The poor sods on here who've actually read my blogs know that I am a three-note trumpet when it comes to dealing with depression:
3. Getting outside the self (through reading, socializing, helping out, volunteering)
All pretty accepted modalities.
I think any one of these, practiced consistently, will lead to the others and the across-the-board improvements they bring. I also think that most people will naturally gravitate towards one as a starting point.
For me, it's always been exercise. Whether this has anything to do with my physiotype–short, lean, muscular, agile–I don't know. But there's never been any question that when I don't move my body, I feel like shit.
Thing is, the past couple of years have found me less and less active. Lately, I hardly feel like moving at all. I just want to park-ass in my bed and never get out, and some days, that's just what I do.
This pretty much rules out path three, the path of self-expansion (well, in all but the must literal sense). It is hard to get out of yourself if you can't get out of bed.
So, that leaves path one: nutrition.
Again, any of you out there who've read my blogs probably knew this was coming. I have been banging on about "reactive foods"–sugar and gluten, in particular–for a couple of years now. It's probably quite annoying, especially since I can't quite seem to follow my own advice and stay the hell away from them. (That's the clincher: the more biochemically problematic these substances are for you, the more you tend to be addicted.)
Anyhow, I just came across a very hopeful piece by a guy who turned his life around by following his orthomolecular medical practitioner's advice to cut out sugar, high-impact starches, caffeine and alcohol.
After a while, when he had healed his body and life, he was able to re-introduce these in moderate amounts. That is probably one of the things about his story that encouraged me. (The "never, ever again" tone of other stories has kept me from taking them up whole-heartedly. I am willing to ditch dessert, but I hate the idea of getting back to Italy or Hungary or South America one day and not being able to have a glass of local wine.)
Another thing that chimed with me was that the guy is a writer, of sorts. Not the sort I books I am interested in writing, but still. Clearly getting his sugar and nutrient levels under control helped him harness his voice.
All the more impressive was that his original diagnosis was not unipolar depression (my problem), but bipolar II, which I believe to be a more slippery, less well-understood condition.
I realize that some people who read this article will take issue with it (he does offer a disclaimer up front, as well as in the comments), but I am posting the link anyway.
Earlier tonight I found myself where this guy is at the beginning of the piece: scared, hopeless, ready to give up.
That is not who I am. It is not what I want for me or the people I love. So as hard as it's going to be (negative voice: How will you not slip during the Holidays?), afraid as I am, I know what I have to do to start healing myself.
I hope Ellsberg's piece speaks to some of you, too.