Out where a friend is a friend.
Where the longhorn cattle feed
On the lowly gypsum weed
Back in the saddle again.
On Monday June 5th I saw my bad ass surgeon Dr. Anderson at Beth Israel and two things happened. I laid eyes on x-rays of my titanium-improved femur for the first time, and I got the OK to begin physical therapy twice a week.
Oh, and a third thing happened. I stepped on the scale. The five pounds that I thought I gained since my surgery was actually a whopping ten pounds. Ten pounds on this 5’4″ 37-year-old frame is nothing to shake a stick at. My earnest healthy eating efforts were either too little or too late for my middle-aged metabolism and sauvignon blanc habit. Gretchen Rubin would be so disappointed.
Naturally, I sulked about the weight gain for the better part of Monday, completely shrugging off the good news that the rod and bolts look textbook perfect, my mobility has dramatically improved, and I can start working out again. Yeah, but… Ten pounds. Ten pounds!
There was something I could do about it, though. I could go to the gym. I could ride the stationary bike. I could lift a few weights, and I could do a few sit-ups. So that is exactly what I did before picking up my kids Monday evening. I felt a little bit better.
I may be down, but I’m not down and out: I even picked up a kale salad from the prepared foods section of Whole Foods.
In truth, I have been down lately. Real down. Getting cleared for physical activity couldn’t come soon enough. I am on record saying that running is not a cure for mental health issues, but if the last two months have taught me anything, it’s that running and exercise are integral components of my precarious balancing act.
In my reading somewhere I learned that SSRIs / antidepressants do not eliminate depression but they can prevent the bottom from dropping out when depression symptoms arise. Even as I enjoyed almost an entirely symptom-free year, I took these words of caution to heart. If you’ve lived with depression as long as I have, you learn never to underestimate its power over you. Sure enough, my symptoms came on, starting about two weeks ago. I lost all focus at work. I became obsessive and compulsive about a personal writing project. I felt my thoughts spinning out of control all of the time. I couldn’t reel them back in. I told my husband, “My brain has a mind of its own,” and I meant it; Like I am a helpless captor on a runaway roller coaster controlled by my mind. I grew irritable. I wanted to spend time alone, but when I was alone, I fell further down the rabbit hole. Red flag, red flag, red flag… Red flag.
The bottom didn’t drop out. I’m OK. The symptoms make me feel fragile and vulnerable.
“I’m me, but I’m not me.”
“I’m here, but I’m not here.”
“I care, but I can’t care as much I would like to. Not today.”
“Come back tomorrow.”
“Can we do this tomorrow?”
“Tomorrow, any tomorrow.”
“Any day but today.”
I’m here, but I’m not here.
Now imagine me saying these things to you through a megaphone on a faraway distant peak. That’s what it feels like to exist in the world when you’re struggling to keep a full blown depressive episode at bay.
In the interest of not ending this post on a completely bleak note, you may be interested to hear that my husband competed in his first 5K road race without me, and he’s doing another one on Father’s Day! Without a trace of sarcasm he says he’s doing the races for me. He means it. If you don’t think this is the sweetest thing you’ve ever heard, than you must not have a sentimental bone in your body (much less a titanium one).
My first session of physical therapy starts tomorrow. Wish me luck!