I suddenly became very weepy this morning.
For no reason whatsoever.
Having recently reverted to my Twenties lament of “I am short, fat and ugly”, I’ve been living a very healthy lifestyle of late: meditating twice a day, drinking my healthy green shakes, going to the gym, walking, swimming, taking time to read, making sure I take time off from work to enjoy friends. None of it has helped with my sleeping, though (not to mention the short, fat and ugliness), and I think I’m just exhausted with fitness.
I keep a daily book of my morning weight and blood pressure, meditation time (20 minutes), everything I eat and drink, the seeds and powders that go into my shakes, my morning vitamins . . . and, before you know it, it’s time to go to the gym. A walk of 1.3 miles to Chelsea Piers.
There, between machines, I catalogue my calories and miles per hour and length of time spent on each exercise. Then, I walk home, write down the statistics in my book, do my evening meditation, take my evening vitamins, cook my supper, write down what I’ve had, do my evening meditation, relax in front of the telly, and retire to bed. Exhausted (Oh, yes, I forgot. I work, too).
Except I can never sleep. I’ve never been a great sleeper, even as a baby when, even then, I think I had a terror of what I might be missing. I haven’t been out for a week (apart from to the gym) and think that my new lifestyle might be turning me into a bit of a recluse. What if someone buys me a drink that is over the 125 mls I occasionally allow myself? I daren’t risk the adventure.
Which is possibly why, this morning, I just started crying. I started to read up on depression that can be related to both meditation and exercise. I already knew of the former. When I learned Transcendental Meditation many years ago, my calming Alpha waves made me so spaced out I nearly got myself killed crossing a road after a session. I then became so severely depressed, they had to cut my meditating time, as I was clearly delving way too deep into my psyche.
There is a theory that over-exercising can induce depression, too. While it boosts serotonin, which brings about positivity, some believe that coming down from that high can send you plummeting to the emotional depths you were trying to escape in the first place, in much the same way that coming down from a drugs high can do.
The truth is probably much more simple. We are physical, emotional and spiritual beings who cannot but help react to our surroundings and the people in them, conscious or otherwise. We want to love and be loved; we not only have our needs, but we like to be needed; no matter what our social status, we have basic primal emotions that are all part of the one basic need, which is to survive.
Despite our apparent surface differences, we have more in common than we know, and it probably boils down to this: we want to protect ourselves and our loved ones. We choose many different ways to do that (I am not, for example, going to rob a bank), but survival is all.
Survival is also about control and, when one feels that life is out of control, there are any number of things people turn to that might give them at least a semblance of control or, at best, the illusion of it.
I’ve never been into the chemical drugs scene (I was once offered speed and turned it down on the grounds I thought I was being asked to run a very fast marathon. Not joking. I was very young), but I’m suspecting that ultra health is my drug of choice.
As a child, I spent most of my pocket money on Here’s Health magazines and the vitamins it recommended. I have exercised my entire life and never not been a member of a gym (although I know many people who can say that and they have never been to one). I’ve always looked to being the best that I can be, physically and mentally (give or take the odd bottle of Chianti, obviously).
But: Oh, sleep, where art thou? Because, no matter what I do, I can’t capture that one thing that everyone tells you is the key to good health. I dread going to bed. I dread sleep. I hate every minute I am not conscious. I hate my dreams in which I am always buying houses I can’t afford (a bit like real life in that, actually) or travelling in vehicles that won’t take off or land. I fear every moment I am not in control.
And there you have it.
Maybe, at the end of the day, that’s the fear we all have: the dread of losing control just manifests itself in different ways, socially, politically, personally, whatever. This morning, I just lost control.
But tears dry.
Life moves on.
And so, for today, I’ll just go along with the words of the song: “You've got to laugh a little, cry a little/Before the clouds roll by a little.”
And at the risk of going a little too soppy sitting alongside my Kleenex, this much I know: The sun’ll come out . . .