Let me let you all in on a little secret of mine: I suffer from depression. Yes, me! Most of you know me either from behind the computer or face-to-face and are most likely shocked by this statement. It is true. I have been battling the blues for quite some time. Looking back, I had some signs in high school, but I was not diagnosed until I was in college.
Depression runs deep in my genes and severe depression (bipolar) is on both my maternal and paternal sides of my family. Because of this, environmental factors can easily throw me into a state of depression: death, a tumultuous relationship, a job I don’t like and sudden change. I have experienced some tough bouts with my depression because of all of those environmental factors.
In the past, I have taken an anti depressant medication. During my time at Ball State when I was diagnosed with depression I was on an anti depressant for quite some time. I did not always like how it made me feel and it didn’t always work. I repeated the on & off the cycle for quite some time… until I (re) found exercise.
For me, going to the gym is much more than achieving a number on a scale or a certain look in the mirror. For me, I need to exercise. Do I use exercise to achieve some physical goals? Yes. Do I use exercise to make sure my jeans always fit? Yes. But I need exercise to live a happy life.
You might be asking, “But didn’t you always exercise?” Yes, kinda. I grew up in an extremely active environment. I always played sports and was a three sport athlete in high school. I believe this is the reason my depression didn’t show its ugly face until college.
In college I worked out… occasionally. I would have three or four consecutive days of working out and then skip a few. I would train for a race and once the race was over I would go back to my normal life. I never had a consistent fitness regimen in college like I did in high school, which is why I believe this ugly thing came to show its face in college.
Fast forward a couple of years down the road and I had battled depression on and off medication for quite some time. One day I finally decided that was it, I had enough of the medication and knew what made me feel better, I knew what helped and it was not the medication. I knew that I had to make exercise a priority… consistently.
We all know what exercise does for us and our mood (insert Reese Witherspoon in Legally Blonde here). For me, those endorphins are vital to my well being. You do not want to be around me if I have not worked out in a couple of days. In fact, if I start to get blue or fall back into the trap my husband will say, “Leave, go to the gym. Go for a run. Just go get in a workout somehow.”
Luckily for everyone around me it is very rare for me to go more than 2 days without a workout because I know I am not pleasant to be around. Yes, even on vacation I will sneak out for a run or make up some kind of circuit to do for 30 minutes In order for me to be at my best I have to exercise.
Some may think I put my workouts before everything else: I mostly do, I have to. I would never just not give my child a medication he or she needed: that is what exercise is for me, it is my daily dose of happy. For me, exercise is so much more than a run on the treadmill, or a strength routine in the wellness center: it is the best anti depression drug I have ever gotten my hands on… and I am so glad I gave it a try.
Your turn- tell me!
What helps you when you are feeling in the dumps?
Do any readers use exercise to combat depression?