Just a Little Depressed (and what I’m doing about it)

4 Posted by - May 9, 2013 - Life

One of the sneaky things about depression (and this is mild depression, maybe it’s post-partum, I’m not sure) is that it doesn’t hit you like you think it will. Or at least for me. I’m totally functional. I’m kicking ass even. Yet, there’s these little things, signs that a lifetime of battling what my friend Alison Gresik wisely calls walking depression that show up and while it might take me a while, eventually I think, “uh oh”.

Okay let’s just say it: I’m a little depressed.

I realized it this week because I had a call with my editor and agent and thought, “oh god, I suck”. That’s called negative self-talk and it’s insane. Here are two people who are heavily invested in me, and yet I’m self-shaming and worrying about everything that comes out of my mouth. Why? Because depression is sneaky. It seems like it should be about laying around in bed and not taking showers, but sometimes it’s about just hating on yourself for no reason.

Another clue? I have been fantasizing about staying at a hotel. Alone. Big bed, crisp white sheets, and perfect silence. Okay I admit this may just be a new-to-being-a-mom-of-two-kids thing. I’m also really tired. And sad. And unhappy. But just a little. It’s weird. I used to live like this — I spent a decade under the mildly-depressed cloud (I called it overworked at the time) but now I can’t get away with that. I have two kids. I was sitting on the bed with them and Drew and I was just DONE. I said to Drew, “Everyone wants my attention and they want me to be happy all the time!

Drew, wisely, just nodded. But that’s the thing. When you’re a mom, you’re the center of the family. If you’re unhappy, even a little, it unbalances everything. Your kids look to you for guidance on how to feel — and it’s not okay to self-medicate with alcohol or food like I would in my twenties — I have to own it, and fix it.

A lot of stuff is going on with my body that could be contributing. I had a baby two months ago! I also lost 20 pounds in the first weeks after Stella was born. I also gained 20 pounds the month after that, wee, look at me, amazing, I know, tip your waitress, I’m here all week. I’m breastfeeding. I am recovering from major surgery (aka c-section). Yet, still, the creeping little feeling around the edges, like I’m over-touched, like I want to hide, like I’m not happy with myself — it’s telling me something.

So I have to get back on the program. It’s been a long time, but it works. Here’s what it includes:

1. Admitting that no, not everyone hates you, and yes, the reason you have to admit that is because you’re suffering from mild depression.

2. Be out. Depression is sneaky but talking about it blows away the demons faster than anything.

3. Drink water. 8 glasses a day, plus more if you’re breastfeeding like me.

4. Eat well. I’m not going on a diet, but I did go to the store any fill up my cart with tons of fruits and veggies. I tried to pick a variety and stuff I thought I’d really eat.

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I got: watermelon, pineapple, strawberries, blueberries, red and orange bell peppers, green habaneros, zucchinis, apples, bananas, romain lettuce, white onions, sweet red onions, limes, plums, mangos, cantaloupe, green onions, tomatoes, jicama and so on…

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Then Cole jumped up on the counter and dug out the strawberries.

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Because, yum, strawberries!

5. Do a fun exercise routine. I’m going to start doing P90X with Cole because when Drew did it, Cole loved doing the workout with him. I figure it’s good for both of us.

6. Get sunshine. You know I haven’t been leaving the house as much lately (another sign) so I’m redoubling my efforts to get out everyday and go to the beach, since it’s RIGHT THERE.

7. Dance. You can not be sad while dancing.

8. Listen to upbeat music. Please send me recommendations, my iTunes looks like a Goa Beach Party at this point, I need some variety to my upbeat music!

9. Cut down on sugar, fat and carbs. I don’t have proof but I think those things give you a short term lift with a long term crash.

10. Do something for myself everyday. Right now that means a little teeny tiny break from the kids and work and everything else. Maybe I’ll just watch Rick Bayless on PBS talking about Mexico & Food. (Two of my favorite things).

11. Ask for help. For me that meant asking Drew to speak in Spanish with me everyday, because it was weighing on me that we hadn’t made as much progress in Spanish since moving here — understandable with everything that’s going on, but it would be amazing to take that guilt away. So starting this week we’re switching to a 100% Spanish-speaking family, something that really lifts a weight off my shoulders.

12. Spend uncluttered time with your kids. Because they make me smile. And it’s only the distractions that get in the way.

13. Write. I bought myself a new notebook and three new pens.

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14. Read Vogue: Mexico. Okay this isn’t an official thing, but I did wonder if the cute wedge sandals I was seeing everyone wearing were on-trend.

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Turns out they are.

15. Working on this, but: get husband to buy you new strappy wedge sandals by writing about it in a blog post.

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  • Melissa

    I just have to say that it sounds like you are doing a GREAT job! Kudos for recognizing that you have an issue that needs attention. Kudos again for coming up with a plan and for following through with it. And kudos for sharing your story – that took some cojones. Good job Momma!!!!

    • http://almostfearless.com Christine Gilbert

      Thank you!

  • http://www.zoeamy.com zoe

    This all sounds familiar :/

    But please please, for the love of enjoyment, don’t cut sugar, and fat, and carbs at the same time because life probably won’t be worth living.

    Definitely cut the sugar and processed carbs, but fat… man fat is awesome.

    The primal movement has a whole lot more to say on that.

    • GrantJack

      Amen to fat. Paleo really changed my mood in a real way. And thank you for posting about this, Christine. I am bookmarking and I will be back to check on you!

      • http://almostfearless.com Christine Gilbert

        Thanks you guys! I won’t be cutting anything out completely, just cutting down.

  • Morgan

    Upbeat music:
    Jason Mraz (particularly the songs Roadside Prophet and I Won’t Worry)
    Jem (particularly Down to Earth)
    Owl City (especially Fireflies and Shooting Star)
    311 – Amber (is the color of your energy)
    Hurts – Wonderful Life and Illuminated
    Train – Drops of Jupiter
    Sister Hazel – Change Your Mind
    Ellie Goulding – Starry Eyed

    I have a playlist I keep on YouTube of some of my favorites for when I’m really feeling like I’m dragging myself down, the first song (Wonderful Life by Hurts) has a slightly intense/dark-ish theme but with an incredibly positive message, rocking melody and catchy lyrics. From there the music gets lighter and increasingly upbeat while maintaining positive messages. The idea is start a little low (but still positive) to sync with the mood and then change it from there.

    I tried to select videos with the lyrics when possible so singing along is highly encouraged, along with consuming fruit smoothies, sushi and dark chocolate:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1TB1x67Do5U&list=PLp4fxspBqPWSVHA1XX4eZpmEbdxnUE1K6

    Hope you get to feeling better. : )

    - Morgan.K.W

    • http://almostfearless.com Christine Gilbert

      Yes, thank you, just looking over this, it sounds like we have similar tastes — will have to load up iTunes for this weekend.

  • http://www.patriciasands.wordpress.com Patricia Sands

    Christine: first, enormous props for being so in touch with yourself and for being so candid.
    Here’s what my doc suggested to me when I was feeling in a similar state (i.e. everything great but I felt down) – 2000 mg Vitamin D (I was in Florida but indoors writing and sunshine wasn’t quite reaching me), Omega 3 and Rhodiola (herbal). I had never heard of the latter but it’s quite something. Look it up. It’s all helped enormously so I hope it’s of some help to you. Get your doc to check your Vitamin D levels because many of us are unaware we are low on it.
    And yes, you are so right … music, dance, “uncluttered” time with Drew and kids, and alone time for you.
    You do so much to lift everyone up with your writing on a regular basis, we want you to get back up there too!

    • http://almostfearless.com Christine Gilbert

      That’s a great idea, I am still on a prenatal vitamin but I’ll look at upping the Vitamin D and adding those two others.

  • Roy4ComCam

    Morgan is spot on about the music. It should be an incremental shifting of the mood of the piece. Imagine if you’re angry and someone starts playing Cindy Lauper’s Girls Just Wanna Have Fun? Well that’s just annoying. Something by Metallica might FEEL better.

    Like Morgan’s YouTube playlist I made a CD years ago to play whenever I needed to slowly lift my spirits this way.

    My CD works in such a way that you put the CD in, it’s starts from the lowest emotion and works it’s way up. That’s why the numbers are in reverse order but the CD starts with depression like the track numbers listed. Figure out where you are and go from there. Remember, read this list from the bottom and work your way up. The corresponding emotion is also listed. These are just examples. Find music that works for your specific mood because its all relative. (Credit: Idea inspired by Ask And It Is Given by Jerry & Esther Hicks)

    19. Feelin’ Good (Michael Buble’) Joy/Appreciation/Empowered/Freedom/Love
    18. Affair of the Heart (Rick Springfield) Passion
    17. Girls Just Wanna Have Fun (Cindy Lauper) Enthusiasm/Eagerness/Happiness
    16. High on You (Survivor) Positive Expectation/Belief
    15. Make a Memory (Bon Jovi) Optimism
    14. Chasing Cars (Snow Patrol) Hopefulness
    13. Peaceful Easy Feelin’ (Eagles) Contentment
    12. It’s just begun (She Wants Revenge) Pessimism
    11. Still Haven’t found what I’m looking for (U2) Frustration/Irritation/Impatience
    10. Numb (Linkin Park) Overwhelmed
    09. The Smile has Left Your eyes (Asia) Disappointment
    08. Crazy (Gnarls Barkley) Doubt
    07. Standing in the Rain (ELO) Worry
    06. It’s all your fault (Pink) Blame
    05. Don’t Tread on me (Metallica) Anger
    04. Before he cheats (Carrie Underwood) Revenge
    03. Cleaning out my closet (Eminem) Hatred/Rage
    02. Only Time (Enya) Insecurity/Guilt/Unworthiness
    01. How to Disappear Completely (Radiohead) Fear/Grief/Depression/Despair/Powerlessness

    • http://almostfearless.com Christine Gilbert

      Very cool, thank you.

  • Melanie – NJ

    Christine, you are a wise woman. Follow that plan of yours and you will recover. Most of all remember, “If mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy”. Know what I mean? Nap when Stella naps, dig in dirt when Cole digs in dirt, cook with Drew and let him clean up while you go for a walk. Stay strong….this too shall pass. (and I am a lot older than you so I know…LOL)

    • http://almostfearless.com Christine Gilbert

      Thank you!

  • http://frenchkissedpostcards.blogspot.com Trishia Jacobs

    Dear Christine, I have often wondered what history will show about the emotional toll on bloggers and online entrepreneurs. Social media requires us to be “on” 24 hours a day, There is one woman’s blog I used to read — but then quit — because, crazy as this sounds, I don’t want to be around to see her life crash. No one can have a perfect, always happy life and reading her blog just scared me! Even if we are doing something we enjoy, I think we need down time and me time. Writing and putting ourselves ‘out there’ is demanding even if we love writing and putting ourselves ‘out there.’ As my hubby says, there’s a reason it’s called “work.” :) Social media requires us to be entertaining and Happy with a capital H all the time, day in and day out. The older I get I realize how valuable it is to simply be content. Happiness, especially on the American rector scale, is unsustainable. … I haven’t even had my first morning cup of coffee so I’m likely not coherent:) But I just wanna say 1)Kudos to you for showing you’re a REAL person & addressing your depression and 2) Perhaps, like the French, a 5 week vacation is just what the doctor would order — a vacation from the online world. Hmm…. sounds like a koan or a conundrum: how DOES a travel writer take a vacation?:)

    • http://almostfearless.com Christine Gilbert

      Yeah I agree, I can’t do that, I think it’s really damaging for your soul to pretend to be something you’re not. So I have to just be honest. Also thank you!

  • http://www.thejourneyitself.com Carmel

    Oh depression. You’re right. It’s very sneaky and you can be strolling along feeling like everything is going just fine and bam! it hits you smack in the forehead. And then you start to realize that the signs were all there, like the negative self talk and so on. I think you have an excellent plan in place and some really good self care methods…add in some patience for the days when you stumble.

    I realize that I tend to feed my depression when it comes around and sometimes I have to, but I have been trying to find some more upbeat, fun music that helps me get out of my funks. I’ve been listening to more of The Gossip and Metric. I think I listen to more girl-fronted bands when I’m down. Makes me feel more empowered!

    • http://almostfearless.com Christine Gilbert

      Girl-fronted bands — yes! love it.

  • http://www.sarahsomewhere.com Sarah Somewhere

    If depression is negative self talk I’m depressed all the time! But we all have different levels of ‘normal’ so good on you for realising you’ve been a bit off. For me, yoga and meditation has been instrumental in clearing the clutter from my mind, if only for an hour a few times a week, as well as talking to another female I trust. That fruit and veg looks yum!

  • http://noparticularplace.blogspot.com Natalie at No Particular Place

    Hi Christine,

    I wish you the best and admire your courage in talking about these feelings. You have a worldwide support network thanks to your wonderful blog!

    For me, being around other people really lifts my spirits. Have you connected with any other expat families in your area?
    Natalie

  • http://mywritingandeditingcoach.blogspot.com CoachConnye

    Your list is such a good one. Practical, inexpensive meds for anyone and all. I think #10 is especially important. We rarely give ourselves permission to indulge ourselves. We must.

  • http://www.thebuffaloroamer.wordpress.com Priscilla White

    HAPPY MUSIC!:

    -Daft Punk (Funk-electronic. UH-MAZING new single is out- “Get Lucky” and newest album scheduled to come out May 21st.)
    -Passion Pit (Alternative)
    -The Lumineers (Folk/Alternative)
    -Phoenix (Alternative)
    -Breakbot (Funk-electronic)
    -First Aid Kit (Folk music with female vocals)
    -Of Monsters and Men (Alternative)
    -Alt-J (Alternative)

    Enjoy!

    • http://almostfearless.com Christine Gilbert

      Awesome, thank you!

  • Kelly Oxford

    I have stayed in hotels while at certain parts of writing a book!! Do it! Not a crazy fantasy. You’re a Mom and work from home. Sometimes you need the luxury of a home without being 100% responsible for it.
    xo

    • http://almostfearless.com Christine Gilbert

      Yeah I’ve been thinking about that for when the final edits come in… I should just do it!

  • http://Thegravelroadinguru.com Pan @ The Gravel-Roadin’ Guru

    I have an 18 month old. Every couple of months, I have a minor meltdown about how I’m fat, don’t get to work out as much as I would like, don’t have time to myself, don’t have time to cook, don’t have time to practice piano, don’t have time to keep my house as clean as I would like. When I am not working my full-time job, I have my daughter meaning I literally never have ME time. I think as a mom, it just eventually weighs on you because everyone does depend on you so much. I think you’ve outlined a great plan. Sunshine ALWAYS helps me. I’ve had the winter blues now for too long-it’s taking summer too long to arrive in Missouri this year. Good luck!

    • http://almostfearless.com Christine Gilbert

      Yeah, it’s hard right? I sat outside in the sun a bit and helped so much. I think it makes the biggest difference.

  • http://www.inalunchbox.com Anna

    Christine,

    It is incredible how open and honest you are. It takes courage to admit and showing an example to others. Sending you my prayers. Best,
    Anna

  • craig van waardenburg

    I like you Chrstine Gilbert. Iv’e never met you and having only recently discovered you have only read a few of your stories but you seem to me to be a gutsy gal, dedicated mum and adventurer and a good story teller. Good luck to you and keep the good stuff coming.

    • http://almostfearless.com Christine Gilbert

      Wow thanks Craig! I appreciate it!

  • Lindsay

    <3

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  • http://www.grammietravels.wordpress.com Grammie travels

    Do remember the place I told you about up, or down, the road from you. Beautiful pool and some ‘you time.’ And free! (Maybe buy a drink and look for that Mafia daughter!) It is totally ok to have time to yourself, C, so you can refresh your energy. Or take a beach walk, on your own. Essential to have time alone to regroup, both as a mom and a human being.

  • http://www.thetraveluster.com Lindsay

    This post was very helpful for me. I battle with depression and anxiety, and now that I’ve decided to ditch the meds, am having to learn how to fight off the demons in a natural way. It’s so helpful to know that others understand what you’re going through! I love your blog so much! I’ve nominated you for three blog awards, which uou can read about and accept here: http://thetraveluster.com/2013/05/02/versatile-blogger-award-celebrating-bloggers/

  • http://www.thetraveluster.com Lindsay

    Oops- wrong link to your awards! Here it is!
    http://thetraveluster.com/2013/05/07/more-blogging-awards/

  • http://www.destinationhereandnow.com Margaret | Destination Here&Now

    Crank this up to max Christine. Guarantee the whole house will be hopping. xx

  • http://back-packingfood.com/ Kelly

    Those feelings you are having are extremely similar to how I have felt in recent months. I was feeling a little ‘low’ and then because I was feeling ‘low’ I started to feel guilty about it. I mean why should I feel that way when I have such a lovely life, family and friends. I made myself ten times worse just thinking about!
    However you are doing all the right things. Diet and exercise is a massive contributor to mental health. I can’t believe the difference in me.
    Thank you for sharing your thoughts, feelings and fears with us:)

  • http://www.delapuravida.com Erin

    I’ve been struggling with this, too. I have to exercise a lot at least every other day to keep my spirits up.
    For music, try Sonambulo Psicotropical. They are my absolute favorite upbeat dancing jam band and the lyrics are in Spanish so you can feel good about exercising that part of your brain, too! :)

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