It all started at the tail end of 2017 and bled slowly into 2018.
I lost my father in November of 2017. That was the hardest week of my entire existence but what followed would prove to be a close second. I endured an intensely deep depression in the months leading up to Father’s Day in June of 2018 and then again in the months leading up to the anniversary of his death in November 2018. I’ve experience anxiety and depression before, but nothing even remotely compared to this. On the weekends if I had no plans I couldn’t get myself out of bed. I tried to take “mental health” days off from work but that completely back fired as I was home alone without distractions. I would spontaneously cry and it didn’t matter where I was, it would just hit me when I least expected it… on the train, in a meeting, out with friends. I attempted to take a prescribed daily medication to improve my mood and I quickly learned, within a day, that this route wasn’t for me.
Over the Summer I fell in love with someone, that kind of all consuming, deeply emotional kind of love only to get my heart broken. Between this romantic relationship ending & the anniversary of my father’s death fast approaching, it was a lot of feelings of loss all at the same time.
To add to that we have the holidays. Between work, the blog, and events for both work and the blog, I was being pulled in a million different directions. I didn’t have time to take care of myself. I wasn’t working out, I certainly wasn’t eating right, and I was drinking way too much. Because I was always surrounded by people it became uncomfortable to spend time alone, which in turn made the feelings of depression that much more apparent.
The New Year was fast approaching and I knew I had to get out of New York. I decided to take a week long vacation to Nashville, a city that is quickly becoming a second home to me, with two of my best friends. This trip was truly life changing and I haven’t really pin-pointed exactly why, but I think I have a few hunches. I needed to escape, recharge, be somewhere that made me feel comfortable, where people were genuinely nice. Somewhere that felt like home, but was far away from home.
I came back to New York with a renewed sense of purpose. I didn’t feel the depression weighing me down anymore like an anchor, instead I felt energized, I felt like doing things for myself, doing things that made me genuinely happy. I changed two huge aspects of my life, my diet and how often I exercised. I mainly cook for myself now, I bring my lunch to work every day, so I know exactly what and how much of everything I’m consuming. I also eat a predominantly plant based diet, but if I want to eat seafood or carbs, I will eat seafood and carbs. I tried to do a complete diet overhaul and it just didn’t work for me, it was like I was torturing myself. But, changing my diet made a noticeable difference in my mood and how I physically feel on a daily basis.
I also mapped out my workouts at the beginning of each week. On Sunday night I would go into my calendar and see when I had openings to exercise either before or after work and I would block off an hour at a time. It started with 2 workout days a week and has grown to 5 this week. I also have a checklist in my notes on my iPhone off all my workouts, after I do them I check the box that it’s complete. Tonight I got home from a slow burn yoga flow, it was meditative and restorative. In the past the slow pace of the class would have given me anxiety but what I feel now is complete mindfulness. If you don’t know what that means it’s basically when you are only allowing yourself to appreciate and focus on the task at hand. You’re not thinking about what upset you today, or what you have to do tomorrow, or what guy/girl hasn’t texted you back.
On the flip side, being more in tune with myself and working towards bettering myself mentally and also physically has led me to have to say no to my friends a lot. If I planned a workout and I couldn’t move it to another day, then I wasn’t going out, or I would meet up with them later. Most of them are down to come to a workout class with me so that’s been great. Honestly my friends are pretty amazing humans in general, and I hope you guys are reading this right now and smiling!
I hope that if you’re feeling a similar way to anything I described above that you find comfort in the fact that you aren’t alone and it will get better. I know I’m not done battling the depression and grief that comes from losing a parent, and I know that my father wouldn’t have wanted me to feel this way. There’s no magical thing, tangible or intangible, that can counteract anxiety or depression no matter if it’s triggered by something you can identify or not. It’s simply a day to day struggle, but it’s the little improvements that turn into long term accomplishments.
I spent this past Sunday alone in my apartment and it was the first time in a long time that I felt content being still. That’s a big accomplishment to me and I’m pretty happy about that.