The last couple of weeks I’ve felt my depression creeping in the shadows, ducking in and out quickly enough to make it seem as though it’s just a lot of small, insignificant moments. But this ain’t my first rodeo, and I’m very well aware of the difference between a momentary mood swing versus a much darker, insidious issue.
*Random tangent: speaking of depression and rodeos, I can only imagine that a Depression Rodeo must be where sad clowns go to cry. Do clowns even go to rodeos? I honestly have no idea what I’m even talking about now, so back to the post.
One thing I have learned about depression maintenance over the years – or my maintenance, anyway – is that if the signs don’t start to go away after a few weeks, or even start to worsen, it’s almost always due to me taking my foot off the brakes in certain areas of my life. Mainly: what I’m eating; how much yoga I’m doing/how much I’m moving my body; how fulfilled I’m feeling at work; how in-tuned I am with my intuition, goals and angels (more on that one at another time). Of these areas, probably the biggest indicator is in the food I’m eating, and not just for the reasons you may think.
Of course there is the obvious: if you eat junk, you will likely feel like junk. A slightly less obvious reason, though, is that when you’re less mindful of what foods you put in your body, you are probably being less mindful in other areas of your life as well. This may not be the case for everybody, but I know when I am conscious of what I’m putting into my mind and body, as well as how it’s getting there, I’m almost always feeling my sharpest and most intuitive in every other facet of life. Every single thing is connected, and you can usually trace imbalances back to one area that is out of whack, the foundation of your core self, if you will. Yes, you can trace it back to any of the areas mentioned above, but I find starting with what you eat and working your way from there to be far easier to weave through than beginning with some of the more esoteric elements.
Now I wouldn’t say I’ve been eating tons of rubbish food lately, however, I have been eating quite a lot of heavier foods and in larger portions. I’ve also been eating more sugar than normal (sweet teeth run in the family and it’s a curse; a sweet, and often very delicious curse). I know myself well enough to know that when I eat this way too frequently and consistently, my mental health gets all a flustered, and the invisible army starts to draw up plans, while everything else is simultaneously eroding on the down low.
So there, I started with what I’m eating. Now let’s work our way back: the more I feel dispirited, the less I’m inclined to take time to actually prepare the food (which is usually an almost meditative, highly mindful process that I’m now missing out on). I’m thinking less about what my body actually needs, and more about what is convenient, which leads me to make poorer choices more often. I then don’t feel as light, my skin looks worse, my mental clarity is muddled, and my confidence starts to drop. This results in having less energy, so I’m less likely to want to do much of anything and wind up watching more television than I’d care to admit (and watching too much television too frequently never makes anyone feel like a million bucks). My yoga practices begin to suffer because of my mental state, although they still remain a saving grace more than not. My ambitions fall by the wayside due to my waning energy levels, which then pulls my self-belief down, thus making my day jobs more difficult to get through, and interacting with others a painful ordeal as you’re hardly going to walk around with a sign on your head saying ‘Sad Clown Rodeo Coming Through – Handle With Care’
Random Tangent #2: Although many people are well intentioned, the unfortunate fact is that everyone has their own problems to deal with as well. So let’s just say you were to walk around with aforementioned [ridiculous] sign on your head, more folks than not would simply not give a damn anyway. We’ve all been there, whether we meant to be or not. The trick is to not take it personally when someone doesn’t seem to give a hoot about how you’re feeling, or looks at you with pity. Often the times we need compassion the most, are the times we also need to be the most compassionate ourselves.
You still with me here? I’m the queen of over-analysis, and it can be exhausting. It can also be life saving, though. By working back through all the bits and bobs above, I’m so much more easily able to figure out the best course of action to take to at the very least minimize the effects of depression and anxiety when I feel a rough patch in the midst. Because I’ve been fighting depression and taking names for so long now, and am determined to never go back on medication again (over 6 years strong, baby!), I don’t have to necessarily go through this process every single time anymore; I just know the triggers and what to do to disable them now. I appreciate that not everyone is at this stage, though, and I’d encourage you to do a bit of your own back tracking next time you start to feel out of sorts (You definitely don’t need to suffer depression to do this; we all have days and weeks of doom that could do with a bit of introspection – heck, you should introspect even when you’re not feeling down. Prevention is always the best cure. Go within!).
If you’re reading this and are picking up what I’m putting down, why not give it a go yourself? If you’re picking it up but think you need a bit of help to put it down, leave me a note in the comments and I’d be happy to see if I can help. My biggest joy in life comes from helping others unblock their own barriers to happiness and achieving more than they ever dreamed possible. Because I’ve done so much of that work on my own self, and continue to every single day, I hope that even if all anyone ever does is read my little ol’ blog posts, that it will inspire you to do some of that work on yourself as well, and lead you to a more peaceful, fulfilling life.
But for now, it’s back to far more mindful eating for me, and far less sad clowns for all.