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I'm Setting My Sights A Little Higher...

3SHARES

By: , SparkPeople Blogger
7/21/2009 6:45 PM   :  101 comments   :  11,028 Views

The first Day’s Night had come—
And grateful that a thing
So terrible—had been endured—
I told my Soul to sing—

She said her Strings were snapt—
Her Bow—to Atoms blown—
And so to mend her—gave me work
Until another Morn--


--Emily Dickinson, 410


I’m done with just trying to endure my depression and get back to "normal." I'm setting my sights a little higher this time.


Yeah, I know. Trying to make something out of being depressed is about as easy as trying to tie your shoes with one hand tied behind your back. At least when you start with nothing, anything you do will be something. When you start with a big batch of negatives like the hopelessness, helplessness, fatigue, and mental fog that is depression, there’s really no reason to believe that whatever you can do will even get you out of the hole, much less get you moving along in a good direction. It's much easier to see those depressed thoughts and feelings as enemies to be defeated, rather than tools to use.

But maybe it only seems this way because we've forgotten our basic math. When you multiply two negatives together, you get a positive, right? I'm hoping that at least some of the negatives going on for me right now can be combined into something positive--and something beyond merely getting back to "normal."


When I first found out last week that, instead of getting a hoped-for “quick fix” with ECT, I had wrecked my ankle and was looking at 3-5 months during which I couldn’t even ride a bike or walk to the grocery store, my mood took a real nose dive. And considering how low to the ground I was already flying, this really wasn’t a good situation. They kept me in the hospital for an extra day and night just because I couldn’t convince them it was safe to let me go home alone in my current state of mind.

For the past several years, the single most important and most reliable thing that has helped me stay relatively sane and functional has been the time I spend outside every day riding my bike and/or hiking. I knew I could mentally survive a few days or even weeks without this activity, but I also was pretty sure that I couldn’t and wouldn’t survive 3 months of it. I wasn’t convinced I even wanted to try.

It’s hard to explain in words what this outdoor activity does for me, or why the prospect of not being able to do it is so threatening. But it’s definitely more than just “exercise” or an endorphin high--it’s more of a spiritual practice. And I know that making it through my current situation will take more than just trying to find some other physical activity I can handle.

I hate to overdo the whole Dylan thing, but his song “Shelter from the Storm” comes as close as anything I can think of to describing how I feel about my rides and hikes. I feel like I “belong” out there in nature in ways I don’t think I could ever feel like I belong in social groups. I can believe that the Beauty I see is meant for me as much as for anyone else, without feeling like I have to pretend to be something other than I am to deserve it. In social situations, I usually feel like I have to wear my "apparently normal" disguise, while hiding what's really going on inside.

And yet, with the threat of losing this important part of my life for at least a short time, here I am, talking about it as if it might actually turn out to be a good thing. I’m not actually sure it will, and sometimes it even seems just as likely that I’ll end up ignoring medical advice and doing some biking, at least, just to stay sane and alive, as soon as my ankle gets to the point where I can physically handle my bike.

But just thinking about all this has also reminded me how, when I was in graduate school a while back, I got many of the same emotional rewards I associate with actually being out in nature by reading and writing a lot about the relationship between nature and human emotional well-being (this was at a time when I still weighed about 400 pounds, and couldn’t possibly ride a bike long enough to even get close to the forest, the ocean, or the hills). Obviously, this human/nature connection seems to be an issue that resonates with me on several levels, for whatever reason. I'm not sure whether immersing myself in the philosophical side of it will be enough, after having a taste of the experiential reality, but we'll see.

Today I went rooting through all my old school papers and research notes, and realized I still have what could possibly, with a little work, be turned into a decent essay or even a set of articles about all this that helps me stay sane while my ankle is healing. Whether or not it turns into something worth sharing with others, at least it will keep me occupied, I hope. And maybe the prospect of sharing my thoughts publicly somehow will help keep this from becoming yet another exercise in introversion without a balancing move in the other direction as well.

So, my resolution for this week is to spend some time going through my earlier work and seeing if it still peaks my interest enough to fill the time I’d otherwise be spending outdoors with writing about this whole business. I know my depressed self well enough to know that my first reaction will be to think this won’t actually work, and isn’t worth the effort. So, before even starting I’m going to pin up this little quote from the Tao Te Ching above my desk where I can’t help but see it every morning:


Success is as dangerous as failure.
Hope is as hollow as fear.

What does it mean that success is as dangerous as failure?

Whether you go up the ladder or down it,
your position is shaky.
When you stand with your own two feet
on the ground,
you will always keep your balance.

What does it mean that hope is as hollow as fear?
Hope and fear are both phantoms
that arise from thinking of the self.
When we don’t see the self as self,
what do we have to fear?

See the world as your self.
Have faith in the way things are.
Love the world as your self;
then you can care for all things.


Tao Te Ching
Translated by Stephen Mitchell


What about you? Are there any things you've enjoyed in the past that your depression has taken away? Do you think that trying to include them in your life again now, even if you have to modify them somewhat, could help you transform your depression into something that helps you set your sights on more than getting back to "normal"?



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Comments

  • 101
    Dean,
    Oh I do feel for you. I had ankle surgery in March for an injury I suffered over 25 years ago.
    Week 3 of sitting on my couch watching more T.V. and being waited on hand & foot, I had a revelation. I would never take being able to walk for granted again. Somehow, months later that lead me to Spark People.com.
    Yesterday, I turned my newly healed ankle on a root when I was walking in the woods. I have an appointment tomorrow. It's not too bad but I am afraid of what the doctor will say about my limitations. Like don't walk in the woods.
    I wish you a speedy recovery.

    - 8/4/2009   8:10:25 PM
  • LINDALEE51
    100
    Coach -- you seem to continue to move forward. I find your writing amazingly honest, candid, and insightful. I see you trying to accept yourself as you are as you continue to put one foot in front of the other, moving forward and healing. You are in my prayers. I very much appreciate your sharing yourself with us. It has helped me immensely. LindaLee - 7/27/2009   11:30:56 AM
  • 99
    Dear Coach Dean-

    I'm new to sparkpeople and just put together for myself that the person whose aritcles keep inspiring me is the same person who is struggling with a major bout of depression. First of all I want to thank you for everything you share here at spark people: the story of your fitness gain journey, your inspiring articles, your honest blog entries, everything.

    Now I am no psychologist or therapist but I have struggled with grief and loss and depression throughout my life so I'm hoping that qualifies me a little to add my thoughts to this mix. I also trust that with all of our advice you will take what rings true and let go of the rest. That being said, here are my thoughts:

    It seems that you said, in one of your posts, that you think that this time of depression and anxiety might have been triggered by your relatively recent heart surgery and you also mentioned post traumatic stress. My experience with grief is that it is a spiral and that it's not a straight road one goes down-you start here, end there and it is done. I think maybe you are on the right track in exploring these feelings and thoughts to see if maybe, in this spiraling journey of healing, some old hurts are rising to the surface, ready to be healed and sloughed off. I also think you are on the right track when you step back to observe your thoughts and wonder if some of your attitudes may be influenced by your depression and thus not to be taken at face value.

    Lastly I will second the poster who said this:

    "Nature takes three months off every year to repair, why is it that humans feel they cannot. You do not have to give up nature, just learn to enjoy it sitting on the beach or lying in the grass. There is much to be learned in stillness"

    And if you need help with transportation, get it. We do have to be our own best friend and best coach and sometimes that means getting help and support from others. You deserve that.

    Thank you again for all you give to us Sparkies. You are in my good thoughts and I'm sending "good vibes" south to you from Western, WA.

    All the best, Helen

    PS-The photo is beautiful.

    - 7/25/2009   10:19:28 PM
  • 98
    Nature takes three months off every year to repair, why is it that humans feel they cannot. You do not have to give up nature, just learn to enjoy it sitting on the beach or lying in the grass. There is much to be learned in stillness. - 7/25/2009   2:10:22 PM
  • TGIF697
    97
    Dean, I really don't have much to offer but as a person who fights daily with the idea of death I can only say keep on doing and striving to keep going. Yes, I understand that you can't get out and enjoy the exercise that you are used to, but you can still get outside and enjoy the fresh air and sunshine. It may be you can only sit outside at first, but each day means more time spent outside and getting your ankles stronger. One of the things I keep trying to remember is that although I am walking, talking and breathing I've done without the walking and talking. I am now able to do those things and breathing is nothing I will ever take for granted. I remember I know How I will die, I do not know when I will die. This gets me going every morning because it is my decision. - 7/25/2009   12:02:07 PM
  • 96
    Dear Dean: My heart goes out to you during all of your struggles. I have found that sometimes God puts us in places where we can either rest our bodies or strengthen them.

    I want to tell you about my 65 year old friend who has MS. She has struggled with MS for many years and continued to do many activities that others would have long since given up. When she retired five years ago, she got herself a personal trainer and started working out. She lost about 35 pounds and exercises three days a week. Now this doesn't sound like any major feat. My friend is wheel chair bound and she is learning to do kick boxing from the wheel chair. She has found that when one door closes, another one opens if you watch for it.

    When you were talking about biking and your ankle, I got to thinking about my friend. She uses a wheel chair to get her where she wants to go. If you love nature, your ankle should not stop you. Rent a wheel chair and build those arm muscles.

    The only thing stopping us from getting to where we want to be is our minds telling us we cannot go there.

    I wish you all the best.

    C. Rosie - 7/25/2009   10:51:10 AM
  • 95
    Life is a journey, not a destination. There are many things you can do while your ankle is healing. Writing and reading is one thing to do.
    If you feel you must get out into nature (I agree completely), use a wheel chair or crutches. Do you have a place that can create that peace for you? You mentioned the ocean. Drive there and be one with your surroundings.
    I am aware that using exercise is a very important part of mental well-being, but at the moment you are side-lined from that. When you can, perhaps you can ask for physical therapy to help strengthen your ankle until you are able to get on your bike. Perhaps there are other exercises you can do without your bike. Coach Nicole may have many.
    Yes, it can be discouraging, evening depressing, but doing something to keep your mind busy and off the depressive thoughts may help.
    I know it helps me. I only have endured mild depression, so perhaps I am not relating to your current situation, but exposing your mind to other thoughts from other people = face to face, online, or within the pages of a book may encourage you to think less depressive thoughts. (happy thoughts). It may feel like Peter Pan thoughts, but it is way better than doomsday thoughts.
    I wish you well in your healing and further journey in life.
    I will pray for you to have the peace of God which surpasses all understanding. Hugs. Nadine - 7/24/2009   2:43:36 PM
  • 94
    Thanks for sharing, Coach Dean. So many people have such interesting comments here and I can't add anything. I have never really been depressed but come from a family of 6 where 4 have suffered a lot of depression and spent time hospitalized. Often wish our family could be used for research.

    I hope and pray your ankle heals quickly and you are soon back to your old self! - 7/24/2009   10:36:00 AM
  • 93
    I wrote poetry and painted things I don't do now. Once I got older I discovered sex and alcohol instead of poetry and painting to ease the pain of depression. I think my teenage self knew better, artistic expression is a much better way to deal with the pain. - 7/24/2009   9:57:05 AM
  • 92
    Thanks for sharing your story as some one who has suffered the depression snydrome off and on for years your inspiration to set our sights higher is so very positive and will begin trying to employ your attitude into my daily life. Best wishes to you as you succeed one day at a time. - 7/23/2009   6:13:24 PM
  • 91
    Thank you Dean for your honesty and thoughtfulness in sharing your recent revelation. It has been perfect timing for me to read your entry and I've carefully considered your questions over the last few days.
    As a direct result of the thoughts you have provoked I am painting again.... have joined an art group and am planning to use this to pull myself forward ... I feel better already for taking action towards getting better.... so already the positive cycle has begun.... Thanks again for having the courage to share your thoughts... like ripples in a pond they are going out into the world and making a difference.... :)... Namaste.

    This may be helpful if you understand in the LoA....
    http://www.abraham-hicks.com/lawofa
    ttractionsource/journal.php?eid=4

    - 7/23/2009   5:05:15 PM
  • 90
    I'm a writer and a thinker and a longtime sufferer of PTSD, and one thing I have learned is that, for me, writing often makes me more depressed. I have been reminded of this recently because my Positive Blogging challenge this week is to blog daily... not a great idea when I'm falling apart mentally. It puts the focus on my temporary negative emotional state rather than what's going on around me. It makes my thoughts seem more important and more true than they actually are. Depression is not a puzzle that can be worked out with endless philosophizing. I know it is tempting to try--I deal with a constant compulsion to return to that method of coping... but it ALWAYS makes me feel worse. The real cure--the thing that shows up in research study after research study as being the most effective treatment--is behavioral. You have to do things whether you derive joy from them or not. Eventually you'll see clearly which behaviors make you feel worse and which give you just a little bit of a boost, or at least prevent you from spiraling downward. You have to fake it 'til you make it (which is exactly why I'm forcing myself to go see a movie tonight despite the fact that my desire is minimal.) You have to stop thinking and start doing. Eventually the good feelings will return. When I am depressed, I think of it like treading water -- yeah, I'm gonna feel this way probably no matter what, so my job is to just stay afloat until I can reach the shore. No matter what I have to keep moving, or else I am going to sink. - 7/23/2009   3:21:48 PM
  • 89
    My brother has had depression for 34 years and I always say that it is very selective. He is to depressed to go with his wife to things she wants to do, but he can find the "energy" to go see his friends. I always laugh, because I think it is very much a matter of what you decide. I've had depression and taken Prozac for years, but I just get up and do what I have to do. - 7/23/2009   2:30:35 PM
  • 88
    I completely understand and connect with your feelings and connections to nature. Just the thought of running on a treadmill instead of being outside is defeating. Something about running/biking outside is freeing. I hope during this time of recovery you are still able to enjoy the outdoors, even if it is a little less active. - 7/23/2009   1:57:49 PM
  • MARILYN1423
    87
    I suffered a long, deep depression around age 40. During that time I felt so useless. I decided to write in an effort to feel useful and productive. I didn't produce anything printable at the time, but the writing turned out to be a cathartic experience. It started me on the long, slow climb out of the pit I had fallen into. - 7/23/2009   12:31:15 PM
  • RACHELRB
    86
    Coach Dean,
    These challenges have certainly been a great opportunity for you. You have searched within yourself and shared so much with the rest of us. These changes in your lifestyle due to your accident not only kept you from ECT but will allow you to do new and different things. At the end of your 'confinement' you will be back with nature - with new ideas and experiences. Best of luck to you on your journey and keep up the blogs! - 7/23/2009   12:20:51 PM
  • 85
    Depression lifts with the green of the outdoors, the draw down of blood by my muscles.

    The beautiful words hit the paper stream after stream, until the depression lifts.

    I get beauty one way or the other, but I don't seem to get both at the same time. - 7/23/2009   12:17:00 PM
  • 84
    You clearly get a lot from your relationship with Nature. I think it would be worth the time to explore ways to maintain that relationship throughout your rehabilitation. So you can't hike or ride a bike. Can you ride a horse? Ok, maybe not, but there has to be a way to do what you love. . . . I think there are bicycles that have been adapted for people who can't use their legs at all. In my little town, there is a business that makes recumbent bikes that are really low impact on the back and legs (and ankles, I should think). I see people using them all the time on our bike paths. Just because you can't do the things you love in the same way for a while doesn't mean you can't do them at all.

    I won't even pretend to understand clinical depression. So much of it is beyond me. I think I understand the need to immerse yourself in all that you're feeling to better understand what is happening. I would think that it's also important for you to occasionally step out of that dense emotional soup to do something that isn't all about you. Maybe volunteer for a couple of hours a week so you can put your struggles on hold and focus on something else, if only temporarily. A soup kitchen comes to mind because your emotional interaction with others is relatively limited, yet you would get the benefit of getting away from yourself for a little time.

    I know that I am naive about what you're going through so I hope you'll forgive me if my suggestions are inappropriate. But I am also sympathetic. Clearly you're suffering, and I hope you can navigate through the pain to find yourself in a fresh emotional landscape that will give you what you need so much. - 7/23/2009   11:03:08 AM
  • 83
    I agree with others in that you are definitely moving in the right direction and am confident that you will this entire experience enlightening and able to peel open the layers for you. I can suggest for healing that there are yoga postures you can do and particularly deep breathing - which can be down at any lookout you can drive to and view the lovely nature you enjoy and deep breathe for healing. - 7/23/2009   10:32:40 AM
  • 82
    It's such a TOUGH spot you're in, Coach Dean!

    I sometimes have thoughts about: what if something happens and my body let's me down in some way and I'm not able to MOVE and SPARK myself the way I would like...?

    I think your ideas to root around in your past thoughts and writings sounds promising! I hope there is a way for you to at least be outdoors while doing this...as I feel similarly...more inspired, more connected to myself when I am out 'into the great wide open!'

    Don, Co-Leader of All Health Professionals SparkTeam, Binghamton Area Losers & Laid Off But Staying Tough SparkTeams - 7/23/2009   9:50:46 AM
  • 81
    Hey, now is a great time to try some of those chair dancing videos and blog on them. At least give you something new and a new topic to think about. I, too, feel soooo much better when I get to walk outside so understand how this is more depressing. Do you have a porch or balcony to sit out on to do some of your research? - 7/23/2009   8:07:17 AM
  • 80
    Dean,
    I've been a little worried about you lately, because it seemed to me you were not merely "playing" with unhappiness, but willingly and totally immersing yourself in it. It's good to see you choose a different path.
    You know, trying to give you "feedback" or encouragement or whatever is as awkward as finding a gift for the man who has everything (if you allow me for a moment the banality of the expression): I am pretty sure you've thought of all the thoughts, and considered all the "solutions".
    But I'm going to ask my question anyway: Is there some way you can separate the exercise part from the outdoors part, have someone drive you to the forest etc, so that you can just sit there and enjoy nature? Just a thought... If it makes sense to you, I'm sure you can figure out the details.

    To answer your question about losing interest in once enjoyable things, here's how I think it works with me: Once I no longer find an activity euphoric and fulfilling (whether it's swimming, hiking, walking, playing basketball, going to the gym, reading books, translating, studying languages, the list is long...) and I stop doing it, there's little point in trying to recreate what used to work for me before - it only makes me feel more depressed. What I need to do is re-discover the joy of the activity by varying it up and experimenting:
    Taking the example of swimming: I alternate between going to the pool, losing all interest, going to the beach, asking myself why on earth I enjoyed it so much, trying a different beach...
    It's a fact of life for the bipolar: everything old is new again (if you work at it).

    I wanted to add: Thank you so very very much for the poems, the songs and the quotes you share with us. They take a life of their own and make excellent food for thought - I'm so grateful to have them!

    Oh - and another thing about dealing with prolonged immobility: I went through it twice (once after ankle surgery and once in my pregnancy) quite successfully by turning the TV off completely and finding a new, mentally challenging, activity: Once it was the Rubik cube (back in the 80's); the other time it was reading (and usually solving) Agatha Christie mysteries. I have not been obsessed again about neither since then. - 7/23/2009   6:42:44 AM
  • 79
    I'm reading this and I cannot help but remember at some point long ago, I had to ask "what is normal, anyway?" Is any human being normal? I don't think so. I think if we all compared ourselves to the DSMIII (I think that's what it's called) we'd find something about ourselves that fell into one of its categories.
    I don't think I've ever really been "normal." And I think the best thing that ever happened to me was breaking away from others who told me all the things I should be doing (because they were more normal), and rather than trying to fight my way out of whatever I was feeling, to instead accept it and just sort of float through it, mentally guiding myself through my day(s) by telling myself "ok, just do this one thing ... and now do this ... one foot in front of the other -- tired? ok, take a break, get a nap or 10 minutes of meditation ... just feelings, don't dwell on them, just let them pass." Having dropped all sorts of self-expectations, as well as learning to dismiss and assertively say no to the expectations of others regardless of the consequences, I find that I am more at peace, satisfied, and content than ever. I really do like myself, quirks and all, and wouldn't trade my life with anyone else's even if I could. The quote you give from the Tao says it all.

    As others have said already, because you can't be biking around, doesn't mean you still can't enjoy the outdoors. Take your writing with you to a park where you can work with it while sitting on a bench or under a tree. Visit arboretums, conservatories, etc., utilizing the scooters some have available for the handicapped, or rent your own from a hospital supply service. - 7/23/2009   1:22:31 AM
  • 78
    Beautiful picture-awesome colors! Did you pick it because the flying birds make a smiley face in the sky? Or did that just happen? It seemed like a rather positive picture! - 7/22/2009   10:58:40 PM
  • 77
    Coach Dean, I enjoyed reading your blog. You give so much insight into things. I also love the picture with the birds. I enjoy looking at things in nature, the birds, trees, green grass, and pretty flowers. It helps me to forget some of the bad things that goes on in the world, plus I feel a certain inner peace when I'm enjoying all that nature has to offer. I know that depression is a terrible thing ,and difficult to fight. My husband used to get so depressed, that he would just sit, and go to sleep in front of the T.V. He just didn't seem interested in anything, no matter how hard I tried to get him to snap out of it. Sometimes, it would be almost a week, before he would come out of it. After starting with therapy, he started not staying depressed for as many days, as before. This was a wonderful beginning. The important thing for most of us, is to never give up hope. We all need to be hopeful for something, whatever it may be. If the weather permits, maybe, you can sit outside, to enjoy nature, and get some fresh air. I like the idea of you going back through some of your earlier things to see if they can be of help. Who knows, you just might come up with one of your best articles yet, from re-reading all of the previous notes, etc. I also believe in taking one day at a time, like the song says. Take care, and Bless you, always - 7/22/2009   10:02:29 PM
  • 76
    This makes my mind go back when I keep having reocurring sinus/chest infections...it kept my exercise routine off and out of reach. Of course my dr was against any type of exercise until I healed completely. I did stretches which did not involve much strenous movement. I knew if I completely stopped moving I would never got started again. I can not qo outside much in allergy season. My time to go out is when the sun is setting if it is not too hot. I also am a star gazer so I go outside at night on my porch steps. I espeially love the fall and early winter. The sky is much clearer. My faith helps to keeps me whole and uplifted. I am not the kind to give up at any rate. Give me a challenge and I will attempt to over come it with my faith. Best wishes on your continued journey. - 7/22/2009   8:07:00 PM
  • STEPHANIEK2
    75
    Can you get a wheel chair? This way you can get outside and be active without stressing your ankle. You can get a whole new workout for the upper body!

    Also, have you thought about nature photography? Maybe an essay with picture illustrations?

    My depression was taking away my love of art, crochet, and nature. I am taking back my life a little at a time because I deserve to be happy. - 7/22/2009   7:28:54 PM
  • 74
    I'm bi-polar and have spent my share of time in the hospital due to it. I'm am on medication, and I've finally reached an "all-right" place...but I still have ups and downs. It is so coincidental this blog came out now...my husband and I have been working up an "action plan" for when I'm depressed. Normally, I don't move and eat lots and lots of unhealthy food. But together, we came up with some ideas to avoid this (which just leads to more depression). Next depressed spell (not that I'm looking forward to it, mind you), we're going to try some of them out.

    Praying for everyone w/ depression, bi-polar, or other mental health problems,
    Jennie - 7/22/2009   7:21:48 PM
  • -TAMI-
    73
    Nature speaks to my soul the way nothing else ever has. I went years without my nature walks because my depression was so bad I couldn't find the strength or courage to leave my house.
    These days when I cant get out and walk, I roll down all the windows in my car and go for a long country drive. It isn't as personal as my walks but it does help keep me sane.

    Keep clawing your way up to the sunshine. You'll find it again one day! - 7/22/2009   6:53:18 PM
  • 72
    Have you considered wheel chair walks? Might help develop upper body strength and give you a whole new perspective on exercise. Just a thought. Hope you feel better soon. - 7/22/2009   6:14:47 PM
  • TRYINGHARD1948
    71
    What depth of soul you have. - 7/22/2009   5:46:49 PM
  • 70
    Dean, Good luck working reading and revising your work. If you had the connection with nature when you couldn't get out in it, I am sure you will find that connection again.
    As another thought...You may not be able to ride your bike or go for long hikes, but is there not a park nearby where you live? You can go sit on a bench and absorb nature that way. - 7/22/2009   5:19:36 PM
  • 69
    You don't get to feel isolated any more. You have US. Pesky though we may be at times, we're yours. I love your "apparently normal" disguise reference. A lot of us wear that disguise from time to time, thinking that we're more messed up than we actually are or that we're hopeless lost causes. We've been given a peek behind your disguise and we're not running away in droves. We like you.

    I am struck by "how much you love your outdoor exercise". It's quite a contrast to those who desperately look for excuses to avoid all forms of exercise, indoors or outdoors. Aren't you glad you've found a healthy activity to love enough that you're threatened by its temporary absence? The ankle will heal. Work on patience. You'll be fine. And you'll be out there on that bike again.

    I'll be excited to see your new insights on exercise and nature, stimulated by the updating of your early papers. It's an interesting topic. For me, there's nothing like the smells, sights and sounds of a walk along a mountain stream, right after a rain storm. - 7/22/2009   5:17:46 PM
  • 68
    Dean, I hurt my back in early December, went 11 weeks with NO exercise. Granted, it was in winter, but I was working out 3-4 days a week when it happened. When I went back, I was worried I would hurt it again. Well, to this day I have problems where I can't run or lift like I want to. So, I compomise and walk when it hurts and lift lighter. You'll find a way to get through these months, even if it isn't what you are used to doing. You've come so far to stop now, even with your depression, you know things will get better. Maybe those papers will bring you something you've been missing. Feel better! - 7/22/2009   4:29:41 PM
  • 67
    So is it being in nature or exercising in nature? For me it is being in nature, so sprained ankles, broken legs, sore knees don't keep me from going to a lonely lookout (there are many on the CA coast within a few yards of parking) and sitting and watching and listening. This is not the time for an Ipod. It is a time to listen to the wind and the birds and the animals. They will tell you what you need to know and how to heal. - 7/22/2009   4:18:42 PM
  • KEENTINA
    66
    I won't leave you a quote today but looking for one daily helps with my depression. Being active in the church also helped me. I get recognition for things I do like fixing a rosary handed down by someone's parent (and we are visiting those old enough to be my grandparents!). It made me feel good just to know that man trusted me with one today - one that was special to him. They thanked me for coming today - I bring them youth they said (I'm over 50!). Riding the bus made me feel better - to get the exercise between and the socializing of friends, to feel like I am doing something for the air by not driving. The bus driver commented last night that we have a nice social group on the bus, that we watch out for each other and some are willing to be late to help others with packages or be sure kids are safe. He said the cops comment, too. I like the "diet" food - fruit, veggies and so on. I took mangoes and fresh pineapples on the bus trip Monday for my mini-vacation and the priest came up asking if I had enough to share - "Sure, if we cut the mango in smaller slices we could all have a piece." He came back later, laughing, saying "We're doing loaves and fishes in the back. Can you share?" It was the joke for the day but some did try the mango - our driver included. Also, some with old friends are good so you may have fun with reviewing the old notes while writing from them.
    In short, I went back to a lot of my old habits - when I was young and thin and find I wish I'd never broken them because I'm so much happier. - 7/22/2009   3:38:03 PM
  • 65
    OK, before you poo-poo my suggestions, I am blind and cannot go out riding a bike on my own, enjoying the sunlight and wind and nature.... So, what do I do? While recovering with my broken leg I rode a recumbent bike with nature sounds playing on my CD player. When the bone was somewhat healed, I got in water and when I couldn't swim, I simply kicked around holding a pool noodle enjoying the sun and etc. Just some thoughts to help keep you active....

    I think it is a grand idea to write about the links b/t nature and your mood. I believe you can write something worthwhile to you and to others. Your passion is clear and your experience with riding and hiking now can only enhance your writing and explanations of how you feel when you ride and/or hike. Tell that negative Ned in your head to stifle himself and just do it.... Sometimes when in a depressive state, just doing it will get you through it....

    There is a quote that often appears in SP and that is the Japanese proverb of falling 7 times and standing up 8.... This even goes for when bones get broken!

    It is nice to read your posts on a more regular basis now too! Welcome back! BTW, who truly is apparently normal? I'm not sure I know any of those people! - 7/22/2009   3:08:43 PM
  • 64
    I can't begin to suppose I would know how you feel however I do love poetry to express sentiments and feelings. I thought perhaps you might like this piece
    by Rumi.

    This being human is a guest house.
    Every morning a new arrival.
    A joy, a depression, a meanness,
    some momentary awareness comes
    as an unexpected visitor.
    Welcome and entertain all!
    Even if they're a crowd of sorrows,
    who violently sweep your house
    empty of its furniture,
    still, treat each guest honorably.
    He may be clearing you out
    for some new delight.
    The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
    meet them at the door laughing,
    and invite them in.
    Be grateful for whomever comes,
    because each has been sent
    as a guide from beyond.

    Jennifer - 7/22/2009   2:53:04 PM
  • NANNY-JO
    63
    thank you for sharing your story... especially how you explain the low feelings. I'm just starting to face my depresson and your words have helped. - 7/22/2009   2:03:15 PM
  • 62
    What I had learned when dealing with addictions and depression I found that I could not do it on my own, AA taught me I needed a higher power. It sounds like the outdoors is a calming force in your life,. I don't agree with nature coming from an ooze, but must have had a creator. As several others have said you must accept help from a higher power, even if it is an unknown God who created nature. - 7/22/2009   2:00:50 PM
  • FROMTHEHILLS
    61
    I love the picture.
    - 7/22/2009   1:53:22 PM
  • 60
    Thanks once again for you blog.. i am so glad that you can share your life with us
    take care .. We all care about you Dean !!! - 7/22/2009   1:34:41 PM
  • 59
    Your story is very moving. As I read more I am so grateful for being able to come through my depression years ago. I also realize it could happen again ...yikes! Having gone through that struggle makes me so appreciative for every day month and year that I am not in that black hole. Thank you for your honesty in sharing your journey. Just keep breathing, and taking this step by step. - 7/22/2009   1:12:50 PM
  • 58
    So many things to be aware of, to pay attention to, to listen to.
    This may also be an opportunity to let people into your lives and heart. You can work on accepting help, and letting others give to you.
    Love the quote, I have a great depth of belief in your ability to weather this storm. Be still, listen to the trees growing.

    - 7/22/2009   1:05:36 PM
  • 57
    I clicked on the blog because I find myself getting depressed as I get closer to my National competition. I feel like my chances are slipping away the more I work to make my skating better. After reading your blog I think I need to look at why I skate and what I like about it. I feel the same way about the outdoors as you do but it is more of a treat than a routine. But skating I remember sitting at a competition right after I broke my foot in a wheel chair wanting nothing else but to be out there as well. Today at practice I'm going to try and focus on what I am doing well and how that will help me improve the rest.

    Juliane
    - 7/22/2009   12:34:17 PM
  • 56
    Coach Dean - There have been some very good comments so far. Yes I also see the pattern of the depression really kicking in after your other surgery. I also am not clear on the anke injury but having one change my life I can relate. I agree you need to be outside for your writing but since exercise has been your rock of stability I think you need to try to do other things. That is what I DID NOT do and I just got more depressed and gained weight and it made getting back to normal harder.

    I wish I had not been so stubborn at focusing on what I couldn't do - walk for exercise. I still cannot do that as my primary focus and when I've been bullheaded I have set myself back and YEP was depressed. I have never been a gym person but now I am because I can alter what I'm doing. If I had done that when my anke was in a boot I still could have done alot of leg work on the machines and upper body and core.

    So I would concentrate on what you CAN do and get outside and even before that ankle to totally ready to go you could probably find somewher near you that does Tai Chi outside.

    Good luck! - 7/22/2009   12:13:55 PM
  • MOMMYOF3252
    55
    Thank you for your words.
    - 7/22/2009   11:34:51 AM
  • 54
    For me, just sitting by the water helps...and luckily I live 4 blocks from the Atlantic Ocean...along Narragansett Bay...and in the next town is a beautiful state park with rocks, water, stone bridge, people flying kites, dogs! dogs! did I mention dogs! Last week my friend packed lunch and we picnicked there.

    What also helps is blogging the positives in my day...and some days (like Monday night) it's very difficult to recognize them...and it's a different type of exercise! My counselor on Monday told me to consider recognizing these blessings as muscle strengthening exercises from what I named the "downward spiral" to the "upward spiral."

    Just a suggestion... - 7/22/2009   11:22:10 AM
  • 53
    I ended up with an injury that kept me from being outdoors, too. It was in the middle of winter (very dark up here in MN!) and towards the tailend (and most difficult part for me) of post-partum depression. I ended up just grabbing a notepad and paper and going outside during my lunch break to sketch and sit in the sun for a few minutes most days. I couldn't walk outside because of my injury, but I could definitely sit out there and enjoy the trees on our company's property.

    A few years ago, another injury sidelined me during a depressive period, too, and a friend recommended I go to parks on the weekend and sketch. I'm no artist, but the act of focusing on what I was seeing was nearly as meditative as walking, biking, and jogging are for me.

    Just some thoughts on how to enjoy the meditative side of nature while you wait for your body to heal! - 7/22/2009   10:49:54 AM
  • 52
    Coach Dean - I am truly sorry you are going through this turmoil, I too, understand chronic severe depression along with physical disabilities.

    I woke up this morning happy I was alive, still breathing. Then I started to read your article, and just about went bad to bed. The quote by you "When you start with a big batch of negatives...there’s really no reason to believe that whatever you can do will even get you out of the hole, much less get you moving along in a good direction. You need to read my last paragraph.

    Also, forget the math! You could say two bads make a one right?" Not !

    You have the ankle situation and I just had shoulder surgery, I will trade with you. The shoulder surgery & PT is 6 mos to a year. The pain does not let you sleep. So talk about cranky, grumpy and down.

    I understand your biking and needing the outside, is your freedom and release, it is what lifts your spirits and is a natural feel good high.

    For people with depression, the dark hole is a very secure place. No one bothers you, no one replaces demands on you, no responsiblities, and NO LIFE.

    Okay, your love of biking and the ritual have been taken away temporarily. In the meantime, dDo something that you have always wanted to do in your life, even if you stink at it, try it. Example: Take a watercolor class, and paint landscapes outside. Take your past writings and work on them outside, sit on a park bench and observe people less fortunate then you, then write some of your blessings. And if exercise is your worry, there are PLENTY of exercises (especially on this website) to do on the floor/ground and/or in a chair, and you still can do them outside! And in the rain if you want to!

    Life is like a crap shoot, and you hold the dice. You can choose to play all day and lose everything of value in your life.

    Or you can choose to put the dice down and walk away and do everything you can to positively affect people, places, animals, or nature, whatever. Whatever you do for others will be brought back to you.

    Yes, I wake up every morning at the bottom pf the pool drowning, and then I realize my eyes are open, my chest is breathing and I can still manage to get out of bed (with some help) and go to LIVE my day !

    My motto: I woke up this morning happy I was alive, still breathing.


    - 7/22/2009   10:47:31 AM

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