Archives for posts with tag: depression

Since it’s the end of the year, I’m going to reflect on the way it all went down. First thought: the first five or so months of this year were some of the worst five or so months I’ve ever felt. This was because I couldn’t feel them at all. 

Every few years I get really depressed. It’s just the way it is, and the way it likely always will be. I am a sturdy house with faulty wiring.

2013 will go down in my own little history (joining 2008, 2002, a fair bit of 2010 and all of middle school) as one of those years. I don’t feel like going into detail about it just now, but it got ugly. Then, gradually, it got better.

The second half of this year has been one of the better second halves of any year, so far. I read and wrote a fair bit and travelled good travels, baked grill marks into my side in a slatted white swimsuit on the first really hot day of late-June, and ran ~355 miles. Most of all, I had nice times with good people and remembered how nice it is to have good people, realized to the fullest extent in my life so-far how grateful I am to have so many people who truly have my back. I’ve always had a loner complex, so it’s been a pleasant surprise to be able to see what everyone else already could: that people like me. That I am a person to like. 

And that’s the thing, when you’re a person who periodically loses the ability to feel. You forget that you are a person of worth. Remembering otherwise is also a relearning, and each time, what you learn gets bigger. “Wisdom” is one word that gets thrown around carelessly, and I’m not going to be one of those assholes who pretends to be wise. “Perspective” might be closer. Anyway, I feel like I’m coming out of this year with more of a sense of how to BE, in the most pared-down sense of the word. Wiser, maybe, if not yet wise. Maybe this will be the time the learning sticks. 

My second thought: this blog has run its course. I talk about myself enough in other places. This will be this blog’s last post. It’s been real.


May is Mental Health Month, so I’m not going to sugarcoat this: I’ve battled my entire life with moderate to severe depression and anxiety. That is my norm, and managing the swings is a daily and deliberate act necessary to my well being. It sucks, but it can be done.

I’d like to give a huge thanks to Carleton College biology student Lydia Russell-Roy for this insightful guest post on how to deal with internal funks–whether they be fueled by depression or otherwise. Good tips, she has!

It’s time to break the stigma.

Now…guest post by Lydia Russell-Roy:

There are some days when, inexplicably, I feel sad. Every little task seems impossible; I have to wait at every corner, the coffee pot is always empty, and I (over)analyze each of my interactions in a self deprecating manner. When I get in these moods, I get more upset at myself for being upset. I always try to rationalize and figure out the reasons for depression. However, sometimes we all just get in funks.

I sometimes call these sad days, depressed days. I am aware that depression is real medical condition and I don’t mean to discuss it flippantly. However, I think there is a spectrum of feeling depressed, at some points I feel that way. When these sad days come one after another, and it is harder to find the motivation to eat well and exercise, it could be indicative of clinical depression. It is important to understand depression symptoms so you can distinguish between natural emotional cycles and a more serious problem that should be addressed with a health professional.

Recently, instead of wallowing in my funk or trying to dissect why it is happening, I have been focusing on identifying ways to feel better.

Whenever I feel sad, my first reaction is to eat a cookie. Although this improves my mood for the thirty seconds I am ingesting it, I always feel worse afterwards. I start to think about how I didn’t go to the gym because I wasn’t feeling up to it, then I crash from the sugar and think about eating another cookie to improve my mood.

Even though it is hard to find the motivation to work out when in a funk, exercising is the perfect antidote. The endorphins that are released can improve mood and provide sustained energy to attack other tasks the rest of the day.

In addition to forcing myself to the gym, I have tried to ward off the blues by eating certain foods. I recognize that cookies are only a fake fix, so I read this article on depression dieting tips to see if there were foods that would help. I was surprised to learn that carbo loading might help prepare you for a big race not only because carbs are a good source of energy, but they can also reduce anxiety. Eating carbohydrates lowers stress by raising serotonin levels in the brain.

Selenium and vitamin D have also been recognized as mood elevators. Selenium is in foods, like beans, seafood, nuts and whole grains. By eating whole grain pasta and bread, you get the benefit of carbs and selenium. Seafood is also a good choice because it contains omega-3 fatty acids. Ingesting more of these “good fats” has been linked with reduced rates of depression. The fish with the highest concentrations omega-3 fatty acids are herring, trout, salmon and tuna.

I am lucky that one of my favorite foods, salmon, is full of this good fat. There is nothing tastier than a toasted everything bagel loaded with cream cheese, lox, cukes, tomatoes and onions. Although carbs can help reduce stress, that many refined carbs will negate any potential benefits. Instead of eating this decadent brunch, which leaves me feeling bloated the rest of the day, I make a few substitutions that are just as delicious. I replace the bagel with whole wheat toast and cream cheese with greek yogurt. In addition to being a healthier option, greek yogurt and lox on toast is easier to eat. You can pile veggies on this open face sandwich without the fearing that each bite will destroy the sandwich!

Unlike cookies, eating whole grain carbohydrates, fish, beans and nuts fit into the healthy diet I try to maintain. Knowing the additional benefits to my mood, motivates me to pass on junk food even when I feel I deserve a treat to get out of my funk.

It’s the middle of February and the day before Valentine’s Day, the skies are gray and spring isn’t getting here damn near fast enough. Which means, in other words, that it’s a great time to talk about Depression.

Looking out from the middle of what might be my most prolonged period of joy and self-confidence in a lifetime’s worth of memory, I feel like I’m finally at the point where I can write this post. And I don’t feel like it’s too self-indulgent or embarrassing either, because this is the time of year when saying these things out loud is most important. It’s about me, yes, but not really.

So, a little back story: I’ve battled depression on and off (and more on than off) for basically my whole life. I remember entire days spent crying for absolutely no reason at age five, nine, eleven, fourteen and in between, stuffing my face in narcotic distraction (I was a morbidly overweight kid, but that’s another story for another time), clawing at my palms until they were studded in red crescents. I would shut myself into my parents’ coat closet for entire Saturday afternoons; at school, I hid under tables with knees hugged to chest, rocking myself to the rhythm of my breath. Leapfrogging from one distraction to the next in high school; my entire fourth year of university willing myself to keep from stepping oh-so-casually into oncoming traffic (there were a few near-misses, urgent phone calls made to anyone who might talk me out of it). I don’t feel it these days, but I know it will come back. That’s how it works, like a cancer that refuses to declare remission.

This thing, this depression, is a blood legacy. It’s a great-great-uncle hanging from the beam of his brother’s farmhouse closet and a family that’s half drunks, half worriers. And I know I haven’t seen the last of it, even though this winter has been happy—a combination of words I never thought would ring true for me, ever, in my whole pathetic lifetime.

But it’s not pathetic. And that’s just the kicker: if you make peace with it, if you realize that it’s a part of you like everything else that makes who you are but doesn’t define it, then you will realize it is a gift. You will realize that you are more compassionate, more funny, more quirky and focused, than your non-defective comrades, because the unbroken parts of your brain have become stronger by necessity. You will realize that you are far fiercer than you knew possible, than you even imagined.

And you might even be–dare I say–a little impressed with yourself, even almost thankful for all that darkness.

In other words: hang on until Springtime. It will get better.