AM I TIRED OR AM I DEPRESSED

tired depressed
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Am I tired or depressed?

 

I have been SO TIRED since our move.  But it’s been six weeks.  I should be acclimated and rested by now. I’m starting to wonder if I’m a little depressed 

 

I have been challenged by depression since I was a child. (Of course in those days people didn’t really recognize children as having depression. But that’s a topic for another blog). Even though I know a ton about it intellectually, AND I have a very deep sense of mind-body connection, there are still some times that I have a hard time telling if I’m just tired or if I’m depressed.

Now, just to be clear, I am talking about MILD depression. I am very aware of when I am moderately or deeply depressed. And when I am, I seek help immediately! I struggled alone for too many years to ever go down that road again. IF YOU BELIEVE YOU ARE DEPRESSED PLEASE SEEK HELP: Call a therapist, call 211, call a trusted friend or family member. You can also contact me and I will help you find resources in your area.

Mild depression can be tricky. It can feel like fatigue – sleepiness or just a lack of energy. And that’s how I’ve been feeling off and on since we arrived in South Carolina.

So what am I doing about it?

*First, I’m resting: As I mentioned in my last “Moving & Changing” blog. I’m not worried about getting everything unpacked and having the house presentable. It’s very important that the body gets rest. So if I spend a day unpacking, the next day I rest. Or, I may work and then rest and then work and then rest.

Short rest breaks are something that I particularly encourage in my employee wellness clients. Research has shown that both the brain and body NEED to rest in continual small breaks throughout the day. As an employee, a parent, heck, just as a person, you will function better and be more productive if you allow yourself breaks throughout the day! J

* Second, I’m deepening my mind/body connection: Using meditation, I am going inside my body and assessing what’s going on. Do my muscles feel fatigued? Does my brain feel slow or foggy? I want to find out if I’m tired or if I’m depressed. There is a difference. Yet, they can often feel the same. Meditation also helps elevate the positive hormones in your body (dopamine, serotonin and oxytocin in particular).

* Third, I’m nourishing: The other day I dropped my kids off at their camps and realized that I was feeling pretty down and listless. I didn’t feel particularly hungry, but I also realized that I had not eaten much breakfast. I’m usually not very hungry in the morning. HOWEVER, even though our stomachs don’t always send us hunger messages, sometimes our blood sugar does. So I went to Starbucks and had a green tea and a protein pack food box. I FELT SO MUCH BETTER! This time, my mild depression was blood sugar (and probably caffeine) related.

* Fourth, I’m nurturing: Many of us spend a lot of time nurturing other people. In this instance I’m talking about nurturing myself:

* I found a beautiful place down on the water that I can take a walk and breath in the cool breeze coming off of the bay.

* I’ll take a bike ride through the leafy green forest around my house (we have paved bike paths through the forest).

* I’ll take bath with relaxing bath salts and lavender oil.

* If it won’t cause me stress to spend a little money, I’ll have a massage or a mani/ pedi.

Doing nice little things for myself – even if it’s just 20 minutes of reading a fun book after the kids go to bed – helps to elevate my happiness quotient (again, it’s about those hormones). Make a list of things you can do to nurture yourself. And don’t just look at the list! DO THEM J J

 

So What if I do All Those Things & I’m Still Feeling Down?

It’s important to assess how down I am and how long it’s been going on. If the feeling of being “down” has turned into either high anxiety, deep sadness, or ongoing fatigue – the kind where I can’t get anything done and stay in bed for days – it’s time for me to call a therapist. Therapy has helped me many times over the years.

I’ll talk about the pros and cons of medication in another blog. But medication is something that is essential for many people who suffer from depression.

If I find that after resting, meditating, nourishing and nurturing, I’m still feeling down I take two more steps:

 

  1. I practice gratitude without guilt: Either just thinking about, or even better, writing down, the things for which I’m grateful helps lift my spirits. I’m not really one to think, “oh poor pitiful me,” but we all can get down about the challenges of life (And believe me, I’ve had some major challenges!) Thinking about the beautiful and good things in my life is a powerful tool to help me look forward to getting through the next day or even minute. No matter how small the thing is for which I’m grateful, it still goes on the list!

So what do I mean, gratitude without guilt? I used to get really down on myself for not being grateful enough. That is, I would think about all of the things in my life for which I’m grateful, and then I would tell myself that I was a bad person because I let myself get down in the first place. I would think about how other people around the world were suffering so much more than I was. I would think about how so many people were hungry, abused, living in war-torn areas. You know the types of things I’m talking about.

Guilty gratitude gets you NOWHERE!  Someone else’s suffering has nothing to do with your suffering. You are hurting – period! When the fog of my deep depression started to lift, I came to realization that I can’t do anything to help other people’s suffering if I’m still suffering myself. So instead of feeling guilty, I decided to feel better! In feeling better, I now can help to ease some of that other suffering in the world.

  1. I Reach Out for Social Support: Research has shown that social interaction is essential to happy, healthy living. It is often especially hard to spend time with other people when you’re not feeling well. BUT, it is really important to at least try!

Spending time in person with other people you enjoy is the best way to go about this. Whether you spend time with family or friends, the social interaction will help elevate those happy hormones.

In my current situation I don’t have any family here in South Carolina, and I only have one new friend. In this situation I been lucky that some of my friends from California introduced me via email to people they know here in Charleston. I have had lunch with two different women entrepreneurs and am forming friendships with them. I also made an effort to stay in touch with the women with whom I stayed in an Air B and B rental on one of my visits and now reach out to her for friendship.

Another step I’m starting to take is that now that the kids are back in school I am going to start looking for interest groups to join. That is, I’m looking online for groups in my area of people whom I share common interests: whether it’s yoga and wellness or kayaking or scrapbooking. Finding people with common interests with whom to spend time is essential to keeping ones spirits up. See my blogs about making friends for more on this.

 

So if you’re feeling down, take the time to assess what you really need: Rest, nourishment, nurture, gratitude, community? Maybe all of the above. Try and see what works for you.

And, by all means, let us all know how you’re doing and if you have other tips and techniques for getting to the bottom of the blues!

Your comments and welcomed and received with gratitude!

 

Love & Light,

               JEN

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