Our Own Game of Life, a guest blog post by Laurie Levine, LCSW
Laurie Levine, LCSW is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker serving Northern VA. Located in Herndon, Virginia near the border of Reston, Laurie works with those who desire to make changes in their current lives. She specializes in working with those managing depression, anxiety or feelings of low self-esteem. I am thankful that Laurie allowed me to share her piece, which uses her experience training for a 5k as a metaphor to training for life.
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Our Own Game of Life
by Laurie Levine, LCSW
One day a few weeks ago I was finishing up a 3 mile "wog". Wogging consists of some walking and some jogging (my son who ran cross country and track says I "bunny hop"; I guess a long legged teenager might see that in me). As I was wogging down the home stretch, my neighbor called out "hello". She is a tall, long legged, athletic young thing (not to be confused with the bunny hopper hopping down the street). We have had many a bus stop conversation about my various attempts at athleticism; there have been 5k's, sprint triathlons, a half marathon and, of course, the Avon Walks. (This bunny hopper is SLOW and steady, no awards even in the advanced aged category, but it has been fun to plod along throughout the years). My lovely neighbor asked me if I am "training for anything?" I thoughtfully answered "no, just LIFE". The truth is, I have paid for an event in July, and that is probably what is motivating me to get out there and move, but I am not sure I am going to participate, both due to scheduling and my hesitancy about my readiness for this event. So, I thought my answer was more accurate because, I am training for LIFE; we all are every.single.day. On a daily basis we are trying to do our best as humans: parenting, nutrition, kindness, healthy bodies, school, work, volunteering, community, environment. Goodness, I am tired from just reading that list. And, yet every morning, we get up and begin the training again. There are those mornings when just getting out of bed is considered success. I have worked with many who are depressed or grieving and putting those two feet on the floor can feel like a marathon at times. Some days are harder than others, and I truly empathize with their struggles. I've had people say that if they are able to just keep breathing, they are doing okay. Depression and grief can be very heavy. I've spoken to many whose friends and family don't understand the heaviness, "my dad says if I just go out and get some fresh air I will be fine". When you live with someone that has never experienced the "downs" it can be complicated. A stranger to depression really can not appreciate the weight of the grief/depression, they can not put themselves in your shoes and realize how hard it is to accomplish the simplest things. In family meetings, I do my best to help both parties begin to understand how the other is feeling. Mom/husband/anyone is pushing you to exercise, work or even shower and you just can't summon the energy to move forward. There is an education piece for the non-depressed person where they need to learn what depression looks like, why their loved one is so dormant and how they can be helpful rather than an additional pressure. I see these therapy sessions as part of the training for LIFE. It is in the sessions when we build our muscles via repetition. "I can't tell my parents ___________" . What are you most afraid of? What is the worst that could happen? Can you tell them a piece of the story? Week after week we break down the issues (depression, anxiety or anger) and do the training necessary to move forward; sometimes it is a 5k, maybe even a full marathon, but often the training is just helping to put one foot in front of the other and show up for that game of LIFE. Be it healthy physical choices, emotional goals or concrete work challenges, each of us is participating in our own training program. What we bring to the table will impact the outcome; I know the harder I wog, the better I feel in my muscles and in my mind. Please, keep in mind, that sometimes we all struggle to tie up our running shoes, sometimes getting to the training is just that difficult. Have patience with yourself and those around you, tomorrow is a new opportunity to train for LIFE.
This guest blog post was written by Laurie Levine, LCSW and first appeared at Laurie Levine, LCSW . It is reprinted by permission.