I’m quick to measure and notate many things on my path to good health: I have my monthly weigh-ins, my workout progress reports, and, of course, my weight loss chart. Something that’s much harder to quantify or measure, though, is my own mental health, and lately, it hasn’t been great. I’ve been feeling the need to check-in, so to speak, so here’s what’s been going on.
I deal with depression. There’s no simpler way to put it. I was first diagnosed in high school (major depressive disorder was the actual diagnosis), and I’ve dealt with it ever since. It’s not consistent. I’ll feel fine for months at a time, and then, rather suddenly, things will change, and I won’t feel fine. I’m much better at recognizing the signs and identifying what’s going on than I used to be.
My depression often isn’t triggered by anything specific, and sometimes it comes at the most unexpected times. Most of the time, what happens is that I fall into circles of thought where I question my own worth, or over-criticize myself over the most insignificant of shortcomings. If that sounds terrible… believe me, it can be. I’ve always been my own harshest critic and my own cruelest bully, and when those attacks come from inside your own head, there literally is no escape.
I never would’ve imagined that a bout of depression would begin so quickly after the San Diego TOWERthon, but that’s exactly what happened. That race was transformative – and a highly emotional undertaking as well – and I came back home to Los Angeles on a high that I’ve never felt before. I was soaring. I felt invincible.
Maybe I should’ve known that that high wouldn’t last forever. Maybe I should’ve predicted that coming down off that high would be difficult. But neither of those things occurred to me, and towards the middle of last week, I crashed from that high. I spiraled downward… hard. I caught myself saying things in the mirror that were awful, unfair, and untrue.
Thankfully, this was an episode that I’ve been battling from the get-go, and I’ve been battling it effectively. I’ve resisted the urge to shut myself in, and last weekend I was very active and very social, and went to three different shows and concerts and stopped by a party. I’ve been very consistent with exercising, with the exception of one day that I skipped my workout, and those workouts felt great. I’ve been given the opportunity to try some exciting new classes, and I’m taking advantage of that (I’ll go into more detail in an upcoming post). Getting it out there on this blog is helpful, too, because it gives the chance to identify, process, and move on from my thoughts.
This episode probably isn’t quite over, but the past couple days has seen positive and encouraging improvements over last week. I have a handle on what’s going on, and that gives me strength to shut down the negative chatter and prevent myself from beating myself up. Momentum is a useful tool… yesterday felt better than the day before, which in turn felt better than the day before that, so I’m doing something right, and I’m gonna keep doing it.
Another positive: I’m refusing to associate this depression with my TOWERthon experience. There is nothing that will stop me from thinking about that race as anything but an unequivocal, life-changing success. Moreover, even though it came right before a low, I can’t wait to feel another high like that again. My next stair climb race isn’t until September, so it might be time to start thinking about another goal that I can work towards in the meantime. I have no idea what that could be…but the gears are turning!
Keep it up, David!