2019, November 28

Mental Wellness Challenge – 2019-11-28

Let’s recap from last week.  Last week I challenged you to:

  1. Have a look for some information about men’s health. Maybe learn two or three things.
  2. Share those three things with at least one man in your life.
  3. Tell a person in your life that A) They are an important part of your life – and that your life would not be the same without them in it. B) That you sincerely love them.

I really hope that you were able to succeed at the challenge.  I know that the last two challenges seem to have “struck a chord” with folks as I had lots and lots of comments and feedback – and I appreciate that very much!

This week I’d like to share a little more about my experiences with depression.  There are so many different facets of my depression it’s almost like they are different…. disorders… even though “it” all fits under the same general category.

This week I’d like to share about the part of my depression that simply doesn’t go away and likely isn’t to go away… ever.  This persistent piece doesn’t feel as deep and doesn’t feel as “racking” as a major depression feels.  Persistent Depressive Disorder is actually defined in DSM5 as a separate disorder from Major Depressive Disorder… but for me – the distinction is depth, length and how disruptive the one is when compared to the other…

I take note that it’s there – hanging around – kinda like the “Peanuts” character PIGPEN – but certainly different as Pigpen is described as “PIG-PEN – An inspiring freethinker, a laid-back nonconformist who’s not afraid to walk his own path.  Unbelievably comfortable in his own skin (and clothes) and who has a deep and profound appreciation for history and its dirt – some of which may be hovering around him now. Unknown” and I don’t really identify with that description… but the cloud is certainly there.  In fact – the cloud is almost an antithesis of the PIGPEN character… I am not very laid back at all, and comfort in my own skin is something that I don’t have… Hmmm.

Anyway – the idea is there – the “cloud” follows me around most of the time.  There are certainly times when I notice it more and there are times when I notice it less and even the odd time where I don’t notice it at all – but those times are an exception.

Maybe a way I can explain it would be like the effect of those extra few pounds that most of us have packed around from time to time.  I “think” that the extra weight that I pack around is a whole lot like this persistent depression.  If I’m not working at my life much, I don’t notice the extra pounds… I do notice the extra pounds when I have some physical work to do or when I am trying to keep up with someone else on a walk… the extra weight loads me down and is noticeably burdensome.  This analogy works pretty well… the depressive disorder has genetic characteristics and so does a tendency to packing around extra weight… the depressive disorder has an impact on myself confidence and so does being fat.  (This piece is a puzzle for me… one personal understanding that I have grown – erroneously or not – is that I tend to put on pounds more – when I am experiencing a deeper level of depression.  Almost like a layer of protection for the “inner me”.)  Losing weight and recovering from this persistent depression seem to be associated somehow.

I do know that I the more depressed I am, the more difficult it is for me to actually get off my butt and exercise… even though I recognize the physical and emotional benefits of doing so.

The analogy does fall apart at the point where I examine it for an end point.  I’ve been on diets and exercise regimens and I have lost MEGA weight… doing that didn’t take away my depression… it DID make me feel better about myself physically and I even looked better in the mirror, but I still carried that dusty cloud around with me and I still had the same issues with my mirror talk exercise that I always seem to have.

Like those extra pounds that I pack around, this depression isn’t debilitating.  I can still do the tasks that I need to do.  I go to work, I participate in my family activities, I go for walks and I might even play a little… that said, this persistent depression is there and like doing the extra pounds all the time – it just makes “doing” life “harder??” than it needs to be.

I do work on my mental health regimen – in ways that are very similar to an exercise regimen.  I get my “brain”, my “mental health”, onto the “tread mill” to get a workout.  I try to read stuff that supports my mental health goals, I “think” about ways that I can be more mentally healthy and I do what I can to make my “mental neighborhood” a more welcoming place to be…

I even try to clean up some of “pigpen” that is my mental health… While PIGPEN had a profound appreciation for history… there’s lots of my history that I would honestly be better off  – well forgetting… but can’t… so, I clear it away, clean it up as best I can and do my best to focus on more current events…  and I suppose – like PIGPEN – still have to deal with the “stuff” that my history brings to my life.

Looking at this facet of my depression in the context of a weight loss routine –  I have a fitness coach (counselor) that I touch base with every month or so and I have “work out buddies” (folks I check in with) that I meet at the gym.  I’m still heavy… I’m still working on my mental health … I’m a work in progress.

So – I hope that gives you a little idea of what my more – persistent depressive disorder – looks like to me…  PDD is actually defined in DSM5 as a separate disorder from depression…

My challenge for the week.

  1. Perform one random act of kindness each day for the next 7 days.
  2. Take some time to be kind to yourself. Spoil yourself a little.
  3. Phone a friend or family member that you haven’t spoken with in a while.

That’s it, I challenge you.