Monday, March 30, 2015

Learning to chill

So today was session 2 with hypno guy.  As you know I am on a quest to try and make my Dystonia more manageable and improve my quality of life.  I actually wrote to a new professor today and as I was writing my treatment history, I was a little amazed at all the people I have seen and avenues I have tried.  I was even prepared to fly to Canada to see one of the docs who did a Ted talk on DBS (deep brain stimulation) but it turns out he is unable to help me.

So for now I research the new meds prescribed by my new fave psychiatrist and tentatively try one at a time if I get the go ahead.  I learn to relax at hypno guy and I attempt botox again in my upper jaw.  The clenching is giving me awful toothache and earache.  I know for some reading about this is boring.  I know I am hard to live with and I wish I could be lightness,I so do but I am struggling here.  Yesterday was a scary day.  Scary days are when the pain is so bad you are unsure if you can stay on planet earth.  Another reason why I support Death with Dignity.  Everyone should have a choice as to when their quality of life is too compromised to hang around.  Not even close to that point but knowing that if it ever takes over the rest of my body and I am immobile and in constant pain, knowing I can check out, well its hugely comforting.

The problem of having something like this is it is hard for the people around you so they react a certain way and it causes massive stress which in turn is a big trigger for Dilbert.  Sometimes I wish I had a place to go to on bad days.  Where I didn't have to pretend or make everyone lunch or be chirpy and available.  Where I could calm myself down in a quiet space and breath and breath till I was zen and calm.  Hypno guy made some good points.  Because my sympathetic nervous system is in overdrive and I am so fight or flight, I don't relax much.  My hands are almost always clenched and my muscles contracted.  We did a relaxation exercise today and my jaw and mouth were soft.  My whole body was soft so now I need to repeat that.   He asked me when I am in a perfect most me state.  My pregnancies.  I know this sounds sexist so please forgive me if I offend you, but when I am pregnant I feel soft and gentle and feminine and nurtured.  I feel special and beautiful and precious. I allow myself to be safe and I stop trying as somehow I trust the people who care for me to keep me safe.  The past shit from a 6 year stint has robbed me of my safe space.  I want to let my guard down, I want to just be but somehow I feel too vulnerable doing that.  Am I making any sense here?   Oh well, blogging is my therapy and as I write I work through things in my head.

I think I need to merge the old me and the new me, the best parts of both.  I need to remind myself I always have choices, I will be OK.  I have ridden out storms, I have come out the other side.  Yes, that sounds good.  The Mel Merger.  The new and improved me.  The work has been started and truth be told I guess will always be on-going but my goal is definitely lightness in my muscles, my heart and my soul. 

Saturday, March 21, 2015

My Face, My Page

Back in the days when I had time I used to blog almost every day.  I never had to think too hard about topics to blog on and I loved the therapy that writing brings.  I had about 500 regular readers every day that felt like friends.  Well most did, the trolls only hung around a while to spew their nastiness and then left.

Once I started studying I no longer had the time to blog.  I hardly read anymore and seldom journal.  FB has become the 5km run alternative of an ultra-marathon.  The quick bits of shared info, opinions, questions that I no longer have time to share about or ask on my blog.   I was always aware that certain posts will annoy certain people.  I am an odd mix of all my unique experiences and ideas so I am bound to hack someone off.  What I don't get is pretending you are someone else on FB.  Becoming all beige and vanilla and posting pics about your lunch.  (Yeah yeah I know I got a bit smoothie obsessed.)   I have never been afraid to be exactly who I am.  Many will think I overshare and I get that other people are more private and accept that.  For my sister and I, we are unafraid to make ourselves 100% vulnerable and wear our hearts on our sleeve.

I am not ashamed of the fact that I am a follower of Christ, that I am passionate supporter of gay rights and any marginalized or oppressed group of people actually.  I battle with anxiety and sometimes depression.  I vaccinate my kids.  I have an ADHD kid and an ADD kid and have carefully and deliberately chosen to medicate with great success.  Just last night I was telling Sofie how proud I am of her and we compared last year this time to now when she had constant tunmy aches and stayed in at break to catch up.  That was pre Ritalin which has changed her life and mine.  I am not ashamed that I was a single parent for 6 years before I married Gary. I am not ashamed of my battle with Dystonia and how hopeless it makes me feel sometimes.  I will write about my training and my triathlon as it is a big part of my life.  I will say when I am happy or when I am sad or when I am cross.  I should be beyond caring about shit but I do.  I get hurt.  I am lots of OK and lots of fucked-up too.  We ALL are!  So if you think I am boring, too much, act like a victim when I ask questions on certain pages, too sensitive, too anything then hide me, unfriend me or just ignore the boring bits like I do when I read your pages.  I love connecting with my friends on FB as modern day life means we are all too busy.  

PS...the 2 people that unfriended me lately did so for other girl political BS reasons.  Promise it wasn't my boring smoothies, training updates or odd theology! 

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Where to from here?

Amongst the mixture of emotions I feel I have that good old useless dose of guilt.  How can I feel this grief over a race when other people have real grief over death and divorce and illness and infertility and all the other real losses?  Yet my throat aches from being full of tears I cannot shed and I feel like I have been punched in my chest.  Punched so hard that all my organs shift and I have the hollow ache in the middle.  It feels so physical.

I went for a run this morning.  My 1st one in 10 days as I have been sick so I need to catch up for our 2015 mile challenge.  I ran and thought and ran and thought as one does trying to figure out this grief and loss I feel.  It is not the medal.  Yes its a huge bummer I didn't get it and the disappointment makes me want to puke.  That bit is all normal, training that hard and not finishing.   But this achey grief and paralysis where I just can't start my studying again and I don't know what to do with myself?  What the hell is that?   The 300 people who also didn't finish this race are probably not about to quit their entire lives.

Its a God thing.  After Singapore I knew I was totally depleted.  I knew I needed help and went on the anti-deps and we all know how that ended.  14 days on Cymgen and life long Dystonia.  So now when the going gets tough I cannot ever go on meds.  It doesn't matter how cracksville I feel, no meds for me ever.  This meant I needed to rely on healthy diet, exercise and God.  My scripture and my mantra...I can do ALL things through Christ who strengthens me.  So I did just that and I managed my anxiety and my life and stayed sane.   I trusted God 100% for this race, for my life, for my sanity and now I CANNOT do all things through Christ.  I can train for 6 solid months and I can have total faith and belief and still I cannot.  The grief is the loss of my trust and my hope.  I know I have been in this place, where I believed for something so much and it didn't happen and God and I were not tight for a while. I know I will return because what else do I have but for now I feel like He has left me alone and I am not quite sure how to do my life alone.  Do I make any sense?   I probably sound mad?   I got home from the run and Ella had chewed up more of my outside pillows and then I stood in her squishy shit and I started shouting like a mental person till my throat hurt.   Mad?

I don't want to study anymore.  I don't want to do anything at all.  I don't know anything anymore.  I am not going to ask and trust for signs.  I am going to do one day at a time and today, the 1st day of my studies when I am already so far behind is not going to happen.    

Monday, January 26, 2015

Ironman 70.3, Ungracious in Defeat

Gary says everytime I write another bitter & twisted FB update I am simply prolonging the recovery of my disappointment.  48 hours ago I was still nervously eating breakfast in a room full of like minded athletes about to go off and do what my 6 month training had prepared me for.  This is so new and so fresh I need the time to process it.

I am going to try and explain how this feels.  I might make reference to situations that you have been in and you might think how dare I compare this pain to yours.  I mean no disrespect, it is simply to try and covey how I feel.  I am also going to swear.

When I decided I was going to do a triathlon before I turned 45 it was for many reasons.  Firstly I thrive on challenges and secondly after my brain op I felt like I wanted to live my life large, extra large.  I have had too many friends die and I just wanted to honour them by living my life so fully.  I also didn't want the fear of failure to hinder me trying big brave things.   I wanted to do something where I am in charge of my body.  I control my movements and how much pain I am prepared to take.  My Dystonia which is life long is incredibly hard to handle sometimes.  I wish I had a date that it would end so I knew I only had to endure it for x amount of months or years.  I cannot make it stop, I cannot escape.  It has me in its twisty painful grip and I can only try and live my life as best as I can with some adjustments.  The desire for 1 triathlon turned into an addiction for the mad sport and I continued improving and learning.

Training this hard for 6 months this hard has been very tough.  My bike accident set me back and every time I cycle I feel nervous.  As you know I am also not very good at all.  The slowest in my bunch so I had to try extra hard.  I knew the route was tough.  This particular ironman 70.3 is the second toughest in the world.  The bike course is endless rolling hills with wind on a bad day.  I had calculated my swim time and knew the extra 25 minutes saved that I could add to my 4 hours on the bike would mean it would be tight but I would probably make it.   The alternative was impossible.  To take so much time from my kids and friends and life and work that hard only to return empty handed was simply not an option.  I believed my strong mind and determination and my faith in God would get me there.   I also believed if I trained 100% I would make it so I cycled hundreds of kms and I swam and I ran and ran and ran.  The times on my alarm clock are 4.00am, 4.30, 5.00am.  6 days a week, 9 sessions a week for 6 months.  Even on holiday.

Fast-forward to race day and I am on the beach ready for this.  I had prayed for calm and warm sea and little wind.  6 days prior the sea had been 24 degrees and the wind calm.  On the day before the sea was so rough they were considering a duathlon and canceling the swim.  The rough choppy sea did not phase me.  I had trained in big waves.  The ocean is my place although I did not know it was 15 degrees.  I had drawn a cross on my hand, my bike and my helmet.  My God was my partner and I had many people praying for me.

We were the last wave of 8, the women over 40 and the teams.  Out of 3000 athletes only 780 are women.  The gun goes off and I get through the waves and I swim.  Towards the end my hands and feet are numb and looking for the final red buoy had me see so many other red landmarks but I was still good to go.  As I run up the ramp towards the bike area my legs turn to cooked spaghetti and I walk like I am totally pissed.  The official tells me I have hypothermia and pulls my arm towards medical.  No, no I am fine, I need all the time on my bike I slur in my drunk voice.  Thanks but I am fine. No choice and then I am on the bed and too cold to get a reading under my arm.  Under my tongue is a joke as my dystonia means my tongue is doing its usual spastic dance and the thermometer won't stay still.  Time is ticking and I am frantic to get on my bike.  Rectum she says, sorry but I have to put this up your rectum to get a reading.  At that point I am so desperate to get on my bike I don't care.  I am finally shivering which is a good sign.  34 point something.  Fuck.  I have to wait till 35 before I am allowed to go.  After 30 minutes in the tent I am released although still cold and confused.  The bike section that had 3000 bikes is now a graveyard.  I get changed and I can't read my watch as my vision is still screwy and I start my bike.  The last person of 3000 to start the course.  the LAST.  I have 3 hours and 56 minutes to complete 90 kms.  With the wind and hills and my cycling being so week it is a big ask but not impossible.  I trust God to intervene for me.  For the 1st 7km I am alone on the road which has been closed off.  Its a ghost town, the end of the world.   After a wrong turn I correct myself and I start.  I fight harder than ever and I pass the slow people at the back although I see I am still too slow.  My chain comes off 3 times but I calmly put it back on.  I hope when I get to the 45km mark that somehow the wind blows me back and the 1 hour and 36 minutes is miraculously enough.  I think about contestants on Survivor who never quit a challenge even when they cannot win.  I think about so many things and I cycle through the pain and wind and hills and when I look at my watch knowing it is now impossible I cycle anyway.  They have a truck that comes round and they put you and your bike on that sad truck and drive you back.  I see people on the side of the road crying, knowing they have missed it.  Well fuck that, I am not going on that truck.  I want to see how far I can get by the 1:15pm time so I pedal with my legs and feet so sore.  85kms the time stops for the race.  I had 5km to go.  30 minutes spent in medical would have been enough.  A girl asks me if we will still make the run and I hate that I have to tell her no.  No, we haven't made it.  We will not make that run.   I don't cry and I cycle that last crap windy hill to get back and then I cross the finish line to see Gary and then I cry but I am marched off immediately as she yells: DNF, DNF.  Did Not Finish.  I am another DNF.   

It really happened.  What I feared but what I fought because I trained so damn hard.  On the other side of the road are the runners with the awesome crowd cheering.  This is the part they said makes it all worth it.  I feel traumatized.  I walk amongst jubilant finishers with their medals and finishers t-shirt.  6 months of my life and I couldn't do it.  Knowing I would have just made it had I not got hypothermia makes it worse actually because I felt so deserted by God at this point.  We were meant to be a team.  I did my bit, all the parts I could control.   It was not enough.

Will I come back and try again?  I don't think so.  I suck at disappointment.  I simply couldn't handle it again if I didn't finish and the variables are too great.  I feel like that jilted bride and I have called off a wedding by a cheating spouse just a few short months before so I know what that feels like.  Not moving to Singapore after so much prep and hope and excitement was killer.  This feels like this.  Disbelief that it is all over and trying to process just how traumatic that was for me.

I know many cannot relate.  I am not a drama queen though and this is real for me.  I will get over it.  I need some time.  My faith has been broken, my trust.  I have to start my studies and do my kids but I want to sleep rather so I don't have to feel like this.  Crushing defeat, ah, that's what they mean.  I am crushed in my defeat.  Time to wake them up, make school lunch, carry on my life.  How do I do this???

Friday, December 5, 2014

Words can indeed express

My sister wrote this really cool e-mail to her son's school about a teacher who was beyond awesome in the way she handled the kids and did her job with such passion and excellence.  What struck me in the mail was that she said something like: words can never express how grateful I am etc.  I imagined the head calling in the teacher and showing her that mail and I just know the affirmation that she would feel and would keep forever.  I then later read something on a private FB page about what words were once said that hurt deeply and remained painful years and years after they were carelessly uttered.  Everyone that commented had messages said to them they could not forget and defined them and damaged them.

We have all received tangible gifts over our lives.  Some were boring, some were special and most have been used or lost or long forgotten.   Words however, both good and bad, those we so often keep.  They have the power to make us or break us.  The responsibility that this evokes for all of us is huge.  Sometimes we feel shy or awkward to express how we feel, to say something personal or make ourselves vulnerable.  We keep it casual, a love u instead of an I love you is far safer.  With more and more communication being on-line and long conversations on whatsapp and FB instead of a call, we get a little braver.   It can be good and it can be really ugly too.  Social media bullying is rife and it seems adults are just as bad typing all sorts of nasty.  We have good sites too of course, safe places where people can post what is on their heart knowing the community of strangers shares and supports with no judgement.  Places where encouragement and affirmation is given because in the real world the person is unable to get that unconditional support.  

Sometimes when we hurt we lash out but what is said stays there.  A sorry cannot erase those words and for deep wounds, even time cannot alter them.  I want to be more aware of what I say both good and bad.  I want to take the time and effort to tell people in my life that I appreciate them.  I think I am OK with people in the middle, its the ones closest to me I need to tell and not assume they know my heart.  And its the everyday people that I want to commend when they are excellent, the waiter at lunch or cashier at the grocery store or a business that gives great service.  2015, I will take the time to write letters complimenting staff and tell people.  Sincere words of praise and appreciation make anyone feel valued.   Before I call you all and love you up I am off to shower because I went for a cycle.  I was doing my usual ugly to myself routine going down the very steep hills holding on the breaks.  Me to me: You such a scardy cat and waste so much time going down the hills.  (I stay a little nervous since my accidents)  You not even brave!  Me to me:  Actually, the fact that I am cycling at all makes me brave and if I need to break a little going down the hills so be it.  Being brave is being afraid and doing it anyway.  Right!   I am going to be kinder to myself too although I will probably still give myself a hard time but then I have my come back.  My nice self that will drown out that nasty critical bitch who I will force into submission.  I love you, I love me. x

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Dearest darling me: Letter A and letter B

When I have had big moments in my life with huge expectations I write myself 2 letters while I am still sane.  Because I get so crazy excited about stuff and run miles ahead if things don't work out I land up absolutely crushed and lose all perspective.   I helps to go back and read the: So it didn't work out but you still OK letter.

When were wrestling over the fight for our 4th child we dealt with the ups and downs of adoption and then decided to go IVF due to the vasectomy and it was a crazy emotional time for me.   I was desperate for my 4th, my last piece of my puzzle.  Gary's puzzle was already complete.  After calling off the IVF as it just didn't feel right we were back on the adoption path.  She was 2 and her name would be Anna and I would use the princess curtains that her sisters had used when they were little.  Gary warned me not to run ahead but I was already dealing with how my black daughter would cope in a mostly white school.   I prayed for her as she was already born and I didn't know her circumstances. I even typed her letters that I would paste in her baby book so she would know how wanted she was like her siblings.  I knew Gary wasn't that keen but I was so wrapped up in this fantasy I forged ahead even going to the orientation at the agency.   And then he said a simple sentence that ended it all:  You can any dog you want if we don't have another baby.

A dog?  So you willing to get the Jack Russel you don't want and I do so we don't have to have that 4th?  Right Mel, grow up and get real and forget about this make believe daughter because forcing your partner to take on a child that already has rejection in her life is just stupid.  He would have, for me, but that's not enough.  I gave up the girl that I never had in the 1st place and I went away for 2 days to deal with my anger and grief and irrational feelings of loss.   Anna felt like a God thing.  Like He had this person out there and I was going to be her mom.   Anyway, just typing this makes me want to cry.  I clearly need to go and read the So it didn't work out but you still OK letter.

I did letters for Singapore too.  One for going and one for  So it didn't work out but you still OK.  I had that worried feeling all the time but with 3 weeks to go you allow yourself to relax.  It was f*cking devastating not going.  My Dystonia is my permanent reminder of that huge trauma as it was after the great big non move that my wheels came off and I went on the anti-dep that cased the Dystonia.  That company will never know the true cost of what they did to us.  We apologize for the inconvenience caused.  REALLY?   Oh, no worries, relocating a family with 3 school going children and your one dog (that would be the jack russel) and re-homing your other dogs and and and....    So I had that letter.

And now its time for a 3rd but all of a sudden I am thinking the other 2 didn't work out that well so do I write the letter?   Will it even help.  Mmm, I might still.  Its about my big triathlon race btw.  One is for me making the cut off in time and completing the whole race holding my medal in amazement.   The other one is for me not making cut off.  For pushing and fighting and sweating along that bike course but time runs out and the truck comes and makes me stop and loads up my bike and then swerves as crazy me is now in the road lying in front of the truck broken because I didn't make it.  I know I sound melodramatic.  Imagine training for 5 months (lost the 1st month due to bike accident) 6 days a week and you don't make it on race day?  In my head I know no one will say I was useless or a loser or a failure.  The logical side of me knows this.  I am a non athletic 43 year old with osteo arthritis, long term damage from Sheuermanns Disease and Oro-mandibular Dystonia.  I can only do my best, it is all I have.  On paper I am not the horse you want to bet on.  BUT, I will tell you one thing.  When it comes to determination, commitment, self-discipline and hard work I am a damn podium winner.   If I don't make it I will at least know in my head and heart that I could not have tried any harder than I did already and I really hope I will be wise enough to be kind to myself.  

PS, I know you all want to say of course you will finish but the reality is I am very slow on the bike despite doing all the training so while I might very well finish but I also have to consider the possibility that I might not make it.  I am praying that God honours my hard work and everyone will remember 2015 as the year the wind did not blow, the sea was calm and race conditions were perfect.  It was the year Melanie Loebenberg Novitzkas did her 1st and last ironman70.3 and finished it.    

Thursday, October 30, 2014

50 shades of blue

I have many days when I want to stop studying and I have days when I wonder if I will even use this degree I am working so hard for.  If somehow I don't finish it or I never actually practice I will probably regret the amount of time it has stolen from my life but never the knowledge it has given me.  I am a thinker by nature.  I love to ponder about stuff and although I am not great with current affairs locally and around the world, I am great at knowing what makes people tick.

My fascination with the human psyche and why we do what we do and think what we think makes my degree perfect for me.  Always one for the underdog and very justice motivated studying social work with psychology as my 2nd major seems like the ultimate fit.  On November 14th I have been a Christian for 15 years.  It has been amazing journey of self-discovery and God discovery.  Knowing so much less than I did 10 years ago re God means He gets to surprise me every day.  I no longer force Him to fit the picture painted by others or know Him through others.  I know Him spirit to spirit, raw and real and gentle and kind and fierce and loving.  Many times I just don't get it and that's OK.  As I have mentioned before I can no longer really call myself a Christian according to the world's definition and based on the gross misrepresentation of who God is, I am quite happy to be known as a seeker of Christ.  Someone who doesn't have all the answers and whose truth a decade ago has changed and will change again in another decade.

Can you imagine painting the ocean and the sky in 1 single shade of blue?  It would be flat and unreal and one dimensional.  Painting my daughter's room lately inspired this post as we went through many, many shades of blue till we found the right one.  What if your truth was your perception clouded by the opinion and lessons of others and left unexamined and unchanged?  What if your truth was simply one version, one of the shades of blue?   Imagine borrowing the colour of another to add to your picture, mixing the paints and shades and textures.  I am not an artist by any means but the visuals of all these blues really represent different interpretations and truths and when we open ourselves up to a wider view we get to experience some incredible things.  We see and know sides of ourselves and others and God we didn't even know existed.  The proverbial cast in stone becomes fluid and alive as we grow and learn and morph and change and toss things out and add others in.

I know for many Christians they think opening yourself up to other ideas and beliefs is considered dangerous.  They feel safe and comfortable and 100% sure that their blue is the only real blue.  They consider people with other shades to be blind or deceived or confused.  I am not judging them and in some ways it must feel very secure to be so sure of something but I was never that person.  Because I say so never quite cut it with me.  Why?  Why do I have to be this, say this, act like this, dress like this, watch this and not that, read this and not that?   Jesus obeyed God, not the rules of the day or his Jewish rulers.  I am lucky to have so many like minded friends who are also open minded to all that life has to offer.   We obey the basic rules or try to anyway.  Be kind, treat all people with respect and ensure we all have the same rights, love others, love yourself, love God.   

My old lady hands and less firm skin is the not so much fun part of getting older but the contrasting increased elasticity of my mind and thoughts and ideas more than makes up for it.  But enough random waffling on, time to get back to my books and learn new things.  Exams next week!