We have reached a sticky wicket, my friends.
I write this blog as an extension of my health coaching business. I write things that I hope will inspire others, as well as giving usable tools for living a healthier and happier life. You read this blog presumably because you enjoy the content I write. But of course, you also read because of me, the blogger herself. Me, the blogger who lives in Israel. Me, the blogger who might need to stop writing any minute to enter a bomb shelter at the wailing of an air raid siren. Me, the blogger who will wait there until I hear the wall-shaking boom, mutter a prayer of thanks for the incredible Iron Dome, let the adrenaline drain away, and return to my seat in front of the computer to continue writing.
Day after day, I look at the awesome content calendar I made to keep myself on track with writing and publishing, and I think, “How can I write about those subjects and not mention what is going on?” But on the other hand, how can I mention what is going on, when to open my mouth at this moment, would unleash upon you a dark, vile blackness, that is the exact opposite of inspiration, health or happiness?
I know I am the only Israeli many of you know and you would really love to hear more from me about what it’s like here right now, but I’m not going to write that. I don’t have the emotional stability to be able to say what you want to hear at the moment. I’m too close and too upset. I will say, because I know you are concerned, that I actually feel pretty safe right now. What I am afraid of, is where things are going and of all the nightmarish scenarios I try not to even entertain. And yes, in my better moments, I am afraid for the suffering of the very people who want to kill me. They are still human beings despite it all.
It seems absurd to write glibly about the fact that I’m going to the gym every day, and except for one particularly scary night when I mistakenly thought food could help, I am still on plan and on track and gettin’ it done. People are dying, but I’m achieving my personal goals. I am ashamed to even write such a sentence.
But, maybe it is exactly what I am supposed to be writing? Maybe seeing someone stay on track in the worst of situations, will somehow inspire you to stay on track in the face of lesser obstacles? And for my fellow Israeli readers who are struggling to keep their heads up, may my words provide strength.
So today, like every single day, five days a week, I went to the gym. I spent my usual 60 minutes lifting weights and then did 20 minutes of sprints on the treadmill. Today was “leg day” meaning I did 5 compound leg exercises: leg press, heavy squats, walking weighted lunges, lying leg curls, and deadlifts, about 4 sets of 10-12 reps each, then 2 ab exercises, bicycles, and crunches, another 4 sets of 20 reps each. Then 1 minute sprint/jog intervals on the treadmill for 20 minutes.
For those 80 minutes I thought of nothing else besides the burn in my buns and lungs. There were no rockets, no hate, no depressed thoughts, no alarming predictions. I built up the desperately needed rising endorphins which finally burst over me in a wash of well-being and even JOY. If I didn’t have those 80 minutes, I do not know how I would cope with the remaining 22+ hours of frustration, fear and sadness the rest of the day will likely dispense.
Except for that one slip, when I was actually trying to avoid alcohol and chose cookies instead, I have been feeling my feelings and not eating (or drinking) them. I am not rocketing around from sugar high to low (see what I did there? so puntastic). I am sticking to my healthy food, eating when hungry, not eating when sad.
A good bit of this happens unconsciously because I have had years of practice and this is now my routine. But there are still many times when I struggle as well.
-I have been reluctant to go to the gym some mornings for fear of a siren going off on my walk there. Where would I take shelter? But I remind myself that I am in a country of good samaritans (literally) and I would not be left alone and in danger.
-When I make the mistake of reading comments on the internet, pretty much anywhere, or watching a foreign news broadcast, I am overcome with the strong desire to drink alcohol in order to dull the horror of the things people say about my country and my people. But I remind myself that now we can defend ourselves. That is the whole point of all of this. And also, that if I focus on hate, I will see and feel hate. If I focus on love, love is what I will see and feel. And ultimately, I’m a sloppy, depressed drunk anyway.
-When I feel the dark, sucking maw of depression opening up below me, I remember my Tool Kit, which consists of the following steps. May they help you as well:
- TELL someone! Depression loves to isolate us. You don’t want to burden anyone else with your crazy thoughts, right? Well, that’s a trap, people. Find someone who doesn’t mind a rant and get it OUT of you!
- Get outside. Sunlight is magic and free. Get into it.
- Take your vitamins. For me that is B vitamins, D and EPA/DHA. Maybe it’s a placebo effect but who cares if it works.
- Write in a journal. Face it, there are some things you don’t even want to admit to your bestie. Paper doesn’t judge. Write it out of you.
- Exercise. See above. Endorphins are good.
- Stop and eat a good meal: veggies, fruits, protein, carbs and fat. Balance it up and munch it down. If you need help, that’s what I do…
- Avoid sugar, booze and drugs – depression’s best friends. They are not welcome at your party.
- If you’re a prayer person, pray. If you’re an artist, create. A dancer, dance. Etc etc. Force yourself if you have to. This is an emergency.
- Close the computer! My kids (and everyone I know) have downloaded an app to their phones called Red Alert Israel, which rings whenever there is an air raid siren anywhere in the country. For the first few days of this, I had to run to my computer every 5 seconds the thing rang to see where the alert was. I quickly went mad. If something happens that I need to know about, someone will tell me. It doesn’t help the residents of Ashdod or Kiryat Malachi or wherever, that I know they are running to their shelters at the precise moment they are running there. Likewise, if you stay off of Facebook because it makes you feel like shite, the only thing that will happen is you feeling happier and having more time to accomplish things.
- Have faith. The moments when I begin to lose hope that there is a solution here, I start slipping into the abyss. I made the conscious decision that I will NOT give up hope. I have a few phrases and psalms that I repeat when I start to feel hopeless. They remind me that my life is tiny in the scheme of things and my people have endured through thousands of years of relentless hatred and persecution. Everything will somehow be OK. You don’t have to know HOW, just believe it will be.
- Volunteer. One of the best things you can do to stop feeling sorry for yourself, is to focus your attention on someone who needs help. Don’t just send money either because that negates the mood effect. You have to actually offer of yourself, your time, your talents, your love, your comfort. = Instant uplift. Plus the world is a better place because of what you did. Win win.
Disclaimer: Depression isn’t monkey business, loves. I am talking here about “the blues” not clinical Depression, which needs professional, medical treatment. If you can’t get out of bed in the mornings, don’t want to wash, eat or dress, or cannot raise your spirits no matter what you do, PLEASE call your doctor and get help!
I am shutting off the ability to comment on this post. I know some of you want to send me your support and I REALLY appreciate that, but I can’t take the chance of other sorts of comments.
To better days!