Battling the Blues (and I’m not talking music)

Lisa Jeanette

It’s that time of year, when for some of us, there are a million reasons to fall into a depression. Some people live for the holiday season, others dread it. I do a little of both, but this year was particularly tough for a variety of reasons that . . . well, if I typed it all out would make us both more depressed. I’m not here to wallow – I can do that on my own time!

As a songwriter, it is natural and even partly desirable to have lows among your highs. As a human being, when it gets debilitating, it’s unbearable. Everyone is different, but for me, I can point to certain things that inevitably cause the downward spiral. What I eat, how much exercise I get, and how much light I’m exposed to are usually main culprits. It is a circle of health that when broken, breaks me. I am weakened, and my warrior spirit with all of its super-powers is nowhere to be found. Where is that strong contender, with her heavy-duty whirlwinds of positive energy? Where is the force to be reckoned with who, when faced with adversity, Mary Tyler Moore’s that shit and turns the world on with her smile? Where is the “joy, joy, joy, joy” that was easily ejected from down in my heart right into any room I’d happen to be in? Damned if I know.

But alas, I’ve been to this blues jam many times. To be completely honest, in the past therapy and anti-depressants have helped me, so you do you and find what you need. But I’ll share with you what has helped me:

  1. Have gratitude. Get a notebook and every morning, list 100 things you are grateful for, large and small. It can be that you woke up, that you like the color green – whatever you can think of. The photo above is a snapshot of a journal page from a few years back. You can see Peggy Lee and Cheezits made my list. Use one or two words – no need for grammatically correct sentences. I’ve heard there is something to the writing of it, and that typing is not as effective, but I wouldn’t make that a deal-breaker. Gratitude is the best medicine for depression. This is probably the most effective weapon in my arsenal, since it is true that the pen is mightier than the sword.
  2. Exercise. This doesn’t have to be heroic. Just doing 10-15 minutes of yoga stretches, or lifting hand-held weights (or cans from the pantry) will lift your mood. The more consistent you are, the more it will help.
  3. Feed your spirit. For different people, that might mean prayer, mindfulness, meditation, getting out in nature, etc. Whatever it is that feeds your spirit, do it. Breathe deep, slow down, and remember that you are more than the body that holds you.

So here is the tricky part. Every bone in your ungrateful, miserable body will resist doing these simple things. Depression is not a noun in this context, it is a verb. It will actively try to keep you from feeling its polar opposite, which is hope and/or happiness. So if you are also battling depression, the best offense is a good defense. Conjure up the energy to write your 100 things you are grateful for at the very least. That will get you started on refocusing your mind on a different wave-length.

Feel free to share with me how you battle the blues – heaven knows I’m no expert, but this is what has helped me thus far. I wish you happiness this new year and always!

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