Category: Coping with depression

Day 2, physical exercise

I am the sort of person that likes to be busy.

When an object is in motion, it stays in motion until acted upon by an equal or opposite force.

I like having my riding lessons and barn days. I like kayaking on the serene lakes of Oak Mountain State Park. I crave the adrenaline rush of riding my mountain bike through the woods at Oak Mountain. I crave the feeling of water when I am swimming.

Winter dampers outdoor activities with the lack of daylight and the cold it brings.

Yesterday, I committed to starting a cross training physical activity program for myself.

I started with a dusky, dark bike ride through the lamp lit streets of Homewood. I rode my cyclocross bike, because I can hop curves, off-road, and still have good on road performance. I knocked out 4 miles and it soothed my cravings for thrashing bike trails some. When I finished I felt relieved, relaxed and happy.

Today, I had class until 7:30 pm and felt that was too late for a neighborhood bike ride. Instead, I went to the Rec Center and did a simulated hike in an elliptical machine. I did a 30 + minute work out and felt muscles burning I didn’t know existed. I will admit a real hike would have been more fun, but it was nice to watch some TV.

Now, to see if I can keep this up. My Fitbit does its part to remind me to get up and move, but it’s hard for me to motivate myself to the idea of a stationary cario machine. I may try a shorter cardio workout next time and work in some long overdue weight training.

My Invisible Friend

Hello darkness, my old friend

I’ve come to talk with you again

Because a vision softly creeping

Left its seeds while I was sleeping

And the vision that was planted in my brain

Still remains

Within the sound of silence… – Lyrics for The Sound of Silence by Simon and Garfunkel

I have an invisible friend that likes to visit from time to time. Simon and Garfunkel know who he is, he is ‘darkness’.

Depression takes many forms and shapes, for me he is this invisible friend I often call, ‘darkness’. He creeps in leaving seeds in my mind as I sleep that grow into my dreams and following me as I wake and into my day.

Today, he left me with the song “The Sound of Silence” by Simon and Garfunkel. This song triggers thoughts and memories. The memories are of movies, like Watchmen when it was played at the funeral, places, people and things. My boyfriend calls these things ‘triggers’, because it leads to an emotional response within me.

I am an introvert, the weird kind that can talk to complete strangers about absolutely nothing because I know I am of no consequence to them and they are of no consequence to me. BUT… I struggle around my family and my boyfriends family. I struggle around people I know. I want to hide at family and social gatherings, either in a book, in my art, my phone or iPad. It gives my boyfriend great pain that I struggle so and he wants me to become the extrovert I just cannot be in those situations… but that’s not my point. My point is that I am an introvert and music effects me deeply.

Music touches my soul in a way that no other media can. It can make me happy, it can make me sad, and it can take me away to places I’ve never been.

When I first got divorced, there was music I could listen to that seemed to feed into the depression that I felt from the open wound I was carrying around. If I hear some of those songs now, I find that I have to change the station or track to get away from it. If I listen to some of those songs, then all of the feelings of that open gaping wound come back to me.

There are songs that can be triggered in my mind from events or my urges. Recently, a local police officer committed suicide while on duty in his patrol Tahoe with his side arm. It hit me differently from how it hit other people, but my anti-suicide song popped into my head.

My anti-suicide song is “Jumper” by Third Eyed Blind. That song sings out to all of us who are struggling with our not so imaginary friends. That friend that takes us over to the edge of the cliff, the knife in the drawer, the bottle of pills, or that pistol. This song is about brining someone back from that place. Back to reality, away from that edge or that jagged, sharp rock bottom.

It’s not easy to step back from that ledge when your old friend ‘darkness’ has you convinced that is the answer. That killing yourself is the ultimate answer to end all of the pain.

I have been told before, by my boyfriend, that it is selfish for someone to commit suicide. But in your mind or that person’s mind, it may not be. That person may be convinced that he/she is a burden on their loved ones, because of their health issues or mental health issues. They feel like if they end, then their loved ones no longer have to suffer because of them. I know, because that was the conclusion I came to when I was 13 years old.

I struggle every day telling my invisible friend to go away. Going to therapy and processing my thoughts and feelings have helped me tremendously. It’s still hard to tell my friend to take a hike. Some days are easier than others, but there will always be a struggle and I just have to be prepared and ready for it.

Getting Free

Depression has a way of locking its tendrils deep into your soul and dragging you deeper into the darkness. The biggest thing is to find a way to cope with the feelings of darkness and despair.

For years, I tried to cope on my own with my feelings and it was never easy. I lied about how I felt to anyone and everyone. “I’m ok…” or “I’m fine…” I lived in my world of lies, because I did not want to burden anyone with my problems. I felt like a burden for years and it was not until recently that I realized that it was not my decision as to whether or not I was burden to someone.

After years of silence and the death of my grandmother and puppy, I finally broke my silence with my general practitioner. She told me that she was not able to diagnose me, but that she could treat me once the diagnoses was made. Breaking my silence was difficult. I had made the first step, I knew I had a problem but doing something about it was something completely different.

Getting free is not easy. I have been in and out of therapy and I have been on different medications. The toughest part is finding the right doctor for you. I saw a doctor that kept adding and telling me to take more and more, despite my complaints of increased urges to harm myself. I saw a Nurse Practitioner who added meds to treat side effects from meds. When she left the practice I began seeing another Psychiatrist that had been dubbed “The Chemist” by her colleagues. She is not the most personable of people, but she has a degree in chemistry and and knows how medications work. She, unlike my general practitioner, know that mixing Cymbalta and Straterra would not work for me.

We work together and to get me right and that is important.

I also see a therapist who helps me sort my thoughts and find solutions.

The best thing to do to thwart depression or anxiety is to process the feelings… why do I feel this way? What has happened to change how I am feeling?

Processing is not easy, but you can push yourself through it and once it’s over you will be surprised With the results.