Friday, August 31, 2018

Shaking Things Up to Fight Depression

*Feeling like the daily grind is getting you down? I felt that way lately, and here’s how I turned things around. *

One sign of depression is that you lose interest in things that you used to find engaging. This is different than an ADHD whiplash pivot into a new pursuit. It’s more like your love for a favorite pastime dies with a weary sigh. I’ve been through that type of phase many times in my life. I gave up reading Science Fiction & Fantasy once. Stopped enjoying anime for many years. Stopped watching favorite TV programs here and there. I even stopped playing the tinwhistle, something I have enjoyed since Sailor Moon and Lisa Frank rocked my daughters’ world. These were all activities I did daily, then suddenly didn’t.

Usually, these changes happen slowly. I can’t pinpoint, for example, what day I stopped playing the tinwhistle for a few years. It might have been the month of my divorce when I moved into my own place. I do remember the sound of the tinwhistle felt too loud in that empty apartment, but I don’t recall making the decision to put it away. One day I realized that I hadn’t played the whistle in months, apathetically shrugged, and moved on. Fortunately, I’ve learned to manage this aspect of depression.

I happily play the whistle now, along with my ocarinas. In fact, I’m playing the tinwhistle at my oldest daughter’s wedding tomorrow. I’m a bit nervous because I’m playing solo with three different whistles for each key change. That’s a first time for me, but I’m happy to share this skill with my girl on such a beautiful day.

However, I’ve been depressed this Summer. Very lackluster & listless. I suppose ennui has cast a shadow over my life. I can’t think of a single even that may have triggered this latest bout. Instead, I’m just down overall.

Sometimes there isn’t a good reason why we are depressed.

Fighting Depression

So I decided to do something about it. Instead of drifting off aimlessly, I decided to identify which activities I was losing interest in, and which activities I wish I was doing more of. We can get chained by the shackles of our routines, leaving us feeling obligated to things that don’t lift our spirits. If we’re not careful, the activities that shout at us loudest take priority, silencing the voices of activities that we used to enjoy. I wanted to avoid that this time around.

I didn’t want to do anything radical. I simply wanted to shift my time a bit in order to make a change that would lift my spirits. It’s a mixture of points 6–8 in my Depression: Ten Ways to Fight It Off[1] article:

  1. Change Your Surroundings: I decided to take a social media vacation. This was big. Social media is where I interact with other adults like myself. As a stay-at-home dad/author, I live a solitary existence. I decided to just take one week off, but it’s moved into three. I miss it, and I wish I could say that the extra time has been used wisely, but overall, it was a good move to make. The algorithms are not my friends. They emphasize vapid sharing, and deep discussions are hard to come by. Also, the partisan bickering and ignorance is boring. I feel better walking away for a while.
  2. Engage Your Mind: I made the decision to take a blog break and read more books. I was already losing interest. However, I value this blog too much for it to become one of those things that I wander away from aimlessly. Taking a break was great idea.
  3. Do Something Fun: I wanted to spend more time with my family. I’ve been able to do that with my busy daughters, though not always at the same time. This was a great move. I feel energized and grounded. I want to make even more time for them moving forward.
  4. Do Something Fun: I began a secret project. It’s something that I’ve been wanting to do for years, and I took the plunge at the end of July. It’s a physical activity that I do late at night in the privacy of a parking lot or garage, but I’ve begun taking it to the streets in the daylight lately. I’ve lost weight, and two inches off of my waist. I only regret that Fall is around the corner, putting an end to my project. It’s been challenging.

A month ago, I just logged out of Facebook and Twitter. My opinions haven’t changed, and I miss sharing them with friends, but I’d like to channel my observations into my writing more instead of wasting them on other people’s platforms where my comments are buried, flagged, deleted, ignored, etc. These are caustic times. I’m much happier now.

The end result is that I’m happier and a lot less depressed. I recommend taking control of your changing moods. Don’t let depression rob you of joy. Prioritize your life and make room for the things that will make you happy. You’ll see the difference as soon as you adjust to the new schedule. Good luck!


Coping Strategy: Think small, not big, when making changes. You want to adjust for depression before it adjusts you, and making big changes can be chaotic, terrifying, or overwhelming. Take away one activity that makes you sad, and replace it with something that nourishes your soul. Build from there.

  1. Look for numbers 6 & 8 in part two of “Depression: Ten Ways to Fight It Off”  ↩