Whiskey Tango Foxtrot

•16 July, 2013 • 2 Comments

Well, that didn’t really get off the ground like it was supposed to. I’m supposed to be running somewhere around the 20km mark by now, and I can barely make it to the fridge again!

I can use whatever excuses I like. You know, work got in the way, I was sick, I was too busy, I was too depressed… But the end result is the same. I didn’t get anywhere near where I wanted.

And really, who cares why? Who cares what the excuse is, or could be? Who cares if I get out of bed in the mornings – to get fitter, to get stronger, to go to work, to get the kids ready for school, or any other thing?

The only thing that matters is Whiskey Tango Foxtrot am I going to do about it?

Exercise is a huge leveller for me. It stabilises me. It energises me. It wakes me up. I reduces my depression. So I gotta do something.

1. Run. I just gotta run. It doesn’t need to be for 20km every day. I just need to get out there and run every 2nd day. It can be a 5 minute walk with a minute of running shuffling in it. I can aim for distance and speed later.

2. Workout. I gotta do some basic bodyweight workouts on the days I don’t run. I don’t need anything like 2 hours with old tractor tires and a sledge-hammer. I just need to do something. Hell, even 5 pushups and a 15 second plank is a start, especially if I do a few sets of that.

Let’s see how that goes. It worked for Tough Mudder last year. It can work again. As Mike Jordan said “I can’t accept not trying.”

What do you do when nothing’s working and you need to get a kick-start?

Fat Bastard

•14 April, 2013 • Leave a Comment

I’m a Fat Bastard.

One of the problems BPD gives me is that I find it a hard to keep doing … well anything really. And more-so without a huge goal at the end of it. I get started on things with a hiss and a roar.

Then at some point, I invariably sink into a black hole of inevitability. There’s no point. It’s a waste of time. It’s not worth continuing. All that stuff. This is when the really black thoughts come out. I’ve found myself bee-lining the car towards power poles and planning things I’d rather never think about.

It means I’ve found it far too easy to slip into “nah, I can’t be bothered doing anything today” mode. Hence I’m a Fat Bastard.

This year I’ve decided to set some new goals.

I had a coach at one point who said goals shouldn’t be those things you can roll out of bed and achieve easily. To be inspiring, a goal that makes you want to roll out of bed, it needs to be something big. Something a bit scary. Something a bit out-there. Some call these Audacious Goals. I generally look at them as a chance I may still be doing this in 12 months.

Research has also shown that regular exercise is as effective as some forms of SSRI anti-depressants, so I’ve set a bunch of exercise related goals for the next 12 months. Hopefully that will help that side of the game.

In that vein, my big, hairy, audacious goals for the next 12 months are:

  • August: Coastal Classic.
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    “The Coastal Classic is a 29km trail run along one of the most stunning tracks in Australia. It has everything to offer from rocky terrain, sand running and beaches, to cliff-tops, bushland, rainforest and steep hill inclines. The scenery is spectacular with breathtaking coastal views on the beach and from the cliff tops. You literally feel like you are a million miles from anywhere.”
    Well that’s what the ‘brochure’ says, anyway. I suspect I’ll feel like it’d cost a million dollars to repair me!The catch of course is that within 3 days of opening the registrations for the official coastal classic on 7 September, it was sold out. So, I’ll just run it myself. I love getting out there on my own for a few hours and “exploring.” August actually fits my plan for distance buildup a lot better than September anyway, so let’s go with that.

However, this one is just the warmup for the next one…

  • October: Fitzroy Falls Fire Trail Marathon. 42.2km
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    I’ll let you in on a secret – I really don’t like running on the roads all that much. Don’t get me wrong, I actually like running. I just don’t like road running. I love Trail Running. With Capitols. Last year I made it to just short of a half marathon in the Tough Mudder, but now I can’t run more than about 5km.
    So I figure what’s more out-there than aiming for a marathon when I can currently only run about 5km at a pinch? Making my first ever marathon a Trail Running Marathon. Do the one that’s billed as “NSW’s Toughest Marathon.”

And since I’m doing a marathon, I should really aim for an Ultra…

  • 17 NovemberMarysville Marathon Festival 50km Ultra
    This event started as a fundraiser after the severe bushfires of 2009 and continues primarily as a fundraising event. Seems like a great event for my first ever Ultra.

And then, finally, we get to the big One. The Main Event. Well, it’s pretty out there for me, anyway and since we’re living in Australia, let’s go with one of the best in Australia.

  • 15 March 2014: The Razorback Run
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    64km of the best the Australian Alps has to offer.
    Classic Alpine run set in the heart of Victoria’s high country, the Razorback Run is one of the most amazing high altitude runs that Australia has to offer.
    Razorback Ridge/ High Plains Run 64km of pure Alpine pleasure and pain with stunning scenery – or possibly lots of mist and no views at all. This is the most stunning and spectacular run of its kind in Victoria and the culmination of over 8 years route planning. Billed as “a must for the hardened runner” I reckon if I can get to the end of this one alive, I’ll be able to start calling myself one of those.

Black Dog.

•14 April, 2013 • 2 Comments

I have a Black Dog. It’s been with me for most of my life, but I’ve only recently learned it exists.

It’s no purebred. It’s not pretty. It’s not cutesy and cuddly. It’s no lapdog. It’s no racing champion.

It’s a Mongrel.

It’s name is Bipolar Disorder.

This means I swing from “I’m invincible and the world is lucky to have me” to “I’m worthless and the world’s better off without me.” It can happen at any time and often doesn’t reflect reality in any way. Sometimes I can tell I’m feeling at an extreme, most of the time I have barely a clue.

When an extreme swing happens, it’s almost always from extreme high to extreme low, and often takes less than 10 minutes. At that point, I KNOW intellectually that it’s unrelated to reality. Yet emotionally I can’t make that separation and just say “hey, I know I don’t really suck.”

I remember one time leaving home thinking “I can’t believe how good things are and how easy this stuff is” and then 10 minutes down the road I was bee-lining the car at a power-pole because i knew my family was better off without me.

Ironically, and completely implausibly, the thing that saved me was that I had my real, living, breathing black dog (an adorable, idiotically stupid Black Labrador) in the back of the car. I mean seriously, WTF? That’s not rational. It makes no sense!

I first discovered my disorder when a friend was diagnosed with it. I realised I didn’t actually know what it was, so I looked it up and found the Black Dog Institute has an online self-test. The test is stated to have an 80% accuracy of detecting bipolar disorder if you score over 22. I figured there may be a problem when I scored 52. FIFTY-TWO. Bugger.

The doc sent me to a shrink and the shrink initially said that she wasn’t sure. We’ve since clarified a few things I wasn’t sure about in the interview. Sure enough, “thar she blows”. BPD.

The more I read, the more clearly I fit the bill for the ups, but I didn’t think I’d really had the downs (I hadn’t had the power-pole incident yet). I also couldn’t see what the problem was with the ups.

Talking through with the shrink, it was totally clear that I was depressed, but she wasn’t convinced about the ups, (maybe ’cause I always love them and didn’t think of them as dangerous at that time). My wife and most people around me clearly disagreed, and talked through some of my recent episodes, which helped the diagnosis and tripped me over the edge into awareness. That was the point I realised that while depression is dangerous for me, highs are dangerous for me and those around me.

I’m lucky in that I don’t go totally off-campus and end up running down the street naked shouting that I’m superman. But 2 hours sleep a night for weeks at a time, any excuse for a rush, limited ability to link thoughts and dreams to reality aren’t really the best way to live. And waking people up at random times of the night (usually between 2 and 4am) to blather about some new exciting “opportunity” or rant about some completely random complaint? Well let’s say that although my wonderful and patient wife is well used to it, it’s not her favourite part of our marriage. Bankruptcy wasn’t a picnic either.

My first medication stopped the depression in its tracks. Until it ran out (that’s when the power-pole nearly got me). After a year or so and a few times running out of meds, I realised they were making me nearly constantly exhausted. I was always tired, and drinking a huge amount of coffee to keep me going through the day. I didn’t have any energy left at the end of the day to do any extra work or even to catch up if I’d run out of time during the day/week. I didn’t have a single “high” in the year – because I was so tired rather than anything else.

When I changed medication, I found my energy levels were so much better I was actually scared that I’d started a high. But it came with the weirdest sensations – the tip of my tongue tingled for 2 weeks! It almost felt as though I’d burned it, but it didn’t actually hurt. Everything tasted strange – even my breath.

Now a few months later my tongue is fine.  My energy levels are still at that same level, steady, with what seem like “normal” ups and downs. No unexplained exhaustion and no “superman” highs. I even feel like I’m keeping up at work – to the point I actually do extra work in the evenings when it’s needed.

And I’m a whole lot less short-tempered!

If this is the new me, I like him.