Over the past few weeks, depression has rocked me.
I’ve been exhausted, lethargic, and lacking any motivation. Worst of all, my self-confidence has been lower than it’s ever been before. Before I realized I was experiencing nearly every symptom of severe depression, I thought that this was the new me. That was the most frustrating part. I thought I had become lazy, distracted, and hopeless. Last week, I even saw a picture of myself and completely broke down. I was fully aware that my brain needed a little adjustment, but I didn’t know how.
Over the years, I’ve found a few ways to improve my mental health: Vitamin D, fitness, and medication being the big ones. Let’s talk about them and how I’m going to “improve” my use of them:
If you’ve ever sat in the sun and felt your mood improve, you know what I’m talking about. Vitamin D is also known as the Sunshine Vitamin. It’s no coincidence that Seasonal Affective Disorder is most prevalent in the winter, when there are shorter days and less sun. My mom calls that the “winter blues”. So whenever I feel my depression symptoms coming on, I get outside and play human solar panel. Nature is neat.
You get days of rain and clouds, with no sun to be soaked up 😦 Booooo. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good rainy day. But one is good. The beauty of RV life is … get this … I can move anywhere I want at any time! It’s amazing. So, starting on January 9, I will be spending winters in sunny places, ie. Florida. If you need a break from dreary weather, feel free to find me 🙂
Fitness was something I identified with for about 5 years, so much so that I got a degree in Exercise and Sport Science and went right into a career as a Sport Performance Coach. If I didn’t work out one day, I would feel off-kilter. If I wasn’t sore after a workout, I didn’t even feel like I worked out. I studied fitness, worked in fitness, met my boyfriend and friends through fitness, and worked out in my free time. I started to wonder how healthy my mentality was, and quit cold turkey. It was almost my way of rebelling, because I felt it was the only thing that I identified with for those 5 years.
So here I am two years after quitting “organized” fitness cold turkey, I’m 50 pounds heavier and severely depressed. I’m learning the tough lessons of “you don’t know what you’ve got til it’s gone”. In my case, it’s serotonin and abs! I also now realize that my relationship with fitness was unhealthy, and that there is a happy medium between that and zero fitness at all. Now that I have more to my identity, it’s time for fitness and I to get back together. I want to work towards establishing a healthy relationship with fitness. Instead of working out to look better or because my major dictated that’s what I should be identified with, I want to work out to improve my mental wellness.
But how does that work when you live in an RV? Luckily for me, a gym and equipment are not necessary to work out! Yeah, I would love to get back into Crossfit or lifting, but that’s nearly impossible with my lifestyle. So I’m going to combine my vitamin D deficiency and my fitness deficiency and create one solution: run. (My dogs love this for us, too).
I’ve been on anxiety and depression meds since I was diagnosed in 2015. I’ve never felt great about being on meds, because I thought I was weak and couldn’t control my own brain. Multiple times, I’ve tried to slowly wean myself off of them, thinking that I don’t need them because I felt fine. Well, turns out there’s a direct correlation between meds and feeling fine … LOL. Between my sobs last week, I told my mom how I felt about having to take meds and she changed my view on them with one sentence: “Think of them like vitamins or a supplement”. Freakin’ genius! I need to remind myself that my meds literally allow my brain to take in more serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine, and that they are not just a crutch because I’m “weak”.
So, moving forward, I’m going to thank my meds for keeping my brain in check and stop trying to abandon them.
One thing that I know will help my mental health but have been avoiding is my diet. I’ve always eaten like crap and, as my mom warned me for literally 10 years, it’s catching up to me. I’m really interested in how gut health is related to the brain so I’ll definitely start doing some research on that. In the meantime, my doctor referred me to a dietitian who does virtual visits, which I think is exactly what I need for education and accountability. But maybe one last slice of cake from Nantucket Grille before I meet her…🤫
If you read this far, you rock. If you agreed with everything I said, you might be depressed … lol JUST KIDDING I’m not a doctor. But maybe go see one…😅
Okay byeeeee ❤ Happy 2021! New year, new brain chemicals!