Monday, October 5, 2009

Staving Off a Depression (Part 3)

For me, the final step in staving off a depression is to be aware of how I'm feeling, to be conscious of what triggers a depression, and to pay attention to what reduces the symptoms.

Late Saturday afternoon, I met with my digital photography class to photograph Sunset Boulevard. We not only concentrated on photography, but we walked for more than a mile. I had a really fun evening. But what I realized the next morning was that it was the first time in two weeks where upon awakening, I didn't need to take an Adderall.

For me, the question was "Why?" I only could figure out two possibilities. The first was that a long walk at night staved off the depression. The second was that four hours of photography--which means concentrating on a right brain activity--made all the difference.

I won't truly be able to tell if there's any lasting value to all this until this morning when I awaken (I post before I go to sleep each night) and see if I need another Adderall.

Whether I feel better or not, the questions are: Will it be possible for me to spend more time doing photography every day? And the answer to that is "yes." The second question is whether an extended walk at night might reduce depressive symptoms. And, if it does, is it realistic to assume that I will be able to do that.

Actually, I do walk twice a day with Jack. And we probably walk for about 1/4 of a mile each time. For years, I walked around the park near my house, which is a 3.2 mile walk from door to door, but that didn't stop my depressions.

Figuring out whether night time walks work in reducing my depressions, and whether art helps will take some time. But, this is a part of my process. I believe that part of the battle is just noticing the things that make us feel better. Another part of the battle is pursuing those activities that seem to work. And the rest is keeping a mood chart as a record.

What do you do to reduce your depressive symptoms?


Wendy Love said...

For me, time alone is the best medicine of all. Time without people is what I need. A good walk, which I do most days for about 40 minutes, is more like a staple to keep me in a decent state of mind, but it won't help me get there if I am down. This is different for everyone, and it is so important that each of us find out what works for us. You have raised a good question.

Wellness Writer said...

Dear Wendy,
Thanks for sharing what works for you. I need a fair share of alone time myself, but given my life, this is easy to achieve. I know it's much more difficult for others.

Still, I don't what I'd do if I didn't have hours to myself to think, relax, and write.


Tamara (TC) Staples said...

Time alone is very important for me, also. I find on days that I don't write, I don't feel as "up." So, those two things help me stay in a good mood. Once I'm not doing so well, almost without fail, cooking will pick up. I can spend two or three hours in the kitchen and feel better 99% of the time.

That said, tonight I am tired and in a very rare mood to go out to eat. ;-)

Wellness Writer said...

Dear Tamara,
Interesting, isn't it? For you, it sounds like you enjoy writing when you're well, and cooking when you're not. These days, it's writing when I'm well, and gardening when I'm not.

But, I love eating out all the time:)


Writing Works said...

I do enjoy my alone time, but I seem to be getting so much of that lately that it's the people time that helps me stay positive. Going for a walk alone is okay; going for a walk with a friend/s is fantastic. It's the fellowship and companionship that helps me feel well - assuming the conversation is a positive one!!

When I am really down and can't focus on anything due to stress or otherwise, writing about it definitely works for me.

And, just another thought - I think that doing more photography and going for a long walk EVERY day would soon prove to lose it's effectiveness. I still say it's about balance.

Wellness Writer said...

Dear Writing Works,
Thanks for weighing in on this. I think that perhaps our need for being alone varies dependent upon how much or little time we're alone.

While I need alone time every day--the amount varies dependent upon how much I'm interacting with people.

Yes, everything is about balance, but research confirms that exercise to reduce depression needs to be done on a daily basis.


Writing Works said...

I didn't mean not exercising every day, I guess I should have clarified myself better.

I think that if we can do different kinds of exercises daily, then it would benefit us - variety is the spice of life! :)

And, I agree with the amount of time we spend with people thing... totally!!

Wellness Writer said...

Dear Writing Works,
Thanks for following up on this!


Danielle said...

Grab my camera and go!!! or work with my photos in creating a photo portfolio complete with personal essays.

Wellness Writer said...

Funny you should mention this. Actually, I'm off to the nursery today to pick plants for my home garden. But, I just made an appointment tomorrow to visit a private garden at UCLA, where I plan on taking photographs.


marja said...

Staving off depression? To me it's reducing my stress level and just generally balancing my life out. I have to decide from hour to hour what would be good for me at the time.

Though I always do try to take time with friends and my husband...and time alone. I do try to excercise...and read or do sudoku puzzles. I do try to be creative...until I become tired and need to do something easier or simpler. I do try to write - email, my blog, or journaling...and sometimes I talk on the phone. I need to have opportunities to express my thoughts.

And sometime, as for you, Susan, blogging is just too taxing.

Love you and pray you will feel better soon - I KNOW you will get better soon. Please believe that.


Wellness Writer said...

Dear Marja,
Thanks so much for sharing what you do. I always think it's really helpful to know how others cope.

Actually, I'm doing much better. It wasn't a "terrible" depression. I just had very little energy, and felt low.

Over time I have learned it's far easier for me to write about depression when I'm personally not depressed.

But...the good news is that I figured out a few of the contributing stressors and dealt with them, I stayed offline (for the most part), spent a lot of time gardening and walking Jack, and doing artistic projects.

I'm feeling much better, and will resume blogging on Monday. Thanks so much for your support!