Thursday, September 13, 2012

It's about the sanity

I sat on the park bench crying inconsolably.  I was too upset to go home; I didn't feel like explaining myself to Bil or the kids, so I just sat there sobbing, so angry at Danny's teachers.

I had just had a terribly frustrating meeting with them about how he "couldn't focus."  The teachers gave no suggestions, only complaints.  It was obvious they were giving up on him for the year.  The special ed teacher kept talking about how much better third grade would be.  It was only March, but they were already giving up on my kid.

I felt helpless and sad and hopeless, as I sat on that bench staring at the houses that lined the street surrounding the park.  Trying fruitlessly to come up with solutions, I wracked my brain.  But there was nothing.  I had nothing at all.  I was so drained and confused and angry.  And I didn't know what to do to feel better.

Then, I had a thought.  I would go to Zumba class.  That would buy me some time before I had to rehash the meeting with Bil.  I just wanted to be alone, and Zumba seemed like a good place for that. Though crowded, it's dark and noisy--no need to talk to, or even look at, anyone.

So, I composed myself and headed to the gym.

As soon the bass tones of  the music filled the room, I felt relief.  As I danced, I was actually overcome with a peace and an overflow of emotion. I started to get choked up, but this time it wasn't out of hopelessness, it was blessed peace and release.  I knew I still had to figure out how to help Danny, but at that moment, I could revel in the movement and how good it felt.  As I cha-cha'd and shimmied, I began to feel that life was manageable again.  I would figure it out.

By the time the workout was over, I felt like a new woman.

I have been working out pretty regularly, since my teens, in an attempt to manage my burgeoning weight.  Aerobics videos, walking, biking all to reduce the size of my hips, thighs and stomach.  I knew that if I ever wanted to look like Kate Winslet, I should be exercising everyday.

It hasn't been until recent years that I realized exercise was about much more than my appearance and weight.

It is the one thing standing between me and depression.

I first realized this when I was pregnant with Tommy.  My first trimester hit me hard emotionally. I was already overwhelmed with my parenting duties and the hormonal onslaught only made me more scared, lonely and weepy.  I couldn't make it through the day without crying.  And these crying jags were not just the kind you have from watching a sappy Hallmark commercial.  Oh, no, these episodes included me feeling like things were completely dismal, that I was the worst mother in the world and I would never be able to handle another child.

I had almost decided to talk to my doctor about medication when I popped in an exercise video. To my surprise, I starting smiling almost as soon as the warm-up was done, and I didn't cry once the rest of the day.  After that, I knew that if I were going to make it through the pregnancy sanity intact, working out had to be a priority.

That episode on the park bench last year reminded me that I have to make time for exercise.  Though I rarely look forward to the actual work out, I always feel better afterwards. More telling is when I take a break for a week.  All of a sudden, my emotions are more difficult to control.  My stress levels raise exponentially, and I don't sleep as well.

So, I try to make it a priority to work out, no matter what is happening.  I sometimes feel guilty about the time I am taking away from my family, but really we all benefit from it.

I'll never have Kate Winslet's body, but some things are more important than looks.


For more posts about exercise, visit the Spin Cycle.

Second Blooming


gretchen said...

You know, you are such a good writer. Just saying. This is such an important lesson, and I completely get it. And now that I'm heading into the hormonal hell of menopause, I'm finding that exercise helps SO much.

You are linked!!

Kristy said...

i don't know how I would have gotten through my son's school years if I didn't have exercise! Eventually, I started biking which led to triathlons and now it's a lifestyle. I'm even planning which races to do next around my upcoming wedding! Most vacations usually involves a race! (marathon, half marathon, 5K or triathlon) It's great!

Lizbeth said...

And that is exactly why I run. Hugs.

Stacy Uncorked said...

I need to adopt your attitude towards exercising - look at is as a positive rather than a negative or as a chore. :) I'll bet I'll embrace it more, and be more consistent if I do! Thanks for that! :)

Exercise in Futility

Ginny Marie said...

That is so true! I used to go exercise more and it really helped my state of mind. My sister lives with chronic depression, and one of her coping mechanisms is exercise.

SuziCate said...

I've heard that exercise helps depression. It's supposed to help fibromyalgia as well.

Flannery said...

This really inspired me. For real. See, I hate to exercise, just HATE it. I don't like to sweat, and I feel embarrassed when I work out. But honestly, my weight has been out of control for a very long time, and something must be done. You made it sound enjoyable, like something I would WANT to do.

Wish me luck!

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