Monday, February 11, 2019

The Heaviest Things We Lift

THIS IS, easily, the hardest blog entry I've ever written. And it took many attempts to just put enough of it into words I was prepared to let the world read. There comes a realisation - if you're being honest about your failings - that simply being 'honest with yourself' isn't enough. You have to address those failings and work to correct them.

Yes, it can be a big step for someone just to identify their own failings. I am not trying to diminish anyone who has done this. I am saying it is not the only step: now you need to fix yourself.

Sure, you might be thinking (especially if you're a lifter, especially if you're anything like me), "I have fixed myself! I used to be weak, now I am strong. I used to be lazy, now I am disciplined. I used to abuse alcohol, smoke cigarettes, eat junk and sit still all day. But long ago I quit those things. Now I train hard and eat well. I take responsibility for my health."

But that isn't fixing yourself. You are still broken.

Now you might be wondering "Well, what about other aspects of my life?" And you'd be justified in looking there for evidence of being fixed. "What about this great job I've managed to land? Or my beautiful, loving partner? What about my big house? My sweet ride? My bank balance? Surely all these ticked boxes must mean I'm fixed?!"

And all those things are great... but having those things hasn't fixed you. You're still broken.

"I'm a parent - a good one! I'm a manager! I'm an educator!" Yes! You're an adult who knows what s/he's doing, and people look up to and depend on you. But being this person - this reliable, dependable person - has also not fixed you.

The habits I've kicked, the disciplines I've honed, the successes I've experienced in my career, life, love and lifting have not managed to fix the fact that I am, at my core, still a depressed person. At the age of 39 I am only now genuinely seeking psychiatric help. I know what my issues are already: I read the psych books and self-diagnosed years ago. It didn't fix me, it just added some new words to my vocabulary.

After my last surgery, during the Australia Day long weekend, I experienced a manic depressive episode that involved suicidal ideation. It was triggered by the effects of the anaesthesia on my brain chemistry. It's not the first time I have had a depressive episode post-surgery, but it was certainly the worst. Over a period of 36 hours (roughly), I drank most of my cabinet of fine whiskies, mixing them with the array of pain medication I'd been given. I didn't die, so I took more pills and drank more whisky. I still woke up the next morning, so set about the process again.

My amazing partner and some good friends talked me down. But it was only after I'd come to the realisation that pills and booze wouldn't kill me. My liver has taken decades of abuse... I needed to try a lot harder if I was going to go out that way.

The episode subsided, leaving me with a mess of my own creation. The two positives to come out of it were me reconnecting with a friend from nearly twenty years ago and this Facebook post I wrote Sunday morning, after the worst of it was over.

Depression can convince you that you are thinking clearly.
It can give you conviction where before there was doubt.
It can give you resolve, where before there was apathy.
It can give you peace, where before there was mania....
It can feel hard as stone and inescapable as quicksand.

That conviction is a lie because doubt - especially self doubt - is human.
That resolve is false as it solves nothing.
That feeling of nothing is not peace, it is death.
Nothing is set in stone... and you can jump over that puddle, if you try.

I returned to training last week. I begin therapy in March.

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