There were many silver linings to be taken from the situation I found myself in. The one that was probably the most obvious was that I had lost about three and a half stone in weight. Although not my first thought was to exercise my body before my mind, more that I came across that avenue by accident.
I couldn’t do anything about my mind to start with, I had no idea where to start with that one. Rather than stress about my lack of concentration or the inability to make any decisions whatsoever I decided to look in another direction.
Walk Before You Run
As my condition started to improve I found that I no longer had the desire to spend my days on the settee, well not all of it. Ihad a need to create some sort of achievement each day, something that would say. “I’ve done this today” small or large didn’t matter. I was still drinking but as it was now ‘medicinal’ It didn’t have the same hold. The recommendation wasn’t to give it up in one day but to gradually reduce the amount and for me an easy route to that was to start drinking later and later each day. So I took to going for walks, on my own. This helped in a number of ways. Being out alone was scary in itself so I was facing that fear head on. The further I walked the greater the time, I was out and not having my first drink of the day. Lastly it was giving me much needed exercise and this was the start of some of the best self-help therapy would have.
Running and Endorphins
As the days turned into weeks I found that the initial feel good factor of the long walks was starting to wear a bit thin. We had a treadmill in the house that had possibly been used no more than half a dozen times. Running had never come naturally to me and was certainly never something I had aspired to. Built for comfort, not speed, me. However, I was now considerably lighter than I ever had been for most of my adult life so moving the now svelte like body wasn’t so much of an issue. So the day came when I dusted off my trainers and took to the ‘mill’. My first run wasn’t worth writing home about, ten minutes tops, it was a start though.
Exercise comes highly recommended from the medical profession. Not only is it good for the body as a by product it is also good for the mind. They are the bodies natural opiates. Now we’re not going to go into depth about opiates and other feel good additives. The long and the short of it is that when you exercise your body releases endorphins and you can’t help but feel good. So now I’m doing something that gives me no choice other than not to be depressed.
OCD and Exercise
Obsessive Compulsive disorder. I have it, in truth, most of us probably have it to varying degrees. As a young person I was a ‘equal opportunities toucher’ as I like to put it. If one of my fingers touched something I would need to make sure all of my fingers did the same, equally. Making things symmetrical was another trait along with face pulling, apologising and the standard guilt complex. None of these aspects were majorly debilitating more of an annoyance, plus I didn’t really understand why I was doing them, just accepted them as being part of me.
Back to the treadmill. So now each time I went for a run I would write down my time and distance in a notebook. The nexttime I ran, I would check beforehand to see what my previous time and distance was and make sure I did the same or more. Over time, I progressed from ten minutes to sixteen minutes to thirty minutes to eventually running for over an hour. In time, it became unsustainable. I was running every day and if I did miss a day, for whatever reason, my mood would take a plunge.
Eventually the inevitable happened and I started to get injuries. A good dose of ‘Plantar fasciitis’ which led me to ‘Bare-foot’ running which led to something ‘snapping’ in my left foot, tendon or ligament which pretty much ended that particular exercise regime.
The Seed Had Been Sewn
So the exercise seed had been sewn and although the initial set back was dis-heartening I now had a powerful tool to work with. I might not be able to run for fun and opiates but would find other activities that would come close. I had also learnt more about myself and could take steps in the future to reconcile the insatiable urge to keep pushing, adding more and more. I put together a more holistic program that I could do on a daily basis.This enabled me to swap and change my daily routine which in turn alleviated the need to constantly up the anti.
The Mind Waits For No Man
Everything works together, more often when you don’t even realise it’s happening. I was working hard to feel better by myown hand. More exercise lead to me being more conscious of my diet and nutrition, a subject that we’ll cover in its’ own right. I was also starting to re-engage with the written word, either digitally or the old fashioned book from. This happened almost surreptitiously while I was researching different forms of exercise. I was also trawling the internet for inspiration, tips and techniques on how I could better my physical self.
So, in doing this, my mind was slowly starting to wake up. Not overnight, I still couldn’t bring myself to sit down and read fiction, not yet. I had eyes only for factual. There’s bound to be a term for that but for me, I just needed facts. The rest would come back with time.
Exercise had given me a new lease of life that I had not expected. I had learnt to respect it (and abuse it at the start) It now has a place in my day to day or week to week as I no longer have the need to work out on a daily basis, if I don’t want to.
What started with a ten-minute run, culminated in competing in a local 10k race, with a few ups and down along the way. In turn exercise had given me my mind back.
If you have any questions please feel free to leave them in the comments section.