Ha ha ha ha ha ha!!!!!!
That’s my answer if you ask me, “While you were feeling depressed, did you take care of yourself physically?”
Nope. I certainly did not. It was about as bad as my neighbor Harvey’s bi-weekly announcement when he arrives on my porch looking for ice cream.
“I’m not taking my medicine or nothing. I can’t breathe. I’ll probably go to the hospital tomorrow,” he says. “If I’m still alive anyway.”
Failure to take care of one’s body is, I think, a symptom of some kind of ill-health. Further, it plummets me further into depression to lose my grip on my health. But would it have truly kept me out of depression if I had been able to maintain healthy habits? That is the real question, and I’m not sure that I know the answer.
Slaying the Giants: Practical Help for Understanding, Preventing, and Overcoming Depression
I’m currently reading Slaying the Giant. This is a Christian book a couple of people have recommended, in which the author shares his own struggle with depression. He was a pastor who had studied depression in school, and thought he knew what it was until it hit him. He had a severe form, and was unable to do his normal duties.
I tried to walk several miles every day because I knew it could help my depression. But my thoughts were so morbid, I feared I would have a heart attack or stroke while walking and be discovered hours later unconscious or dead in the ditch. Trying to avoid such thoughts didn’t help; I had them anyway. Depression becomes master of your thoughts.Dr. French O’Shields in Slaying the Giant: Practical Help for Understanding, Preventing, and Overcoming Depression, p. 62
I like his well-rounded approach to the topic of depression. He says that, as a Christian, we can develop tools that can lift us from depression. He found permanent freedom practicing what he calls “spiritual exercises” which I will mention further later. (Some medications or illness cause depression, which is a different matter than psychological depression, although both lead to changes in the brain eventually.) He also says:
When our life has come to a standstill because of depression, it alerts us to the need to come to grips with the demand for some major personal changes in our character.Slaying the Giant, p. 22
Yet he discounts the prevalent notion that “real Christians don’t get depressed.”
When someone tells you real Christians don’t get depressed, give them credit for good intentions and be grateful they care about you. Then totally disregard and immediately forget what they have said. It simply is not true. It only indicates they know nothing about depression. It is also possible they know very little about being a Christian.Slaying the Giant, p. 27
Oh, by the way, I’m kind of mad at him because of this:
Like sleep, your eating may be affected either way. Some depressed persons lose their appetite, others overeat. I could not eat… In two months I lost 25 pounds.Slaying the Giant, p.65
Somehow losing 25 pounds seems superior to gaining the same. But I shouldn’t minimize the struggle of those who are frustrated with losing weight.
Now, in March of 2020, I feel fantastic. I think I feel better than I did before my struggle. It’s a little hard to tell what is the chicken and what is the egg, but here are four physical things I’ve started doing that likely are contributing to my overall feeling of good health. Some of them were suggested to me by kind people on my email list. I don’t know that they would have pulled me out of depression. But perhaps if I would have made these habits ahead of time, I would have done better.
1. A Morning Walk on the Treadmill
I really don’t hate the treadmill, so that makes it much easier to do. Listening to reflective Christian music while doing this helps set the tone for my day. I also love the Fitbit Marnell got me for Christmas, which quantifies the calories I burn.
2. Making a Plan Each Day For What I’ll Eat the Next Day
Planning is crucial to my success. My WW app makes planning super easy day by day (of course I was totally neglecting it for awhile), but I also use my paper planner for weekly menus. It doesn’t mean that I’m always going to follow my plan exactly. If a box of wonderful paraphernalia arrives from a friend (thanks Rosie!) with Reese’s Pieces in it, I’m going to lift up the white flag and call it a special occasion. (My mom’s diets always had “special occasion clauses” so mine do too, for better or worse.)
3. A Sunlight Lamp
Several people suggested this for the cold winter months. I saw an ad for a company called Verilux, so I took advantage of a discount to try it myself.
4. Vitamin D Supplements
This was the most common of the recommendations I received. I do have a little confessional story about it, but this blog is too long already so I’ll save it for “What-Not-To-Do-Wednesday.”
If I stick with my plan, I’ll have three more blogs on this topic as follows:
- Intervention #5 – Recognizing Who I Am (With Guest Input From a Friend)
- Intervention #6 – Four Fun Non-Book Things That Helped Me
- Intervention #7 – The Most Helpful Step of All
Happy staying healthy!