Thursday, August 28, 2008

Wellness Activity: Badminton

I've mentioned before how important I think exercise is for healing. And while I try to walk as often as possible, I've really missed competitive sports. I've been an athlete since I was a child. I've played tennis since the age of four. And while I quit for years at a time, it's like riding a bike: you never forget how.

While I haven't felt like playing tennis, I recently decided I wanted to learn how to play badminton, and signed up for it at my local community college.

My first class was on Monday, but it was more of an introductory class. Yesterday we actually played, and it was truly wonderful. Many of the classes I've recently taken have been new to me, which is part of their allure. I had determined that at this stage in my life, it's fun to take courses in which I have no background; it's exciting to learn something that's either new or which I've always wanted to know, but somehow don't.

But badminton is another story. The skills I've got from tennis apply. Instinctively I know where to be on the court. While hitting a shuttlecock is quite different than hitting a tennis ball, it's so much fun I can't stop smiling.

A few days ago I started feeling a bit blue because of the change in the weather. And, for some reason, I didn't feel like increasing the time I spend walking. I have been slightly concerned, but since I continued to go to class, I knew it wasn't a huge problem. Still, I do know how important aerobic activity is for decreasing depression.

Well, yesterday after playing 90 minutes of badminton, I felt great. I loved being in a college gym again, I loved the fast play, and I loved the fact that I beat another student who is 40 years younger than I am.

Who knows? Maybe I'll do a study on competition as a method of beating depression!

P.S. The graphic isn't me. I need to lose a bit of weight before I'm willing to post a picture of myself wearing shorts!


jipps76 said...

Dear Susan and all,

First, allow me to apologize if I've given anyone the impression that I am not grateful for all the helpful advice given to me over the last week. I was overwhelmed with gratitude and still am.

I have given everything that has been written a lot of thought. The general comments as well as those specifically addressed to me were heartwarming. As I said last week, I was pleased to find this blog and will continue to be a reader and (hopefully) contributor.

That brings me to the primary reason why I have not responded lately. I feel a little awkward posting and asking for help since I am in no position to return the favor. Hopefully that doesn't seem too strange or even pathetic. I've always been one to unquestioningly help others, but have been bashful to ask for help. I just don't like putting people out. If it's not too much of an imposition, I would love further advice.

The last week has been an absolute roller coaster ride. This time last week I was at rock bottom. I was pretty certain it was due to over-medication, so I curtailed the meds a bit. I noticed improvment over the weekend, but have awful teh last three days. In trying to address my problems, I try to isolate variables while keeping as many constants as possible. I feel I've doen a great job at that the last week, yet it hasn't paid off. My diet has been extraoardinary. I've forced myself to get outdoors more and exercise a bit. Lots of fluids, an increased focus on sleep and have also meditated a couple of times. Still, no lasting effects given that I'm currently right back to where I was a week ago.

You're right, Susan, I've found medications to be such a slippery slope. Not only has it been difficult to find meds that work for me, but the proper dosage as well. That's why I've taken it upon myself to improve my condition naturally rather than with the help of meds since I haven't had much luck so far anyway.

As for OCD, no, I'm not being treated for that right now. My doc wants my mood to stabilize before we address anything else. I also fear doing so because I anticipate it being extremely difficult. I agree with Catatonic kid that obsessive thoughts can be used productively. However, my compulsion is one of cleanliness. The only advice I’ve ever received – both professional and otherwise – has always been to change matters slowly. One day at a time. That seems pretty horrifying to me. If I were able to forego some of my habits for one day, I think I could probably maintain that approach.

I used to think that I suffered from depression during certain times of year. The last several years, however, the fog has rarely lifted so I feel that can't be the answer. I’ve also tried mood charts, which I’ve again been doing as of late, but it’s hard to find a discernible pattern.

As all of you can tell, I’m at a loss. I’ve struggled to find answers for so long. Years later, I’m still fighting the same daily battle.

Thanks to everyone for your help and support. I'm hopeful that one day I'll either overcome my troubles or at least learn to deal with them better. If that comes to pass, I'll have many of you to thank.


Wellness Writer said...

Dear Josh,
Thanks for letting us know. I did mention that you'd responded to the first post, but I'm glad you're still on board. And thanks for the thanks.

Personally, I think it's a great strength to be able to ask for help, although I didn't always. But, years ago I realized that the only way for people to know I needed help was to ask them. So...I think this is a sign of growth that you're able to ask for help.

In terms of the medication, I kept really careful charts of that because most of my psychiatrists weren't very good at recommending dosages. I'm one of the few people who needs very little medication to have it affect my mood. And so if I took the "therapeutic dosage," it was always too much.

Also, and others can probably speak to this better than I can, it takes a long time for medications to kick in. In same cases, it takes most people two weeks to see progress (which seems forever when you're severely depressed). But I've read of people who don't feel better for six weeks. And there are people who need to combine medications to get any effect.

And that's one of the problems with starting and stopping medication. If you go off something, you might be feeling worse because it is having some sort of effect--although not as strong as you need. Also, if you don't titrate down (slowly stop), you can truly make yourself ill.

In my case, as I believe I mentioned--in the past, all the wellness activities in the world wouldn't end a depressive episode once it took hold. Only medication would make a difference.

For me, wellness activities can stave off a depression, but not end one that has already taken hold. Only medication can do that.

I strongly believe that you need a psychiatrist you trust when dealing with medication. This is the one thing they're supposed to be good at. Also, if you're wondering about the effect of any medication, you can go to the site Crazy Meds (listed in my side bar) or to Dr. Bob's site. There are threads about medications, which you might find helpful.

In terms of OCD, it wasn't clear to me that you'd discussed this with your doctor. So, I'm glad you have, and I can see why he feels you need stabilization before addressing this.

Josh, I've been reading a lot about Seasonal Affective Disorder and will write about it tomorrow.

I'm sorry I can't be more helpful. I'm not sure it helps if I say, "Hang in there. This, too, will pass." The problem with online advice is that there are so many issues we can't address.

For example, I don't know if you live in a climate where there is a huge weather change in the fall, which would make a difference. Or whether you're feeling highly stressed at work, which would also make a big difference. Or whether you're meeting with a therapist as well as a psychiatrist,which would also make a huge difference.

Perhaps my readers have advice.


Catatonic Kid said...

I hope we'll get to see some examples from your photography course?

I've been wanting to get back into competitive sports too. I very much think they help keep my mood balanced. How could releasing all that energy not help? Motivation can be an issue but you can always find something to get at least a little passionate about, I reckon. It's a matter of finding the right something 'eh. I am going skiing at the end of the year so that counts. I'm psyched for it ;) Can't wait.

Badminton is great fun. I'm a racket sports fan too. I keep meaning to get back into racquetball but somehow time gets away from me. Finding a good partner is also a little tricky though I know technically I could play by myself. That's boring though. I need to feed my competitive nature.

Wellness Writer said...

Dear Catatonic Kid,
I agree that it is about feeding our competitive nature. And, for myself, I wonder what I've done all these years with all the energy I haven't utilized playing sports. I think I would have been far healthier and far less depressed if I'd continued to play sports!


Nancie said...

Dear Susan, I too find that exercise is very helpful and healing. I try to walk whenever I can and that's about the only sport I truly enjoy :) Your badminton sounds really fun and I am glad you are enjoying it. Hope you continue to feel better with the various wellness activities you are participating in. It is really wonderful that you are taking music theory and darkroom photography as well. I love photography too. Take care and have a great weekends! Nancie