So, in the last month I’ve had a bladder infection, an ear infection, a yeast infection (courtesy of the antibiotics for the bladder infection) and a sinus infection. I’ve had more fevers in 30 days than the past 5 years. I’ve taken so many different medications, I don’t even know what I’m sposed to be taking anymore. Hold up… I think I’m actually done all the drugs now.

Seriously. I am an infection bomb. What the hell happened to me this winter? Someone asked me who I had pissed off, but my karma bill is paid up and in a positive balance. I don’t have children. I don’t take public transit. The only things I have done differently is change gyms and start swimming.

For sure, the ear infection is from the pool. I thought I just had eczema in that ear, but no. That was just the early stages of the infection. Luckily, the nurse practitioner told me how to prevent it from coming back (1:1 vinegar and water in a little urine collection jar that he gave me, from which I will use a little dropper and swish it around my ears after swimming). I’m most excited about whipping out the urine collection jar at the pool. I think that’s going to go over really well.

On Thursday, I had just about given up. I shouldn’t have gone to work at all, but there was a presentation that had to be done and I have stuff to prove to my boss, so I went. The presentation went late, my boss asked me into her office to debrief and I was all “nope, fever, must put on PJs right now”.

You know what sucks? Fever. Also, fever when you live alone. I stopped by the grocery store to stock up on food that can be prepped in 5 minutes or less and is easy to swallow. Nothing quite like a sinus infection to raw up my throat. Interestingly, the fever made my face really raw too. Then I put on my PJs. On Friday I got up, had a bath, put clean PJs on, changed my sheets, and had a nap. Enough said. On Saturday I actually got dressed. I bought shoes and wool (there has been some scarf knitting happening, and it was very clear that I was not going to have enough yarn). I had a nap.

Today, I went for a 90 minute walk (including a short intermission at a coffee shop for my friend) with my new hiking partner (aka my former squash partner and friend, Barb). We WERE going to hike in the woods, but there was a snow storm on Friday and I can deal with frozen ground or mud, but not mud and snow. It’s just rude. So we did an urban (pavement) stroll through my hood.

I’m worried, though. I’m starting to think that I’m not going to be able to do this triathlon. That’s so much infection and back pain and infection and more infection in one winter that virtually no training has been done. And I’m very very out of shape. And heavy. And uncomfortable.

This triathlon is in 5 weeks. I’m going to Chicago for five days in that time, leaving me 30 days or thereabouts of training time. Can I achieve significant cardio fitness gains in 30 days? Is it possible to do that while still being a bit run down from repeated infection and really rather fatigued?

What do you think, readers? What would you do?

Exercise in frustration… get it? Oh, I crack myself up.

But seriously. I’m frustrated. I’m frustrated because I went swimming the other night and my back started to cramp. Sure, I made it 40 minutes in the pool before it cramped up, but still. Sure, I realize I only hurt myself a month ago, but still.

I am so impatient. I want to be an athlete. I want to be good at stuff. I want to be awake, alive, alert, enthusiastic. And yet.

Right now, I’m sluggish and tired and cranky and sore. I have more days without pain than with it, but yesterday I ached all day. My massage therapist thinks my SI joint is inflamed, which started to freak me out until I read what that meant (it’s the tissue around the joint, not the joint itself, an important distinction to someone who has osteoarthritis) and it can take months, weeks, or days for the inflammation to go away.

So, I stretch. I stretched my butt at a meeting yesterday. I stretched my hip flexors in my office. I stretched my hamstrings in the house. I did baby back rotations in my bed. There’s a lot of stretching, people.

And I’m getting back in the pool tomorrow. Because it’s important that I am at least able to swim, for the love of pete. And maybe bike. Even if I have to walk instead of run, if I can just swim and bike on May 18th, I’ll feel better about myself.

This is a purely mental game at this point. A waiting game. A game of not pushing too hard, but still pushing forward.

If only I was a patient person…

It’s been three weeks since I broke my ass playing squash. One week since I retired from the game. Five days since I wondered if I’d ever sit without it hurting. In particular, if I would ever lean forward again without it hurting.

You know what you kind of have to be able to do in a triathlon? Lean forward. On a bike. Some would think it sort of essential to, you know, the act of cycling. I signed up for the new gym on Monday, thinking I’d go Tuesday before work, but then we had a big snow storm overnight (my god, will winter EVER END?) and yeah, I never made it there. And I didn’t go Wednesday or Thursday cause I’ve been on course 20km in the opposite direction and in class from 8 to 5pm doing the most draining leadership development stuff.

But a really strange thing happened while I was on course. We were sitting in office chairs, but in a circle. Not at tables or desks. Totally awkward if you wanted to write anything down, or put down a diet coke (or coffee cup, if you’re so inclined), but definitely an interesting approach. Side note: Boy, was I happy I didn’t wear a skirt that first day. I’m so not good at keeping my knees together.

Weird thing about this seating arrangement. If I’m not given the opportunity to lean forward, I lean back. Which removed all pressure on my back for three work days, and which seems to have virtually eliminated my pain.

So tonight, I went to the new gym and spent 15 minutes dicking around with a spin bike, failing utterly to get my fricking shoes clipped into the pedals and 25 minutes actually cycling. I wanted to do the spin class on the onboard media system, but there was a problem with the bike. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

My back doesn’t hurt, but I’m going to stretch and anti-inflammatory it before going to bed. And I’ll try again on Sunday. I’ll add in the swimming next week, and try running again the week after. Cause that’s how i roll.

I’m frustrated that I’ve lost so much fitness base in such a short time, but I’ll get it back. Slowly, and without injury, with any luck. Injuries suck. Getting better is where it’s at.

I’ve had a gym membership pretty much consistently since I was 20. My sainted parents shelled out for gym memberships for me at home in the summers during university, and for one year when I lived off campus and had only two days where I actually went to the university (and its free, albeit totally crappy gym) each week.

When I moved to Ottawa I got a membership at the gym in the building where I worked. Oh man, it was a SWEET deal: $20 a month and I got to watch Question Period on the elliptical every day. I changed jobs and moved to the mothership of that office gym and it was more expensive ($30 a month) but so big! And a hot tub! And the sketchiest change room I’d see for several years! But the personal trainers were cheap and even though there was a signup for the cardio equipment if you went at 7pm every night (when Buffy was on) you could usually finagle going from one machine to the next for a full hour.

Then I changed jobs again, sold my car and had to find a gym more in the downtown area. I started working out near my office at a GoodLife gym in the basement of a mall. Oh, the ventilation was bad. The equipment was old. I struggle to forget the horror that was the ladies toilets (how can there be THAT MUCH HAIR???). But, they had the greatest group fitness instructor ever – a woman who was fit but not skinny and who was so awesome that she did an Ironman. A full one! Loved her.

And then I changed jobs again, and my corporate membership expired and oh man I was so stressed but couldn’t work 12 hours a day AND go to a gym  downtown so I bought a car. Yeah, I bought a car. Also known as a $15,000 gym membership. I bought a car and re-joined the GoodLife as my dad’s family member (discount, holla!) and started to play squash. Because it was a good way to meet people and hit things legally.

I’ve been back at the GoodLife for four years, mostly on a corporate membership for around the equivalent of $35 a month. My branch is a little weird. The people are intense. The gymgoers, not the staff. They line up waiting for the gym to open on the weekends. They line up because it doesn’t f’in open until 8am. And it very inconveniently closes at 6pm, which sucks when I actually generally kinda want to work out either before 8am or after 6pm. Also, insanely busy. So busy that getting a parking spot is a real challenge. They have an agreement with a business next door so you can use their lot after 5pm. Totally doesn’t help – that lot is ALWAYS also full. And they have the usual maintenance issues – broken equipment, broken tiles held on with duct tape, no towels, etc. But that corporate membership is pretty sweet – it’s $25/month cheaper than the regular price, and my dad gets that price, too.

Since it looks like I’m going to have to break up with squash (sob!), I’m second guessing that gym membership. Especially since my new office (same job, new building) is less than 1km from an enormous facility that I toured on Monday that is, hands down, the sexiest gym I’ve ever been in.

You know those American movies when they show people on spin bikes but they’re really nice bikes and they have fancy equipment and shit? That’s this gym. They have spin bikes in the regular cardio area with tvs that will play you your own personal spin class. Fuck me. No having to be there when there’s a spin class. No having to judge myself and fake turning the knob “one big turn”. Nope. Just … c’mon. It’s so sexy I could weep. Every single piece of cardio equipment has its own TV. No more watching an infomercial at 8am on a sunday morning because that’s the channel that’s available.

They have not one, but two pools. As long as there’s no class happening, you can lane swim. They have enclosed individual shower cubicles with doors instead of those nasty curtains you pray you don’t have to touch. They have a warm up and stretching ROOM in between the weights and the cardio equipment, not just one paltry mat that is never enough space for the core and stretching work that needs to be done. And wait for it… they have four squat racks. Not Smith machines. Full, actual squat racks.

Sigh. It’s $30 every two weeks. And I think I’m going to join. I could get up at the same time as I do today, go to the gym instead of the office, workout, shower, and still be at work for 8:30am. That’s one less hour of me being frustrated in my office (cause you know you leave at the same time, no matter what time you start). That’s one less hour of staring at my computer. That’s one more fixed hour of getting healthy.

Even though my corporate GoodLife membership doesn’t expire til mid-July, I think I’m going to get this one started next week. I think it might very well be worth the money. And it might spoil me for all gyms to come.

Blah blah blah no activity blah blah blah tough on the mental health blah blah blah good lord those range of motion movement exercises suck blah blah blah 10 days later my back feels better and I swam tonight.

Oh, it was an ugly swim. I only used the pull buoy. I tried to breathe every other stroke. I was chopping that water. I was swimming a bit like a polar bear, actually. It was ugly ugly ugly.

But, I swam. I moved. I got in the pool. I swam, then I frolicked, then I stretched, and now my back feels okay. Not amazing, but okay. I’m hoping it feels okay tomorrow, and I’m getting back in the pool on Thursday.

Back at it, slowly. Making it happen, one day at a time.

So, I’ve been sitting in a classroom for three weeks, refreshing myself on my second language. The school has the worst chairs ever – sort of like the conference room chairs in my old building, which we bought to encourage short meetings. Bad lumbar support in the wrong spot, you know?

Anyway, last weekend I did my usual activities: Friday run, Saturday squash, and Sunday I had my first spin class with BMI. My knees hurt a bit when I played squash, and apparently by the time I hit up spin class I was walking funny and not moving my neck much.

Cue Monday morning, when it hurt to sit down. Yeah. Not my idea of a good time. However, one of the other students gave me some drugs, and I took some more throughout the week and played the world’s slowest game of squash on Tuesday where I made my poor partner pick up every ball. And it was okay.

Until yesterday, when I played squash. I stretched afterwards, people, which is a small miracle, but that did not help me. I went from the gym to the grocery store where I got my food for the week, for the first time in ages forgetting not one damned thing on the list. I looked at the heating pads but said “no, the back’s going to be okay after a shower”.

You know what? the back was NOT okay after the shower. In fact, by the time I got home I had a hard time getting out of the car. I came out belly first, like you would if you were 14 months pregnant. I had a shower and lay down for a while, having already taken some tylenol muscle ache meds.

By the time I got out of bed, I was one giant seized muscle in the core area. Sitting down on the toilet was agony. The mere thought of getting dressed was too much to bear. Luckily! I have the greatest family ever. Dad came over with his heating pad and ice pack and some robaxacet and some advil to supplement with. Not known for having the best back himself, he valiantly took off his boots to bring everything up a flight of stairs to where I was standing (because sitting? agony). He’s a lovely man, even if he mocked me while dispensing his advice.

I spent the afternoon cooking (standing – a good thing) and watching House of Cards. Thank you, Netflix, for reminding me why I never want to work with politicians again. (Excellent show though – do watch it.)

I got up this morning and iced the living bejesus out of my back. I got dressed (the torment involved in putting on the socks. Good lord.) and went to the drug store to get more drugs and cried a little while sitting in the car. There are a lot of potholes in Ottawa, and each one was determined to make me weep just a little.

Came back, iced my back again, had a nap and… I feel a bit better. I’m sitting down right now. I’m not crying. I’m not icing my back. I’m just sitting.

I’m going to ice it one more time, then I’m going to the office tomorrow armed with ice packs and drugs. I’ll be back in a perfectly ergonomic chair, waiting on my french test results. Hopefully, between the rest, the ice, the drugs and a massage I have booked for Tuesday, I’ll be able to at least swim on Thursday.

It sucks when your body lets you down. It sucks even worse when it’s probably caused by a physical activity that you love as much as I love playing squash. This’ll be my third significant squash injury, and I’m going to say it’s because I’ve been tense while playing, which has caused me to not be loose enough to absorb the shock of sudden stops on the court, and slams into the walls. Also, I’m sure that my partner is going to hit me at least four times a game, and that tenses me up a lot.

I don’t want to give up squash, but it definitely does not love me that much. Where can I find a low impact sport that gives me that kind of stress relief?

I did not have a great day today.

  • I woke up all off kilter.
  • I was distracted making my breakfast and forgot to take my meds.
  • I shovelled the front drive because there wasn’t enough snow for my snowplow company to come.
  • I drove to work cause we were only getting another centimetre of snow.
  • I couldn’t park my tiny car in the parking lot because there were so many trucks that I was paralyzed because I kept thinking I was going to hit one (side note: This should have been when I realized I hadn’t taken my meds).
  • My morning French teacher discouraged me. I get the feeling that he doesn’t think I’m going to pass the test next week, but I’m frankly too scared to ask him.
  • I had the first brain zap at 9:15, which is when I realized that I didn’t take my meds. My fiscally conservative core refused to cancel the rest of my day’s classes to go home, take the drugs and sleep off the effects. You, taxpayer, were just saved $200.
  • I overcomplicated the crap out of my afternoon class, which I mercifully asked to start early so I could at least go home early.
  • I fucked up every possible variation of a verb tense whose name I do not even know in English, but which I’m guessing is the past conditional.
  • I made the same mistake about 15 times in one day. And I wrote it down each damned time.
  • I went to get a prescription refilled which I left to the penultimate dose, only to be told that they have to order it. Hopefully it’ll be in tomorrow, or there will be no sleep tomorrow night.
  • I had a moderately disturbing conversation on the phone with someone when I probably should just have not spoken to any other humans today.

I had an unhealthy amount of anger at myself, at the world, at the motherfucking weather (WHEN IS WINTER GOING TO END?), at the fact that I shovelled needlessly (10 cm of snow today guarantees that the plow is coming tonight), at the fact that I have such a huge vocabulary and eloquent verbal style in English and that I sound like a moderately effective monkey in French, and at the fact that life is complicated.

I went to the gym. I warmed up on the treadmill. I did my minute running, 2 minutes walking. I counted each rotation down from 7 to 1. I cooled down. I stretched.

I feel marginally better, but I think I should have stayed longer. Maybe not on the treadmill, but on the bike, or the rower. But my headphones weren’t working properly and that was just making me angry again.

The point, though, is not that I was angry or that I went to the gym. It’s that I went to the gym BECAUSE I was angry.

I’m not recommending that people experience rage or even vast emotional or adrenaline swings (or brain zaps). But if you’re looking for motivation to go to the gym, it’s a good way to find out.

We all feel angry. Instead of eating it out, letting it take over your life, picking up a sharp object, or whatever you do, how about going for a walk? Or a run? Or a gambol in the woods (if you live where it’s not wintery right now).

No, it’s not a panacea (what’s the word for that in French, anyway? Anyone want to guess that it’s panacea?). But it’s a start.

How do you manage your anger? What are your strategies for motivating yourself to get active?

I swear, running is my nemesis. I envy those people who are natural athletes. I have to work really hard for every gain, every skill that I have. For instance, I practiced my wicked awesome squash serve for at least 400 minutes before it got to be as awesome as it is today, and even now it’s not that consistent.

I have tried to be a runner at least five separate times. The first time was when i was training for the Grand Canyon hike I did in 2002. It seemed like it should be easy. After all, I was on the elliptical for an hour at a time, lifting weights, at my lowest weight as an adult. And yet, it wasn’t. I was a foot slapper, and instead of having gentle, soft foot falls I had giant, concrete smacking wallops. I swear, it sounded like I was wearing clown shoes.

Needless to say, i sucked at that so badly that I gave up that time. But, I’m a stubborn bastard, so I signed up for a clinic the next spring, to get to my goal of being a runner. The Running Room is an amazing resource here in Ottawa, which is a city with more runners per capita than any other I’ve ever been in. I went, I bought shoes, I started the clinic, and I made it to 4 minutes of running (which apparently is what I could do if I didn’t do the other two runs a week, outside the clinic, because I seemingly couldn’t make that happen), and I quit. My foot hurt a lot.

Fast forward two years to my getting a joint in my foot replaced. Yeah. That’s probably why my foot hurt.

Fast forward another three years until I would walk without a limp. That’s when I hiked a lot.

Fast forward to 2011, when I decided to do a triathlon. There was no running. I started on the treadmill, but that whole running thing kept getting in the way of my squash game, which was actually fun. So, yeah. I walked the run part of that triathlon. But I felt some shame, so that summer I tried another learn to run clinic, this time at BMI.

It didn’t work out so well. I kept getting dead foot, which is apparently because my calf muscles are too big for the tissue that surrounds them. (Note: there’s actually a surgery to cure this. Cause what I really want is a surgery. To be a runner. I think not.) I quit after week three.

Fast forward to 2013. Dammit, I will be a runner. It’s not going to happen on anyone else’s schedule. It’s clearly only going to happen on mine. Yeah, I have a triathlon in May and it’s possible I’ll be able to run that piddly 2km without stopping, even though I’ll already have swum and bike. But what’s more likely is that I’ll run for a few minutes, walk for a few minutes, run for a few, and repeat until I’m done.

Yesterday, I finally completed what is considered to be “week 1” of the running room program. What’s that? One minute of running, 2 minutes of walking, repeated 7 times. It took me five weeks to be able to do this. Sometimes I’d mix it up and do just one walk minute, others 90 seconds. But yesterday, I actually did the full program, as instructed. Yeah, it sucked. Yeah, my foot hurts today. Yeah, I had some calf issues. But on the whole, it was do-able. Sweaty, but do-able.

It’s the small victories, people. It’s my body. It’s my schedule. It’s my willpower that’s going to get me from the transition zone through the run and back. It’s gotta be done my way.

Dealing with the stigma of mental illness

This is my last post on depression. Fitness posts will return shortly.

Why did I write this series of posts? Not because, as some of my friends evidently think, I need help right now. Not because it’s fun to rehash the lowest days of my life. It’s not because I want people to look at me with pity or despair or any other kind of emotion other than pride. It didn’t actually have anything to do with me at all.

I wrote these posts for two reasons:
1) Isolation
2) Stigma.

Depression is one of the most unbelievably isolating illnesses. So many of us look at depression as a weakness and not an illness. Where our friends with cancer may have been hooked up with a support group, we wouldn’t consider going to a group because we might have to reveal intimate crap about what’s going on in our heads that we don’t even really accept, let alone want to share.

Because depression lies to you, and because you probably don’t know anyone who’s every possibly felt the way you do right now, you may not see group as beneficial. You may not think you’re as crazy as “those other people”. It is beneficial, and you are as crazy as the other people there. It’s other people who are going through the exact same thing as you.

You aren’t alone. I went through this, and I know from some of your emails that you’ve been through the same thing. You are NOT ALONE.

The problem is the stigma that we continue to attach to mental illness. Even when you’re in the depths of despair, it can be difficult to admit you’re sick and need help.

We don’t want people to know we’ve been “weak”. That we’re different. That we’re … you know … different. We don’t recognize the herculean effort required to get better is actually a demonstration of our strength. We don’t understand that the mere act of asking for help and describing the problem is an act of courage. We’re so confused by figuring out who we are afterwards that we forget to celebrate our difference.

I work in an environment that is not very forgiving of mental illness. We pay lip service, but the people who don’t understand mental illness haven’t really done that much to further their understanding. And yet, when people ask me what I think is going to be the major issue facing managers in the near future, I tell them it’s going to be the challenge of managing mental illness in the workplace.

We need to de-stigmatize this range of illnesses. People used to refer to cancer as “the c-word”. That changed with clever marketing and pink ribbons and lots and lots of people getting sick and surviving.

Lots and lots of people are sick with mental illness, and WAY lots of them survive. Twenty percent of Canadians will suffer from a mental illness in their lifetime. People. Twenty percent. If each one of those people shared their stories to four other people, then we’d be able to reduce the stigma. If they could point to their productive, full lives and how they contribute to society, we would be able to reduce that stigma.

We have a stigma because people don’t talk about their mental illness. Talk about it. Not just the arty types who are good with words. I need the engineers and the computer types and the executives and type A finance whiz to talk about this stuff. We need you to struggle and find the words that explain to other people what happened to you and how you survived.

This is my story. I am an executive in the Canadian government, I suffer from major depression periodically, I work my ass off, I deliver, I have friends and family and a house and a car and I take amazing vacations. I’m doing my second triathlon in May, I hiked the grand canyon and southern utah and the Camino de Santiago, and I dragon boat. I am a success, and despite all that, I continue to struggle. And if you ever get to meet me, you’re going to think I’m pretty awesome. This is me, sharing my story with you, who I gather number more than four. This is the face of mental illness.

In this post, I’d like to talk directly the people out there who are in the middle of a major depression incident or who have suffered in the past. In particular, I’d like to talk to those of you who have cried out in pain, wondering why this is happening to you, what you did to deserve this kind of torment.

The short answer is this: nothing. You did absolutely nothing to cause your depression. That fight you had with your best friend? It didn’t cause this depression. That bad performance review at work? Totally didn’t cause this level of pain. The fact that you overate three nights in a row? Got nothing to do with it.

We all seek to be able to point to something and say “THAT! That is the cause of my pain!”. You know what? It isn’t. You can circle in your mind over and over again, a thousand times a day, about a seemingly trivial thing that you’ve fixated on as *the cause* of your ills and if you could just get over it, you’d be better.

I want you to think for a minute about how that non stop self assessment, self hatred, and guilt felt/feels. Completely out of proportion to the cause you’ve identified for your depression, isn’t it?

That’s because while the two things are related, they probably aren’t the same thing. Depression (for me at least) is a chemical imbalance which causes a long, slow decline to the point where you wake up one day and wonder where the you that you knew and loved went, and who replaced her, anyway?

Depression lies to you. Depression causes you to believe shit that isn’t true. Depression makes you search for an answer where there is not going to be one. And that way lies a circling vortex of suck.

Rather than asking yourself why this happened, take a few minutes to think about it a bit differently. Try to think (and believe me, I know this is only going to work for about 30 seconds the first time, but it’ll stick a bit longer the next time, and a bit longer after that) that it happened to you, and you’re a different person now, and your job is not to ask why, but to find out more about this new you.

I know, I totally just Yoda’d you. Don’t ask why, accept that it is what it is, and try to figure out who you are now.

This is when you get to rage against the fact that you’re not as smart as you were before anti-depressants; that you’re not funny anymore; that your joy for life has disappeared along with the pain; that you may not be able to do the same job you did before your illness; that you may need to find new friends; that your interests may (almost certainly will) change.

This is the space when you get to acknowledge that the life you thought you were going to have got rocked to the core by this illness (not the diagnosis, the illness), and that life doesn’t exist anymore.

This is when you get to plan, shape, form your new life. Who is it that you can be now that you’re a little doughier, meditating a lot, medicating a lot? Who do you want to surround yourself with? What kind of people are assets to your new life, and which ones are liabilities?

While you’re picking yourself up from the floor, it may help just a tiny bit, for two minutes at a time, to think of this as a rebirth.

In my first incident of major depression, I blamed my illness on a fight I had with a friend. Seriously. A single fight. Dudes, that was not the cause. The cause was chemical, and the trigger was that the life I thought I was going to have had been rocked off its foundations with a medical issue that was poorly communicated to me. That medical diagnosis did not cause my depression. It allowed the depression buried inside me to rear up and take over my life.

So. One day I decided I couldn’t live this depressed life anymore. I wasn’t better the next day. I wasn’t better the day after. It actually took a whole year to get better. A whole year. But I had a vision. I wanted to go back to school. I wanted to have a career. I wanted to put this behind me and have a normal life.

And man, that journey sucked. But you know what? That vision worked. In order to go back to school I had to graduate from the crisis clinic. I had to get a room in residence (cause hello? Me in an apartment by myself was not a good idea.). I had to re-register for school, and make the decision to go part time or full time. I had to arrange a class schedule around my totally fucked up sleep patterns.

I had to remake myself academically. I actually ended up being a better student (the joy of anxiety medication – I could focus better!), but still not the person who thought she could get a Rhodes scholarship. I hung out only with people who valued me, and who didn’t judge me for the illness I had. I made new friends who were more nerdy, like the new, real me.

Even though I still suffer from depression, I don’t suffer from self-hatred. I was able to take that crisis and turn it into an understanding of who I am now. And I actually mostly like myself and my life.

So stop blaming yourself, that fight you had with X, that circumstance that happened over there. Stop, for just two minutes today. Think about your new life for two minutes. Tomorrow, try three. It’s hard work, so you’re going to want to nap after, but you can do it.

Let go of the blame, the guilt, the self-hatred. This thing happened to you, and you had nothing to do with it.

I believe in you. And eventually, you will, too.

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