Depressed? Get Out of Your Shell

Winter sucks the life out of me. In January, it rained every single day. Okay, there were two days it didn’t rain in Oregon that LONG month, but the sun didn’t break through the clouds on those days.

Talk about severe Vitamin D deficiency…and I take 10,000 IUs each day. And sit in front of my therapy light for thirty to sixty minutes.

None of it helped.

You know what did? Bowling.

Yes, I said bowling helped with my depression this winter. I’m not here to tell you that bowling is a cure-all because on non-bowling days, I still struggled against the downward pull of SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) and the diagnosis of chronic depression that I’ve been fighting with only natural means since this past summer.

Get Out of the House

My prescription for fighting depression is more like: “Get out of the house. Don’t give in to the lack of motivation.”

And that’s why bowling worked for me.

If you’ve followed me long, you know that I’m an author, freelance editor/proofreader and substitute teacher. Two of these three jobs keep me in the house, and it’s easy enough to turn away the calls for the other one when winter’s blues overwhelm me.

But once I gave my word to my bowling teammates, I couldn’t go back on that. They were counting on me to show up every Tuesday morning wearing my team shirt and a smile.

Me, Jennie and Dani – The Baker’s Dozen Ho-Ho’s

New Hobbies Work Like Magic

When you don’t feel like getting out of bed because of a chronic condition, you certainly aren’t thinking of starting something new. I mean, really? That would take too much effort.

I’ve been wanting to do this paint night thing for awhile, but I’m not a painter. I couldn’t draw myself out of a box, and someone thinks they can hand me a paintbrush and blank canvas and at the end of two hours I’ll have a finished work of art?

Yeah, right?

But I was willing to give it a try. Here’s the end result.

My first attempt at a Yaymaker Paint Night

I didn’t want to go it alone, so thankfully I had a friend who’d been wanting to try it. Both of us are sold on the way these classes work. We’re ready to try it again.

Yes, I did this in the dead of winter. I did it on a day I didn’t want to put pants on.

Because sometimes trying something new is exactly the shot of adrenaline a sagging spirit needs to soar.

Even Introverts Can Be a Team Player

Here’s the thing, I’ve always preferred team sports over solo sports. There’s a weightiness that I like in interdependence. Yes, I’m an independent person but it’s nice to be able to rely on other people.

You know, like you do your family.

And that’s what my cousin, Dani, and her cousin, Jennie, have offered me in the Baker’s Dozen bowling league every Tuesday morning. It’s not just a reason to get out of bed and put pants on anymore. They want me there (and it isn’t because I’m an excellent bowler).

Introverts like me feel much more comfortable sitting behind a desk. I’d rather communicate through the written word (like I’m doing right now with this blog post).

But numerous high fives and going from last place to first place (and now second place) in the bowling league is it’s own form of “winter therapy.” Being part of a team expands my world. It gets me outside of myself and forces me to consider others.

That’s a good thing. In fact, that’s a God thing.

And since I can’t remember the last time I dressed up for Halloween (before this year’s bowling Halloween party that is), it’s a really therapeutic way for someone suffering from chronic illness to focus on something else.

The Cat in the Hat and her two “things”

What are your interests? Are you willing to move outside your comfort zone to find something that could be the remedy for what ails you?

10 thoughts on “Depressed? Get Out of Your Shell”

  1. Yay for you!
    Personally, I find summer even more dispiriting than winter. In winter I can lurk by the logfire and drink piping hot tea, but in summer – today, for example – I’m sheltering indoors with the curtains drawn against the scorching sun, waiting for dusk so I can crawl out and rehydrate my garden. The way I see it, there are two seasons: Friendly and Hostile, and they each appear twice a year. Currently we’re in Hostile – Hot.
    I love your point about taking up something new for a boost of morale. I’ve recently taken up tatting, although again, this is something I can do inside by myself.

    1. Yes, hot weather is NOT a thing for lots of people. Thankfully, it doesn’t get over 85 all that often where I live, and I think anything in the 80s is perfect (as long as the humidity is low). I hope you get your friendly season soon.

  2. Thanks for writing this Sharon and letting me know that I am not the only one that tries to find ways to deal with the seasonal depression. I am so glad I have square dancing and round dancing to keep me busy. Even then, it sometimes seems I have to force myself to go. I always enjoy it once I am there though. Dancing is my way of coping.

    1. I think everyone needs a “get me out of the house” hobby or activity. The older I get, the more I wish I’d done these sort of things sooner. I’m so glad you have dancing, and I love hearing about your adventures in dancing. Thanks for commenting!

  3. Awesome!!! So happy that you have found some interests that are also “therapeutic ” for the winter time depression!
    O have always felt that getting out of the house helps somewhat, but having something to look forward, with fun people – so much better!

    1. This winter being able to “choose” not to take sub jobs has been nearly debilitating. I’m so thankful for bowling and having Dani and Jennie to laugh with every week. As much as full-time employment out of the house lacks appeal, I know I would have made myself do it, and that would have helped, too, I believe.

  4. Hello, Sharon!

    I’m the part-time desk guy who watches you bowl on Tuesdays. And to find out you’re an author, I just had to investigate your blog!

    We could probably talk for quite a while here, both on the subject of SAD and writing. With regard to SAD, I’ve always been very weather-driven: when it’s hot, I gripe at the heat; when it rains incessantly, I gripe about that; when the calendar says it’s spring but the clouds, the cold, and the accumulating precipitation say something else, it’s maddening. With regard to writing, I’ve tried my hand at it and come up, so far, with five novels, all of which are in varying stages of completion. Perhaps we could talk about this over coffee on a Tuesday after your league, after we’ve awakened from the coronavirus nightmare.

    What has helped me, at least until moving to the forgotten wasteland of central Oregon where the weather is too forbidding, was walking. I found places in Clark County (when I lived there) to walk–abandoned railroad tracks, walking trails, and the muddy paths at Battle Ground Lake. Of course, in the spring and summer, I ride either my mountain bike or my road bike (of the pedal-power variety). These collectively have kept me sane simply by remaining in motion. Maybe it’s the endorphins, or maybe it’s simply the incredible feeling of blood flowing and your heart pumping.

    Bowling has been a constant companion for me for many, many years. I’ve worked where you have your league for more than four years now, and loved every day of it. When I get onto the lanes, I have to be dragged off, as I don’t have the sense to quit!

    Anyway, I hope to see you soon, back on the lanes with smiles and strikes and spares. And endorphins, too!

    Rob Petitt
    Christmas Valley, OR

    1. Rob- Medical studies show that being out in nature is a huge benefit when you’re fighting negative emotions. I often wonder how much of my winter blues are due to being trapped inside (because I’m not a fan of being wet).
      I’m finding the social interaction on Tuesday really helped me deal with my darker days. I’ll be glad to get back to it…at some point in the future.
      Thanks for seeking out my blog. See you at the lanes…eventually.
      Sharon

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