Oh, Just Exercise!

I’ve heard all my life that exercise is good for depression. We don’t move around as much as we used to, not like our parents or grandparents. We weren’t meant to do nothing and if you’re already wired for mental health issues, doing nothing I think, can fuel those issues.

For those who don’t understand, it’s not just about “sad”. True depression is caused by a chemical imbalance or sometimes caused by a personal incident that’s difficult to get over. It takes all the joy out of a person’s life. There’s just no joy in anything. Even eating food isn’t exciting. Can you imagine?

So imagine you have the flu and someone tells you that going for a walk would make you all better. Ha ha! Um, no. I’d rather lay in the bed sweating and shivering and vomiting now and then, thank you very much.

It’s kind of like that. Telling a depressed person to “just exercise” is easier said than done. Yes, I agree exercise turns on certain hormones and endorphins however, when you have the flu you really just don’t want to do anything.

Things like this can be very hard to explain if you’ve never experienced it. I’ve met a lot of people who’s significant other simply just doesn’t understand. It’s like the flu. For the mind.

Years ago during one of many attempts to quit smoking I was trying to explain what this addiction was like to a Never Smoker. “Try not to eat for three days,” I said. “It’s like that.” It was the best way I knew how to put it. If you don’t eat, you get sleepy, cranky, your body wants it, needs it and your mind is even telling you THAT YOU NEED THIS TO LIVE! Really, you need this chemical in your body for those around you to live because you might snap at any given moment, especially considering that GUY OVER THERE IS SMOKING AND YOU HAVE TO SMELL IT!!! WHY DOES HE GET TO SMOKE? IT’S NOT FAIR!!!

So that’s nicotine addiction.

I have comings and going with depression, even with medications, so I try to find fun ways to get about moving without it being, ugh, exercise. There were no workout videos back in olden times because everyone worked on their feet, you know. Videos are BORING.

Portia de Rossi made this comment near the end of her memoir and I scoffed at it. Oh yeah, we’ll all just marry Ellen DeGeneres and move to her ranch and play with dogs all day. Sure. But that’s kind of what I did. Ha ha! You assume too much, reader! When we got a pitbull puppy I had no idea how much activity she would involve me in. And it’s never, ever boring.

My point is, when you’re not depressed, think about things that would get you moving, or even just outside if you like being outside. Try it when you’re not depressed, see if you enjoy it. Then when the dark cloud starts to loom overhead, do that thing. See if it helps lift the fog a bit.

I understand not everyone can get a dog, but there’s SOMETHING you can do that you enjoy that gets you moving. Find a hilarious audio book and walk one or two blocks. I personally recommend “Sh*t My Dad Says”. It’s short, but laugh out loud funny and you can find on free library apps. Laughing is good for the soul even if you’re not depressed.

You’re not going to get better unless you WANT to get get better.


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