I’ve been fit my whole life, having hit the genetic lottery (depression and a predisposition to addiction notwithstanding):
- Low body fat,
- Slow resting heart rate,
- Fast metabolism,
- Excellent reflexes and hand eye coordination,
- Quick exercise recovery, etc.
Being fit, and a natural athlete, played perfectly into the depression and addiction problems, too. When mononucleosis blew up my liver 27 years ago, I turned my budding alcohol addiction into a full blown exercise addiction.
In fact, when my doctor asked if I ever self-medicated my depression, I said yes, but not the way she might think. I was self medicating with exercise.
That’s how bad my mental health crisis got…so bad that I fell out of shape badly enough that 14 months of daily exercise later I’m still not back in proper shape. Of course, the exercise is helping again.
For instance, take last Thursday. Please.
A realization became an epiphany, which brought on a depression flashback that, for 24 hours reverberated through my system.
I couldn’t shake it until I did something I haven’t done for about eight months, I ran. I didn’t run far, and I didn’t run fast, but I ran. I ran until
- my heart rate climbed to theoretically unsafe numbers
- the sweat poured off
- my body ached
- I could barely breathe
Most of all, I ran until the reverberations of the crisis began to pass, and though I had been in shape until these past two years, I ran past my limits.
Now I know what it’s like to be a middle aged man, overdoing exercise and having to recover.
I’m paying the iron price, but I suppose that, although middle age sucks, it beats the alternative.