It’s day 8 of no booze in the forest and it’s a bit boring but mostly fine, so yes it is possible for a wino to become a sober person.
It’s also day 8 of exercising every day – twice a day, rain or shine – and no, I definitely still do not enjoy it.
The endorphins people speak of never kick in during the exercise, which would be nice because it would alleviate the discomfort. They kick in as soon as I’m finished, and they only last about 10 minutes.
Which means that for 20 minutes of pain and misery, I am rewarded with 10 minutes of mild pleasure afterwards. Maths is not my strong suit, but this appears to be counterproductive on the enjoyment front.
The Jillian Michaels video has got a bit easier over time. I can pretty much do the whole thing now without pausing and with less swearing. So now I have to move up to ‘Level 2’, which will be hard and horrid again.
My daily run is more of a walk-jog-walk-jog up and down the long driveway for 20 minutes. The flat and gentle downhill feels quite nice, like I could go on for ages. The uphill (on the way back) is heinous and makes everything hurt.
But 8 days on, I am doing more of the jog and far less of the walk.
So I suppose you could say there has been an all-round improvement on the endurance front. And I’ve got more than a week of this to go.
What I did at the beginning was to do the Jillian video first thing in the morning before I’d had breakfast (before the excuses kick in), and the run some time after lunch. To get them out of the way.
Now, I leave both to the absolute last minute because I hate them so much and that’s how I cope with things I hate but must nevertheless do. I wait until the sun is looking scarily close to setting before smashing out the jog, and I wait until just before bed (9-10pm) to do Jillian.
Will I keep doing this to myself after I leave the forest?
I am not training for anything, so I don’t need to be fit. I’m not overweight, or a Victoria’s Secret model, so I don’t need to do it for vanity reasons.
The only other reason people work out is because it’s supposed to be really good for your mind. And now you have my attention.
For the whole of my adult life, I’ve been saddled with mild (often) to moderate (once or twice a year) to fairly severe (occasional) bouts of depression.
Everyone deals with the Black Dog – as Winston Churchill so elegantly dubbed it – differently.
As anyone who knows me from university will know, I get incredibly tired and just hibernate until it’s over, like a bear.
Pull down the blinds, turn the lights down, lock the door, crawl into bed, banish my phone, ignore everyone I know, and sleep. Usually for 14 or 15 hours a day, lasting anywhere from a few weeks to a few months.
And it’s not a lovely-long-refreshing sort of sleep.
It’s thunderous and heavy and unshakable; something akin to waking up from a general anaesthetic all groggy and discombobulated, wrapped up tightly in a cloak of sadness, worn over a straight-jacket of guilt… constantly, for weeks.
Experts always suggest exercise. I can’t vouch for this because I’ve never dragged myself out of my bear cave to try it before.
And these days, I don’t suffer from depression anymore because 3 years ago my brilliant American doctor prescribed me this WONDER DRUG which banished it entirely.
It’s called Wellbutrin. They don’t like giving it to you in the UK because it’s expensive and just not-the-done-thing. But you can get it if you nag them for ages and ages. And it’s brilliant.
There are lots of drugs to treat depression and they affect everyone differently. Prozac, for example, maybe eased my symptoms by 30% and came with a laundry list of shitty side effects.
Wellbutrin’s only side effects are that it’s a mild stimulant (great, for a sleeping bear) and that for some reason unbeknownst to scientists, it stops people smoking.
I’ve taken it every day for three years-ish and I haven’t had a single bear cave episode since. Sometimes I’ll feel sad for no reason for a day or two, like a normal person, not like a depressed person.
ANYWAY. So I don’t know if exercising twice a day is good for my mind because my mind is already quite healthy, praise be to Wellbutrin.
But fuck it, I will keep on exercising after I leave the forest. For a month or two. Once a day, not twice, and only for 20 minutes. Just in case it gets better, or brings with it some sort of life advantage I’m yet to uncover.
Sort of like an insurance policy. Sort of like when people feel the need to pray every day to a made-up god.
JUST. IN. CASE.