Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Getting Help

It's been about three weeks since I got the diagnosis for Seasonal Affective Disorder and started taking medication for it.  There have been some bright points and some low points.  Figured that it was time for an update on how things are going.

The medication is taking the edge off.  I had a two week follow up with my doctor to see how things are going.  I told him the load is still there but it doesn't feel quite as heavy as it was before.  I have had some problems sleeping.  I wake up around 2:00 a.m. to go to the bathroom and then when I go back to bed I'm very restless.  I'm not totally awake but can't get comfortable, toss and turn a lot, and don't really feel rested.  Doc said that was a normal side-affect of the medication and for most people it gets better after the first few weeks.

Joe and I took off for a belated anniversary weekend about one week into taking the medication.  We were heading to Bend for the weekend and planned some hiking along the way.  The day we left was amazing weather.  Ridiculously beautiful and warm for January.  I treasure days like these during the winter.  We had decided to go to the Blue Pool for a hike on the way to Bend.  It's a very popular hike and one that we had never done.  We got there early enough that it wasn't busy heading to the Blue Pool.  We saw a few people but not many.  The trail goes along a river and the sun was shining through the trees on the water.  It was so beautiful.

It was a beautiful hike.  I'm sure if the sun had been hitting the water it would have been even more beautiful.  The reflection of the trees in the water made it look like a mirror.  I am hoping to do the hike again in the summer, probably during the week because the weekend is so busy, and see how it looks with the sun hitting the water.

We got back to the trail head and there was a group of people hanging out at their truck have an adult beverage.  Joe made some comment about that looking really good and suddenly they are grabbing one and offering it to him.  We spent some time hanging out with a very nice group of people.  That is one of the fun things about having adventures.  Sometimes you get to meet random people that are really fun.

When we finished yakking with the nice people in the parking lot we got ready to finish our drive to Bend.  But as we were going down the road Joe say a sign for Sahalie Falls and asked if I wanted to stop.  Why not?  We didn't have to be anywhere at any particular time.

We got out and checked out the falls and oh my goodness it was beautiful.  The sun was at the perfect spot in the sky so that there was rainbows.  We were checking it out and taking pictures when someone told us there were more falls just a little ways down the trail so we took off to check it out.  Every place we stopped we saw more rainbows.  We ended up with about a mile bonus hike and it was so worth it!
I had stopped to take this picture and the rainbow go SO bright!  
My favorite guy!!  💗
Then we headed back to the car and started to make our way to Bend.  The sky was so blue!  I love the views of the mountains we get on this drive.
Sunday morning we got up and headed out to do a hike at Smith Rock which is near Redmond.  There ended up being a lot of fog.  Which meant we didn't get the really awesome views that you can find on this hike.  But the fog had it's own kind of beauty.
View of Smith Rock from the parking lot.  😀
Once we got down to the river we could see it a little more...kind of.
At the top of Misery Ridge.  Isn't that a great view? 😉

I didn't go as close to the edge as Joe.  Happy I made it to the top.  
Monkey Face on the way down the other side.  
Proof that we saw some blue sky.

View of Smith Rock from the parking lot at the end of our hike.  
We ended up doing about 7.5 miles and got about 2,000 feet of elevation.  Kind of slow because some the downhills were hard for me.  I don't like heights and looking down at the trail and seeing all the down right there makes my stomach jittery.  Then add loose gravel that makes you slide on occasion and I am creeping along.  By the end I was so ready to be done and on flat ground again!  Could feel the out of proportion feelings start creeping in, the tears start welling up and the frustrations start.  Which then frustrated me even more because the day before I had such a good day and was feeling so much better. 

Monday we headed for home and had one more hike to do on the way.  Joe remembered a hike he had done when he was in high school so we decided to go check it out.  Salt Creek Falls was another beautiful hike.  It was technically closed for the winter season but there wasn't any snow so we went passed the gate and checked it out anyway. 

We didn't do the full hike in the forest since we weren't absolutely sure of the trails and didn't want to get on the wrong one and end up out and about in the woods all day.  Especially in an area that was closed for the season.  We got back to the car and headed for home. 

It was nice to get away and spend time with my hubby!! 

So doc had asked me to let him know if the sleep was getting better after another week.  If it was then we might up the dose of the meds to twice a day. 

I met with Jon to go over some new strength training exercises.  Once again I was reminded how much I appreciate my coach.  Before we got started with the new exercises we sat down to look at some of my workouts and talk.  Jon brainstormed ways to get me outside in the daylight, even if it was just for 10 or 15 minutes.  He said that if I came home and went for a quick walk then we could just shorten up whatever workout I was supposed to do after I got home.  He didn't want me to be overwhelmed with a walk and then a full workout.  I got a little overwhelmed with him caring about me getting outside and here come the tears.  I am so grateful to have a coach who gets that his athletes are a whole person, not just an athlete.  We have things come up, life happens, problems to overcome, jobs to do, winter blues to overcome.  All of these things factor into how we handle our workouts.  Sometimes the workouts aren't the most important thing.  In my case the workouts are probably one of the major reason the S.A.D. hasn't been much much worse. 

This last weekend I had a couple of days that were just hard.  Nothing major going on, no reason for things to be hard, but there I was being all teary over nothing again.  Not fun! 

I missed my swim Thursday morning because I had a bad night sleeping and just couldn't get myself moving at 4:30 a.m.  I was going to swim the next day instead but again, didn't get going in the morning.  Decided I would do it right after work but then some former students came by and the next thing I know I'm rushing home so we can head to Salem to see our daughter's concert.  I hate it when I flake on a workout because I'm tired.  I'm always tired so that isn't a good excuse. 

Part of the extra teary was being extra tired.  Which is not good when I'm already majorly tired on a good day.  So when I'm majorly tired with extra tired thrown on top it makes it harder to cope with things in general.  Joe worked on Saturday and I was supposed to do a 1.5 hour bike ride.  There was a group ride that morning but I had decided not to go.  I was weepy, grumpy and tired.  The weather looked crappy.  I just didn't feel like being around people. 

Then I got a text from one of my friends/teammates asking if I was going to be at the group ride.  I said I was on the fence.   Here's how the conversation went:

So I packed up my stuff and headed to Corvallis.  Evidently I am not a lame person.

I cried all the way to Corvallis, I have no idea why.

Then I cried all over Rebecca. lol

But I was there and I am thankful for friends that don't take no for answer.  I am also thankful for a ride outside.  We didn't get rained on the entire ride.  Tackled some solid hills and actually set a record for most elevation in one ride.  We had to stop and start a bunch of times going into and out of town so I got lots of practice clipping in and out and stopping and starting.  Managed to not fall down once so that was a win. 
When you don't have fenders you get some funny looking backsides.
Jon had a flat tire and was demonstrating how to change it fast. 😉
Kristin, me and Rebecca.  The ladies of the group ride.  😁
Getting outside and doing my workout with other people was a good thing.  I was still a little off but not so weepy and well....sad.  (Or S.A.D.) 

Sunday I had a hike and I was supposed to do some running and my coach wanted me take some times to run like I did when I was a kid.  Just go fast and do it for fun.  I had a bad attitude at the beginning of the hike.  I was tired, it was early and I didn't really want to be there.  Joe met me there when he got off work.  The plan was that he would go ahead of me and then come back to see me off and on as I did my hike.  We have done this lots of times but for some reason this particular morning I was grumpy about it.  If we couldn't hike or run together he should just go do his thing, I would do mine and see him when I got home.  He wasn't having any of that.  He basically ignored me and did his out and backs.  After I got up the first long hill there is a nice gradual down hill that last for a couple of miles.  It's a great place to really get moving fast.  Joe had come back to see me and had taken off again.  He was a ways ahead of me and I suddenly remembered what Jon had said about running like a kid. 

When I was a kid we used to race.  I'll race you to that tree.  Now I'll race you to the fence.  Now I'll race you to the end of the street.  Not long distances, just running to run and laughing about beating or getting beat by a friend or sibling. 

I decided to see if I could catch up with Joe and even pass him.  It was going to take some effort because he had gotten a ways down the road.  I did pass him and went on for a bit just enjoying the feeling of being FAST!  Even if it was just for a short distance.  I decided to keep doing this.  Joe would catch up and then pass me, I would wait a little bit and then take off after him.  I started slapping him in the butt as I went by.  This is because he always does that to me when we are doing track work or something.  If he passes me, I get a smack on the butt.  For whatever reason the whole thing, fast running, passing Joe and giving him pats on the rear, just made me smile.  I realized that I wasn't feeling grumpy or weepy anymore.  I was having fun. 

I wasn't worried about my pace or doing a particular set workout.  I was just goofing off and being silly.  It was really really fun to go fast.

I had hit the button on my Garmin to make each of my sprints a split so that I could look later to see how fast I was actually going.  (I was not supposed to be looking at my watch and worrying about anything, I was just supposed to do whatever and have fun.  Coaches instructions!) 

I had one split that was .13 long (not very far at all) but my average pace was 8:33.  That was so cool.  Then I had another one that was .38 long that had an average pace of 9:30.  I loved that because it was significantly longer and I kept the pace going.  Fun stuff.  Can't maintain that for long, and probably couldn't do it as easy on a flat road but it was sure a kick in the pants to be able to do it on that down hill. 

Being a silly runner who harassed her husband seemed to take the edge off of my bad mood. 

I took a bit of a nap when we got home (not long enough!) and then got ready to go see a play with my daughter.  This was the third night that I would be out and about way past my bedtime.  I was definitely reaching the max of what I could handle in my tired department.  I know this was not helping with the S.A.D. aspect as well. 

Last night I was able to get to bed at my more normal bedtime.  That helped a lot. 

Overall I think things are better.  But they are still a long way from being great, or even good.  I know I am doing everything I can to help myself feel better.  Controlling what I can and doing the best I can with the rest.  Not always easy. 

Another aspect that I struggle with is feeling guilty about feeling down.  I really have nothing to be down about.  Great husband, fabulous kids, a new job that is a kick in the pants, friends that love me, people that encourage me, lots of laughter and adventures.  I'm not sick, I don't have any broken bones, haven't lost a loved one, I am able to pay my bills, etc.  There are many, many people that I know and love that are legitimately going through some rough stuff.  I feel like a big whiny pansy.  Having a chemical imbalance in my brain does not sound like enough of a reason to be a sad sack. 

I think this probably is part of the reason that a lot of people don't share about struggles with depression.  There is a part of me that thinks I'm being unreasonable and shouldn't make a big deal about it since I really have nothing to complain about.  I know others who think the same way.  Double edged sword.  It seems like there should be something that is going on that is making me depressed that is a little more significant than it is dark and rainy outside.  That feels a bit silly really. 

The truth is that I am sad.  I am working on making it better. 

Exercise helps. 

Having people keeping an eye on me helps.

Taking the medication helps.

Using the happy lights help. 

Being able to acknowledge that I needed (and still need) help helps. 

I love this quote.  Just seems to capture what I'm doing right now. 

Making it work. 

One way or the other.

One day at a time. 

Saturday, January 6, 2018

Working on...

I haven't written in awhile.

There are a couple of reasons for this.

One is the basic reason that I have just been busy.  Work keeps me hopping, especially during the holidays.  Getting the kids to stay focused when they can see the winter break in their sights isn't always easy.  Fun though.

Then Christmas shopping, grocery shopping, wrapping presents, baking, workouts and a couple of races tossed in, just for fun.

Tends to keep me going full steam for awhile.

I did the Corvallis Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving Day.  That was fun.  It was rainy but unusually warm, almost 60 degrees. Joe did the 10k and I did the 5k.  I wasn't really excited about doing the race for some reason the morning of.  But once I got going I felt really good.  I had a good race and finished solid.  They race peeps were having some difficulty with their timing equipment so I didn't get an official time.  But my Garmin said that I finished in 35:24 which is a good time for me.  I was pretty and glad that I did the race even though I wasn't really feeling it before it started.
Race selfie!  Joe loves these. 😉
Since this race is after my birthday but before Joe's, it's one of the few races we aren't the same age. lol
Joe started his 10k about 10 minutes before my 5k.
Found my teammate Cathy after the race.  Love this lady's sense of humor and smile. 
Joe finishing strong. 
I next did the Shellburg Falls trail run.  That's a 5.2 mile trail run with 750 feet of elevation gain.  Lots of ups and downs.  I felt really good during the run but was a bit slower than the year before.  That's a little frustrating when I felt like I was stronger and doing better than the year before.  But I got out there and did a race and had a good time doing it so that's a win.  Loved seeing Heather and Kelly at the start and finish.  Those ladies always make me smile!!
A little blurry pre-race selfie.

Pre-race drink.  Helps warm you up!  lol
I LOVE this lady so much!!  Heather's first trail run in over a year.  Yay!
Kelly and Heather needed to be part of a pre-race selfie too!!  
Managed to get through the last few weeks of school and then it was winter break.  I still had quite a bit to do in order to get ready for Christmas but I managed to get it done with a few days to spare.

But I was struggling.

I am always trying to find a good balance in my blog with sharing the real me without sharing every single detail of my life.

But a lot of the things that make it real are the personal, hard things.

So I'm going to share the next bit and I hope you understand that it isn't easy to share.  Hard to expose what I perceive as weakness.

Every year I struggle during the winter months.  It's dark.  It's dreary.  I get up and do a workout in the dark.  I come home from the workout in the dark.  I head to work in the dark.  It's still light when I get off work but gets dark quickly after I get home.

My new classroom is nice but it is an inside wall of the school and has no windows.  I see daylight when I stand in the hall between classes for four minutes each time.

I'm pretty sure this hasn't helped this year at all.

This year has been worse than normal.

I'm not depressed per se.

But I'm definitely not a happy camper either.

I saw my doctor at the end of November and he already could tell I was struggling.  We talked about a few things I could do to help.  I had my yearly check up at the beginning of January and he said we should see how I was doing then and if we needed to be a little more proactive.

Christmas Eve I was supposed to go for a hike.  I overslept and by the time I got up and moving I would have really had to rush to get the hike done, come home and clean up and then head to my mom and step-dads for our Christmas celebration.  So I didn't go.

Then Christmas morning I was supposed to do a 50 minute bike ride.  Very doable.  Yet I didn't get it done.  I made cinnamon rolls for the next family gathering with my dad and step-mom.  I also made a pan to take out to Joe and his crew at the fire station since they had to work.  If I had made them the night before Joe could have taken them to work with him.  But I was so tired that I didn't and I needed to take them out myself.  I just couldn't seem to find the energy to stick a bike ride on the trainer in the middle of making rolls and getting ready to go to the next Christmas celebration.  So I skipped that workout too.

From Christmas Eve until New Years Eve I only did my workouts on one day.

At first I said I wasn't feeling good.

That isn't really the case.

I didn't have the crud.

I had a bad case of the blahs.

Overtired (more than my usual overtired so that's a little scary!)

Overly weepy.  Also disturbing because I tend to be quick with the tears in general but they would start and just not stop.  Ugh.

No desire to do much of anything.

When I messed up something, like forgetting the chips for Christmas with Joe's family on the kitchen counter, I made it a huge, awful mistake.  Big time over reaction.  Happened several times over the last month or so.

I knew what was going on but I just couldn't see to pull myself out of it.

Then I got frustrated.  Because I knew what my doctor was going to advise when I saw him and I didn't like it.

That's the weird part.  If I have a friend struggling I would say to them to do whatever it takes to feel better.  It is not a sign of weakness to ask for help, to take a pill, to do whatever needs to be done to get better.  I have encouraged and supported many people to do whatever they need to do in order to feel okay.

But somehow when it is me, I feel like a failure.  Like I'm not a strong person.  I should be able to do better on my own.

Double standard for sure.

My doctor says that I have Seasonal Affective Disorder.  I generally have been able to keep it under control with the help of a big daily dose of Vitamin D.

This year I haven't been able to keep it under control.

My husband could see it.

My coach could see it.

Even my doctor could see it and he only saw me twice.

When I went to my yearly appointment I had to fill out a bunch of paperwork.  Updating my family history and such.  One of the questions was if I had felt down or depressed during the last two weeks.  I hate saying yes to that question because I know it will lead to more follow up questions.  Joe was with me and I knew that I needed to be honest.

Sure enough.  When I was with the nurse she had follow up questions.  Once again I was honest, even cried a bit over one of the questions.

So....this year I have to admit that I need help.  I have to ask for help and be okay with that.  I have to admit that I'm not strong enough to do this on my own.

Harder than it sounds when it appears that everyone around me can function without taking a stupid pill but me.

My doctor wants me to do three things.  First, take the pill for a short time, just to help me get through the worst of the winter darkness.  Second, he recommended that I head over to Central Oregon once a month or so to get a few days of sunshine.  Third, I am to get a therapy light to use.

I will be picking up the prescription tomorrow for the pill.  Joe and I already had plans to go to Bend for the weekend next week so that works out well.  And I just ordered a therapy light on Amazon, one for at home and a small one for my desk at work.


I have made a very concerted effort to make sure that all my workouts got done this week.

Not easy.

I was back to work on Tuesday and so tired that getting up early to swim, getting on the bike on the trainer after work or running after work wasn't easy.  It didn't help that several of my workouts I wasn't able to quite get the speed I was supposed to.  Perceived effort was that I was working hard like normal but I just couldn't seem to have the speed where I needed.

But I have done every single workout and done them as well as I can right now.

I'm sure it will get better.


Thirteen weeks until my first triathlon of the season.  Beaver Freezer.  I'm hoping eventually comes sooner than later.

On the fun side, Strava did an end of the year video of what I had done during 2017.  It was a good reminder that I don't sit around on my ass most of the time.

Today I was able to go ride my bike outside and there was blue sky and sunshine.  One of the things that was a little nervous about for this ride was that I would be wearing my clip on biking shoes.  I have been using them on the trainer for a couple of months now.  I did one short ride in November around the neighborhood stopping at all intersections and stop signs to practice starting and stopping.  That went pretty well.  Today's ride would be my first time venturing out for a long ride and doing my actual workout.

I was supposed to keep my heart rate in Zone 2.  Which meant between 129 and 136 bpm.  At the beginning of the ride, as I worked my way through town to get out to the countryside, it got over 150 bpm.  lol I think I was a little amped up.

Once I got out of town I was able to get things under control and enjoyed my time riding outside for a change.
Stopped and started several times and didn't fall down!  Yay!
I'm hiking tomorrow.  Taking Finn along and meeting up with my hubby and my brother-in-law.  They will run and I will hike mostly but it should be fun.

The advantage of making plans with people is that then I do a better job of not oversleeping or just staying in my pajamas and not go of all.

Working on being okay with asking for help.

Working on knowing I'm still a strong person, even if I do ask for help.

Working on getting through this season as best I can.

There is always something to be working on.  Seems the workouts, work and just life all go hand in hand.

I'm working on that too.  😁