A couple of months back, I noticed that I was getting irritable quickly, and angry at random things. I was quick to dismiss this as simply a manifestation of my depression, but when I was getting angry several times a day, I decided that it was time to do something about it.
Several panic attacks, visits to a therapist, doctor and finally psychiatrist later, I’ve found a combination of medication that seems to be keeping me stable–and more than that, keeping me stable at a happier level than what I was expecting. As an added bonus, I’ve lost about 20 lbs in the two months since I restarted my anti-depressant.
There are a few of underlying factors to this; first, when I’m uber depressed, I self-medicate with food. Second, one of the side effects of the anti-depressant is loss of appetite, though I feel like I more or less have my appetite back (or have gotten used to eating less food than I was before). Third, one of the medications is technically a stimulant, which, while calming my anxiety is also giving me all sorts of excess energy.
But more important than my changed eating habits, I think, is the fact that I’ve started to exercise more. Not a great deal, and nothing terribly fancy or strenuous, mostly walking. And really, it’s the exercise side of thing that I wanted to talk about today.
So, here’s what I’ve learned–and I’m not sure that’s the right phrase, this is all stuff I’ve heard repeatedly over the years, but it’s finally sunk in. Anyway.
1) It’s not a race. If I need to stop and catch my breath, it’s okay to stop and catch my breath. I was getting frustrated for a while that I wasn’t tired, but my lungs had given out. Sis has (very well controlled) asthma, and I asked her what I could do to strengthen my lungs. She talked about how when she was in high school, she was on the soccer team and played the baritone saxophone in jazz band. Her doctors told her that those two activities were the very best things she could do for her lungs. She said that when she was playing soccer, or going on a hike or something and she would start to feel the first twinge of asthma, she’d pull back a little bit until she felt better, then power through. She suggested that I do something similar. So now, when I’m starting to get winded I’ll pause for a bit, then keep going. And you know what? I’m not getting winded as easily or as often as I used to.
2) The numbers don’t really matter. Most weight loss gurus will tell you not to weigh yourself every day. I don’t think that’s necessarily sound advice, I find myself jumping on the scale a couple of times every day–but I’m not freaking out that it’s showing a few pounds heavier in the afternoon when I’m fully clothed and just eaten than it did when I got on the scale first thing in the morning before getting dressed. I’m not even concerned that the numbers might go up one day from the day before. It’s fun to see the overall downward trend of the numbers on the scale, but there are better ways to gauge weight loss–how clothes fit, for example. (I have no idea what size I am these days) I’ve known forever that muscle weighs more than fat, and I honestly think that I have less body fat than the last time the scale was showing the numbers that it is now–I know my muscles are stronger.
3) Don’t forget the water. There are days (mostly when I’ve forgotten my water bottle) when I come home from school completely wiped out. I’ll get a drink of water–and then another one, and in a little bit, I find myself feeling better. I’ve also read that sometimes when the body is craving water, it will manifest as a craving for food. I’ve noticed this in myself, when I’ve got my water bottle, I’m less likely to want sweets. Plus, when the cravings get to be too much, I can add some Crystal Lite to my water to satisfy my sweet tooth.
4) Don’t forget to eat. There was a time (three months ago) when I didn’t know how people (like my dad) could forget to eat. And now I find myself doing it. Most days, I wouldn’t have breakfast except that my morning medication needs to be taken on a full stomach–I’m still not a breakfast fan, but if I’m going to forget to eat until about 2 pm, I better have something early in the morning. And like the water issue, I’ve had days when I’ve just felt terrible, until I had something to eat.
5) Keep goals realistic. I’m not going to go from this:
and I’m okay with that.
I’m not going to run a marathon or hike the north rim of the Grand Canyon tomorrow, but if I keep working, maybe someday I’ll be able to.
6) Healthy is more important than skinny. As much as I’d love to look like Ms. Hepburn there, I’d rather be a healthy 200 lbs (and I still have a ways to go before I get down to 200 lbs) than a sickly 98 lbs. In fact, I’m viewing this whole thing more as getting healthy than losing weight–healthy mentally as well as physically.
7) Losing weight is the easy part. Keeping it off is hard. You don’t get to the size I am without trying to lose weight at least once, only to have it all come back, and then some. I read somewhere that a person who has lost weight needs 500 calories per day fewer than a person of the same size who’s never lost the weight. This same article said that people who maintain weight loss get on average one hour of moderate exercise six days a week. I’m hoping that by getting into the habit of eating right and exercising, rather than just letting the medication do the work, by the time I get down to a healthy weight, It’ll be enough of a habit that I’ll just keep going with it.
None of this is groundbreaking stuff–I know I’ve heard it all a million times before, it’s just been in the past few months that it’s started to sink in. And while I’m not, by nature, and adventurous person, this whole being healthy and happy thing is an adventure that I’m not sure I want to give up any time soon.
In a bid to make “The Storyteller Chronicles” less, well, all over the place, and at the behest of my photography teacher, I’ve started a new blog. It’s called Corianne’s Colors, and it can be found here. Corianne’s Colors will be focused on my photography and artwork. Hopefully this means I’ll be able to concentrate more on the writing side of things over here. Anyway, check it out, enjoy and let me know what you think.
Years ago, I attended a writing conference with a regionally famous author. Someone asked her how she came up with characters, and this author responded that a lot of the time she would listen for conversations in the line at the grocery store or in other public places.
I was a teenager at the time, and I found this bit of advice to be a) fairly creepy, and b) not worth much, because I lived in a small enough town that there wasn’t a great deal of variety of conversation taking place in public. And so, that bit of writing advice got tucked away in the back of my mind, where it lay alone, gathering dust.
At least, until today.
I had forgotten my phone/MP3 player, so waiting at the bus stop I was forced to *gasp* listen to the people around me. Around here, anyway, waiting for the bus involves listening to music, getting some studying or other reading in, or quiet, banal conversation with friends. Sometimes all three.
This afternoon, though, in the midst of all the common noise, there was a man arguing on his cell phone. He was far enough away that I couldn’t really hear him, except when he was getting irate with the person on the other end of the line. I noticed him first when he said “I’m the nicest guy who’s ever dated you!”
The phrase struck me enough that I wrote it down, and began trying to figure out who would say something like that. I wasn’t even thinking about the guy on the phone, I was thinking about a character in a story. And I was wondering why someone would say “I’m the nicest guy who’s ever dated you” as opposed to “I’m the nicest guy you’ve ever dated”. Not that I’d want anything to do with a guy who uttered either phrase; the nice guys I know show it through their actions, and not their words.
Now, I have to stress here, that all my time spent with psychotherapists has been on the patient side of things. I’m can’t emphasize enough that I’m not trying to analyse the guy on the phone, I’m trying to figure out who one of my characters who would say that would be. I’m looking at this from a literary point of view, not a psychological one.
The first thing that came to mind, by saying “who’s ever dated you” rather than “you’ve ever dated.” makes it all about him. The (presumable) girl on the other end of the line is an object to be acted upon, someone to be dated, not someone who dates. If I was writing this character, he would be very egocentric. Nothing is his fault, and every bad thing that happens was meant to disrupt his life and annoy him.
It’s easy to get under his skin. Because he’s not willing to admit that other people, well, quite frankly, exists in realms completely separate from his own, he takes everything personally. I imagine that this phone call was post-break up, with the girl being the one doing the dumping, and he is having a hard time accepting that she doesn’t find him as perfect as he does. While he wants to save the relationship, it’s more because he wants a pretty ornament on his arm, and a warm body in his bed than an actual relationship. He doesn’t care about her, but he needs to be the one doing the rejecting, not being rejected. I don’t think this guy would be above using…unsavory methods to get what he wanted.
Now, if my character had said “…you’ve ever dated”, he’d still be a selfish twit, but he would at least acknowledge that there are other people out there making decisions that have nothing to do with him. His girl is a person, not an object–though she still needs to be tightly controlled. He’s aware that she has interests that aren’t him, (while I’m not sure the “…dated you” guy does) even if he’s not thrilled about it. He’s nicer, but only in the way a bear is nicer than a shark.
If I were writing a romance novel, these would be the boyfriends my heroine has at the start of the story, before she meets Mr. Right. In a drama, they might stay together throughout the novel, but he’d be putting her through the ringer. A mystery might have one of our men killing the girl (or the girl getting fed up with being controlled and killing them).
I then started thinking about situations where the guy I could hear would be the hero of the piece–what could the girl on the other end of the line have done to provoke, or even deserve such ire. I came up with, well one, possible solution (She’s a con artist, who stole all his money and was in the process of fleeing the country. He’s wanted himself, so he’s not going to call the cops on her.) And maybe that’s where I need to take this little exercise next.
I really don’t have a place for either of these characters right now, so this was more of an exercise than anything else. It got me thinking about not only what my characters say, but how they say it. The way we talk reveals so much about us, and the same should be true for our characters. And truth be told, I really don’t know anything about the actual guy on the phone, except that if he were to ever ask me out, the answer would not only be no, it’d be hell no.
So, have I entered the realm of the creepy author? Does either of my readers have similar experiences, where a single overheard phrase turned into a complete character? Am I over thinking this in a bid to avoid doing homework and/or go grocery shopping? At least in regards to the last one, probably.
EDIT: I’d love to hear what you’re impressions of someone based on the lines “I’m the nicest guy who’s ever dated you” are. Are they different from mine? What about the girl on the other end of the phone? Do you have any ideas about who she might be?