For me, this has meant figuring out the things I do that turn on and off certain chemicals in brain. I did years of therapy to deal with my emotions – especially anger. I learned part of my depression is anger turned inward.
I had to learn how to eat and sleep well – watching carbs, especially sugar consumption, which can spike my blood sugar levels causing quick highs and lows. I had to learn how to exercise in moderation because I tend to be a teeny bit extreme when it comes to working out.
I do not drink alcohol. I do not do dairy or gluten – which cause inflammation and make me feel old -something I DO NOT LIKE AT ALL! And sleep – ahhhh sleep. Eight hours, minimum with 20-minute power naps when needed. One day a week I sleep until my body wakes me up – usually after 10-12 hours.
But the hardest for me has been figuring out what makes me happy. I don’t mean hahaha happy. I mean serene, content, grateful happy. That required me to find my passion. What am I passionate about – besides the obvious – my lovely daughter?
Dogs. I love dogs. All dogs. I am passionate about dogs. So, I spend as much time as I can with dogs, especially my own. I go to the dog park every day and hang with my favorites. That makes me happy.
But what is my passion in life? It’s not enough to find happiness. You must find passion. You must find an activity you can turn to when you find yourself nearing the edge of that black hole. It’s one thing to be passionately in love with another person. It’s another to find an activity- something you do for yourself – that brings such immense joy and pleasure and will make those happy chemicals in your brain start flowing.
This wasn’t easy. I had been weighted down for so many years by my alcoholism, work and the drudgery of just tying to make ends meet as a single mom that I could not think of one thing that I was passionate about. A passion, that I do for me.
I began looking, knowing that if I could find it, I could activate those happy chemicals whenever I want. I love, love, love skiing but living in Florida makes that difficult and costly. I love travelling but that, too, requires wads of cash and time.
I needed something that would take me far away and bring me home quickly. It needed to involve exercise and be affordable. I found it. Scuba diving. I live off one of the most beautiful reef tracts in the world. Just a mile offshore is another world – another planet. No gravity. No air. No sound. No cell phones.
I got certified, slowly acquired the equipment and began diving every Saturday morning. I would text my friends on the ride back to shore and tell them I had seen God on the bottom of the ocean and he said “Hi.”
Somehow, over the last 5-6 years, I got away from diving. I still had my dog but I stopped diving. Why? I don’t know. For the last year I’ve felt not right. Then my best friend and love of my life was diagnosed with cancer. My air conditioner died. My roof needed to be replaced. Sometimes I worked and worked out too much.
A couple of weeks ago I realized I had no passion in my life. What could bring back that passion? Scuba diving. The ocean and reef are still there. I’m the only thing missing.
Yesterday got out my scuba gear and took it in to be cleaned and inspected. It will be ready next weekend. Then, I will dive and I know the passion will return.
Everyone needs to find their passion in life – whether it’s knitting, cooking, whittling or hanging out with dogs. For those of us with depression, it’s even more important. Find it. Indulge it. Love it. Do it over and over and over. And if you lose passion for your passion, find another one.
Don’t leave this planet without finding your passion. It may save your life.
Scuba diver image available from Shutterstock.