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How I overcame my depression by connecting to my environment.

Updated on March 12, 2015
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My Sickness

Imagine waking up in the morning and instantly yearning for the sweet solace of unconscious sleep again. Reality abrasively rushes you, demanding your focus and attention. You may feel irritable, depressed, and lonely. You may feel like the whole world is against you, and the daily grind may actually finish grinding what little spirit you have left.

Imagine hating your reflection so much so that you avoid mirrors at almost any cost, and imagine that you are so busy that your social life is virtually non-existent. You're so worn down that you've basically forgotten happiness and joy altogether, and you live solely to experience 5 minutes of occasional peace at your smoke break, or over a box of donuts. You've lost hope and interest, and the colors of life are fading.

Imagine that you constantly feel imprisoned within yourself, you're surrounded by people you despise, all of them strangers. Imagine the sting of shyness as it engulfs you, making you socially awkward.

Imagine not having an outlet; not knowing how to understand your pain, being blinded to everything beautiful in the world.


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My Story

In 2011 I was living in Reno, Nv and my workplace was 3 miles up the road. There was a bus line near the complex I lived in, behind a large Casino, and heading one of the dirtiest and busiest streets in the city. Every day I would wake up, go through my cleaning ritual, then get ready for work. I would hurry to bus stop, and always with a little paranoia in the back of my mind of infectious diseases and muggers. I was steeped in depression and social anxiety at the time, and I was always in a rush to get to my monotonous job so that I wouldn't have to think about my unhappiness. This had been going on for such a long time that I actually began to believe this was as close to happy as reality would allow for me.

I began to have frequent emotional break downs. I would cry for hours, in public and at home. It was humiliating and infuriating. My body wouldn't listen to my mind's persistent ,"I'm okay. You don't need to do this." It became so bad that it affected my work performance, and my co-workers were starting to come to me with concerns. I was mentally foggy, and making a lot of mistakes. It took me nearly losing my job to realize that I needed to make changes in my life. I needed to rediscover some kind of joy.

I thought that maybe getting exercise would help my brain produce more endorphins, and naturally improve my mood. I didn't have much free time, so I wanted an exercise routine that would flow with my busy schedule. I figured that running to work would be a good way to do that. I knew the streets in my area fairly well so I decided to customize the best route to and from the office. I could feel positive results right away, which I credited to the natural high cardio induces. I just wasn't expecting the greater impact it would have on me as a person.

The path I ran was in the opposite direction from the dirty little bus stop and it was beautiful. There was a small lake in the front of my apartment complex filled will wildlife and one lone swan. All types of people would meet around the lake: artists, musicians, elderly, children, athletes, you name it. I had a new smart phone with a zune player on it, so I would usually start out my trip by playing Deadmau5's "Strobe", which is nearly 11 minutes long. Kicking my run off to this song was almost a magical experience for me because I felt as if I was swept into a kind of time-warp that allowed me to draw in the pure beauty and richness of the environment in an eerily orchestrated way. As the beat picked up I would notice more activity flourishing around me, with seemingly perfect choreographic motion.

I started noticing the world around me with a depth that felt wholesome and pure. Instead of running away from my problems as I had before, I was now running through the world, and I was no longer blind to my surroundings.

I began to have frequent epiphanies during my jaunts across town because I was constantly inspired by what I saw and felt. I remember noticing two young teenagers cuddling along the shore side holding hands, and I felt love radiate in my heart. On windy days I would witness a mother duck's struggle to keep her ducklings all in a row and I would feel humor and sympathy for her and her little family. Musicians would set up by the water with their instruments and play freely in a way that made me feel proud and impressed. There was a man who also ran, I saw him every day in all weather. He wore long hair, simple sweats, and he never broke his step. I was inspired. I took notice of how the seasons affected the plant-life, and I watched the trees change color. No matter how dead or alive it was outside, it was always beautiful to me.

My ritual of running to work started out as a small attempt to encourage my natural brain chemistry to cheer me up so I wouldn't get fired from my job, but it became something of a spiritual revelation. It gave me empathy, and opened me up to my city. I felt safe, empowered, and eventually in love with my home. My work-life improved because I was happy to be there. My co-workers became my friends, and my customers ceased to be irritating strangers. My outlook on the world was re-born with compassion and intrigue.


What I learned

For a long time, I was at constant battle with myself because I was so absorbed in my responsibilities, obligations, and insecurities that I couldn't see or experience"the bigger picture".

I knew that I was filled with sickness, but I didn't know where it was coming from. I didn't know how to heal myself. I was so depressed from trying to bottle and ignore every single desire, pain, and curiosity, that I was starving myself of a deep human need; I'd lost touch with the physical world outside of myself.


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    • AVailuu profile image
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      A. Cristen Vailuu 2 years ago from Augusta, Ga

      Thank you :)

    • Sulabha profile image

      Sulabha Dhavalikar 2 years ago from Indore, India

      Very Nice.

    • AVailuu profile image
      Author

      A. Cristen Vailuu 2 years ago from Augusta, Ga

      Thank you for your kind words Peg! I hope this does help other people who struggle with depression.

    • PegCole17 profile image

      Peg Cole 2 years ago from Dallas, Texas

      Your story of inspiration and change will no doubt help others who are facing this same sort of difficulty. Thankfully, you saw your way out of the darkness and back into the light. You have a lot to offer and are valuable.

    • AVailuu profile image
      Author

      A. Cristen Vailuu 2 years ago from Augusta, Ga

      Thank you AliciaC! I'm honored that you felt a meaningful connection with this particular hub. It's incredible that a such a small change in a routine can have a life changing impact.

    • AliciaC profile image

      Linda Crampton 2 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      I'm so glad that you found a way out of your problems, AVailuu. This is a useful hub as well as an interesting one. I'm sure it will help other people. I find that exercise in nature is wonderful for improving my mood, so your hub is especially meaningful for me.

    • profile image

      Whitney Rose Wood 2 years ago

      This is so true. Just having that silence in your mind as you take in nature on a run or in the garden, with the soothing natural ambient sound; it really does have an enlightening effect. Voted up.

    • justmesuzanne profile image

      justmesuzanne 2 years ago from Texas

      Lovely narrative! Congratulations on your natural recovery! Voted up, useful awesome and interesting! :)

    • vandynegl profile image

      vandynegl 3 years ago from Ohio Valley

      Hi AVailuu,

      That's a great idea! I still consider myself a beginner too (I've been gardening for about 7 years) and learn something new every year!!

    • AVailuu profile image
      Author

      A. Cristen Vailuu 3 years ago from Augusta, Ga

      Vandynegl,

      I can relate to what you're saying. Unplanned life changes can be devastating, especially if they break your focus and force you to change your goals. I know for me, having had my goals ripped away from me at one point, change was the headstart of a long downward spiral that didn't stop until I had to start re-evaluating my life and my choices. I had to teach myself that however small, I always had a choice. Getting sucked into the negative is an easy habit to fall into.

      I look forward to checking out your nutritional articles, I have a lot of respect for people who cultivate their own gardens! I haven't taken that step yet, I don't have the time to commit to it yet.. but maybe (if you don't already have one) you could put out an article for beginners with limited resources!

      Thank you for your support!

    • vandynegl profile image

      vandynegl 3 years ago from Ohio Valley

      Hi AVailuu,

      I've had a lot of grief these past 5 years. There have been some changes beyond my control. It puts many things into perspective and has you

      re evaluating your life. Priorities are different now. I now live in the country and raise some animals (children included!! Haha!). I garden more and try to focus on the whole picture surrounding me. It's not always easy, but I can't allow myself to get sucked into the negative. It destroys me.

    • AVailuu profile image
      Author

      A. Cristen Vailuu 3 years ago from Augusta, Ga

      Thank you! When you say you were once in my shoes, did something happen in your personal journey that led you to connect to your environment?

    • vandynegl profile image

      vandynegl 3 years ago from Ohio Valley

      This is great! Connecting to the environment and seeing the bigger picture in the world around us makes us realize that we have a lot more to be appreciative of. I was once in your shoes as well. I like how you incorporated exercise into your spiritual awakening! Well done and I hope you continue on your path!