Saturday, December 31, 2011

Happy New Year


I'm reading Andrew Weil's Spontaneous Happiness. I'm on chapter two and I've only read one other of Weil's books but I like his idea of thinking about the mind and body together, putting diet (as in eating well, not losing weight) and exercise ahead of medication, and thinking about how happiness and awareness play in a person's health. There's an old quote from E.B. White that I will likely mangle: "Everyone likes to read things they agree with." So it is with me.

A few years ago, in the depths of a crisis, a therapist I no longer see prescribed a mild anti-depressant for me. She said that she saw me as a classic case of depression and that medication was necessary. I was suffering from mistakes I had made and trying to climb out of the hole in any way that I could. So I followed her advice and began taking the pill. It wasn't a bad experience. I didn't gain lots of weight, didn't feel sluggish, didn't really feel much of anything.

About two months into the prescription I lost faith in the drug, the therapist, and my progress. I stopped taking the drug, stopped going to the therapist, and found that the work we had been doing hadn't been very useful to me. In fact, it had led to more hiding from myself than before.

Months after that I started to turn things around. The therapist I still see, when I asked her about depression, didn't say a lot. She suggested that I get out of bed in the morning and run.

At this moment, I weigh 208 pounds which is fifteen to twenty-five pounds heavy. I'm able to do most everything that I want to do and I feel alright, but I know that running more, eating less, and doing a bit of lifting will make me feel better in every single way. Reading books, meeting with friends, walking the dog, playing with my daughters, being with my wife, and cooking my own food all make me feel good. Writing makes me feel good. Moving forward, that's what I need.

Since writing this blog, I have been healthier in every way. Publishing daily has been a great push. I wrote a couple days ago about streaks and how they are only as good as what they do for me. This streak has been good because it has made me feel responsible to myself, lifted my game, and gotten me to do something I might not have otherwise done. It has also been about the writing and not about the streak.

This writing has been a daily dose of happiness.

I just talked with a friend about running. I said that I wanted to start a running streak in the new year. She warned me about what I already knew. She had read what I had said about streaks. Streaks, all too often lead to feelings of failure and less running, she said. She's right. I don't want a running streak, I want instead and awareness about moving forward.

Since everyone else is looking back at 2011 or ahead to 2012, I offer this semi-resolution: I want to remember each day that moving feels better than standing still. 

When I was in crisis, I was standing still, latching on to things that I hoped would pull me forward like a water skier. They did, but the problem with water skiing is that the skier has very little control as to where they are going. Now, when I'm not in crisis but, like everyone else, still struggling (in all the ways that struggle can be good), I know that movement helps. Writing and publishing 750 words each day is movement. Going for a run is movement. Talking with friends is movement. Being loving to my wife and daughters is movement. And, in a little bit of irony, sitting for meditation is movement.

I'll keep reading Andrew Weil because it's good to have someone to agree with. And along the way I might move forward because of what I find there.

And so ends 2011, the year in which I began publishing. 2012 is, for me, thirteen hours away. I don't know what I'll find there, what I will do, who I will be by this time next year, but I'm ready to start finding out.

Happy New Year to everyone. And in 2012, as always, we write on.