Dealing with the “Debby Downer” I can be

Originally Posted to www.transitionpgh.org on April 3, 2012 @ 11:30PM

Sometimes the fog around my head gets so thick I can’t even see my own hands in front of my face. I get into these endless clouds of depression that if they lived in the sky they would surely produce rain. My body aches, my head hurts, I have absolutely no motivation to do anything and any positive thoughts are often abandoned for fear and nightmares. Often the answer is as simple as getting up and going out to work in my garden but often times I can’t even work up the energy nesessary to get up. I have been battling depression for years now and I am not even close to figuring out the secret to safely dealing with my little disorder, and close only counts in horse shoes, hand grenades and nuclear warfare. Now I am not going to sit here and say that I have tried everything because I haven’t, but I have tried a lot of different things of which most fail, and the ones that do work are not sustainable, illegal or ridiculously unsafe.

Part of my problem is not being able to deal with the lack of instant gratification that most depression treatments allow. In the past I was able to make my problems disapear instantly, though temporary, but literally instantly. See heroin was an instant fix to all of my problems, no matter what was troubling me I could make it disappear in seconds. Part of what makes quitting a drug like heroin difficult is getting past all of the baggage you build up while using it that hits you instantly. I’m not saying that my problems are just because of drugs, the problems were already there… drugs just make dealing with the problems harder, once you subtract the drug, you have heard the expression “Up the creek without a paddle” its like that.

In the past I never really paid much attention to it, I couldn’t tell you what caused it, and I surely couldn’t tell you how I fixed it… it just kind of happened. Now that I am getting a little older I have become a bit more in tune with my body and am beginning to notice little things about myself that I was not previously aware of. I am not a doctor or a psychiatrist and I am not trying to pretend that I am one, I can only share my own experiences and personal experiments with my own depression. This post is about mental transition and as I attempt to work out my issues I hope to write about it with the intention of sharing my wins and my losses. I should mention that I have not had much luck in this department but I am learning every day.

The very first thing that I would like to mention is that no matter how incredibly impossible it may seem, you need to wake up, and you should do it without hitting the snooze button. Believe it or not the fifteen minutes of sleep you get after you hit the snooze button does absolutely nothing for you. Waking up is often the most difficult part of the day for someone who is experiencing depression on any level. Wake up and get out of bed and do whatever it is that you do in the morning and remember it is the small parts of your morning routine that will bring you joy… for me it is the first cup of sugar with coffee and a little cream that I drink in the morning, double it with a beautiful morning and some time spent in the garden and I’m off to a pretty good start.

Another big one is food, and I can’t stress this enough… If you are hungry, then EAT! Even if it is just a few bites of something, I can’t even tell you how much better I feel after I have had something to eat in the morning. Think of it as “Fuel for the Fire”, it’s the little things like being hungry coupled with whatever else may be bothering you that lead to a state of depression. You may not be able to fix everything that negatively affects you but atleast take care of the problems that you can control. This should go without saying, but I’m going to say it anyway, I’m not talking about pop-tarts I’m talking healthy food. Eating crap makes you feal like crap, not to mention one of the little joys of life is eating good food. The food that you eat is something you can control and you should eat the best that you can afford… or grow.

Excercise and meditation are also extremely important to help with depression. Get up and get going, for me this means gardening/farming and riding my bike. Excercise can mean any variety of things and I will leave the definition up to you…  Just get up get outside and do something. This will seem impossible in the moment but I can’t stress how important this is, even if you just walk around your yard for an hour and look at plants atleast it is something. After you have a couple of days of low impact excercise under your belt it may be time to try and do a little more and get your heart pumping.

Just as important as physical excercise is mental excercise in the form of some type of meditation. Meditation is ANY form of a family of practices in which practitioners train their minds or self-induce a mode of consciousness to realize some sort of benefit. Meditation does not have to involve anything that you don’t want it to involve. If you have a “happy place” you can go and be alone while you think then you are effectively meditating. Meditation for me involves finding a quiet place where I won’t be bothered and quietly reflecting on my immediate surroundings. I don’t sit indian style and I don’t chant but I do explore my thoughts in my own way and I encourage you to figure out your own “happy place” where you can go and explore your mind.

Worth mentioning is the endless amount of plants that are considered medicinal and natural cures for depression. I have had a little experience with these and have grown them, each one of them could have a book written about them in their own right. I don’t have time to write about each of them but a simple google search will bring up all the information you could ever want on any of these plants. St. Johns wort is used for depression and has a beneficial effect similar to solar light treatment and has been used to treat seasonal depression. Basil is also used for depression and can be eaten fresh, cooked or as an essential oil. Ginkgo Biloba is also worth mentioning and has been known to increase the serotonin levels in rats by as much as 33%.

I am not claiming to have the answers to any questions and am still trying to figure out how to help my own depression. I don’t know if I will ever figure out the answer to this question, all that I know is what other people have told me in the past and what has worked for me. I don’t know if there is a cure, it just seams like there are temporary fixes through lifestyle changes. Only when these lifestyle changes become part of your daily routine will the changes become permanent. That’s the main problem…  Sustaining the lifestyle changes required to effetively treat your depression… I don’t have the answer yet…  I’ll let you know if I figure it out and hope that you will do the same…

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One thought on “Dealing with the “Debby Downer” I can be

  1. hi, i just wanted to add two ways gardening is perfect for rebalancing, going outside means you are getting the vitamin D that helps keep the natural endocrinological balance going, sorry, complex word, it means the hormones that govern mood swings among a ton of other vital functions, and getting your hands in that lovely soil means you are inoculating yourself with natural serotonin (the feel good stuff) through exposing your skin to good bacteria, bit like yoghurt helps you digest food.
    lots of studies on gardening helping mood swings think it’s ‘just’ doing anything, but there are chemical reactions going on too, and it’s now been proven!
    there’s a really good gardening project in london, england called the healing fields that helps victims of torture find spaces to garden and find their way back…
    i have agoraphobia and PTSD and now fibromyalgia and can really affirm how much gardening helps create a store of positive feelings and memories to help on the bad days, also patience and contentment with small things, the first flowers, the harvests, the smiles from people seeing you with a wheelbarrow full of courgettes!
    all good wishes!

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