Sunday, October 16, 2016

Back at Life

I love fall. It's beautiful. I love walks through through parks and neighborhoods where birch, maples, ash, cottonwood, oak trees, and sumac color the paths with auburn, deep red, golden, and all shades in between burst from the changing trees on cloudless days.

The weather cools and gone are the days of hot, humid runs. Though I love the weather and the colors, the shorter days also pose a challenge.

It's no longer  a surprise--October's can be difficult for me. Seasonal changes and the rapid changing of daylight hours can really affect my mood--not the same as daily or hourly moods. Rather, anxiety levels, some depression, and some mood swings.

Looking back on some pictures from past Octobers, you'd never know it. At work and around friends I can usually fake it until I make it. The depression and anxiety really hit when I'm alone or lying in bed after waking in the middle of the night, unable to fall asleep.

October in 2011 following the Twin Cities Marathon
My one year anniversary in the hospital came and went. Now, I have a new anniversary--October 9, 2016. Following several sleepless nights intermixed with over a week of poor sleep in general, I crashed hard. My condition and poor sleep do not mix well, and the hospital was the best option for me.

The last time I was in the hospital I didn't think I should have been there (though I should have), and tried to get out as soon as possible. This time, I knew I needed to be there, and it helped. While there, I learned that some things need to change in my life, especially in the way I think and deal with stress.

After leaving the hospital, I saw my doctor to talk about medications. Due to the seasonal nature of my condition, we had a good talk about how to adjust medications before my symptoms of heightened energy, anxiety, and depression hit. After looking at my patterns over the past few years, I'm optimistic that the medications will help.

October of 2012 in Michigan
I know medication is not the only answer, Next week I'll be joining a dialectical behavior therapy group next week to learn some skills in order to better manage stress. I hope that it will be helpful and can change some thought patterns that I'm very much stuck in. When life is going well and fairly stress-free, I do well. When it's not, I have more problems coping than many people -- I'd like that to change.

Running has been a great tool for managing my stress, but when I'm training for a specific race or aiming for a specific goal, it can become compulsive. I'd like that to change as well.

Now is a good time. I'm wrapping up a marathon training program, my son is almost nine months old, and my family is safe and provided for. It's hard sometimes not to feel like it's selfish to spend time and money on therapy, hospital visits, and therapy. I can't, however, be there for my family, friends, and people in need if I'm not doing well. So, to take care of others, I have to make sure to take care of myself.

Be well.


JW said...

Your openness and humility are inspiring. You are a role model in many many ways. Best wishes as you move forward!

Carolyn Brott said...

I'm so sorry about your "crash", but I'm in awe of your courage and maturity in dealing with these very difficult issues. Yes, take care of yourself, and let others take care of you as well. Love you!

Michelle said...

Praying for you, Nate! My coach was diagnosed with bipolar after having her first child two years ago. She's blogged about many of her experiences, but I can't even imagine what it is like to have a mental disorder. I'm glad running helps, but like you, I feel like I get to obsessive about training for a specific race sometimes.