Giving a Damn About Life During Treatment

One of the cool things about getting my mood balanced again is that I’m interested in my surroundings. Specifically, my home. I spent Memorial Day weekend working on some cleaning and organizing projects on the first level of my house. In the last year or so the only things I felt about my house were “can I dump it and start over?” It’s too far from the urban core. It’s too much of a family area. The commute is grating.

Gradually, it just started to become an overwhelming place where I noticed all of the chaos and clutter. “Hmm, has that stuff always been there?” or “Hey, maybe it’s kind of weird that there are random receipts and coupons on the floor.” Depressed me sort of blocked it all out. Depressed me cared about the following things: my couch hidey-hole, was the internet working so I could use my Roku, did I have sufficient body covering blankets on the couch, did my bed exist, did my plumbing work, was the refrigerator working? That’s it. Survival and hiding.

Coming out of the blind survival and waking into awareness of my envirmonent was really uncomfortable. I suddenly knew there were things I felt I should be doing, but I didn’t yet have the energy or the desire. I was flooded with anxiety.

Anxiety is sort of this two-headed alien with tentacles that infests your body. It plops its first head inside your brain, squashing the cells that manage rational thoughts. It waggles its butt into a comfortable position, puts on its glasses and then realizes it left something out of arms reach so it has to get back up again. Repeat waggling.

Head two, or what I think of as the “hairy head,” hangs out in the core of your body and entwines it’s lustrous hair around your organs. The hair sort of tangles around your organs while it tries to flow around like a shampoo commercial — only, there’s stuff like your stomach, intestines and bladder in the way.

Tentacles are attached to a stalk that affixes to your spine. The stalk connects the two heads. Tentacles specialize in cheesey pick-up lines and their prime targets are your muscles. They just find the muscles in your neck, shoulders, and back to be so sexy. Only, the muscles are revolted by the advances of the tentacles so they try to get as far away as possible — which isn’t far — so everything is very tense.

The anxiety alien also doesn’t need much sleep. It’s really itching to rave on and orders glow sticks in bulk. Only, the longer it goes without sleep, the more active it can become.

Now that you understand the beast, you can understand why it would be a challenge to give a damn about pieces of paper on the floor when you are playing host to all night alien trance dancing. Taming anxiety and getting it to take an extended nap immensely improves your ablity to rationalize thought and regulate your own rest and recovery.

For me, that manifests as DIY projects and once again thinking about things like painting the trim in my house, painting my kitchen cabinets, putting up a divider curtain between my kitchen and living room, organizing my second bedroom, and well, you get the point. The next part is taking action. I started last weekend. I plan to work on another space this weekend, and research options for painting.

These more frequent periods of peace are refreshing. It’s hard to have energy for anything else when you are constantly cleaning up after a massive alien kegger in your body.


Being Fat and Female in a Gym

When I walked into the gym yesterday morning it was delightfully empty save a few guys and one gal. I was there to lift some weights and then meet up with one of the girls from my small training group to do the stepmill. I don’t know what is about deadlifts that I like, but man, I like them and I was excited to play. The stepmill, well, it makes me feel accomplished.

It didn’t take me too long to notice one of the gym’s trainers working out*. He noticed me too. After my workout, he approached me and introduced himself. Nothing wrong with that. “If you ever want help with exercises or nutrition, I’m a trainer here. Feel free to ask to me any questions. Are you just trying to lose some weight or tone up? You really don’t want to do a lot of that (pointing to the stepmill and meaning cardio.” He was nice and non-aggressive in his tone, but he immediately assumed I was trying to lose weight. Being fat and female in a gym must automatically mean you’re there to lose weight. Or fat. Sure, I wouldn’t be upset to lose some fat, but that’s not my focus anymore. Part of rejecting the fat phobia and diet culture is realizing that there is nothing wrong with being fat. Yeah, guys. That’s right. It’s okay to be fat. It’s okay to love a fat body. What’s not okay is wasting your life hating yourself and your body, not living in some pursuit of the cultural expectation of the ideal woman. (Men of the world, I know you are not excluded from this, but I am a woman so I am writing about women.)

What was really exciting about this encounter, is that I didn’t immediately retreat to a place of shame and self-loathing and “gee, I really do need to lose weight” or “I must have looked dumb working out.” Nope. I say it again. NOPE. I was able to evaluate the situation and take it without emotion. Hey, this guy is still in the mainstream diet world. The world where everyone desires to be thin and thin equals happy and you can’t have happy without thin. He wasn’t trying to hurt me. He was trying to help (and maybe get a new client.) I told him honestly, I was working out to feel good. That’s what exercise is about. It’s a reward for your body. It’s fun. It brings out a primal drive. It makes other parts of day to day life better because it makes your body, heart, and soul happy. And it just feels good.


*I work at this gym, though I’m currently taking a summer sabbatical while working on recovery. My gym is pretty great. I’ve met this trainer once or twice while I was working, but it was long enough ago that I probably look different. Also, I wasn’t dressed in my gym uniform (which is seriously the best work uniform ever. It’s a black logo t-shirt with whatever pants I want to wear – yep, yoga pants.) Since I’m talking about my gym, I would be remiss not mention that there are great trainers there. I’ve been lucky to work with one of the best in KC. Yesterday, I even caught myself correcting my wrist position on a lift.

Here are a couple of great blog posts that deal with a similar theme.

Perfectly Imperfect 


I’ve always thought my feet were ugly and weird. It turns out they are just feet. And feet do amazing work. 

Instead of worrying about the shape of my toes or what sport my feet were built it would be nice to just accept them as they are and do my best to take care of them. After all, they lift me up all the time.