Posted by: Marie | June 4, 2012

(643) In it for the long haul – Part 2 of 4

Post #643
[Private journal entry written on Monday, June 20, 2011 about a conversation between my therapist and me – continued from previous post]

——————————-

Me: Anyway, part of the “up and down” came from our touching on some major stuff last session. And, another part of it has to do with the physical exercise I’ve been doing.

For the last month or so, I’ve been using the treadmill at the gym. I’m not pushing very hard . . . I’m keeping my heart rate at a moderate level, but I’m not pushing myself too hard. More than anything, my focus is to get moving – at any level – on a consistent and ongoing basis. I’m comfortable on the treadmill, so that is pretty easy to do.

I’ve learned, from experience, that I get triggered whenever I do other types of exercise – like weight training or yoga. So, I’ve not been doing that . . . not yet, anyway . . .

A Walk in the Woods by Martin Chen

Edward: What do you mean when you say you get triggered by other types of exercise?

Me: If an exercise is challenging – for example, if it requires a lot of exertion and I’m breathing hard and my heart is beating fast . . . or, if I feel awkward doing an exercise, then I get triggered.

Since I’m not very comfortable on anything other than the treadmill, I feel awkward using other equipment . . . and when I do exercise that doesn’t require equipment such as stretching or sit-ups.

I also get triggered if I work with a personal trainer because the trainer is close to me, touching me, directing my actions . . .

Edward: What happens when you get triggered? What happens emotionally and/or physically . . . ??

Me: Well . . . the exercise causes me to be aware of my body. And I’m not comfortable being that aware of my body – I guess it’s a matter of being in my body. It is more comfortable to just be a floating head with no body. Maybe the treadmill is more comfortable for me because it is just walking, which, of course, I do all the time.

Anyway . . . . being “in my body” is so uncomfortable that I want to finish – or prematurely stop – the exercise so I can disconnect from my body as quickly as possible.

I may be able to finish the exercise – sometimes while staying fully present and sometimes by going numb – or sometimes I’m so uncomfortable that I can’t finish the exercise. Then, I go crawl into bed and cry . . . and usually I’ll drop into a severe depressed state for several days.

Sometimes I end up in the depressed state even if I make it through the exercise without being triggered much . . . in that case, the triggering happens after I leave the gym.

Edward: Do you know what in your history is causing this response?

Me: I don’t know for sure – I mean, it’s not like a particular memory comes up for me. I think the triggering is worse if I’m in a more vulnerable position . . . like I’m lying down or feeling like certain areas of my body are vulnerable. I think one reason the treadmill is comfortable is because I’m standing upright and I’m in motion . . . it feels like I could fight or run, if I needed to . . .

I mean . . . I know I’m not going to need to . . . it’s just that there is a sense that I could . . . do you know what I mean??

Edward: Yes, I do know what you mean . . .

Me: Mostly, I go numb so I’m not very aware what I’m feeling in my body or emotionally. But, common sense tells me that it has something to do with the sexual abuse by “X” or the physical abuse by my dad.

Edward: I agree . . . in fact, it makes the most sense to me that the sexual abuse has a lot to do with it.

Me: That sounds reasonable to me.

Edward: That tells me that there is more healing to be done concerning the sexual abuse . . .

——————————-

I had to think about his statements for a minute . . . I had been thinking we were done talking about and processing the sexual abuse . . . but, then, I realized that he is likely right about there being more work to do in that area . . . if I’m getting triggered by exercise, there must be healing still left to do in that area . . .

So, I nodded my head in agreement . . .

——————————-

Me: Anyway . . . I’m taking it easy on the treadmill and using my heart rate as a guide. I’d like to move into some weight training at some point.

I considered hiring a personal trainer to help me with the weights – I even sent an email to the gym in my neighborhood a couple of weeks ago asking them to recommend a trainer. But, I didn’t hear anything back.

Maybe it’s for the better that I didn’t hear from them because I’ve changed my mind about hiring a trainer. I don’t think I’m ready for that.

And, I’ve had enough training over the years in school and when I was doing the fire fighting. I have a good idea of how to do weights. If I find holes in my knowledge, I can turn to books or the Internet.

I’ve looked over the equipment at the gym. I made notes on what is there and what exercises are recommended for each of them. I’m thinking that, when I’m ready to jump into weight training, I’ll maybe try one or two new exercises each week or two . . . I won’t push hard, I’ll just try them and see how they feel to me.

So . . . that’s my approach and it seems to be working well for now.

Edward: I’m so glad you are taking a slow approach and taking good care of yourself! That is a positive step forward!

Me: Yeah, it is!

When I have exercised in the past, I’ve always made a point of exercising during the morning or afternoon because I thought exercising would get me hyped up if I did it too close to bedtime . . . I didn’t want to make getting to sleep any harder than it is.

Well, a couple of weeks ago, there was a day in which my schedule didn’t go as planned and the first chance I had to exercise was close to bedtime. I was in the mood to work out, so I decided to go anyway . . . I didn’t have to get up the next morning, so if I did have a hard time going to sleep, I knew I could make up for it by sleeping in a bit.

Anyway . . . I exercised as planned . . . and, when I got home, I took a quick shower, went to bed . . . and I fell asleep faster than normal . . . surprise, surprise! So, the next time I was scheduled to exercise, I did the same thing, just to see what would happen. The same thing happened. So, since then, that’s what I’ve been doing.

I’m finding that exercising within a couple hours of my bedtime burns off some of the anxious energy I feel as I take steps to fall asleep. It does much the same thing the ice cream does. My brain still runs 90 mph, but at least the anxious energy – physical energy – is lessened, and that is half the battle. So, that is a positive development.

Edward: Yes, it is! Congratulations!

Me: Thanks!

[Continued in the next post . . . ]


Responses

  1. Hi Marie, like Edward I’m glad you are doing it in small and easy steps.

    Do you think the triggering may be related to deep breathing? That was a thought I had about it.

    • Hey, Evan –

      For me, I don’t think it is so much about the deep breathing . . . but, I’m not 100% sure it’s not about that, so I’ll keep that in mind as I’m finding my way through.

      Thanks for the input!

      – Marie


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