Exercise as Anti-Depressant

Yesterday was horrific, depression and anxiety-wise, but I got about seven hours of sleep and woke up and am trying again today to get by.

I am so snappy at my mother and I just don’t want to take my problems out on her. It’s taking all my self control because she can be taxing at the best of times. I love her, and it’s not her fault I’m going through all this.

By the time I got to the pool at around 10:15 a.m. I sat in the car and had to take several slow, deep breaths. I really didn’t think I’d be able to exercise considering how fast my heart was beating and the horrible feeling in my stomach. I called the social worker at my doctor’s office and left him a message to please help me find a counselor because I’m having no luck on my own and I am barely holding on.

I got into the deep pool and began my warmup with barely a nod hello to poor Betty. After ten minutes I turned away from people in the pool and cried. Then I got into the lap pool completely unsure of what I might be able to do in there.

It took twenty minutes of laps before I felt a peace come over me and the rest of the hour spent in the lap pool was great. I can’t imagine there’s a better exercise than lap swimming for contemplation, especially since I’m swimming at a gingerly pace. I let my mind go where it wanted to go, but if it lingered too long on my husband I gently eased it along. Having my mind free to wander also seems to make me swim on automatic, which is nice considering I’m still a novice at alternate breathing.

I spent 20 minutes after that in the deep pool again and I was the only one in it so I really, really did not want to get out. I spent five minutes just floating and stretching.

The hardest part of the day for me is late afternoon and early evening. That’s why I sometimes go to 4 o’clock movies (that, and it costs $4 to get in). The rest of the evening after that seems manageable.

Last night I was so worked up, I seriously considered driving to my husband’s apartment to spy on him. I kept telling myself that it would not make me feel better to know if he has another woman. I forced myself to take some deep breaths. It’s just inconceivable to me how he could no longer love me. Inconceivable.

Bless their hearts, his children called me on FaceTime yesterday and we spoke for over an hour. They don’t ask about me and their father and I don’t offer any information. Believe me, it is tempting to want to say, “Your father doesn’t love me anymore. Tell him to love me again!” But I won’t put them in the middle.

Someday I want to look back on how I’ve behaved during this time and know that I did it with as much dignity and grace as I could muster. That’s all I’m aiming for in the middle of my very broken heart.

Some good news, I guess, is I found this article in the Guardian about running and it’s made me re-think my attempt at starting to run:

Running is not bad for your knees

And indeed a recent study has now confirmed what most runners anecdotally knew: that our joints are highly tolerant of running, even those of beginners.

I feel that walking out the door to spend 30-40 minutes running/walking would go far to help me in those afternoons when I feel I might die from anxiety. A side benefit would be if someday I can run a 5k because of it.

I have some shoes that will serve me for a month or so to see how it goes. I suppose I can wear my yoga pants. Not sure what I’ll wear on top. The only gadget I want to buy is something to attach my iPhone to me so that I can use that app (ease into 5k) as I exercise and also listen to some music.

We are in the middle of a lot of gray foggy weather lately, and the cold is another thing that might make me resistant. I just don’t know how it will feel. But I won’t know until I give it a go.

I am not sure when I’ll try it, but I will try it. I have to keep busy to stop my mind from dwelling.

Last night I sat on the couch just frozen and didn’t even turn the television on. I wanted to walk into the other room to tell my parents how much I was hurting, but I couldn’t. I don’t want to burden them. I don’t want to be vulnerable. I sent a Facebook message to my sister, and she responded with, “Fuck men. We don’t need ’em.”

One thing is clear to me. When I thought about not going swimming due to my very high anxiety today, it was out of the question. I fear that if I give in once, I’ll start giving in all the time and I just can’t let all the work I’ve done be for nothing. I don’t want to say, well, I’ve lost 36 pounds and that’s good enough. It’s not good enough.

They say it takes so many weeks of doing something for it to become a habit, and I imagine it depends on what that something is that you are trying to do. For me, the habit of going to the pool every day that it is open became a habit for me very, very quickly, another sign that this is the perfect activity for me. I am so grateful for the loving embrace of the water.

On November 8th, I wrote on my Facebook wall (something I rarely do) that I had gone to water aerobics with my father. Ever since that day, all I can think of is getting into the water.

It’s been less than 10 weeks, and yet my routine at the pool is the most important thing I do in a day and it’s done nothing except make me want to do more. I was almost an invalid and yet I quickly moved from water aerobics class to lap swimming and doing my own thing.

The other reason I am forcing myself to be strong and not give in to my sadness, is that I will not even consider using a stronger antidepressant or anti-anxiety pill or sleep aid, things that have packed the weight on me in the past. Pills are no longer an option for me.

Swimming and pool exercise for me is my aerobic activity, my weight training, my medication, and my meditation all rolled into one.

I’d love to hear about your similar experiences so please feel free to leave a comment below.
And please follow me on Twitter @movingliquid1


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