WORKING OUT – DEPRESSION
Since Robin Williams’ death depression has been on all of our minds.
And my guess is many of us, from time to time, have suffered from it in various forms.
While I can get depressed, and have, it’s almost always related to an event. A big fight with my oldest child can send me reeling back in time to fights with my parents that were left unresolved and I become depressed.
I have some depression triggers. We all do. Blessedly, to date, I have never suffered from free floating depression and never crippling to the point of not leaving the house or bed.
I’m more prone to anxiety that can just arrive unannounced. I suffer from panic. A cousin to depression, but it’s not crippling in the same way.
Deep, serious, clinical depression needs the care and attention of a doctor and we are not doctors.
Bryan Castner wrote in one of his comments this week about the benefits he derives from working out. It was so on target as I had been thinking about the things I do and have done throughout my life to combat loneliness, isolation or depression.
One of the great things about recovery is the meetings. People know everyday they have a place to go and it’s not a bar.
I’m not a member of any recovery group, but the gym serves that purpose for me. It’s my rock. No matter what kind of mood I wake up in, I head to the gym first thing every morning. And I go to a class, not a personal trainer. I don’t run, a very solo activity. I see the same women day after day, year after year.
It’s my group. I don’t see many of these people out of the gym, but it really is a high for me.
It’s proven that the endorphins we get from working out help our moods.
Heaven only knows it’s better for us to be fit and work out then be sedentary and out of shape. If food addiction is our issue, it is even more important to get moving.
It doesn’t matter what you do, but whatever it is you will likely be with people you have something in common with.
In the summer I play tennis. People sit around after games, they chat, they connect,. They are a part of something. It takes them out of themselves.
I remember the morning after my life long best friend died I rolled out of bed, catatonic, feeling like part of my world was forever over, but I somehow made it to the gym. And while it did not erase the pain, and I found myself crying through plank, the routine of the exercises I knew so well, the sight of the familiar faces that I see each day grounded me in the present and the future. It was something that stayed the same in a moment when nothing felt the same.
The point of this is the best thing you can do for yourself is DO SOMETHING.
For all his fame and outward personality, Paul is a more hermity creature than I am. Thus he runs. Solo. Each day. But I have seen him when he is upset about something, when something happens that could get him off his game, he puts on his sneakers and he runs. But that activity, that routine takes him back to his center of calm.
I don’t think I can stress enough the importance of this.
Look, do I think that if Robin Williams had taken a kick boxing class instead of holing up in his room he would be here today? I have no way of knowing that. And something tells me he had crossed into the deep end of the pool.
But for those of us who get up every day and try and wrangle our issues in the best way we can, those of us who have some form of mood swings, which is most everyone, I say, MOVE. Exercise. Join a group. Do something physical with others. It makes the world of difference.
And the other thing I can advise doing – is make a list of things that lift your spirits, even in those times when your spirits don’t need lifting.
For many it’s music. Writing in a journal. Reading a book. Playing with your dog. Taking a walk. Cooking a meal. Watching a TED talk. Whatever your “go to” mood lifters are – keep the list handy. And when you feel yourself slipping to that place you would rather not be going to, do one of them.
I know this sounds goofy, or it’s just the level of my OCD behavior, but when I get anxious, I clean. It’s become an automatic response for me. I will sort my sweaters. Refold my jeans. Take all the silverware out of the drawer and clean it. Get the finger prints off the fridge. Even if it doesn’t need doing, I do something that makes my environment orderly and it instantly calms me down.
The problem when we get depressed, sad or anxious is we often become paralyzed, so we just take our dark mood and hole up in a dark room.
Darkness needs the light and light in those moments comes from action. So just do something, anything, you will be glad you did.