15 March 2017

Running Out of Marbles

Five years ago was my friend Lisa’s bachelorette party.

Now, to be fair, calling it a bachelorette party is a bit of a misnomer since we're more the Girls Gone Mild variety. The plan was dinner and drinks, so it was more like a ladies night out and one of us just happened to be getting married in the coming weeks.

The five of us went to dinner and after went to a swanky bar here in Cleveland for drinks. Swanky bars charge swanky prices so we only intended to stay for one drink and then move to a less swanky, more familiar bar after.

But as the group was getting ready to relocate to the second bar, I said I was going to head out and go home.

This was not unusual for me: we are, by and large, a group of introverts and I was always the friend who hit her social wall first. Tonight, the evening we were sending our unmarried friend over the martial threshold, it was about 10:00 pm.

“Why?” the group asked.

“Because I’m tired."

What they said was: “But you didn’t do anything today!”

What they meant was: “But you didn’t work today!”

Which is true. Fridays were my day off but that also meant that Fridays were the day I did all that stuff I couldn’t do because of work the other days in the week. So, while, they saw Fridays as the day I didn’t do anything, I saw Fridays as the day I went for my long run and I volunteered and I went to the grocery store and the bank and all those other places people go when they run errands. I had to deal with people. Lots of people. And not just people: strangers. I had to drive all around the city and then I had to come home and take a shower and make myself pretty and then I had to, once again, go out and drive around the city and deal with people. This time it was my friends, but still: more people. And, because I’m an introvert, all that dealing with people -- friends and strangers alike -- exhausts me.

At the time, I was the sole librarian at a very tiny library at a very tiny career college. A very tiny and very underutilized library. I could go a full day without seeing students in there and the students that were in there were mostly there to work on the computer so they didn’t need me and, when they did, it was a brief five minute interaction where I’d show them how to open Microsoft Word or attach a file to an outgoing email. I only saw my co-workers at lunch and when I arrived and left for the day.

In other words, despite having what most people would consider a customer facing position, I didn’t really have to provide much customer service and, therefore, inevitably dealt with people more often on my days off than I did my work days, which meant that my days off exhausted this introvert far more than my work days ever did.

So, by 10 pm the night of Lisa’s bachelorette party, I was done. Finished. Work or no work that day, I was going home and going to bed.

Firm words were spoken as my friends tried to convince me to rally. I may have snapped at them. I think when they started to see the tears start to well up at the thought of staying out any longer they let me go without a fight. I apologized to Lisa the next day and all was fine.

I didn’t know how to explain what I was feeling then. I usually keep it under my “introvert” umbrella, knowing most people would understand that or I talk about hitting my wall and, again, most people understand that.

But this is more. Because I know other introverts and either they fake it very well or I’m dealing with something beyond just introvertism.

I’m familiar with the concept of spoons for those with chronic pain but I don’t want to co-opt their terminology, so I’m going to adapt it slightly for my own purposes into phrasing that makes better sense for me.

Let’s say, each morning you wake up with a jar of marbles that represents your finite amount of energy for the entire day and every single thing you do, every single thought that passes across your brain, has a cost.

Getting out of bed: 1 marble.
Taking a shower: 1 marble.
Getting dressed: 1 marble.
Doing my hair: 1 marble.
Putting on makeup: 1 marble.
Deciding on jewelry: 1 marble.

I haven’t even gone downstairs yet and I’ve already spent 6 marbles.

All day, every day, this is what it’s like.

Feeding the cats: 1 marble.
Deciding what to have for breakfast: 1 marble.
Making breakfast: 1 marble.
Cream or no cream in my coffee: 1 marble

…… See where I’m going with this?

And, again, this is just basic daily tasks that happen in the first, oh, 30 minutes of my morning. I haven’t even left for work yet, let alone get to work yet and all that entails.

Over the decades I’ve figured out some tricks I need to employ to make the most efficient use of my marbles every morning. I set clothes out the night before so I don’t have to think about them in the morning. Same with my lunch, that gets packed each evening. But, hands down, the best day was when I realized the coffee maker at the house is programmable, which means I can set everything up the night before and not have to grind the beans (1 marble), measure the water (1 marble), pour the water (1 marble), put the grounds in the coffee pot (1 marble) and turn the coffee maker on (1 marble) in between all the other stuff I’m doing doing during that first 30 minutes.

I know that once I pay the price to get out of bed, things will usually be okay, things seem a little less exhausting as the day goes on. I have since learned, thanks to my psychiatrist, that this is known as Diurnal Mood Variation.

The hitch is that some mornings, inextricably, without rhyme or reason, I’ll wake up and the “cost” of getting out of bed has changed.

Sometimes I get lucky and getting out of bed is a freebie. I wake up, ready to attack the day and these are the mornings I go out for a run without needing to drag myself from bed. After that, well … that whole speech Elle Woods gives about endorphins making you happy and happy people don’t kill their husbands? That’s not bullshit. To some extent, endorphins can replenish my marble supply.  So now I have a marble surplus so I’ll do my hair, and my makeup, and I may even decide to wear a different out than the one I had planned and put on jewelry and have a fabulous, fabulous day.

But other times, the cost of getting out of bed has increased. Suddenly, instead of it costing only 1 marble, it costs 3 or 4 and now I need to budget appropriately and am now faced with the decision of what can I sacrifice to make sure I get to work in one piece. Maybe I don’t take a shower that day or I don’t put on makeup or I figure out some magical second day hair style that still looks reasonably professional or some combination of all three.

Sometimes, though, the cost of getting out bed requires all of my marbles for the entire day and so I don’t. Get out of bed, that is. If it’s the weekend it doesn’t disrupt anything but if it’s during the week I will call in sick and take a mental health day and just stay in bed and sleep and binge watch my latest television show obsession.

Thankfully this kind of day only happens maybe 2 or 3 times a year but still, it happens.

On the days where getting out of bed costs more, it seems like everything costs more and I’m spending twice as many marbles to do half the number of things. So even though I know exercising will make me feel better, the math doesn’t work out in my favor so I skip my workout and sleep instead.

On average, I know what things cost and I budget my marbles very carefully. Activities outside of my normal routine tend to require more marbles and so I will spend several hours or even entire days hording my marbles for an event in the evening. If I’m very, very careful and have enough advanced notice, I can take some of today’s leftover marbles and carry them over to tomorrow if I think the event will require it.

Because of all of this, I don’t do spontaneity very well. My day has a plan, my day has a budget, and I will spread my marbles out as necessary throughout the course of the day to make it to the end of the day without running out of marbles so anything outside of that routine throws everything into chaos.

Years ago, I noticed my friends stopped asking me to hang out randomly during the week after work. At first I was, naturally, hurt, but then I realized I would have done the same thing. If you continually try to invite a person out for something and they continually decline the invitation, at some point you’re just going to stop asking. It’s not that I didn’t want to hang out with my friends but I didn’t have any marbles left.

This is what it’s been like my entire life only in the past it seems like I had more marbles. Somehow, everything going on lately has either made my daily marble budget decrease or prices themselves as increased. Then add in the mental energy that comes with worrying about health issues and trying to get all of this figured out and I’m just tired all the fucking time.

I am basically running out of marbles nearly every day.

Exercise and endorphins can sometimes replenish my marble supply. The other thing that can help replenish my marble supply?


It’s such a cliche, I know, but food helps. Food is fuel, as us runners like to say, but I use it for other energy restorative reasons as well.

Food makes me feel better and, of course, it’s not nutritious food like carrots and shit. When I look at pictures of myself now, I can just see what the anxiety and depression has done to my food choices which then does something to me. Compared to when I was losing weight and doing really well -- back then, I had a job where I was in that underutilized library and didn’t have a life that required a whole bunch of marbles every day so I was always dealing with a surplus.

The question is always “What happened in your past that caused you to get this big?” And the thing is, nothing happened. This is just how things are for me. The difference is that for a sold 2 year period I was in a position where I had an overabundance of marbles and didn’t need to rely on food to replenish my daily stock and I have always been able to point to the exact moment in time when that situation changed and I started running out of marbles again.

My psychiatrist and vascular surgeon have been working together to see if they can find an antidepressent / antianxiety medication that will not interact poorly with my blood thinners and, unfortunately, there isn't one. After speaking with the psychiatrist on Monday, we decided to discontinue my treatment with him and, instead, I'll continue to work with my therapist.

I know that medication in this instance isn't a magic bullet and I was planning on continuing talk therapy all along, but it would have helped. Life is hard and it shouldn't be this hard. But it is and has been for my entire life. For as long as I can remember, life has been hard and it's only harder now and I don't know why.

But because I don't have the options of antidepressents and anti-anxiety medication, I need to find other ways of coping and that includes being open and honest with myself about what is happening instead of my brain all the fucking time. It means being transparent with other people about what I'm feeling and it means acknowledging and honoring it all.

And that means telling people about my marbles and, more importantly, telling them when I've run out.

Love from the ashes,
Lady Lazarus

13 March 2017

St. Malachi Race Recap + Cleveland Marathon Giveaway!

Saturday was the annual St. Malachi race, one of my absolute favorite races in Cleveland. This was my fifth time running it and while it wasn't nearly as snowy and icy as the first time, it was super cold and windy.

BC: 27 degree race today, huh?
Me: That's just the high for the day. It's 19 degrees now.
BC: ..... Oh babe.

Thankfully I have those compression socks to help the circulation in my legs and keep them warm, although they also made me look very underdressed.

I ran the two mile distance again which, not gonna lie, I really like, if only because the staggered start between that and the 5 mile means the after party is still in full swing by the time I'm done and the 5 mile race hasn't even started yet.

That's always one of my pet peeves as a slow runner, when the finisher's village or what have you packs up all their shit early so that it's a ghost town by the time I arrive to the finish line.

This is also a race with a lot of walkers so there's always a big group of people surrounding me which is always really nice, too!

I was really nervous about this race. I haven't raced in, literally, a year and I haven't run a distance over 1.5 miles in 10 months. I was hoping that the excitement of race day would help motivate me and, thankfully, it did! It also pushed me to run a little faster than I have been in my training: for weeks now I've been hovering around 19 minute miles but my average at St. Malachi was 18:09. Still slow, but you know me: that's kind of my thing.

SPEAKING OF ....... it's my weekend to give away a free entry to any single distance at the Cleveland Marathon races! AND AS A BONUS I'm going to throw in a signed copy of my book Running With A Police Escort. Keep it for yourself, give it to a friend or family member or fellow slow runner in your life, but you'll get the book and the race entry and ZOMG SO MUCH RUNNING FABULOUSNESS IN ONE GIVEAWAY.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Winner will be emailed at the conclusion of the giveaway and have 48 hours to respond. Cleveland Marathon prize is good for single distances only and not valid for the Challenge Series. 

Love from the ashes,
Lady Lazarus

10 March 2017

Friday Fitness: 10K Training, Week Five

Friday: .85 mile
Saturday: -
Sunday: -
Monday: 1 mile
Tuesday: -
Wednesday: -
Thursday: 1 mile

I'm struggling, y'all. Like, I'm not even going to pretend otherwise. It's one of those really fucked up cycles where I have anxiety and depression and dealing with my anxiety and depression is causing more anxiety.

Case in point: On Monday, I had my first appointment with the psychiatrist. He prescribed some meds for me, but said before taking them I should check with my vascular surgeon to make sure there aren't any bad interactions with my blood thinners (THANKS BLOOD CLOT).

Okay, so, talking on the phone stresses me out so I message the Surgeon through the Cleveland Clinic's messaging system Monday afternoon. One of his nurses calls me back Tuesday afternoon and says "Surgeon says you can't take that medication." The Psychiatrist isn't available through the messaging system so I have to call (sigh) and leave a message, saying Surgeon says no. Psychiatrist calls me back on Wednesday asking if they suggested anything else, I explain I talked to a nurse who had talked to Surgeon and he didn't pass along any other meds but here's Surgeon's phone number, talk to him.

Psychiatrist calls back, he says neither Surgeon nor his nurse practitioner are available, he'll have to call back the next day but he spoke with the pharmacist and looks all of the meds have an increased bleeding risk, which is a note of caution for normal people but, like, worst.thing.ever. for someone already on blood thinners.

So all of this is making me super anxious which is having physical effects: I'm tired. My body hurts. I just want to sleep and cry and, needless to say, I've been practicing A LOT of self care this week which mostly comes in the form of binge-watching Great British Baking Show.

The thought of doing yoga at lunch with my co-workers was stressing me out (I could unpack the reasons why, but I won't) so lunches were spent eating at my desk and catching up on blogs. So while I didn't get any cross-training in, I did get some runs which, really, is more important since I have that 6.2 mile race in May.

My anxiety has gotten to the point where, yes, I want to try medication in combination with talk therapy but as of right now, all the medication that my psychiatrist feels comfortable prescribing I can't take because of the blood clot medication. Correlation isn't causation, but I can trace the increase in anxiety back to going off birth control in August, which the hospital did because of the blood clot.

But, see, it's not the blood clot's fault. Not really. The blood clot came out because of my broken ankle, which came out because I tripped on the bottom two steps of our staircase ten months ago.

Seriously, y'all. How bananas is this whole thing? Literally, all I did was miss the bottom step on a staircase one random Tuesday in May of 2016 and now THIS IS MY LIFE AND OMG.

The good news is, St. Malachi Church Run is tomorrow, which is one of my favorite Cleveland races. I'm doing the 2 mile this year which -- while we're on the subject -- was the only race I ran in 2016. So. Yeah. I'm a little nervous, I haven't run more than 1.5 miles since my fall last May. I've had some weird mental block about that distance but I'm hoping the excitement of race day will help push me over the finish line.

Love from the ashes,
Lady Lazarus

07 March 2017

March is Blood Clot Awareness Month

So, as it turns out, March is Blood Clot Awareness Month.

As you all know, back in July I was hospitalized thanks to an extensive deep vein thrombosis that had developed in my left leg. That was the same leg where I broke my ankle last May and that injury was probably the main catalyst to this whole situation, combined with some other risk factors.

Eight months later, I'm still dealing with the ramifications of what that means. I've been on blood thinners since August and will continue to be on them through this August, possibly longer. On the one hand, I understand that my vascular surgeon is keeping me on blood thinners as a preventative measure because getting a second blood clot could be fatal. On the other hand, being on blood thinners can effect so many other areas of life. Thankfully, my medication doesn't have the food restrictions as Coumadin, but there are still things I have to consider and think about because I'm on blood thinners.

Over on my Instagram page, I'm using the month to highlight some of my daily experiences as a blood clot survivor currently on blood thinners so be sure to check it out!

Did you hear? I'm selling signed copies of my book! Get yours today!

Love from the ashes,
Lady Lazarus

03 March 2017

Fitness Friday: 10K Training, Week Four

Saturday: FitStar workout
Sunday: Rest
Monday: Rest
Tuesday: 1 mile
Wednesday: 1 mile
Thursday: Rest
Friday: ?

Wonky Cleveland weather is killing my sinuses this week. I ended up working from home on Monday because I just could not deal with putting on clothes and going to the office, although I was perfectly capable of doing my job from the comfort of my home. (Once again, so grateful WFH is an option.)

No joke, last Friday it was in the 70s and on Saturday we had snow. SNOW.

This t-shirt from GV Art & Design is 10000% on point.

Tuesday I made it to the office and while yoga was cancelled, I planned ahead and brought my workout gear and went for a run on my lunch break. Also love that that's an option.

Then on Wednesday it was all rainy and lightning and stormy, which, not super conducive to outdoor running but, HEY I HAVE A TREADMILL NOW.

I was a little worried that after running outdoors I'd loathe getting on the machine but it wasn't so bad. I watched some Mad Men and survived.

I'm still recovering from all this sinus bullshit so I'm kind of taking it easy. I was hoping to go outside for my run this weekend but based on the forecast I don't think that will be an option but we'll see. I'm taking a half day today so I might get the run in after work this afternoon (hence the question mark above) or I may run tomorrow. TIME WILL TELL.

Want a signed copy of my book? YOU'RE IN LUCK! I have set up a shop and am selling copies and bonus: I'll sign it to you! When you check out, just put the name of the person to sign the book to in the Notes box. So check out my shop and happy reading and running!

Love from the ashes,
Lady Lazarus
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