I’ve been going through a rough patch lately, and I’m experiencing one of the worst waves of depression I’ve had in a long time.
I didn’t even realize it was depression at first because it wasn’t the “struggling to get out of bed” sadness I’m used to feeling. Instead, I was happy, bubbly and confident during work – always laughing and joking with my boss during our morning calls and being my usual sassy self in group chats. But I was struggling to focus on my work, there was this pit in my stomach that just wouldn’t go away and I was on the verge of tears anytime I felt I made a mistake.
And when 5 pm hit, feelings of sadness, worthlessness and emptiness flooded my soul. Every moment was filled with overwhelming anxiety, crushing sadness, awful breakdowns and more self-hate than I can begin to explain.
I also started having trouble sleeping at night, and I found myself getting less sleep with each passing day. It’s gotten to the point where I can effectively function on 3-4 hours of sleep a night without any coffee or caffeine – and I used to be someone who needed 8 hours.
I started to feel like a complete failure in every aspect of my life – both personally and professionally. I found myself turning to self-injury to cope with everything and that the physical pain temporarily drowned out the emotional hurt I was experiencing.
And then it hit me: This is depression.
How My Workouts Are Helping Get Me Through My Depression
I’ve been working out five times a week for the past seven weeks, so when this wave of depression hit, I was already into a routine with my workouts. In the past, I’ve always done my workouts at night, but the week before I started feeling depressed again, I switched to morning workouts so I would stop making excuses. You know, the ones that go something like, “I’m too tired” or “I have a headache” or “I really should cook dinner instead.
And I was worried that with how sad I was feeling that I wouldn’t make it out of bed in the morning to get my workouts done. That the racing thoughts and feelings of self-doubt would prevent me from pushing play and giving it all I had.
The first few days were certainly rough, and it was a struggle to get out of bed when my alarm went off at 6 am. I would tell myself, “I’ll do it later” or “I’m too anxious to workout right now.” And I found myself spending 30-45 minutes every morning debating whether I could workout.
But every day, I forced myself out of bed. Forced myself to put on my workout clothes. And forced myself to push through the workouts no matter how tough they were – both physically and mentally.I just kept telling myself, “I know you feel like shit, and I know you want to be laying in bed. I know you feel like your world is crashing down. But you can do this. If you can get through this, you can get through anything.”
I just kept telling myself, “I know you feel like shit, and I know you want to be laying in bed. I know you feel like your world is crashing down. But you can do this. If you can get through this, you can get through anything."
Every movement and rep became step away from the pain. And by the end of the first round, I’m always so focused on pushing harder or lifting heavier that I forget about how much I’m hurting. When I workout, my endorphins kick in, positive brain chemistry happens and I feel like a completely different person. I know there’s a science behind why all of this happens, but for me, it’s simple: I feel like crap, so I workout. And my depression and anxiety fade away.
Exercise isn’t a cure-all, and I do still find myself struggling a bit toward the end of the day. But when I start out my day by getting my workout in, I find that it’s much easier to tackle whatever the rest of the day throws at me – whether that’s writing a blog post, handling a client emergency or juggling what feels like a million projects and trying not to mess it all up.
When others are silent, I am loud. I'm a passionate advocate for mental health, and I believe sharing my story is the best way to break the stigma surrounding mental illness so people can get the help they deserve. My strengths are my dogs – Hendrix, Khaleesi and Benny – and my hope is tomorrow can be different.
We're not doctors, therapists, counselors or mental health professionals. We didn't study psychology in school. But wearea group of people living with mental illness, navigating recovery and learning how to take care of ourselves in the process. And because we know what it's like to do it alone, we believe you shouldn't have to.
Fight for Better Tomorrows was built on the belief that tomorrow can be different. We're here to share our stories and help you navigate recovery so you can fight for better tomorrows, too.