Scatter my ashes here...

Scatter my ashes here...
scatter my ashes in the desert...

Saturday, April 10, 2021

Climbing Out of Grief: My Post-Vax Reality

I'll get right to it-I realized the other day that I've stopped doing so much of what I used to do to express myself, and I need to get back to it. Writing and running.  

Running- my own sort of therapy to buffer against everyday life's injuries-is not something I find myself NOT doing. I am in a very deep hole. I'm having a difficult time organizing my thoughts, focusing and concentrating on things.  

I'm not sure exactly what triggered it. Last month we had the big snowstorm that made the weather and conditions difficult for running. And then there was the Atlanta shooting, followed by the Boulder shooting, which was about the beginning of it for me. And I never bounced back. 

Since March, I've been unable to function normally. My brain has been a mess of fog. I feel numb. It's been all but impossible to work full days. The work I do is very detail-oriented and requires accuracy and focus, with a lot of switching between tasks and keeping track of where you are. I'm good for about 3 hours in the morning and then it all goes to hell. I was going along, doing my thing, things were fairly smooth, and then BOOM! I was down. 

Talking with my stepmom, she said it sounds like grief. I'm sure she's right. 

We lost my dad six months ago, actually this coming week will be the six month anniversary of his death. I never have processed my feelings around the loss. At the time, I was trying to help my family and was worried about my stepmom, plus worried about my stepbrother who is facing a life-threatening illness, and I had recently started a new job and was busy learning how to do it. Not to mention a pandemic and everything that went with that. 

Thankfully I have a supportive workplace. I'm able to take the time I need when I need it. I have taken a few first steps to get help and I'm looking for a grief support group. 

There is so much to unpack here. I need some support to get my ass outside, moving forward, climbing upward, and on the trails again. I need non-judgment, someone who can move along in silence when needed and listen without inserting their own world into my angst. A therapist, basically. And no one wants to do that. I wouldn't want them to do that. I wouldn't want to do it. There is so much need for mental health services these days that I bet someone could make a good living at being a running therapist. 

I've been stress eating, drinking more alcohol than I should, unable to get myself out on a regular basis to put a decent workout in, feeling my clothes get tighter by the week, spending a lot of time tuning out and obsessing about what's happening in the world, and not sleeping all that well.

I have all these plans, I'm going to Mexico in November to climb the big volcanoes. I have a whole list of 14ers and hikes I want to do this spring and summer. But right now I can't even get my ass out the door to walk sometimes on a gorgeous 70 degree spring day. 

I do need someone to adventure with. That would help. It's hard to reach out or make plans when your brain is grief-addled. 

One thing about my choices of outdoor recreation is that it's hard to find matches to my ability and interests. Nothing new. 

When I started running ultras, there were very few women so I had to run with the guys. That worked well back then because I was faster than the average woman and it wasn't hard to keep up, the men  often had to keep up with me. 

But now I'm 57, I'm a little over a month past my last hard workout, a good 20 pounds overweight, and feeling like I'm doing the chasing, except there's nobody in front of me or behind me. I'm at the back of the pack- and no one is waiting to let me catch up-it seems. This might just be grief talking, but this is how I feel. I'm an aging extreme athlete.

Everyone who does the things I do is much younger, fitter, faster, and unwilling to slow their pace for this straggler, but most people my age and pace aren't interested in 14 hour summit days and carrying heavy packs full of contingency equipment for any conditions. And it's hard to find people who can go out on the weekdays like I prefer, to avoid the crowds. Colorado's backcountry is not the same as it used to be. And I'm more hesitant, maybe smarter, at my age, to go to some of these more risky and remote places by myself. 

But I'm in Colorado. There must be other people like me out there. I just don't know how to wrap my head around finding them because of my sluggish brain. 

So... that's where I am. I'm working on it. I really hope I can dig myself out of this hole soon and start climbing mountains. Because right now, instead of being on the summit, I feel like I'm at the bottom of the crater and about to be expelled in a giant belch of ash.