As I sit at the kitchen table, starting to write this blog, for which I have taken 24 hours to think of a name for, I am starting to understand my mindset on the whole matter.
The past year has been very different for me. Meeting Ann, moving in together, making huge physical and mental progress, as well as having many hiccups along the way. Roughly two years ago I was just starting to get caught in the whirlpool of depression. Starting to feel myself losing control, realising I was getting down, and fighting to keep my head above water. After a year long fight, I was in a position where I could say I finally felt back in control of things.
However being in a new relationship, and facing a very different living dynamic than the one I was used to, I wanted to tread carefully, and not rush myself off medication, or into to many changes at once. Almost another year later and I am finally in a position where I feel comfortable in considering a reduction in medication, and taking full control back.
Having been on Citalopram for 2 years now, I am more than aware that being off them will feel rather different to what I have grown used to. Since the first time on them, I am aware of the slight lethargic feeling they cause, which you just grow to accept in your day to day life. My recollection from coming off them last time is clear, and I remember how much more energised I felt, for the first few weeks at least. After that, well that is up to the individual.
And this is where the blog starts really.
There is an inherent fear of losing control early on, when there is no medication to "save you" from what life throws at you. When something unforeseen happens, you have no safety net to catch you. Truth be known, there never was. There is a placebo effect that is common when on such medication, and you feel safe, cocooned if you may. Such faith in the meds, that you feel stronger, and more resistant to outside influences. In reality, your mind is more chemically balanced, the right signals are being sent, and you take strength from this feeling. Almost a sense of enhanced confidence.
This confidence is something a lot of people lack, and it is what starts the downward spiral in the first place for some. Simple matters defeat you, worries begin to control you, and soon you are just along for the ride. The ability to remain in control is what gives this heightened sense of confidence.
Realising this is key for me, especially right now, as I approach the first drop in my Citalopram dose for about 18 months now. Knowing that the sense of control I feel I have now is all me, and not the medication is a sobering thought. It shows me that this person is me, I am not the product of the medication. I am however aware of the balance that the medication has restored in me, and am in no rush to immediately come completely off it. There may be a balance to be found between me and the meds, then again, I may be free of it entirely in the coming months.
The title of the blog is a mantra I need to keep in mind at all times. From home life to work life. Flat out training, to resting in the evening. There are always moments where we need to pause for thought, compose ourselves, and react rationally. I found myself practising it yesterday in fact, which is what spawned this blog, realising I was actually in control.
A spanner thrown into the works of the day, churning up my thoughts, whilst in mid flow of writing another blog. My initial reaction, rage, anger, and fire straight back. Closing the laptop and walking away for 10 mins was a good start. Deep breath.
Distracting myself with something else, watching a YouTube video, gave me time to consider the matter, and contemplate my response. Was one even needed. Count to ten, think about it.
With a few minutes taken to consider the outcomes of all scenarios (classic trait of an over thinker, but that is another story) I relaxed. Realising that any response would simply perpetuate the situation, and each cycle would simply trouble me more, and not resolve anything. Sometimes the cause is just not worth the battle.
That however is just one example. Somehow my mind finds itself in these situations too often, and that is my next battle. There is only so much one can do when it comes to change and influence. Speak your mind if there is hope of a constructive outcome. If the outcome is pretty clear from the offset, why even bother involving and upsetting yourself? A mantra I can recite, but not one I am familiar with following, yet!
To support this change in medication, and what will no doubt be a bit of a strange time for me, to say the least, I have also decided to take control of matters in other ways too.
Having been sat at home bored senseless for weeks on end this year, with foot issue after foot issue, the time has come to stand up to it, pun intended. Having now been through the medical mill, tested, scanned, xrayed, medicated, reviewed, and currently going through physio, the one message I have taken from it is, it's not going to get better any time soon. However, gently pushing on should cause minimal harm.
Now a long way away from my 3,000 mile cycling goal this year, this is one of the things which stresses me out, after all cycling is my great escape. And my very own body has denied my mind this escape. Failure is NOT an option, I must succeed.
Whilst in with the doctor yesterday, which I will return to shortly, I discovered my weight has skyrocketed while I have been laid up, and I am now a HUGE 117kg or 257lbs (18.3 stone). A month ago I was 245lbs! This is not good, neither mentally nor physically. Extra strain on my body is unwanted, and is just going to cause me more issues, especially as it is my feet which have to bear the brunt of it all.
So, medication change is tied first place with weight loss. They go hand in hand, and support one another. Health = movement, movement = freedom, freedom = happiness, happiness = good mental health. I am not unfamiliar with losing weight or increasing fitness, in fact I love the challenge of it, but the timing has to be right.
Knowing I have almost 1,000 more miles to cycle this year is a kick in the backside for sure. With my experience of low calorie diets, HIIT (high intensity interval training) and getting stuck into long rides, I reckon the bar should be set high for my improvements for myself this year. Targets yet to be set, but rest assured they wont be easy ones.
So the plan, as with the medication is to get started with it all next week. One big start line for the whole lot. This coincides with my return to work also, so that alone will help with the routine side of things. It also gives me the remainder of this week to work on the advice from the physio, to regain more movement in my right ankle before working it. There are 87 days left in this year or just over 12 weeks, so plenty of time to get back where I want to be. Watch this space.
In the meantime, I will carry my mantra, Breath, count, control, and apply it to any challenge which presents itself. It is simple really, the hardest part for me will be preventing the initial knee jerk reaction, to let the rest of the cycle play out. But I know I can do it, if I put my mind to it.