Depression tends to move in connected riptides. You have a bad day at work and feel your mood plummeting. You grab a chocolate for an instant sugar high and unknowingly throw your body into the first current. Later on your blood sugar crashes and you feel even worse than before. Now you’re feeling emotional and irritable and just want to get home and sleep. It takes every bit of energy to drag yourself into your bed, and when your alarm goes off the next morning to go for a run with your best friend, you press snooze and forget you didn’t hear it. Then you start your morning with low energy levels, grab some toast (yay carbs) and off you go, current to current, further out to sea.
Just like with an ocean’s rip, with depression you have 3 options: You can fight it (this only makes you more exhausted), you can go with it (eventually it will spit you out), or you can take action and do the opposite to what your mind is telling you to. In the water you swim horizontal to the rip and escape it from the side. With depression you do the same – you do something counterintuitive to break the pull.
I have a new mantra that helps me do just that. It really goes against what I FEEL like doing when I’m down, but it works. It’s the philosophy that pulled me out of my dark December.
Lorna Jane’s slogan repeated over and over in my head as I panicked in the riptide of my depression. She was encouraging me to look up, focus and take action.
This time, in my case, it worked from the bottom up – Believe, Nourish, Move. But as I came to learn, it doesn’t matter where you start, as long as you START. One will always lead to the other, forming a new cycle. A healthier, happier one.
Most of you know by now that I am book obsessed. Many turning points in my life came after reading a book and relating to every word as if it was written just for me. I am moved when I am inspired. Something inside me shifts when a page in someone else’s book is identical to a page in my life.
I had one of those moments when I picked up Lorna Jane’s book: More.
This was a few weeks ago when I was, quite simply, suicidal. Something just drew me and I knew the book was meant to be mine.
That afternoon and evening I read it from cover to cover.
When I put it down something inside me had changed.
I believed again.
I believed I would make it. I believed there was a way out. I believed I had control over my moods.
The next morning, instead of reaching for a sugary-laden snack, I reached for my phone instead. I fought the instinct to do it on my own and poured my heart out to a friend. Those conversations and that unwavering support nourished my soul. And, as if there was a direct line of communication between my soul and body, all of a sudden I no longer craved that sweet treat.
After work I went and bought a basket of fresh fruit and veggies. I filled my fridge with beautiful orange and green. As a matter of interest, before this decision my fridge simply had a jar of mayonnaise in it. Literally. I lived on take-out, ready to go meals, and microwave pick-me-ups.
Now I was motivated to cook again. Use that nutribullet at the bottom of the cupboard. Make the effort to give my body’s cells the nutrients they needed to pump healthy blood to my brain.
The little serotonin guys gave me a high five.
I hate exercise. Honestly. I sign gym contracts with the best of intentions, only to see the money decrease in my bank account and my weight increase on the scale.
I took Lorna’s advice and started to move in a way that my body enjoyed. I had started doing yoga again, but needed something that would raise my heartrate a little more too.
I knew that walking on a treadmill bored me to tears, but walking in the forest lifted my spirits. I quickly learnt that walking with a goal – say to the shops or to work (as opposed to simply walking the same blocks around my flat) – worked for me. I love incentives. Running marathons with a medal waiting at the end of it, surrounded by other runners along the way, gives me a little kick.
So I started walking. I simply made the commitment to walk every day, no matter what. Even if it was just 100 metres. Most days, once I got started, I hit the 6km mark without even realizing. This weekend I did my first 15km marathon.
I feel better.
I feel happier.
I feel more like ME.
As I repeated my mantra each day to myself, I grew stronger. More motivated. Alive.
I created my 2016 vision board and it makes me glow from the inside out.
I’m learning how to live again.
I’ve allowed myself to float into a new cycle. It reminds me of the time I swam with dolphins in Mozambique. There is a beautiful dance that rarely happens, but when it does it’s an incredible life experience you cannot forget. It’s called a “circle swim,” and basically it is when a few dolphins start swimming in circles with you. If you just let go, they carry you in the current they create. All you need to do is go with it and enjoy the ride.
There will be riptides that suck us in. Of course there will be.
But there is a way out. Move. Nourish. Believe.
Create a new current.
Today, if you’re feeling alone in a dark and raging sea…don’t give up.
Start where you can.
Move, just a little in a different direction. Try get your body to do just a little bit more. Nourish yourself with a massage, a phone call, a healthy meal. Believe again – find inspiration – read a book, scan Pinterest, watch a Ted talk.
Just start. Somewhere.
You may wish to create your own mantra or intention that will keep you focussed when times are shitty.
Sometimes all you need is one word.
One tiny action.
Currents are finnicky things.
They don’t like change.
And that’s where you get to take your power back.
Author: Lorna Jane Clarkson
Publisher: The Messenger Group
Link to MNB website