Symptomatic

I’m in Knoxville this morning. I got here late last night after Nikki and I ran TWO races yesterday. Our training program at Fleet Feet encourages us to run a few races that fit with the necessary long-run distances on our training schedule. We needed 6 miles yesterday, so we did the 2-miler and the 4-miler at the Winter Winds races. It was cold and gray but we did it! And I immediately changed my clothes, jumped in the car, and headed North.

Mom has an exploratory-type procedure today. It shouldn’t take long and will hopefully answer a few questions about some nutrition issues she’s having. The weather is going to be gross and I can’t leave the medical center where she’ll be at and my kids are EXPECTING me to be home in time to pick them up from school but…I don’t know if I’m going to make it back in time. Either way – it’s going to be a chaotic day.

I’ve run 6 days in a row. Just 3 or 4 miles each day and some days I was doing my walk/run intervals, but it’s 20+ miles in one week and I’m proud of that. I’m feeling exhausted today so I don’t know what I’ll do when/if I get home tonight, I might just go for a straight up walk to loosen my legs up when I get back to Huntsville.

It’s been a good week in several ways that remind me how interconnected all parts of my health are. When I am too tired to brush my teeth at night or too depressed to shower I eat terribly and don’t exercise. When I’m exercising regularly I’m eating better and showering daily and remembering to brush my teeth before bed. Amy wrote about “depression hair” one time and I knew exactly what she meant because I’ve gone an entire week before with out doing anything to my hair and have ended up with giant clumps that I’ve had to cut out because my hair is SO coarse and SO curly that more than a few days without conditioning it and I start to naturally develop dreadlocks.

The Removing Of The Seeds Of Dreadlocks has become such a regular occurrence in the last 2+ years that I’ve wondered if I should just chop all of my hair off to make upkeep easier. That’s what poor mental health and cycles of anxiety spirals do to me…I get too anxious and sad to take care of myself in ALL of the ways.

But that also means when I’m on an upswing and I feel good, all of the ways fall into place. My hair gets conditioned at least every other day, I don’t binge eat, and I spend some time in the sun.

Some people misinterpret this common phenomena as cause and effect, but more often than not it’s just symptomatic. I’m not experiencing better health because I took a shower and went for a run, I’m able to take a shower and go for a run because my mental health is on an upswing.

Now, there is a middle buffer area in my own swings of ups and downs where I can see the signs of a downswing and force myself to go for a walk or to eat a salad to try to slow it down or stop it all together. There is definitely adjustable behavior in the cycle of mental health that can help me maintain stability. I’m not denying that. But when I’m in the depths of the darkest depressive episodes or when I’m suffering from a serious anxiety spiral, the Positive Decision Making part of my brain is not active.

But for now? I’m feeling great. I’m tired – another symptom I have to watch because that is the biggest kick-started to a downswing: EXHAUSTION. This time it’s for a good reason though, running and travel. Once I get home and back in my own bed and on my own schedule I’ll get some good rest. If I can just make the driving home without detouring for fast-food milkshakes I’ll be good.

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