What are your lifelines?

I was thinking this morning about things I cannot live without.

I don't mean things like air and water and an appropriate amount of carbon dioxide to stimulate the breathing reflex; I'm talking about things that, if they were suddenly to go away, would make such a huge dent in my quality of life that living would be difficult to do.

The whole reason that this came up is that I did something last night I hardly ever do (which is the reason I'm posting in the afternoon rather than in the morning): I forgot to take my antidepressant before I went to bed.

Those of you who have read Head Nurse know that I take Effexor to control anxiety and depression. It's been a literal lifesaver for me; I think I would've died of ennui had I not started taking it five years ago. *Not* taking it, though, is worse than being depressed: even the extended-release version will set you up for nasty, nasty withdrawal symptoms if you miss so much as a single dose. Think dreams that even Crabby's Lucid Dreaming post couldn't help you control, weird visual and physical effects, and a feeling like your brain has the flu.

So I woke up this morning feeling electric shocks down my arms and up my neck, remembered the crazy dream I had (the ICU staff was doing a cross between "Survivor" and "The Amazing Race", neither of which I've ever seen, and we had to walk from Dallas to the Gaza Strip), felt foggy and goofy, and realized: This drug? Is a lifeline for me. Without it, I have Brain Scurvy.

Intrigued by the thought that a little red capsule could be so important, I thought about other lifelines I have. One is my relationship with my sister. Another, surprisingly, is my relationship with Attila.

Three years ago, if you'd told me I would consider a monumentally expensive personal trainer to be a necessity rather than a luxury, and that I'd actually panic at the thought of not working out with that M.E.P.T., I would've laughed you out of the room. I knew intellectually that exercise could change brain chemistry for the better. I knew it could help manage stress. I knew it could increase a person's feelings of competency and self-esteem. I just didn't realize how much those study results would apply to me.

I'll be darned, though, if I don't feel so much better, so much less goofy, and so much more competent when I'm done falling over my own feet and dropping weights on my head! At first, it was the Hammer Analogy: it felt so good when I stopped that I didn't mind the weight-dropping and floor-kissing. Now, though, it's a totally different feeling: I *jones* for workouts. And I know that I have neither the determination nor the discipline to do them on my own, so I really depend on Attila.

I have, totally unintentionally, become something of a jock. When I'm out for walks with Max, he'll stay on the ground while I balance on a low wall. We'll do doggy-timed wind sprints. I no longer poop out at the idea of lifting heavy patients--in fact, it's become something of a noblesse oblige thing for me to help with every lift at work.

It's not to the point yet that I'm wearing running shoes out in public, or that I'm eating horrible protein bars for breakfast and taking licorice extract at lunch, but I'm sure that time will come. When it does, please knock some sense into my head and remind me of my other lifeline: FRITOS.

What are your lifelines? How many of them are body-fitness-related, and how many are brain-fitness-related?

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