Tag Archives: depression

Depression Dance Trois

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This is the last entry for this particular series.  However, rest assured that I will revisit this theme quite a bit.  It is important to me.  So many of us suffer with depression.  It is painfully common (I will be sharing my theories as to why that is) and too often fatal.

I promised that this time, I would be super practical and tell you the ways in which I keep the lead in my dance with depression.

In no particular order:

1. I don’t write in a journal when I feel sad.  This was the most counter-productive practice that I had.  When I would flip through old journals and diaries, they would always start the same way, almost verbatim: “I’m feeling so depressed and worthless again…”  Then, I would fill pages with just how horrible life was and how horrible I was.  I haven’t written about my depressive episodes anymore.  I don’t write while I’m in a depressive episode anymore.  It it so much easier for me to release and move through it without dwelling.

2. I eat a lot of fat.  Yep, I said it.  Olive oil, yes, but mostly coconut oil, palm oil, pork fat, beef lard, egg yolks, coconut milk, avocado, macadamia nuts and I see you over there, butter!  I eat fat at every meal.  Since I shifted to eating this way, my mood has been incredibly even.  Fat = happiness to me.

3.   I don’t eat sugar.  I am mostly consistent with this.  I will have days where I have more fruit than others, and every once in a while, I’ll have a slice of flourless chocolate torte, but in general, I don’t eat sugar.  I can’t pat myself on the back enough for taking this decision and changing my behavior.  For years, I was stuck on the feel low-eat sugar-feel high-crash lower-eat more sugar-feel not quite as high-crash even lower cycle.  It takes a while to break the cycle, but the steadiness I feel in myself is so worth it!

4.  I go outside.  Every day.  As much as I can.  I am a heliophile.  I, in a weird paradox, don’t like the heat, but bright sunlight?  Yes, please.  The light is important to my mood, certainly, but it’s so much more than that.  The corners and flatness of inside affect my mood.  I crave curving tree branches and the kisses of the breeze.  I need to smell grass and pines and other things that I can’t quite identify.  All of it.  There is something so ‘internal’ about staying inside that pushes me deeper inside my brain.  This is not a good thing for me.  I need to be reminded that life is going on all around me and that I am part of the world as a fleshy, sensory creature engaged in the beauty that is.

5.  I have learned to distinguish between listening to my depression and obeying my depression.  My depression and I no longer pretend the other doesn’t exist.  We discuss things.  This sounds a little cuckoo, but what I mean by this is that my depression is one part of me and the healthy adult that I now give the most permission to run the show, is another part of me.  When my depression rises up in any way, no matter how small, that is a sign that in some way, I’m not taking the best care of myself.  (This is how depression becomes an ally, by the way.  It signals that deeper, more comprehensive self-care is needed.)  But, I do not OBEY my depression.  Often, my depression will rise and tell me to isolate myself.  This usually means that I have not been caring for my relationships well enough and that that part of my life needs some nurturing.

6.  I express my anger.  One of my pet peeves is the delineation between “negative” emotions and “positive” emotions.  This is a horrible disservice that we do to ourselves.  You don’t have good emotions and bad emotions.  You just feel things.  Some are uncomfortable sometimes, but that’s okay.  (The discomfort comes more from what society deems appropriate for the occasion then the actual emotion, by the way.  Laughing at a funeral is just as uncomfortable as crying bitterly at a wedding.)  Anger is a wonderful emotion!  Here are the rules of anger: a) express it without hurting yourself and b) express it without hurting others.  The best way that I’ve found to express my anger is to say: “I’m angry.”  And, then, try to figure out why.  Nearly always, it is because a boundary of mine has been crossed somehow.  It is valuable information to deepen relationships, both with myself and with others.  Then, I use the energy  that anger gives me to do something about what made me angry.

7.  I have one religion and my god is sleep.  My dad always used to say, “Sleep is sacred.”  I inherited that belief.  It has taken me a long time to find the right amount of sleep.  When I don’t sleep enough, I am priming the pump for all sorts of depressing hormones to flush through me.  When I sleep too much, I disengage from life and the melatonin never gets a chance to get out of my system and all sorts of depressing hormones flush through me.  Right now that it is winter, I need a solid 9 hours to 9 1/2.  During the summer, I scale it down to 7 1/2 or 8.  That is where the goodness lives.

8. (How awkward…a list of eight things.  Why does that feel funny?)  I move.  Nothing has ever been as effective as a daily pick me up as movement has been for me. I don’t call it exercise because it doesn’t have to be structured training, I just need to move.  I usually combine the going outside and moving thing.  I’m efficient that way.  I walk or run or dance or do push ups or yoga or just pose like an elephant.  It doesn’t matter as long as its dynamic.  Again, this takes me out of the labyrinth of my brain and brings me back to the rest of me….the part that knows how to take the lead in the dance.

These are my methods of managing my depression.  If you are depressed, I would suggest that you go see a therapist or psychiatrist to make sure that you don’t need medication.  There’s NO shame in that.  It happens to the very best of us.  If you’ve found ways of your own to dance with your depression or your (fill in the blank with whatever your challenge is), I’d LOVE to hear about it and about you!

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Nourishing ourselves into freedom!

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Pretty Lies, Deux

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Alright, I may have unintentionally misled you.  I was hoping to tell you all that you needed to have to be healthy this week, but I realized that I wanted to make sure that you could see what you did not need first.  What follows is a list of what you have been told that you would need to be healthy and happy, but you don’t need at all.

1. Gym membership-I actually have one of these and it’s not for the reasons you may think.  I live in a little cabin in the woods with no running water.  It’s a great place to see other people and to get a nice hot shower.  I also enjoy the steam room.  But, I don’t need this for my health.  Neither do you.  I much prefer to be outside, going for a hike, running around with my dog, or just doing some push-ups in my little cabin in the woods.

2. Special footwear-There are dozens upon dozens of articles explaining the benefits of going barefoot.  I hike barefoot, run barefoot, Zumba barefoot, ad infinitum.  When the terrain gets a little too prickly I do wear my Vibrams, but it’s fine to just avoid that type of terrain.  The only possible exception is in the weight room around less conscientious folks.  A barbell on the bare instep is the sixth circle of hell.

3. Juicer-Oh, juice.  Apparently, fresh, raw juices cure cancer, get your children to behave, bring about world peace, and can do your taxes.  It’s a decent treat, but you can get incredibly healthy without one more thing to take up counter space and clean.

4. Vegetarianism-This is the pinnacle (well, right beneath veganism, just easier to attain) of a healthy diet, we’re told.  But, there is and never has been an optimally healthy human population that eats this way.

5. Early wake-up to run or another punishing workout-If you’re setting your alarm early, slapping the snooze button, then dragging your heavy carcass out of bed to work out with bleary eyes, you’re not doing yourself any favors.  The release of cortisol that this stress creates and then the cumulative sleep deprivation that builds will eventually have your body flipping you the bird in any way it can: increased fat storage, flus, lower pain threshold, forgetfulness, and my pet favorite, depression.  Sleep, beauty!

6. Fat avoidance-Dry hair, depression (there she is again!), mood disturbances, hunger, dry skin…really, fat free and low fat diets have done nothing helpful for us.  They’ve done tremendous favors to the diet industry and the weird food products industry, though.  Have some butter or lard today and nourish your cells!

7. Whole grains-Please, please, please, just say no!  If you aren’t ready to get off the grains quite yet, ferment them!  They are not a great source of nutrition, bleak actually when compared to meats or vegetables.  They are also enveloped in little toxins that are only meant for the birds.

8. Caloric restriction-This one’s a tricky one.  When you eat foods that are truly dense in nutrition, they are high in calories but it takes less of them to satiate you.  However, close attention (or any, really) to caloric intake affects the psychology of a person and can easily make one overly aware of every bite and that does not for a happy person make.

9. 30 minutes, 3x a week-Hello, Monotony, this is your twin sister Boredom speaking.  Besides the crushing tedium and it’s cascade of emotional effects, your body is so much happier when it gets surprised by something new and even more giddy when you play stochastically.  How about 15 minutes of intense dog chasing today, a 2 hour hike tomorrow, and floating in a pool the next day?

10. Eliminate all stress-Quite the mantra we have going on these days.  Eliminate stress, eradicate it.  However, you eliminate all stress and it’s impossible to get out of bed in the morning.  Instead, find the appropriate level and the appropriate game with stress.  That’s how I see stress: it’s an ally for play.  It always demands a physical reaction and fluctuated in intensity.  It takes a lot more self-knowledge to discover what is the level that you feel most alive at.

11.  Slather up in SPF 50 and stay away from windows-avoid the sun!-Or, how about instead, you get a few minutes of quality sun exposure a day and bypass the vitamin D deficiency and the rampant sadness that happens when we, heliophilic creatures that we are, avoid it.

12. Detoxification supplements/teas/treatments-You have innate detox strategies.  They are called the skin, the kidneys, the liver, the bowel, the lymph, etc.  Instead of punishing your body with harsh programs and disgusting concoctions, support it with movement, appropriate food to the season, plenty of sleep, and lots of emotional expression.  Laugh ’til you cry and cry ’til the laughter wells up.

13. Superfoods-Do people in the Himalayas ship in blackberries as their super fruit?  I get that there is a spectrum of nutrition that food stretches across.  But, don’t believe the hype that a food from across the globe is somehow superior to the food that grows in your region.  My heart goes out to people that do not have access to much other than food products, but, when food (not products) are available, eat well from the local abundance.  That is super enough.

Local lunch while in Kenya: goat and sukumu wiki!  Nyama choma. 

I’m posting a day early because I am headed to NYC for a couple days before my graduation with some of my dearest friends.  Laughter, sushi, Broadway, and a possible new piercing?  Nourishment and Freedom!  See you next week when I will let you know all that you need to have to be healthy.