"The Bluebird of Happiness long absent from his life, Ned is visited by the Chicken of Depression." ~ Gary Larson
Well, I figure that if I'm going to struggle with depression, I can at least find ways to laugh at it. Yep, it's true. Along with wild creativity, wit and the ability to weave a tale or two, I can also thank the Irish side of the family for passing along depression.
I don't think I even realized I struggled with it until I went away to grad school. There, isolated in Connecticut, I faced an environment that wasn't exactly friendly and certainly didn't offer enough sunlight. It was miserable...the sun would begin to set at 4.15pm in the wintertime. While there, I definitely struggled through some dark days, wondering about the point of life and trying to do small things to cope - like eating more fish, painting my bedroom walls white and getting high spectrum light bulbs to enhance the room's brightness.
Interestingly, I only began to notice a pattern in my behavior one winter when I decided to re-read my journal. Only then did I realize that from Christmas to about April, it took more energy to do just about everything.
For many years, I have been seeking to understand depression - what causes it and how to minimize its effects. I know that taking drugs works for many; however, my body has always rejected that which isn't natural, so I'm hesitant to try them.
What seems to work for me is a combination of the following:
- Yoga - at least an hour per day but I'm finding that I do better with 1.5 hours.
- Exercise - at least 30 minutes of cardiovascular activity a day.
- Sunlight - lots of it.
- NO sugar - really sends my moods in a quick spiral.
- Humor - I definitely haven't been giggling enough lately.
- Less stress - this means more light hearted entertainment - books, movies, etc..
- More prayer.
- More meditation.
- More time spent with loved ones.
Some of these things are out of my control, like sunlight, however, others are entirely within my reach. The trick is motivating myself to do it.
Even if it's hard, I have to look upon this plan as "medicine" because sometimes I just don't know how to cope otherwise. I know I'll get through the darkness (to borrow a phrase from Jen), but I just wish it wasn't so hard sometimes.