A few nights ago, I found myself wide awake at 9 PM while my boyfriend began to fall asleep tucked under a blanket. I looked at him, thinking of how comfortable he looked, and yet instead of curling up next to him and allowing sleep to take me over as I usually do, I found myself feeling antsy.
First, I thought it was just because I wanted to wash my face. I am supposed to have a nighttime skin regiment – after all, I have half a dozen products I get from work, all of which are supposed to help my skin become less discolored and acne-riddled – but I rarely do it, opting to going to sleep whenever that uninvited friend called depression comes knocking each night.
But, finding that my usual nightly visitor was late, I got up, and washed my face, taking my time to apply the serums and creams and other such products that I normally wouldn’t care a bit about.
I crawled back onto the bed. Strangely, I had no desire to curl up next to my now happily dozing boyfriend – he had on a sweater that I knew would feel nice against my face, and a part of my brain was whispering that I should cuddle with him.
Yet, I was full of energy. So I didn’t something I hadn’t done in well over a year.
I got up, grabbed Jasper (my laptop), sat back down on the bed, and opened a document I had been meaning to edit.
And for forty minutes, I reread my work, giggled, sighed, and inspiration struck me.
This may not be a big deal for a lot of people, but for me, being able to work on my writing has always been a sign that I am well. If I can focus and get lost in words, I know that my depression is gone (at least for a while).
And quite frankly, I’ve been sleeping my life away.
I speak to my therapist about this often – I come home from work, and usually I fall asleep before doing much in the way of production. And yet, that night, I cleaned, did my dishes, took out the trash, cooked a meal for two complete with candlelight lighting, played with my pets, and still had energy and desire to keep on going.
I’m not sure what is causing this sudden surge of inspiration, but as of late, more of my time is spent working on the things I love than on sleeping. Each day, I’m sleeping a little less, snoozing my alarm one less time or waking before it even goes up or I need to be anywhere.
Part of me wonders if it really is my dietary changes – I see an integrative medicine doctor as my primary, and last May he took an elaborate blood test for me which told him all kinds of levels in my bloodstream.
When he saw me recently (several months after he’d been sitting on some results) he expressed surprise – I’d lost twenty pounds since I was last in. When he started going over my results and asking me about my habits, he said I was already doing a lot of the things he believes will help not only my blood levels, but also my mood – after all, depression is medical.
Medically, I am depressed. It’s not “all in my head” or just me “being sad.” It’s a combination of chemicals and hormones firing off and making the simplest things seem impossible.
While the things I eat and the things I do throughout the day can never get rid of my depression, they can give my depression strength just by the vice of being high in sugar (allowing frequent crashes) or not getting enough sun.
So, the things I’ve been doing?
I’ve been walking more. When it’s not too hot and I’m not too much in a rush, I’ve begun walking again like I used to – everywhere, just because I enjoy walking. I make sure to keep my phone put away, and often don’t keep my iPod on, because walking is unwinding for me – I let my body take in the sensations around me, instead of blocking them all out. I noticed the dogs walking past, the happy couples, the laughing children, or even the grump hustling past like they have somewhere to be. Starting to walk more wasn’t easy – it’s so much easier to take the bus, or to just not go anywhere. But I made myself do it once, and then again, and then it was habit again to opt for walking instead of riding.
I’ve changed my diet. I’m a huge foodie, alright? I love carbs, cheese, meats, and booze. I will spend money eating out with friends before buying myself something new. But, in an effort to lose weight, I’ve but back a lot. The Asian half of me hated to do it, but I opted to buy brown rice instead of white. When I eat dinner, I give myself small servings of food, and wait thirty minutes before I go back for seconds, because by then I’m not even hungry anymore. I still eat sweets, but sparingly – taking just a few bites of a slice instead of devouring the whole thing. I order diet instead of regular pop, even though my friends have teased me that I’m “boring” now since I don’t order drinks at dinner anymore. I make sure most of my carnivorous tendencies center around salmon and chicken, avoiding red meat (the meat of legends) except for on special occasion. I make sure to eat fruit for snacks instead of chips, and buy things like “reduced fat” Cheez-its and oreo thins to snack on.
I’ve gotten rid of things I don’t use. I de-clutter, arrange things so that they’re usable instead of stylized around my apartment. Who cared if my shoes are on a shelf, if it means I can pick them and put them back more quickly than if they were in my closet? I can leave my mop in my bathtub because it’s out of the way keeps it from getting grimey, and also ensures I wash my mop.
Making changes, no matter how small they seem, eventually add up – I’ve been doing all of this since May, and it’s only recently, five months later, that I’m finally seeing the effects its having on my life.
So, here’s a tidbit for anyone in the funk – make the changes, and stick to them. You won’t see immediate results in your life, but eventually, when your body realizes this isn’t just a trick and you’re treating it better, it will find the strength to fight your depression for you.