I've been in a funk since October. This isn't the first time I've felt like this but it is certainly the deepest and longest that I have ever felt so out of sorts. I have written nothing for months. Each morning I wake feeling existentially exhausted. Objectively I look at my life and think, "You've got it pretty darn good. Why are you so down?" But the objective facts and subjective feels just are not meshing for me right now. There are days I just want to quit everything. Give up. Start over...Crawl under a rock. Yet, I push on. But each day I feel that I am digging myself into an ever deeper hole, and the deeper I go the darker it gets. I feel that I've lost myself somewhere along the way, and I need to find my way back...
“The greatest hazard of all, losing one’s self, can occur very quietly in the world, as if it were nothing at all. No other loss can occur so quietly; any other loss - an arm, a leg, five dollars, a wife, etc. - is sure to be noticed." ~ Søren KierkegaardOne of the things I tell my athletes is that stress is stress. The body and mind can't differentiate between running/training stress and emotional/psychical stress. It is tempting to say that I am overtraining - the signs are there - poor sleep, depression, brain fog, poor recovery, crappy runs, etc. But training is not the issue. I've actually taken a nice bit of downtime from training since running Cuyamaca 100k in early October. My training has been lighter these past couple months than it has been for well over a year - and yet I am feeling flat and heavy. I was hoping that this down time would leave me raring to go, but, alas. Life is not just about running. If only it were so simple.
So here's the thing: It is hard to take care of yourself when you take care of so many others. It is hard to set boundaries and be there at the same time. Those who are in "helping" professions are often forced to hide their own challenges.
This became ever so clear to me this week when I posted a couple things on Facebook concerning strangers lashing out at me in anger. Many responded in the following way:
This time of year can be hard for some people...We should try to understand...Be kind. We all have battles...etc.And all I wanted to say was: Yeah. We do all have battles. I'm having a hard time too. Why am I always asked to understand. The loneliness of this world can consume you - I am forever told to be gracious. Help others. Be there 24/7. Go the extra mile. Give people the benefit of the doubt...Understand, understand, understand...it's all so mindful, and peaceful, and enlightened. And, it can be utter bullshit!
But bullshit can make great compost - so, I am taking it - and I am going to use it. I can throw it in this hole and make some sweet garden soil...But it must cook first.
So, here I am. A flawed individual, who needs more than just giving, giving, giving. My running is not what's caused my overtraining symptoms - and I am clearly suffering from overtraining - Rather, it's my inability to set boundaries - to know how to turn off the world which just wants more and more and more from me - that's at issue. It's my inability to ask for help and support when I need it. And, I have things going on in my life that few know about. It's stress I must stuff away, quietly. I lie in bed, and ruminate and worry, over and over and over - How am I going to fix this? It's all on me like the dark, heavy dirt falling on my head as I dig my hole ever deeper.
This time of year is the hardest for those of us feeling this way because it is supposed to be a happy time. We are supposed to be happy, just like everyone else. But what if we aren't happy? Being told that I should understand how others feel when I am feeling like the life has been sucked out of life only heightens alienation and loneliness. Maybe they should try to understand me. maybe we all should try to understand each other, without assumptions about who does and does not deserve that understanding.
So. What's the point of all this? Well, everyone says: If you need help, ask. But I'm not sure that's really sincere. Again, those in "helping professions" are often forced to stuff these things - but we feel this way too, though it is bad form (and possibly bad business) to say so. Very well. It may be, but we all have this one life. I have hit a breaking point and I am saying enough is enough. This is unsustainable.
“The most common form of despair is not being who you are.”~ Søren KierkegaardYesterday I had lunch with my friend Carolina - I mentioned my funk and she asked: "How do deal with those?" For the first time I did not really have an answer. "I'm not really sure." I responded. "It usually just works itself out." But as I said this, I realized that this one is more serious.
Later, thinking about it, I realized that I've had zero mental space for too long now. I no longer think about the interesting things I used to enjoy thinking about. I'm too exhausted to think. And, I'm too distracted to think. In today's world of pinging smartphones and buzzing Garmin notifications, who actually has a moment to think anymore? I'm sure some do, but I'm not one.
Somehow I need to find my way back to myself. Part of that process, for me, is to do what I am doing here. In a world of facades and happy Facebook profiles, it may be oversharing. But this has always been my space to 'overshare' and I need to reclaim it. We have created a world where authenticity is frowned upon. It's poor taste. Unseemly. Weak.
And my task for the remainder of the year is to dig myself out of this hole I've dug because if I don't it will bury me. If anyone else out there is feeling this way, I am with you.
“The highest and most beautiful things in life are not to be heard about, nor read about, nor seen but, if one will, are to be lived.”~ Søren Kierkegaard