Monday, December 1, 2014

Saying goodbye to a friend

This past week has been relatively somber. Last Monday, I received a text from my friend Lauren saying that our friend and former college teammate, Matt, had passed away suddenly. Whoa - talk about the wind just being knocked out of you. Immediately, there was a flurry of messaging to former teammates and friends and all of us just shocked. It really got me thinking about when was the last time I actually talked to Matt? I am pretty sure it was the last alumni meet I went to a few years ago. Am I really that horrible at keeping touch with people? I mean it feels like just yesterday that I saw a lot of you, but in reality its been years in some cases and the only way I "keep in touch" is through facebook. Regardless, this has been a wake up call that anything can happen and its important to let people know you care.

This going to be a short post, but I want to leave you all with a memory I have of Matt. We were up in Utah for our BYU/Utah duel meet weekend and I was pretty sick with bronchitis (I probably should have stayed home). I had swum like complete crap at BYU the day before and was feeling particularly bad at breakfast the next morning before the Utah meet. Out of no where, Matt came up to sit with me with a cup of straight black coffee in is hand and said "drink this, it will help." I don't necessarily know if the coffee helped since I was still not swimming great, but the kindness Matt showed me that morning really helped my attitude. The funny thing is that the day before I found out he died, I thought of this memory. All these years, and that is one of the memories that stands out most from my years at UNLV. It really shows how much one person's kindness can impact a another. I think Matt was really one of those special people that can do that. Rest in peace Matt. The photo below shows his championship rings. For some reason this really just got to me.

Friday, November 14, 2014

A hodge podge of the feels.

This is a very random blog post about everything over the last month or so. I am going to start this blog with the lyrics to the song I walked down the aisle to (it about sums up our wedding):

You be my princess
And I'll be your toad
I'll follow behind you
On rainbow road

Protect you from red shells
Wherever we go
I promise.

No one will touch us
If we pick up a star

And if you spin out
You can ride in my car
When we slide together
We generate sparks
In our wheels and our hearts

The finish line
Is just around the bend
I'll pause this game
So our love will never end
Let's go again

The blue shell is coming
So I'll go ahead
If you hang behind
It'll hit me instead

But never look back
Cause I'm down but not dead
I'll catch up to you

Don't worry about
Bowser or DK

Just eat this glowing mushroom
And they'll all fade away

The finish line
Is just around the bend
I'll pause this game
So our love will never end
Let's go again

The finish line
Is just around the bend
I'll pause this game
So our love will never end
Let's go again

To the mushroom cup
And the flower cup
And the star cup
And the reverse cup

In case you didn't know the song its "Mario Kart Love Song" by Sam Hunt (big youtube hit a few years ago - look it up. If you hang out with Logan and I a lot, you know why this fits us so well and pretty much explains our lack of seriousness at all. Not saying, we didn't take this wedding seriously, it was just more light-hearted and less structured than most. We had our friend Ryan preside over the ceremony and he did AMAZING! Maybe I am biased, but I am pretty sure we win the award for funniest ceremony ever. It opened with Ryan throwing his hands in the air and saying "MAWWAAIGGEE!" - that's right, we totally princessed-brided that shit. So awesome. He told an awesome story about how Logan is that one friend you can't really fit in a category and is "interesting" and then met someone who is equally as quirky (ME!). Then we came to the vows, which being Lani and Logan, we messed up quite a few times, didn't know what to do with our hands (inside joke -Talledega Nights anyone), and I may have cried. SO SUCCESS! We somehow managed to pull together one hell of a ceremony :)

I gotta say it was amazing having all our friends and family there. OH THE FEELS!!! Friends I grew up with, went to college and swam with, grad school, and then LANL. It was awesome having everyone in one place from each big piece of my life. I have been through a lot in the last decade. Its amazing that my friends have been there for me prior to my bipolar diagnosis (I was an emotional person to say the least), to those that aided in my recovery post-hospital stay. And then there is my husband! For the last half-decade, Logan has dealt with a crazy person, but loved me for all my flaws. Having you all there was amazing and I can't thank each and every one of you for all the support over the years.

Now, random segue. As most of you know, I have been struggling with my weight over the past few years. I gained it from taking Seroquil (horrible, horrible medicine for bipolar and schizophrenics). It is notorious for causing weight gain. Since then I have yo-yo'd and its been frustrating. I hate where I am at right now, especially since I used to be known as the girl who was ripped (I was super embarrassed on my wedding day!). So expect some blog posts about my weight loss journey between now and IM Maryland next year. It will be annoyingly slow, but this time it will be permanent.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Silverman 70.3 - that s**t hurts

I should start this by saying I did not have the race I wanted, nor that I believe I was capable of. It hurt, it was slow, it was f-ing hot. I wanted to quit many times, but in all reality this race was not about me. I did Silverman not just for the challenge, but as a fundraiser for Wounded Warrior. Before Ironman bought out Silverman, it was known as one of the (if not the toughest) half/fulls out there and was a huge supporter of the wounded warrior effort. My FAVORITE thing about Silverman was the finish line. Tell me you wouldn't cry as you watched a team of marines/sailors/airmen run in with a comrade who had been severely injured overseas. POINT BEING - Silverman has been on my list for a long time and I finally got a chance to conquer it and raise money for a good cause.

In the days leading up to the race I hadn't been feeling great, but that isn't unusual since I always feel craptacular on taper, so I didn't think much of it. I was just happy to have a weekend away and was excited to race my last race of the season. Plus, I had two of the most amazing sherpas (my sister and niece) out there ready to cheer, so it was game time!

Race morning was actually beautiful. However, it got hot fast. Not surprising for Vegas in early October and no clouds in the sky (they really need to move doing Silverman back to November). Unfortunately for my age group, we were in wave 16 of 18. WAVE friggin 16! Come on lets mass start this s**t! Lucky us, we got to go after the majority of the slower swimmers. So a pretty calm lake day turned into an adventure of navigating a crap ton of chop and running over people. NOT HAPPY. So I was left with a slower than usual time for the swim (I was still 7th overall female so I can't complain too much). Additionally, my low back decided it was a good time to cramp up (foreshadowing much?). I have never wanted out of a swim so badly. Anyway, after 28 min of slogging through a soup of people in the bathtub that is Lake Mead, I was free to get my bike out of the gravel pit that was T1. So far, so fun.

The Silverman bike course is 67% uphill with 4200 ft total climbing, so I was not expecting a fast bike split - I just didn't think I would be as slow as I was. I actually really like this course. It goes through the national park around Lake Mead. Challenging and gorgeous. A couple things you need to know if you ever ride it - there is no shade and pack a lot of hydration. The first 10 miles I actually felt really strong and I was passing people, just feeling strong in general. However, on the climb before turning onto Northshore at Lake Las Vegas my top left quad seized. Initially, since my left hip is one I have had issues with for the last decade, I thought I finally tore something (docs think I have a partially torn labrum). UUHHHHH - not sure what to do in this situation. Using my brilliant scientific mind, I came to the conclusion that if something was torn I could just get surgery after the race since it was off season. No joke - that was my smart decision. So I continued to ride and eventually my quad loosened up. Unfortunately, since I had no power in that leg, I was relying heavily on my right leg, which was now cramping as well. And so began the last 30 miles of hell. I pretty much went into crisis mode at this point as everything from my low back and below was in various states of cramp. L-O-god damn-L. Its a very long, lonely, ride to be going that slow. I pretty much wanted to quit, but I kept telling myself to make it to T2 and then go from there. I really wanted to just throw down my bike and cry. I was so pissed I trained so hard only to have this happen. UGH. Once I started thinking that people would think less of me because I was going slow, I decided to pull my head out of my ass and quit my pity party. I remembered just exactly why I was doing this race - wounded warrior. So I told my legs to shut up and focused on getting to Henderson one slow revolution at a time.

I should state this now - I have never been happy to get to the run in any race I have ever done, but seeing T2 was quite possibly the most beautiful thing I have ever seen. Plus, I really, really had to pee. Anyway, my bike dismount was a thing of beauty. I pretty much came to the conclusion 2 miles prior that I was going to have to do a "controlled" fall to get off my bike, since I couldn't really lift my legs. FANTASTIC dismount! Luckily for me , I looked like complete hell so I had about 3 volunteers trying to stand me up and get me to my run gear. No one believed me when I told them I was fine. My sister tried to tell me I looked pretty bad at that point (I couldn't stand up straight), but I was convinced I was just being a wimp (seriously?!). Welp, mental check - nothing is seriously injured, can I keep going? 7 min (holy crap) later I made my way out of transition to survive my last 13.1 miles. I saw my sister and AJ standing by the chute to get out of there and I gave AJ hug, told them I had bad cramps, wasn't anywhere near my race goals, but I will finish. It totally made my day that AJ said I was doing great!

SECOND WIND! The run is a 3 loop course that consists of a big downhill and a big uphill. That first mile I just went for it. I figured I had nothing left to lose, plus I was going downhill. Actually, the whole first loop I felt pretty solid. It was not until right after mile 5 that I really felt something. I mean I really needed to vomit. Frick, I love triathlon. So I tossed my cookies and told myself to puke and rally. "Rally" is a relative term. I don't really know how I made it through that second loop. I was so dizzy and getting really swollen at that point. However, once I saw Kari and AJ cheering again, I found my 100th gear and made myself get through those last 4 miles. Somehow I managed to waddle/run that last loop. I refused to walk and kept telling myself I was doing better than everyone else. Which I literally was, most people were walking and there was a guy passed out on the sidewalk that didn't look so good (don't worry emergency responders were there). I passed by Kari and AJ for the last time with 2 miles left. 1 mile up and 1 mile down. SOMEHOW I MADE IT. All I wanted was that finish line. FINALLY! I crossed and I guess I looked pretty bad again, because I was swarmed by people making me sit down, dumping ice on me, and shoving water in my face. In reality I was not ok, no matter what I kept telling myself. But god dammit, I made it. Once they deemed me ok enough to walk on my own, I headed to find Kari and AJ. Kari looked at me and said "wow, your legs are really swollen" and my reply was "yeah, I don't feel good." AJ told me I did so awesome and gave me a big hug (great kodak moment!). It was at that point I realized I wasn't upset with having a bad race. In fact, I was actually proud of myself. I wanted to quit about a 1000 times during the course of the day, but I didn't. I push through pain I had never experienced in my life and when through a whole gambit of mental games. Also, I had finished Silverman. One of the toughest courses on the circuit. It is the first and last time I do Silverman. Unless, of course they bring back the full. Then I have to do it to say I did it (9100 ft climbing on the bike, and 2200 on the run -yep).

 2 miles to go! I need more cowbell!
So swollen, but I am done!

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Reflecting on 9/11

That pain in heart, the feeling of your stomach dropping, the anguish - that is how I feel every September 11. Was I there? -no, but it still hurts. Maybe its because my dad got back from the pentagon just two days prior to the attacks, maybe its because he flew American 77 before, maybe its just they immense scale of the tragedy, but every Sept 11 I wake up and feel a pain that is just as intense as it was 13 years ago. I am still that 16 year-old girl that had the breathe sucked out of me when I walked into my living and saw the unfolding attacks. To me, that morning is a blur. I lived on a Navy base at the time, and I remember my dad rushing out the door within minutes. I don't remember where my mom went, but I know it had something to do with base support. I do remember my sister and I sitting side-by-side on the couch glued to the television. At some point we walked over to McDonalds on base to basically just have something to do, to deal with the feeling emptiness I guess. The details I do remember are ridiculous- at McDonalds I got a salad shaker (yes those existed), so ironically can remember what I ate 13 years ago. Finally, the only time I cried was when my mom got home that night and sat with me just to sort out our thoughts. 6 years later, I was able to visit the trade center site. It was absolutely one of the most heart wrenching moments of my life. It was hard to believe something of that magnitude occurred in such a small space. Some of the buildings even kept the damage they accrued as a reminder. If 9/11 wasn't life changing enough, visiting the site it occurred was even more so. I could ramble more, but I won't. The point of this blog is that I still hurt and I will never ever forget. My request to you guys today is to just take a moment to reflect and remember how very lucky we are to be here.

Monday, August 4, 2014

And the world just keeps spinning

Its been a bit since I last posted, since IM Texas in fact. Life has just been a whirlwind since. I pretty much finished Texas and then the next big hurdle is Logan and I's rapidly approaching wedding. Although I am so extremely excited for the wedding, I have been on a crazy emotional roller coaster.

1. I am freaking growing up. I am not ready for this.
2. I have been on a nostalgic trip for months now.
3. I am trying to keep my mood from cycling, and forcing myself not to hide inside.
4. I turn 30 in 9 months.
5. Holy crap, I am getting married.

I have been dealing with a lot of crap with, lets just say my job, *cough DOE cough* and my anxiety seems to be getting the best of me lately. I am really trying not to act like a hermit, but I am favoring solitude at the moment. I have crazy nightmares about anything and everything in general, including one where my bike was stolen prior to Silverman. AND my mind feels shattered, as in I can't keep anything straight. Why can't my thoughts just be streamlined?! I do realize that this is part of my disease, but I can't help but have some woe is me moments. I really try to avoid those, but I have been a total sap lately.

This morning I literally stood in front of the mirror and talked myself up so I had the will to drag myself to work. Lately, this is a constant struggle which is probably related to the fact that I have no idea what I am going to do when my contract is up. I am pretty certain we will have funding for a third year for me, but the fact that I can't control anything is killing me. Finally, to top things off I have become increasingly paranoid about things and what people think of me.

So basically, I have let myself become trapped in my mind. Its always part of the bipolar cycle.

BUT - as always, there is a bright side.

1. I am getting married!
2. I hear your 30s are awesome
3. I have a lot of great friends and wonderful memories.
4. I have always, always been the one in control of my mind and I have always been able to fight my illness.
5. I am getting married!!!

Its one foot in front of the other and I keep trudging along. So as much as I think I am not ready for this next phase of my life, I will embrace it and look forward to all the great things to come.

BONUS - meet our newest family member: Jackson (black bunny)

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

So you want to be an Ironman: IM Texas race report

I have been waiting a long time to write this blog. Finally, I get to write about becoming an ironman. Four days post race and I still can't believe it. My body hurts everywhere and I am still a bit swollen and bloated, but it was so worth those magic words "You are an IRONMAN!" I think what makes this race even better was that my mom flew out to be my iron sherpa and my friend (and awesome bridesmaid) was doing the race as well!

I will spare you the details of the days leading up to the race (they were crazy) and instead skip to race day. We woke up at the bright and happy hour of 3:30 in the morning. Actually, it was 3:31 since I can only get up on odd numbers (don't ask). I think I was pretty much in denial still about what I was about to put my body through that day. I just couldn't think about it. Anyway, we made the drive to the race site and headed to transition so I could put my water bottles on my bike and double check my bags and bike. Then we made the walk to the swim start and that's when stuff got real. Once I was getting marked, I pretty much said "oh crap, wtf am I doing." But there was no turning back now! After I put a crap ton of sunscreen all over myself I headed to the swim start to get in line so I could be front and center for the start.

I was really looking forward to this swim. It was a mass start, so you get to swim with 2500 of your best friends, which means you get to beat the crap out of people and get beat up yourself. And usually its the douchebag men who think the can keep up with you so they decide they are going to dunk you underwater a few times (I hope you enjoyed the arm bar to the back of your head asshole). It was an in water start and they let you in with 15 min to go. I swear waiting for that cannon to go off took forever. I still wasn't nervous, and honestly, all I could think about was getting the race  over with so I could go back to bed. I know, I am weird. Finally, the cannon went off and all hell broke loose. IT WAS AWESOME. What a rush! That swim start was epic. You can see the video here My plan was to go into cruise control for the swim. Normally I like to race for the swim win, but I backed off a bit since I would still have 11 hours of racing to go. Halfway through the swim I realized I was actually doing an ironman. Holy crap, today is the day I become an ironman. I actually got emotional, which was the theme of the day. Eventually, the swim was over and I was actually faster than I thought I was. I had just cruised 56 min swim with very little effort!

I ran out, grabbed my bike bag, and headed to the change tent. I got out of there as fast as I could and saw my mom when I was grabbing my bike and heading out of transition. Oh man, 112 miles seems so daunting. I actually broke it up into 10 mile increments to make it more manageable. When I looked at my 24 mile split, I realized I was having an awesome bike and I definitely crushed people on the middle rollers (thank you mountainous training)! The bike was actually pretty uneventful and I really just wanted to get to that run. Finally, I reached transition after a 6 hr and 30s bike split. I was 30 damn seconds off my sub 5 goal, but I rocked that bike.

Oh god the marathon. The make or break of the ironman, The Texas course is 3 loops. It was actually awesome because there are so man spectators to cheer you on! I wanted to start slower because I knew this was going to be the longest 26.2 miles of my life. The first 10 miles went according to plan - I was actually descending. It really is the most amazing feeling to realize you are actually going to make it to that finish line. I admit there were a few times on the run I teared up just because I was actually going to do this! Once I got to loop 2, it started to hurt! I actually was still on pace, but really fighting to hold it. Loop 3. Nothing ever has ever been as beautiful as loop 3. 8 friggin miles to go. I was still holding pace, but it was starting to creep up. I just started counting down those miles and ticking off the aid stations. Mile 22. Absolute wall. It was at that point my 4:30 goal was out the window and I realize I could hold 15 min miles and still make it under 5 hours for the marathon. I still don't know how I made it through those last 4.2 miles. It was sheer determination to put one foot in front of the other. And then, I saw it, that beautiful 25 mile sign. 1.2 miles to go. At that point I slowed down to soak in that moment. It was 1.2 miles of victory. When I split off the loop to head to the finish I lost it. All the emotion of the day came pouring out. I cried happy tears and high fived spectators as much as I could. This was my ironman moment!!! I was actually doing it! And then you hear it, "Lani, you are and IRONMAN!" You cross that finish and it is absolute bliss. My mom had gotten VIP tickets to watch me finish, and I saw her crying so it just made me lose it again. I had just done a 12:02 ironman as a first time (if I had know I was on that pace, I really would have found some way to get under 12 hours - next time!)!

Anyway, I got about 300 ft from the finish line and my entire body just stopped working. Luckily, we were right next to the EMT's so they got my vitals and my blood pressure was high and I was so damn cold and throwing up, so I was carted off to the med tent. I have to admit, I kinda felt like a badass that I had pushed my body that hard, which is probably not the best way to view it. They loaded blankets on to me, gave me anti nausea meds, and chicken soup to get my electrolytes up. The funny part is, that in all of the frenzy to get to the med tent I never took off that finisher medal. HAH! Once I was feeling better, I got to go get my bike and gear from transition and get my damn McDonald's french fries. So deliciously salty!

I think the one thing I was not expecting, were the after effects of the ironman on your body chemistry. Today is the first day I have felt human since the race, as my swelling and bloating has gone down. I couldn't even get my jeans over my legs on Monday! Despite all the pain, chafing, swelling, generally loss of body functionality, I am going to do this again, but for now I am going to focus on the Silverman 70.3, which is just a half ironman :).


Dr. Lani Seaman, Ironman :)

Friday, April 18, 2014

I've been here before

I figure I should update everyone since my last post was "depressing" to say the least (a little dry bipolar humor for you all). Since my last post, things have been getting better. I still have days where I cycle badly and have been very sensitive to criticism, be it at work or from myself, which leads me into a recap from my first race of the season, Leadman 125k.

The Leadman 125k is slightly long than a half-ironman, but with a longer swim (2500m), longer bike (68 miles), and a shorter run (~8.1 miles on a hellacious trail). My friend Liz convinced me to do this one as a warmup to Ironman Texas and of course succumbing to peer pressure, I said yes. Thanks Liz :)! I tend to isolate more and pour myself into training when I have bipolar symptoms, so I was expecting a better race than I had.

In the days leading up to the race, I was not excited. I simply didn't want to do it anymore. Like I said, I am super critical of myself and when training doesn't go right I get slightly schizo. Anyway, I actually did not feel like I was in "race mode" until the morning of the race. We were actually lucky because the weather was slightly cooler in Tempe that morning than it had been the day before. I had actually forgot my wetsuit at home, so I bought a new one at a steep discount the day before because I figured I need every advantage I could get. Prior to race start, they only gave us about 5 min of warmup time in the water. This just made my already grumpy self, grumpier. Regardless, I guess we were lucky that we could get in and acclimate at all. The swim started in the water, but since the waterway was man-made, you had to jump out away from the wall because there is a concrete ledge. I managed to smash my right foot right on that ledge. It was friggin painful and I almost wanted to quit before we started. Eventually, I gathered the shattered bits of my psyche back together and off we went. Water conditions were ok, just a bit choppier because it was in a shallow canal, so it was a relatively slow swim. I immediately swam out to the front and latched on to another girl and drafted off her the whole swim portion. I know she had to be a former swimmer because she was wearing Swedish goggles. I normally can get going much faster than the pace I was swimming at, but I really was feeling some of the training fatigue set in. Hence, I was happy to just draft. It was a relatively uneventful swim and I passed the time picking off the men who started before us.

Once I got into T1, I was feeling a bit more disoriented than normal. I am not sure how long I was in there since my splits didn't show up on the results, but it felt like forever. Once I got on the bike though, things started to clear up. The bike course was a mostly flat, 4-loop course. While I felt ok for it and not like I was tiring out, I knew I was having an off day and slower than normal when I saw my 24 mile split. I had another moment of self doubt, but manage to push myself through and just started to focus on my 30 min feedings. I know it sounds strange, but a three and a half hour bike goes by much faster when you break it down. After a fourth loop, I was finally back to transition.

T2 was much better than T1. My mind was finally cleared up. I basically threw my bike back on the rack (ok, I might have been a little frustrated) and sprayed on some sunscreen (by the don't spray on you wetsuit burns - that hurts!!) and made my way out to the run. My goal for the run was to hit my goal IM pace on the pavement portions of the race. Unfortunately, pavement only accounted for about 2-2.5 miles of the run and the rest was on trail. When I started the trail it wasn't too bad. But holy crap, it got worse. It was very rocky with lots of steep portions and after the first two times I almost took out my ankles, I slowed it down a bit so I didn't hurt myself before Texas. Definitely a more technical course than I thought it would be. I am pretty sure the only thing that got me through this run was knowing that Texas is a flat course. I was annoyed at the lack of aid stations and no people with sunscreen. By this point in the race, it was HOT and the sun was brutal. Finally, the sweet site of pavement came back and before I knew I was coming through the longest finishing chute ever.

Once I finished, I couldn't decide if I was disappointed or happy with my race. The positives: I hit IM pace on my run at the start and the finish, so I know the fitness is there and my fuel plan worked out. The negatives: I was slower and was not as fast as I wanted to be. I know I am carrying a lot of fatigue from IM training, but I always want to be fast. My mood has been terrible all week. And yesterday, I realized - I've been here before. I basically had a flashback to a summer championship swim meet that where I was disappointed with my performance because I had been training faster all summer. I was so frustrated because I knew I was faster and it didn't show. My coach at the time compared it chipping away at a wall and one day it will crumble (which it did the following college season). For some reason that analogy has stuck. Whether I like to admit it or not, my body is adjusting to training and racing long course races and I need to be patient. I hope that wall crumbles soon and every piece falls into place, but for now I will enjoy the journey.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

I forgot.

Lately, it has been a struggle for me to just get out the door and force myself to go to work. Truthfully, I am fairly certain I am in my first depressive episode in about 5 years. After weeks of hypomanic cycling, I have now hit the depressive part. I am in constant tug-of-war with my mind. I have been flying into angry episodes, yelling when I don't want to, and having a hell of a time with my memory and trying to get work done. I don't usually complain about my bipolar, but this is one of those times it is really hard. I am lucky enough to realize I am in a depressive episode, that the anxiety will eventually stop, but sometimes I can't stop it. I am embarrassed with my work performance, but I cannot concentrate mentally. My mind is just racing. I found an open letter online that I would like to share that about sums this up completely.

"The support people of a bipolar individual need to be patient, patient, patient. We are easily distracted, have difficulty with concentation and focus, and forget what you told us 5 seconds ago -- much less being able to remember to do something you ask us to do 5 hours from now. We lose things, misplace things, or just plain do not see things that are right in front of our eyes! While looking for that "misplaced" item we misplace 10 more items. By this time our mind is in a panic and total state of confusion!
We used to be organized and on time but now it can take hours to get organized and get together the things we need when preparing to get out the door to go somewhere. By this time we are irritable and so is our family.

We lose our train of thought, what we meant to say comes out backward or the word we meant to say comes out as a different word that starts with the same first letter. At times we fly into a rage over seemingly nothing; some of us get physical, but most of us are not.

To those who are support people and/or family and friends, understand that none of the above is personal. The irritation, frustration, and confusion that you feel about us at times, we feel triple that amount about ourselves plus add in a huge scoop of guilt and shame over our actions. So be patient with us and know that most of us do what we can to take care of ourselves and take the responsibility of keeping the effects of our illness to a minimium.

We do this by taking our meds, going to therapy, and educating ourselves about our illness so that we may know ourselves better and successfully intervene on our own behaviors. Be patient, also, for with every ongoing recovery there are relapses along the way.

It goes without saying that with our family and friends we need their love even when we act like we don't, and with paraprofessional and professional support people, we need for you to care about us as indivduals and not as just another patient rolling through the assembly line. Compliance comes a lot easier in regard to your treatment recommendations when you really listen, appreciate our uniqueness, intelligence and talents, and recognize that we can be informed team players in our own treatment plans.

Most of all, whether it be family, friends, or treatment professionals, DO NOT GIVE UP on us if we have not given up on ourselves.

I am fortunate. I can really be an exasperating family member and patient but my family, friends and all treatment team members hang in there because I do, and they believe in me even when such belief wavers sometimes within me."

--by LWM6, Bipolar forum member

Yes, it is a struggle. Yes, it is embarrassing.  I just have to keep going.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Thank you mom Olympic commercials

I am sure most all of you have seen the P&G thank you mom commercials and most of you choke up when you see it (don't lie! you know you do). I have to admit they tug my heart strings and it got me thinking about my swimming career and all my mom had sacrificed to get me to and from practice and meets, not mention dealing with an overly emotional teenager (remember the bipolar thing), and getting us through all the Navy moves. I was never an Olympian, but I did accomplish a thing or two over my swim career.

My mom was the one who got my sister and I into swimming, thinking it would be a "cheap" sport. So we started swimming when we were stationed in Ohio with the WTRC sharks. My very first meet was the 1992 WTRC fall invite and I remember my mom having to explain to me that just because I had a heat winner ribbon from my 25 free (big sprinter!), I did not win the event. Knowing me, I probably was too stubborn to accept that fact. Regardless, I was hooked and the swimming journey began.

                            First swim meet - look at me rocking the ears out of my cap. Awful.

From Ohio, we went to Pt. Mugu, CA and then to Gaithersburg, MD. When were in MD, swimming got serious. Mom would wake us up for morning (345 am on Friday's for Olney distance workouts!) practice and truck us to afternoons after school. From MD we moved to Ridgecrest, CA and began my awesome teenage years. How she put up with my attitude at meets and towards swimming in general, I really don't know. By my senior year, I began to calm a bit (only a bit though) and was able to pull my head out of my ass enough to know I wanted to swim in college. So on I went to UNLV where I struggled my first few years (with back issues and just being an asshole), but my parents (they moved to Vegas too) still came to all my duel meets and conference champs, even though I was not swimming to my expectations. Point is my mom still put up with my attitude problems. Somehow, something magical happened and I learned how to enjoy swimming. I dropped a minute in my mile in my junior year alone. My mom came with me to all my summer meets and played "swim mom" to those of us who stayed over the summer. She drove us there and cheered while sitting in 100+ degree Bakersfield heat. It was at that meet that I won my first "real" championship mile race, after a week of bitching to her about how bad I was doing. I think she knew something special was going to happen during my senior year the way she put up with me.

Through my senior year of college, my parents still came to every home duel meet. They picked me up from the airport when I got a horrible case of stomach flu at our Wyoming/Airforce duel weekend. She always had food for me when I would get home from my long days of school/workouts. Eventually, it all had to come to an end. The week of my last conference meet, I was a nervous wreck. I am sure I was super pleasant to be around. The point is, she was there during my first race and during my last race of my career (ok, so were my sister and dad :)). She got to see me go from little 8 year old to conference champion in the 1650. I got to share that moment with not only my teammates, but my parents and sister. I got to run up into the stands and cry with them because they knew how much I struggled (mentally and physically) throughout my career. Despite everything I put my parents through, they stuck with me and I have to say thank you mom and dad and Kari. I wouldn't have had that moment if it weren't for you guys.

 Top: leaping with joy - impressive after a 1650! Middle: UNLV parents cheering during my race - my mom and dad are in the front (mom is crying) Bottom: Me and my parents and my medal :)