Depression and Addiction Lie

The world lost a great one yesterday. While I never had the opportunity to meet Robin Williams, he did touch my life. He was an amazing man. Today’s radio programming of the morning show has been filled with stories of how amazing Robin was. A kind man who took time for everyone.

He was recently here in Minnesota seeking help for his addiction problem. He was getting help. It made my heart happy to see someone that needed help getting help, but sad that he didn’t get privacy to deal with his addiction. I am always thankful for people that can share what truly are invisible illnesses so that people can be more aware of what goes on.

Depression is REAL. Addiction is REAL. Both of these things are often suffered with behind closed doors. When you are in the throws of depression, or addiction you feel alone. Or at least I did. It LIES to you. It is a scary place to be. You close off, retreat and fall into the lies.

It is hard to ask for help, but help is there. It is scary when people offer help, it is scary to let people in. Depression and addiction can be invisible. I hid mine for YEARS.

As the world mourns the loss of a great man, who I can only imagine had no idea just the impact his death would have on the world, I urge you to check on your friends and family. Not check on them about Robin’s death, but check on them about whatever is going on. Take a personal inventory of yourself. Be mindful of your moods.

I have written a few times about my struggles with mental health, and right now i know I am being very closely monitored by my friends, as well as Robb, and myself. Loss of a job, combined with wedding stress is enough to trigger me into a roller coaster of instability. I am thankful that my friends are checking in with me. I have a great toolbox full of resources to deal with the stresses internally/personally thanks to my time in the hospital. I have workbooks, and outside resources, like excercise that I have found in recent years to help me. I also have the national suicide prevention hotline number on a magnet on my fridge. I know that seems silly, but it is there for a reason, a last resort there is always someone there. 1-800-237-8255

I don’t know what I want to accomplish by speaking about this today. I am still processing what happened, however I just really want people to be aware that both depression and addiction are very lonely and scary places to be. They are places full of lies that you can’t tell are lies. It’s a very difficult place to escape, and even if you are surronded with love, it can still be the most lonely place you have ever been.

Looking Back, a curse as a blessing.

It’s no surprise that I was a fat kid. I was to my recollection for almost my entire childhood the biggest kid in the class, almost the whole school! There was one other girl who was heavy in my grade, and we were not friends, in fact I think we kinda hated each-other. She had nicer clothes than me, parents had more money, etc etc. I was the forever awkward one. The but of all jokes. Unfortunately there was no place in my life where I wasn’t the target of teasing.
My dad grew up in a family where that kind of behavior was ok. My dad grew up living above a bar that his parents owned. ūüė¶ Alcohol is toxic, I am not going to preach about it. I am not here to judge, I have a drink on occasion however what it can breed is awful. He was bullied because of his weight, he lost quite a bit of weight as he got older as a result, he says, of that torture. Since that was the only way dad knew how to interact with people, it trickled down to be his way to motivate me. I had no “safe space” to retreat to. I begged and pleaded with my mom to get my dad to stop the teasing. My brother, who also had a weight problem would get to jump in on the fat bashing bandwagon. (In the #Fitbloggin community this week someone mentioned the old SpecialK ads with “Pinch an Inch” and that bring back a flood of pain like I never remembered)
My school had no “anti bullying” policy when I was there. They have one now, I have been told it was my ending up in treatment after trying to take my own life (for many reasons) along with the Columbine incident, which happened right about the same time, that in part spurred the “zero tolerance” stance on bullying.
Even when I was around other teens that were overweight I wasn’t really able to make friends. When I was about 11 I started (read: was forced) Weight Watchers, it was a 45 minute drive to the meeting every week, and I would weigh in, sit in the corner, then leave. It was miserable. I was miserable.
I could never really figure out WHY I was the object of such ridicule in school. I didn’t really have many people I would call “friends” during middle or high school. Just because you know someone, or see them on occasion, or hang out from time to time really doesn’t make them your friend. I had a few people that I was close with during school… My “best friend” moved away in second grade and I was never really the same. Her name was Trista and from what I can recall, and what I am told, I wasn’t quite the same after that. I remember writing her letters for a while, but it is hard for a second grader to keep a long distance friendship alive.
I wasn’t good at making friends, and due to the fact that it was such a small town I think it was a case of once one person decided you weren’t liked you were S.O.L. I was the one that was the “do I have to invite them” person, last one picked odd man out, and you know what that is ok.
When I went off on my own I found my own voice, away from the, what I have come to think of as closed minded people that I was around for so long. I had certain responsibilities that I needed to fill when I was younger. I had things that were important and thats okay, but the stigma of being the overweight kid in bifocals, by first grade is a hard one to shake… and it only got worse as I got older.
I hear from friends now, whom I forged friendships with via a virtual medium (voice chat on Xbox Live, mIRC, LiveJournal etc.) and now interact with in the real world, that they cannot believe how amazing I am. (Not to toot my own horn… ok a lil toot toot!) How I can bring out laughter in peoples hearts, smiles from the darkest spaces, make people who felt so alone so welcome so loved and just plain valued because you know what they are! When I am told that I make someone feel special because I remember something about them, or I spent a bit of time with them, it wasn’t because I felt sorry for them, it is because they are. I don’t know if it is a “gift” that I can see the value in people, see potential where others see too much of a challenge, but I adore it. I now know that I can light up any room, (she can turn the world on with her smile) give me a chance and I will show you what I can do. I never got that chance when I was younger, I lived in a shell. Hidden, beaten down, unable to break free to let my heart and soul be as big as they needed to be, and perhaps that is part of why I got so big, I was trying to keep too much in. (yes there are other medical reasons but lets be honest here… cupcakes, cheese and bacon are delish!)
I want to be the one to say that the relentless agonizing teasing stops someday, and if you surround yourself with the right people it does… but inside your own head does it ever stop? Do you ever stop hearing those voices telling you that you are too fat or that you are going to fail or that you aren’t good enough for *whatever*? I live to be a cheerleader, perhaps it is as simple as that, because I spent so much of my life feeling like not a single person in the world was on my side that I NEED to be in the corner fighting on the good guys side. I am the underdog story. Perhaps the reason I never had “friends” was to prepare me for a lifetime of bringing people out of their shells, the underdogs, the people who are afraid to use their voices. Maybe just maybe someday I’ll help someone write their underdog story. From fearful to fearless because you know what… lots of things scare me in life… but as I’ve said so many times in the last few years… you have to jump before you soar and right now… I’m flying baby!

Twofer Weekend

SO this weekend I emerged from hiding.  I ventured back into the light of blog-land this week, and with that I have also ventured back into the world of working out, even if I am fighting injury.

I have left my YWCA behind, well kind-of.  My contract with them runs until April, however their facility is sadly not meeting my needs.  If you remember back to last year I left them and went to SNAP fitness.  I was in search of something that worked better with my schedule, something that worked better for me.  It did not end well, there was a variety of contributing factors were there, sub-par equipment and no pool ended up leaving me hurting, and in the end I was not working out.  I ended that relationship, after a bit of hassle but not too much, and went back to the YW.

Now the swim team and crappy hours of availability keep me from the water, where I need to be to heal, where I need to be to regain my strength, and stability.¬† It saddens me to leave behind the place where I bonded with so many wonderful people, where I found myself, and my strength.¬† However, like many things in my life, on this journey… I have outgrown it.

Many of my friends have heard my plight, they have heard my venting of frustration, and seen my tears of pain.  After breakfast with Liz a few weeks ago (2 weekends at most, I knew there was really only one answer for me.

I am now a dual membership holder until my YWCA membership contract expires in April.¬† With the reduced joiner fee it ends up being cheaper to pay the next few months plus it is a monthly contract.¬† There are so freakin’ many YMCA locations across the metro it’s amazing!¬†¬† So Saturday morning after my WW meeting I became a member at the YMCA.¬† I went right from sign-up into the vortex pool! While the vortex doesn’t operate at all times it is available a lot more than the pool I currently have access to.¬† In fact, the pools there in general are a lot more accessible, despite it being further away.

I weighted my options on this decision, cost vs. benefit analysis, if you may and waiting until April just did not seem like a logical choice.¬† due to my health degrading at the rate it seems to I weighted money as a lower factor in the equation, and even if I hadn’t this move had to be made.¬† With my PT not working, my strength and balance degrading, and my weight spiraling out of control this is my only option.¬† FAILURE AND POSTPONEMENT ARE NOT OPTIONS!

So here I am back in the saddle… err.. poodle…. errrr…. Back to basics.¬†¬† Trying my hardest to live the life I aspire to.



Fear of Flying

Once again, it is time for my palms to get sweaty… and my anxiety to go through the roof.¬† Today I fly to Chicago, well Midway, but it’s still Chicago.¬† Just a quick out and back for a wedding.¬† So what is the big deal?

I am afraid of flying… Even as a kid I was afraid of flying.¬† There is a video of me when I was in about 4th grade in an airport talking about how the plane was going to crash.¬† It was a “death ship” and it was going to take us to our doom.¬† This was just before my first international flight.¬† Desert Storm was underway, security was high.¬† It was a scary time for the little bit that I remember.¬† Flashing forward in time many years, I flew shortly after September 11.¬† I was freaked out.¬† I knew it was something I had to do.¬† On my flight out security was high… and flying home it was even scarier.¬† The men with the guns in the airport, scary!

My fear isn’t so much about terrorists, or crashing really.¬† My fear is about what most bigger folks¬†fear.¬† Those little tiny seats on the plane.¬† What if I am too fat to fly.¬† I have been downsizing over the last few years.¬† In fact I really shouldn’t have much fear over being too fat to fly anymore.¬† I am fairly average-fat sized now.¬† I don’t think that I would take up two seats anymore.¬† There was a time when I willingly bought two seats just so I wouldn’t have to have that awkward conversation.¬† Also so that I could just relax a bit more on the flight.

The last time I flew I didn’t need a seatbelt extension, but was that a fluke?¬† I am not much smaller than I was then.¬† In fact¬†only a few pounds have left my body since I last flew.¬† I had been feeling okay about the flying up until it was time to check in.¬† Now as things get closer I get more anxiety ridden.

I don’t quite understand what is so different now.¬† Luckily this time flying is a bit smoother, no CPAP¬†to deal with at security.¬† No checked bags, just a carry on.¬† It should just be smooth sailing.

So deep breathing is what I should be focusing on.  One breath at a time.  I can do this.  I am not the 400+ pound person I was before.  I am not as large as I see myself.  I will survive this flight.