The downside to Happy Chemicals
My depression sets in like clock work. It's predictable, it's not unique, and it's certainly not the most powerful force I've had to grapple with. Depression is simply a reminder that we need to build strength internally, as well as externally. When depression grips my mind, it creates isolation with a tidal wave of negative comparisons, yet it also holds the power to connect people intimately when they are brave enough to let light shine into their darkest corners; risking rejection or the terrifying confirmation that "you are as alone as you think you are."
I spent years dwelling in depression. Not realizing that I was feeding the beast that I was trying to starve. If our mind is like a muscle, I flexed that depression until it became the strongest muscle in my body. Despite years of retraining my brain and learning what depression is, where it comes from, and how to let go of it, I still have episodes of struggle. When I am tired or bored, when I overeat, or when I convince myself I am better off alone rather than connecting and playing with others, I begin to fall into the depths I once called home.
This pattern is predictable, and at times it seems like I could be the narrating voice for the sequence of events that will inevitably lead me to that dark feeling. Yet, I continue to make choices that isolate me and perpetuate the problem that has begun.
This latest episode sparked in a predictable way as well. I have been excited and full of energy leading up to my birthday. Andrew and I had an amazing time in Portland for the weekend, exploring, playing, trying new things, and ultimately truly enjoying each other's company. Happy Chemicals were at an all time high. Naturally, after the build up to an exciting event, there is the downturn as your body comes back to equilibrium and begins its search for danger. Happy Chemicals are short lived, and our Cortisol quickly grabs our attention while on the lookout for potential threats to survival. Despite knowing that it will take a couple of days to acclimatize back at home, I allowed myself to feel sorry for myself when the vibrancy of the Happy Chemicals wore off.
What I have realized is that slowing down, lounging, and resting my body is definitely something that I need to honor and allow in my life. But there is a more intentional and nourishing way to do that than laying on the couch and watching the latest Netflix Original. I have a tendency to eat excessive amounts of food when I'm lounging around, which spirals me into a darker place because of my history with eating disorders. Had I chosen to give myself a full 48 hours of recovery by reading in my hammock, taking a long and luxurious bath, go to a yin yoga class, spend time writing letters and making phone calls to people I love, and practice Mindful Eating as I ingested only the best nutrients and delicious snacks that my body needs, I know I would not be feeling like I need to climb out of this rut right now.
I find it so fascinating that I can know what I need and what will make me feel better, yet I actively choose the choice that feels good now and is guaranteed to make me feel shitty later. Our mind's are such fascinating things. I know why my 'instant-gratification' impulse wins over my pragmatic and long-term happiness muscle, especially when I am already feeling lethargic. I know that it is in those pivotal choice moments that I need to show my true strength and decide to take the road of self-love, compassion, and connection.
Awareness is always the first step. I'm aware. I'm tired of getting into ruts. But I am also human, imperfect, and grateful for my curious and adaptable brain.
Depression is not something to be ashamed of, and it looks different day to day, person to person. Let's continue to shine light on these shadows within ourselves, and allow deeper connections to happen as we see we share the same light and we float in the same darkness. We are stronger together. xoxox