Looking in the Mirror

Warning: This post is all over the place.

I looked in the mirror, and I didn’t like what I saw back.

I didn’t recognize what I saw back.

It wasn’t me, but I had seen it before.

I had hoped that more things would have changed by this point. When I opened my Facebook Memories this morning, it hit my full in the face how much things hadn’t.

A year ago, I asked my Facebook friends what weight loss programs they suggested. I posted about how I was struggling mentally and that was impacting my physical health which was hurting my mental health in a horrible cycle. I remember being optimistic about wanting to make changes in my life and wondered how different things would be a year from now and how different I would look. I was so excited to shed these horrible post-college pounds.

Looking in the mirror, where am I now? Right in the same fucking place. I saw some pictures of myself, like full body length, and felt that I looked so gross. All I could see is the fat rolls under my clothes. All I was being reminded of was that I have gotten absolutely-fucking-nowhere. No wonder I felt like I aiming out of my league if I was viewing myself like that. I know that body image is weird. I know that it can get distorted. But that really have never been a problem for me. So now I was viewing myself like I was Jabba the Hutt? Because life wasn’t going towards my plan, because *that* has always happened before? Side note: It hasn’t, ever, that was sarcasm. But this wasn’t a curveball I ever anticipated to be my problem. I’ve had a few people tell me I often seem confident when I admit I’m not. I was told in a critique of a professional speech that I almost come across over confident and possibly intimidating, which was a firstAnd now my brain was going to bull this shit on me because I wasn’t where I wanted to be?

Talk about frustrating.

I don’t have time for this bullshit.

Guess I shouldn’t be too surprised that I feel like I’m falling into a depressive episode again. Shit.

It’s not like I thought it was going to be easy and like taking a walk through the park. In fact, when things were working and I was feeling the challenge and seeing some change, I felt pretty damn good. I knew it wasn’t going to be easy throughout but I appreciated the challenge. I was getting through it.

And then life kind of happened. Yeah, I know, life happens for everyone. But here’s what happened. I had a family medical emergency that definitely turned things upside down for a bit and one weekend of waiting for answers and a plan to go forward at the hospital was enough to kick me off of Weight Watchers and made it ten times harder to get back on track. It also started to get harder to go to the gym – I was just so damn tired all of the time; I’d go to the cafeteria on my lunch hour instead and nap. That should have been my first warning sign.

Then I got a new job and took some time from the gym because of hours changes and just getting adapted to my new routine. But, I was able to get into a new workout routine and things looked okay at least from an exercise point of view. I was going and making progress. It wasn’t bad. Then I broke my foot and that threw everything off. It took me a few days to even realize that my foot was broken, and then it was six weeks of nothing.

Which leaves us to basically now. A mixture of frustration, anxiety, and depression. Getting back onto the workout track has not been as seamless as I would have hoped. Before I broke my foot, I had settled into a routine of working out before work which I loved. I’m not a morning person, but working out in the mornings wasn’t a bad thing. I liked starting my day off with a workout.

My mental state during this time was interesting. Throughout the past few years, I thought overall the depression was the worst of it. Then, when I wasn’t feeling depressed (which was pretty great), I realized that the anxiety caused more problems on its own, much more so than I had thought. Now it was a different game to play. My biggest problem with anxiety in the past had been things like my drivers test. Now I was feeling it everywhere. It was much more noticeable. I didn’t realize how much it impacted me and how hard certain things were in everyday life. It was like that since I didn’t feel like I was drowning in depression, the sharp pains of anxiety were pricking me all over the place. The numbness was replaced by a constant stomach drop. And then it was, ironically, me worrying about how to take care of my anxiety. I was hyper aware of my anxiety and was beginning to really notice the difference between anxiety and stress. Like stress at work – I might feel hyped up for a bit but I see a solution. It is a specified worry. Anxiety is all over the place. I don’t know what the hell is going on or how to fix it. Guess that’s why they call it general anxiety.

I tried to start reading about meditation. By the way, I definitely recommend Dan Harris’ book 10% Happier. It gives a realistic spin to meditation. For awhile, the nerd in me was impacting my thoughts concerning meditation – I would pull my best Jedi quotes front and center. Yoda can hit the mark. Then even that didn’t work. It isn’t exactly motivating when the only mantra you can pull up to your thoughts is a bitter The legacy of the Jedi is failure! That should have been another sign when Star Wars wasn’t motivating me. I could write pages on the symbolism and impact of Star Wars.

But I just haven’t had the drive to go further. It’s like I know what I have to do. There’s books on my shelf about meditation waiting to be read. I know that I have to take action to try and help myself. But something is holding me back. In another turn of irony, that something may be the anxiety itself. I felt defeated, not necessarily depressed, but defeated. I didn’t feel strong enough to beat the anxiety down. And so it kept me chained. It’s like a constant rattling, a constant whisper of everything that could be but anxiety was holding me back. One of the only things I felt okay doing was writing, which continued to be my solace. But after a while, even that was.

The cycle began again. I couldn’t get myself to go to the gym. I had no drive to try and get back on a healthy eating pattern – and Weight Watchers changed, and I didn’t like the new system. This did not help. I would very, very tentatively step on the scale. I was trying to make small changes and it was a huge sigh of relief when I did see some pounds drop. But anything else – it just feels out of reach right now. And I don’t know what to do. There is part of me that wants to keep fighting but right now this other part is numbing it all.

I just don’t get it. I liked working out everyday. It got my day started. It cleared my head, which was nice because generally it’s a jumble of wires or multiple tabs open. Working out made my days better. And no matter how much I wanted to get up and out of bed and go to the gym, I just couldn’t. I can’t explain it, but I guess that’s what mental illness is. It makes absolutely zero sense. It is an unmovable force pushing against you. What is absolutely horrible is that you know what you can do to help yourself. You know therapy can help (if you find a good therapist that fits you, but that’s a different story), you know to take your medication, and you know working out can make a difference. That’s just for starters.

A lot of people shit on social media, but I love asking for recommendations on platforms like Facebook. When I told Facebook that I was having problems working out, the comments came pouring in on what worked for others and people sharing their story. The biggest takeaway was to start small…which, considering I am quite impatient is going to be fun. I’m ready to hit the ground running and get back into my 6:40 AM workouts five days a week. Apparently that shouldn’t be my expectation starting off.

What amazes me is that mental illness keeps surprising me. I don’t know why. I think depression is worse, and then its anxiety. Then it is back to depression. And then I don’t know what the hell to think or what direction I am going in. Mental illness is a real bitch.

I am lucky to have such great family and friends who respond on what might seem like a minor issue but really is grinding the hell out me. I still have a really freaking hard time reaching out when I need to talk to someone. It took me like two weeks to reach out to someone, one of my very best friends, that I felt like I was becoming depressed again. To most people, this might be coming out of nowhere. But I saw the signs and basically put it all together, but I just couldn’t tell anyone. And I know there are other things I wish I could talk about but I just can’t. And I know there are people I can. I’ve heard it a thousand times. But mental illness holds you back in so many ways. It might invisible, but it weighs a freaking ton. And I know that weight isn’t going to necessarily be lost just through diet and exercise.

It’s just amazing how you look in the mirror and your own self isn’t what you see back. You know all the great things going on. You don’t know what you are looking at though. The expression staring back isn’t reflecting what you know to be true. But that whisper in your ear promises the good is temporary, and that weight is going to keep growing and following you and bringing you down.

JK Rowling’s dementors in Harry Potter are meant to symbolize depression. While I love the dementor/patronus symbolism, I also think there is a better representative of what mental illness does to you: The Horcrux. What I mean by that is what it does to other people. It has a huge, significant impact on them. It makes them feel like absolute shit. It makes them question everything. It tears them apart. It literally makes them crazy. Do you see what I’m getting at?

I’m being torn apart.

Mental illness makes you feel like you are being torn apart.

I’m not a piece of paper, I shouldn’t be ripped in half.

Again, I know I am so lucky to have the support I do in my life. I am pretty sure that most people don’t realize how much they have helped me and how much I am thankful. Unfortunately, that doesn’t make it easier to reach out or make it any less of a struggle.

But that’s what you have to remember when you are looking in the mirror. You can’t see them, but you have to remember all the people you got your back. That helps keep me going.

I have to find that drive again. I have to remember all those people who got my back. Somewhere is still that passion to fight. Somewhere is that motivation to beat the shit out of my mental illness with every run, with every rep, with every time I add more weights. Me against me. Somewhere is that stupid, goofy confidence with a wink. Somewhere is still me.

Just need to keep fighting and keep telling that to the girl in the mirror.


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