When you deal with conditions like sensory processing disorder or depression and/or you live in a tired rut of a subsistence living, you get to the point where you see the world pass you by. Some days you’re envious. Other days you just simply don’t care. Every now and again, I personally get to the point of “stop the world and let me off.” It’s a battle to get out of bed in the morning, let alone leave the house and be productive. So far I’ve managed to find a reason each and every single day to get on with life, even if that reason is simply to kick the Black Dog of Depression in the face and deny it another day of biting my ass.
When I was in my 20s, I could look back and say, “One day I’ll do this, that, or the other.” I had dreams. Thing is, John Lennon was right. Life really is what happens when you’re making other plans.
Turns out, “one day” applies not just dreams. It applies to simple maintenance. Exercise. Housekeeping. Much like with basic hygiene, if you don’t keep at these things, life gets a bit scary. Scarier still, you get used to it. Thankfully, I find a that a good shower is as mandatory to get me going in the morning as a quality cup of coffee, so I’m not in the ultra-scary end of the sloth spectrum. But much like anything else, I have to want to do make these things a part of my daily routine. If I can’t adapt something to a positive lifestyle willingly and in short order, it’s not going to happen. I am my own worst enemy. Aren’t we all?
Which brings me to the topic of exercise, because that’s really what this post is about. The top piece of advice everyone offers for countering depression is exercise. You feel better. You live longer. You generate endorphins and energy and forward momentum. Fine and well, but that gravity is a harsh mistress. She pulls you back into that rut. And as I say, I’m one of those people who, if I don’t like to do something, I won’t. It’s just that simple. I have enough trouble staying focused on things I do enjoy.
To date, the one and only means of exercise I’ve found that I enjoy is swordfighting. If I’m in the zone, I’ll not only forget it’s exercise, regardless of how exhausted I’ll get, I’ll have a great deal of fun doing it. Two problems come up. First, I’m a solo practitioner these days, being unable to afford to study in an organized group. Compound that with being a social hermit and such things being a bit of a rare sport to engage in, you see a flaws inherent in the system. Doesn’t typically stop me from working through the forms. What does stop me is the weather. I live in Texas. It’s the dead of summer. You do the math. The fiery Eye of Sauron burns us! Between the light and the heat, it’s a nightmare under the best of conditions. Add in SPD, obnoxious neighbors, and the dogs next door that absolutely will not ever stop barking because you’re encroaching on their territory. How dare I be in my own backyard, right? *rolls eyes* Actually, the dogs are quite friendly, despite what their people would have you believe. They just really want to play. Back to the point…
Excuses. All of it. Prowess is the first point on my personal Code of Chivalry. If you don’t have Prowess, you have no ability to act when you need to, no means to defend whatever righteous cause rears its head. You get out of bed early, work through the forms before the sun is even an issue, and if the dogs are barking that obnoxiously at 4:30 in the morning, those neighbors will have far bigger problems in my dangerous neighborhood than little old me. But… this still isn’t really an option for me except on weekends. During the week, I still need something that I can do to maintain things like muscle tone and circulation to offset the desk job.
Tai Chi is something I used to do on a regular basis in the early mornings before work. I get to my desk obnoxiously early so as to avoid traffic, enjoy my coffee, and sometimes blog. I was doing Tai Chi in that time too, until they moved us next to the gym. The dropping weights and pounding music put an end to that as I my SPD put me into a painful, near-homicidal state all day, every single day. Now that this is no longer an issue (YAY!) because they moved the gym in the building remodel, there was no excuse for picking that up again. For some reason, I’m only just now coming to the realization that I don’t do this anymore. Worse, I couldn’t imagine why not. So as of this morning I now rededicate 20 minutes to basic Tai Chi. That’ll probably increase over time.
Still not enough, though it’s certainly a good start. I took a good look at my work station this morning. I’ve got plenty of space due to the nature of the projects I work on. I’ve also got plenty of health issues developing because of the nature of how everything has to be laid out to do my job in the first place. Carpal tunnel, bad posture, just sitting all day… it takes its toll. So I started thinking about how to counter these things cheaply and unconsciously so as to be effective. Posture is easy to fix. They make posture supports for upper and lower back. I ordered one. Stress balls or stress eggs are great for combatting carpal tunnel, and for the person with SPD, they also make great fidget toys while you work out mental tasks. Got some now. A couple of small hand weights have been added to that arsenal. And last but not least, a small pedal machine for under-the-desk cycling. I found one that’s supposedly so quiet that typing is louder. Perfect.
Basically what this boils down to is I’m initiating baby steps in my world to keep me from sliding back into a rut of inaction, and I’m using the hours at work to maximize the effort. After all, I’m already bored at work. That’s why I have a steady stream of audiobooks, podcasts, and music to entertain me. Might as well flex the body too. The older I get, the more difficult it’ll be to climb back out of that rut. Also, I don’t have too much money to spend. A little investment in time and money now will potentially save me thousands on health care. And if it’s true that everything is energy, then it stands to reason that the more energy I have, the more I’ll have to utilize for whatever comes up… physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually. That I’ve never framed it like this before seems somehow criminal. Perception really does define reality. And little shifts can lead to radically big changes. This is where it starts. Where it goes from here is anyone’s guess.
So much for “one day.” Today is Day One.