This morning, the neighborhood erupted into a chorus of excited barking and howling as various mushers loaded up their teams and took off for the Copper Basin 300. The Copper Basin is one of my all time favorite races. It’s a tough trail with some of the most stunning scenery you’ll ever encounter. It’s definitely bittersweet to be missing the race on such a great year for training and snow, but reading through the lineup of teams also gets me excited to be doing the race myself in a couple years with my own crew.
I ran the Copper Basin in 2010 and 2016. I got 26th and 13th, respectively. I was very proud of my 13th place finish in a tough field! Hooch Bean led for me almost that whole race– it was pretty awesome. You can read my blog post about that here. Ha, on re-reading this post, I remember some of the zany adventures of that race. As a note, that post was from when I was working with Scott Smith and Red Dog Racing, and was planning to run Iditarod the next year– But as you may know, plans changed, and now I’m working towards the big 1,000 milers in a few years!
We have a lot of friends running the CB and handling for the race this year. Shout out to Amanda, who’s doing her Rookie run, the whole Ryno Kennel Team, Victoria who is handling for Dew Claw Kennel, and the SPK crew! I hope everyone has a blast. We’ll be following along via www.cb300.com, where they have a live tracking map. You can also follow on their page on Facebook!
As we head into race season, it’s going to be especially hard for me not to rejoin Facebook. That is definitely one of the best places to follow races. I’ve been doing very good at staying away from the book of faces, and it has really helped me mentally I think. I’ve written, read, and generally created a lot more without the vapid void of constant updates to fall back on.
In other mental health news, I visited a psychiatrist for the first time in over a decade. In high school and college I was diagnosed with depression and maybe (?) some other stuff. Here’s the thing. When I went to a psychiatrist on my own in college, the doctor, an old white man, didn’t have time to see me, so he had his Nurse Practitioner see me. My dad is a nurse, and I think nurses are some of the best people in the world– and she was really awesome. But she talked to me for 15 minutes and said, “You need to be hospitalized.” And so I was! I spent 12 days in ye olde psych warde. The full story of which is for another time. The important point here is that while I was in the hospital, the doctor did finally come to see me and the conversation basically went like this: “Hi, I’m the doctor, I’m not sure yet what your diagnosis is going to be, but I am retiring, so goodbye.”
So, I never officially heard whatever my diagnosis might be. And, I wasn’t super keen on psychiatrists either! I was prescribed meds and I took them for a while, until I decided on my own to just stop (not actually advisable, but that was me in my early twenties). For a while my mental health was pretty awful. Then it seemed to actually get better! I stayed away from psychiatrists and medication, went to lots of therapists, finally found one who really helped me, and practiced other coping mechanisms like exercise and occasionally drinking water. I said to myself: sefl! We don’t need meds!!! Ha!
My depression faded away. I dealt with anxiety, but it was bearable. And then, around age 30, depression came on back with souvenirs and a tan. And anxiety was like, “OMG, Depression, I’ve missed you so! Let’s paint the frickin town!” So, I’ve been struggling with that new level of mental disquiet for a couple years, and in this time I have reconsidered my resistance to taking meds.
In my decade of medlessness, I told myself I was better without them and the side effects they could produce. And, I have a paranoia about becoming dependent on medication, particularly in case the apocalypse occurs.
However, in the last few months when my depression has grown especially sharp, I came to the realization that I need to– lesson for my whole year– swallow my pride and see if there might be something out there that could help me.
I was very nervous to visit a psychiatrist again. There’s no better epitome of someone not caring to hear you than them not even actually seeing you. My previous experience both with the old white man doctor and in the hospital was that I was not heard, or that my experience with mental illness was minimized. I was frightened to visit another doctor who would do the same.
I have great news though– this doctor sat with me for an hour, respected my lead in use of pronouns (which was an indicator that she was a safe space for me to be my queer self), and was funny and a great listener. I felt like she was working with me and I definitely felt heard. It was a huge relief. She did prescribe me some medicine for my depression and wants to talk more with me about some other facets of my mental playground. I am on day two of taking my meds! I am trying to keep a record of my moods during this process for maximum data. Also cuz my mom gave me some really nice journals for Christmas.
It feels a bit weird to be this open about the whole process of meds and doctors etc, but again a part of my mission here is to be fully transparent. Cuz I know I have been taught by society to tamp it down, not talk about it. And I think that defeats us in the end. So, this was my adventure this week! Trying a new tactic.
I listen to a podcast called “Another Round.” At the very end, the hosts always say, “Drink some water, Take your meds, Call your person.” I love those reminders. So! Drink some water! Take your meds! Call your person!
In other words… Take care of you in a real way.
Have fun following the CB300 this weekend! I know I will. And as always: