Getting My Head Straight

So, for the first time in years, I got sick. Repeatedly. First I got a cold around New Years and then just when I was feeling better, viola, swine flu. My advice? Don’t get it. It sucks, bad. The pain in my back was worse than a toothache! I was totally out of commission for about two weeks. I even got so dehydrated that trying to drink water made me heave. The worst part by far was the depression. Even when the physical pain began to subside, I had almost no energy. I couldn’t bring myself to go to the park, do the dishes, wash clothes or do much of anything really. Just sleep and sleep and sleep. I know it’s important to take it easy when you’re trying to recoup, but everything has it’s limit. There is always that danger of falling into the pit of depression when you’re inactive for too long (at least for me). I didn’t really start to get better until I got mad at my self for being so ‘lazy’. Once I started to force myself back into my routine, my energy level picked up, the haze went away and most importantly perhaps, the stuff that needed to get done got done. I really believe that the effect of eating and sleeping right simply cannot be understated. IMO, it is the foundation for everything else. My routine provides me with a certain stability, a baseline if you will, that allows me to assess the changes that occur around me. Without that baseline I’m just freefloating in chaos. Ah well. I’m back now. Feeling pretty good actually. My energy level is just about back to normal, I just don’t have the same reserves. Going back out to the park, for the first time in two weeks, was like starting over again. Been doing a lot of qigong lately, and I think I’ll be good to go this Friday. I got a lot of good ideas from the last time I went uptown to spar and have been chomping at the bit so to speak. Still though, in the meantime I just got to take it easy. No need to abuse myself anymore than I normally do. =)

I’m sure there are at least a couple of studies that explore the connection between depression aqnd exercise (or the lack thereof). It just seems to me that it’s not so much the physical movements themselves that have an effect (which I’m sure they do), as it is the effort involved in breaking the inertia. Simply having some form of consistancy seems to have a stablizing effect on my brain chemistry. I used to struggle with depression when I was younger and my mood would change and swing with every little thing that happened. If something went right, I would feel happy. If something went wrong, I would feel upset. My self-worth was entirely dependant on externals. Perhaps that’s why I invest so much energy into trying to control my surroundings. I found myself constantly avoiding anything I though would give me trouble and chasing after anything that promise instant gratification. Of course, such efforts are typically futile and only exasperate the feeling of codependence. It’s a vicious circle. The first step towards breaking the cycle, IMO, is realizing that we alone are responsible for our feelings. It’s hard I know. Especially, because we seem to have so little direct control over how we feel about things. That’s where a consistant daily routine comes in play. By establishing a baseline, we can experiment with small changes to the routine and somewhat accurately assess their effect on our chemistry. If nothing else, it gives us a default. A sort of emotional safety net. Like a old friend of mine once said (towards the end of a 2 week bender) “no matter how drunk you get, as long as you keep stumbling forward, you won’t fall down.” I realize it may not be totally factual (I’ve seen several drunks fall on their faces), but the sentiment is spot on. If it doesn’t make sense to you, congratulations, you have no experience with depression! I suggest you wait until you’re ready to hang yourself, then meditate on it. OK, enough of that. Here is to another beautiful day for doing taiji in the park. Cheers.

edit: Chinese School is open again after the holiday break. It was pretty rough showing up after three weeks (like a sledge hammer to the head!), but I was happy to back at it.

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~ by aedhcarrick on January 25, 2010.

5 Responses to “Getting My Head Straight”

  1. I really enjoyed this post, I also suffered with depression when younger and even now, many years later, know that my exercise patterns effect my moods…seems like EVRYONE knows when I haven’t been able to get to the gym :)!! I started studying qigong a few months ago and have noticed mental and physical benefits from it, I am fascinated by it (to be honest). Also noticed my health imporving dramaticly after becoming a vegetarian. This was my first visit to your site and im looking forward to stopping by often

  2. I really enjoyed your writing on this topic. I am a runner and in the off season when it’s too cold to run, I struggle with being depressed and uneasy. I do believe that the body gives itself the hormones to support what you’ve said it needs. So in times of exercise and movement it supports the need but if you tell it to support feelings of depression and sadness, the body will not think but undoubtedly supplied what is needed. Thank you because instead of waiting to run again outdoors, I am hitting my treadmill tomorrow.

  3. Great article, keep it up!
    Relax a bit,breathing always works when i,m distraught or something.

  4. Health is the most important thing in this world… without it your life will be miserable and worthless. Sometimes with so many things to do, we neglect our health which should not be. We also need to stop, relax and take a rest even just for a while. Good thing you have realized that as early as possible. Take of your health buddy.

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