Ode to Depression

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The last in the series from two years ago about the time when Micah was missing. There was a lot to learn there and I love sharing it even after two years, especially since it’s been a rough year and again I’m dealing with depression. I do think I’m getting better at it, continuing to eat well, sleep well and exercise. This time negotiating this without so much chocolate!

When I was a School Counselor at a middle school, kids came to me all the time, saying they were depressed. I’d say, “Congratulations, you’re doing your job!” After all, in the words of Bart Simpson, “Depressing a teenager is like shooting fish in a barrel.” Then I’d help them decide if their depression was teenage angst or something more. Either way I’d give my, “how to release endorphins” talk.
Endorphins are those brain chemicals our body releases to soothe and comfort us. There are some ways we can release them if we’re depressed. For instance, exercise: every minute past fifteen minutes of aerobic exercise releases endorphins! Simple eh? Here are other ways: Laughing, eating chocolate, sex (don’t worry, I didn’t mention this one to the middle school kids), petting a dog or cat, holding a baby and looking at something beautiful (which is why Brad Pitt will always sell tickets. I mean they tried to make him less attractive in Fury, but did it really work)?
If having friends over to eat chocolate and watch a comedy (hopefully starring Brad Pitt) doesn’t work, this may be a more serious depression. Of the two more serious kinds of depression, both are physiological but one is caused by circumstances and one is a chemical imbalance in the body. I’ve had circumstantial depression twice. The first time there were a lot of losses in my life over one summer: Four sets of close friends moved up north, we left our job and our church all at the same time. Of course, being a therapist, it took me waaayyyy too long to figure out I was depressed. Physician, heal thyself!
The second time my depression was triggered by the month of stress related to my son’s disappearance. A month after reconnecting with him, even though I knew he was safe, my body went into depression. The body can crash after a month of being amped up on adrenaline. Both times I became aware of my depression by noticing the symptoms: Loss of interest in things that normally interest me, increased (or loss of, though I’ve never experienced it) appetite, increase (or loss of) sleep, malaise and a withdrawing from social relationships.
“I think I’m depressed,” I said to myself with great insight as I lay in a fetal position on my bed, crying into my chocolate bar. So, I decided to be proactive and I gave myself this prescription: sleep more, expect less, cry often, bake, eat, and stay home. Then, if you don’t feel better after Christmas, go get some meds.
Thankfully, this worked for me and three weeks on this stringent program has allowed me to heal and want to leave my house once more. It’s a good thing because there is work to be done. I’m grateful for the down time and feel that I’m healing and ready to get back to work. I only wish my pants weren’t so tight.

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