[Depression] A brief explanation of my History with the Demon

As I’ll be starting a series of my own experienced with battling depression, I though it only sensible to give you my credentials. Why should you listen to me? What do I know?

You don’t need to, and uh… Not much!

However, I do have a bachelor’s degree in Psychology and was first diagnosed at 14, 2 years after the self harming and anxiety induced skin diseases began.

I have been struggling with this mental illness officially for 13 years, but really it’s more like 15. I have tried talking therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, medication mixed with therapy, medication on its own. I am still currently struggling with the mental health system.

Last update: The nurse treating and diagnosing me wrote down some facts very incorrectly for my diagnosis, caused me to break down into tears on the phone because I missed a catch up appointment after not receiving any treatment, and then he discharged me for no reason.

So I am less than eager to entrust my mental state to the NHS since every time I try to go on their path, my mental health dives and my struggle becomes much more difficult.

This is why I’m going down the path of self help, because I have no professional help. I could keep trying, but it has been over a year since my latest struggle, and the last good piece of help I received was CBT. However my therapist said she couldn’t help me unless I decided to medicate, so I medicated for the first time due to pressure.

I’m not suggesting your experience will be the same. I am not suggesting you avoid mental health services, but treat with caution and keep a strong support system around you. Prepare yourself for some difficult times, and make sure you have some comforts you can fall back on in need.

 

[Depression] Method 1: The Exercise Routine

I intend to use this blog for more than just lifestyle + creativity. I also suffer from Depression and intend on making that a vital part of the identity of this page.

Namely, by looking at all of the ways in which I try to battle it, without medical help.

NOTE Every one person needs their own treatment, and I 100% encourage you speak to a medical professional for their opinion. Do not only rely on self help methods. I have only started relying on these recently due to my own decisions and struggles with mental health practitioners. Though I feel better avoiding the NHS mental health system at all costs, this doesn’t mean you will, too. Please take care of yourself in the most sensible way possible, these posts are only to provide insight and advice on top of treatment.

Does exercise cure depression?

Hell no, not on its own. It helps boost lots of hormones through your system (that’s the science part I won’t dare to teach anyone) but on its own, it will never ‘cure’ depression or anxiety. To be completely honest, I don’t feel like there’s much ‘boosting’ going on here.

How did it help?

It offered me goals and a chance to improve myself. With time and patience, it gave me tangible evidence that I could get stronger and see the changes I can implement. It made me feel less helpless, and gave me a good identity boost. “I’m a strong woman” – it helped me say – even if in my mind I don’t believe it, I can flex and see it.

It also offered mindfulness, in the form of weight lifting. I was against myself, mono v mono, pushing my own goals, my own efforts and only comparing myself to, well… To myself. It wasn’t about how I looked compared to anyone else, it was about seeing the slow and gradual change in how much I could lift, and how strong my body felt.

I was no longer in a vessel of sadness or hatred. I was encased in a strong physical form, which felt nice for once. It didn’t conquer my self loathing or negative self image, but depression couldn’t take away the strength I felt. Not fully, even when I was lost in the dark places.

It also gave me focus. Something to think on when my mind needed help steering away from bad places. Planning when I would exercise. Will I try that new move I saw online? What are my weak spots, how can I get better?

How it didn’t help

Well. It didn’t get rid of the grey or miserable feelings, and didn’t increase happy feelings (despite what so many people told me).

I was still me, even though I was stronger, and still depressed. I was still struggling with motivation and getting to the gym in the first place. But when I finally got there, some days I could barely lift a 9kg dumbell, despite knowing I could Deadlift 60kg comfortably for 3 sets.

With depression, or without, your results can be inconsistent, which can lead to a spiral. It’s very important to remember that you will not always be on your A game. You will not always be improving. You will mostly stick to a middle ground, but sometimes you will fail.

Do not be hard on yourself. Go hard on the weights instead.

Exercise did not remove my issues with depression, and sometimes not being able to go and feeling guilty made it worse to the point that I considered giving up.

What did I learn?

I developed a sense of determination that I have never had before. I understood that passion doesn’t always mean having your heart full of bird song and glory, but sometimes it just meant doing something even though you don’t quite feel like it today.

Even though you’ll end up being a bucket of sweat that people are afraid to stand close to.

Yuck.

It helped me remember to go easy on myself, I might not be squatting 100kg now, but in time I will achieve this goal no matter what. So long as I am patient, consistent and keep giving it my all.

The Takeaway aka Tl;Dr

Lastly, I remembered to enjoy myself. I picked weight lifting as my sport for the past couple of years because I really really enjoy it. Maybe a little too much. I’m not great at it by any means, but I love it.

We all know how ‘fun depression’ feels, and though it’s muted I can still feel that same memory of what fun is like. Hell, sometimes I even do feel happy. But I think this is because of the lessons I’ve learnt, and because I’m doing something that works for me. 

So go out and find something to do that you love, that will help you push yourself and find pride in who you are. Find strength outside of your mind, and find fun even in its diminished forms.