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Beating the Blues: Butt-Kicking Depression

The Blues haunt me. Sometimes. On occasion, I get a visit from the Black Dog of depression. Especially, those long days of no progress, fatigue or too much reflection on death, dying, love-lost and a dozen other crappy topics.

There were dark times when I went down that lonely, what’s-the-use road of depression. This once happened when I was walking up and down the cold streets of the one of the coldest North Amercian cities, Winnipeg (aka Winterpeg). For some reason, I could not think straight or decide where I was going to have lunch. I finally tossed a coin. The winning place was this awesome little restaurant on Osborne Street. The chicken and soup special was something like $7.50. Good food always boosted morale and lifted the blues.

But, that was just a short fix. I was deep in debt, recently broke up with my girlfriend, partially employed and no heat at home.

So, who to really blame? I got in over my head with some real estate costs and over-extended myself, my savings and my credit and lost out on a good relationship. Somewhere under definition of failure, there was a picture of me. Age 38. Practically a bum.

O.K. take responsibility. Next, I had to take stock of what I had left. Over 50 things were still going right. Everything from my friends to having 20-20 vision. I might have been carry a massive debt over me, but I was not like a skid row derelict. Heck, no. A bit of the blues. But, not in the land of no return.

So, what was next, genius? Well, the confusion, too much work, not asking for help, not hiring the right professionals, not thinking things through and the fatigue. Maybe some PTSD leftover from my U.N. tour. It was not too hard to figure out who was responsible at over-extending themselves.

Jim Carey had once described being depressed as needing Deep-Rest. That I agree. Especially when you are burning both ends of the candle… with dual flamethrowers.

Doing too much, too soon reminded me of a couple of people who decided to run a full marathon after minimum preparation. One quit part way through and the other was taken away in an ambulance.

I knew then, that I needed energy and mental focus without burning out. Energy could be build through exercise, nutrition and proper sleep. Exercise had to be regular of both strength and endurance building, without over-training. That meant high protein food to feed my nerves, brain and muscles. Sleep had deep to be uninterrupted. Mental focus came from practise and rest.The nutrients that I had strayed away from were: high protein meals, such as eggs, beef, chicken and fish. B vitamins from food, like beef liver, molasses, vegetables and supplements. Herbs, like St. John’s Wort, for mild depression and Gingko Biloba for concentration. I would grow simple bean sprouts that were packed with nutrients.

There were things to avoid as well. No coffee, colas, alcohol or sugar products. If you look at the destitute parts of town, the drunks and the homeless mostly consume starch, coffee and booze and smoke like chimneys. I made a pact that I would not drink until I was fully employed and out of my neighbourhood.

Then, there was sunlight. Something that too many people avoid through fear of skin cancer or being indoors too much. People’s bodies cannot process calcium properly without enough vitamin D. I was alright with that factor as I worked outside in construction and with the army reserves.

Sleep was a problem. My neighbourhood was noisy at night and my car tires had been slashed one time. I had to move soon. I would make sure that I slept over seven hours per night. I would buy L-Tryptophan supplements when I could afford them, to help me sleep.

And work. I needed more work. Work was more than just income. It got me out contributing to the community. That week, I jumped right into the climb out of the hole plan. I ran, lifted weights and trained at a cheap martial arts club.Nutrition: I ate eggs, canned beans, salad, oatmeal, beef liver, sprouts and brown rice to keep up my energy and save money. Later, I bought multi-B vitamins, L-tryptophan and St. John’s Wort and Gingko Biloba. (Later yet, I learned to harvest St. John’s Wort for free!)

I found a better place with a friend and found day work and part-time work in the evening. Two years later, I was in university full-time, instructing fitness classes in the evening, working for the army reserves most weekends. I had completed two full marathons and won a kick-boxing title. I even starting dating again. I was too damn busy to think about the blues. I cover many of the techniques that I used in Flat Gut After 50.

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L-Seat, age 50
Doug performing the L-seat, age 50

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