Sunday, September 4, 2011

How I got scared, depressed, and over it

  Whew!  I'm glad that’s over.  Ever since last Thursday, I’d been down there in the dumps, vaguely aware I was there, vaguely aware of how to pull myself up, yet oddly unable to do so.  Was it a little depression, a little fear?  Yes and yes.  Today, as promised, is a new day, and those helpless feelings have fled with the suffocating humidity.

  Here’s how I got out, in 5 Easy Steps. 

  Step 1:  I used my support network.
  It so happens that in the midst of Hurricane Anxious, I got to spend time with a piece of my heart who’s lived on the West Coast for the past six years.  As if just getting to chat in person a while wasn’t treat enough, she brought me a little present.

  It choked me up because it was just what I needed: a reminder of inner strength I’d built and used this summer.  (During the running portion of the triathlon, I actually sang aloud to myself The Sound of Music's "I Have Confidence.")  And I thought again of Shoftstall’s words, “You really can endure… you really are strong.”  Oh yeah.  I made it through cancer treatment years ago ("with a little help from my friends"); this time there’s no cancer and no radiation – just surgery and recovery.

Step 2: Ask for help. 
  I asked for help and my Friends rallied and volunteered to such an extent that if I persist in worrying, it’s not only gratuitous, but an insult to them.  My world is filled with Friends who’ll guard my kids, feed my family, listen to and share with me, drive me where I need to go, and hold my hand every step of the way.  Days before my newest incision, I already have a Get Well card cheering me on.

Step 3: Distraction

This is what the other day’s musical edition was about.  It's also what my new title, Queen of Lists, is about.  Doubt me?  Just check out Friday & Saturday’s stacks of papers as proof!  I made lists of every shape and size: shopping lists, dinner lists, helper lists, book lists.  I stopped just short of making a list of all my lists. 

 I had to make the lists.  The Control Freak in me disagrees with the human part. The Control Freak in me would prefer to administer the anesthesia, look over the surgeon’s shoulder (though I really don’t want to see what’s going on in there), and line up my cells in a formation to ensure Efficient Recovery.

Step 3A: Wallow

Despite being Queen of Lists with occasional bouts of Control Freakishness, I’m human and needed to feel my fear and sadness and to wallow for a while.  I didn't track what I ate and I ate a couple things I really "shouldn’t have."  I know it doesn’t seem like something productive, but I firmly believe that when faced with Something Scary, gummy bears in small quantities are permissible.  

Step 4:  Inspiration. 

  With my new present in front of me and thoughts of my triathlon state of mind, I remembered the book I wrote about yesterday, and I borrowed a little of Mark Beaumont’s courage and planted it in my soul.

  And this morning I awoke to find myself free of aches & pains, and completely untempted by the open package of Oreos sitting on the dining table (Don’t worry  - I didn’t buy ‘em, I didn’t chug ‘em; Littlest has been making them into snowmen.)  When I opened the curtains and saw neighbors biking by in their neon yellow tops, I was happy and didn’t feel left out.  (After a few garage incidents, my bike needs some work, but that’s okay, because of Step 5.)

Step 5: Make a Plan

Not merely a list, I'm talking Goal here.  I already know all the things I won’t be able to do in the weeks and months ahead: all the things which could really derail my weight loss efforts.  So I had to come up with a plan to ensure the best mental and physical health possible.  Here’s the plan.

  A.  Since my body won't be as active as it's been of late, it won't need as many calories, so I'll eat fewer calories.  But that's just boring.  SO...
  B.  I'm going to (heaven help me) work on overcoming some food phobias.  I'm not kidding when I say I've got a fish phobia.  Once in Australia, I tried to be a good guest and eat a prawn (urgh!).  The prawn only made it to the top of my esophagus before my body pitched a hissy fit.  I've refused point blank to eat mushrooms (they're FUNGUS, people!), yet menus persist in offering things like portabella burgers -- Blech!  -- so they must be safe.

  I hereby challenge myself to... ugh... eat a bite of fish and piece of *erp* fungus and other healthy foods I'd normally be repulsed by. 

  Oh, and if I can choke it down, I'll track it.

  Exercise (don't tell my doctor)

  By the end of September, I’m going to begin posting photo accounts of things I see when I’m out walking.  Inspired by one of my favorite blogs, I’ve long wanted to follow her example, but know full well I’m not one to pedal, point, and shoot at the same time.  But confined to walking?  Well, I can shutter away!

  I’m also putting out an open invitation for company on my walks.  Walking can be fine and dandy, but walking with companions is finer and dandier!  AND I’ve picked up a copy of the schedule for The Cleveland Hiking Club.

  So if you’re out and about and see a woman pointing a camera at something like an earthworm, a cloud, or a church, please smile encouragingly.

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