Three weeks ago I said to myself: “You just need to make it through the next twenty-one days.” Well, I made it though and none worse for the wear. I consider this a mark of growth because a comparable few weeks from years ago led me into the deep and treacherous waters of my psyche.
Here is the breakdown of my recent travels:
July 28-31: National Association of Sports Officials Summit - Washington State
August 2-4: My Grandfather’s funeral service - South Carolina
August 10-11: Urban Lacrosse Alliance Conference - Maryland
Oh! And before all of this I was unable to stay with my preferred medication routine resulting from complications with my insurance provider and a backorder of my anti-anxiety medication. My doctor shocked me by recommending that I order medications from Canada. Such is the state of our healthcare system.
This obstacle forced me to lean heavily on my alternative coping strategies, and to be more alert to my early warning signs of panic attacks and slips into a depressed mindset. After three weeks of meeting strangers, speaking publicly, grieving with close and extended family, and not sleeping in my own bed, I am remarkably even-keeled this morning.
Contrast that to a whirlwind of work travel in early 2017, which I foolishly chose to embark upon. Here’s the rough schedule I recall from that January:
First weekend: Referee clinic - Texas
Second weekend: US Lacrosse officiating clinic - Florida
Third weekend: US Lacrosse National Convention - Maryland
Fourth weekend: Referee clinic - Florida
It is one thing to put up your hand when your coach or your boss asks: “Who can step up?” It is an altogether different enterprise when you control your own schedule, as I did as the Manager of the Men’s Officials Development Program for US Lacrosse. I vaguely recall my boss asking: “Are you sure you want to do all of this?” That should have been a clue.
Each clinic succeeded beautifully, and my colleagues at USL and I knocked the convention out of the park. But the body keeps score, and once it realized my absurd travel schedule was over it shifted me into neutral and pulled hard on the emergency brake that is depression.
The Noonday Demon lasted for a week, and this video will give you a good idea of how I felt.
Remember - I felt this way even while taking medication! This experience taught me that it does not matter how well you fuel your engine. If you keep the RPM indicator beyond the red line, you will eventually be forced into a maintenance period. A key difference between a car and the depressed mind however, is that once a car is fixed you get into it and drive; the mind gets comfortable and wants to stay where it is for a while.
Writing this morning with my coffee on my desk and my feet in an iSqueeze massager, I am not in a morose rut. Aside from being a touch unhappy with waking up later than I would have liked, I am in a good mood and ready to enjoy my day. I took time during my travels to be with myself, to rest, to read, to meditate, to eat well, to drink water (no alcohol when I travel), and to pay attention to how I felt.
Compared to my state of extreme exhaustion at the end of January in 2017, I am a few notches above neutral and in no danger of falling into the blues. That is progress of a kind, and now I am home I blocked the next three weekends so I can spend time with me, my family, and my friends.