Friday, October 15, 2021

Update on "Perplexing Depression Symptom" Post

On September 4, 2019, I blogged about my depression: https://www.spotlightonstigma.com/2019/09/perplexing-depression-symptom.html

Earlier this week, I was working out IN THE POOL and happened to remember that post. I just wanted to do a quick update.

Things CAN get better. It's now almost exactly two years later and I have been consistently going to the pool on average twice a week since last July (with the one exception of a time when a major ankle injury sidelined me from even walking for over a month).

The wildest part of this is now I feel still bad if I don't go - but it's not a "I feel guilty about not going" bad but an "I miss getting to go" kind of bad. I am now up to working out in the pool for over an hour each time and there are even times I've had to stop before I wanted because of scheduling conflicts.

I will admit that it took something as bad as COVID to get me to start going in the first place. As all of us were, I was going stir crazy after being home for a few months. When the Y opened back up on a limited basis, I was ready to get out of the house.

Some of the restrictions the Y had put in place also helped, especially those where you had to make a reservation to swim and it was only available for lap swimmers and not for families/kids (except for the daycare kids as they had stayed opened to provide child care for essential workers even through the quarantine).

This helped me in several ways... I could look over the schedule for the day and see which times had the least number of people, which helps my social anxiety. No kids allow for a more peaceful time in the pool. Needing to commit to a time slot made me plan around it and get up and go when I had it scheduled. (Scheduling it myself had never worked... I needed that level of committing to the organization for this to work.)

At first, it was still difficult. The self-talk about it not helping because I'm so incredibly out of shape ran through my head a lot. It took a lot of willpower to stay in for only 30 minutes. There were several times I had a hard time making myself go and a few times I still didn't make it.

The shift in my thinking was gradual but it was amazing when I realized it. I have always enjoyed the pool but even that knowledge didn't overcome the part of depression that makes you no longer enjoy the things you love to do. 

Now, though, it's different. It's hard to explain but I guess it's a shift of thinking how I "needed to go," vs now thinking "I get to go." Instead of one of the tasks I knew I needed to accomplish for my health, it's now part of my self-care.

With this, I'm not saying I still don't struggle with depression and its effects. I'm not trying to guilt those who are still in the stage I was when I couldn't make myself get to the pool at all. In fact, just last week was very hard in this respect and it took everything I had in me to do the basic daily tasks... but this time it was a priority to get to the pool for a different reason and I still made it there.

So what I'm saying is that you should keep trying... keep fighting. You just don't know when a breakthrough will come and something that is such a struggle now will become an indescribable joy. 

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