Me, After Grief.

Sea Girt

“I’m really proud of how well you’re doing.”

I heard it first from my psychiatrist the other day—a woman who has certainly seen all of the ups and downs over the past 18 months or so. My best friend verified it when I told her how my doctor gave me a huge hug on the way out. “Yup, we all think the same.”

I heard it again last night, sitting across from a dear friend of my mom’s.

“You’re going to be OK, Theodora, I really believe it.”

Quotes About Grief — Somet Things Cannot Be Fixed, They Can Only Be Carried

(this is a great quote from this great book by Megan Devine)

That wasn’t the first time I heard that in these past 53 weeks since losing my mom—but it’s only been the past week or so that I’ve believed it. I sure as hell didn’t believe it four months ago. But here we are. I don’t think grief ever ends —it’s something we carry.

Last year, I wrote: “I feel as though I’m wearing one of those lead jackets they give you for X-rays at the dentist’s office, only it’s made of fear and worry.” After my mom died, that jacket became a heavy lead jacket of grief, depression and hopelessness.

I’ve been wrestling and writhing in discomfort with that jacket, but I think I’ve finally switched it for just a light jacket.

In telling my BFF how I’m trying to reign in spending (eating/drinking/other bad habits grief has been an excuse for) and quite honestly, forgetting how I did that pre-grief, I realized this:

I am not the person I was before my mom got sick. 

I am not the person I was while she was sick, and in that horrific first year of my grief.

I am this new version of me. In some ways, it feels like I am Kimmie Schmidt, just dropped from the bunker. I’m this new person living in this world that’s totally new to me, and I need to figure out so much all over again, which is terrifying and exciting all at once.

I woke up on July 8 feeling like it was the first day of the rest of my life. It’s obviously not just the marker of one year, as Meg reminded me—it’s also all the hard work I’ve done on myself, with myself, with an extensive mental health team.

My doctor reminded me there’d still be some tough days—and I’ve had some “normal” tough days since in addition to a tough grief day, but I’m rebounding so much faster, which is such a relief to me.

But I am legit so ready and open to the future and setting big goals and making big plans.

Yet Another Reason to Ditch the Running Watch

I shared part of this story yesterday with my run coaching clients.  I’m starting a weekly newsletter to share shorter off-the-cuff stories like that, for a place to share all of my writing that I don’t necessarily link to here, and to share interesting reads on all the things I write about—fitness, mental health, grief, and social media/writing/business stuff. Sign up here! (I know I have some subscribers who get my posts sent to them as they go live—let me know if you’re still interested in that; I will obviously be linking to my posts in the weekly email too.)

This is how running used to make me feel.

This is not how running has made me feel these days. I’m in the midst of recovering from serious grief and depression. I’m on several medications, I’ve gained some weight, my energy levels are lower, and I’ve just plain lost some of my running fitness.

I’ve kept running, in an attempt to hang on to that part of my identity, and I’ve had a really hard time with it. I walk more than I used to. I beat myself up about the paces and the distances I go, comparing them to where I was five years ago. Guess what? Five years ago, my life looked dramatically different, and I was able and had the energy to devote a large portion of my mental and physical energy to running in a way I don’t have the capacity for right now.

But when I run with a friend, I forget all that. I forget that my current pace is at least two minutes slower than a pace I used to be able to hold for 13.1 miles. I forget that I’m going rarely more than 4 miles (if that), rather than the 20-mile long runs I used to do on summer weekends.

I had a long conversation the other night with a fellow running coach about this comparing ourselves to younger, more fit versions of ourselves. I wanted to figure out a way, solo, to replicate that feeling of getting out of my head when I’m chatting with a friend, and so I set out yesterday with my Apple Watch set to “other,” rather than logging it as a run that would log my pace and distance. That is, I took the numbers out that stress me out, and I came back elated (endorphin-wasted, even!)

If a client had described the same situation/problem to me, I wouldn’t tell them they were fat, out of shape, etc—why was I telling myself that? I’d tell them to be gentle with themselves, and to take out the component that was stressing them out that they could control—in this case, numbers—to get their running mojo back. Time to be my own client. (How does this work? Do I pay myself? That’d be weird.)

How do YOU get your running mojo back?

Just a quick note to say that this Sunday was the one-year anniversary of losing my mom.

I survived this first year!!! The actual day went so much better than I expected. I’ll write more about that and what I’ve learned over the past year (so, so much) soon, but I need some time to process it a bit more. In the meantime, thank you so much for your support over this year—it truly means everything to me.)