Masonic Boom

"Crazy" "Oversensitive" "Feminazi" "Bitch" bloggin' bout pop music, linguistics and mental health issues

Thursday, April 29, 2010

The Dreaded E-Word

Well, the good news is I think that I am finally, permanently off Citalopram. The reduction method (spacing the time between doses further and further apart) proved effective. I took the final step of going off it entirely while I was on holiday in Cornwall, with the idea that if I had any of the usual symptoms, at least I wouldn't have to suffer at work. But no... although the withdrawal was more prolonged, it was nowhere near as bad.

The task now, is to stop myself from sinking back down into depression. It's been a question of remembering - or rather, relearning those things that I discovered and knew in the years before medication. It's a question of discipline - sleep right (at least 8 hours, at the same time every day) - eat right (no refined sugar, limit the amount of caffine) but the single most important influence on whether I have a fairly upbeat and bouncy day, or descend into crying jags and snapping attacks at random people on a crowded tube:


I hate the fact that this is so. I hate it with every fibre of my lazy body - but actually, that's not true. I am not naturally lazy. I'm perfectly happy to walk - in fact, I often to prefer to walk instead of relying on public transportation. I enjoy dancing and playing musical instruments (often a somewhat physical activity - at least, it was before the Laptop became my primary instrument.)

Yet the moment someone mentions the dreaded EXERCISE word, I drag my feet like a recalcitrant teenager.

And therein lies the reason why. I went to school in the States, where, after the Kennedy-era administration enacted legislation governing school curriculums, all forms of exercise were turned into the dreaded SPORTS.

If ever there is a way to suck the joy out of physical movement, it's to turn it into an athletic competition full of pointless rules and combine it with a vicious winner take all culture that glorifies the winners and vilifies the sad, pale, pathetic computer nerds and bookworms that are invariably picked last for the team and lose every physical competition in which they are forced to participate.

Do I still sound bitter, 20 years later? Come on. You're talking to a woman who, as a teenager, intentionally got her foot broken at a punk show so that she could have a doctor's note off sport for a semester.

This legislation from before I was even born brought in rigorous physical testing for children during their most sensitive years. Like most private school kids, I was used to batteries of tests - the SSAT, the PSAT, the SAT and so on. I was used to acing them with one frontal lobe tied behind my head. But those physical tests that measured how many situps or pushups or pullups you could do, or how fast you could run a mile... run a mile? No fucking way could I *EVER* run a mile, not with M.I.A's Anti-Ginger League shooting guns at my feet.

The results of the SSAT and the PSAT and the SAT all came privately, in an envelope delivered to your parents' house. The results of the physical fitness tests, however, were posted publically in the gym for everyone to see. Kate St.Claire was on the 0th percentile for physical fitness. Never mind that I got a 99th percentile on every other standardised test they could throw at me, that 0 haunted me, as if they'd painted a target on my back and thrown me hogtied into homeroom.

I hate competitive sports. No, I don't hate them - I *LOATHE* them with every fibre of my being. Anyone who repeats that old trope "it's not whether you win or lose that matters, it's how you play the game" has never really lost - not repeatedly, every single time you try, until you finally give up - but no. If you don't go to gym class, we won't let you graduate, we will make you repeat the 10th grade over and over and over, no matter how brilliant your academic grades are - unless you spend a couple of Saturdays running - did I say running? - no, dragging yourself around the playing fields wishing that you could, actually, drop dead of exhaustion.

So if there is so much of a WHISPER that any kind of physical activity might be exercise or - worse - sport - my brain and body simply rebel and will. not. do. it. It's almost like I have to play tricks with myself to get it to work. Add music, and I'll bounce away. (This has been the biggest positive about getting an iPhone - the iPod part of it has been the biggest incentive to getting me to move since my ancient Sony Discman died.) Add Scenics - and the prospect of getting to look at interesting things and I'll walk for, literally, miles, without even noticing.

Perhaps this was an added bonus to coming off citalopram while I was in Cornwall. If there was one thing I did a lot of while on holiday (oh, apart from eating cornish pasties and cream tea) it was walking. Up and down hills, along windy coastlines, tramping all over castles and tin mines - I walked an average of about 5 miles a day, easily.

And walking is, seriously, the most effective anti-depressant I have EVER known, the only one that works every time, works both short term and long term. I'm not saying that doing it makes me feel fantastic - but if I *don't* do it, it's guaranteed that I will feel like shit. And so this is what I must hold on to. Forget those awful teenage competitions, forget the humiliation of the locker room ritual, forget those brainless bimbos talking endlessly about their diets and aerobics routines like steel-abbed robots.

Remember this: it is the ONLY thing that will keep your precious sanity intact.


Blogger Aidan said...

"If ever there is a way to suck the joy out of physical movement, it's to turn it into an athletic competition full of pointless rules and combine it with a vicious winner take all culture"

this is a really good point. i enjoy watching sport, but i hate playing it - because i suck really bad. so i never played in school, and now i'm horribly unfit, but terrified of trying to do anything about it. i can't even play wii tennis without going off in a huff.

4:29 pm  
Blogger Alexa said...

This is super late, because somehow I seem to have missed a whole bunch of your blog posts. (Yay, more to read!) This post is so me. And it still happens to me, in college. My roommate finally stopped bugging me to go play intramural sports because even then, even in *intramural sports*, where all you get for being champion is a stupid T-shirt, people still got upset with me and criticized me because I was doing something wrong. Because I wasn't fast enough, because I wasn't coordinated enough, because I hurt my toe kicking a soccer ball...

Walking is definitely an A++ form of exercise. I really should do it more. And after reading some of your tweets about the book on dieting, I was actually just thinking that a) I learned in health class that diets are basically starving yourself over a short period of time (I know! In a government-approved class! I'm actually pretty amazed) and that exercise is the only reliable way to have a healthy body, b) walking is my personal anti-depressant, handed down from my mom who always forced me out of the house when I was doing nothing but sleeping and crying all day and made me walk through the neighborhood...usually I would be smiling as soon as I got up the first big hill.

2:41 pm  
Blogger Masonic Boom said...

Yeah, I'm gonna write more about that other book on my blog - I meant to today, but ran out of lunchtime before I ran out of things to say.

It really is a chore to try and disconnect the idea of "exercise" from the idea of "sport" (and also from the idea of "chore") but something that's quite important to do.

3:08 pm  

Post a Comment

<< Home