I’m Trying to Combat My Depression by Looking Up

I’m Trying to Combat My Depression by Looking Up
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I had almost forgotten what depression felt like. I’m not talking about the run-of-the-mill lonely or sad feelings that are so common among those with chronic pain conditions like fibromyalgia. I’m talking about the “hit by a brick,” “totally unable to function” kind of depression — the kind that makes it nearly impossible to drag yourself out of bed in the morning. We may think, “Why bother?”

I credit my recent positive mood to my daily habit of walking our dog between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. — the only time of day when I have enough energy. I’m assuming the combination of exercise and exposure to vitamin D from the sun contributed to my improved mental state. Last week, for unknown reasons, my routine lost its effectiveness. Full-blown depression struck again.

I believe there are two categories of people: those who’ve suffered from true clinical depression and those who haven’t. If you’ve had it, I don’t need to describe it to you. If you’ve never had it, no amount of description is adequate. I know. I’ve tried. A true giveaway for a “never had it” is someone who asks, “What are you depressed about?” 

True depressives understand that depression is never about anything — or perhaps it’s about everything. In the midst of it, your mind doesn’t function well enough to analyze anything about it. In fact, your mind hardly functions at all.  

I usually make up excuses to explain my behavior, or lack thereof, when I’m depressed. Should I ever relent and reveal how I’m actually feeling, the “never had its” will offer suggestions, such as a) phone a friend, b) watch a movie, or c) do some exercise. Then, there’s my all-time favorite: “Read a book.”  

In my case, when depression strikes, I’m not capable of any of those things. Interacting with another person, friend or foe, can make me cry — as can watching a funny movie. Both of these situations emphasize how differently I’m feeling from the person I’m talking with or the characters I’m watching.

Exercising while depressed mainly consists of moving from room to room. When I’m dragging legs that feel like tree trunks, it’s truly all that I can do. Reading is out of the question. My mind is way too muddled to concentrate.

Many people are greatly helped by antidepressants. Over the years, the introduction of each new class of medication was exciting for me. I was certain that this one or that one would be an option for me. Sadly, I experienced the same intolerable side effects with each.  

As a result, I have long searched for alternatives to prevent or treat depression. I was hopeful when CBD became legal and available in my state. However, its side effects were actually worse than many of the prescription medications I’d tried.  

I consulted a naturopathic doctor who prescribed some supplements made from natural elements such as zinc. I was able to tolerate those just fine. Unfortunately, they had no effect on my depression. The recommended homeopathic remedies were equally unsuccessful.

During a recent discussion about depression with someone who has admittedly never had it, I learned something interesting. Someone she knew was successfully treating her depression by looking up (to either the ceiling or the sky) for 20 minutes a day.

Curious, I immediately sought results of clinical studies to either prove or disprove what sounded suspicious to me. Much to my delight, several studies had been done on the correlation between posture and depression, and they all suggested that sitting up straight and spending less time looking down could indeed help people with depression. Other studies have linked increased cell phone usage, which involves a lot of looking down, to an increase in depression. So, there definitely was logic behind this practice.

With nothing to lose, I tried it. I still don’t know if the technique is truly effective for me. At the time, my depression appeared to be lifting on its own. But whenever I tried looking up, I felt a bit lighter after the 20 minutes. Given that my experience of depression is always associated with a feeling of heaviness, I consider that a positive sign. So, the next time depression strikes, I’ll definitely try looking up.  

If you happen to give it a try, let me know how it worked in the comments below. Who knows? We may discover a valuable practice that could help others as well.

***

Note: Fibromyalgia News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Fibromyalgia News Today, or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to fibromyalgia.

Diagnosed in 1990, Christine has experienced fibromyalgia (FM) symptoms since childhood. After a career in aerospace finance she was trained as an FM support group leader by the Arthritis Foundation and participated in groups on both the east and west coasts. Designated a Leader Against Pain by the National Fibromyalgia Association (NFA) she advocated for increased funding and awareness for FM. She is the author of “More Than Tender Points: A Fibromyalgia Memoir,” available on Amazon. An Upstate New York transplant now living in Southern California, she credits the sunshine for improving her symptoms.
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Diagnosed in 1990, Christine has experienced fibromyalgia (FM) symptoms since childhood. After a career in aerospace finance she was trained as an FM support group leader by the Arthritis Foundation and participated in groups on both the east and west coasts. Designated a Leader Against Pain by the National Fibromyalgia Association (NFA) she advocated for increased funding and awareness for FM. She is the author of “More Than Tender Points: A Fibromyalgia Memoir,” available on Amazon. An Upstate New York transplant now living in Southern California, she credits the sunshine for improving her symptoms.
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4 comments

  1. kim Blinston says:

    What a great description of depression. Was comforting to know I’m not the only one who feels this way.
    Will give this a go!

  2. Diane Sparks says:

    I have had fibromyalgia since 1990, too, and I can’t even imagine how the author of this article had the wherewithal to write a book about it. I can’t even manage to keep up my home!! I will try looking up, but I do want to say that I think that my depression over chronic pain is more dysthymia vs. major depression. It just lingers on all of the time!!

    • Christine Lynch says:

      Diane:
      I’m pretty sure my depression could be categorized as dysthymia as well. It’s been with me way longer than I care to remember. I was able to write my book by sheer determination and my desire to help other sufferers avoid the pitfalls I’ve encountered – but only on my good days. The book was 5 years in the making. There are days when I just want to stay in bed and pull the covers over my head, but instead, I have a good cry (even watch a sad movie to initiate the process). After my pity party is over I usually feel slightly better – enough so that I can at least get up and function a little. I find it helps to write down all the things I accomplish in a day. You’d be surprised at the length of the list by the end of the day – nothing earth shaking, but still “stuff”. It helps me feel better about myself. I also take a daily walk in the middle of the day when the sun is the strongest and the Vitamin D most available. I’m a big fan of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and still use many of the techniques I learned from the counselors I’ve seen over the years. Thank you for taking the time to comment, and keep looking up! If it works for you, please let me know.

    • Christine Lynch says:

      Diane:
      I’m pretty sure my depression could be categorized as dysthymia as well. It’s been with me way longer than I care to remember. I was able to write my book by sheer determination and my desire to help other sufferers avoid the pitfalls I’ve encountered – but only on my good days. The book was 5 years in the making. There are days when I just want to stay in bed and pull the covers over my head, but instead, I have a good cry (even watch a sad movie to initiate the process). After my pity party is over I usually feel slightly better – enough so that I can at least get up and function a little. I find it helps to write down all the things I accomplish in a day. You’d be surprised at the length of the list by the end of the day – nothing earth shaking, but still “stuff”. It helps me feel better about myself. I also take a daily walk in the middle of the day when the sun is the strongest and the Vitamin D most available. I’m a big fan of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and continue to use many of the techniques I learned from the counselors I’ve seen over the years. Thank you for taking the time to comment, and keep looking up! If it works for you, please let me know.

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