Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Ending 2007 on a naturally high note.

I wanted to report an unexpected side effect of the heavier training I've been doing during the past two months. It's kind of taken me by surprise, and I wanted to share it with anyone who might have similiar experiences.

My mom died of obesity related to an eating disorder, and my father committed suicide. Depression and anxiety is pretty wrapped up in our family. I have had other suicides of people close to me, including an uncle. Nearly all of my relatives are obese, or alcoholic, or dead. So I had, genetically speaking, a good head start on anxiety and depression.

It's called "Generalized Anxiety Disorder" and it's a bit more than the usual "bad day" or, " I hate my hair" and "Gee - I don't like crowds" stuff. It morphed into an agorophobic life where I hated leaving the house and hated myself whenever I looked into the mirror. I was more or less diagnosed in my mid thirties.

I would avoid errands that were pretty close to the house, even. I had the panicky feeling that I would get stuck and unable to get home.

Just think of bad PMS, but all the time. All the time hating yourself. Thinking I was worthless, in Pirate's words, constantly "crapping" on myself, putting myself down, the creeping feeling of dread that something terrible is about to happen, and somehow, it's my fault. An edgy feeling that a bad day is coming on, every day.

I also have adult ADHD, which is manageable, but, well, you stick anxiety disorder on top of that, well...and...well, you get a scattered, anxious woman who feels super bad about the fact that she's lost her keys. I covered it with humor, but it would get to me.

I'm trained in counseling, so I would feel bad about the fact that I couldn't "talk my way out of it". I'm also married to a psychologist. We have a lot of tricks up our sleeves. So, finally, I went on medication, about 6 years ago.

The pills make a huge difference. However, they have some side effects. One of these is a horrid queasiness if I don't take them exactly x minutes and y seconds after my morning meal. I couldn't take them later in the day, becasue I couldn't stay asleep.

So, anyway.

So I decided after my apalling bike splits at IM Loo and Soma that I would return to spin. For me, spin is a hard workout, much harder than I'll do on a bike. I'll work it in a spin class until a small puddle of sweat has formed (ew) on the floor under me. I also started running more, with longer runs. Most of them 6-8 miles (short runs) and longer runs on weekends.

The thing is, I've never really worked out consistently. I make GReAT training plans. Terrific training plans. I even signed up with the Jimmy but then I'd think about how I'd really rather be home. I hated going to the gym (the agoraphobia thing) and I joked about being lazy, but really, I hated leaving the house. I would have a really heavy week, followed by a week of doing almost nothing. But as I said, I really wanted to increase my leg strength so that cycling was more comfortable.

So, in November, I started forcing myself and for about 3 weeks I was working out heavy and steady,

I started a regimen of working out, HARD at least 4 days a week after work, then, another 2 or more hours spread out over the weekend. Mondays (and sometimes, Fridays) off.

By Thanksgiving, I noticed something. I was--how shall I put this?--calm. Not just calm, but thinking things seem funny. I looked forward to my time alone at the gym, and didn't avoid it. At work, even the most annoying kids stopped bugging me. Oh, they didn't change their behavior, mind you, but it all affected me differently.

I was calm and felt wonderful about myself and life even though I was running low on my meds and needed to see the doc before getting more. I was taking 3/4 my usual dose, but felt great. I discussed this with my doc. He enthusiastically (he's a runner, btw) worked up a schedule to start tapering me off the pills. That was two weeks ago. Now I'm down to less than half my usual dose, and I still feel great, other than the crappy cold I have comoing on.

By the end of December, I will have taken the last of my pills.

I don't know that this would work for everyone. I worked in cooperation with my primary care physician. I don't know why, exactly, but I suspect that I've finally reached a "therapeutic level" of exercise, or if it's the "me" time I'm taking 4 days a week, but holy cow, it's worked. I feel great. i like me.

Hell, I may even love me. It's like my Christmas present to myself.

So the other day, a guy I work with asked me if I ever felt a "runners high"

All the time, man. All the F$@KING time.

Look out, 2008!



  1. So I've been meaning to talk to you about that pool of sweat... seriously, I thought I was alone with the Agonixing Torment of Hyperhydrosis. I'm glad I've found a Friend. :-)

    Great post!!

  2. join the club. the rest of us like you too.

  3. The best Christmas present is being happy!
    Glad you are off the meds.
    I think many people would be if they followed your footsteps and pools of sweat! :-)

  4. And thanks to your counter....we are now UNDER 200 days until IM CDA.
    I knew there was SOME reason I came to your site......

  5. That is the best news! Congratulations!

  6. Congratulations! It makes perfect sense that a healthy body contributes to a healthy mind.

  7. this is no small journey you have made. welcome to the world! can I be on the official welcoming committee?

  8. That is good stuff. Thank you for sharing.

  9. Wonderful, I'm very happy for you. I hope things continue to follow in this trend, I always hated taking the pills.

  10. Better living through chemistry can make the difference between life and death, between being alone in the world and an active and engaged person living in the world.

    I'm very glad that you sought help when you needed it, and that you are coming off the meds with the support of your doctor.

    Consistent exercise can be of more benefit than we know.


  11. Great post, I can totally relate to the disproportionate self-loathing and the ability to understand it intellectually and yet still not subdue it in your gut. Way to go on your dawning freedom from it! I've been going back and reading your blog from the beginning, I've finished up through 2006 and I can hardly tear myself away. Thanks for baring so much here and for marking your course along the way. I blogged about you today to explain why I haven't been blogging as much this week, too busy reading!

  12. Yes, this is all good news, good work!

  13. It's not just the endorphins and the physiological effects of exercise. I think doing all this is a spiritual journey and you reflect and learn about yourself. It's not a panacaea, but certainly another thing in your arsenal.

  14. Anonymous10:02 AM

    "Hell, I may even love me. It's like my Christmas present to myself"...this just made me sincerely smile.

    I don't know you that well except from your blog (and when I ran up to you like I was your biggest, lunatic fan at a triathlon) but I am really happy for you! You deserve to feel good about yourself and life :)

    Happy Holidays, Misty!

  15. Freaking awesome! Congrats girl. You are an athlete!


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