if it was a pill, then everybody would be on it

It's a while ago now but we had a great holiday. Camping, swimming, walking, reading, eating. It was lovely. So lovely that I didn't want to come home but a day or two before the final day, a certain little camper had had enough and home we headed. I felt great when we got back, relaxed, alert, not at all anxious. So I decided I was ready to stop taking the very low dose anti-psychotic that I had been on to help with sleeping after my last little episode. It's a really effective drug in terms of managing anxiety but it increases your appetite and slows your metabolism and makes you feel all kinds of creaky. Which is depressing. And my doctor really wanted me to stop taking it. We had all kinds of arguments about when but after the holiday I was quite happy to stop. It was fine. No issues whatsoever. First week back at work and I'm still fine. It's like I have the spirit of the swimming hole, everything is good. Second week back at work, not so fine. By the end of the third week back, I am toast. Racing thoughts, not sleeping, chest pains and weekends spent in the foetal position crying and trying to figure out how we can manage and do all the things we want to do if I quit my job. Two people in my workplace have resigned and they are not being replaced. It gets busier and busier. I don't think I can take it any more but I have no feasible plan B.
So I go to see my psychiatrist and cry for the whole session. It is awful. She has no suggestions whatsoever and hands me the tissues and makes my next appointment. Afterwards I pull myself together and go have a coffee and buy Grace the Ingrid's camping set that we had on order (the sylvanians they are certainly the toy de jour here).  Over the weekend, I feel a bit better and revise my thinking and decide that yes, I do want to stay in my job. But it feels hopeless. I can't see how I am going to make it work. On Monday, I go to see my GP for something routine and I tell him about my terrible anxiety and its causes. His listens sympathetically and his response is - exercise. That's it. Exercise. So simple. But anyway, he says that exercise is so beneficial for so many conditions that if it was a pill, then everyone would be on it. He also tells me that despite what my psychiatrist says, the meaningful number in my cholesterol has been slowly decreasing over the last two years so I am obviously doing something right. Another six months and it might well be in the "good" range.
So, I have started the exercise. Like a million times before. Of course I'm still pretty unfit but I don't feel anxious on the whole any more. Work is busy, stressful and challenging but no hideous chest pains. I've given myself permission to be totally lame with the exercise but not to skip it. I've worked out a little weekly program. Nana tap on Monday night with another mum from school. I find it pretty hard on the brain given that I have two left feet and neither of them have any memory but it's fun nonetheless. And I'm certainly not thinking about work while I do it. Wednesday night is swimming and I've worked it out so I can get home just in time for dinner. Friday morning I am braving the snakes and going for a walk down the creek. Which involves hills so it's quite good for some huff and puff. And then just trying to do a few active things on the weekend. Hopefully I can keep it up. I think I have to try.

Photos, top is lake Colac where we stayed for one night and quite enjoyed, second is the river at Narrawong near Portland. We stayed there for five nights and had a river side camping spot even though it was a caravan park. Third is Grace in the Wannon river above Nigretta falls (there was some eau de dead fox) and the fourth is my favourite swimming hole of the trip - in the Glenelg river at Dartoor - a fantastic free camping spot we found in Camps 6. I'm not sure I'll do a proper blog about the camping trip. I think I've forgotten what to say - but the pictures are here if you'd like to have a look.


Leah said...

Oh, don't you hate it when exercise actually does make a difference?! I'm glad it's helping :) Your camping spots look lovely... if it ever stops raining, I'd like to fit in another camping trip before winter - truly soul food.

shadygrey said...

So true. I have started what I optimistically describe as running every morning that I can and I have noticed that I feel better emotionally for it. My leg muscles do not feel better for it, but they'll toughen up I guess...

Kate said...

Yup. I feel so much better mentally when I'm exercising, but sometimes it's a real effort. I have sat on my bum all this week because I've been ill, and I feel terrible. If it were a pill or a cream or whatever else I'd do it like a shot, why can't I make myself go for that easy walk every night? It's not difficult, but my inner two year old gets sulky about it.

Oh, well. I know that if I can only manage to be a grownup for a half an hour a day and do it, it will make all the other things I have to do more bearable.

Sorry that your work is frantic, either way. I have a few friends in different parts of the public sector here, and the common thread seems to be that no matter how much they enjoy their actual jobs, going to work gives them panic attacks. Not great.

Janet said...

Yeah some sort of (work related) mental health issue is a pretty common at my workplace - depression and anxiety being really common. It sucks really but I guess the public sector goes in cycles and if you want to be there for when it is sweet, you have to tough out the rough bits. Although it is disconcerting when your colleagues start leaving.

Suse said...

Oh hell, I'm sorry that work is shitty again. It's certainly shitty where I am right now, too. Hooray for water holes, exercise and nana tap. And lowering cholesterol levels.

See you SOON!

Michelle said...

Bugger about the job. But what a smart GP you have. My exercise of choice is swimming. My brain switches off and it's just ... mindless exercise. I feel a million bucks after. But I need to add some extra walking too - if only it would stop raining!

I read an interesting article today about new research proving that you really do need to exercise the equivalent of 10,000 steps every day. I think they're right.

Hope you continue feeling better. xxx

Anonymous said...

I force myself to do the half-to-one-hour a day (whingey dog helps). I know it helps keep me on an even keel, even though I still take medication.
No good ideas regarding the shitty work situation, but wishing you well all the same.

victoria said...

Nana tap sounds wonderful, in a strange way.
I do feel a lot better about life if I go on lots of walks.
The photos are spectacular, I love them, always love your holiday snaps.

Stomper Girl said...

I love that saying "If exercise was a pill everyone would be on it". Good on you for taking those first hardest few steps. The Nanna Tap will get easier!

Tania said...

I think I ned some Nana Tap in my world.

You go girl. I've been walking a bit recently too. My bottom was going flat, I was spending so much time on the computer and getting grumpy at everyone in the meanwhile. That walking is pure escape. With added endorphin benefits, I reckon.