Depression is a topic I have touched on in previous entries, but I feel as though it should get its own separate piece. Most people have dealt with depression at some point over the course of their lives, for some people it’s a more frequent problem than others. I didn’t really have a whole lot of experience with depression prior to my mom’s passing, but after that I learned that sometimes depression was going to darken my doorstep and often it was going to be on the days I least expected it. As I’ve mentioned before, I’m a total nerd and I really took some comfort in J.K. Rowling’s comparison of the dementors in the Harry Potter series to depression. It really struck a chord with me how suddenly a wave of sadness could pass over you and you could feel the happiness sucked out of you. I realized that I was dealing with my own personal dementors and I needed to find my Patronus to banish them away.
This is an older picture of me & Ariel from her Harry Potter party with our friend Sam photo-bombing in the back with his chocolate frog card. Gryffindor all the way!
For a few years after my mom passed I had no manageable way to deal with my depression, there would be nights where I would cry for what felt like hours until I was so hoarse and could barely breathe that I fell asleep, exhausted. I’m not someone who likes to cry in front of other people, unless I’m watching a Disney movie in which case I will bawl my eyes out, so it was sometimes hard for me to handle my grief alone. My boyfriend, Chris, is always telling me that I don’t have to be Wonder Woman all the time, I can take some time to cry and be upset but that wasn’t easy for me to do for a while, especially in front of others. After a year or so of doing nothing but crying to deal with my depression, I started to journal whenever I would become upset. While that was a good way to express my sadness and write about the things that triggered me, it wasn’t really helping me move forward. I’m sure at this point you’re trying to figure out what on earth any of this has to do with fitness and my weight loss, well I’m getting to that.
When I started working out last year and I began my “epic weight loss journey”, I started to realize that I wasn’t getting sad as often. For a while, I even thought maybe I was done being depressed which was foolish, but I had a bright side to things finally for a bit. I did however gain a better understanding not only of my body, but also my emotions when I started taking care of myself. I began to realize that sometimes I had advance notice of days when I would be wonky (my mom’s favorite word to describe feeling off), and that doing something active could help to combat those days. Sure, I still spend some days crying and some songs or movies trigger me into thinking of my mom and being depressed, but they are much fewer and far between than they ever have been before.
The greatest thing I’ve found to combat my sad days is going for a run, often times the days when I feel the most depressed are the days I’m more inactive. I’ve become so used to working out and being active, that on my lazy days I sometimes crave the extra endorphins. I really noticed a big decline in my depression around December 2015, when I began the couch to 5k program. I started to use running as a way to be alone with my thoughts and just zone out and listen to music and for me it worked wonders. Normally around the holidays is a really tough time for me and I miss my mom so much every single day, we had a lot of special Christmas traditions that I miss. But this year, I wasn’t nearly as upset as I had been in the past and anytime I felt myself starting to get depressed, I would just head out for a run and come back feeling so much better.
Nothing like a nice cold morning run to wake you up and start he day off right.
I want to make a point to say that I know the things that worked for me won’t work for everyone. Sometimes depression can be overwhelming and activity isn’t enough to make it better, I know that antidepressants and counseling have a negative stigma but they really shouldn’t. I genuinely wish the world would be more open to talking about mental health and acknowledge that for some, they need more than just “be happier” to fix the problem. In the past, I’ve sought counseling, but it just didn’t really do the trick for me.
I had finally found my Patronus, and it was running which I guess as an animal would be a cheetah maybe? If anyone can think of a better running animal, I will completely rework my Patronus. If it’s of any consequence I’m a Gryffindor through and through, Pottermore sorted and all! Anyway if you’re someone who struggles with depression like I do, I fully encourage getting active to overcome some of your sadness. Even if it’s just going for a nice long walk and listening to an audiobook, or doing a quick set at the gym, find your Patronus and keep those dementors at bay.
An artist’s representation of what a cheetah Patronus would look like.