When you need to exercise, but depression stands in your way.

I literally have no suggestions, only exasperation. Exercise has been a HUGE struggle for me for a long time, especially the past few months.

Regular exercise is beneficial for depression, anxiety, migraines, IBS, chronic pain, joint strength, weight maintenance, etc. But my depression has been so bad lately, it’s difficult to even get out of bed in the morning. The only reason I get up most days is because I know my dog needs to go to the bathroom (although he just keeps sleeping until I finally get out of bed, which is not the most motivating of potential dog behaviors). So how can I also be expected to exercise???

When I got my Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome (EDS) diagnosis, the doctor told me getting regular exercise is the single most important thing I need to do in order to keep my joints strong. When I brought up my depression as a roadblock, he didn’t have anything particularly helpful to say. Thanks doc!

When I lived in the DC area I played volleyball occasionally, but after I moved to Boston I didn’t have anywhere to play. My social anxiety makes it difficult to join new groups, so that’s a fun extra hurdle to jump that I couldn’t get over. It’s been almost a year since I got any real exercise that is not simply walking my dog, and that needs to change.

With the EDS diagnosis, I now know that volleyball is actually a pretty poor choice of exercise due to the high impact on my joints. It should have been a clue to stop playing when my knee kept giving out on the court, and when I always had trouble walking the next few days. Volleyball has been the only form of exercise I’ve really enjoyed, despite the pain. Exercising regularly feels even more overwhelming now, because it also involves finding a new form of exercise.

The most recommended exercise for EDS that I’ve come across is swimming, because it’s easy on the joints. I took swim lessons at the YMCA as a kid, and I was on the swim team in fifth grade (I was pretty terrible, but I got lots of participation ribbons like a good little millennial). So, I know how to swim, but swimming laps has never been something that I found to be particularly enjoyable.

What do you do when you’re told exercise will help your depression, but your depression prevents you from exercising?

I know real exercise would be beneficial for so many things in addition to my depression, but I still can’t get myself to start doing it. Once I start, I think momentum will help keep going, but getting started feels nearly impossible.

There’s an indoor community swimming pool that’s a five minute walk from my apartment, and a year-long membership is only $30. Hopefully posting this will make me feel some sort of accountability to finally go to the pool and get a membership. Once I have a membership I’ll likely feel more obligated to go since I’ll have paid, and guilt is (sometimes) a magical thing.

I often wish my dog was annoying in the morning, but it’s nice my roommate’s dog comes to hang out with us 😁

I still assert that if I ever won the lottery I would move to a farm and adopt all the greyhounds. Like a dalmatian plantation. But I also only played the lottery that time it recently went over $1 billion (and spoiler alert, I didn’t win), so it seems unlikely to happen.

Hopefully by my next post I’ll at least have gotten my pool membership. 🤞

Xoxo,

A

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