“Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.” (Psalm 23:4, KJV)
Depression is something I’ve had to deal with my entire life. I have an episode a few times a year. In the grand scheme of things, my episodes are mild, but that fact doesn’t help very much while I’m going through it.
What is it?
From what I’ve come to understand in reading about depression in general, it’s caused by a chemical imbalance. Although no one seems to know exactly what causes it, 46 years of dealing with this has taught me what is likely to bring it on for me. The pattern runs something like this:
- Period of being extremely busy (either “good” busy or “bad” busy – doesn’t matter), accompanied by
- Health challenge such as illness or change in diet or exercise, followed by
- Relatively minor disappointment, which becomes the “last straw” and sends me into a spiral that lasts about a week to ten days.
For example, I’ve recently re-booted my blogging and writing career, and have been having some good success. At the same time, I’ve cut sugar out of my diet and started working out 4-5 days a week. Just about the time I was beginning to get a little tired from the extra hours and weight loss, I had an onslaught of affiliate marketers that wreaked havoc on my business. I had to issue a bunch of refunds, and ended up doing entirely too much work that I did not enjoy doing for free.
While I would normally just find that last part simply annoying, on top of the stress and fatigue, it was that “last straw” that sent me into an all-too-familiar spiral. I’m about six days into it, now, so I’m past the half-way point, and feeling better. I’m starting to see a beam of light at the end of the tunnel.
What to do?
During these times it’s very hard to write, or communicate in a meaningful way with people. I lose interest in activities that I normally enjoy.
I’ve tried a lot of different strategies including supplements, medication, therapy. I know these things are helpful to a lot of people – especially those with episodes that are stronger and last longer than mine. The thing about all of these techniques is that they take more than ten days to work, and within that amount of time I’m usually feeling better anyway. What has helped me the most is to just recognize what is happening, and give myself the time I need to ride it out. I constantly remind myself, “This, too, will pass.”
While I’m waiting for it to pass, and riding it out, there are a few things that help.
- A trip to the gym helps get the endorphins going.
- A (sugar-free) mocha-mint frappuccino helps boost tryptophan.
- A session of creativity – one that doesn’t require much mental activity – is wonderful therapy. I like digital art.