Thursday, June 05, 2008
Today I had lunch with a couple of fellow writers and we talked about all sorts of book-odds and book-ends as writers do. The topic of depression came up. It is interesting to me that most of the women I know deal with depression in some degree. I have and do. The word depression is thrown around a lot when the term sad or blue would be a better fit, since depression is usually linked to a chemical imbalance of some sort, meaning it is a true state of physical illness. I remember well one time in my life my emotions had dipped beyond sad or blue. Scared me. My doctor put me on antidepressants for a while.
They helped in that they gave me a) validation that it wasn't just me feeling sorry for myself and b) a little time to get my legs back underneath me. Unfortunately, they also made me sleepy. Very sleepy. So I stopped taking them after some time had passed.
I am pro-antideppressants. (Is that an oxymoron?) If you need them, I say go for it. But nowadays I have found other answers as well to my times of singing the blues. The women I talked with today told me of their "cures." Supplements, hormones and vitamins topped the list. It is so important to pay attention to our bodies and emotional states as we grow older. Things are changing and not since adolescence have the changes brought such upheaval. Depression, sadness or the blues can be caused by the effects of aging. Sure, I don't talk as an expert, but the anecdotal evidence I have collected over lunches and coffees is pretty substantial.
As for me, I have connected the dots in my life and body as they stand today, in my 45th year of life. Three "cures" I have found work for me. They are simple, but if I do not adhere to their regiments, a curtain of sadness and despair slowly, ever so slowly, falls over my eyes and I see the world in the bleak color of gray. Ask John. Well, on second thought, don't ask him. Just buy him a mug that says "Saint" on it.
Anyway, here are my answers to the blues:
1)Sleep - I used to be able to sleep 5 hours a night and be ready to go, bubbly and bright. NO MORE. I have to get in at least 7 hours now. If I don't, I eat more and I smile less.
2)A Sugarless life - As I grow older and now have diabetes, sugar can be a weapon I use against myself. This is my toughest battle because I LIKE SUGAR. But like an abusive boyfriend, I have to let it go. Of course, that's not a perfect analogy, because a tiny bit of sugar every once in a while is fine. :0) But if I find myself desserting it up every day, the aftermath is clear. I begin feeling horrible about myself, my future, my life.
3)Movement - This is a vital key for me. It is amazing how quickly my spirits can soar just by purposefully exercising. For me, this is not just walking Scooby or pushing the grocery cart to the ice cream section of the store. This means setting aside intentional time to move my body in some sort or fashion. Endorphins come and rescue my sad soul every time.
To me, joy is not an emotion. It is a belief in God's sovereignty and His control. When I feel blue or sad or depressed, I can STILL have joy, knowing that my Father in heaven still cherishes me and will never leave me. But happiness and contentment are emotions and when they subside, I know something is up. I must address it or pretty soon, my joy is affected. I start ignoring God. That kind of blue is the worst.