Wednesday, June 24, 2015

The struggle for/with/against mobility

My we are a restless generation.

Three days ago I did a half marathon, and you would think I've come back from Everest with the amount of physical -- and mental -- recovery.

OK that's perhaps a bit of an exaggeration.

Pikes Peak?

Sure, we'll go with that.

Let's start with the step progression. (Hardy har. But seriously. Climbing stairs is a struggle.)

Day one after the race: one step at a time, sideways going downward. Big "yikes!" running through my head with each step up. I bravely tackled some laundry, which involved a total of maybe 15 steps from bedroom to laundry room, and it was a slowly accomplished task.

Day two: less sideways stepping, a little tiny bit quicker moving.

Day three: almost using stairs like a normal person! Yay!

So there's that. There's also sitting on the toilet, regarding which we won't get into specifics.

But what I really want to talk about are the mental ramifications.

I met someone last night who was opening up about a recent injury she's suffered. She mentioned having bouts of depression as a result and here's me, the Mental Health Advice Train coming at her full force:

"Can you swim? So you can at least get that cardio but not hurt your joints, to make yourself feel happy? Or bike?"

She was very sweet and gracious in listening to me, and I felt for her, with my recent -- albeit very short -- restriction to little physical movement.

I took the day after my race off from work so I could chill in bed instead of hobble around the office. And my extra endorphin supply depleted quickly.

At first I was happy as a clam, up at 8, cross stitching with the best of 'em. "Haven't done this in ages! I've missed it so much! La la la music on my Pandora, la la la stitch stitch la."

I didn't even miss my legs. In fact I forgot about them (not that I'm usually actively thinking about my legs as I stitch) until I got up to get scissors, go to the bathroom, or when my foot fell asleep and I moved to readjust, said "Ow," and moved on.

But then the day continued.

Let me pause here and tell you about my get out of the house rule. Unless one is deathly ill or kept indoors due to extreme weather, one must leave the house once per day. Even if it is for five minutes to the store, to have 10 seconds of interaction with a cashier, that is fine.

Because it is better than pure isolation.

You'll also notice I'm somewhat into sports. I value exercise because I hold a similar rule and that is to do what it takes to keep my spirits up in life. And for me -- and for all of us, I believe, whether we want to admit it or not -- the activity to keep my spirits up is to keep my heart rate up.

This past Monday, the day after my race, I hit 2 p.m. and all I could think was "I'm blue" and "When is my roommate coming home?"

And I started to miss my legs. The use of them.

Several times throughout the day I thought of going to Starbucks, or Target, just to walk around and maybe spend some gift card money.

But what stopped me was the fact that my legs hurt so much, I didn't even want to trek down to my car or around any sort of retail establishment.

And it got me down. Quickly.

And it's the quickly element that has me wanting to write this.

I'm one who takes pretty stellar care of her mental health, if I say so myself, which I am saying, right here right now. I have all kinds of pieces in place to keep myself truckin', happy, and honest.

So when all it took was one day off from work to get me completely out of sorts, I -- even I, who is something of a depression veteran -- was rather surprised.

I couldn't wait to get back to work. Tuesday morning I felt so good being back among my peeps. Monday night, when Abby came home from work, I was like, "She's heeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeere!!!"

But even after we had chatted for a while and my main happy reserves were replenished, Abby caught me staring into space and asked, "How are your depression levels...?"

So while I continually am healing physically and thus able to literally get back on my feet at work to recover mentally, my one brief day off (in more ways than one) got me thinking about stuff.

Like how hard it is to sit still.

To do nothing.

To breathe.

To do something not involving fast technology, or instantly gratifying humor (do you ever think about this? How much we expect the world to keep us entertained?). To do something boring, but which might be rewarding, like sitting quietly and reading the Bible.

Even my cross stitch kept my hands and mind busy. But that and every-5-minute Facebook checks weren't enough. I needed more. Movement. People. Constant.

I don't have too much to say about this except for the fact that it disheartens and frightens me a bit to think how far we've traveled in one direction as a society and whether we will ever be able to recover.

I'm not sure where I read this (though I'm inclined to say it was Donald Miller) recently, but it was something along the lines of: Our children will rebel by reading longform writing and using landline telephones.

God, I hope that's the case.

I'm not a complete Luddite. I see the benefits of technological advancements, and I am hopelessly addicted to social media. I enjoy the pocket size element of my 1.0 versions of gadgets.

But I legitimately worry about being a parent, because me and my generation are already addicted enough to constant lights, camera, action.

Do I give my kids cell phones? Is there room for being moral about that, when landlines are just disappearing, not to mention expensive to keep in addition to cell phones? Do I keep tablets from them, making them freaks among their peers? Will there be enough activity for them to engage in if I restrict their TV intake? (Overthinking moment: I watched a lot of TV and still came out the other end loving to read, so I'm not too messed up, right?)

I'll figure it out, I'm sure. But this whole being unable to sit still unnerves me. I wonder sometimes if the real life I should or could be living lies in the fallout of the technology buzz. If it lies -- gasp! -- even outside the land of quiet Grandma stitching.

Should I be sitting more? Should I be concerned that I can't meditate?

That's all. I'll leave you with this: keep your health, and get out of the house. It will go a long way, and I want y'all to be happy. Hence the Mental Health Advice Train when you tell me you're depressed.

Loves to you all. -- Bails

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