I wrote this post on Sept 9, 2011 and have kept it unpublished until now as a way of dealing with my depression at the time. Something small happened that brought me into an unshakeable funk for the next couple of days. It was strange to me because I couldn’t remember the last time I was depressed. Optimism is my middle name! Now that I think more about it, perhaps there was a correlation to the events that occurred on 911 given I lived just a couple blocks away. Depression is an incredibly weird animal that comes and goes as it pleases. It’s hard to find a cure, but there are things we can do.
I’m depressed and I don’t know how to shake the feeling. 10 hours ago, something unfortunate happened and it continues to linger in my mind. In these ten hours, I ate some lunch, hung out with a friend, took a nap, went grocery shopping, and ate some dinner. After all this time, I still feel melancholy.
Nobody close to me died. I didn’t get fired. Nobody insulted me to my face. They just do so behind my back. Instead, all that happened was I lost a critical doubles tennis match against a supremely tough opponent. We were one of three teams to lose, resulting in my entire team losing 2-3. I let my teammate down. I let my entire team down. I am a loser.
You may say it’s kind of ridiculous to be depressed after a league tennis match loss, but I can’t help it. It’s not like I can control depression when it comes. It just comes and hangs around like a dark cloud before sun rays beam it away.
If I didn’t try so hard, I don’t think I’d feel down at all. The problem is, I do take tennis seriously by watching what I eat, exercising regularly, practicing 3X a week, and even working with a personal trainer to make me stronger. When you do all that and still lose, it’s gut wrenching.
The thrill of victory and the agony of defeat is very real. Winning in sports is very much like winning in the stock market or in gambling. The highs are very addicting and the losses can be devastating.
I understand why some people just don’t bother to compete. Losing is just too painful sometimes. I understand why many people don’t want to take any risks in their careers, love lives, or dreams. Being comfortable is better than being in pain if we fail. I generally shake off the sadness of losing after a couple hours, but for some reason, this one has stuck with me for much longer than usual.
I hope that I never go through depression again, but I know it’ll come because there are things and people I care about who will eventually go away.
Where you are depressed with being alone, not being where you want to be in your career, being broke, losing a loved one, or plain just don’t know, here are some things on dealing with depression that may help.
DEALING WITH DEPRESSION
* Eating. Who doesn’t love a nice 28 day dry-aged rib-eye with a baked potato filled with the works? For those vegetarians out there, how about a delicious veggie sandwich with alpha sprouts, tomatoes, lettuce, and manchego cheese with a side of creamed corn? Eating makes me happy and therefore I love to eat. Unfortunately, eating can also make you poor and overweight if you eat too much. The funny thing when I’m depressed, I lose my appetite and end up not eating much of anything. When I’m depressed, I think about how fattening all the good stuff is, making me a little more depressed about not being able to eat!
* Shopping. Spending money to feel better about yourself provides temporary joy, but could lead to months of regret as you pay off your credit card bill. Instead, go ahead and shop for the things you want, enjoy their presence, and return the items once you feel better about yourself. Return policies are usually 2-3 weeks long, so hopefully you’ll recover from your feelings by then. I hardly ever go shopping when I’m not depressed, hence I would never go shopping when I’m depressed. Spending money on things would probably make me more depressed because I’d feel like I’m losing my hard-earned money!
* Drinking. Drinking numbs the pain, but I’ve never understood the allure of drinking while feeling depressed. It costs money, gives you a headache, dehydrates you, and makes you want to vomit sometimes. The drunken feeling only lasts for a little bit, therefore you have to keep on drinking to maintain your numb state. That doesn’t sound very healthy or much fun at all. I’ll give drinking a pass. OK, maybe one or two drinks is fine. Just don’t go overboard.
* Drugs. I’ve never taken Prozac or any other type of happy pills before, but supposedly they work. Although, I have tried other more natural substances before. I suppose the main issue is to not get hooked on drugs. The closest thing to drugs I take is the occasional Tylenol for a headache, or Advil for when my body aches after a long match. If you’ve ever taken anti-depressants, please share with us if they worked for you or not, and what the downsides are.
* Talking. Calling up a friend or loved one is always a nice thing to do. Find someone supportive who makes you laugh and suddenly all your pain seems so far away. The problem for me is that when I’m depressed, I don’t feel like talking to anybody.
* Writing. Putting your thoughts down on “paper” is a very cathartic way of dealing with your emotions. Those with personal journals and blogs are by their very nature more introspective. We tend to try and understand why things happen the way they do. I told myself after the 9th hour of feeling sad that I would write a post about how I feel. One hour and 1,400 words later, here’s my post. I’m feeling a little better because at least I’ve used my sadness to create something productive.
* Playing Music. Some of the most beautiful songs have been written by artists in their darkest moments. All those great love songs have been been inspired by someone. I love to pick up the old Martin guitar and strum some sad tunes from Mazzy Star. It gives me so much relief.
* Reflection. Everyday I tell myself how lucky I am. And because I tell myself I could have been born into poverty in the most destitute place on Earth, I try not to take anything for granted. So when I’m depressed, I get kind of angry for feeling the way I do because I know I’ve got it better than so many. The problem is, then I feel ashamed for feeling the way I do because of what I know. Living overseas for 14 years growing up gave me perspective. Perspective is what I depend on to help me snap out of my funks.
* Sleeping. Sleeping is my #1 cure for depression. It’s free, it’s easy, and doesn’t require much effort. There’s nothing better than a good cry and then a good sleep afterward. When I have my occasional allergy attack, my main medicine is not Claritin or Zyrtec, it’s sleep. I lay down on my sofa and just dose away. Sometimes I dream of beautiful places. Other times I see myself succeeding in whatever that is holding me back. More often than not, I feel rejuvenated after a good nap or overnight rest.
PUTTING THINGS IN PERSPECTIVE
What makes my depression all the more perplexing is that I realize losing a USTA league tennis match is nothing in the grand scheme of things. Children are starving and people are dying out of hate everyday for goodness sake. Stop being such a baby! Yet, does this make my depression any less real? No. Is one’s depression “better” than another’s depression? Of course not.
Everybody gets depressed about something and it’s not like we can turn it on and off like a light switch. All we can do is reflect and hope it goes away. It’s hard at the heart of the moment, but the more we understand how fortunate we are, the more we can realize how great life really is!
Readers, what do you do when you receive the occasional bout of depression? What is the longest you’ve ever felt depressed before? Please share your tips!
Note: In “Finding The Motivation To Kick Your Opponent’s Ass,” I talk about how my team the very next year ended up winning the San Francisco City Championships. It’s strange how we can go from failure to sometimes achieving great success if we stick with something long enough. Another post worth reading is, “How Playing Sports Can Help You Get A Job, A Wife, And A Life.” Just be careful. The harder you try, the more agony in defeat you will feel.
My #1 favorite song to listen to when depressed:
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