Depression told me it was an innocent slip, but I’m sure it was Freudian.
I was sitting in the small office of my gym, re-registering. We were talking about getting back and without being asked, I volunteered that I had stopped because of Covid. This was true in a way, but it was not the real reason I stopped going.
I stopped going to the gym because I had been in 5 East and my depression was still calling the shots.
Going to the gym was a self-care activity which my depression saw as a threat. So, it was very clear that I should avoid the gym. It took me a few weeks before I returned. But after that one visit, I could not face the gym again.
Eventually, I went in and resigned my membership, which by then was month to month.
I confided in the attendant, who is no longer there, that I had depression. I shared that it was impacting my socializing and that I was, for the time being, leaving the gym. While this made perfect sense to my depression, thinking back, it was less than ideal for my recovery.
My gym visits had been and are again, a source of relaxation, stimulation, and self-care for me.
While I expend vast amounts of energy, I feel better afterwards. I had lost over 20 pounds between that January and April, and then I was in 5 East. Today, I am back to my pre-January weight of 192 pounds. I still have the 3 X 5 card I updated weekly to record my progress towards my goal weight. This documented my progress without being on the scale every day. My bathroom scale is no longer connecting with the internet, so instead of uploading my weight to a tracking website, it is just consuming 4 AA batteries every other day as it attempts to connect.
My depression is quite happy about that.
It tells me “Leave the scale broken.” I believe it thinks that if I cannot measure my progress, I will give up and stop going to the gym. I will admit that I have been thinking about re-starting for months. Anytime Fitness is 20 minutes away, and that is where I was and where I am again.
Planet Fitness is on the other side of the mountain, 40 minutes away, but only 3 minutes from work.
In my head, I was visualizing bringing a bag with my gym and work clothes. I pictured myself going to the gym after work, before driving the 40 minutes to the house. Or leaving for work 2 hours early so that I could go to the gym, then shower before going to work.
However, historically 2 of my 4 days per week at the gym have been my days off from work.
I did not see myself driving 40 minutes over the mountain to go to the gym. This sticking point in my plan was what my depression exploited to keep me from making a decision and returning to the gym. The more I tried to justify one gym over the other, the further into the future I was pushing my decision.
Finally, I just said to myself, I have two reasons I want to start back to the gym.
The first is I want to be able to keep up with my grandson. He will be 2 at the end of the month and already weighs 30 pounds. I want to be able to lift him and keep up with his energy as we explore his world together.
Second, in less than 180 days, I will be trekking to the top of Kilimanjaro in Tanzania.
Getting back to the gym and renewing my relationship with a trainer, is part of the pre-summiting program I have set out for myself. Instead of the treadmill or even the elliptical, my trainer has put me on the stair climber. It seems a little extreme, but I know it is the right thing to do in preparation for summiting Kilimanjaro. With the summit at 19,430 feet, I want to be in the best shape possible.
So, as I met with my trainer and he asked about my goals, I gave him my grandson and Kilimanjaro as my reasons for returning to the gym.
I did not talk about depression or my decision to push through the obstacle’s depression was still holding up for me. And when he asked about medications I was taking, I told him that I have been on Benicar, 20 mg. for over 20 years. This medication is to control my blood pressure.
But I side stepped telling him I am taking 300 mg of Wellbutrin XL daily for my depression.
I was embarrassed and I wasn’t sure how he would react. I was afraid of stigma and that he may not be open to my admission. So, I avoided talking about it. Afterall, I was sure the medication wouldn’t be an issue in my exercise routines.
Instead, I used unhelpful thinking, and became a fortune-teller, predicting the future for myself without having to hear from an expert.
If this was the first time, I had done that, I wouldn’t be worried. But my depression has been pushing me towards these types of unhelpful thinking styles for over 40 years. Suddenly, I was back to worrying about what they will say. And in this case, they are everyone at the gym, including my trainer.
I wish I felt that I could be more open about my depression.
And I understand that I get to choose how I think about what they will say. Yet here I sit, indecisive, anxious, and a touch afraid of the truth. Going back to the gym is good. Worrying about the reasons behind my going back is not helpful. This bears more attention. I will get back to my feelings, but right now I am off to the gym.