This summer has been pretty great. We’ve done long (for me) bike rides, a couple prairie hikes, had fires in the backyard, and eaten more hot dogs than I have in years. Since we haven’t been very far from home and Kevin heads back to work on Monday (teacher), we decided to make a quick trip to Calgary/Canmore/Banff/Kananaskis.
(In Calgary) We woke up early to get on the road at a decent time. We were about to load the bikes and head to Canmore to do the Legacy Trail and walk around Banff when we discovered Kevin’s vehicle had been broken into. Everyone was very helpful. Livia and Liam cleaned up the glass and Adam called around for quotes for a replacement window - hoping we could get it fixed before Sunday morning. Ivy found out from a neighbour that there have been other incidences in the neighbourhood (they are hoping to find video evidence as a number of neighbours have security cameras). Kevin then dealt with the rest.
Not what we had planned for our weekend getaway.
I am always so amazed at how patient and calm Kevin is. I would have reacted much differently if it were my vehicle. I am so grateful to have him in my life.
After a quick lunch, we ended up borrowing my sister’s vehicle and continued with our original plan for the day.
Legacy Trail - Canmore to Banff. My legs were shot after 14 km. No pictures. I knew if we stopped I wouldn’t want to get back on the bike. Once we arrived we walked around for a bit and had a quick bite to eat.
Legacy Trail - Banff to Canmore. This was a breeze (comparatively). It was down hill for the most part and we were able to ride side by side for a lot of it as there were less people in the evening.
I’m proud of us. Kevin was very encouraging and I only complained in my head (but not very much honestly). We treated ourselves to ice cream before heading back to Calgary for much deserved showers. Total 42.83 km. Total time 2:25:00.
Day 2 was a BIG day. Thankfully we weren’t too sore from yesterday’s ride. We drove about an hour to Little Elbow/Sheep Valley Trails. We went up Nihahi Ridge Trail to a point called the Saddle (which was a challenge in itself). Adam convinced us we could make it up to the Ridge. He said “see those two trees, it’s right there”. It was all or none, and since we were so close we decided to do it. Little did we know (Adam had "tricked" us) it was around the back of the mountain and much further than the “two trees”. Livia (the mountain goat) led us up the steepest parts. Adam and Kevin stayed back to make sure I was ok. After much scaling we made it. Livia was our guide once again. I am thankful I asked to bring hiking poles, they came in very handy. Once we were done the technical part, Laurel took over the lead and led us back to the start. She was a trooper the whole way. Total 7.00 km. Total time 3:58:11. Unsure of the elevation gain. Fitbit said 642.82 m (this may be cumulative). But online accounts have much different numbers - we only did the first ridge of two.
Before heading back to the city we made a quick stop at Forget Me Not Pond. As he often does Adam took at dip into the ice cold water.
Before the girls went to bed we had a nighttime chat in their room. I’m glad they get to see me in this light and not as the person I used to be. I think they have some understanding of my past (their dad is a therapist as well so mental health is not a taboo subject).
In the morning Kevin taped some plastic over the “window” to make the drive back to Saskatoon more tolerable (it came off as we left the city limits). Blankets and sweaters kept us warm until the sun came out.
This weekend showed me I have quiet determination (as Adam put it), perseverance, mental toughness, and a desire to take on new challenges. I already look forward to our next big bike ride and hike.
I can’t think of a better way to wrap up summer.
I’m having a hard time processing how I’m feeling. I feel as though I should be panicked, terrified, and afraid. Yet I feel a sense of calm. As I watched coworkers get ready to work from home, and I see everyone sharing articles/stories (which by the way I have not read as it is overwhelming to say the least) - rather than give into the hysteria, I have decided to limit what and when I read news articles and waited for a while before I began to work from home myself.
I sometimes wonder if anxiety is a friend to me at this time. I know it must sound so strange to hear. What I mean is that I am used to racing thoughts and being in the state of fright, flight, or freeze on any given day. But for the average person who does not have anxiety and had a pretty normal life before everything was thrown into disarray. Before school was cancelled, before you had to start working from home, or were forced to not work all, before you had to self-isolate (if you had travelled), and before you had ever heard of the term ‘social distancing’ (I prefer ‘physical distancing’), this must be the most difficult thing you’ve ever encountered. Difficult because you don’t know when it will end. Difficult because this wasn’t in the plan.
During this time I have fallen back on what has served me well in managing my symptoms: staying in the moment, taking time for myself (walks, yoga, meditation), and exercise (walks, yoga, online classes/apps).
It is my hope you can find something that will serve you well.
It has dawned on me, I don’t think I have ever really told my whole story. I have kept it inside for so long. My memory is fading. My heart has healed.
I think I was likely depressed in elementary school (the later years). I have not processed this and it would take therapy to really dig into it. For now this is what I am able to share.
My story begins 10 years ago. I went into a downward spiral after a breakup. At 29 I thought my life was over. I had very little experience with relationships and I thought this was the person God had brought into my life. I laid awake for months on end going over all the things I could have done better, crying myself to sleep. Negative self talk was on repeat in my head. I could not get away from my thoughts: you’re ugly, you’re not good enough, what were you thinking, you’ll never find someone to love you. I was able to work, but it was definitely getting in the way of my productivity. On the weekends I slept all day, ate pretty much nothing, and was lucky if I could muster enough energy to shower. I lost a lot of weight and people noticed. When people would comment on how I looked, I would brush it aside and change the subject to something else.
It took many months for me to seek help. I had been through this once before about two years earlier (although not as severe). At that time my doctor asked if I wanted to go on medication. I said no.
In August (of 2009) I started counselling. It was about that time I also started on medication. This time around I knew I could not do this alone. Talking to someone gave me a different perspective and allowed space for me to cry or stay silent if that was what I needed. The timeframe is a little blurry, but at some point I decided to start sharing my story. I created a blog and would share things I would never tell anyone in person. Somehow writing gave me the freedom I always needed. I was (and still am) very insecure, but having this outlet seemed to help. A couple of years after I started writing, I lost all of my blogs due to not saving them properly. I was devastated at first, but hoped this would help propel me to write from a different (hopefully happy) place. I was starting to feel better, I had stopped seeing my counsellor and I was off (or weaning off my medication).
I’m not exactly sure when the negative thoughts started to creep back in. I told myself I would not get hurt again and so I closed myself off. Attending bridal showers and baby showers was hard (if I could, I made excuses not to go). I isolated myself - only going to work and coaching track. I had no social life. The more I stayed in the easier it was, and the more worthless I felt. When I did reach out to people and they couldn’t hangout or cancelled plans, I told myself more lies: they don’t like me, I’m not their friend, I’m such a loser.
I could not take it anymore and I made my way back to my doctor (2016).
This time we tried a different medication as I had terrible withdrawal symptoms from the medication I had taken previously. She also recommended a psychologist (who thankfully I connected with). I had a not so great experience with another therapist a few months prior and didn’t want to go through that again.
Now in my mid 30s I was coming to grips with the fact that I was going to be single forever. It hurt, my heart hurt, but I just didn’t see any other future for myself. I was still isolating quite a bit and my therapist challenged me on that. She gave me little things to do (as homework) to help me out of my shell. Little by little I was returning to (or more accurately moving towards) the person I am today. I was so tired of being stuck, so tired of the tears, and guilt and shame that comes along with depression.
I surprised myself sometimes through this journey. I was starting to laugh more, and socialize, and not take things personally when someone had to cancel plans. The wall I had build up was beginning to crumble. So much so that I allowed myself to be open to the possibility of letting someone into my heart. It was a sudden change for me. One that ten years ago wasn’t even fathomable.
Today (at the age of 39) I am in a great place. I am dating someone who I didn’t have to fear telling my story to as he saw it first hand - or at least the parts I was willing to share (we have been friends for just over 20 years).
In September 2018 my therapist told me she thought I was doing well enough to stop seeing her (I agreed) and October 25, 2018 was my first day medication free.
Through this journey I have learned: I am not alone, I am worthy, and sharing my story can give others hope.
Today: Like most, I'm trying to figure things out. Sometimes that's day by day, moment by moment, and even breath by breath.