Underneath my yellow skin

Tag Archives: coping

How I deal with depression

just...no.
Do I hafta?!?

There are many suggestions for dealing with depression, some that have held steady for decades. The one that is recommended quite often is exercise, and there’s usually the accompanying exaltation of how great it makes one feel, how it helps with sleep, etc. It’s often touted as the magic bullet for depression, and while I’m sure it’s true for some people (it has to be in order for people to keep nattering on about it, right?), it has never been that way for me. I bought into that bullshit back when I was in my deep and chronic depression. I exercised every day, and it only made me irritated. Part of that was because I was doing it solely to be doing it, and because of my obsessive nature, I was doing it way too much.

In addition, sometimes, I was doing exercise that I hated, such as walking. I hate walking/running. No matter how in shape I was (and I’ve been in really good shape at various times in my life), walking was never enjoyable for me. When I lived in the East Bay, I walked four and a quarter miles a day, and hated every step of it. I did it for almost two years, and it never got any better. It got easier, of course, but I never hated it any less. That whole endorphin high people talk about never happened, and, yes, there’s some lingering resentment on my part that I stuck it out so long.

I switched to dancing in my living room for my aerobic workout, and while I enjoyed that more, it still didn’t give me the natural high that everyone keeps raving about. Even taiji, which I love, doesn’t make me feel instantly better. I will say that I think my daily taiji routine helps me keep the worst of the demons at bay, but it’s taken years to get to this point. In addition, I don’t think I’m doing enough and am slowing trying to add to it (weight-bearing exercise, mostly by doing sword drills and the Sword Form).

Exercise never helped with my sleep, either. I knew better than to do it right before going to bed, but even when I did it early in the day, it didn’t make me sleep any better at night. Disclosure: I’ve had difficulty with sleep all my life. I’m a bit notorious among my friends for my sleep issues. During one period in my life, I was having nightmares in which my friends died on a regular basis. It became a joke that you weren’t really a friend of Minna’s if you didn’t die in my dreams. A joke sadly based on reality.

I am not saying exercise isn’t beneficial, obviously. It’s better to exercise than not if you can, and I don’t want it to seem like I’m pro-sitting on your ass all day long. Well, actually, I am pro-that, but I acknowledge that exercise is good for your health. It’s just that it never gave me the boost that other people seem to get from it. I don’t want someone who’s severely depressed to think that if they don’t get the endorphin rush from exercising that it’s not worth it, and I don’t want them to be upset about expending the energy for seemingly no benefit.

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Medium-grade depression

I’ve been depressed all my life for as long as I can remember. My mother talks about me being a happy child, but I don’t remember that at all. My first real memory is when I was seven. I realized I was going to die, and I jumped out of bed and ran screaming from the room. I fell into a deep depression that year (not because of that, though it didn’t help), and starting when I was eleven until roughly mid-thirties, I wanted to die every day of my life.

I never had the courage to kill myself, but I saw the opportunities everywhere I went. Driving was a struggle because I constantly had to stop myself from running into embankments and such. If I walked on a bridge, I thought about how I could throw myself off it. These weren’t conscious thoughts, but stray thoughts floating in and out of my brain. I had no control over them, and they felt as if they were driving me.

Sometime in my mid-thirties, I started to stop having suicidal thoughts. Or rather, suicidal impulses. I was still depressed, and I still hated my life, but I didn’t have to stop myself from driving into embankments any longer. Again, it wasn’t a conscious thought, but it just happened. I think it’s at least in part because of starting taiji, but whatever the reason, it was a welcome change.

Starting in my early forties, I began to stop having suicidal thoughts as well. Let me be clear. I’ve never loved life, and I doubt I ever will. But, it was a relief to stop having intrusive thoughts all the damn time. I downgraded my depression to low-grade, and I muddled on with my life.

Unfortunately, in the last few months, the depression has ramped up again. Not to the extent it used to be (which was crippling and chronic), but more than I’m comfortable with. Intrusive thoughts of hopelessness and self-disgust. Thinking that life is worthless and why am I alive. I don’t feel as if I’m contributing anything by being alive, and I have a hard time dragging my ass out of bed (off the couch) in the morning (afternoon).

I’m discontented with, well, everything. I was always the girl with so much potential, but my own self-doubt and loathing has held me back. I’ve always had great ideas, but major difficulties in implementing them. It’s part of the problem of being very intelligent, and that is NOT a humble brag. I never formed good work habits because school came easily to me. I work for myself, so I don’t have to stick to someone else’s timetable.

I need to figure out what I want to do with my life, and more to the point, I need to stick to something and give it more than the good old college try. It’s time to see what I’m made of–and maybe the depression will subside.