Friday, January 16, 2015

Ramblings of a workaholic who doesn't want to be a workaholic

I've got some incoherent psychobabble bullshitterino lame ass mouth farts to spew. I hate the word spew because it's synonymous with nastiness projected from the mouth.

I feel like I'm turning into a kook in all meanings of the word. I should probably google that shit but guess what? I just don't give a fuck.

I'm unhappy and extra un-thrilled about my new job. I work way too much overtime and it's completely uncompensated. This overtime means that my hours in the day are never fucking known. I I never know when I'm going to be released from prison on any individual day. It gets close to 5 and I'm all like, SWEET time to go the fuck home! Then 5 minutes to 5 all hell breaks loose and everything seems to be needed yesterday. Subsequently that dream of leaving at 5 gets popped like a ranky old helium balloon. No big *POP* just a slow leaking stink hole.

I hate not knowing when I get to go home. It could be 6....7....8. There's no end to how late I have to work seemingly everyfuckingday. I draw houses for fucksake. Seriously. Does someone need a goddamn drawing at 8pm on a weeknight?

What does this all mean? My cycling suffers first as always. My anxiety is heightened along with it. It's one thing when I'm on my bike and riding home before 5:30, arriving home around 6:30 and having time to unpack, repack, shower, cook dinner, clean the weasels room and maybe chill out for a few minutes. As soon as I'm leaving at say 6 or 7... all that gets shoved aside. Everything gets delayed. I freak out. Ryan says, "well you just gotta do it." I know he's right but my fucking anxiety just stops me dead in my tracks. Getting home later means everything gets done later and I still need to wake up to go to work at the same time. It's not like I get to go to work later if I work late the night before.

The start of my day is so much more full of awesome and kick-ass compared to the end of my day. (awesome on the left, kick-ass on the right)

To think of coming home and getting on the indoor trainer at 7:30 is making me feel less than stellar also. When I work late my brain is fried. Almost always I come home with a raging headache and a lovely stomach ache to accompany that. All I want to do is curl up in a ball in my jammies and hug a fucking pillow. Every day at work is another popped balloon and I never get more. I know I need to just grow a pair. Ride home at -25C at 7:00pm at night and shut the fuck up. The thing is... my anxiety around my schedule gets exasperated and I become stagnant and unable to move (or think). It's too much for me. Part of trying to learn to live with this Asshole Anxiety (cuz it's like a person) is working within the parameters my brain can handle and it just can't handle that. Call it avoidance, I know. That's what it is.

It's piling up. The pile of shit with regards to my job and the pile of shit in my head. This fucking job..... sucks. My anxiety fucking....... sucks. Just when I thought I was doing something better for my health and my life I feel like it's all gone to waste. So what if my job is closer to home. Working 50+ hours a week and getting paid for 40? Goddamit.

Monday, January 12, 2015

The night I messed up my insulin

I briefly mentioned about my insulin fuck-up a few weeks ago. Here's the story if you feel so inclined. It's not an awesome holy-shit-I-can't-believe-that-happened-story. It's more like a holy-shit-you-stupid-twat-story.

As a needle wielding diabetic, I use two kinds of insulin every day. For those not-in-the-know: I inject my long acting (background basal) insulin twice daily. My rapid acting insulin is the shit I use to bring down highs or inject for food. To get an idea, on a normal day I take anywhere between 12-20 total units of Lantus (long-acting basal) and about 10 total units of rapid over the course of the WHOLE day.


I choose to use syringes and pen cartridges for the size and duration factor. It all fits in my sack of goodies and at the low rate of insulin I use, the smaller cartridges mean it never spoils and goes to waste. Vials would go bad before I ever got a chance to use them up.

On this particular night I accidentally injected 10 units of Novo Rapid when I had intended to take Lantus. It was dark. I was in my car stopped at a light (shut up). I had just stopped at the mall to buy ONE LAST xmas gift on my way home from work on December 23rd. It was the start of 5 (measly) days off work. What gets me is that when I was on the pump and got a bullshit BG of 20 or higher I would routinely inject 10units. NOW, post apocalyptic (pump era), 10 units nearly kills me. I was taking more than three times as much insulin on the pump.

Now normally, I am neurotic about injecting the right insulin because this exact situation has always been a massive fear of mine. I often inspect the cartridge. I draw up the juice and inspect the cartridge again. I inject and then one last time I inspect the cartridge before putting it away.

I'm sure my absent-mindedness, distraction and stress played a role in why I wasn't so neurotic this time.
I looked down as I was about to put the cartridge away and saw the familiar orange top. I'm fucking glad I looked because if I hadn't.... I don't even want to think about it. I screamed, "HOLY FUCK!" in my car while immediately consuming an entire container of glucose tablets (10) before even thinking about how to proceed. It didn't take a mathematician to calculate at an evening carb ratio of 1:15-20g would need to eat 150-200g of carbs in the next 2 hours. 

My game plan, should this ever happen (because it was bound to happen!), is to go to the hospital.I need to make this clear, most people can handle this kind of thing at home on their own. Me? I get nauseous after eating only 4 glucose tabs. 1 juice box upsets my stomach. I get nauseous after I treat ever single low. It's a shitty side effect. Also? I have one glucagon pen and it expired 2 years ago. (shut up again). So seeking medical attention was what I always thought I would have to do.

Lucky for me I live a stones throw from a hospital! OH BOY!!

I drove home and called my girlfriend because Ryan was working late. I thought she could just come over and keep an eye on me and drive me to the hospital if need be. She insisted I go to the hospital regardless (she knows me well). I was also crying and panicking on the phone. I ran inside the apartment and grabbed a bottle of honey before going to the dreaded ER.

150-200g of carbs. I ate 10 Dex and some swigs of honey. I was probably only at 60g and I was already very nauseous. They got me in fairly quick. I was testing my BG every 5 or 10 minutes to keep an eye on how I was trending. This would be the time I wish I had a CGM. My poor fingers that night got destroyed. I was keeping it steady between 6-8mmol/l (108-144) but my stomach was increasingly nauseous and I couldn't take another sip of honey. Time was ticking by. The insulin still had another hour of action. They blew 1 dose of liquid dextrose into me intravenously.

IT WAS THE WORST THING!! Holy motherfucking shit balls. It was painful going in and made me instantly high. LIKE INSTANTLY. I went from 7.1 to 15 (128-270) in less than 10 seconds. Not to toot my own horn (okay I'm going to toot my own horn) but I have had decent control for months now. A BG of 15.0 feels like what a 20 used to feel like. TERRIBLE. I was more sick. My head pounded and I resisted the urge to sneak insulin. The speed in which it shot up compounded that horror.

I sat with my head in my hands and my two friends at my side. I glared at the other box of dextrose the nurse threatened to shoot me up with. I watched my BG come down and within an hour it was back to 6. I sipped more honey and begged not to get the other box. At this point I felt like I could handle it. The insulin was now out of my system and I would deal with the trickle effects of lows.

The doc came in to see me before releasing me. She interrogated me (not meant in a bad way). She asked me a myriad of questions which sounded like she was trying to determine if I did this on purpose and what my handle on diabetes was like. I guess I answered all the questions to her liking because she let me go. She told me not to take my Lantus that night. I'm like, excuse me? You tell me that NOW?! What do you think I did when I noticed my error? I immediately took the 10units of Lantus. She shook her head. I was dumbfounded. That Lantus is for the following 24 hours. If I didn't take it I'd be back in the hospital in diabetic ketoacidosis the next morning. Okay probably not really but you get the idea.

The following day was rough. I didn't eat until late in the evening. I had no appetite and I felt like I was hit by a truck. I guess forcing 150ish grams of carbs into ones body somehow satiates it for days to come. It was a good 4 days before I felt somewhat normal again.

So this was not a horror story but it WAS a lesson. It was something that I knew would happen one day because despite my best efforts, fucking up is human. For the other 703 Lantus injections per year I have it mastered.


"I'm a little teapot" photo courtesy of Steph. Friends are good even in rough situations.

Friday, January 9, 2015

A lifetime of (SH)it

I DON'T UNDERSTAND ANXIETY! but I DO get anxiety (what it is) and I GET anxiety. I get it and struggle with it every damn day. What the hell is it?

It's not even real. It's like a made-up thing with an irrational basis. How can something that doesn't make any sense be so debilitating?

Most of my life up to this point I didn't know it was anxiety. It wasn't as clear as one might think. Going back in my memory bank to my childhood and earliest memories it's all bright, sunshiney and clear (more like miserable and dreary if we want to be totally real here) and fucking obvious. It's so bloody obvious!

Anxiety. It was anxiety that made my first "living away from home in Toronto" experience one of the worst things that ever happened to me. It was anxiety those Sunday dinners at Nana and Poppa's place when I would routinely be found rolling around in a bed in GI distress. It was anxiety when I was 12 and lost so much weight due to nausea and not eating that my parents hauled me around to doctors all with no outcome. It was anxiety at about the age of 18 when I went through another round of GI distress and weight loss resulting in the same way. Doctors upon doctors with no answers. (Again at about age 25).

It's all so fucking apparent to me NOW. 35 years into my life.

It's been with me all along seemingly lurking in the shadows of the depths of my being. Driving me, berating me, darkening my entire existence. Anxiety is unlike depression but similar in some ways. It feels more palpable. Like if only I could just remove that piece...  We should bring back lobotomy or electric shock therapy. I might be happier as a vegetable. Okay so that's an exaggeration because if I was a vegetable I wouldn't know what the hell was going on. Point is, to imagine life without this mangy monkey on my back I don't know what I would do! Probably dance around like those people in tampon commercials. Without a care in the world!! So THIS is what it feels like to be human without the oppression of anxiety? If only I knew what I was missing this whole lifetime. Perhaps I wouldn't walk around looking like I was going to murder someone. Can we say "resting bitch face" to the nth degree? I don't know but that's what people sorta convey to me.

After I got over the initial shock of my every memory being driven by anxiety, I was able to begin living with it. I'm talking EVERY MEMORY. Every single fucking instance that I looked back on. I have the unfortunate ability to recall these moments with great detail as if they all happened yesterday. I can remember specific times in my childhood that still keep me up at night if I allow myself to stew on them. It's a curse of a skill as much as some people envy it. I remember smells and feelings and colours. Like when you wake up from a particularly intense dream but imagine those feelings never go away - EVER, for 30 years... Dreams fade as the day goes on, these do just the opposite. Imagine those memories piling on top of each other creating a veritable pyramid of filth.

I have entered a new world with this realization. I know, I know, knowledge is power (said in a nasally mimicking voice of annoyance). In this new world I am trying to move forward. I'm not trying to shoo anxiety away but find a way to exist with it. Find a way to wrangle it in and keep it on a short leash. I'm learning skillz but they are kind of like throwing a bottle of water on a house fire. 

I'm trying to find my way to less suffering, more fulfilling enjoyment and maybe this bitch face will ease up a little and people won't be so scared of me. It's just my face yo, I'm not actually FEELING that way. Talk to me, you will see.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Diseased, who said diseased?

naaaaah, I'm not diseased.

Shhh... I know I'm still diseased.

I mentioned in my last post that I switched jobs. I finally fell apart with my long commute one day and started perusing jobs online. It was just out of curiosity but y'know how fast things happen. It happened. A job offer happened followed by a resignation happening and then.... my last day of work happened. My departure was with great regret though. The only reason drawing me to this new job was the location, 20km from home. The job itself didn't seem too promising but I needed to give it a try.

That's not the point of this post though.

Social media and my anxiety over the years has caused me to start hiding my diabetes. Most people feel empowered finding online connections but all it did was make me retreat. Every time I go on the diabetes internets I get overwhelmed. It's actually a large reason why I quit the pump also.

I hate starting new jobs and having to explain diabetes. I was putting it off. Then I realized one night while talking to Ryan that this fetid wretched disease has remain unnoticed to my co-workers so far. I relished the feeling (I hate relish btw) of ANONYMITY. I liked it so much in fact that I decided to see how long I could go before fuckhead (diabetes) blows my cover. All it takes is someone hearing the beeps of my glucose meter one too many times or coming by my desk while I'm scarfing back glucose tablets. Or injecting insulin with a syringe - the most shocking to those not "in the know".

(yeah, thats a cute little ferret bum in the corner)

I've never felt so empowered by HIDING something I swore I never would. I was always the flamboyant gay of the diabetes world. Loud and proud. It started becoming a game. It wasn't just the diabetes though. I was hiding being vegan and having celiac. Nobody knew and now I wanted to keep it that way. Please, for just a little bit longer, I didn't want to be judged.
I was normal. I was like..... someone without diabetes and it's been shockingly blissful. I kind of feel like a rebel and I don't give a damn that it makes me feel GOOD.

When you live with this wretched disease you forget what it's like to not feel oppressed until you get a taste of normal.

It's been 2 months. They know I am vegan and celiac. They've seen my tattoos sneak out from under my sleeve. Do they know about fuckhead diabetes yet? Not really. I briefly mentioned it once at an xmas party in a dark and loud room while having a conversation about health. I immediately regretted saying something but the person I was talking to seemed not to notice. Maybe they didn't hear me... I secretly hope. 

Do I ever plan on having that "fucking talk"? Nope. No thank you. Honestly, I really don't give a fuck if there's an emergency. I do just fine as it is. I don't go telling every stranger I see. I don't go telling every person I have more than a 5 minute conversation with. I just don't give a fuck about the "what ifs". If something that bad is going to happen, I DON'T CARE. Since leaving the stupid pump to collect dust in our storage room, I no longer have those visible cues. It's a side effect of injections that I love.

(Pssst..... we're gonna ignore the insulin mix-up ER visit 2 weeks ago for this post.)

Going on 13 years and so far nobody has ever needed to know apart from my significant others and close friends. No, no spin instructors or teachers of any kind. No fucking flight attendants or taxi drivers. The whole world does NOT need to know.

I just want to BE without being someone with a chronic disease even though I am someone with a chronic disease (or two). At least in the eyes of my co-workers. Work has become somewhat of a sanctuary and emotionally it's a place where "nobody knows my name." Also obvious because they all call me Christine. They don't need to know and for now, I'm going to enjoy living in anonymity because it's FUCKING FREEING.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

shut'er down, don't shut'er down?

It's been over 3 months since I've written anything here.

Shut 'er down, don't shut'er down? Shut 'er down, don't shut'er down? Those are the thoughts in my head when I think about this blog. Plenty of times I've had great ideas of things to write about and then I just don't. I stop myself because I start wondering if I'm over-sharing or maybe it will seem like I'm asking for sympathy. Rarely do I feel like I can do any good sharing stories. Then I berate myself because I still read blogs. Every day. My favourites? Personal accounts of life with diabetes (and other stuffs).

I started this blog initially to share and make connections. As the years have gone on (4 years!) I have found myself pulling back more and more from social media. I question it all. I question why I started isolating myself. There are answers. My recent Generalized Anxiety Disorder comes to mind. The fact that people criticize me for being "too negative" or "too crass". Fuck you. Well I say that in my head but in my heart I am crushed and insulted. Despite my profane ridden exterior, I'm sensitive.


What's been going on?
I changed jobs. I started commuting to work by bike. The holidays came and went and I'm the only person I know who loses weight over the holidays as a result of stress and food anxiety. I admitted myself to the hospital one night after a colossal insulin mix-up mistake. My family witnessed my mother suffer a rather severe heart attack. I've spent many hours freezing my ass off on my bike and so few hours sweating buckets on the trainer indoors. I've been keeping a low profile trying to manage my anxiety without resorting to medications.

I've pulled back in an effort to try and be better to myself but all it's done is isolate me even more. Sometimes I feel like my stories and experiences with diabetes and anxiety could possibly aid someone else just like me. Then I run away. Running away emotionally and mentally has been my coping mechanism my entire life. Avoidance is the best medicine I ever learned.

I have things I want to share here. I'm not sure I'm ready to shut'er down just yet but I am on the fence.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

What makes me tick - Volume 3 - Athletics (Part B)

Continued from the first post...

Am I in love with a sport I don’t stand a chance in?

I have huge confidence issues with my athletic performance. If you’ve read this blog for any length of time  you already know that. I’m constantly self-depreciating with my results and abilities. I think “I suck at____. “ probably comes out of my mouth more than any other statement with regards to this topic. I really do kind of suck! Even if I am sorta-maybe-kinda good, I kill it with my shitty mental attitude! SHITTITUDE!

The thing is, I’ve seen results that have surprised me but in the same sentence I’ll turn around and say, “yeah but it’s still not good enough.” I see the average speeds these girls are holding for the duration of the race and question how that’s ever going to be possible for me. I'll never be good enough. Look? There's those words again!

Some of these races are truly beyond my abilities often with a lot of climbing and that’s something I am absolutely terrible at. Despite my days of hill repeats and challenging climbs I still suck donkey dicks.

I’m afraid to push myself physically because it often leaves me feeling… nauseous. What the hell else is new?

I don’t know if it’s my anxiety with races that hold my performance back when doing them or if I really am just destined to never do well. It’s hard to find out where I stand. Some of my personal bests should translate to powerful results in the field but I never produce. I want to say I have the potential but I’m cynically pessimistic. I want to say that I can get on top of this and be the driver (rider?) of my destiny but that’s not me either. I'm an asshole to myself.

All of this means that I am left ridden with anxiety daily with regards to my training. To the point where I refuse to even use the word “training” sometimes. I resort to riding for the sake of riding. I know what you're going to say, (in my head I hear a nasally naggy tone, no offense) "but that's what it should be, just ride for the fun of it." It's what I tell myself but to be a bike racer, I mean, a really good bike racer there is nothing but hardcore training. That's the only way.

The issue is this though, it bothers me how many times I use anxiety as my "out". I brush off social events and outings. Dinners, coffee dates, festivals and even career moves. I've become comfortable telling people to go fuck themselves (in a nice way). Subsequently people are getting used to it. That bothers me. I mean, I'm happy that I look at an invite and can dismantle my feelings towards it. I don't even entertain the idea of going as a possibility. It's just off the table entirely before it even registers with my desires. Somewhere deep down inside though, I'm crying.


For me to feel this way towards racing? To just slough it off and say, "Not gonna do it because of my anxiety." just makes me feel like a fucking idiot. Like a fucking cop out. So that's why I keep trying to defy myself.

also?  

There’s just one thing, and this is really fucking important so pay attention before you retort in ways I can already foresee; I really, REALLY want to race. In the few moments I’m in that whizzing field of bikes it’s the most exhilarating thing I’ve ever felt. That’s why I keep trying. That's the motivation that's stifled by the anxiety. It's all to just experience that feeling time and time again.

BUT.... sometimes I need to be real and let it go also.

----------------------------------------------

I wrote this a few weeks ago and now that I'm going to hit the publish button I'm all like, what's the fucking point? Not what's the fucking point in publishing but what's the fucking point in wanting to race. Life will go on. I've got to let the dream go. The more anxiety I get day after day due to weather and working and commuting that all contribute to me NOT getting on my bike and making up excuses... the more I just want to walk away.

I let it all affect me too much. I let the responsibilities of life get in the way. I let the hellish commuting put me in such a miserable mood that I cry. Last night after one of the worst days of commuting both ways plus the dreary weather in addition to a rather awful day at work, I came home and laid on the couch unable to move. I was stuck with anxiety and stress and depression. I laid there so upset. If I was home alone I would've gone to bed. No shower, no dinner no nothing... just bed. I didn't though which is probably a good thing.

I let that happen. It's me. There should be no excuses but I am so broken mentally that I can no longer ignore that and just get out there. The darker evenings, work stress and longer drives are hurting my desire. I can't do it. It's more stress than it needs to be and it's entirely self inflicted.

Someone said to me recently.... "you have to take care of yourself first."

Myself needs to disappear. 

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

This is an anxiety attack

I'm taking a break from my essay volumes to recount a story, an episode from the other night. This is how I can best describe what happens to me when my anxiety is triggered.

The other day was a recipe for the perfect storm. The lead up has just as much to do with the attack as the trigger. We had a busy weekend with zero down time for us to just chill. It was Sunday afternoon and we had just ridden a charity ride with Ryan as the on route bike mechanic and me volunteering to accompany him. The ride was challenging in many ways and was difficult on us physically and mentally. It was Sunday. We still had to get our bikes home, get ourselves showered and get ready for the week. I wake up before 5am. This is my harsh reality and furthers the anxiety of Sunday night duties.

We had obligations to attend a family dinner at my parents' house. We did the shorter distance at the ride which left us arriving at the house earlier than expected. There were a lot of people and 4 small children. My aunt from England was visiting and I hadn’t seen her for probably 20 years. That was a treat and the reason for the reunion. Don’t get me wrong, I adore my family. I would never say anything bad about them, I realize this is a rarity, but it's hard for me to handle. I love that I have a good relationship with all of them and there is not a single person I wouldn’t want to see. It's just that it's hectic. The Scully family is a bit rowdy and loud.

It’s not you, it’s me.

Social situations are like murder on my psyche. I hate this about me. People and events give me massive amounts of anxiety. Crippling anxiety. Massive amounts of irrational crippling anxiety. I have a limit as to what I can handle and that’s about an hour. Max. So when we arrived earlier in the afternoon I was already anxious.

There was also food involved which is totally fucking normal! Not to me though. After burning over 3000 calories over the two days of riding I SHOULD be dying of starvation. Instead, I sat down and felt sick. I ate a little. I felt sick a lot. As I sat there I could feel myself going downhill. My stomach was turning and there was a mild headache forming. Each scream from a child zipping across the room was like a blunt lawn dart in my skull. I’m trying to focus but it’s not helping. I’m there but I’m thinking about the hot shower at home. I’m thinking about the silence and the simple pitter patter of ferret feets running across the apartment floor. I’m totally checking out of my surroundings because it's been a couple hours already. I’m digging deep into my safe place. Suddenly I’m brought back to reality and dessert is coming out. None of which I usually eat for gluten and sugar reasons. I’m also seriously nauseous and seeing this is making me feel worse. I glance at Ryan and give him that “I’m not feeling well” look of terror that he knows so well. 

I am arguing inside my head. How do I just leave when it’s not time to go? I still want to see my beloved far away Aunt and my cousins who I didn’t feel I finished catching up with. My uncle just showed up and I didn’t even get a chance to talk with him. Stomach turning. Just leave. Another kid goes zipping across the room in a craze of mayhem. There are suddenly too many people in here and too many conversations to follow. I want to be a part of all of them, yet I want to die.

I look at Ryan again. He’s falling prey to exhaustion and fatigue and has chosen to stand to stay awake. It’s time to go. It’s only 7pm.

I attempt to make a final push to the feelings of overwhelmingness. Away with you assholes, I am trying to focus on the present. I want to be with the family but I CAN’T THINK AT ALL. This was important to me! The battle persists moment to moment inside my fragile mind.

I get up and start getting my things together. Distractions always help my anxiety induced nausea. It's not helping. If I don’t get out of here like right fucking now it’s not going to end well. I can feel myself shaking so I test my blood. I’m terrified that I might be low and have to consume something when I feel I'm going to be sick. Double plus anxiety induced fears. I always over-bolus at my parents because each time I am hopeful I will actually eat. I never do. I was relieved to see I wasn't low - yet (I went low later after we got home). I looked over at Ryan again. I think he rolled his eyes in secret because this situation happens to me all the time and it's always irrational. I tried to hold it together. I suddenly feel so very alone.

With each passing minute I feel myself getting hot and shaky. I feel like I’m going to pass out or tip over. I feel like I’m really going to be sick. I tell myself it’s anxiety and that I’m not actually going to be sick but the fear won’t subside. I’m in full blown anxiety attack now. My heart is racing and I just want to cry. This is my family goddamit. MY FUCKING FAMILY. 

I quietly and discreetly ask my mum if she minds if we leave. I’m not feeling well and I’m having an anxiety attack. I tell her this is just too much for me to handle today. We got there too early. Of course she doesn’t mind or at least that's what I convince myself because to think that she is unhappy with my inability to deal with this is enough to send me over the edge. 7th layer of hell.

A few hugs and high fives with the kids and I open that front door. The rush of cool evening air immediately fills my lungs and I breathe it in as desperately as my hyperventilating self can handle. Instantly it starts stifling the fire. I get in the car and put my head down. I rub my temples and close my eyes. I breathe. I almost cry. I bitch for a few minutes to Ryan about how much I hate this part of me. About how much I want to be with my family and how much I miss them. He rubs my leg as I drive home white knuckles on the steering wheel and scrunched up painful grimace across my face. The closer we get to home the calmer I become.

I breathe.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

What makes me tick - Volume 3 - Athletics (Part A)

The next post in my series of shit-that-gives-me-massive-amounts-of-anxiety is athletics. It really doesn’t make sense. Then again, nothing I’ve written about my sources of anxiety make much sense (to me at least).

This isn’t going to be easy to explain, try to bear with me. I’m splitting the post up because I lose myself trying to read these essays, I'm sure  you have better focusing skills than me but just so I don't lose you...

Athletics are a huge part of my life and that’s why this is a major one on my list. 

When I was a runner I never really improved. Sure I ran a marathon and a dozen halfs but they certainly weren’t breaking any records or putting me near the top. In fact, I consistently came in the bottom third if not bottom quarter of every event I did. I trained a lot for those races. I just wanted to have a decent result that I could actually feel good about but I never got it. That was my own issues though because no matter how slow you are, you can always enter a race without embarrassment.

I quit running to focus everything on cycling and also because of an irritating and degrading osteoarthritis diagnosis in my clavicle. From what, we still don't know. Possibly an injury or years of rock climbing. I was bound and determined to race bikes though. It had become my new passion. 

This is an explanation of the realistic differences between a running race and a bike race according to ME. These are my opinions and experiences only so you might not agree. That's you're problem. This isn't your blog.

Anybody can run. The entrants into a running race are in the thousands! There might be hundreds of competitors in the same age category. This means that 99% of people running a race are NOT striving for the podium. Running races are more for personal achievement and personal records than they are about winning. There's no ability to draft or utilize other runners (unless you are an elite).

Bike racing is evil and degrading. In my category there could be as few as 3-5 ladies. That’s why they bunch 3-4 categories together in one field and we still often only make up 20 riders. The more riders the better because there's more opportunity to spread out the work load. If/when the field splits, you'd have a better chance of finding people to work with. The categories are different to boot. There is an age category but there's also a category based on experience that one can work their way up into. The nature of cycling is to conserve as much energy as possibly by way of drafting behind other riders which can gain you up to a 30% reduction in effort. That is, if you can keep up with even that. Basically, once you get spit out the back aka: the dreaded, “DROP”, your race is pretty much over. At that point there isn’t a chance in fucking hell you are going to catch the group and stay with them. It happens - yes -  but rarely. The group does not wait for you to catch up. The group does not even take notice of your divorce in fact that’s what they want. Weed out the weak ones.

This one race I did in Tennessee they packed up the start/finish line before I even got a chance to finish. I’m not even shitting you. This is fairly common practice. You don’t get a T-shirt and a goodie bag. You don’t get water, bananas, medals or even a cheer. 1st, 2nd and 3rd place are all that matters. PERIOD. It’s like paying to suffer and endure the embarrassment of everybody watching and knowing how bad you (me) suck. Should you choose to remove yourself? You have to announce to the commissaries. AND THE RULES... holy shit the rules.

with the field.

A different race but.. not with the field.

Never have I ever wanted to disappear so bad before than while racing my bike after I get dropped. A dropped rider is like an orphaned red-headed child. Nobody wants to look at them in the eyes directly. I have freckles and auburn hair, that puts me at risk :P. Some spectators will still clap but it’s more of a slow clap. Without saying anything everybody knows the truth. What’s worse is that everybody knows who I am. I can’t hide the recognizable kit and bike. At least with a running race everybody is pretty unrecognizable. I just want to slip into the shadows. Please don’t look at me, it only furthers my shite performance.

That being said… bike racing is NOT for the faint at heart. It requires immense amounts of training and suffering (compared to running IMHO) and still, you need to be as good as the rest of the riders. You can’t just be “mostly good”. I have learned that maybe bike racing does not suit my personality and issues with anxiety. It's not like I can't see this. I’ve been trying to get on top of the emotional rollercoaster that comes with it. Whenever I ran a race I never freaked out. Sure there were some race nerves but that’s just the atmosphere of lining up with thousands of people. I think it’s more the excitement than anything else. 

I don’t sleep the night before a bike race from pure anxiety and nerves. I ruin it for myself before it even starts. I spend days beforehand wanting to quit and right up until that air horn goes off I am contemplating a suicide mission. Nobody would notice if I just deek off at this corner will they?

I am not very good. I’ve been training pretty hard for a few years now and I still get dropped in every race. I see the tiniest bits of improvement but have yet to finish a race WITH the field. I probably get singled out by stink eye. Riders recognize me immediately as NOT A THREAT. There’s that Novofit chick, we don’t need to worry about her, she won’t be with us long. These thoughts don’t help me at all, I know.

So why do this?

To be continued…

Friday, September 5, 2014

What makes me tick - Volume 3 - WORK (Part B)

I would probably be able to “deal” with my broken morals towards my job for a few more years if it weren’t for one big thing. (Go HERE for Part A.)
 
DISTANCE 
 
Before I go on I will say that this is entirely my fault. It was my choice to follow when the office moved. Then I quit after 8 months because it was too far. Then it was my choice again when I went back after a couple years. The job was fucking awesome when it was one city away. Now it’s not just far away but located such that I am now driving into Toronto like everybody else (and their grandmothers because grandmothers still work) in this area. Not only that but the location of the office is such that it makes public transit nightmarishly impossible. Oh it can be done, but it takes a good 3 hours (1-way), train/bus transfers and probably $20/day. I ride home on my bike in less time than that.
 
So here we are at the crux of my dilemma and anxiety with work. 
 
Commuting wrecks my zest for life. Y’know how there are certain things in your life that just drive you to insanity? Specific things that you have absolutely no patience for? For me, it’s traffic. It always has been. I don’t get road rage I just get antsy, irritated and miserable. It could ruin my entire day. I don’t know how people do it seemingly unaffected for years. I try to put up with it but I can’t help how much I fucking despise it. I cringe and chew my lips to shreds while maniacally switching radio stations like an ADD superstar because radio ads make me want to stick a pencil in my eye. 
 
When I think about the 12-13 hours a week I spend just getting to and from work I want to sharpen that pencil a little more. The shit I could do and the more hours I could put on my bike with that time. Possibilities are endless. BUT, traffic. Brain dead. Tanks of gas which equals a shit ton of money. Intense wear and tear on my car that equals even more money, my mind, my patience. Toll highways for sanity but at the cost of an appendage – more money. When it comes right down to it I pay more money to get to work than it makes sense to.
 
That would be my car on a tow truck after it broke down on the side of the highway. That bitch of a repair cost me WAY TOO much.
 
I’ve done audiobooks and podcasts and lectures and talk radio. It sometimes helps but often I can’t stay focused. 
 
I know what you’re thinking…
 
“But it’s entirely your fault y’know! If you aren’t happy why did you go back?”
 
It just ended up this way. This job, this choice, this life. I liked the job enough to try and make it worth it. It’s just worn on me in a major way over the years. I guess I was wrong when I thought I could do it. I thought it would get better, both the job itself and the commute. I was wrong. Also? I have been pushing and hoping for work-from-home capabilities but I seem to get a rolled eye or turned up nose at every suggestion. I’m not even going to get into the benefits to everybody involved when it comes to telecommuting. 
 
That’s not the point though. 
 
The point of these series of posts is to express how these aspects of my life affect my overall mental health and anxiety. When I contemplate my triggers I immediately question what I can do to alleviate the stresses that clearly make my anxiety worse. I’ve done a lot over the years. I’ve learned to say “No” to pretty much all social events. I’ve learned that when I feel my anxiety taking a turn for the worse I ignore everything and everyone around me. Sometimes it lasts days or weeks. Sometimes laundry doesn’t get done. It’s my fail safe mechanism though, to close out the world and get by with minimal interaction. So it’s no surprise when my mind keeps saying I need to find a more suitable work-o-sphere. My first reaction to anxiety is to RUN AWAY and that’s not healthy. I know the commute is a massive trigger on so many levels and what’s worse is that I don’t have the answer right now as to how to fix it other than throwing drugs down my throat.
 
I’ve been working on trying to manage how I mentally deal with it. I’ve been trying to get a grip on myself daily with the traffic and commute. In some ways I’ve tried to re-wire my coping mechanisms and force myself to believe it’s “not that bad.” A sort of suck-it-up-buttercup band aid solution. It’s not that bad, everybody else does it and they don’t seem to be sticking sharpened pencils in their eyes (that I know of). There’s gotta be a way to self-soothe and manage the anxiety before it becomes all-consuming. There’s got to be a solution for me other than running away aka: quitting because I’m a fucking wimp. If the commuting is causing more anxiety than the actual job, to me that’s a roadblock that I should logically be able to deal with.
 
Logic… HA!

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

What makes me tick - Volume 2 - WORK (Part A)

It’s not about what I do for a living it’s about how it makes me feel and what happens around the work week.

I'm a bit nervous as to who my blog reaches. I don't want current or prospective employers to get the wrong idea but I guess that's the risk putting something like this out there. No matter what I do for work whether I like it or not I am generally a model employee. It's a strength as much as it's a weakness (to myself). I've done many jobs. Taught English in Taiwan. Slung coffees as a barista. Lived and sold camping equipment as a way of life. I've even danced on the side of the road in a clown costume with a sign for a flower shop. Yup, I was pretty stellar at that one too. 

Right now?
In a nutshell:
 
I am an Architectural Technologist. I draw houses ALL DAY. I have no need to talk to anybody at work ever. I don’t receive emails or phone calls that hold any great importance. I don’t participate in meetings outside of an occasional snore fest. I hardly ever talk to co-workers or bosses because there’s just very little need to. I spend my time day after day sitting on my ass staring at a computer and drawing the same houses over and over. I don’t love it, as you can tell. I don’t hate it either, it’s what I studied and trained to do so there must’ve been some kind of reason for it.

For a change I am not going to be self depreciating and say I'm damn fucking good at what I do. I can say that with honesty because I know it's true. It's one of the only things in my life that I'm actually really good at. I suppose that's why I'm still here doing it after 10 years.
 
When I was a wee kidlet I dreamt of being an architect. Specifically a big fancy house designer. I followed this dream to a certain level but lacked the self-confidence and motivation to take it further. So here I am, not exactly what I expected. I am not particularly social or outgoing but having to deal with people would at least make my days slightly more interesting. I don’t like my personal life interacting with my work life which is probably a culprit to why I feel so much self-isolation. The reason for that is simple; I share nothing in common with the people I work with. I am only close with one person and he's hopefully the only one who would read this. (HI!)

a la Tim Burton styles
 
 I feel like I achieved half my childhood dream. I am drawing houses and working in the field I always wanted. Except I work for a large company and I am just another cog in the wheel. Can you say “cookie cutter?”. Could I have gone the rest of the way? I wanted to at one point, but lost the motivation at the thought of many more years of school complete with suffocating debt. That didn’t seem like the right decision to make. I had to admit that I missed the boat on that one. I kind of fucked up.
 
It was when I started seeing my work as something I don’t fully and morally agree with that it all started falling apart. I have strong beliefs on how we occupy space and the whacked goals as society we have grown to strive for. Big houses. Too many rooms that get filled with “STUFF”. I became interested in minimalism and ecological architecture. Earthships, alternative energies and environmental impact are actually important to me.  Except I don’t have the skills to try and force those beliefs into the industry. Who would listen to me? I have no voice. I’m just a CAD monkey.

Where the "magic" (??!!?!?) happens.
 
Do you know how many years I’ve been secretly telling myself to just shut the fuck up and suck it up? I’ve tried to force myself to be complacent with it. To use a scary word, “SETTLE”. Just go to work, put your 40 hours/week in. Take your measly 10 days of vacation a year and just deal with it. Why do I have to gain some sort of satisfaction? Why can’t I just BE that cog? Does it really matter how I make money and just that I make money? I have a very good job in my industry. One many people would probably suck dicks to get. I get paid well. I have health insurance. SO WHY CAN’T I JUST BE HAPPY WITH IT? What more do I want? Why do I keep expecting that proverbial fence where the grass is greener o’er yonder?
 
The real reason why I’m still here is that I’m just too damn anxious about the unknown. The thought of starting my own business is overwhelming. I know full-well that’s not something I’m capable of. Why? My anxiety. It’s too much to bear and be responsible for. Not having a steady income or good health insurance isn’t an option. I just know myself well enough to say I wouldn’t survive something like that. I’m not good at it. I also wanted to be an artist when I was a kidlet. I think I am predisposed to the creative side of things without the pressure of managing shit.
 
I have no idea where I’m going with this. It’s turning into a really fucked up thought process.
 
In the end I don’t morally agree with the wee cog that I am. I feel like I contribute nothing to society and in return receive zero feelings of worth and reward with the work I do. I’m surprised I haven’t been replaced by a machine yet. Most people probably wouldn’t care but I actually enjoy it when I am doing something I feel good about. I’ve never really felt good about this career. I blame me. 
 
The only job I ever had that left me feeling like it was worth it was when I worked in a camping goods store/outfitters. It was the best job I ever had despite making the least amount of money ever. There was reward and satisfaction. I felt like I belonged and was actually appreciated.
 
I’m really not sure what else in life I would do but I’ve been slowly contemplating other career moves for more years than its safe to admit. I’d probably be happy working in a gluten free bakery – but I have never been successful at making my own GF bread. Or a greenhouse – but I don’t know anything formal about green things. Or a bike shop - but I actually don't know much about bikes, just how to ride 'em. I taught English in Taiwan for 2 years and enjoyed the reward from that – but I’m not going overseas again. One thing is for sure, something close to home would make life with anxiety so much easier. That leads me to a veritable segue…
 
to be continued …

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

What makes me tick - Volume 1 - FOOD

It’s true, I’ve written about food before. A few times. I’ve even written about food in terms of anxiety.

After re-reading what I wrote last night I have a few things to note. Rest assured you will think one or all of these things after reading this.

1. This chick is WHACK
2. who actually thinks like that?
3. No seriously, this is fucking bananas
4. Wow, she really is fucked up.
5. Holy shit, ALL OF THE ABOVE

Why? Because until I read it myself I had no idea. That's a lie, I know how screwed up I am but I've never told anyone. Until today that is.

.........................................

I actually really hate food. I fucking resent it. I hate that I resent something that keeps me alive. With the double negative you’d think it would cancel itself out in the end. Alas, hatred is not like math. If it was, I could hate something to the power of infinity and that would be an easy way to express myself.

I have issues with food and it begins with a massive fear of being sick. I think… any way... I’m not sure. I kind of want to go to a psychotherapist or someone that can analyze my brain to tell me the cause and effect. I’d like to hook my head up to a diagnostic machine. I imagine it would print out a long list of fucked up shit. 

I am afraid of two things in life. Like… legitimate earth shaking phobias. Spiders and vomit. Please no jokes about puking spiders (it’s really not funny). Those are the only two things that paralyze me and bring me to my knees in a puddle of tears and convulsive shaking.

I once fainted in the ER because someone else was sick (and I blogged about it). I can count the number of times I’ve puked in the past 16 years. ONCE! And it was out the passenger side of a friends vehicle as he was driving me to emergency because I had an obstruction in my small intestine. Look, I blogged about that too! I could fill a bible-sized book with everything I have to say about this phobia but right now it's making my stomach feel sick.

Okay. So I have a major issue with food. This means that I freak the fuck out as soon as my stomach feels even the slightest bit distended. I imagine the nerves and receptors in my gut are neurotic personal space freaks and the moment something touches them, they send sick signals to my brain. Little dysfunctional freaks that they are. I’ve been like this for so many years (we’re talking decades now) that I know for a fact this is the rest of my life. I have NO IDEA what it feels like to be full. Absolutely zero recollection. I eat tiny amounts and often. I have to see everything I’m going to eat before I eat it and that can’t change. You’ll rarely see me just grabbing and eating all willy nilly. I have to keep track of it in my head. I need to know how much I’ve put in vs. how much is left. I neurotically make mental notes with how my stomach is feeling. Does it feel a bit stretched? If so, stop eating right away. I will wait half an hour or maybe an hour until I feel safe again. You’ll almost NEVER see me drinking liquids with my food because that takes up space. I pretty much feel sick after everything I eat.

I have insane memory recall to boot which doesn't help when I'm trying to move past something.

I relate everything to my black porcelain bowl at home. I tried 3 times to take a picture of it for this blog post but I couldn't handle the embarrassment of this obsession with a FUCKING BOWL! How does this item of food look in that bowl? How much space does it take up? If it looks okay in my minds eye I will be fine.  On the very rare occasion that I mindlessly eat, I will inevitably freak out. It only happens when I’m distracted. It’s not the fullness factor that freaks me out either, it’s my fucking paranoia.

This also leaves me beyond anxious about food that might be slightly questionable. I won’t touch anything if I feel like I don’t know everything about it. Buffets are my WORST nightmare. I get nauseous simply at the thought of a buffet. I'd rather die and that's not even a joke.

BREAKFAST

In addition to my anxiety and paranoia with food I sort of really hate get-togethers with people. Why does it always have to be centred around food? Can’t we ever get together to just talk and drink water? Talk and walk? Talk and sit? Why is it always talk and eat?! I absolutely dread ANY get together with people that has anything to do with food. I often wonder why we have evolved to need so much goddamned food. How have we not gotten to the point where we only need to eat once a week? The fucking human body is bloody inefficient. Yes, these are the things I think about.

Don't even get me started about the guilt that comes with food as it relates to diabetes. FUCK ME CLOCKWISE!! I am the strictest eater of carbs you'll ever meet. I don't think I've ever eaten more than 40g of carbs I one sitting. I usually cap it at about 20-30. If there are more than that I'll have one bite or I won't touch it at all. A piece of chocolate here or a gluten free cookie there is about my max. To be honest, this is a whole different level of food anxiety that is completely separate from my sick anxiety. Two things working against me.

I consider this a sort of quasi eating disorder, I always have. I just never knew how to explain it no has anyone ever even come close to my issues. Nobody understands. I don’t really know where it started either. This is my life though, every fucking day.

IT'S NOT NORMAL.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Anxiety is at the bottom of the triangle

Well if I'm going to start anywhere it should be at the bottom.

Anxiety.
 
It rules my life.
It ruins my life.

(Please excuse my shitty Microsoft Paint skills)

No doctor has officially diagnosed me with any sort of anxiety disorder. Probably because I'm always going to docs with physical ailments. Stomach cramps, nausea, dizziness et al. One doc got close and gave me an IBS diagnosis which is pretty much stress and anxiety induced distress.

Over the years I've come to understand that my issues are anxiety. I can pinpoint when it started too. I did have a lot of on and off undiagnosable issues growing up. Looking back it was most likely anxiety. The real turning point was about 10 years ago. I was in a relationship with a man I eventually married and then quickly divorced. That relationship was heavy on the mental strain and trauma but I didn't really see it at the time. The damage was cumulative and when I started losing my shit I began getting dangerous panic attacks. Still, I didn't know at that point. It wasn't him, it was how we were and how I let the relationship exist around me for so many years.

During the separation I was the worst mess I've ever been. I tried a few different anti-depressants but none of them really helped until I went on a stronger more anti-anxiety specific drug. I started to feel better, more human. I still didn't see that my problem was anxiety. I was pretty stupid really.

Ah but then last year I embarked on an almost 12 month journey to get off them. The problems started coming back. Here's the thing though, my symptoms don't typically present themselves as textbook anxiety. I dismissed it because of that. I get stomach cramps, nausea, dizziness and a whole hoard of other physical symptoms. I wasn't denying that coming off the drugs made me feel worse, I just thought I had to adjust to being off them. Since then I've had loads of friends and people I don't even know come and tell me they've experienced the same things.

Then I really started thinking about it and I mean REALLY. I thought about the times I felt the worst and what was happening. I thought about what stresses me out and began making connections to everything in my life. People, racing, commuting, events, planning things, social outings and food... FOOD. Food is the bane of my existence. Diabetes didn't make the list surprisingly enough.

There are a few things that will require their own blog posts that connect all of this together:
1. Food
2. Work
3. Sensory processing disorder
4. Athletics

I am 99% sure I need to go back on the drugs. I am 100% trying to find any way possible to manage without them. 1% of me that's left is crying for help.

I haven't decided which blog post is next. Feel free to tell me what you want to read about most.