Category Archives: mental health

Entering the (dev)ice age

I recently took stock of the things that keep my human bits going day after day. It’s not an attractive list.

Multiple prescription meds, including the one recently added for chronic dry eye syndrome (not caused by swimming, but probably not helped by it, either). The OTCs, including pills for major muscle pain; the balms, salves, ointments, creams and patches for assorted aches; the earplugs (so I can sleep), the elbow brace (keeps my right arm straight to prevent nighttime cramps), saline nasal solution (periodic allergy relief), mouth guard (for TMJ), the toe separator (bunion that needs removal some day)…

keds

For the days when this was all we needed for play.

Some of the issues are age-related: the body breaks down and does not recover like it used to. Some are stress-related, some are inherited. As I gaze at the medicine cabinet, with more first aid products than my local pharmacy, I sometimes wonder how I still get up and function. It does not surprise me that people give in to pain, relying on prescription painkillers, booze and the indulgence of others to relieve their suffering. I used to watch a show on the A&E network called Intervention, where family and friends of an addict would lead them into a meeting and tell the addict they were loved and cherished, but admission into a treatment facility was something they had to do, or everyone in the room was forsaking them. I was fascinated with how people got to the point of addiction and living at their lowest point in the first place, particularly when many addicts seem to start out with a normal life. Both the state and county I reside in are in the midst of an opioid epidemic, where people overdose and die every day. Most of these dead are young people, whose lives were unremarkable until things took one bad turn. Pain started,  pain moved into unbearable territory, drugs came next and the war they would never win began.

 

I am happy every day for my average life, with average challenges. I’ll take this any day, along with average aches and pains, over dealing with worse. Meanwhile, I noticed these new compression running socks online the other day and I was wondering…

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A job update: I am starting part-time work next week, with a very nice property management company. Nice people, good hours, and interesting work. Looking forward to trying something new!

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Filed under athletic competition, blogging, Current news, Cycling, drugs, Exercise, mental health, opioid

A bread and butter kind of day

You’ve had them, I know.

bread

Calling Dr. Bread and Nurse Butter!

The kind of day where only carbs with a liberal slathering of fats will do.

I’ve had my share of them in the past ten weeks. Some good days and some good job interviews. And some that were not merely forgettable, they were worth walking out on. I mean both the days and the interviews.

But plugging along, working out and planning for what’s next, even if I don’t know exactly what it is, is keeping the brain sane and steady. I’m volunteering this weekend, at the triathlon that started it all for me. It’s a local super sprint, and it’s the one I did last year. The one that scared me the most because it was my first, and lured me into thinking I could keep doing them, because I finished that one. In less than two weeks, triathlon number five takes place, at a venue I know well but never used for competition.

I let myself have some sourdough bread and butter today (OK, “some” is a four-letter word for overdoing it) because I now have to cut back and behave until my own event. I forced myself away from the computer to go outside and kill weeds. I’ve stayed far, far away from the TV pundits and political websites and the outshout-the-other candidate soundbites, though I did go and vote in the state primary.

No TV or newspaper tomorrow. Lots of job searching, prepping for a career fair later this week, freelance work and chores around the house. Oh, and no more bread and butter, at

I let myself have some sourdough bread and butter today (OK, “some” is a four-letter word for overdoing it) because I now have to cut back and behave until my own event. I forced myself away from the computer to go outside and kill weeds. I’ve stayed far, far away from the TV pundits and political websites and the outshout-the-other candidate soundbites, though I did go and vote in the state primary.

No TV or newspaper tomorrow. Lots of job searching, prepping for a career fair later this week, freelance work and chores around the house. Oh, and no more bread and butter, at least for now.

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Filed under athletic competition, employment, Exercise, food, freelancing, mental health, Triathlons, unemployment

I missed the hardware (this time)

Good news and bad news about the 5K I ran today.

Good news: it was my first 5K of the year, after doing 10Ks, swim meets and triathlons to start the year.

Really good news: I finally broke my old personal best time and set a new one.

Sort of bad news: no medal this time. I finished fourth in my age group, forty seconds behind third place. No medal for fourth, which is disappointing, as this particular race had especially nice hardware.

But I’m happy with the new PR time, as that old one was from two age groups ago, and set on a flat course (today’s race had three small hills and a persistent headwind). Also old for this race: my current running shoes, which are retired from regular use as of today. I’ve been saving for a new pair, and got the money together yesterday, even though I have still not found full-time employment.

Being out of work has made me healthier, because I force myself to get up and move around more often. I’m not sedentary for eight hours a day. The weekly track workouts, with the bleacher climbs and sprints, have helped as well. And competition has kept me focused on not getting depressed and caught up in the frustration of not having a job just yet. It’s also something of a social outlet, after sitting in front of my home computer working on the job search, or freelance writing, or both.

I plan to keep competing, though not spending hog-wild on it at this point. I realize this is not the ideal time to be spending money on these endeavors. But I consider regular racing, whether it be running, swimming or triathlons, a reasonable investment in my health and my sanity. At this point, it’s hard to tell whether I am chasing what’s left of my mental marbles, or they are rolling behind me, trying to catch up. Either way, the personal race should be at least as interesting as my next event.Motivational-quotes (1)And a note to my friend Steve, who suggested that I “throw a little chocolate into every day”: my friend, I know you meant that literally, because you know how I feel about chocolate. But I’m going to consider your advice in the figurative sense as well. I’ll consider a good competition day to like a piece of the best chocolate: sweet, satisfying and a tonic for the senses.

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Filed under athletic competition, Cycling, Exercise, mental health, Running, Swimming, thought, triathlon gear, unemployment

Four weeks, still sane…so far

It does not seem that long, but it has been four weeks without a job.

I’m still OK, and busy. Sending out applications and resumes every day, working out more often, and spending less and when I do spend, it’s cash and it’s done with care.

I’m not cutting back much on competitions at this point. Three swim meets, a triathlon and a 10K are on the schedule in the next six weeks. I’d like to add a half-marathon to that, if a job offer comes through. Or a 5K, if it doesn’t. It’s all about price at this point.

I’m taking the opportunity to search outside my employment comfort level, and doing more freelance work. The house has never been cleaner (you can walk into our master bedroom closet now and not fear breaking a toe by tripping on wayward shoes, dropped hangars or misplaced backpacks).

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The time off has afforded the opportunity to photograph local art.

The Husband would probably like the home office to himself more often, but he has exhibited patience and good humor about it (I bribed him with homemade oatmeal raisin cookies).

In spite of advice to the contrary, I have not changed my habits. I still wake up and go to bed at basically the same time I did when working. I still maintain discipline by dressing as if I am working, and having a to-do list each day, with specific tasks to complete. The temptation to curl up on the couch and watch idiot TV programming is getting stronger, I admit, as is the sense of occasional depressive thoughts, such as the notion that not one single employer is ever going to find me or my talents worthy of money. But in the end, as I said at the beginning, I’m still doing OK and working on getting back to work.

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Filed under athletic competition, budget, employment, Exercise, freelancing, inspirations, mental health, unemployment

A Joyful Noise? Not To My Ears

CHRISTMAS MUSIC

CHRISTMAS MUSIC (Photo credit: Zellaby)

Go ahead, say it: “What, more bah humbug?”

Sort of, yes. This is about holiday music. Not the live choruses of cute kids or professional bell-ringing church groups. This is about the canned crap that’s piped into every store, waiting room and commercial establishment you will now enter through January 1.

I hate it. It makes me want to turn Rudolph into dinner, string up the elves and tell Santa to plant one on my posterior.

I like the songs that I heard as a kid. But now it’s overdone, and here’s why:

Holiday music is played too early. Many places have been cranking it out since October, when their holiday decorations went up, also too early. Don’t rush the season. Give Halloween candy a chance to digest and jack o’lanterns a chance to rot first.

Holiday music is played in inappropriate places. The Hallelujah Chorus at the car wash?  O Come All Ye Faithful at the post office? (actually, given the plight of the U.S. Postal Service, that might be the right soundtrack). How about Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer when you are in a doctor’s office – with your grandma? There’s a time and a place for this stuff, and it’s when you’re decorating the tree, wrapping gifts, opening gifts and stuffing your maw with holiday food.

Holiday music played 24/7. This is easier to avoid, thanks to satellite radio, iPods and other devices. But for those people who only have their car radio for the commute, the change in format from rock ‘n roll to Jingle Bell Rock is enough to cause its own special brand of road rage.

Holiday music is played nonstop where you work. Some people have no say in music selection at their job. If you work manufacturing or retail, management decides what gets piped in. And of course, to get folks “in the spirit of the holidays,” it’s usually a nonstop loop of mind-numbing, reworked holiday classics. People have been known to bang their heads in frustration until they bleed, throw themselves into heavy machinery and run screaming through the fire doors after hearing Alvin and the Chipmunks do one Christmas song. Stuff like that can permanently wound the psyche, you know.

To those of you in charge: put an end to the music madness. If you are determined to play the same dozen songs just to turn people into blithering idiots, at least wait until after Thanksgiving. Then turn up the volume and aim the speakers at the people who waited outside in line all night to get into the stores for Black Friday. That’ll teach them.

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Filed under consumer products, mental health, social media, technology, thought

Who Do I Look Like, Your Mother?

While working on both personal and professional projects lately, I’ve been running into a spate of “Why didn’t you remind me?” whines.

The plaintive pleas for a kick in the collective memory are coming from adults, grown folks, not-so-young ‘uns. Big people with the ability to use anything from a paper calendar to their desktop’s Outlook to whatever app they download for their smarter-than-the-user phone.

My question for all of them is this: when the heck did I turn into your mama? Was it when you forgot how to crayon in a time and place on the cute puppies calendar hanging in your kitchen? Or when you decided to ignore the digital appointment function on whichever software your computer happens to use? Oh, wait, never mind. It’s apparently app failure: you have one that functions as a calendar, but IT’S KINDA USELESS IF YOU DON’T USE IT. And when I advise you of something twice, once in writing and once by phone, is that not enough information for you?

Tamil Pulp Fiction

Tamil Pulp Fiction (Photo credit: Unlisted Sightings)

And in some cases, my “failure” t0 remind these (mostly) college-educated, (supposedly) intelligent, but self-pitying slugs has resulted in actual financial loss for some of them. Good on that, I say. Next time, you’ll remember the sting in your wallet and get that issue taken care of, right?

I know those of you with kids will recognize this soapbox rant, since you are constantly faced with remembering where your little ones need to be, when they need to be there and what they need to bring with them. And the fuss that results when you, Heaven forbid, “make” them miss something because they’ve dawdled their way to inevitable tardiness. Not much different from the adults I’ve been dealing with, except I cannot put mine in a time-out and take away their Xbox for a week.

Maybe I can find another punishment. Anyone think some duct tape on their foreheads and a felt-tipped message that reads, “I can’t remember squat and it’s all MY fault” would work?

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Filed under inspirations, mental health, social media, technology, thought

Update On The Half-Marathon Half-wits

Half marathon

Half marathon (Photo credit: bostjan_rudolf)

A few weeks ago, I wrote about lunacy known as the half-marathon, and the fact that my friend and I decided to take on the distance. We’re still nuts, we know.

I’m reporting back. He’s doing well. His diet has improved, and his running is good. He’s up to almost seven miles, though it’s a mix of walking and running. That’s still a long way from where he was two months ago. I’ve been plugging along, adding steadily, still swimming along with the running. As I type this, I’m fighting fatigue brought on by a two-day swim meet, which included a one-mile swim. That’s sixty-seven laps in a 25-yard pool. Yes, it did seem endless, especially at the halfway point. And it was made worse by the fact that I could smell bacon from a nearby restaurant. Nothing worse when you’re in the middle of competition, getting towards the low fuel point, than smelling bacon. It’s enough to make even vegetarians go wobbly at the knees.

My friend’s enthusiasm and dedication remain steady and strong. I have vowed to support him and help in any way. In a month or so, he says he will try his first 5K race. I’ll do it with him, no matter where it is. This is what friends do for one another when friends believe in each other.

I gave myself a bit of an absurd boost last week by buying nice running clothes. Yes, I really did. The person who thinks clothes shopping is akin to root canal or sitting through a lecture on automotive gear ratios. I thought it was time to invest in good-looking apparel; it might even help my running.

So I buy, and of course, we hit a cold spell. As in too cold for cute T-shirts and sweet little shorts. Back to the fugly sweat shirts, gloves and tights for a while . As is the case with running and swimming, timing is everything when it comes to retail.

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Filed under Exercise, inspirations, mental health, Running