Depression and Donuts (and an Elephant)

This morning, I sat in my car and ate a donut. I named it my 59 cent therapy. I forgave the tax.

I’d successfully taken the children to school -half an hour after the bell, and not counting The Child Who is Sick Every Day Ending in “Y.”

They were late because I was late. I was late because I woke up at my usual 5:30 too-early-to-do-stuff-and-too-late-to-sleep, but mostly exactly-when-the-baby-is-putting-too-much-pressure-on-my-bladder. After which, of course, I saw no point or purpose to life.

Some have expressed surprise that I am so candid about Depression. Why not be candid? You talk about your job, your kids, your hobbies -basically, your life. Depression is my life. It’s the cubicle I sit at, getting very little done because the computer rarely functions and the overhead lights have needed replacing for years.

Every day I either numb from it or succumb from it.

And I talk about it. Though not in person.

“How are you today, Chelsea?”

“Fine.”

I don’t earn an income, keep up on housework, raise the children without sarcasm, return library books before they’re due, or stay on top of budgeting or meal-planning. I’m fine, while some part that cares is yelling, “Everything is wrong, wrong, wrong.”

And that is why I’m honest about Depression: because the elephant’s in the room and I still haven’t figured out why I put it there or how I can get it out.

At least not for less than 59 cents.

Maybe you can relate. Maybe not. I’m told not everyone raises elephants. In that case, what animal won’t leave you alone?

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—————-

I wrote other stuff. Here it is:
Wednesday, October 23: Wrote “Parenting: The Fine Line.”

Thursday, October 24: Did a throwback to a post I wrote on JES’ site, “The Pit of My Mind.”

Friday, October 25: Winner of the Weekly Terribly Poetry Contest. Congratulations to Gary!

Saturday, October 26: Announced the 49th Weekly Terrible Poetry Contest. The theme is something SCARY. PLEASE ENTER!

Sunday, October 27: Shared “To My Guilty Pleasure,” a love letter to my charbroiled combo meal.

Monday, October 28: An inspirational quote by Someone.

Tuesday, October 29: “Since the Bombs Fell: Two,” the second in my dystopian, post-nuclear series.

Wednesday, October 30: Today.

 

Photo Credit: Unsplash

©2019 Chelsea Owens

Throwback Thursday: The Pit of My Mind

Originally posted at The Bipolar Writer Collaborative Mental Health Blog in April of 2018. If you think it’s depressive; yes, it is.

A spotlight coming from a hole in a dark underground cave in Minorca

“Chelsea? Chelsea?” I don’t look up.

Wendy the counselor waits; I assume she waits patiently. She’s going to have to wait for a while, if she thinks waiting will get a response from me. I may be as mentally distant from her, the room, and life as possible; but, I smugly acknowledge, I still have my stubbornness.

“Chelsea?” She tries again, though not pleading or cajoling. The woman is too good at her job. Her paid job. The one I’m paying her to do. “I can come in there after you, if you need me to, but I want you to find a way out on your own.”

Fat. Chance.

I’m ugly. No one actually cares about me, least of all her. I’m paying her; she’s a paid friend. She doesn’t want to to see my face; my red, splotchy, tear-stained face, with stringy, greasy hair and imperfect, crooked teeth…

“Whatever you’re telling yourself right now is not true.” I hear, from a distance. “You need to stop listening to that voice, and meet each untruth with the more positive truth.”

Whatever. I’ve heard aphorisms before. know that my “voice” is the truth: the UGLY truth, yes; but the HONEST one. No one really cares. No one really cares. No one. People standing outside my pit, calling to me, don’t really want to be there. And, they are ignorant twits.

Whenever someone leans over the edge of The Pit I wait. “You don’t actually care!” I yell, from somewhere near the bottom, out of sight of any penetrating light. Occasionally, they take the bait; they lean closer. Grabbing them like a mud-pit crocodile, I drag them down with me to their doom.

“Wha-?” They manage, before getting a faceful of mud, moss, roots, overplayed apps, and wrappers from an entire package of Fun Size Snickers.

Believe me, that size of chocolates was not as “fun” as they said.

Soon enough, I have amassed a small pile of hapless prey. Almost all of them are not strangers; they’re me: Optimistic Me, Tried That Day Me, Motivated Me, lots of Medicated Me’s, Broke the Habit Me, and even Did Something Worthwhile Me. They’re not as big or strong as Me in The Pit, of course, which is why they’re lying, broken, at the bottom.

Balancing carefully, I decide to climb atop the living pile of bodies. They moan slightly, too down-trodden and depressed to fight back.

Knowing me, I’d probably kick them if they did fight. It’s easier to kick another down than help myself up.

Slowly, precariously, my head reaches sunlight. I climb higher, ignoring the complaints below. Helpful Me, the poor sucker, proffers a handy boost with her unbroken leg. Soon I see the top of the hole; I’m looking at ground level.

“Wow,” I breathe.

A slight, sweet-tasting breeze tickles my exposed face. A completely careless birdsong whistles down from a nearby tree. I see light, clear skies, beautiful landscapes. I can almost touch rough twigs and mossy ground. Almost.

A low shot of green underbrush in a forest under a bright sun

It’s not real, someone I know, inside, tells me.

“Come out,” my counselor requests. Still waiting. Perhaps she’s eyeing Medicated Me, just beneath a dirty sneaker, when she adds, “Medication is never meant to be taken on its own. Studies are clear that any treatment must include therapy.”

The breeze tastes of rain, as well. Storms will come, maybe soon. That whistling bird is a sitting duck for a hawk or fox, singing so anything can hear it. The impending storms will mar the sky -look! See? A cloud is already blocking the sun. The twigs and moss are not actually there. I’m sure they’re just fake craft-store props.

It’s too much.

I climb or stumble or intentionally fall back to the dark comforts beneath me. We all roll or crawl or drag ourselves to muddy positions as I select the easiest numbing solution nearby.

“Don’t do this,” I think I hear, from far away. Wendysomething?

You didn’t, Depressed Me says.

“Let’s play Fallout,” Addicted to Apps Me suggests. A few others perk up a bit in agreement. I acquiesce, and we all wait for it to load. We really ought to fix the WiFi in The Pit, but Motivated Me is still recovering from a concussion.

“Can I have a Snickers?” Pig Me asks. I hand her the bag. Thank goodness for home delivery, otherwise we might starve.

 

Photo Credits:
unsplash-logoJez Timms
unsplash-logoDeva Darshan
unsplash-logoIan Chen
unsplash-logoJanus Clemmensen

 

©2019 Chelsea Owens

When the Shadow of Me Returns

Last night my Other Me reappeared, the one of shadows. For, truly, that is where she always stands, lurking: the shadows of thoughts, the shadows of feelings, the shadows of anything I see or do.

It is she who colors a happy idea with doubt.

She deepens the uncertain edges of a frown in every smile.

The fear of possible failure to proposed activities? Also her.

I hadn’t seen her in a while; thought her to be gone. How little I knew. How I forgot. She does not ever go away, especially when I choose to ignore her instead of keep working to repel her. Especially, when I want her.

Last night I felt her; nearer and nearer. And, like a fool, I let her come. I asked her to grow, expand, envelop, then smother. Anything, I thought, is better than what I feel.

Because the Shadow of Me does not feel.

As I settled beneath the apathy and self-pity that I invited in, I twitched a bit in discomfort. Some part of me recognized the old, unhealthy patterns. Something deep within, in a timid voice, whispered, “I don’t think we want this.”

“Do we?”

Yet, not until this morning did I notice the source of the rain. Standing –no- languishing morosely in depthless puddles I blamed anyone but her; anyone but me for bringing her. Like a fool; I cursed the weatherman, the water, the sky, the mud. I failed to name the shadowed storm. It is Depression. And it is not what I needed.

Because, as familiar as Depression is, it is not a good solution.

As easy a solution as Depression appears, its fallout is more difficult to clean up than actual resolution.

But who wants to stand and face her troubles when Depression promises otherwise? I can tell you: not me. No, I chose fear. I chose to see My Shadow’s effects: small rocks on the trail ahead made to look like looming boulders; a few grumpy observations from my companion augmented to devastating predictions against success.

So I turned back.

Rappelled to our base camp of years ago.

And sat outside the tent, in the rain.

I’m still there, you see, but have shifted a bit. My seat felt somewhat wet so I moved to a less-muddy patch. Still depressed. It’s a new day, though; I can see the pervasive grayness is a lighter shade.

And, no, I’m not ready to climb again. ‘Tis a daunting thought.

I think I’ll start with an umbrella. From there, I just might gain the perspective I need to change into dry clothes and eat some rations. We’ll see.

The Cure for Depression: Never Give Up, Never Surrender

Hello, there! Feeling depressed? I’m here to offer you a little encouragement.

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Perhaps you are familiar with James Edgar Skye‘s favorite life maxim: Always keep fighting.

What does that mean, exactly? Is he encouraging site visitors to violence? I’m sure you all know that’s not the answer. Despite your astute intelligence, however, do you keep fighting?

Or, are you in my preferred category of fence-sitting numbness?

Worse yet, are you all alone, hiding from everything except the dark recesses of your mind?

That is no way to fight.

Don’t roll your eyes at me; you’re the one practicing bad habits. …Yes, I intend to get dressed and eat something besides these cookies. Yes, I’m wearing exercise clothes because I’m going to do something more aerobic than climb the step stool to reach another package of cookies.

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Hmm. Maybe we both need to step up our game.

Way back in January of this year I revealed the most secret of secrets: The Cure for Depression. Over the next few weeks I then discussed the secret steps involved.

In fact, last time I wrote about figuring out what’s helping and sticking with it.

Are you still not trying any of these?

Again, that’s no way to fight.

Fight is an action verb, and not one like “yawn,” or “scratch.” Think about what you picture when someone says, “Fight.” It’s not a person laying amidst packages of desserts, feebly raising a hand to scroll through this article and resolve to think about trying something tomorrow.

It’s pride.

It’s power.

It’s a bad-ass mother who won’t take no crap off of nobody!!!

The “nobody” we depressive types need to address is most often ourselves.

Think of how you would get ready for a physical fight. Besides psyching yourself up with a little mirror speech (which, by the way, is like Cognitive Behavioral Therapy), you place your feet and hands in a defensive stance. Given time to prepare, you might wear protective clothing, train with a professional, and bring something besides air to smack the enemy with.

D’ya see the correlation? Your daily, healthy practices arm you for the fight against depression: a fight with your own, flawed mind.

It’s a battle we face every day, but one that is easier if we’re prepared. After following the recommended steps, that battle doesn’t even happen some days. Isn’t that worth fighting for?

Yes, it is. Now, get out there. Keep fighting.

Never give up. Never surrender.

 

Photo credits:
Whitney Wright
And Giphy.

 

*Chelsea Owens is not a licensed anything, except a Class D driver in her home state, and shares all information and advice from personal experience and research.

The Cure for Depression: Help Someone Else

Today on Curing Depression, I’d like to discuss service.

You may wonder why this is its own item. When I initially listed it with 10 other suggestions, I felt fairly confident in the decision. As I went to type this article tonight, however, I had my doubts. Topics like seeing a counselor or psychiatrist and taking medication are real shoe-ins for curing. Service, though? I mean, what the weird?!

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Odd as the topic may be, I actually have some beefy research that serving helps. Many church websites or volunteer organizations like to post evidence (’cause they want unpaid workers). BUT, the less-ulterior-motive types at Harvard Health, The American Psychosomatic Society, and even TIME magazine list benefits as well.

Turns out there’s something real about serving others, something that definitely helps combat a depressive mindset.

Still don’t believe me? Did you even read my links? The legitimate sources want you to pay a subscription to find out about helping people, but they’re referenced on other sites. The coolest thing I learned was that benefits of service are not merely observed. Service causes literal changes in brain activity, in positive areas.

When someone in need receives help, he or she benefits directly from the social support; simultaneously, the giver benefits in specific brain regions associated with stress, reward, and caregiving (Psychology Today).

The group that published for The American Psychosomatic Society used neuroimaging to measure differences in specific neurobiological areas. Translation: research dudes watched parts of the brain respond to giving or receiving. They measured change, and to which areas, and what the heck that actually meant in practice.

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Isn’t that cool? Service was associated with reduced stress-related activity, greater reward-related activity, and greater caregiver-related activity.

Okay -science lesson done. I am now going to convince you that people are worth serving.

Ummmm.

Does anyone want to fence this one? I don’t always get along with people.

Anyone?

Zut.

All right, let’s try a different approach. What would you want a friend or relative to do for you? Do you wish someone would text you? Look at you? Help move a washer/dryer combo to your new apartment?

People are selfish. Their world and everything that is most important revolves around them. They aren’t smart enough to see that others might want help, so we’re going to take the first step.

Let’s hold off on the washer/dryer combo and start simple. Start small -remember? Pick someone on your contacts list and send them a nice message. Don’t just “wave” with the little emoticon or say you like their hair or smile. This isn’t junior high. Write that you were thinking about them and wondered how they’re doing. Keep it light, airy, and small-talkish.

Did you do it? How do you feel? Better? Try another person.

After messaging or texting or talking to a few peeps, you may find approaching humans to be less daunting. You may even find yourself looking forward to interactions. You may simply like the feeling you got when one of them texted back, and even wrote a smiley face. That was your seeing the mental benefit of service.

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Service Idea Two: Give a handmade present away. If you’re still firmly in the not liking people camp, think of this as a way to show off.

Actually, scratch that. You’ll fire up different brain areas with a prideful mindset.

So think of someone you want to do a nice thing for, and then try to figure out if they like anything you could make. Honestly, if making’s too tricky or embarrassing, go for buying him/her food. Make sure the recipient doesn’t have allergies to chocolate chip cookies, then proceed with the merrymaking and present-bestowing.

Service Idea Three: move that washer/dryer. Hopefully, the appliance only stands as an analogy. Real friends usually ask for rides, a last-minute babysitter, a spare power drill, a cup of flour, etc. Avoid moochers, of course, but be the one who’s willing to help a good friend out.

After this point, service tends to fall into more serious categories. I’m talking serving at a soup kitchen, flying out of country to vaccinate native children, offering pro-bono work to homeless fathers seeking custody, or volunteering to build houses for homeless people.

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If you are struggling with mental illness, such large ideas of helping will overwhelm you. You need to start with simple.

Thinking about others and actually doing things for them is a healthy brain-changing exercise. There’s sciency proof, “I feel better” proof, and civic improvement proof. Service also gets you out of yourself. And since the negative thoughts of depression fester when allowed private time in our minds, service redirects our focus to a cause greater than our own perceived limitations.

Service gets us out of our pit and connecting with others.

Our human connections are terribly important. I even listed connection as the first cure for depression. The best connections are forged when groups work together in service, especially in a giver/receiver setups.

In parting; don’t get discouraged. Don’t tell yourself you can’t possibly do one more thing with your busy life. You can, because there are small things (like sending the text) that you can slip in your schedule while eating breakfast, riding the train, or sitting in a bathroom. No matter how small a service you perform, you’ve made the world a better place to live and have helped your depression that much more.

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Photo Credits:
Mike Wilson
Pixabay
rawpixel
Greyson Joralemon
rawpixel

 

*Chelsea Owens is not a licensed anything, except a Class D driver in her home state, and shares all information and advice from personal experience and research.

Where IS My Mind?

“With your feet in the air and your head on the ground…”

Most of my day is spent in trying to avoid reality. Through the combined efforts of little sleep and little to stimulate my brain, I’ve successfully dodged true feelings and their accompanying pains for years. Through the added repressive means of modern technology and instant entertainment, I’ve created a virtual mindspace that is more alive than my physical one.

“Your head will collapse / But there’s nothing in it…”

Since entering the world of blogging; and, especially, the community of mental illness support, I’ve learned some terms for what I do: numbing, depersonalization, and (above all) disassociation.

“And you’ll ask yourself: Where is my mind?”

In the beginning, I entered the mind fog willingly. -So I thought. Depressed, repressed, lonely, and mind-numbingly bored at my day-to-day activities; I sought constant distraction.

“Try this trick and spin it…”

I thought numbing was better. In some ways, it was; it is. Because I felt nothing, I did not lash out in anger from the frustrations. Because I felt nothing, I could not feel disappointment. Because I felt nothing, I could not feel the crippling sadness.

“Where is my mind?”

Except that I still could.

“Where is my mind?”

As such, I have made various attempts to kind-of, sort-of climb out of my muddy hole. I read Brené Brown’s recommendations, followed her advice …and really offended a neighbor by being myself. I started counseling and some hormone therapy …then reverted back to old habits and dropped the hormones so that I wouldn’t accidentally birth a hermaphrodite.

Most of my days are spent in trying to avoid reality. On the rare occasions that I surface, life feels like the restaurant scene in “Sherlock Holmes” (2009). Unlike the genius that is Holmes, however; I do not note and absorb everyone’s mistresses, limps, or chalk spots. Instead, I feel overstimulated by emotions; in particular, everyone’s emotional reactions to me.

I also feel overwhelmed at the repetitive cycle of life, and the prospect of more of the same for the foreseeable future.

Do I want my mind awake? I’m not so sure. There doesn’t seem much to wake to. Hence, the continued withdrawal and disassociation.

“Where is my mind?” Somewhere inside. Probably.

Do you experience similar non-feelings? Have you, in the past, and now you do not? Is reality worth the cost?

—————-

On a happier note, here’s what I threw together this week:
Wednesday, March 20: Me and me debated who has it harder in “THE Battle of the Sexes.”

Thursday, March 21: “The Cure for Depression: Simply, Joy,” a suggestion in a series originally posted over at The Bipolar Writer Mental Health Blog.

Friday, March 22: Winner of the Weekly Terribly Poetry Contest. Congratulations to Doug!

Saturday, March 23: Announced the 19th Weekly Terrible Poetry Contest. The theme is Unrequited Love. PLEASE ENTER!
I also finally wrote up an entry for The Annual Bloggers Bash Competition, “Silent but Tardy.”

Sunday, March 24: “Farmer Henry,” a flash fiction piece for Carrot Ranch’s writing prompt.

Monday, March 25: An inspirational quote by Dieter F. Uchtdorf.

Tuesday, March 26: “Wilhelmina Winters, Eighty-Seven.”

Wednesday, March 27: Today.

I also wrote stuff at my motherhood site; like “Pinterest Mom or Sane Parent?,” “A Very Unmerry Birthday to You,” and a funny quote about mothers.

 

*Credit to the Pixies’ amazing song, “Where Is My Mind?”

The Cure for Depression: Simply, Joy

I am not looking forward to today’s topic.

Whoa –what?! Why wouldn’t I want to type about happy things? I’m the expert, dishing out advice. I should be ALL OVER this topic.

I’m not.

I am terrible at happiness. -Aaaannnddd that sentence just proved it.

Instead of the ol’ biblical casting of stones at me, however, I’d like to suggest that we all might struggle with the positive side of things. That’s kind of, sort of why we’re looking at solutions for depression; right?

So, with seeking counseling, improving our diet, getting outside, exercising a tad, and perhaps taking medication, let’s try to Do Something that Brings Us Real Joy.

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First, allow me to give you an analogy: Right now I am sitting at my computer typing advice. I can smell something, and it’s not a pleasant sort of something. I am fairly certain this unpleasant odor is coming from the garbage can.

I live in a fancy house with a fancy pull-out garbage drawer thingie with two entire garbage bins so that I can procrastinate taking the mess outside for a really long time (like a whole day, since I have four children). We’ve been playing an avoidance game of smashing the mess down instead of removing it, because we’re really good at procrastination.

The garbage needs to get taken out. Why the heck don’t I do it?

  1. I enjoy the stink of stinky things. They remind me that life is full of crap and I shouldn’t forget it.
  2. I’ve read about other people smelling garbage. I feel better knowing I’m not alone and find those people and leave comments about how I, too, can smell bad things all day.
  3. Thinking about refuse removal overwhelms me. What if the bags are too heavy? What if they tear when I pull them out? What if, what if, what if?
  4. It’s a really long couple hundred feet out my garage door to the outside cans/bins/etc. I just don’t think I can make it that far.

Didja get the point? Good! You get extra credit. Everyone else (myself included): just insert phrases like negative thoughtsdepressionhiding in the closetfeeling terrible every time I wrote about smelly waste.

For example: “I enjoy negative thoughts.” “I’ve read about other people feeling terrible.” “Thinking about depression overwhelms me.”

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My story sounded silly when I was talking about garbage. I mean, OF COURSE I SHOULD JUST TAKE IT OUTSIDE. But why do we hang onto personal garbage?

Feeling terrible is simply not worth it.

I wrote about why I numb awhile back. Not doing happy things is an activity I participate in because I’m trying to self-protect. I think that not feeling happy will make it so I also don’t feel sad. Instead, I am constantly in a haze of nothingness and still feel sad.

Feeling happy is okay. In fact, it feels good.

Let’s small step out of our stinky, dark corner: First, I want you to think a happy thought. Seriously, Tinkerbell, DO IT. I recommend thinking about a time that you felt happy, even just a little bit. Or, think about an activity you love to do.

Got it firmly in your mind? Now, wave your wand and… Expecto Patronum!

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In the real world, we’re going to take that happy thought and write another one below it. We’re making what’s called a LIST. Yes, I want you to actually put pen or pencil on paper and list them out. Even in today’s technological world, listing helps our primal brains make connections.

My list read:

  1. Snowball fight with friends
  2. Running in the rain
  3. Creating something useful
  4. Eating a really delicious mushroom Swiss burger
  5. Receiving a sincere compliment

Now it’s your turn. Your list may read: eating, reading, me time, skiing, friends, chocolate, gardening, walks, booze, sex, sunlight streaming softly through slatted blinds, and whiskers on kittens. Dude; it’s your list. Make it catered to you and stop worrying that someone will judge you for it.

Now, small step numero dos is to pick one thing on there that you think you can do soon. It is your list, but pick one that gives you REAL JOY (sex and drugs don’t count; sorry). Decide to do it. Today would be ideal, but maybe you’re reading this article at 3 a.m. and water skiing with your friends might be a little lethal in the dark.

I don’t want you to just say you will do it, either. Put it in your phone. Send a text to a responsible person like your mother. Carve out the time that you will do it and then actually do it.

It’s just one thing, I promise.

After completing that thing, recuperate. Then, do something else from your list. Recover. Pick another one and do it. Lather, rinse, repeat.

After you do that first thing, I want you to do me a favor. I want you to come back here and comment on this here blog post. Tell me what you did (unless it’s classified). You get extra internet credit if you tell the class how you felt afterwards.

Let’s find real joy, together.

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This has been part of our tips to help cure depression. Tune in next time, to read about service.

 

Photo Credits:
Blaise Vonlanthen
Pixabay
Pexels
Sharon McCutcheon

 

*Chelsea Owens is not a licensed anything, except a Class D driver in her home state, and shares all information and advice from personal experience and research.

The Cure for Depression: Eat Healthy

Good morning/afternoon/evening/midnight/snacktime everyone! I am ready to very professionally talk to you about one of my favorite subjects: food.

Fruit smoothies in glasses topped with pieces of fruit and marigold flowers

I just spent ten luxurious minutes searching for food pictures, and now I’m hungry. There are so many pictures of food! WHY are there so many?

Duh. Food is life.

That, and it’s delicious. During one of my no-sugar diets, I sagely told a friend, “I’ve decided the problem with chocolate is that it tastes good.” I hope I come up with better quotes when I’m not dieting.

So…. why bother monitoring what we stuff in our faces? This is one of those answers that we all know, like how we ought to be getting outside more, or exercising. We know that eating well is better for our health.

Anyone with food issues like me also knows that an entire bag of Snicker’s ‘fun’ size is really appealing at depressive moments. As appetizing as a picture of odd fruits with flowers (why flowers?) is, I’m apt to choose something meatier and fattier and baddier.

Oooh yeah. People don’t believe me when I tell them I like meat and have issues in general, because I periodically diet and usually exercise. And if random good behavior keeps me looking passable, then you have my personal assurances that such a plan will work for you.

First, let’s list why eating well is such a great idea:

  1. Vitamins, minerals, nutrients, madeupwordients are ESSENTIAL for complex creatures such as us. They’re our fuel.
  2. Eating the right things really helps to not get sick often.
  3. A balanced diet definitely helps with mental illness. Seriously, Google found me so much proof -like on a Harvard Health blog.

Hmmm… I probably should have put #3 first. I blame not eating breakfast yet.

“Put simply, what you eat directly affects the structure and function of your brain and, ultimately, your mood” (Harvard Health Blog).

Oops. I’m just gonna hide this bag of …Snicker’s. *crinkle* *crinkle* Hey, look at this beautiful picture of a salad!

Right-o. We know that good food is good. Most of us know that, from our childhood years of basic nutrition education. If not -hey! I taught you something new!

The tricky part is application. Take one little tiny baby step with me here:

You don’t have to starve yourself and only eat rabbit food.

In fact, if weight loss alone is your goal, you can eat only McDonald’s and still shed pounds. McDonald’s, even the salad, is NOT healthy; just so’s you know. Processed foods tend to not be. And, you have to put up with only Mickey D’s for six months which would be hell for me.

I likes my variety, and you can too!

Rambling point: Small Step #1 is to eat less* overall. You can feed your OCD tendencies if you have them and write down how many calories if you wish. Use a website or app to estimate what your daily calorie burn is, then eat less of that each day. Eat a little less; we’re not encouraging any anorexia here.

*Eating less than what you burn leads to weight loss. Ignore this advice if you are already at a good weight. In that case, eat close to what you burn in order to maintain.

Small Step 2 is when you eat. Your body will burn calories or hang onto them differently at different times of day and different times of year. Generally, avoid eating after 8:00 p.m. and/or two hours before sleeping. Eating later not only helps the food stick around, it makes you less comfortable and more depressed.

On the same page, make sure you are stuffing your face at regular mealtimes. I also need to eat between meals, like a hobbit. I keep the calorie count low (see Step 1), but don’t starve.

Step 3 is what you eat. If you consider lettuce a food fit for hopping creatures, that’s totally cool. I especially understand if you only ever eat iceberg lettuce; that crap is just water. Get yourself the more green and leafy varieties like Romaine, wrap your protein in it, and salt and pepper the thing.

Everyone has some foods he/she likes that he/she knows are healthy. If not, buy some of your friend’s favorites and sneakily eat them in your closet. I won’t tell. At the end of such an experiment, you will have a few that you can stomach.

Use the old internet for searches like “low-calorie recipes,” “healthy snacks,” and “edible and appetizing ways to prepare kale.” -Okay, that last one was a joke.

I recommend AGAINST anal counting of minerals and vitamins and whatnot because it’s a very tricky process that is probably not entirely accurate. Fresh foods have a different value than ones that have been canned, dried, frozen, or covered in chocolate to actually make them taste good.

The advice I follow myself is to lower sugars and white flours and rices, keep the calories low, and include a treat in that count. If you’re following my earlier advice to exercise, you’ll need the extra calories.

A good Step 4 is to cut out stimulants and booze. Ya know, like coffee and alcohol. I think this is a great step, but I don’t touch the stuff myself and therefore wouldn’t presume to lecture you on how to do so. There are plenty of internet and local areas to help, however. (Like, the addiction national helpline, if it’s that serious: 1-800-662-HELP [4357].)

You’re probably thinking I’m crazy, but I thought the same thing when my paid friend told me she hadn’t consumed sugar since 2003. She still has valid ideas in many other categories, so I’ll probably keep seeing her.

As a final note, I don’t even have to be an expert to mention a vital consumable related to eating well: drinking well. As a human, you need water.

Water is life, more so than food even.

I live in a desert environment, and even I skimp on the “recommended amount.” That’s because I don’t like using the bathroom all day. I’ve been told that regular, consistent drinking of water should make that problem disappear.

Wherever you live, make sure you drink water. It improves skin, helps organ function, helps singers sound better, and keeps you from dying.

So, class, let’s get started today. Keep your diet tasty, consistent, and manageable. Drink your water. These simple steps will help you be better able to fight those depressive tendencies.

This has been a part of our Cure for Depression series. Tune in next time, and we’ll talk about joy.

 

Photo Credits:
Brooke Lark
Haseeb Jamil
Vitchakorn Koonyosying
Lacey Williams
Yasuo Takeuchi

 

*Chelsea Owens is not a licensed anything, except a Class D driver in her home state, and shares all information and advice from personal experience and research.

The Cure for Depression: Get up and MOVE

This topic is my favorite because I actually have experience with it. I have some experience with the others, too. They‘re just not as fun to talk about.

But NOW we get to discuss getting off the freaking floor. NOW we get to talk exercise.

I LOVE exercise. No, I’m not a masochistic, weight-lifting gym junkie. I am most definitely not that person you see running down the street at breakneck speed and somehow grinning whilst doing it.

If you make it over to my gym, I’m the one barely shuffling around the track because I fall off treadmills. Old people are passing me, giving me thumbs-up for trying ’cause they’re nice like that.

Stillstill I LOVE exercise. For me, it’s the ability to move.

Whenever I finally get my sorry rear into workout clothes and start moving, something inside me cannot stop feeling happy. Running makes me feel like I’m flying, like I’m airborne and nothing’s going to stop me. I know it’s not endorphins because it always happens at the start. That, and I seem a bit endorphin-deficient even at the end.

I understand that moving may not be your happy place. Answer me this, though: IS NOT MOVING YOUR HAPPY PLACE?

Nope, you’re lying.

I know, because I’m sitting right next to you. It’s a bit dark, of course. We’ve got some kind of substance and/or distraction and/or avoidance crap going on. No one can get in, even if they’re actually right there by us. We’re comfortable here, but not truly happy.

Soooo…. now you ask how you can possibly get moving.

Answer: Make it easier to move.

No, really. I remember reading an author’s idea about how we are such slaves to convenience, that literally making a habit about twenty seconds more difficult will help us not do it. (Sorry for the run-on sentence.)

think it’s this dude, Shawn Achor:

If not, his book was good anyway. Something about happiness and advantage.

Shawn (or someone very like him) had a bad habit of coming home and immediately losing himself to an hour or a few watching Netflix. Conversely, he wanted to practice his guitar more.

So, he took the batteries out of the remote and ‘hid’ them in his nightstand drawer. He took his guitar and put it on a guitar stand right by the couch. It sounds really silly, but having the instrument right there and the batteries a teensy bit farther away broke him of the bad habit and improved his skills on the good one.

No, this post is not about playing the guitar. I definitely can’t do that. We’re talking about EXERCISE (yay!). We’re talking about how to even get yourself started.

  1. First, ensure that you have something you can exercise in, in terms of clothing. If you intend to stay inside (which I recommend against), you’ll only need undies. If you’re female, however, you’ll feel more comfortable with a bit more for support.
  2. Next, either set the clothing out RIGHT WHERE YOU TOUCH when you wake up, or go to sleep wearing it. Put your shoes and socks that you’ll exercise in nearby, too.
  3. Wake up just a tad earlier than usual, roll over to wherever you intend to officially move, get dressed, and get started.
  4. Choose an exercise routine that you can do. There are many.

Yes, folks, it’s that easy. And, for the low, low price of $999.99, you can exercise, too!

In reality, following my three steps is free (minus the cost of #1).

But let’s say you’ve got a YUGE mental block in terms of where or how to exercise. To answer that, I think going outside is the best. This may not work for you, particularly if “outside” is a super scary neighborhood with super scary people or potholes around. Maybe it’s snowing. Maybe you have allergies. See how the list keeps getting longer and you’re now not going to even consider exercising?

If you’re able to afford it, a local gym is good. They often have deals like “let your friends in for free this month so they’ll get suckered into signing up.” Hang out outside and ask someone to be your free gym class friend.

Thirdly, I suggest the option I use most often: l’internet. I didn’t know this, but lots of peoples on YouTube have free exercise videos. I started out with Fat People Who Move Faster than You and can now do a few HIIT workouts (okay, I do most of their session).

YouTube is my “20 seconds closer.” Sometimes I find myself making excuses like, “I just ate,” “I need to use the bathroom,” “I don’t have shoes on,” or “I haven’t been drinking enough water today and yet I still need to use the bathroom.” When the excuses pile up, I turn the TV on (we’ve got streaming) crank up my dubstep exercise music, and do it barefoot.

Even with kicking myself to move, some days I wimp out. I only do half the circuit, for example. Still, I did some. I’m always good about not beating myself up for giving up. I beat myself up for plenty of other things, but my aerobic habit is not one of them.

The results? After six months of (attempting) daily exercise, I miss the beneficial feeling when I try to skip out. It’s become a habit. I also enjoy all of the following:

  • More clarity of thought, especially when I walk outside.
  • I get good ideas for writing topics when I jog around the track because I’m super bored going around and around like that for so many laps.
  • I haven’t had a bad cold since beginning, and have only had two minor ones.

Plus, I passed an old person at the gym the other day.

I gave her a thumbs-up.

 

Photo Credits:
Curtis MacNewton
CATHY PHAM
Oana-Maria Sofronia
Jesus In Taiwan

 

*Chelsea Owens is not a licensed anything, except a Class D driver in her home state, and shares all information and advice from personal experience and research.