Starting over, again.

This is a Really Real Mental Health post.

And a Really Real Health post.

One of those ones where it’s hard to tell where health ends and mental begins. As we know, they are definitely intertwined.

This is a long one.

TW: exercise and fitness. Quick mention of past suicidal thoughts.

4.5 years ago, Parker died.

Shortly after that I went in for a minor surgery to remove an ovary that had a large, painful, cyst.

They couldn’t control my airway on the table and aborted the surgery.

It scared the shit out of everyone.

I was incredibly suicidal after the failed surgery.

I was in so much pain, and I was still in the middle of that early grief period, and it just felt like the end of the world.

At that time, my best friend was going to the gym every night.

She wasn’t willing to leave me alone, but wasn’t willing to miss the gym.

So she took me with her.

And I went for a walk on the treadmill while she was doing what she was doing.

At the time I could barely walk around the block.

When I first got on the treadmill I had to hold on for dear life because I was so unstable I couldn’t keep my balance.

I can’t remember how long I walked that first time.

But we went back the next night and I did it again.

And again.

And again.

Eventually I worked up to the elliptical and the Arc bike.

We added strength training.

My best friend and I had a great routine and we kept each other going.

I was in the best shape that I can ever remember.

And then life happened.

I stopped going to the gym.

I would start going again, and lose momentum.

Covid brought months and months of sitting in the house, afraid to go anywhere.

I fell back into old habits.

Covid kept me away from the gym, but I also wasn’t making myself walk in the neighborhood.

The concrete sidewalk hurt my joints.

The hills hurt my lungs and left me gasping.

My therapist and I have talked a lot about it.

About my lack of motivation.

About how much I wanted things to change but hadn’t figured out how to change them.

Today she asked me what would make me feel safe at the gym.

I thought about it long after the session ended.

I remembered those nights in the gym years before, going at midnight,

or later.

It was empty.

We had the whole place to ourselves.

So tonight,

I dug through my gym clothes to find ones I could still squeeze into.

I charged my headphones.

I filled up my water bottle,

I put on my mask,

and,

I drove to the gym at 11pm.

I had grand plans. I was going to warm up on the treadmill and then get on the elliptical.

But,

I felt like I was dying after 5 minutes on the treadmill.

Even at a low speed with no incline I was holding on and pulling myself along.

I felt unstable. I was out of breath. My whole body was starting to sweat.

At 10 minutes I knew there was no way I was using any other machines.

I wasn’t even sure I’d last 30 minutes where I was.

But I knew I could make it 5 more minutes.

And then, I knew I could make it 5 more.

And 5 more.

I made it to 30 minutes, just passing the mile marker during that time.

My face was red.

Sweat was pouring off of me.

My heart was pounding so hard it was giving me a headache.

And even though I’m back where I started 4.5 years ago,

I felt accomplished.

I still don’t feel like the gym is safe.

Even with a mask on and many machines shut down for distancing.

Even in a gym that had less than 10 people in it.

But I can’t just spend the rest of my life sitting in this chair.

Waiting for time to pass.

Not actively trying to die,

but not actively living either.

I almost didn’t write this tonight.

I was afraid that I might write it, and then not go back tomorrow, or the next day.

That I would say “I’m going to do this,”

and then not.

But,

I went to the gym today.

And that was a better decision than staying at home.

I don’t need to look forward too far.

I just need to make the next

right

decision.







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