Experiments in Health and Wellness

by a Human In Recovery

28 Days to a New Me: Day 28 – Just the beginning

on May 29, 2013

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Exercise is helping me to recover, not just physically, but mentally and emotionally as well.

I have mentioned that I deal with Cyclothymia – a low level bi-polar disorder. It includes a component in the cycle known as hypomania. I have written about it on my Human In Recovery blog, in the past. Last week I wrote about it again in Hypomania Interrupted.

Exercise and I have a long love/hate relationship. I think there hasn’t been a year in my life where I haven’t attempted to rekindle the affair only to bail when the pain of too much, too soon got too real.

This month of May 2013 is the first and only time I have ever exercised for 28 consecutive days! It is the first time that I have pushed through the exacerbated pain and fatigue of the fibromyalgia. It is the first time I have consistently pushed through the mental and emotional barriers of depression, anxiety, and oppositional excuse making to exercise anyway.

There are a great many people and resources that advocate for and teach the benefits of exercise. However, partially due to the effects of the fibromyalgia and how its symptoms manifest for me, in combination with the impacts of both the depression and hypomanic aspects of my mental health issues, exercise and I have had a love/hate relationship.

I didn’t realize it until recently, but I would get all “gung-ho” and decide to start exercising. I would jump in and formulate a grand & complicated plan with some HUGE number goal, trying to calculate BMI, calories, exercise, and eating plan all at once. Graph paper, notebooks, and a collection of recipe books, exercise program cassettes/VHS tapes/DVDs, and DIY celebrity/health guru resources would be obtained: Jane Fonda, Victoria Principal, Susan Powter, Richard Simmons, Oprah & Bob Greene, Andrew Weil, Prevention, Weight Watchers, Atkins, and the list goes on . . . and on and on.

Armed with my resources, formulas, plans, and end goal in mind, I would go forth and subtract!

The first week would generally entail me going all out, blasting through aerobics classes, gulping down whichever weight loss concoction and nutritional supplements – Slim Fast, Herbalife, Atkins, Medi-Fast – I had chosen and congratulating myself in hopeful reassurance that I was going to “Just Do It!,” this time.

Then something would shift: Insomnia, fatigue, the sharp pain of numbing & tingling hands and feet, injury, illness, loss of child care, family/relationship/financial crisis, or some combination of these things would arise and I would lose momentum. Then depression and anxiety would suck me under and I would stop moving.

I’ve been riding this weight loss roller coaster for about 30 years, ever since I was about 14 years old. I turn 44 in June. I think the lowest I weighed during this time was somewhere in the 140 – 160 range when I was in my early twenties after having gone over 225, the weight I was at the time my son was delivered when I was 17 years old.

By age 24, in 1993 when my oldest daughter was delivered, I was back at 225. By 2003 I was up to 280 lbs. I was so debilitated by the weight, the fibromyalgia, the depression and the cycles of chaos, conflict, and self-destruction that if it hadn’t been for my teenage son, I might not have made it out of a house fire that happened one night at a family shelter we had been living in for almost three months.

After that, I managed to lose 20 lbs through exercising at a gym and my weight would fluctuate up and down between 250-270 until 2006, when I got into a medication trial for depression. At the end of the trial I got to choose the anti-depressant medication I wanted and choose one that was already approved for depression and was entering trials for its effects on fibromyalgia – Cymbalta.

I never felt so good!

In what I now recognize as a severe and prolonged hypomanic episode triggered by the Cymbalta, I made some really drastic changes in my life (another story for another time) and got down below 225 in 2006.

I walked, I swam, and I danced! I socialized and sexed it up. I was happy and energetic, focused and intent on what I wanted – in the short term. I also severely damaged important relationships with people I loved deeply, namely my two children.

When all of that came crashing down around me after about six months, the depression rose up in force. I was a basket case. I wound up taking a very low-paying and physical job as a care giver in a group home for adults with physical and developmental disabilities. I fit right in with all the other care givers and their chaotic lives and emotional disturbances.

As my physical activity increased, I got insurance and went back on anti-depressants, which eventually triggered another hypomanic phase, less severe than before, and weight started coming off again. Just before I embarked on another grand plan to return to college, the rabbit died and, at 37 with a 14 year old and 21 year old, I was going to be a mommy again.

Gestational diabetes and the pregnancy itself took me out of work so early because I could no longer meet the physical requirements of the job. I went off of medication for the sake of the baby. Between that, the financial stress of being at 60% FMLA disability income, and the pregnancy hormones I spent the last four months spiking and dipping on the see-saw of depression and hypomania with a good measure of anxiety and relational stress thrown in for good measure.

In late November 2008, I went for my 38 week check-up and ultrasound, Luna was measuring the size of a 42 week baby and a c-section was scheduled for the next Saturday. 9 lbs 7 oz was the size of my smallest and youngest child, born a week early. I weighed around 278, if I remember correctly.

Four and a half years later, as my weight was hovering, just under the 270 mark, I finally learned about hypomania and I realized that cyclothymic bi-polar symptoms explained so much of my life’s ups and downs. That understanding came just before I met Robert Kennedy III online and found out about the 28 Days To A New Me process and accountability group

Perfect timing!

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4 responses to “28 Days to a New Me: Day 28 – Just the beginning

  1. You are so inspiring Kina!! I’m blessed to have met you!

  2. Reblogged this on Human In Recovery and commented:

    I had so many plans for this blog for the month of May! Now, here it is the 29th and this will only be the 13th post. *sigh*

    The guests posts and important conversations didn’t happen . . . at least not in this space. However, many important conversations have been taking place, IRL and in that crazy, unfiltered and uninhibited, digital Wild, Wild West otherwise known as Facebook, in the more civilized communities which are growing in FB groups like Dream Stoker Nation and 28 Days To A New Me.

    This last group has been instrumental and pivotal for me in my personal journey of recovery, especially as it relates to my physical and mental/emotional health issues.

    At the end of April I committed to a daily goal of completing 15 minutes of physical activity each day for 28 Days. I wanted to start creating a habit of movement. With the overwhelming support, encouragement, accountability, motivation, and inspiration of all the participants, and its founder – Robert Kennedy III – I SUCCEEDED!

    I was physically active every day! More than that, I worked up to being able to swim 36 laps in a 25 yard pool, for the total distance of a mile, in 90 minutes +/-. I lost six pounds, my belly is flatter, and my clothes fit better. I’m much more aware and present in body, mind, and spirit. My support network has expanded and new friendships have begun.

    You can read more about all of this on my other blog. Just follow the link.

    At this point, I can’t even tell you what June will bring, other than my 44th birthday on the 7th, lol.

    Stay tuned, it’s bound to be an interesting ride.

  3. Julie says:

    You look fantastic. That is the first thing I need to say and secondly I am on the same path as you. I have been fighting with bursitis for the last year and with major pain in both hips that radiate down into the legs one day I just decide to get on my vintage bike and go. It has helped me change physically and mentally. Great job, keep it up!

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