Having just participated in the American Frontline Doctors White Coat Summit, I realize more than ever that when all the available pieces of the puzzle are put together, the developing picture is not at all a pretty one. I say this not out of any fear of a virus, but...
Where There is a Will, There is a Way
Brace yourselves, good readers of America Out Loud… I’m about to give you a rocket up the unmentionable!
I know times feel tough right now.
I know the world is riddled with uncertainties.
I know lots of people are struggling with low mood and even lower motivation.
None of those things are good enough reasons to sit on your backsides and allow life to slide on by!
When we’re in pain, there’s a time for resting, a time for healing and a time for finding a way around those perceived barriers, so we might at least re-energise ourselves and create a bit more enthusiasm for tomorrow.
I don’t know about you but, in times past, when I struggled with heart-choking bouts of depression, the last thing I *wanted* to do was take action to change my outlook.
I wanted to go to the GP and have him prescribe me pills, so I could shuffle around feeling sorry for myself, whilst insisting I was doing all I could and, still, nothing was helping.
I wanted to *look* like I was taking action, whilst avoiding every possible element of self-responsibility and ownership.
This couldn’t be my fault – no way – I was a helpless victim, trapped in a biological snare of depression and low mood, right?
Poor me. Poor me. Pour me a drink!
When we’re talking about mindset, drugs alone will NOT be enough.
In fact, sometimes, if we actively work on our mindset, drugs might not be needed AT ALL!
It took me a long time and lots of missed opportunities to learn that lesson and do something about it.
I’m thinking about it particularly this week, as I’m dealing with something I would have relished as a big, fat, delightful excuse all those years ago.
I’m currently working with a suspected broken foot.
My physio thinks it might be a stress fracture.
My GP, who was, of course, only available for a telephone consult because of the dreaded coronavirus, misdiagnosed me. I was pretty sure his swift diagnosis of plantar fasciitis was wrong the second I hit Google, then the musculoskeletal physio guy I’ve been seeing for years confirmed my suspicions.
Long story short, the guy who actually examined me in person reckons I might have a stress fracture but, as my local minor injuries hospital unit is covid-closed for the foreseeable, and as I’m due to go on holiday next week, we’re into managing the pain and, if it’s still no better by the time I return, I’ll have to go to an out of town hospital and see if I can persuade them to give me an X-ray.
Get to the point, Taz!
How is this relevant to mindset and depression?
Because, dear readers, when I was in the midst of my depression years, I would have grabbed that initial diagnosis with both hands and used it as an excuse to do sweet FA!
I would, probably, be hobbling around with a stick, between sitting on my sorry ass and hoping people would notice my plight, feel my pain, shower me with sympathy and bring me cups of tea at just the right temperature to swallow my pain killers and anti-depressants with!
Oh, and if the pain and anguish became really severe, I’d be reaching for my asthma inhaler as well, or, at least, using a feeble voice to ask someone to fetch it for me.
You know what my old medicine path teacher said about sympathy, right? Sympathy’s what you find between ‘shit’ and ’syphilis’ in the dictionary!
I haven’t been on anti-depressants for years and, much to the upset of many people who insisted I couldn’t rid myself of asthma and it was too dangerous to even attempt, I haven’t used an inhaler for about two years.
What changed was ME!
One of the major factors in changing my mindset and energy levels was exercise and, I’ll be honest, even a year or so ago, if I’d sustained this foot injury I might have quit my gym sessions.
If lockdown has taught me anything, it’s that my mood really starts to dip if I can’t get to the gym regularly, and I’m not about to quit because one, isolated part of my body is giving me gyp!
I’ve been managing this foot pain for about five weeks now, and I haven’t cancelled any of my PT sessions. Instead, we talked it through and worked out what we could to to still work out but not put pressure on the sore spot. In between times, I’m elevating, icing and making sure I have supportive footwear, just as I’ve been advised.
At the gym, we’re doing seated and bench exercises, upper body – arms, lats, chest, shoulders, core… it’s far from impossible.
And at home? I’ve eased off deadlifts, weighted squats and lunges in my ‘garden gym’ and set up a pull up bar with a resistance band to support my foot (and help me actually haul my weight, of course… added bonus!). I can also do seated bicep curls, snatches, presses, lateral raises and all kinds of other exercises that involve lifting weights without putting pressure on my feet.
Where there’s a will, there’s a way, and this I know: it’s the WILL that takes the real work, not the way!
What’s stopping you? Are you ready to create the change, or would you rather mope around forever more?
Misery multiplies. So does optimism. Your choice.
Until next time,
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