The “D” Word

“She’s the happiest person I know!” That’s how a radio host introduced me before an interview.

“She’s always so happy and energetic.” That’s what a client wrote about me in a testimonial.

“She lights up the room,” I overheard one colleague say to another.

I would bet money that if you asked one hundred people to describe me, one hundred people would say something to the effect of… She’s “happy,” “full of energy,” “outgoing,” “vivacious,” “positive,” etc.

Not that I’m complaining – that’s a pretty good rep to have. And it’s evidence that I’ve achieved something important – freedom, if only for the moment.

I would like to believe that my “happy,” “positive,” “vivacious” self is real. That it’s my True Self. The Self I was created to be. But it is a Self only experienced when the Beast has been fed and releases me from its grasp.

Depression. It’s a confusing word. It’s confusing because it’s something we all feel, but we all feel it so differently.

There’s the universal life experience of “what a bummer.” Perhaps we didn’t do as well with something as we wanted or expected. We didn’t make the team – or the grade. We didn’t get the girl – or the guy. And, as a consequence, we get “depressed.” This period of the “blues” is part of life. It runs its course and we move on. It’s natural – we get it.

We also get it when Life’s big challenges cause us to become “depressed.” Perhaps we lost a job or got divorced. Maybe someone we love has passed. Oftentimes, this type of situational depression is more severe and takes us longer to move through. Sometimes professional support and/or medication is sought to endure this challenging period.

Another type of “depression” can be the result of leading an inauthentic life. Perhaps we are in a relationship or a job that does not fully support or express who we are. Perhaps we don’t even know who we are. This type of depression is the basis of the self-help and personal growth industries. The Power of Positive Thinking! Unleash the Power Within You! Change Your Mind and Change Your Life!

There are those of us – living in places like Seattle – that know of a little condition called SAD. Seasonal Affective Disorder is state of lethargy and low mood – a “depression” – that results from a lack of light (due to our weather).

There is also a type of “depression” that has nothing to do with life circumstances or the weather. It’s a chemical imbalance in someone’s brain. This type of depression is harder for us to understand. We understand “the blues,” we understand “depression” as a legitimate response to some of Life’s bigger challenges, and we can even understand how persistent grey skies can make us a little buggy. But when there’s nothing “wrong” – why would anyone be depressed??

And that’s a key point. So many of us view “depression” as a transient state resulting from Life conditions. And thus, we believe that when Life conditions change, the depression will subside. And this is sometimes true. But we use the same word, “depression” to describe a condition in and of itself. This depression is not dependent upon Life circumstances. It is not a symptom. It is a condition. It just is.

So from a Happy Calories Don’t Count perspective, we can address – and heal – the “depression” that results from battling your body, the “depression” that results from your self-loathing, and the “depression” that results from not fully expressing your authentic self.

Ceasing the behaviors that cause you to feel bad about yourself (judging every bite that goes into your mouth, staring at yourself in front of a full-length mirror and picking yourself apart, berating yourself for not exercising) will indeed help you feel better. And feeling better can help inspire you to take actions that will continue to help you feel better – even if your depression is a condition in and of itself.

And this is where it can get tricky. This state of feeling better can be just the thing that derails you because it can lead you to believe that your depression was just a result of Life circumstances after all. And as a result, you put off seeking the expert medical treatment that you need to help manage the condition.

I get it. Finding the right doctor for you and the right medication for you is expensive and exhausting. Psychiatrists mostly only deal with the medications, so they can seem cold and uncaring. Medications that used to work, suddenly don’t work anymore. Everyone is playing a guessing game because “everyone’s brain chemistry is different.” The process of trying to get help with depression is enough to cause one to become depressed!!

But it is imperative that you get help. Taking care to manage the condition of “depression,” will help you feel better enough to have clarity of thought. And with clarity of thought come exciting things.

The day I realized that my depression was never going to “get better” – that I was going to have to just “live with it” – was a very liberating day. Just like my body, I started to view my depression in terms of being in relationship with it. And that, I could do! I could learn how to listen to it and to communicate with it and how to work with it. I could feel when it was time to let it wash over me, when it was time to push through it, and when it was time to write about it.

Like I said, depression is a confusing word. It can mean a lot of things. Sometimes it even means living with a “Beast.” Yet, despite the Beast, the principles of the Happy Calories Don’t Count methodology continue to help me create a body I love and a life I want to live.