Surfin’ the Serotonin
Posted by PintofStout on July 3, 2008
For the past several weeks, ever since my staycation, I have been riding a wave of good mood and happy feelings like I haven’t known for a long, long time. I can’t even say from memory if I’ve ever been “up” for this long before. There are still waves of up and down, but the tide – or sea level itself – has risen so that when a trough comes I am no longer plunging into the muddy bottom.
I have been battling depression of varying degrees for about 10 years (that I have been cognizant of, anyway). Why this is so, I can’t say for sure. Maybe I’m chemically pre-disposed to it by my DNA or perhaps I’m more sensitive to certain situations that could trigger the condition or both. I can’t say why; I can just explain how I feel and my moods and perceptions. I can, however, put my finger on some possible triggers, such as a lack of physical activity directly relating my physical and mental health. This prolonged high is accompanied with lots of physical activity and less moping.
There is very much inertia involved in activity or lack of. Since I delved head first into some work on the house, I’ve been driven by the progress made and tasks left to finish. This has all resulted in my feeling physically better than I had in long time, which is not suprisingly connected to the emotional betterness. This makes me want to do more. When in a depression, I don’t want to do anything. Nothing really inspires. It is a hard thing to swing or turn around. Many will tell folks in this condition to WILL themselves out of it and pull themselves up by the bootstraps, which is no help at all. When I hear stuff like this, it is like struggling in quicksand, which only makes me sink deeper and faster. It is like Wile. E. Coyote realizing he is without support over a cliff before he plunges; the “motivators” are simply the realization of the situation.
Instead, based on my personal experience, I would suggest offering to go for a long walk, or engaging in some sort of exercise with the depressed. Telling them to exercise or anything else is a nonstarter; instead bring them with you. It is better to pull than push.
I don’t know how long I can ride this tide. It is about inertia and I want to keep mine going in the right direction, but the bottom will still be there looming, waiting for me to wipe out. My plan is to keep a que of doable, non-grand projects to keep me busy, and that have satisfying, tangible results. So when the landscaping project is finished (hopefully next week), then building window boxes for flowers and fixing the gutters on the house will be next. By then the garden will need more attention, and boy are those results ever tangible!