trying to keep my mileage high. Maybe other people have a propensity for these things. I just don’t right now.

I don’t know where all this rambling leaves me, and kudos to you if you’ve made it this far. I do know I want to continue blogging with a focus on running and health and mamahood. I like getting my thoughts out on virtual paper, and I hope I’ve been able to give something good to the wonderful people who read this as well.

For today, though…I’m going to focus on each day as it comes. I’m going to try to do things that bring me joy at that very moment in time. I hope find the time and effort to do the same.

SHOP

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3/30/17: Thankful Thursday

I find my mind in a strange domain today. Everything is a little foggy, and it’s kind of gray and misty. I am grieving for the family and friends of a person I never met. I am sad for the workers and volunteers who fight endlessly to prevent suicide. I’m confused and not-so-confused at the same time about Amy Bleuel’s death. And I ache for her, for the demons she fought so long.

Project Semicolon has held a special little place in my heart since I first heard of it. I’m a grammar/writing nerd, and I am an advocate for mental health. So when I heard there was a project based on the idea of a semicolon, you can imagine it captivated me.

“A semicolon is used when an author could’ve chosen to end their sentence, but chose not to. The author is you and the sentence is your life.”

I’ve never written out a detailed history of my mental health. Some people who are very close to me don’t even know the nitty gritty. They know I have depression. They know I have panic disorder and anxiety disorder. But the details are something I don’t talk about. For a long time, I felt it was shameful and that I was a weak person. My brain still feels that way sometimes, and it’s hard to convince myself otherwise.

Let me put this out there, though: I have experienced suicidal thoughts. I have thought those around me would be better off without me. In my teenage years, the peak of my hormones and mental health issues co-mingling, I had fantasies of nothingness. It wasn’t that I wanted to die. I just didn’t want to exist. I didn’t want to feel pain and cause pain anymore.

There’s a stigma surrounding suicide, but I can tell you the following: my thoughts were not selfish. I was not being dramatic. I was thinking about those around me. But my mind still had me convinced I didn’t deserve to exist anymore.

Some of these thoughts came back shortly after the birth of my daughter. In the throes of postpartum depression, I often thought I could never be the mother or wife or friend or family member that people deserved. I felt completely broken, and I wished I didn’t exist.

I am so glad I exist today. My semicolon means my life has gone on. I’ve had intentions for a couple of years to get a semicolon tattoo, and I finally found one I hope to base mine off of, if I get the courage to ask permission, of course. But I also suffer from a pretty severe needle phobia. I’ll get there someday.

So when I said above, “I’m confused and not-so-confused,” it meant that I know depression and anxiety and mental health disorders can strike anyone anytime. You can be okay one day and then have to fight like hell the next. Even when you know, you just know there are people out there who love you and that better days are coming and this, too, shall pass…there are times when you just can’t see the sun through the dark gray fog that has settled into each and every part of you. And you don’t know if/when you will see the sun again.

I am sure there are many, particularly from Project Semicolon and the suicide prevention community, who are taking this hard. To know that nobody is immune, even those who have come out as an inspiration to the community, those who have shared their stories…well, it stops you in your tracks.

We need to keep going, though. It gives me renewed perspective on fighting for something I’m passionate about. I want to do more, and I just need to find my platform or my project. Just like my tattoo: I’ll get there someday.

So today, I am thankful for one person: Amy. Thank you, Amy, for putting your story out there. This is not your ending, though. You will live on through thousands of tattoos and people who will continue fighting and holding each other up.

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Move forward. Keep writing your story. We owe it to Amy and to ourselves and to the survivors and to those who are gone too soon. We owe it to the families and friends, because suicide touches many lives.

If you, or anyone you know is dealing with feelings of hopelessness or thoughts of self-harm, I want you to know there IS help. Call 911.  Text “START” to the Crisis Text Line at 741-741. Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. Call the Trevor Project at 1-866-488-7386. Get in contact with someone.

I came across these recommendations for reporting on suicide, but I also think they are good things for all people to review. Here are warning signs and risk factors. Here is information on treatment. Need to help someone else?

Please take care of yourself. And let’s take care of each other, too, especially when we need it most.

You matter. You are loved. You are valuable. 

Cassie

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12/30/16: Friday Favorites

Mojo, oh, mojo!
Where did you go-jo? I don’t
know how to find you.

This lame-sauce haiku came to me in my brief attempt to express my current feelings and motivation level. I’m definitely down in the dumps, and the post-holiday blues are piled right on top.

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I mean, this really sums up post-Christmas feels, doesn’t it?

January will be here next week, though, all fresh and shiny! I definitely have some goals that I’m working out right now, and I look forward to sharing them here.

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One of my intentions for the new year is to have more conscious time with my girl. Today was my day off, so we went for a lunch/games date.

We are getting ready for our mid-January vacation, and I am still in slight denial about not running the Star Wars Half. The passing of Carrie Fisher has made this a particularly crushing blow for me, as I was privy to the information that she will be on the finisher medals. Life is funny, and not always in a good way.

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Beauty in and out. She was my princess growing up, and she is my daughter’s princess. And badass General as well.

Holidays were good. We are so blessed with love and family and friends. I can’t remind myself of that enough.

I’m looking forward to 2017 being THE year. I don’t know why it feels different. Maybe I think that every year. But 2016 kind of felt like a gear-up, get-shit-in-line, lets-get-ready-to-go kind of year (if you forget about that pesky train-went-off-the-tracks injury a couple weeks ago). I achieved things I didn’t think I could. I feel happier, even when my brain is trying to make me not happy. I feel more at peace than I have in a long time.

Are you making goals? Resolutions? I would love to hear them.

Read on. Run on.
Cassie

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12/21/16: Whatever Wednesday

Since my Monday post, I’ve had so much kindness and positivity sent my way. Thank you all for your words of encouragement and for letting me just be kinda sad for a few days. I can’t promise I won’t still have some sad moments, but I also am trying to channel my energy into planning for a badass 2017. Assuming my recovery goes well, I’ll be training for a half marathon in May. I’ll start off slow and easy, though, with a plan meant for beginners and shorter distance runners who want to run long. Bless the AMR crew, because these plans come with so much support and fun. I can’t imagine having a better virtual tribe to “run with.”

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Chewbarka photo. Because this post didn’t have enough cute.

So without further ado, here’s some “whatever” for your Wednesday.

  • You know I love me some mental health talk. And running talk. So when you combine both into one article, of course I’ve gotta include it. Running as therapy. I firmly believe in it.
  • Weekly oasis” is the nicest term I’ve ever heard to describe “me time.” I like it, and I think it’s important we remember to do this weekly (or more often as needed).
  • Anyone else stuck on the treadmill this time of year? I certainly think it has its good points. I mean, I love not having to bundle up, put on my Yak-Trax, apply Vaseline to exposed skin, pack up tissues, etc. before heading out the door at 5:30 AM. And I’ve seen several articles that give tips for enjoying the treadmill more. This one from Runner’s World seemed like a refreshing new spin on it, though.

Okay, kittens. I’m out for the evening. Got some more Christmas shopping to do, and Mother Hubbard’s cupboard isn’t exactly full.

Read on. Run on.
Cassie

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12/12/16: Manic Monday

Where did that weekend go? I feel like I did a lot…and still didn’t get a lot done.

The dreaded conjunctivitis is still in my eyeballs, and I’m fairly certain that is due to the fact that my cold is just sitting in my sinuses right now. I’m ready for it to be done, though. Dayquil takes the edge off, and I’m not barfy-gross like I was last week. So this is fine.

I still didn’t want to risk an outdoors run this morning, though, since it was -12 with windchill. So on ye ole treadmill I went. I was all prepared to bundle and head out the door, but it just…didn’t seem like a good idea. Ugh. Tried to get some “treadhill” work in and up the incline every now and again. I was over it by 3 miles, though. The rest of this week looks to be just as cold. Ugh.

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The frosty view from my porch this morning, where I was trying to cool off from my treadmill run.

I’m all about keeping on top of things during the holiday season. So I’ve been perusing lots of recipes and cookbooks to get ideas for healthy, nourishing meals along with a few indulgences.

I read Run Fast. Eat Slow. and fell in love with it. Seriously, do yourself a favor and check this one out from the library or purchase it from your local bookstore. So much goodness, and I can’t wait to try several of the recipes.

I also look for little ways to modify that help keep those extra holiday pounds at bay. Loving this round-up of healthier holiday cookie recipes, and hoping to try some over the next couple of weeks!

Other than that, we’re just taking everything day by day. And having lots of holiday adventures, including finding our elf on the shelf, Bernice. Even she has to resort to spending some time on the treadmill now and again.

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“Mom, look! I’m an elf on the treadmill, too!”

Keep at it, chickadees. Enjoy your day and make some memories.

Read on. Run on.
Cassie

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