Last fall I posted an article about depression and how I have learned how to cope with it over the years. You can read it here: http://crossfitodyssey.com/its-hard-to-cry-when-youre-running/. Since posting that, I can’t tell you how many people have come to me and told me how much that article affected them. Many of them told me how it touched them and made them feel comforted that someone like me was going through the same thing that they were going through. Of course, it was people whom you would never expect to be depressed – it always is. Some of them had a close friend or family member that was affected and needed help. Many of them felt comforted in knowing that something as simple as exercise could help depression.
I’m sure you have heard the expression, “You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink”. This is true of depression and physical activity as well. I can tell you that physical activity can help you, but I can’t make you get up and move. I can tell you that real, healthy food will make you feel alive and full of energy, but I can’t make you eat it. Depression also often has a snowball effect. Negative thoughts breed negative thoughts. Conversely, small successes breed more small successes. The trick is in creating that first success. The hardest part is the first step.
CrossFit is a simple little workout really. I mean, you guys come in here and we tell you to do something that looks impossible and then you DO it. Many of you have to scale it back by changing the movement or the repetitions or the length of the workout, but you still do it. That one little success in your day can accomplish great things. Today I was having a really bad day. I felt like a huge failure in every aspect of my life. That’s how my depression usually works – one small part of my life feels bad and then I feel like I can’t do anything right and I am worthless. Today I felt like I was a horrible parent and I couldn’t get anything right. Once I got to the gym I was struggling to get things done and thinking about my kids and all of the work I needed to do at work and at home and how simply overwhelmed I felt with it all. I almost skipped my workout, but I had missed the last two days so I went ahead and got it done. I felt physically very strong so I decided to try to use the 70lb kettlebell for the first time. This is something I have been dreading for a long time, but I knew the time was coming to try it. I completed a 30 minute EMOM (Every minute on the minute) with 10 kettlebell swings at 70 lbs, 10 KB lunges (45lbs each) and 10 burpees over the box. It was long and dreadful and I kept wondering why I chose a workout like this to try this crazy-ass weight. But I didn’t stop. Once I finished the workout I lay on the floor staring at the ceiling and cried just a little bit. It all feels so overwhelming sometimes… but we always make it through. It is amazing what we can actually survive.
That feeling of accomplishment – that little success – changed my day. I got off the floor, got some work done, taught a class and then went to pick up my kids from school with a little bit more confidence that I could do this parenting thing and maybe I won’t even screw them up too much. I went to pick them up with a renewed spirit and a smile – and that spirit overflowed to my kids and then my kids had a better day for it. My workout actually made me a better mom. That is what we want to accomplish here. Getting skinny and strong and better is good, but becoming a better person is incredible!
Don’t be afraid to start. Take a deep breath and take the first step. If you don’t want to come here then just go outside and walk. Try Zumba or spin or yoga. Anything that makes your body move will help. Just start. Become a better you and make the world a little bit of a better place.
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Post Script... Depression is genetic. This article is for my children. I love you all to the moon and back.