World Mental Health Day

I have shared on here that running has saved my life. It really has. Running my first half marathon was an action that eventually lead to me heading to Therapy before my 21st birthday.  I was running 4 days a week in school had a boyfriend and still found that I couldn’t go more then 24 hours without sobbing I began missing classes…it wasn’t great.

In 2014 I wrote to Anxiety BC sharing my story of how CBT helped me. Below is the 2nd place winning entry.

In the spring of 2013 I reached a breaking point with my mental health. Normally I was able to keep my emotions in check but as the semester progressed I found myself struggling to choke back tears and find the strength to attend class. I was putting on a brave face more than I would like to admit. When someone asked if I was wrong I would just blame school or some other activity in my life. The word anxiety was far from my thoughts. Finally my parents sat me down and suggested that maybe the time had come to speak to someone professional about my issues. So I then went to therapy. I recall the first day we met. I shook his hand and sat in the chair. He handed his business card, to which I responded “Seriously…that’s your name? How on earth do you pronounce that? ”I’d write it for you now but it’s a challenge to spell. I spent the first month dreading appointments, because all I did was cry. I even looked for excuses not to go. I found myself overwhelmed by anxiety and depression and thinking “I am too young to see a Psychologist”. I told my therapist as such and he simply asked “What makes you believe that?” I told him I don’t know but I’m only 20 , I don’t think I’ve lived long enough or gone through enough life experience to seek professional help. He then proceeded to ask if there was any evidence proving that I hadn’t experienced enough of life as well what made me decide that I was “too young”. It was these questions that assisted me in my regular use of CBT.I can recall the face, complete with eye roll I made when my therapist first explained the term and how it worked. “Seriously this is going to help?”My psychologist asked me to purchase the Stress and Anxiety Workbook. It would take roughly 6 months for me to get into the consistent habit of CBT .I eventually began to notice improvements within that time. Sometimes I would write the word breathe on my wrist as focus point which assisted when I was experiencing an anxiety attack This is now permanently tattooed on my wrist, a permanent CBT strategy ! It’s been almost 2 years since my first appointment and although I’m still working through a few issues with my anxiety such as driving, my life has improved dramatically. I don’t cry nearly as often, my interest in school and other activities has improved. I’ve even managed to run 7 half marathons! Running also works well with CBT for those who are curious. I’m not an expert but it continues to have a positive impact on all aspects of my life.

Ultimately I’m sharing this today with the highlight of running. Yesterday marked 5 years since my first 10k and it’s simply crazy how much has changed since that Thanksgiving. Mostly good changes of course but still!

I wonder what it’ll be like 10 years from now…I look forward to that day.

 

25 Things (Before my 26th Birthday)

I made a list of 25 things I wanted to accomplish before my 25th birthday and unfortunately I didn’t achieve that. But the more I think about this list..the more I say “well I’m not 26 yet…so why not keep trying?”

So here we are. Here’s my list. I will share my trials and tribulations alongside my running goals on this blog. I do love my fitness focus here but it’s not all I do and I’m working on expanding my creative outlet:

#cheezies25 is the tag for these posts

  1. Don’t buy my lunch for a month
  2. Take some dance lessons
  3. Ride Pride and Prejudice
  4. Hike part of the BP Trail
  5. Learn to Sew
  6. Watch every single Oscar winning best picture
  7. Answer the 50 questions that will free your mind
  8. Run for charity
  9. Watch 2 James bond films (No Daniel Craig allowed!)
  10. Take Pole dancing classes and be able to hold myself up
  11. Relearn Rachmaninov and learn one other piece by him
  12. Downsize my wardrobe and things and donate 2 full bags
  13. Attempt to learn sign language
  14. Read the complete works of Edgar Allan Poe
  15. Give up Twitter and Facebook for 1 week
  16. Train for Marathon (this is subject to speed increases..but hey I gotta try!)
  17. Send a card to post secret
  18. Bake a Cake
  19. Write a letter to myself to opened on my 35th Birthday
  20. Donate blood 3 times
  21. Cut off a bunch of my hair and donate it
  22. Test my for my drivers licence
  23. Get the Uncle John Tattoo
  24. Run 5k in Sub 35 minutes
  25. Squat my body weight

 

As of October 6th I have completed 6/25 tasks (oh jeez) I better get to work. So stay tuned as always.

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5 years ago …(A story I’ve been meaning to share)

This story talks about surgery and my personal choice in undergoing the procedure. Like all things in life we make choices that work for us. I am not giving advice but simply sharing my story and the impact the surgery has had on my life to date. 

First off I’d like to apologise for how quiet I’ve been. Seawheeze training was going well then Strep throat..then Iceland…Seawheeze happened! It was hot and the haze did lift and I ran walked to my hearts content and despite it all I had quite an amazing weekend with this event. So maybe the PR is still in the works(Life allowing looks like this fall I can stop worrying about job hunting!)..but Timehop reminded me of something very important this past month.

5 years ago in August my life changed one evening.

runningtimehop

Let’s start from the beginning. I’ve always wanted to tell this story but wasn’t totally sure if I was ready to share it online because as we ALL KNOW once it’s on the internet..it’s there forever.

5 years ago I made one of the toughest decisions of my life. I underwent breast reduction surgery.

“Melissa…you’re 25…you had this surgery when you were 20? that can’t be right!”

Yes I was and Yes I am.

In high school I was not known as an active child. I played sports sure but there wasn’t a strong connection to athleticism. I had low marks in PE up until high school when the majority of your mark was showing up with gym clothes and trying. I did always make an effort and I can still see myself running around the track with two sports bra asking myself “When? When will this end?”

I developed rather early. Between the summer of grade 5 and grade 6 my feet grew 3 shoe sizes and my chest appeared. I was the girl that came back to school..looking a little different. I always had a more developed chest to say the least. As I got older activity got harder. I am 5’5 and a half (a well known fact since it’s the reason I’m dating Mr Tall) I have been this height for quite sometime so despite the rest of me growing I didn’t get any taller as some girls do at this time. (I’m sure you can see where this is going..). I did maintain sport. But it wasn’t without challenges. I have distinct memories of running laps in gym with two sports bras and still feel uncomfortable.

Anyways…I remember my first jamboree 10 years ago and getting frustrated with how I looked because no matter what I did I always had cleavage in my tank top. So before anything else really began ..I was already unhappy with my looks. Sure I liked looking older because of my body but I didn’t always want the attention. I still remember grad dress shopping and getting upset when I couldn’t wear certain styles.

Time passed..I seemed to get bigger. At my biggest bra size I was a 34G. Now keep in mind EVERY BRA place has different sizing. But at the end of the day my band size was small and my cup size not. And given my height…there wasn’t a lot of room for the weight to shift…I began to realise how uncomfortable I felt. Bra straps cutting into me…headaches, neck pain and over all discomfort.

High school ended, boyfriends changed. It didn’t seem to bother me for awhile…until I finally went to my doctor and said enough is enough. I told myself I could just..hold out. Maybe wait till later in life. But I knew that if I didn’t do something soon it was only going to get worse. I could feel my posture being affected even just as I was sitting in class. However there was the fear..the fear that once this changed no boy would ever like me again….because I truly felt this was THE MOST attractive part of my body. Not even red lipstick would help if I didn’t have a big chest.

At the time the current boyfriend was extremely understanding when it came time for surgery. Fun fact  it’s a cosmetic surgery so there is a wait list but you only pay for the bra afterwards and prescription medication. (Which by the way at time was all together under $100 dollars!)  I had seen a doctor to discuss my options take some photos and then wait. Eventually after a few months of waiting I received a call in February 2012 saying a slot had opened . June 11th 2012 I went in for an 8am surgery. I was crying. I dislike tubes in my arm and this was my first major surgery of any kind. Barring my wisdom teeth removal (the dentist gives me more anxiety then driving !)

“We still want to get the surgery..?” Asked the doctor. 

I nodded with my lips pouting and my eyes red from crying. My mother chimed in saying I was very nervous about the IV being put into my arm. Dr Reid politely asked if he could draw on me. But before he did he asked me “So what size are you thinking?” I shrugged. I really didn’t know. “…C ? D cup. Let’s do D cup you’re young and will make them look proportioned ” This comment to this day still makes me smile and giggle.

A few hours later I woke up very disoriented. Healing time is between 3-8 weeks. You aren’t allowed to lift anything heavy and you can’t wear any bras with underwire for at least 6 weeks…(Wooo sportsbras) Work at the time was challenging as I was on the trams at Grouse so no door opening for me. But even in that time…I noticed a change.

All my shirts fit better. I could buy smaller cheaper bras (Hello bay clearance section!) and most of all I felt better. Not to mention gravity wasn’t being so cruel. Let’s just say I finally have the body of someone in her mid twenties!

One night Tristan suggested I come to the track and try running. I threw on what running clothes I had and took the track and started. It was amazing…! I barely felt any bounce! I got too excited ! I sprinted! and then spent the next 5 minutes dry heaving.

From that moment on..everything changed. Running became an outlet for me. It helped me diagnose my depression and anxiety it’s been a pretty consistent thing in my life these past 5 years. I can’t believe it’s been that long since my surgery and since that night at the track. It feels like 2 seconds have passed since that evening.

If you had told me 5 years ago I would run a half marathon (let alone 10!) I would have called you crazy and started laughing hysterically. I didn’t know that I could addicted to such a fun sport. Heck even now Mr Tall is my running partner and we’re gearing up for another Seattle road trip for the Blerch. I love chasing him and he makes a great running partner.

Although the surgery altered my appearance it also helped alter my mindset. I have pretty low self esteem on a good day but the minute I let go of my chest being my only attractive quality…things got a little better. I still have work to do when it comes to my body and how I speak to it..but this surgery played a huge part.

Even this past year I’ve gotten stronger and during a camping trip in Iceland in which I summited some interesting hikes. Last moot in 2013 I wasn’t as confident in my athletic abilities and I had been running for a year.

I’d like to say surgery isn’t for every one. But it’s definitely an option. I had been warned that the weight might come back but I for one..consider it to be the BEST decision I ever made. I sometimes wonder late at night..what would have happened had I not had the surgery since it ultimately was a catalyst for a lot of events.

It lead me to running, which lead to a job at Running Room, then a job at Forerunners, then eventually a trip to Ireland….a lot of free shoes and friends , travel to Banff , Blerch the list goes on really. 

I am finding my fitness is going through a major shift right now and although it’s only September 1st, I look forward to the fall. Autumn is such a great time of year to run.

But for now I will try and enjoy the sunshine and heat while Vancouver still has it.

//

 

It’s not muscle pain

On February 17th I was out with Jeremy (or Mr Tall since the internet prefers this handle nowadays) and my leg had been hurting. I had been to the gym two days before so naturally I thought it was a cramp of some sort. It was right in my calf. When I first began running longer distances I would cramp up after 12k . I stretched and stayed off it.

By Tuesday the 21st it still wasn’t any better but I went and saw Hailee and we did a lot of stretching and rolling out and it finally felt a bit better. I wasn’t thrilled with how sore I had been feeling but it was starting to subside so it must be muscle pain.

Thursday…my leg had swelled up. I cancelled my gym session made earlier dinner plans and went home as fast as I could so ice my leg . I had quite the cankle going on. I must say.

By Friday morning the 24th I could barely move my leg let alone walk normally. My current temp job does involve a lot of sitting..but I couldn’t cross my legs. I emailed my mum and said “You need to take me to the clinic I’m really uncomfortable and I don’t think I’ll be able to work tomorrow at this rate” My other job as you know is running retail which involves a lot of standing. I couldn’t even put my foot down as it began to pull in the back and hurt.

My mum picked me up …by the 3rd clinic I finally saw a doctor I explained my symptoms and he proceeded to take my blood pressure and examine my leg

“Are you on the birth control pill?” He asked in a rather condescending tone.

“Yes…I am what does that have to do with anything?”

“You probably have a blood clot. You need to go to emergency and get an ultra sound to be sure”

My jaw dropped. A blood clot? No way. But I fit the bill. Pain lasting for more then 5 days..in my calf and severe swelling. I got the note from the clinic doctor , went home to use the washroom and drop off my work stuff and proceeded to Burnaby general.

I was there for about 2 and a half hours. I checked into emergency and was sent to an area called Supertrac. I firmly believe that going to the clinic first was the best idea since it allowed me to by pass a few things. Especially since my note says “ultrasound”

The nurse did a similar routine and had me try and bend my leg to which I winced as I tried to. Asked me questions if I smoke, any recent travel etc. They took my weight, did some blood work and gave me a blood thinner before sending me home. Which by the way was injected into my stomach and I did not appreciate.

By the time I got home it was about 9:30 I had a late dinner and proceeded to go right to bed. I was so sore and uncomfortable I was tearing up. I had the magic bag on my leg my dad’s bolster to elevate it and was even sleeping in my sisters room so I could avoid the stairs (I sleep in the downstairs of our house) but unfortunately there wasn’t much I could do for the pain.

The doctor I saw at the hospital said they had scheduled me for an ultrasound and were also confident it was a clot but needed the ultrasound to confirm and where it was exactly in my leg. They said they would call me around 9am. They called me at 7:30am…

I checked in at 12:30pm and proceeded to walk down to imaging. My technician was very nice and we had a lovely chat about the tattoo on my ankle. Ultrasounds aren’t that bad..but I did feel odd still wearing my shirt as she ran the wand up and down my bare leg.

“Yep it’s a clot we’re going to have you talk to another doctor about medication”

I met the lovely Dr Hertz and we proceeded to chat about blood thinners and the risks that come with taking them. I was told them to immediately stop taking the birth control pill. No one can say for sure that was the root cause but I don’t smoke and that’s usually the next one they focus on. So this means no blood donations and my birthday tattoo plans are on hold ….well boo.

I came home and then spent the weekend with my feet up trying to find ways to distract myself from the discomfort I was feeling.

. It’s been a month now and my leg is finally calmed down and I’ve been back at the gym for a few weeks now. My 100 days has obviously been derailed and I unfortunately had to back out of my first race ever because a week out I couldn’t guarantee that I’d be able to walk normally let alone run. I even worked a shorter Saturday shift just to avoid standing after a week of taking blood thinners.

So what now? I’m not sure. I’ve made progress since this lovely hospital adventure in that I’m down inches. I need to sit and think and look at my goals reassess and figure out a plan. The cogs in my head are turning as yet again try and find ways to stay motivated. Needless to say my depression has been looming over me as I job hunt AGAIN.

But I’m writing this to share the fact that sometimes your body is trying to tell you something and you may think it’s okay to ignore it, when in fact that’s the last thing you should be doing. Blood clots in particular can get quite scary if left untreated and I shudder to think what could have happened had I not gone in when I did.

Fingers crossed I can stop taking this medication in May!

//

 

 

Day 22/100

Happy Sunday,

I ended my day with an hour yoga session. I felt relaxed and felt like I released a lot of tension that I had been feeling . Not to mention my legs from skating appreciated as well.

I have some interesting workouts planned for the week and I’m really happy with my eating habits of lately. I haven’t been emotionally eating as I normally do. As well I can confidently tell you since I got my drivers licence I’ve been feeling a lot less pressure and stress surrounding that.

I also managed to finally get a good nights sleep. Which ultimately makes a huge difference

I’m looking forward to the week ahead.

It’s my last week off before I start a new temp job! Can’t wait to rock it

//

Day 21 /100

Today was a yoga day.

BUT I also did some ice skating!

Yes I took Jeremy’s adorable nephew Ice skating and I had intentions of taking photos but I was busy trying to teach him to stand up on the ice. I’d say we skated for about 35 minutes. A good chunk of the time I was either racing his nephew or pushing him on a chair….and believe me that’s a workout.

Ice skating was so much fun for me in high school, I can still see myself on a friday night with my friends and we would all get together and do the drop in free skate. In fact I’m pretty sure it’s in my long term goals/bucket list to formally try ice skating lessons since..although I can skate fairly well I wish I had more control for stopping and could do some different things while gliding on the ice.

Either way I felt the ice skating in my legs when I got home that night. But in a good way of course.

Also it’s hard not to feel pretty while on the ice

//

Day 20 /100 (Another slip up)

This was another day in which I did not do any excersise and for that I only have myself to blame. Although it was great that I ran yesterday and worked out with Hailee I feel I may have pushed myself too hard.

I woke up stiff and my head was killing me. So I spent my day hydrating a lot and taking it easy.

Like any workout regime it’s about planning and what I’ll make sure to do next time is to have an easier run. Hailee’s workouts are quite structured so that’s harder to alter but ultimately I can control what kind of running or cardio I can do if I am adamant about working out twice in a day.

Day 19/ 100

Training day with Hailee .

We squatted. Pause squats , standard squats mixed in with some arm work. Hooray for pull ups.

I also went for a run today with Emilie. We did hill repeats. We broke Royal Oak up into 3 separate hills and repeated them 3 x. Making the 3rd repeat to go all out till to hurt. Needless to say I felt winded at the end…but hills overall make you a stronger runner! Activating different muscles, training to run harder as well was it’s great race prep . Emilie and I are running a few races together which I’m really looking forward to !

Hills are crucial to that but are substantially easier when you have a friend pushing beside you. I should also mention that it was raining hard…and dark when we did this making it all the harder to get our feet out the door but I’m grateful we accomplished it.

Not to mention I had a great water intake today and eating day . Minus a donut. SO CLOSE I’ll get better I promise.

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Day 18 / 100

Today was another yoga day . Followed by headaches and general discomfort. It also doesn’t help that I had a strange nights sleep. I’m hoping it will pass soon..since well I like sleeping . I also managed to go on a brisk walk today it felt good to be outside and getting some fresh air.

I’m enjoying the yoga routine and at some point plan to attempt to try and take photos of myself while holding poses.

Not sure how I’ll accomplish that but it’s in the works.

Trying to relax. Trying to focus. Water content is good…could have eaten better but it didn’t help that I wasn’t feeling great come dinner time. But that’s ok.

There’s always tomorrow.