Life Is What Happens When You’re Making Other Plans

What do you do when your life has, basically, gone to hell and you can’t talk about it with anyone because either they won’t believe you when you get down to the specifics, or because you feel compelled to protect the privacy of one of the people who is making your life hell?

Yes, I know I can go to therapy — I went to therapy pretty routinely for most of the last year, but haven’t been a lot lately because I’ve been so busy with work. Therapy helped somewhat — it helped me avoid getting into conflict with the person who has the most significant negative impact on my life.

But last night I realized that somewhere along the way, something just … plain… broke inside me.

I have not gone bicycling this summer. I have not gone kayaking. I have not gone scuba diving (not that diving in Lake Champlain is all that great, but it’s what we’ve got). I have not gone for a single hike in the Green Mountains. I’ve done minimal blogging and creative writing. I started the year planning on doing a lot of running, then sometime in June found myself dreading my runs so much that I, well, just stopped. For the last six years I’ve spent a lot of my summer nights walking long distances in order to toughen myself up for walking in one or more Susan G. Komen 3-Day walks — but this summer, I blew that off. I did precisely two long walks in preparation for this past weekend’s Michigan 3-Day, and those took place in the last ten days. As a consequence of failing to train, I ended the walk (having walked every mile) more footsore than I’ve ever been and absolutely wiped out. Just tired beyond the capacity for rational thought.

But wait, there’s more. I had dieted and exercised my way down to 177 pounds in late 2009 and early 2010. I decided that made me look a bit more skeletal than really was good for me, and let my weight get back up to the 190-195 pound range. But a year ago my weight really started to creep back up and up and UP when it turned out that basically the only kind of self-nurturing I could find interest in was… eating. This is not a surprise to anyone who’s ever been depressed.

I weighed myself when I got home from the Michigan 3-Day yesterday. I am at 225 pounds. Some of that, to be sure, is retained water from the event — it’s common to put on some water weight during the event, then shed it over the following week. I was at 217 before the walk. But still, 225 is frightening. That’s just 15 pounds shy of my all-time high, and I regard that level as “the time when I was a blob.”

I’ve taken anti-depressants: citalopram and trazodone. Neither helped in the slightest with my malaise and lethargy. In fact, for all I know, they may have contributed to it — trazodone is known to have soporific effects, so it became a bedtime medicine for me. But neither restored me to the get-up-and-go Jay that I used to be.

I believe much of my depression is external in origin — the person I’m referring to seems to delight in making my life hell, and I have absolutely no leverage to do anything about it. And when I attempt to talk to mutual acquaintances, they flat-out tell me that I must be exaggerating.

I’ve learned mad conflict avoidance skills — but if the core of the problem is that as a result of my avoiding conflict, I’ve turned myself into a doormat and encouraged my tormentor to up the abuse to see how far they can go before I erupt, then what?

I don’t really have a solution at this point. In the short term, I do plan to try to get back to exercising — once my left heel stops hurting so much, that is — and try to cut out all the binge eating. No more stopping off at the deli counter at the grocery store on the way home from work to pick up a bag of fried cheese sticks. That may help get my weight down — but it doesn’t help with the key questions I posed at the top of this post:

What do you do when your life has, basically, gone to hell and you can’t talk about it with anyone because either they won’t believe you when you get down to the specifics, or because you feel compelled to protect the privacy of one of the people who is making your life hell?