Monday, April 28, 2014

A letter to a girl I once knew

I had this strange moment when I was doing my Triathlon on Saturday morning.  The route we ran and cycled took me past many memory lane places.  My first grown up apartment, another awesome flat where a boyfriend stayed. The Hotel School where I studied for 3 years.  Many places that form part of my history.  As I ran past my flat I could clearly imagine my 19 year old know it all self standing looking at these people go past, these fitness freaks, watching them and then turning around to go back inside as I lost interest.  It just took me back to that place and I remember reading in an Oprah mag a series of letters that grown ups had written to their 16 year old selves.  I decided to write my 19 year old self a letter and it was quite an emotional experience.  It left me with a lump in my throat and a protective maternal feeling wishing I could spare her so much that awaited her yet knowing it had to unfold exactly like it did.

So here it is, its somewhat odd and very personal but you know me by now.  I wear my heart on my sleeve, my odd heart.

Dearest 19 year old me
So you live in this amazing flat and you have just met S and you are crazy about him.  Giving up varsity for him and working at The Hard Rock isn’t the smartest move but you know what, it’s OK because life is full of choices and they make up a pattern that forms and molds who we are.
I am going to tell you some things that will probably freak you out a little and you might not even believe me.   First of all, go downstairs and look at all those athletes running past doing this Olympic Distance Triathlon.  Yes I know you don’t love exercise and you think you don’t need it.  In fact you
will spend your entire twenties doing bugger all because you are slim.  Here is the thing you don’t get.  People don’t just exercise to stay in shape, they exercise because it is healthy and good for you and fun.  See that skinny old chick cycle past you?  She will be running past you in an hour or so as well.  That’s you!   Really, it is you in 24 years’ time.  If you had a crystal ball right now and looked in it some things will break your heart but you know what, you have an inner strength that is so solid.  You might be sensitive and intense and easily hurt but you do not break, you eventually get back up and you give life another chance.   You are brave and idealistic and believe the best so after your disappointment fades your hope junkie self kicks in and you throw yourself into the new situation throwing caution to the wind.  
So what do you want to know?  I don’t want to spoil it all for you, I know you love surprises.  S?  I am sorry to say he is the one person who lands up shattering you, not breaking, just shattering you into a thousand pieces that will take you years to re build.  Don’t cry, the new you is stronger, you will like her.  She is more compassionate and less cocky.  She has tons of girlfriends as she realizes the depth and courage of other women around her.   Here is another mind f*ck, yes, 43 year old women still swear…you have a son when you are 25.  His name is Daniel and he will hit you with a tsunami of love and fierceness that will leave you breathless and beautiful.   You will be magnificent in the role of mother because you will do it with everything and then some.   In fact he is now just a year younger than you are now. Whack hey!   Oh, and you will have 2 daughters 6 years after that. Beautiful blonde amazing girls called Rebeka and Sofie.  No you Poop, not with S, he lands up buggering off leaving you entirely alone to raise your boy and you manage just fine.  Guess who you marry?  You know Tertia’s slightly psycho friend who has just come out special forces in the army?   Gary N!  Seriously, you marry him.  Fine, don’t believe me then but you will see.  Your older self chose well, she chose strength and integrity.  He isn’t actually that psycho and he is sexy and strong!
About that dope plant on the window sill?   Gross Mel, smoking dope is so loserish.  You will become seriously healthy and drink water all the time and eat well and never smoke and hardly drink.  In fact that woman you saw running hasn’t been drunk in over 10 years.  No it’s not boring; you just don’t want to put crap in your body.  I wish you would eat better. Oh, and seriously, when your mom said put sunblock on your hands you really should because they will look old and ugly later.   You will date a few more arseholes before you marry Gary but that’s all right too because fortunately none of them become your husband.
I wish I could tell you more, warn you of some bumps in the road but then you wouldn’t become that lady who ran past you and she is quite something.  I will tell you one more thing before I let you go because I know you want to get all dressed up and go out.  God has His hand on you and your life.  I know you feel it, I know you don’t feel worthy or you are too afraid to grasp His hand back in case He makes you
give up stuff.  In exactly a decade you will turn around and grab that out-stretched hand of His, He who has walked with you these past 19 years and will continue in life, death and beyond.   You will take another decade before you stop blindly believing all the religious crap and laws and stuff before you work out the unique relationship you have with Him and trust your own spirit but once again, all part of it.   
I have to go, I will catch up with you again.  I have to make supper for my family, be safe and stay strong and enjoy your crazy life.  Know that you will never settle, never allow yourself to stop growing or
challenging yourself.   It’s been weird writing to you but good too because one day I will be old and I have to wander what I would say to my 43 year old self, this lady writing to you right now.  I know I would also be kind to her and I know I would tell her I love and admire her just as I am telling you now.
Catch up with you soon,

Saturday, April 19, 2014


Isn’t it actually such a good word.  DEPRESSED.  You are weighted and pressed down by this weight.  You are smaller, compressed, squashed. You are DE-Pressed.   I have suspected for some time now that I am depressed.  For many months in fact.  I bet some of you are surprised.  Anxiety is my thing right?  Not Depression.  I am positive, energized, I exercise, I am goal driven, I have done 3 triathlons in the past year and next week this time I am busy with my 4th.  I am studying and planning.  I am not the typical sleep all day no energy depressive with smelly pits and greasy hair .

Yet I feel such hopelessness sometimes and terribly, terribly tired at the thought of being around for the next 40 years.  Foreign I know, believe you me I cannot believe this is ME writing this.  The good news is I thought it was just my Dystonia.  It’s really painful at times and so far no medication has helped.  When we go through tough or dark times we know that ‘this too shall pass’ but for me, I don’t know that.  So far my Dystonia is a life long sentence.   A sentence I unwittingly brought upon myself by taking the meds in August 2012.  I f*cked it up.  I could have got through that nightmare phase post no Singapore by myself.  I thought I was being brave and clever by seeking help.  Oh to turn back the clock.  I am sure so many people make that statement.

So the reality must be faced and I have a plan.  I do think my medication Redilev is making me depressed though.  This is actually good news.  He has me doubled up the past 2 weeks to see if it will help the spasms but now that I think it is a major contributor to my depression I am going back to one and then to half and then off.  I see botox guy in May even though my neuro is not keen.  I just need a 2nd opinion.  I see Deep Brain Stimulation guy in June which is a radical procedure but desperation calls for radical measures.  And then if nothing works, if this is my lifelong sentence, I see the clinical psychologist to teach me how to live with this debilitating painful condition and still stay positive and enjoy my life and my family.  I feel sorry for Gary having to live with me.  He doesn’t know what to do.  In sickness and in health can be a tough sentence.

I wish I was PMS right now, something to blame.   I have to say doing my daily Gratitude posts on FB is a great help in keeping positive each day.  I plan on doing it for 100 days and started the 1st of April.  The 2nd of April was my darkest day and my turning point.  I am a fighter.  I will not let depression steal my life.  I will not let it smother me and destroy me.  I will crawl and limp and push against this weight until I break through the other side and take that huge breath of air so I can see the sun again.  God says His power is made perfect in our weakness.  This feels like a spiritual battle for my very soul.  I sound like a drama queen, yuck.  I am sorry, I don’t want to be this attention seeking junkie full of melodrama.  Just read this, my name is Melanie and I am suffering from depression.  It’s time to turn this around.  

Friday, April 4, 2014


In 3 weeks time I do my 1st Olympic distance Triathlon, Cape Town ITU.  I have been training for 9 weeks now which consists of 3 swims, 3 runs and 3 cycles a week with one rest day.  I am sure you can do the math which means some days are brick days, 2 disciplines in one day.   I am bloody exhausted and just trying to consume enough food to keep up with the energy demands is tiring in itself.

With 3 weeks to go I am at that point where I lay in bed at night and imagine the frenetic start of the swim in the frigid smelly harbour.   Fighting my way through hundreds of athletes as I try to get to that buoy and back not panicking and trying to keep my goggles from being kicked off my face.  How will I deal with the extreme cold and how the hell do I try and rush through transition with fingers clumsy and frozen?   My biking is not up to scratch with way too few kilometers in these skinny legs of mine.  Thank goodness the bike ride is flat but what do I wear?  April 26th…could be a sunny day and could be a butt cold stormy day?   Getting off the bike on my wobbly legs and running the 10kms in front of thousands of spectators.  This is not a typical newbie event.  Most of the athletes are seasoned pros or at least experienced athletes.   43 year old midlife crises housewives are few and far between.  Of course part of me is excited to be part of such an awesome event and see all the pros from around the world.  They will be finished, showered and have had lunch by the time I finish but I too will be part of this event.      

So yes, I both dread it and look forward to it and I am certainly looking forward to it being over and life going back to normal.  When I am not running I have plans to work on my running over the next few months to try and increase my distance.  When I AM running I think bugger it, this sucks and I am SO not going to focus on my running.   When I get closer to Clanwilliam I will start training again but that’s a fun one with short doable distances.  I want to try take off 20 minutes off my previous 1:58 time.  The big question is do I enter 70.3 next year?   Do I dare to take on this challenge that I know will consume my time, energy, money, focus etc even more so than this triathlon?   Half Ironman?   Me?   Can I even run 21km on a normal given day never mind after a 1.9km swim and 90km bike ride?   Can I ride the 90km bike ride in the allocated time without being swept off the course?  Paying all that money and all that training and then not being allowed to finish will be devastating.   I feel like it’s now or never.  The following year I take on all 10 modules to complete my last year of my Social Work degree and I will have my pracs as well.  Rebeka will start her 1st year of high school.    I don’t know, I feel torn.  Wanting to do this race yet knowing what it will require of me.  Knowing how I would feel if I had to complete it, knowing how hard I would need to push myself and actually finishing would just blow my mind.   This weekend the guys do FULL Ironman.  Thank goodness I really have no desire to do a full, my body cannot, I don’t want to.  Yet I do admire them so and know what they have put in for this one day where many will continuously race for close to 16 hours.   The absolute world bests will do it in 8.  It’s almost too much to watch, seeing how some people practically crawl over that finish line.  Others who have to hear the gun go off at midnight knowing they have missed the cut off.   Our human spirit and drive stays something I am in awe of.   I want in, I want part of the magic but is the price too high?   I don’t know…