Thursday, April 16, 2015

The Pit of Despair

Westley: Where am I?
Albino: The Pit of Despair! Don't even think... don't even think about trying to escape. The chains are far too thick. Don't dream of being rescued, either; the only way in is secret. (from The Princess Bride)

I debated whether I wanted to write this post, but since I wanted this journey to be transparent for myself and others, I decided I needed to.  Things in my life became more difficult over the last week or so.  My husband lost his job.  I won't go into those details because they don't really matter, but know it's not because of anything he did wrong.  Anyway, this created a problem for me.  My husband is the one who had the health care.  With no job there is no health care and with no health care there is no way to afford the 6 (or 7 I don't remember) prescriptions I have to fill every month or the regular doctor's visits I have with the regular blood work I get.  It also means no way to afford physical therapy.  Without PT my piriformis syndrome issue can't be resolved and if that can't be resolved I can not physically hike.

If I can not physically hike then there's no possible way I can manage 40 miles on the Appalachian Trail.  Which means, I can't go on this trip.  This is what had me in the Pit of Despair.   

I'll be the first to say depression sucks.  And I'm not talking about the kind of depression where you're just a little sad about something happening, like your hamster died.  I'm talking about the medical illness caused by a combination of genetic, biological, environmental, and psychological factors.  I'm talking about depression that changes your normal daily life- interferes with your sleep, your ability to work and your everyday activities.  It steals your motivation and sucks the enjoyment out of activities you normally enjoyed.  For instance, if gardening usually helps you with stress levels and makes you feel better mentally, you can not get out and garden.  Deep down you want to, you might know it will help, but the depression won't let you.  You don't want to go into the garden and work because you don't care (or more accurately don't want to care).  It takes a long time to motivate yourself to do whatever it is you want to do, and if the smallest thing happens that changes your plans, you say "Forget it! I knew I shouldn't have bothered to do xyz! It's not worth it!" 

I want to also add that you should never tell someone who suffers from depression that being happy is a
choice.  For most people I guess it can be, you can choose to laugh things off.  For those with depression the choice isn't yours.  It isn't that you are choosing not to be happy/content it's that being happy is an emotion you can't even muster.  There is nothing more frustrating for me than someone telling me I need to choose to be happy.  Because yeah, I'm choosing to eat my weight in Nutty Bars, sleep all day and not experience anything remotely close to happiness. 

Anyway... back to hiking.  The thought of not being able to do this trip sent me careening into the Pit of Despair.  This trip was more than a fun way to celebrate turning 40.  It wasn't just an adventure.  It was one of the things I had listed as something I wanted to accomplish before I was 40 that I could actually accomplish before 40.  I had accomplished nothing else on the list.  Nothing.  And that made me feel like a failure (here's where I say don't tell me I'm not a failure.  I feel like one and telling me I'm not one is invalidating how I feel- boy I'm up on all sorts of soap boxes today!).  Without going into too much detail, the last decade or so, I dealt with a lot of things.  Things that can be considered emotional and psychological abuse, and things that were extremely high stressors.  Some of the things I dealt with actually had me stop writing.  I haven't written anything other than blog posts in 15 years- and prior to that I was editor of an award winnging college literary magazine and a published poet.  I lost who I was.  I no longer knew myself.  My life was not what I imagined or wanted it to be.  And then, I planned this hiking trip.  Suddenly I was getting passionate and excited about something.  I was going to accomplish something that I wanted to before I was 40 AND it sparked a desire to write a book (also on the list of things to accomplish) that I began working on feverishly.  And then, like that. It was done.  Dreams squashed again.  All because I hurt my butt a year ago and didn't realize it until I hiked with a pack on my back.

It's been a long week for me and everyone around me.  There's been rivers of tears, nasty attitudes, anger, woe and violent out bursts where I throw tennis balls and break glass (just a photo frame, not a window).  I stopped doing my PT exercises because why bother? 
 Then, I had 2 dreams both featuring my deceased grandmother and both occurring on some trail in the woods.  In the first I'm laying sprawled on the trail wailing and my grandmother is standing there holding one of my hiking poles and says "Get up or I'll crack you with this!" and in the second we're on a wooded rocky trail and I'm having a pity party and she's holding my pocket knife- open- and says "Get up and start hiking or I'll crack you with this!" (the I'll crack you with this is something she often said to myself and my cousin- and truthfully, we probably needed some cracking).  If you know me and my paranormal background, you know I believe these weren't random silly dreams but actually visitation dreams.  My grandmother, who I was close to, was telling me in no uncertain terms to knock it off.

So last night I told my husband the hike had to happen.  I have no clue what's going to happen with my injury, but for now I'm going to keep doing the exercises and having my husband work on massaging the area to help work out the knots in the muscle.  I'm going to lay off the training for a bit longer to give the muscle time to heal, and hopefully it will be okay.  And if it's not, I'll push through it.

Because this hike is happening.

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