How I Manage My Depression

How I Went From Fetal Position To Functional

Photo by Imke van Loon-Martens on Unsplash

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The first major game-changer I discovered was nutrition.

I was only marginally less volatile, but my emotions began to place themselves in favor of my preservation.

The changes in my mental patterns were so dramatic that the cause was irrefutable. Over the following months, I developed a healing relationship with food, and became a little obsessed with sprouted mung and scrambled eggs. It’s now a knee-jerk reaction that I throw colorful fruit and veg at my problems (it doesn’t always work, but at least now I’m crying with rainbows inside me). Home-cooking is now a major priority for me, and I’ve been lucky enough that it’s my cultural norm, and that I’m able to sustain it with my freelance lifestyle.

Move Like A Monkey

I’m aware our current obsession with the optimization of the body privileges the young, the wealthy and the able bodied. It disturbs me that no matter which way I turn, exercise has turned into some form of self-improvement, to move away from the body-as-now, into a state of perpetual “transformation” in which a very specific kind of ideal is suspended on a distant future horizon. I struggle myself with my own biases regarding fatness and other unruly expressions of my body.

I discovered how deeply angry I am.

Around 5 years ago, I added weight training to the equation. I had a great job and invested in a trainer. I discovered, like most adults who work on a computer all day, my posture was shit and my back was really weak, which occasionally triggered the worst nerve-pinching muscle spasms in my neck. Strength training resolves my pain and makes tasks easier.

Photo by Callum Skelton on Unsplash

My Body Is Wiser Than Me

As I moved into my thirties, I shed the bad relationships and situations that were making me miserable. I chose a loving supportive partner, invested my time seeking creative collaborative friendships, and discovered that adulting is an artful balancing act. Depression stopped manifesting itself as an emotional experience- I feel less sad & self-loathing- but it continues as a physiological one- I now experience it as physical fatigue, a kind of debilitating draining that makes keeping my eyes open a battle, even after a solid night’s rest.

But trusting myself is impossible if I’m always beating myself up for not trying hard enough. I have had to do a massive upturning of my deepest belief: the body is not to be trusted.

Instead, I’m relearning that my body is a site of deep wisdom, capable of understanding information my conscious mind cannot. So if I’m tired, its because my body genuinely needs to rest. And if I can’t “keep up” with the rest of the world, it is perfectly acceptable for me to slow down to a pace that works for me. And maybe my slowing body gives company to others who can’t keep up.

Photo by Pascal van de Vendel on Unsplash

Something’s wrong with this picture. And I know I’m not alone.

Last night, I held my mother as she sobbed and sobbed into my arms and, all the while, she kept apologizing for crying, for being “weak”. For the past 6 months, she’s been the primary caregiver to our other family member battling cancer, and it’s taking its toll on her. She just can’t relax her expectations, and it’s hard to watch and know that my voice is a distant squeak compared to her inner thunder. But there it is. I can see how it makes her hurt, and if I can’t learn from that, I’m missing something.

Routine & Riyaaz

Getting out of bed is the hardest part of depression for me. I developed a morning routine so it gives me a reason to get out of bed. I have to love every part, or I wont do it.

Photo by Kunj Parekh on Unsplash

So

I am doing my best. The physical routines have given me distance enough to detach a little from my feelings. I’ve had to outsmart myself. Use my depressive thoughts against the depression. If I feel insignificant, then my failures must also be insignificant, therefore I have nothing to lose by trying. Observe myself as conflicted, and allow that to just be, without judgement. If I’m sobbing, I’m not simultaneously apologizing for sobbing. I let go that extra layer, and I feel peaceful, being an imperfect, chaotic thing. This is my own definition of my mental health. It has felt like making a boat out of driftwood while trying not to drown in the middle of a stormy sea. Every day I check for leaks, and now I can focus on the wind, on navigating forward.

earnest brown multi-tasker: artist, musician, writer.

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