February 18, 2016

"My Cry For Help."

I have a pretty good idea where this blog post is going, so I feel I should make a few things clear right away.

I am not in any danger.
I am not thinking of harming myself.
I am not at risk right now.
I am okay and have every intention of staying that way.

There. I think that’s pretty clear. And if you read any of the things that follow and find yourself concerned, please scroll back up and read those statements again. It is not my intention to alarm anyone. But I am going to be candid.

And now, back to the topic at hand, “My Cry For Help.”

It’s probably not a surprise to most that I have been struggling in nearly every way possible. The details may have gone under the radar for most of you, though. I have gained weight, lost motivation, failed to train properly, backed out of commitments, battled with insomnia, fought with family and friends, alienated loved ones, and generally failed in every way possible. It’s hard to see all of that in black and white, but the truth is what it is. Denial isn’t going to help me change anything.

Over the last year and a half, I have been broken down, literally in tears, usually for reasons that made no sense at the time. I didn’t think about killing myself, but I spent more time than I care to admit just wishing that somehow, in some vague and abstract way, everything going on around me would just stop and I wouldn’t have to deal with any of it , anymore. (I have since discovered that is a fairly common response, to want whatever it takes to end the pain but not to want to actually end it all. It’s a slight but important distinction.)

Looking back, I can see that I was lying to myself about many things. I bragged about being part of From Fat To Finish Line but slowly put most of the weight back on. I supported Veteran Suicide Prevention groups but hid how much I worried I would be one of those statistics. I pretended I was coping, but those close to me could tell that I was out of control. I kept doing the big, grand things but stumbled over my daily routine. I would keep it together for days only to snap over something inconsequential. And those closest to me continued to pay the price for that, often finding themselves on the receiving end of whatever personal turmoil was spilling out.

Worse still, I was no longer a good friend. Sure, on the outside it all seemed fine. But I wasn’t there to support the people in my life who needed me. I was so wrapped up in what was happening to me and in my own darkness that I became oblivious to those around me. Everything in my world turned inwards.

I don’t know that I can put into words what it felt like. My every nerve felt raw, and my emotional response to anything good or bad was disproportionate. It was like everything was the saddest song, the saddest movie, the saddest image. Or it was the opposite, the greatest moment and the wildest party and best night out ever. There was very little middle ground, just everything turned up to Maximum Level.

I’m writing all of that in the past tense, so you might think this is a story of how I turned it all around. You would be mistaken. I haven’t. This is very much a present tense challenge for me. I’m smack dab in the middle of this awful situation, in fact. The beginning was everything going sideways, the middle is where I fully acknowledge what has been happening and the impact it has had on me and others, and the (hopeful) next stage is where I crawl back out of this mess and get back to a life worth living.

I have done a few things right in the past year. I started seeing a counselor, not  often but enough that I have a safe place to talk things through and get a better feel for the choices I am making and the impact they have. I made changes to the way I engage on social media, tightening my circle a bit and surrounding myself with good, caring people. (That was its own debacle, but more on that another time.) I have traveled on my own to spend time with friends and be reminded of what truly matters. I have made my peace with a few “trigger” events that were fueling my depression, and that has allowed me to work through grief and loss and move on instead of being stuck in the sorrow. Mostly, though, I have accepted that I do not need to pretend that I am okay when I am not, as if the whole world will come to a grinding halt if Captain Awesome is anything less than… well… awesome.

So why am I calling this “My Cry For Help”? I mean, that’s pretty dramatic. It’s not as if I’m stuck up a tree like a cat needed the fire department to rush to my aid. I’m handling my day-to-day obligations, getting through the rough spots, and experiencing more good than bad. And that’s a Win, believe me.

But this is a cry for help in that I am putting it all out there for the world to see. I’m not sugar-coating or glossing over the ugly bits. The truth is, I have been on the verge of a complete meltdown for a while now and I refuse to stand out on that ledge any longer. I am finding my way back one day at a time, one good decision at a time, one conversation with a friend at a time, one personal connection and one brick in my foundation at a time. So please know that I am doing the best I can in any given moment.

 So what does this look like, the next stage in my journey? To be honest, I don’t exactly know.

I am heading to Phoenix this morning to take part in the Ragnar Relay Del Sol. I will be surrounded by my running team, Kilty Pleasures, and I will completely lose myself in the comfort and joy that brings. They are all people that bring out the best in me, that make me feel loved and supported, and that make me feel genuinely happy, and that is something I need right now. And while I am out on the course running my miles, I will have plenty of time to think about what lies ahead for me. I have two other relay races in April (SoCal and Austin) and I am running the OKC Memorial Marathon, so I will need to make training a priority.

Mostly, though, I am going to keep taking one day at a time, staying in the moment and enjoying what is happening around me. My troubles are few compared when I think about how fortunate  I really am in this life, and I will make every effort to remember that.

I am okay right now. And I will be okay as long as I am honest with myself. Life isn’t perfect, but it’s good. And good is good enough.

This is me. No excuses, just me.
And I'm good with that.