[DEPRESSION] 2 weeks over – What now?

Two weeks have passed, and though my sleeping has improved (Wahey waking up at 5am instead of somewhere around 3am), I now feel anxious when I wake up.

My mind unpleasantly wrestles me from sleep at full strength, whirring before I even know sleep is over. My dreams are vivid, but I don’t remember most of them and that suits me just fine.

Queasy, reactive stomach, though my libido seems… fine? Not under-active and it’s resurfaced after a long depression related dormant period.

BUT – I actually felt feelings yesterday. And once the day before. I almost giggled in public, and I actually felt endorphins when I went to the gym. So instead of being permanently grey or irritated, or hateful, I have actually begun to feel some joy.

I really didn’t realise how much it had been missing from my life until I felt that little spark. It was such a shock, and such an alien feeling that it actually hurts a little, and makes me feel somewhat uncomfortable at moments.

But I’m looking forward to learning how to feel and be vulnerable again, which I haven’t had to do in a long time.

Vulnerability is something I’ll have to focus on.

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[Depression] Day three on Prozac

Prozac is giving me heavy pressures and little rest from the waking dullness of the day. Emotions have begun to actually happen, but sleepless nights lay behind and ahead of me with tepid carelessness.

Side effects settle slowly, and I have a long span of fighting ahead of me, trying to cope until the pills start to work. The listlessness is fine, and being mostly void of feelings is also fine. But the body aches and pains, the headaches and the exhaustion that can’t be lessened is difficult.

I seem to find myself full of restless energy but exhausted at the same time. I’m comfort eating (mostly because I’m allowing myself – I’m learning not to stretch myself too thin again)

Maybe it’s time for copious amounts of tea? If anyone has advice on what can help a full time worker make the symptoms more bearable, I’m all ears.

I’ve read it can take a month. Some people say ten days.

[Depression] Thank yourself. Every day. Ignore the feeling of dreadful cheesiness.

I’ve not posted any new self help method attempts in a while, mostly because I’m currently going through a very low period of depression.

Those times where the sadness ebbs into something much more grey than you could imagine, and you feel like an empty hollow wandering aimlessly. You’ll likely lose motivation, passion and emotions. You might feel like a phony, living in the stead of someone who used to be very much alive and real. You may sleep all day, or never be able to lay your head to rest, eat too much or not enough. There are always differences in how each of us experiences our lowest of lows, but it sucks balls for each and every one of us.

Normally, my coping mechanism used to be drink a lot, smoke a lot, go out, get crazy. This lead to emotional breakdowns, stupid decisions and a whole host of anxiety and heart palpitations from alcohol and cigarettes. Now, I’ve given up that life, cutting down my drinking and only having more than one if I know I’m in a good spot. It’s helped a lot, but it hasn’t solved this destructive urge. I still turn to cigarettes but I don’t implode the way my body wants me too. I have no solution yet for this, though I have found something that helps soothe over this pain just a little.

Say thank you to yourself.

I first heard this in a yoga class (so I know, this sounds old, cheesy and you’ve probably heard it a million times). I practice some yoga alone, using videos and apps, and realizing each time how horrendously stiff and inflexible I am. Last Sunday, I decided to have a change of pace, let’s actually join in with a group of people, be around the presence of others and see if that brings me more peace.

It didn’t just bring me peace, it brought out some of the pain in me. After an hour and a half of hard work, listening to my body, thinking about me exclusively and letting my form move in ways it wanted I felt released. I felt like a small crack had formed in the tough grey wall that stopped me feeling. When the instructor then said the words “Ignore that criticizing voice inside of you. It’s a decision, decide every day not to listen. Thank your body, send yourself love.”

I remind you, I am a meat eating, weight lifting kinkster who’s more cynical and bitter than at peace with the world, but this struck me hard in the chest to the point that tears rose, unfallen, into my eyes. I realized that the idea of pushing away these negative thoughts and sending positive ones to myself felt alien and wrong to the strongest degree. That I had allowed my mind to poison itself into such self hatred that I absolutely couldn’t appreciate how hard my body had worked. Because there was always better, always the next goal, it was all about progress and never understand that what I was doing in itself was enough. That still working out and eating healthy while going through a dark mental episode was enough. Living was enough.

So, for everyone out there who might be forgetting that they deserve thanks, thank yourself. Appreciate yourself. Living IS enough. Choosing the positive voice, at least sometimes, is enough. Do not let this disease dictate how you speak to yourself.

Maybe just a little bit of self kindness could go a long way for you. You deserve to feel happy, even if it feels like the world is against you

[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.