Project Background

Me at some local competition. I’m on the ice in an arabesque or spiral position.

I have dealt with anxiety with a touch of depression my whole life. For a long time, I took meds. Now I don’t.* This project is my attempt to control my anxiety/depression without meds or counseling.**

I’m almost half a century old, I am Deafblind with some usable vision and hearing, and I have kidney disease. I am a mom of three and work part time with my husband in our own business. We have two guide dogs and three guinea pigs and live in the Pacific Northwest.

I have a good life but my biggest struggle is with “spoon management.” Or the rationing of energy when I have kidney disease. Its a little more challenging for me when I can’t drive because just leaving my house to go anywhere means I have to walk on average over a mile. This is both good and bad. I have to plan for rests and say “no” to a lot of things I would like to do. People think deaf blindness is hard, but my kidney disease is much harder. The sapping of my energy is really my number one impairment. To be honest, deafblindness does make lots of things take a lot more physical and mental energy that they would for others, so its a combination of things, but having a lack of energy is tough for my mental health as well.

Exercise, when carefully managed, is good for kidney disease, and good for mental health. When I just tried to ride the bike or treadmill, I got bored out of my mind. I needed a goal. And when I looked back and some of the happier times of my life, or at least the times when I felt both physically and mentally strongest, I was skating.

I was never anywhere near the level of elite skater (no Yuna Kim or Michele Kwan-like skills for me!) But people think skating and they think the Olympics and that caliber of skater. Just like almost every other sport out there, most of us aren’t elite, but that doesn’t make the sport any less fun to pursue your personal best. There have been some stuff written about me as a Deafblind skater before, and there are definite factors that make being a Deafblind skater a bit of a challenge which will come up, but this blog isn’t so much about that as its about just keeping moving in whatever form it takes.

Due to my kidney disease, my bones are brittle and can break, so I have to be cautious. Therefore, no jumps will be happening, and probably not many spins. . I plan to stick with Moves in the Field, Solo Dance patterns, that sort of thing. But that is getting ahead of myself, first I have to just get back on the ice again. I will start with the Adult level 1-6 Learn to Skate skills. I used to be able to do all of these, so I will not need a coach for now. But this is where I will begin.

When I was a little kid, I first noticed that I could be totally pissed off and feel horrible, then go to the rink and feel great within an hour. No other sport or physical activity has had that affect on me. When I skated as an adult in my 20s, the rink was somewhere where I belonged and people welcomed me, with almost none of the day-to-day weirdness that goes along with people who can’t deal with you as a deaf blind person. I really enjoyed my adult skater friendships. I hope to maybe find that again, but I’m not sure if it is possible due to schedules, etc.

Four women in skating dresses posing after a local competition. I am second from the left.

So, skating as a Deafblind person takes a bit of logistical strategy. No longer am I a single person who lives right across the street from the rink. I used to go there morning and evening several days a week, plus take ballet and pilates and walk a couple of miles to work and back. Now I will have to take a train and bus to the rink, leave my work, husband and kids, and since my vision and hearing are much worse now, I will not be able to do evening or weekend public sessions. The rink that is nearest to me only has a daytime public session on Fridays, so next Friday will be my first opportunity. My son is going with me to help me get the lay of the land, but after a few times, I hope to be able to go solo. I also need to make friends with this rink so they will let me store my guide dog somewhere and let me skate without a bunch of dramatics. And maybe watch out for me a bit. We’ll see how it goes…

Until then, I am working on my stamina with daily exercise. Stamina will be BIG with this project, and since I can’t skate but once a week, off-ice work is a big part of this, too. But working towards a goal of getting my skating legs back will certainly help in the motivation department.

So, here we go!!!

*I am not a psychiatrist so I cannot say whether SSRIs and other psych meds are all they are cracked up to be, miracles, or over or under utilized. For me, they wreaked havoc on my kidneys, made me throw up, etc. So they were not for me. If they work for you–wonderful. This is not a judgement against or for people taking psych meds. Do what works for you.

**I did CBT counseling in my 20s that was very helpful. It taught me a lot of things I never learned growing up. But now, it just feels like too much trouble and there is nothing really new they can do for me. Again, that is what I’ve decided is best for me. Do what works for you.

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