Steps Forward and Back….the Dance of Depression

When I initially set out to create a habit, I was a bit stubborn, determined and a lot bored. I have so much time on my hands, excessive amounts of obsession and depression that I knew I had to do something or succumb to another black hole. My goal was to see if I could break the behavior in 90-100 days and set myself up for real and lasting change.

The one commitment I started with was to ride the Peloton Bike EVERY day. I was going to make that investment worth it come hell or high water. I also really wanted the Peloton Tread and told myself that wasn’t happening until I could prove to myself I was going to use it consistently . The cost of $$ investment was too high to make a frivolous decision. Based on what I knew about myself, 30 or 60 days wasn’t enough. Nor was a 3/5 day a week commitment. Nope, I was going gangbusters on my own ass.

Shit, if I could obsess over Tony for a year every day I should be able to commit to taking care of myself in a positive way for 100 days. At least, right? And maybe, just maybe, a new obsession could replace the Tony obsession. A new focus. The right kind of focus.

May 11th was 90 days from my start on February 11th.

I did not ride the bike for 6 days in that 90 days. 2 from a hospital stay, 3 from a stomach virus and 1 I have no idea. I did do “something” Peloton related those 6 days, even if that meant a meditation. Those 6 days bug me and piss me off. I should allow some leeway but it only makes me feel I can’t commit to anything sometimes. I am forgiving myself because I did realize this past week, when I had the stomach virus, that my body REALLY needed the rest. When I finally did ride again, I rode stronger. Also, I suddenly started to bleed – now I don’t know if it’s a period or not but it would sure explain the utter exhaustion combined with the stomach bug. I get blood tests next week – I’m at my full 5 month mark since my last infusion. I’m banking on a massive drop in iron because I’m having trouble just getting out of bed and I truly can’t find energy within myself.

Once the activity started I realized I was capable of more.

I am learning that healthy habits are what’s going to get me through life. If I do right by myself every day as a way of life, and I fall off the wagon, it doesn’t matter. One day, one weekend or maybe even a week to allow myself space either physically or mentally isn’t going to make me gain back the 75 pounds I lost. What made me gain over and over and over during the past 18 years was the fact that I allowed myself to keep failing. I did not have a healthy habit I was committed to.

For instance, in the past, one cookie on a Friday would mean I could eat a whole box before Sunday. Mid week I could eat poorly again because I had already eaten the cookies. The behavior was a loop and a very bad one. That’s gone.

Now, I eat a cookie if I want a cookie. I drink. AND I watch what I eat all the times in between that and I feel just fine. Every day doesn’t need to be a food party. I am still learning what my balance is, but now clearly have a better relationship with good and healthy eating and make better choices. Eliminating most carbs has removed the carb cravings. I don’t struggle to avoid foods that are not good for me. I have actually lost the appetite for most of my old fatty food choices. They just no longer appeal to me, as if I have lost the taste of them entirely. I also just make better choices for myself and don’t allow myself to feel penalized when I go off. Now I understand healthy eating habits. I almost don’t know why this felt so hard before (yes, it helps that I can’t eat much in one sitting so making better choices makes sense).

I’m off Keto now because my body wasn’t responding well with all the working out. I needed more protein and carbs. I’m working with the nutritionist to find the right balance for that.

So I’m 90 days in and heading towards that 100. I’m contemplating what happens post 100 and what makes sense for me to maintain once working again. I’m speaking with a nutritionist and many trainers about constructing the best “road ahead” for my goals.

That all sounds good, right?

But, and there’s always a but……There are two immense things I struggle with.

One is “encouraging” self-talk. Being my own cheerleader. Congratulating myself. Egging myself on. Encouraging myself. I don’t know how the people who do this (all over my Facebook and Peloton groups – here on the blog too – Maggie is a master ❤️) do it every single day. Are they for real? How can anyone be so positive and encouraging? Do they have a book of positivity quotes? Do they really wake up and make gratitude lists? I want to learn how to do this as I believe I am mostly a critical person (hello, Virgo trait). Not just do it but BELIEVE in it, drink the koolaid, buy the farm.

I chose one thing to try: every day I post my exercise achievements. I was always annoyed by people who did this so have no idea what prompted me to do so, but it seemed easy enough. An unexpected side effect is a lot of my friends congratulate me and encourage me – and many tell me how I’ve motivated them to start their own journey. Two have even bought a Peloton! I guess I realize that if my exercise posts are annoying they can skip over them, but many seem interested. I never expected anyone to care. People are really happy to share their own fitness journeys and tips as well. I use this for my mental well being – it’s like having cheerleaders. I am my own worst enemy with all the positive self talk – – and I do realize this is what coaches and trainers and support groups are best at – reminding you to do your bets every day! I try so hard to be encouraging for others but find it tedious…I wish I could tap into all that positivity consistently. Maybe I should do a 90 day positive energy journey next? I really feel like this is a key to unlocking something for me. What if I HAD to be grateful, satisfied, and positive for the next 90 days?

I have a few platforms on which I can do this. I can help young women with career roles, I can participate as an admin in a Peloton Facebook group and support others along their journey, I can start a gratitude journal. I will just need a place to vomit after I spend the day smiling and performing – at least in the start. I truly don’t know how people wake up and make a choice to be happy. I listen to these coaching mantras and they make sense – but they don’t make me cry and evaluate my life and affect me the way they do many people I know. Church also doesn’t have that impact on me. I have to figure this piece out – the part of me I want to put into the universe to grow and make better.

The second one is my absolute fear I will give up. Why? Because I have ALWAYS given up in the past. I don’t give up on obsessing over Tony so clearly I can obsess where my brain wants to -but obsessing about my exercise and health? Welp, that’s partially how I ended up in Mexico in the first place. Although I had legitimate reasons this past week for not exercising to my normal capacity, I feel immense guilt and worry that every day I can’t is simply going to lead to another day I don’t want to. I’m worried that if I can’t get my iron for 2 months or so (which is highly likely to happen, thanks insurance) I will allow myself to remain exhausted instead of pushing through. And once I stop for too long, all that hard work disappears.

When your body is depleted it’s so hard to get your mind to work. I’ve been sick and tired for so long, so very long, that the thought still crosses my mind that all this is just too hard, too much work and I’m tired, really tired of trying so hard just to wake up every day. Will positive self-talk change this? Will more exercise? Will better body acceptance? Will falling in love? My kids treating me better? Self-acceptance? When this exhaustion hits, the depression grabs hold of the thought and runs away with it….and that is ALWAYS a fear.

Author: Madeline Harper

My journey through divorce and an emotional and sexual reawakening. Love, laughter, friendships, family and heartbreak included. And there is sex, lots of it, so close your eyes and turn the page if that's not for you! While I started this blog as an endeavor to journal my thoughts and feelings in an attempt to better understand myself, it has become an amazing platform from which I have met some of the most interesting and wonderful people in my life. My path is often crooked, but I hope you will share in the journey with me.

2 thoughts on “Steps Forward and Back….the Dance of Depression”

  1. The one thing I wanna know is how – or why – you’re kicking your own butt about those six days when in five of them, you weren’t in any shape to ride? There’s a huge different between “I don’t wanna do it” and “I can’t do it” and if you can’t due to illness, then it is what it is and now it’s a question of whether or not you can “make up” for those missing days like instead of the goal being 90 days, it just gets extended to cover for the missing days.

    The stroke I had over ten years ago left me debilitated and in 24/7 pain and, honestly, I didn’t feel like doing much of anything but since that wasn’t – and couldn’t be an option – the overall goal, no matter what it was I was trying to do, was to not ever give up… but with the understanding that there are some things I won’t be able to do because my damaged body just isn’t going to allow it. For example, I’m writing this to you… and it hurts like you wouldn’t believe but I keep at it, I fight through the pain in my fingers and simple because if I don’t or can’t, I won’t be able to do this blogging thing that I’ve come to love so very much.

    Yes… when your body ain’t feeling it, your mind just wants to follow suit and I say to you to not let that happen. One a daily basis, I fight against pain that is nearly suicidal in nature; again, you can’t imagine what it’s like to always be in pain and to the point where putting on clothes – or taking a shower – hurts like a bitch; the wind blows on me (from any source) and I wanna kill something. And to be blunt and frank, having sex is an adventure I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy – wait, maybe I would, now that I think about it. It not only hurts – and more when I perspire because it feels like someone is pouring acid on me – but orgasms are… scarily intense and that’s not a good thing.

    But I gotta do it and not because my lady expects me to; for me, it’s part of the goal of always working toward being 100% when I know I will never get there and that thought alone is very damned depressing.

    But I ain’t got time to be depressed. My mission is to keep doing the best I can with what I have to work with and by any means necessary. But if there’s something my condition won’t allow me to do, well, I can’t do it, like my doctor insisting that I take up jogging or walking at a brisk pace outside or on a treadmill – something I know I can’t do because I tried it and almost hurt myself falling down so I’ve learned not to lose any sleep over it – it’s pointless and, again, I’m pretty busy not letting my condition get the best of me.

    For you, methinks you shouldn’t kick your own ass when circumstances beyond your control land on your like the proverbial ton of bricks and out of the clear blue sky. We all wind up taking steps backwards and, of course, the trick is to not take too many backward steps IF it’s within our ability to prevent. If not, ya say, “Fuck..,” gather yourself up, and move forward with both determination and the understanding that shit happens that we can’t do anything about.

    True enough; I can’t imagine what it’s like to go through what you’ve gone through but I challenge you with this: If I can deal with what’s wrong with me by sheer effort of will and being stubborn, you can, too. Because you have to, that and the alternatives are seriously fucked up.


  2. I am immensely flattered that you find me so upbeat. What’s inside my head and what I tell myself is another story at times. I have moments of sincere doubt, loss of faith, and general stinkin’ thinkin’. I think we all do. It is far easier for me to encourage you and cheer you on than it is for me to do the same for myself. That self-love shit is tough. We are our own worse critic.

    While you have been losing 75 pounds, I gained about 15. Where you are exercising every day, I am a slug and not doing anything. Where you are eating a healthy diet, I have allowed myself to eat any and everything and often to excess. I could do better, but I’m not. I am procrastinating about setting up better habits. I am giving myself tons of excuses.

    Maddy, we are all human. We all have our weaknesses. I have come to understand that I need to be kinder to myself. If I can’t love and forgive myself, than how can anyone else? Now, I had a long day, and I’m beat, so I’m going to have a stiff drink — another thing I have been doing to excess lately LOL.

    Hugs to you — you really are doing great.


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