October 30, 2009

What are your lifelines?

I was thinking this morning about things I cannot live without.

I don't mean things like air and water and an appropriate amount of carbon dioxide to stimulate the breathing reflex; I'm talking about things that, if they were suddenly to go away, would make such a huge dent in my quality of life that living would be difficult to do.

The whole reason that this came up is that I did something last night I hardly ever do (which is the reason I'm posting in the afternoon rather than in the morning): I forgot to take my antidepressant before I went to bed.

Those of you who have read Head Nurse know that I take Effexor to control anxiety and depression. It's been a literal lifesaver for me; I think I would've died of ennui had I not started taking it five years ago. *Not* taking it, though, is worse than being depressed: even the extended-release version will set you up for nasty, nasty withdrawal symptoms if you miss so much as a single dose. Think dreams that even Crabby's Lucid Dreaming post couldn't help you control, weird visual and physical effects, and a feeling like your brain has the flu.

So I woke up this morning feeling electric shocks down my arms and up my neck, remembered the crazy dream I had (the ICU staff was doing a cross between "Survivor" and "The Amazing Race", neither of which I've ever seen, and we had to walk from Dallas to the Gaza Strip), felt foggy and goofy, and realized: This drug? Is a lifeline for me. Without it, I have Brain Scurvy.

Intrigued by the thought that a little red capsule could be so important, I thought about other lifelines I have. One is my relationship with my sister. Another, surprisingly, is my relationship with Attila.

Three years ago, if you'd told me I would consider a monumentally expensive personal trainer to be a necessity rather than a luxury, and that I'd actually panic at the thought of not working out with that M.E.P.T., I would've laughed you out of the room. I knew intellectually that exercise could change brain chemistry for the better. I knew it could help manage stress. I knew it could increase a person's feelings of competency and self-esteem. I just didn't realize how much those study results would apply to me.

I'll be darned, though, if I don't feel so much better, so much less goofy, and so much more competent when I'm done falling over my own feet and dropping weights on my head! At first, it was the Hammer Analogy: it felt so good when I stopped that I didn't mind the weight-dropping and floor-kissing. Now, though, it's a totally different feeling: I *jones* for workouts. And I know that I have neither the determination nor the discipline to do them on my own, so I really depend on Attila.

I have, totally unintentionally, become something of a jock. When I'm out for walks with Max, he'll stay on the ground while I balance on a low wall. We'll do doggy-timed wind sprints. I no longer poop out at the idea of lifting heavy patients--in fact, it's become something of a noblesse oblige thing for me to help with every lift at work.

It's not to the point yet that I'm wearing running shoes out in public, or that I'm eating horrible protein bars for breakfast and taking licorice extract at lunch, but I'm sure that time will come. When it does, please knock some sense into my head and remind me of my other lifeline: FRITOS.

What are your lifelines? How many of them are body-fitness-related, and how many are brain-fitness-related?


  1. Cheese, pasta, chocolate, books. I'm a pretty big I (for introvert, both in the Myers-Briggs sense and the hermit sense), so if the Internet went away, I wouldn't care so much; just don't take my books. I guess that also means don't take my sight or my ability to read, which go hand in hand with books and writing. That would suck.

    Would I rather be dead than blind? Tough call.


  2. I'd have to say a big lifeline for me is my spirituality and I'm not talking sitting 'round praising Jesus etc. I would say it's my ability to look inside myself for strength and calm. though it prob has to do with the antidepressants. ;-)

  3. The fact that Pilates helps both brain and body fitness (and that I actually do it) would make me smug, but thinking of how fiendishly difficult some of the workouts are and how awkward I look when I do them -- like a modern dance rehearsal gone horribly wrong -- kind of keeps me from it.

  4. My husband is a psychologist and my best friend is a rabbi, so I guess I get my therapy cheap :) I need them both to stay happy and grounded. I get very grumpy without exercise-- Zumba being my favorite. The other stuff- growing things, minor social contacts in my small town, kid events, cozy fires and hot baths- they all contribute too.

  5. Very intriguing post & thx for sharing!

    Me, my family & my workouts for sure. My family is a given & my workouts have gotten me thru the worst of times including the death of family & both my parents.

  6. My family for sure. Although they do have their moments. :)

    And my workouts. Something I've been missing these last few months before baby's arrival.

    And chocolate. Definitely chocolate. *sigh*

  7. I've been going through some scary times with my artificial hip and I have to say, my lifeline is my yoga teacher.

    Food-wise, I guess it would be cheese.

    And of course, I can't imagine life without my hubby and two boys. My recurring nightmare is having my husband leave me--very weird since we seem to have a pretty good marriage, thank you very much.

  8. I take Pristiq -the metabolite to Effexor without some of the side effects (but, with some of the possible DO NOT MISS A DOSE symptoms, though I haven't had them). It's improved my life a lot.

    I lost my trainer last year -and I KNOW how important a trainer is as a lifeline. There was still a day this week where I completely missed him. And I've found another to work with when I need one- but still not the same relationship. Losing Guido is still like having lost an arm.

    What I need:

    My meds. They keep alive and healthy and functioning.

    My internet. I live a fairly isolated life -even in a huge population region. Without the internet, I'd truly die of loneliness.

    My car. Sad. But there is no other way for me to get away from the isolation of my house and mingle with breathing beings. I must have.

    My gym membership. Where else do I see people regularly? And the guys are finally starting to talk to me.

    That's enough for now.

  9. fantastic fantastic post.
    I wonder if it would be surprising to people that my lifelines dont include exercise.
    YES I love to lift weights but I couldnt deem it a lifeline as it is such a journey in solitude.
    For me the phrase makes me more think interaction.
    Either internally (meditation, praying) or externally (friends and family).

    I have to say my husband and daughter are my true lifelines.

  10. Books. (Add the internet as a subset of "endless things to read.")
    Coffee. Chocolate.
    A comfortable, safe place to walk. (And believe me, after the sprained knee this summer, "safe" just went up a notch.)
    Quiet. Noise I cannot escape from turns me into a very unpleasant person.

    Mary Anne in Kentucky

  11. Books, time to myself, my kids' teachers and therapists, chocolate, yoga, dogs. Pilates, too, 'cause it's my job as well as something I enjoy.
    Mostly, though, my husband and kids.

  12. I just discovered your blog and added it as a favorite. I told my husband, this is exactly the way I feel! I'm a fitness fanatic and need the chemical reaction from exercising, and would also love to have oatmeal for breakfast, quinoa and vegetables for lunch, and super-size heath bar for dinner. Can't wait to read more!

  13. My husband: a day without him in it is a little less.

    My job: it's boring and pays very little, but life is better with some place to go and something to do.

    My pets: they're messy, smelly, needy, but love me unconditionally.

    My kids: Wow look what I did! They survived and grew into interesting, intelligent, functioning adults.

  14. my lifelines: the internet. my husband. Animals, not just my pets, but the hawks, vultures, spiders, snakes, toads, ladybugs, even the slugs who are the bane of my organic broccoli-growing efforts... Nature i guess would be better. my dogs of course. and my many spiritual masters, people who have taught me about finding God. Some probably don't even know I think of them as Gurus.All of which made possible by the internet. my huge extended family, especially my Aunt Bea. Most definitely biggest lifeline is my mom.

  15. Living lifelines would include my sons, my SO, family, friends and pets. Nature walks, my camera and my computer/Internet are the others. Great, evocative post.

  16. wonderful post and a great way to start the day by thinking about what we a thankful for.

    My lifelines are balance and weirdly enough, my age. Sure, my family is a lifeline...I can't imagine being permanently without them...BUT I need balance in that I MUST have time alone and away from them and create something.

    As far as my age goes, I'm thankful for the wisdom it's bringing me...now if I could just turn back the clock and treat my body better. (sigh)


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