I think I’ve mentioned before that after my Father died last year, some parts of my life went to hell in a butter-coated, deep-fried handbasket. The first anniversary of that event is about to roll around, and I realize that I’m still carrying the ‘couple’ of extra pounds that I gained back then.
One of the things that put me over the edge was a promising potential job offer that fell through right after I had returned home from the funeral back East. I became so despondent that I knew I finally had to seek help – in the form of therapy and strong anti-depressants. My subsequent slow return to normalcy felt like a minor miracle. Over time, I had more energy to walk the dog, more spirit to bring to work, more sparkle to share with my friends. And suddenly it dawned on me… I had been depressed for far longer than I realized, in fact for at least a year prior to my Dad’s death. In fact, well, I’d been depressed ever since I lost fifty pounds!
So wait a second, wasn’t losing all that weight supposed to make me cheerful, self-actualized and energetic? Wasn’t the purchase of a new wardrobe and an album-ful of new photos supposed to be proof positive of my transformation? Hmm. In fact, when I was at my highest weight, I was already ‘treating’ my depression, however inartfully, through the consumption of large quantities of fat and refined sugar. When I was able to kick all of that and lose weight in a healthy way, my brain chemistry didn’t change – just the chemistry of my food intake. So now instead of using donuts and candy, I had to treat my ongoing depression with more reliable methods.
The other day I was at the gym with a friend, feeling very self-congratulatory for having lifted weights for a half-hour, despite feeling very blue. When I signaled to John that I was leaving he said ‘what about your cardio?’ to which I replied ‘Nah. I already took a long walk today.’ And my wonderful, smart, caring, honest friend took me by the shoulders and said ‘Jonathan. We depressed people do cardio. Its how we cope. Endorphins. So give yourself 20 minutes.’ I grudgingly strode over to the machine, fuming at the unfairness of it all! But in the end, I did 30 minutes. And I smiled for the last 15.