A three month depression challenge
Sunday, December 22, 2013
Today I had a moment where I realized, if things keep going on like this I will need to talk about medication with my doctor. I lay face-down on my bed, sobbing and wailing. I was spitting and disgusting, a gross mess of grief and depression. I heard myself making laments so deep and terrible that I was ashamed.
No one has died. Nothing is wrong. In fact, my life is getting better.
In the shower, trying to get the snot out of my hair (it was bad) I knew that I'd have to talk to my therapist about drugs. I don't want them. In fact, I will do anything to avoid them.
That got me to thinking.
Part of why I'm having a breakdown (right now at this moment having a breakdown) is because I am failing to treat myself as well as I know I should. My diet is atrocious and out of whack. My exercise is severely lacking. I know, from experience, that both diet and exercise have a strong impact on my depression.
If I have to be medicated, I want to know it isn't for lack of trying. I want to know it is because my chemicals are bad and I need more chemicals to balance them. And so I'm challenging myself, with my therapist's help. I'll give myself three months to turn this around, to use diet and exercise to cope with my depression. If by April 1 I'm still spending days sobbing, still plummeting into a dark melancholy after church, still bouncing between manic-productive/cheerful and fathomless sorrow... well, then I'll seek medication.
This cannot be a flimsy challenge. It must have clear parameters. I must be able to recognize if it isn't working. I know that improving my diet and exercise will alleviate some symptoms, but what I want to see is... can I effectively treat my depression through lifestyle changes? What does success look like? What do I want out of this?
1) Supervision. I will make sure my therapist is in this with me, helping me define goals and what effective treatment will look/feel like. I need an objective and knowledgeable supervisor.
2) Accountability. I will track my diet and exercise through Sparkpeople (it's always been reliable for me) so that I have statistical data to fall back on, this is another opportunity for objectivity.
3) Sustainability. Perhaps I will wean out gluten, perhaps I will go off dairy. This are liveable changes which, although I would find them unfortunate, I prefer to medication. However, I do not want to rely on protein powders, food bars, or a mono-ingredient (coconut everything, soy everything, chicken everything, etc). I am prepared to have restrictions, but I do not want to forsake variety or wholeness. I don't like myself on powders and bars, they feel fake and unenjoyable.
I will start with small changes and make additions or restrictions as I see fit, according to how my body feels and what I know of my history. I already know that sugar has a profound and chimerical effect on both my emotions and body. I will start by reducing my sugar intake. I will increase my water. I will walk (and sometimes run) every day for 30 minutes. I know I felt stronger on protein but that it is difficult for me to eat a lot of meat, so I will be gentle to myself regarding protein sources. During today's episode there was a lot of phlegm, a disturbing amount. I will notice my dairy consumption and make decisions from there.