8/15/11

mindful living mondays: that heavy feeling

{from here}
since high school,
i have struggled with small bouts of depression.
it's (thankfully) never really been long-term enough
that i've felt the need to be medicated,
but it's been bad enough that it's affected my day-to-day in the past.
the hardest part, for me, was learning how to deal with it,
without letting it mess up my days, my weeks, my months.
at first, i wasn't too good at this.
there was the first summer i spent in vancouver,
when all the energy drained out of me
and i could scarcely move from the bed to the desk
to watch alias streaming all day from my computer.
i went through all five seasons in about two weeks.
the thought of going outside made me exhausted.

that was the first time i really noticed it.
 i wasn't too sure how to react...
i wasn't a sad person.
i was the happy, bubbly person.
i was a ray of sunshine.
so why was i suddenly so sad?

there were other, smaller periods,
where that heavy feeling
kept me from trekking across town to see friends
because the thought of making the effort
made me want to crawl under the covers instead,
and so i found excuses, and i cancelled plans.
or where it kept me from carrying on a proper conversation
with my (then future) husband,
because my head was sunk too deep underwater
to even fully process what he was saying.

i've found that now,
as i move closer every day to defining & living
what i consider to be my ideal life,
these periods of sadness, of listlessness,
get smaller and shorter.
and now that i've become acquainted with them,
they become easier to deal with.

mindfulness in this situation, for me,
is being aware when this heavy feeling starts to show up,
rather than letting it silently invade my mind & my moods.
as i've begun to make the effort to recognize
when i'm not being present in my everyday life
(or in my yoga practice),
i've started to use my awareness to bring myself back to
my desired state of mind.
and i've realized i can use this skill when i start to feel depressed.

i've begun to recognize that the sadness in my mind...
that's not me.
thankfully, there is now a persistent little voice saying
"hey, quit buying into this. you control your life.
you choose how you feel about it."
which keeps me awake, and aware.
it helps me remember my list.

i've developed a list of things to do
that help to ward off that heavy feeling when it comes.
the list began way back during that first summer in vancouver.
it started with one thing...
run.
run fast, run hard.
running has become a part of who i am,
and i've always come back to it.
sometimes i wake up in the morning feeling sad,
and the urge to run takes over almost immediately.
it shakes my whole being
and it doesn't stop until i lace up my shoes & get outside.
the rush of endorphins you get during & after a run
are almost unmatched (in my opinion)
in how empowered, how proud, how accomplished they make you feel
and it's hard to feel sad, down, or heavy when you feel empowered.

over the years,
i've added to the list:
yoga.
(always yoga. i have never finished
a yoga practice feeling worse than when i started.)
play with a puppy.
(really, a dog of any age will do)
cook. or bake.
re-organize something.

(i mean really re-organize. dig in. your closet will thank you)
walk at sunset.
journal.

repeat.
and tell yourself,
sometimes over & over,
that this sad, heavy person...
that's not you.
you're in there somewhere.

if you need to, talk to someone about helping you remember this,
whether it's a friend, a loved one, or a professional.
make your own list
of the things you need to do to remind you
that you have a choice to fight against this heavy feeling.
sometimes, just the knowledge that you have this choice
is enough to make a difference.

ps...
i'm not a specialist, or any kind of professional.
i'm just someone who has gone through feeling like this,
and i thought writing about it might
help anyone else who feels this way to take their first steps
back from underneath their heavy feeling.
if you have any further questions about anything i wrote here,
please don't hesitate to email me.

10 comments:

  1. How true is this post?! I too suffer from these little bouts of depression. The worst one was many years ago (thank goodness) and I pulled out of it by drastically changing my surroundings and reminding myself that I need to focus on myself, my talents, and what I want, not what everyone else wants for me.

    Very inspiring post, Meg!

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  2. Good job! Seriously I know a lot of people have little bouts of depression, but good for you for rising above and not letting it take over your life:-) Life is amazing, keep remembering that!

    Pssst I follow you on Twitter now

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  3. This is good stuff? i struggle with little fits of depression and am currently going through one. . I may go do some yoga :) thanks MAAM!!!

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  4. I can relate too you 100% so this post was very encouraging to me. I'm so glad you've decided to make the changes necessary for you. And running is GREAT to ward off.

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  5. I definitely identify with this, as I have the tendency to fall into depressed moods. I think I need to create my own cheer-up list, because I have a problem with taking action when I get in these moods and "forget" what makes me feel good. I think having a physical list would really help to remind me to turn to the things that bring me joy. Yoga, cooking and walks in nature are all going on my list :)

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  6. I definitely agree with everything you wrote. thanks for being so personal that's refreshing. and you are so very right 'sad' isn't a part of you! Very inspiring, my "running" is biking-and fast.

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  7. Really really true about the yoga. I never thought about it like that, but it is so true. I always knew that yoga makes me happy - but it really vastly improved my mood and the rest of my days. This was my added motivation to finding a new studio to join. Thank you.

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  8. Oh I guess all of us suffer from depression every now and then... we just need to know how to brighten our mood in our own little way to fight depression ♥

    One of my depression battling techniques that always work is that I listen to my upbeat fave songs and sing with them... sooner or later I'm already sporting a smile and a happy mood ♥

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  9. I have been there too. It does get easier every time, because at least I can remember that I've gotten through these periods before so I can do it again. And while my first tendency when feeling sad is to seclude myself with tv, that usually just makes me feel worse. Being active by running/yoga/dance/walking and making the effort to see friends makes me feel so much better, even though it can be hard to force myself to do those things. But just having the knowledge of what helps makes me so much more likely to follow through and be productive.

    thanks for sharing your experiences Meg!

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  10. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you, for this post!

    I suffer occasionally from very small bouts of depression and feeling that life is caving in on me. This entire week I have suffered, not liking the person I have been. I'm attempting to fight my way out of it, reading this was what I needed.

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