Body for Life, the Universe, and Everything

Being a description of the author's thoughts on the experience of participating in the "Body for Life" Challenge, questions of great philosophical import, and randomly selected topics of no significance whatsoever

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Location: Missouri, United States

In no particular order, I'm a professional lettering artist, a yoga practitioner, a cat lover, a vegetarian, a reader of everything from books to cereal boxes, married to a very attractive guy named Tom (nope, no kids), an exercise enthusiast, and a lot of other things I don't care to admit in a public forum. I have a BS in applied math that I haven't used in over 10 years, and I can put both feet behind my head. What else would you like to know?

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

The best of times, the worst of times...

Apparently the slippage in posting every day is snowballing. Sigh. I was inspired by the commenter on my last post who said, "You can't give up now!" although I do find it difficult because I'm not sure there is anyone out there reading this. I think part of the problem is that I haven't entirely decided what the purpose of this blog is, or how exactly to treat it. Various people who know me know about the blog and how to get to it if they want (althought I doubt many of them do), so some things (things that are too private to share with casual acquaintances, criticisms about identifiable individuals) are off-limits to write about because it won't be anonymous. To a certain extent, writing this blog is therapeutic, but there is still that limitation involved. Maybe the best way to think of it is as a letter to an unspecified friend. Yeah, I think that will do until I think of something better. So without further ado, on with the real blog entry!

Tom finished his NaNoWriMo novel! It clocked in at around 52,000 words when all the dust settled. He was actually finished on November 20th...two-thirds of the way to the deadline! Wow!!! I finally got a chance to read it on Thanksgiving (I didn't want to read any of it before it was finished because I hate having to wait to find out what happened next!). It's good! Really good! Of course, I'm not biased or anything.... :) I am so excited and proud of him for doing this! I saw some first chapters of some of the other participants. Let's just say that they apparently took to heart the cry of the NaNo participants, which is, "It's about quantity, not quality!" Boy, are they NOT about quality! But Tom has a really excellent first draft, and he actually finished the novel AND succeeded in getting his 50,000 words done in November (and early, even!), which many participants fail to do. So he has a lot to be proud of!!

Tom's NaNo book is a vampire novel, which is sort of a cliche (sorry, don't know how to make the computer do accents on letters) right now, but I thought he had some nice little twists to the expected formulae. He has invited me to copy-edit it (okay, I suggested and he agreed; not sure how much of that was him wanting me to do it and how much was just giving in because it was easier than arguing ), which I told him I would be happy to do once he has finished tweaking it...maybe when it gets to the point of being a "second draft." He ended up changing the name of one of the characters in his novel after I pointed out that there was a similar character with the same name in Laurell K. Hamilton's Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter series (which is a favorite of ours, and is also set here in our hometown of St. Louis). I didn't realize when I mentioned the character name situation that he didn't remember the character from the Anita Blake series; I thought he had either done it on purpose or decided the commonality of name wasn't important. I was pleased to hear that he has ideas for two books based on this story (a sequel and a prequel), because I found the characters and world interesting and would like to know more about them. If your interest is piqued, and you want to see the beginning of this amazing thing he's written, :) go to the NaNo site, , then on the "authors" page, look up his identifying handle: actortommyd. Alternatively, just click on this link to go directly to his NaNo page:
The limits of the NaNo site (or something) caused problems with the excerpt's punctuation, paragraphing and italicizing ability, which are a bit distracting, but you will get the idea. That stuff will all be fixed once I'm done copy-editing it. :)

In other news, I had a bit of a melt-down last week (over multiple days), with every little thing (or even nothing) upsetting me all out of proportion, involving a lot of tears, and Tom insisted that I promise to make arrangements this week about treatment for my depression, as it is obviously flaring up again. I don't want to do anything about it, but that's a side effect of the depression. I definitely don't want to go back on medication, and Tom says he doesn't want me to either (the side effects were...non-negligible, even though my psychiatrist tried five different meds on me in three years), but we are hoping that something suggested by the most recent psychiatrist consulted will help. It is called (if I remember correctly) Cognitive Behavior Therapy, and involves (this is a rough, overgeneralized explanation) retraining the way a person thinks about potentially upsetting situations/concepts so that they are not so overwhelmingly negative. I had a book checked out from the library about this, but I am very bad about reading nonfiction (whereas a lot of fiction I will have finished reading by the next day if I don't have anything else overwhelmingly pressing to take up my time), and ended up having to get it back to the library before finishing it. I have that book back on reserve, but it's been a while and I'm not back at the top of the list yet so I haven't seen it again. So, since I promised Tom I would do something about it this week, that means either getting the book some other way or calling one of the therapists that specializes in this treatment approach and setting up an appointment. (Or going back on medication, but that's definitely not where I want to start.) Maybe I should go ahead and buy the book and commit to reading it this week and starting to apply it. It would definitely be cheaper than therapy, and I could still do therapy if working this on my own isn't enough.

Depression is sort of a weird animal. It's a disease that, among other side effects, makes you less interested in fighting the disease. You just don't care if it kills you, and, in fact, sometimes that outcome sounds bloody appealing. It also doesn't have any easily identifiable physical effects, like a rash or a change in blood composition--just nebulous things (such as fatigue) that could be caused by a whole host of illnesses or other factors. This makes it harder to identify and also sometimes harder to take seriously, even for the person who has it. I have had it so long (pushing 30 years now) that I don't really know what it's like to be "normal," my three years on antidepressants notwithstanding. I don't know what it's like not to live with suicidal thoughts almost every day. (Not necessarily impulses, but thoughts. If you don't understand the difference, you've probably never had to talk someone off a ledge or into letting go of a knife.) I don't know what it's like not to hate myself every day. I've only had fleeting moments when I've felt attractive, powerful, charming or competent. I don't know how to make myself happy. I don't know why people with obviously serious problems push to get through them, because I want to give up on my life even though it is objectively pretty good. I don't know what gives people hope for the future. The only thing I have utter confidence in is my intelligence, but that's far from being enough to get through life successfully.

I don't say all this either to complain or to brag; it is just a statement of facts about my perceptions, which perceptions may or may not have any basis in reality. I sometimes think that for clinically depressed people like me, the difference between us and the rest of the world is like looking at a scene through one of those completely warped fun-house mirrors vs. using a regular mirror. The original, objective thing is the same in both cases, but has been so warped by the time our brains finish processing it that the reality described by a "normal" person makes no sense; we can't relate it to our experience at all.

I think that is all I want to say at the moment about that.

I am still training my friend Tanya in BFL, although she is not doing many workouts here, as she has been able to set things up so she can do most stuff either at home or at a gym close to her, which is good because the less hassle workouts are, the more likely you are to do them, and the less they impinge on the rest of your life. She is coming over on Thursday to work out and have me tweak her routines as needed. She's also going to write out her goals and such before then, and we're also going to take "before" pictures of her before she gets any more muscular, :) as this is the fourth week of her 12-week program and these things should have been done within three days of starting. Her husband is strenuously opposed to her taking "before" pictures because he "doesn't want anyone else looking at her," but she is going to do it anyway just for herself, if nothing else. I have a lot of thoughts on this whole "opposition to taking pictures" thing, and if this were anonymous I would publish them, but as it is I will just say that I was beyond appalled when I heard of his attitude, and leave you to draw your own conclusions.

Gotta run; I need to get in an aerobic workout and plan the grocery list and maybe take a shower and get to yoga class, which starts an hour (make that 45 minutes) from now and is 20 minutes away. Overbooked? You betcha!


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