Let’s get the obvious out of the way. I am not a doctor. Please seek help if you need it. I know myself, and I know I can usually get things under control at home. Do what is best for yourself.
Just one week ago, I was texting my best friend that I had absolutely, positively, NOTHING left to give. I felt no emotions other than anger and anxiety.
I was physically and emotionally exhausted. I was managing to smile and go through the motions, but inside, I cycled between numb and boiling over with rage.
You see, I am normally a happy (“JoyfulMom” right?), laid back person, but when I get depressed, it comes out as anger.
I have experienced this a few different times after having babies and when the time changes in the fall. I find myself tense and having less patience with life’s annoyances.
A few weeks ago I even yelled at one of my children. You may say, “Everyone yells at their kids”, but I don’t. I believe that yelling at children is bad mom behavior, and I make every effort not to do it. So, when I went full on Hulk, yelling and screaming, and throwing a fit like an adult sized toddler, I knew that I had a problem.
I decided that it must be the time change, and I should have already started using my therapy light. It normally takes just a couple days for light therapy to make me feel better. I even use it for my ten year old who struggles when the days get short. I started using it in the mornings with my Bible reading, but I didn’t notice a difference.
I added vitamins to the mix, but still no improvement. I made sure I was getting outside every day, getting to bed earlier, following a schedule, and eating well (which I already do due to autoimmune disease).
All of these things have helped me in the past, but still, I was walking around feeling like Bruce Banner.
I suspect part of the problem is that we bought a fixer upper a few months ago in order to have a larger yard. I got my three acres of beautiful trees, but I also got pure chaos.
I thrive on a schedule and with a clean, orderly home. You can’t have any of that when your toilet is on your back porch, and there is enough dust from sanding to write your name on every surface in the house.
Add to that the financial stress of everything costing way more than expected (and at the holidays), and you have exactly what I need to lose my mind.
So, back to a week ago when I was pouring my heart out to the only person who has endured my craziness for 32 years. I couldn’t take anymore. If someone would have handed me a bottle of Zoloft, I would have happily taken it.
My mind was a total fog. I couldn’t have clear thoughts. Forget being creative, I was doing good to string coherent sentences together.
Shortly after that conversation, in which my amazing friend pointed me in the direction of antidepressants (and I agreed with her), something set me off. I cannot even remember what it was, but I headed down to the basement and beat my son’s boxing bag until my hands hurt.
I still felt all the adrenaline and anger pulsing through my veins, so I did something I have never done in my entire life– I got on the treadmill.
Yes, I know that almost everyone has used a treadmill, but I HATE running. If a serial killer was chasing me, I’d turn and fight.
I have always been such a bad runner, that in elementary school, I was next to last in relay races on field day. The kid I beat wore a back brace.
I don’t like walking either because I think it is stupid. I walk to get from point A to point B, not for fitness.
So, I fired up my husband’s treadmill (after removing the laundry hanging on it), and I started running. I ran like my life depended on it. I ran until I thought I couldn’t keep going, stretched for a minute, and ran some more.
Before too long, I felt that tension leave my body. I felt calm. Not happy, but less stressed. I decided at that moment, that when I felt stress creeping up on me, I would run a mile, and that is what I did all week.
I ran every single day, but one that week. The very next day, I woke up feeling tense. I ran, and instantly felt better. I kept running every day, and I now feel like myself. Like happy me. Like a JOYFUL mom.
I have also started drinking a lot of water and less coffee because I am thirstier from running. I have more energy, so I NEED less coffee. I don’t want to nap during the day anymore, and my brain fog is MUCH better. I was able to write this post in one sitting, which is a huge accomplishment lately.
In just ten minutes a day, I am seeing huge improvements in my stress levels and overall outlook.
I would have taken medication if I had it on hand, but this is even better- no side effects, no doctor’s appointment (though you should see a doctor if you think you are depressed), it works quickly (you cannot beat immediate results!), and it is free.
I know that when you are depressed, you don’t feel like working out, so you might be tempted to start with a little yoga. I really believe that getting your heart rate up and breaking a sweat is a huge factor in seeing rapid improvement in your mood by using exercise. So pick something that is intense. It doesn’t have to last forever, but it does need to kick your butt a little.
If you don’t have a way to run, or if you aren’t able to, you can try another high intensity workout. There are some great Tabata workouts on YouTube. Amazon has several options for quick, high intensity DVDs, and some are even low-impact.
Don’t take just my word for it. Here is a great article on Runner’s World about running for treatment of depression and anxiety. There is even a Reddit group called EOOD (Exercise out of Depression). You can find that here.
Whatever you do, don’t just sit there and be miserable. Take my advice, and go break a sweat. No, I am not a doctor or a psychologist, but I do know what worked for me, and I have seen it work for many others as well. You have absolutely nothing to lose from giving it a try (except maybe a few pounds).
What works for you when you are feeling depressed?
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