I went on a run today.
I got up and did my seven-minute workout to warm up, and then I walked out to the street and started running.
It was a short loop, just through the neighborhood, around the nearby Catholic school. I closed the loop out with a short stint on the Greenway access right by my apartment. I ran, carrying my keys and my phone.
When I hit the parking lot again, I slowed to a walk and got control of my breathing.
Back in my apartment, I did another seven-minute workout, the one I unlocked that focuses on stretching.
It was more of a jog than a run.
In January, I scheduled a physical.
It had been about six years since my last doctor’s appointment. I had to find a new primary care provider because the last one I saw was a pediatrician.
They did my bloodwork. After the lab, the lady at the desk gave me a printout with the cost. “They might send you a bill,” she said. “Sometimes they do.” It was only $27.
I looked at the itemization and saw “$1.00 — venipuncture.”
Everything came back fine. When I saw the doctor, he said all the tests showed I was within the normal ranges. He pointed at one, my creatinine levels, and said that was a little high, the closest I was to having something wrong. He said I could stand to drink more water.
Then he looked at the new patient paperwork I filled out, scanning through the questionnaire. “It says here you’d like a referral for mental health,” he said.
Three years ago, I wrote about subjunctivitis. It’s a word I set upon to describe how mixed up I felt inside. I characterized it as an urge to complicate simple things, an instinct to deflect and obfuscate. It’s a default setting where I tell lies to myself and use the word “should” a lot. Ultimately, it’s a word I failed to define.
Rereading my old writing, you don’t have to look hard to uncover the language of depression — a better word for what I was trying to describe. Anxiety, too.
I actually used that word at one point in my subjunctivitis essay. I mentioned “phantom anxiety,” which is a misnomer. It isn’t phantom anxiety I felt. It’s actual anxiety.
This is language I’ve become more familiar with over the years, language that resonates with me. It’s a subject matter that I’ve felt myself drawn to because as other people describe their depression, I recognize them describing me, too. Yet I resisted using those words to describe myself because I don’t like to self-diagnose. I don’t like to jump to conclusions or act until I’m certain. It’s similar to how I don’t like speaking my mind until I know the right words. I worry about being inarticulate or losing the thread.
But at some point, something has to give. I can only read so many articles, web comics, and tweets by people with depression, listen to so many podcasts featuring people with anxiety, play so many games that tackle both, and talk to so many friends who wrestle with a combination before I have to come to terms with myself.
I have gone too long abiding a state of hollowness, one that echoes louder some days than others, but one that is there at all times. I feel inhibited by it. I second guess myself, how I interact with people, how I perform at work, how I get through the day. People know me as a quiet person, but I don’t know if that’s on purpose. I don’t know if it has to be that way, or if something broke inside me at some point and I diverged from a path where I was whole.
When I told the doctor this, and when I spoke to the therapist he referred me to, they said “Yeah, you sound depressed.”
I went on a run today because I’m trying to be kinder to myself.
I’ve cut out soft drinks completely and am eating less fast food. I’ve turned off most of the push notifications on my phone, and I changed my bookmark for Facebook so that it directs straight to the bunspotting group instead of the newsfeed. I’ve planned a proper vacation for the first time in three years, in an effort to reconnect with friends and meet a few new ones. I’m trying to make small changes, step by step.
I haven’t been going to therapy that long, but starting on it has given me an initial boost. It’s cognitive therapy, so I’m learning to identify automatic thoughts and to interrogate my habitual responses to different scenarios. I’m told the ultimate goal is to learn to be my own therapist.
We’ve started by trying to pin down my core beliefs. A recent session ended with my therapist handing me a green index card. On it, she had written “I’m resistant to branching out with people I don’t know because people left and it hurt.” So that’s one.
I want to be open about this process because it’s important to de-stigmatize mental healthcare. People and groups who are bigger and louder than me have been doing a good job at this for years, but if I can have a positive effect on my circles, I want to do so.
I also want to make it clear that I am not and have never been a danger to myself, but if you ever have been or think you are, please seek help through the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (here’s an international list of phone numbers).
On Friday, I met with a psychiatrist. Dealing with depression and anxiety is often a two-pronged approach involving therapy and medication. I’d read as much and spoken to a friend about it, so I was open to that avenue of treatment, too.
She asked me a lot of the same questions that my therapist asked in our initial meeting, and she had me do the same self-assessment. We talked about how I felt now, how I had felt in the past. In the end, she didn’t recommend any sort of prescription for me at this time. Instead, she recommended a few vitamin supplements that I might look into, she said to stick with therapy, of course, and she said I should get some more exercise.
My seven-minute routine is pretty good, especially doing it every day (I just passed 21 months), but she said I would be better off if I also got about 30 minutes of exercise, outside, a few times a week.
So I went on a run today, and I went on a walk yesterday. And if I can figure out a good time to do more exercise during the week, I’ll give it a shot.
I went on a run today, and I’ll see how far it gets me.