You can do hard things

Less than two weeks ago I accomplished a goal that I’ve had for 10 years!  The first triathlon I competed in was when I was 18 years old.  My aunt signed up for the Spudman in Burley Idaho and needed someone to do the biking portion of the race.  She asked me and I said I’d think about it.  26 miles.  It seemed SO hard and SO long.  I didn’t own a bike.  I was really into running at the time.  I rounded up a bike and started riding.  I wore my little brothers cracked helmet, stretchy pants I bought from Wal-mart.  I called up my aunt and said I’d do it.  The more I started biking, the more I realized how amazing it was!  You see so much when you bike!  It was easy on my joints and yet I was burning a ton of calories.  (I could expound on this forever.  I am always trying to convert people to biking.  It’s amazing!  Start out like me, round up an old bike, a cracked helmet and just TRY it.  You’ll thank me later)

The race was amazing.  I couldn’t contain the excitement I felt seeing all the participants stretching and setting up at the transition zones.  I want to be part of this!  I was probably the dorkiest and amateur biker there,  but I didn’t care one bit.  Just being part of something where everyone is pushing their body to the maximum capacity.  Where people are sweating and tears are streaming down their faces.  It was exhilarating. These people were REALLY living.  They were using the healthy bodies they’d been given their maximum capacity.  Incredible.  Afterwards I set a goal to do an olympic distance tri, all by myself.

There’s been a lot happen in that time.  I continued biking and staying pretty active for most of that time.  In shape to do an olympic tri?  No.  Not until now.  This summer had to be it.

I’ve been extremely blessed this past year to have a body that has remained in balance.  Thyroid, depression both seemed to stay in check.  Routine blood work, a few doctors visits and a few bumps in the road but overall God has been so kind to me and I feel gave me the energy and stamina of this past year as a gift, a tender mercy to let me accomplish my goal.  I recognize that there are many people with their various struggles don’t every get to realize their goals.  If you would have asked me two years ago when I was in the deepest depression I’ve ever experienced and couldn’t even leave my house to go on a walk or get out of bed I would have told you, “NO WAY!”.

The race was incredible.  I had to pinch myself to know that I was actually realizing my dream. Was I really going to be able to swim one mile?  Bike 26 miles?  Run 6 miles?  How did I get here?  This is amazing.  I felt to thank my Heavenly Father for helping me get to where I was.  The race was a very spiritual experience for me.  At one point during the biking portion, I passed a small pond surrounded by trees and birds and I felt as if God was saying, “All of these things are to remind you  how much I love you, and that I will always take care of you.  You can do hard things.  Your lungs are burning, your muscles are surging and you are pushing through it.”  I can do hard things.  I liked that little inspiration.

I can do hard things.

I repeated this one line the rest of the race.  The running portion was extremely difficult.  It wasn’t until 10:30am that I started running so it was HOT 100 degrees.  I can do hard things, I’m meant for this.  I continued to push through the pain.  I nearly collapsed over the finish line.  I just smiled and cried even though I was seeing stars.  I just did something very hard, I did it.

Here’s the validation.  The physical pain I felt during the race pales in comparison to the mental pain I’ve experienced with depression.

If you have had any sort of mental or emotional illness, let me tell you, you can do hard things.  I know this first hand.

I would rather do an Ironman (2 mile swim, 26 mile run and 106 mile bike ride) and push my body to physical extremes than experience the mental extremes of depression.

I just started tapering off some medication two weeks ago and it has been rough.  The depression didn’t come on slowly, it came on fast and hard.  I feel kind of embarrassed to say that yes I can do a full triathlon but throw in a strong dose of emotional ups and downs and I’m pretty much handicapped.  I do feel an amount of graditude for the reminder of what it’s like, as crazy as that sounds.  But, honestly I was beginning to forget.  I looked up the side effects of tapering off some of the medications.  Irritability, incessant crying, hopelessness, fatigue, dizziness, nausea.  Ok, I thought.  I know what to expect so when I start feeling that way I will just tell myself that it’s part of going off the meds and that I will be ok.  It’s just not that simple.

The best way to describe it is that when the emotions hit it was like my body and mind don’t know the difference between real and not real.  I KNOW that I’m not burying my child, I know that Ryan and I aren’t getting divorced and I know that my parents didn’t die in a tragic car accident BUT the sorrow, despair and intensity of the emotions feels as heavy as is all of those things were actually happening.  It’s completely debilitating.  It literally makes me physically ill and unable to even move at times.  That is how real it is. Depression is real!  If you find yourself in a bout of depression or any other state that is considered to be “just in your head” know that you are amazing!  You are accomplishing so much just by pushing through it!  I knew what to expect and I still know that hopefully “this to shall pass”.  It blows my mind how something IN mind mind can control my reality and completely fog my perspective.  Even when I knew to expect it.  I’m holding on to that little moment I had on my bike.  I know even though I don’t feel well and all seems wrong right now I know that little revelation is still true  “All of these things are to remind you  how much I love you, and that I will always take care of you.  You can do hard things.  Your lungs are burning, your muscles are surging and you are pushing through it.”

Today, I just want to relate and talk.  Not dish out advice.  I know the thing I could use most right now would be just somebody telling me, “Yeah, me too!  I’ve felt that way! I’ve had those same thoughts!”.  In general, that usually is more healing than a page-full of advice.  So hopefully, to those of you out there battling the same demons of depression will find solace in the fact that you’re not crazy!

I can do hard things.  Just gotta keep saying it until I believe it.