Gwnewch y pethau bychain

So I Turned Myself To Face Me

Sometimes, you realise something about yourself so fundamentally obvious in hindsight that you’re not sure how it took you so long for it to occur to you.

I’ve been struggling a bit with my depression in recent weeks. Given the amount of slow-motion change in my life right now, that’s hardly surprising, but today, while thinking about a comment thread yesterday in osewalrus‘s Facebook page, something clicked in my brain that clarified to me why I’ve felt so unsettled.

I have two strong behavioural methods for temporarily punching up my mood: eating and buying things.

Neither of which I can really do right now.

I’m trying hard to get back on my fitness plan, which means I have a careful budget with regards to what and how much I can eat in a given day.

I’m saving up money to move across country in 3 months and need to be prepared to weather out a period of unemployment, so I can’t really shop for much of anything I don’t actually require.

It could be argued that neither of this are strictly healthy ways of dealing with stress and depression, but I’ve been me for a long time, and I know they both work, at least in the short term. And right now, for a variety for reasons, I’m denied their outlet.

Not sure what to do with this information presently, but there you have it.

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33 Comments

  1. I used World of Warcraft similarly, and while some other games have managed to give me that level of immersion, none so completely or for as long.

  2. Hey, at least you’re healthy enough that you don’t just go do those things anyway and sabotage yourself?

  3. I’m saving up money to move across country

    Maybe you could convince yourself that you’re in the process of buying a new city! 🙂

    • Now, there’s a notion…

    • Ooh, I like this idea, it makes the effort visible/tangible. Consider what different amounts of money might buy you, and then you could create some kind of IOUs or promissory notes for yourself as you save and/or don’t spend. “$5 = good latte at ubiquitous coffeeshop”, “$40 = shopping at local grocery”, “$300 = one week of renting”, etc.

      • I do sometimes make that sort of conversion. Often in terms of “Well, I could buy that, but for the same money I could buy a plane ticket.” 🙂

        • Yep! When I was first working, I often calculated my “salary” in terms of [music] CD units. [Or sometimes book units, but there is much more variability in book format/pricing.] This is why I have too many, I mean, not enough CDs. 🙂

  4. You always suggest such amazing music on tadpoolery. Could blasting some really great music be a feast for your ears?

    • Music is often a good pick-me-up, whether coming out of my speakers or my guitar.

      The last couple of days I’ve been mainlining “Freaks & Geeks”, which recently showed up on Netflix streaming (hence the music in my tag above *grin*).

  5. How much overlap is there between food that’s good for your mood and food that fits your fitness plan—something like a favorite kind of fruit or flavored coffee, for example.

    • Well, the good thing about my diet plan is that nothing’s forbidden to me. It’s an attempt to control quantity.

      I think, though, it’s the indulgence which perks the mood, and indulgence requires excess.

      (This isn’t aided by the fact that I’m a contrary enough person to react to being forbidden something by wanting it more intensely.)

      • It’s not just being contrary -- having to not do X puts X in one’s mind. That’s why “not thinking of an elephant” is almost impossible.

        I figure that if a person learns to concentrate on *something*, they might avoid thinking of an elephant, but only if their only concern is what their concentration is on. Trying to think of chess puzzles so you don’t think of a -- DAMMIT! -- probably won’t work.

        But concentrated distraction for its own sake might help.

  6. are there any kinds of exercise that perk up your mood?
    (birds, meet stone)

    • I’ve been getting out for long walks every day for most of the last few weeks. I’m not actually a fan of exercise for the sake of exercise, and my job is (by necessity) very sedentary, so making that effort helps.

      I don’t want it to sound like the above two behaviours are the ONLY things that perk up my mood. There are others, but those two are consistent and things I’m currently denying myself as an outlet.

      • yay long walks.

      • suggestion regarding walking

        Not knowing if you do it or not, let me suggest you take music with you when you walk. When I walk, I have an iPod Shuffle with 13 songs on it, and what I do is walk around the other building in my complex and walk to a set number of songs at a somewhat brisk pace. Four songs is about 10-13 minutes. Six songs can be anywhere from 15 to 25 minutes.

        • Re: suggestion regarding walking

          I usually listen to podcasts or audiobooks while I walk. This morning my walk lasted around an hour, and I walked about 4 miles, which is a pretty good pace. Got through the latest episodes of Savage Love and Skeptoid, and a short piece from Fresh Air about Big Joe Turner.

  7. *hugs* Been there. Am there.

  8. Exercise is another really good one. Science thinks so too.

    Perhaps there is another form of cardio that incorporates some of your other *cough* pleasing pursuits 😉

    *Hugs and More Hugs*, my friend.

  9. As one who’s dropped

    over 60 pounds and kept it off, using a modified version of the WW plan has helped. I’m eating healthier than I had been before, and I’ve kept some of my comfort foods, although portion control is important.

    • Re: As one who’s dropped

      Yeah, I lost 80 pounds, and then managed to find 30 of it when I stopped doing what was working for me. So I’m back to doing that, and it’s falling aside again.

      That’s slightly beside the point, though. I was mostly contemplating how that particular pursuit deprives me of a relief valve on another sector of my health.

  10. *hugs* Always around if you need an ear.

  11. As stated elsewhere, I’m too cheap to go and buy much, but I do tend to snack, read, and watch TV when my mood cycle bottoms out (I’ve gotten a bit heavy for its suspension of disbelief, I guess). Sometimes it helps to cast the exercise as “something I’m doing for myself,” an indulgence of sorts, but that doesn’t work (for me) at Bottom Dead Center any more than music practice.

    It inhales vigorously that your normal outlets aren’t available, but if it’s more the getting than the having, there are always thrift shops & library sales. PaperbackSwap.com works for getting books, and can also help cull your library, 1:1. Easy come, easy go--you can re-donate rather than haul it with you.

    All I can do about the food cravings is hope to offer you something good at the Yule Filk--not so satisfying Right Now.

    If you want to mix singing & exercising, I’ll be happy to meet up and do some jodies with you. I like using The Combat Engineer Song, myself:

    CHORUS:
    We are, we are, we are, we are, we are the Engineers
    We can, we can, we can, we can Demolish 40 beers
    Drink up, drink up, drink up, drink up, and come along with us
    For we don’t give a dam for any Old Man
    Who don’t give a dam for us.”

    (This is a bragging song, which pre-dates PC. The active Army no longer uses it.)

    Hang in, bubba--as the mess cook said, this too shall pass.

    Hugs from myself and the Professora!

    • As I said in another comment, I think the problem is that thrifty ways of shopping (or eating) lack the necessary excess to make it really work. I never claimed this was a *healthy* coping mechanism. 🙂

      Also, having just hauled 50+ boxes of books into storage, the last thing I need right now is more books. 🙂

      re: The Combat Engineer Song -- I’ve heard much worse. 🙂

      I’ll get by. It’s not like those are my ONLY coping mechanisms. I was just reflecting on the blindingly-obvious-in-hindsight realisation that they were two reliable ones that I was, for various reasons, assiduously denying myself.

      Hugs are *always* welcome.

      • Point. I was somewhat assuming that the challenge of finding something decent in a thrift shop would offset some of the thrill of excess--but didn’t even mention it.

        Mostly the Engineer Song glorifies drinking to excess, because we’re that tough, see? Infantry? Air Force? Navy? WIMPS!!

        Perhaps not coincidentally, no mention is made of Marines, Klingon or otherwise. 🙂

  12. Yep. Sounds like me as well — food therapy and retail therapy.

    • Yeah, they’re not uncommon. I just hadn’t realised how cutting myself off from both of them was constraining me in quite the manner it is. 🙂

  13. There’s actually been a really good study done on retail therapy in the past couple of years that concluded that it’s a real thing that makes people happier, and that making lots of small purchases makes you much happier than saving up for a large purchase. I read the study when I was in much the same position as you; I was saving up for a major purchase and wasn’t allowing myself to spend any money. Unfortunately, there was a necessity, as in your case, and I didn’t come up with a great alternate. I just stuck it out until after that, and then went back to buying lots of little things.

    For you, is it the selecting and purchasing that makes you happy, or the having? Like, would having new things to play with be enough? (For me it’s the former, so getting stuff from other people isn’t the same.)

    It sounds like you’ve gotten lots of suggestions above and that there are some other things that help. I hope that recognizing the situation and shunting more power to the other things you can do in the meantime helps!

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