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Gym & Depression

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Lots of good advice here, and to that I would like to add:

1) Try to spend 20-30 minutes a day in the sun. I'm not talking about sun bathing, but just being out side, getting sun on your face and your other exposed skin. This can be more helpful than most people realize. Read a book on a park bench, take your dog for a walk, or whatever works for you.

2) If you can, don't wait to feel better before you change your behavior. Change your behavior, and the better feelings will follow. It sounds so simple, but this can be really hard to accomplish. Push through it, if you can, 

3) If you haven't done it, talk to your Doctor. Depression is a medical condition, and sometimes medication can actually help the situation. I think we tend to over prescribe psych meds these days, but sometime they really do help.

 

Good Luck!

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Other members here have already given you good advice, so I do not have much to add. In my own experience, returning to the gym - even if you need one more day to recover, compared to before - has a beneficial effect on depression. A few years ago, my physician told me, that weight training at least three days a week and brisk walks three days a week had a documented effect on depression, especially milder cases. For those who have to medicate, workouts serve as a supplement to medication. There is no reason to look at medication and exercise as mutually exclusive, and your physician will probably know for how long your medication will be needed. A physiotherapist told me, that, when depression is stress related, less is more. Too much exercise would cause negative stress, but nor is depression helped by doing nothing. You have to find the frequency that is tailored for your own present needs (which may, and will, change by time).

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Hey guys, update: stepped foot into the gym yesterday for the first time all year! I'm so sore and it feels so good. I've been on antidepressants for a month and go to a therapist once a week and a half now and I feel like my old self again. I'd forgotten what it felt like to not have the weight of the world crushing down on your hopes and dreams and pursuit of the tiniest bit of happiness. I can't believe how bad I let it get.

Thank you guys for all the advice. You really helped me stick in there and not give up on everything. Gonna ramp back up to 3-4 workouts a week.:)

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Hi timsf,

I've dealt with depression most of my life. I'm currently on meds (Zoloft, it helps me) and I realize going to the gym, lifting as heavy as I can and seeing some tangible results (which is surprising, since I'm 61 yrs old and I didn't think I could gain muscle at this age) does help me feel better about myself when the depression hits me hard.

I do get into the "I'm feel like shit, I don't feel much of anything, so I'm not going to the gym" mode. And then I don't go to the gym. And then I feel even worse when I don't.  I just have to motivate myself. And I have good friends who motivate me and know my circumstances. I hope you can get back into the gym soon. I think it will help. My .02 for what they're worth.

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As someone that has dealt with depression & bipolar disorder his whole life I want to endorse taking nature hikes and spending time in the sunlight each day.

Here in Las Vegas, the Winter days can be short and sometimes we have gray weather, so I also use a full spectrum light (mine is branded as a "Happy Light")

In the end, results are about consistency. You need to consistently go to the gym, even f you don't feel like it. Some days I just go to scope out some beef, and then I just do some exercises so as not to look like a creeper. I find volume training is good for depression (when I am depressed it is difficult to push the really heavy weight and the insane pumps help a LOT!)

 

In the end, please remember that you are not alone. Plenty of us deal with depression. You are in good company and lots of us care about you. Stop judging yourself and go have fun with the gym. If anyone judges you, just say screw out and move on!

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I've dealt with suicidal thoughts, chronic depression, and intense anxiety disorder most of my life. Starting at the age of 8 and lasting up until about two years ago. About that time, my life was in a ditch (again) and I said fuck this and did something that completely scared and challenged me. I took a huge risk and moved halfway around the world, and wound up finding there was a huge spiritual element missing from my life which I have slowly been filling with Buddhism. Chanting the Lotus Sutra helps me in a way nothing else has really been able to do. I am not recommending this for everyone. It's not for everyone. You have to do what's right for you. 

I will, however, recommend meditation for everyone. It has been crucial for me in discovering parts of myself and the universe I didn't know existed. 

The journey inward is always going to force us to ask the big questions. Am I in pain because I have to be, because it isn't a choice, or am I choosing to suffer? What can I do to relieve my suffering? One of the biggest changes in my life was becoming much more of a leader and mentor in life in general. I learned to adapt to situations I know most people wouldn't have been able to face but I had a goal and I met it. 

Concentrating on things you've done that you're proud of is always the way to go. Concentrate on what you're doing to move forward. Give yourself credit no matter where you are in life, or how you've slipped physically because of disease, injury, or just being in the middle of nowhere in the Middle East (ahem). 

Right now I'm only working sporadically whenever I can get a temp warehouse job and I'm back in the US with no real plan. I got some really bad news earlier this week. Like, earth shattering and it regards my family history. And as I absorbed this new information, it crushed me for a while. I found myself in agony as I replayed all of the things that happened in my childhood and teen years, and early 20s. 

And then I realized I wasn't helping myself. I talked with a friend, he is a really good friend and we talk about spirituality together. I was ashamed I was emotional over discovering some really horrible things. One of the most resounding thoughts about depression came when we discussed this book that recently hit the bestseller lists called "The Untethered Soul" which I got right after this. There is this amazing quote:

"The fears of tomorrow and the regrets of yesterday are twin thieves who rob us of today."

When I was in my 20s, I would work a shit job. I would clean up garbage and wash dishes. I would ride my bicycle about 5 miles either way, 10 miles a day, 6 days a week for almost 4 years and then I got another slightly less crappy job doing about the same miles, for only slightly more pay. I was thin and had a great ass but I hated my body. I hated my face. I would take the rejection of other people, mainly men, and internalize it so deeply. There were no apps then, and I didn't have a computer or a car or a family or anyone that cared about me a great deal. I would come home from my shit job with low pay and I would escape into whatever fantasy novel I was able to get from the library or I would save up to go to the used bookstore and buy a few novels I would treasure and revere because they painted this world where I could not be here. I tried to work out but had a hernia for a long time. It wasn't often possible. 

I eventually bought some weights. I worked out in the yard and tried to avoid my intestine from exploding out of my gut. I became muscular for the first time. I was stronger but still as an endomorphic frame, I was self conscious. Especially my freckles, and my lazy eye. And I have a slight depression in between my lower pecs that just looked odd to me. When men rejected me it hit me HARD. I didn't get chances to socialize with other gay men often and I always felt like the odd one out. If a guy was interested in me, my body tended to freeze up because all they wanted was a couple minutes and then to leave. I pretty much just felt confused all the time. 

The funny thing is, one of my only gay friends was always slightly in love with me. I never returned that feeling (I only loved him as a friend) but it was shocking to know later on that someone actually saw me that way. And I think I just didn't understand when guys saw me as sexy or comprehend when it was happening because I was so busy telling myself that it was impossible. Of course, no one ever overtly came onto me so that tended to amp up my confusion. 

Most of my adult life I desperately wanted to bodybuild. In my teens, and later in my early 20s after college, I was often malnourished. I have eaten out of dumpsters more than I like to think about. Looking at food and thinking "it doesn't have that many flies on it" is something I just had to tell myself. So I think I always had these unreasonable expectations that I put on myself that I thought I should be fulfilling. I should look like a real man, I should look like that guy. Why don't I look like that guy or that guy? Why can't I get a better job? Why am I not important? All of these questions were missing the point, and the simple truth was, sometimes life is just really hard. That's not your fault. 

The most important lesson is that as long as you try, as long as you don't give up, as long as you tell yourself to keep going, you are somebody, and you ARE important. No job is dishonorable if you are making rent. 

Anyone who knows me from my posts on this forum over the years knows that I have only recently talked about my past. Most of my time on these male TF sites has been spent crafting a storyverse of my own that I often love to explore because it makes me feel good. It's been incredibly therapeutic to indulge in what I want, in what I like, in what turns me on. Last year I embarked on a few months of sexual pleasure in Australia where I just allowed myself to go for everything I'd ever dreamed of doing and I realized I am who I want to be. I lost weight and gained muscle back and forth many times in various places I found myself, in spite of many obstacles, and many injuries. 

Here are a few things I want to impart to anyone going through depression. Especially depression regarding how you view yourself physically. 

1. Depression and anxiety are real and physical aspects of our brains sometimes. It's not your fault. 

2. Give yourself credit for all your accomplishments, no matter how minor. 

3. Picture yourself as the hero of your own movie. The audience is wondering what you're going to do, how you're going to stand up for yourself, how you are going to defend what you believe in, and you are going to see yourself more and more as the man you always wanted to be. I am paraphrasing Joe Rogan here. You are that man. Like Michaelangelo's David, you are chipping away at all the parts of your life that aren't you. That hero, the man you always wanted to be has always been there. 

4. Tell yourself every day why you are proud of yourself. If you can't think of anything, try something different. Write a journal. That alone is something to be proud of. If you really can't think of anything, see #2

5. Do not beat yourself up for what you don't control. Learn to embrace the fact that you don't control the world. If you can't change something about the world, it's okay. All we can really do is try to be good people and try to impact the world as much as we are able to. We are all limited mortals. Don't punish yourself for these limits. Accept them. 

6. Masculinity is complicated by our society. We are taught to be ashamed of anything that makes us "less of a man". I used to internalize all the things that I didn't have, either material possession or in physical looks as signs that I was just that. And in my case I had a secret rage against the world that was far greater than I was willing to admit to ANYONE. I kept a very tight lid on it and didn't share it. This is pretty common for men that are unhappy with their lives. So learn to understand why are you angry if you are. Admit your feelings. Don't ignore them or push them down. Sort through them. This is one reason journaling is so helpful and I can't stress that enough. 

7. Connection. Finding people to connect with means finding people that respect you. There should be mutual respect. Love yourself. Love yourself enough to  know that you shouldn't settle for who you are hanging out with or friends with or form a relationship with. If you feel your friends or even partner look down on you or cause you to feel negatively about yourself, you deserve better. Walk away. Don't look back. Find interests you want to pursue. Get a hobby. Spend some time getting good at something you always wanted to or have been putting off. Connect with any detached work, craft, or physical art (yoga, weights, martial arts, sports) that makes you feel any amount of joy. 

8. Therapy and medication if you need it. Fish oil and turmeric can also help. And valerian/hops herbal combination pills have done me wonders.

9. Understanding your shadow self and integrating it. I saved the best for last. So, many of you may know me as someone who has been involved with BDSM and humiliation/degradation and other niche fetishes. So, isn't everything I'm saying here totally contradictory? Well, no. BDSM play or BDSM roles for those who practice it as a lifestyle, is merely one way to integrate what Jung called the shadow self. We all have desires which would be described as "harmful". I am not going to make a case for or promote any form of intense self harm, such as cutting. I want to mainly concentrate here on how to deal with anger, resentment, revenge,  jealousy, depression, inner darkness, self hatred, self criticism. There are a number of ways to confront all of these issues. Shadow self integration is all about pure, unbridled honesty about all the things you secretly desire or dream about, even if it's violent fantasy. It's normal. Understanding your body's need to grow muscle is one way of undoing those desires. You are taking control of your physical body and centering it with your mind. Bodybuilding and getting in shape means you are closer to that mind body connection and therefore closer to balancing your inner darkness with your inner light. Many cultures picture a devil and an angel fighting on your shoulders. Fear isn't real. FEAR ISN'T REAL. Whatever you are afraid of, that feeds your depression. It feeds your anxiety. Tell yourself every day that these things are manifestations of your subconscious. Explore your subconscious. 

When I was at my worst I buried everything so I didn't have to think about it. I walked around like a zombie. I thought it was better to feel absolutely nothing and I shot for that most of the time. There is another extreme, where you replay negative emotions and memories over and over in your head and it eats away at your mind. There is balance there, too. It's okay to have dark thoughts. They are a part of you. Embrace them and ask yourself why you think each one. If you want to hurt someone that hurt you, that is normal but you can't spend forever on that. You are the hero of your own movie. You need to move forward. Don't let other people's darkness, their shadow selves have any power over you. Don't let others steal your happiness. You don't have to be perfect. But you can try and tell yourself that there are healthy ways of admitting to having all of these thoughts and then expressing them somehow, in any of the things I've previously detailed. Hobbies, physical arts, anything creative. 

I think it's obvious to anyone that reads my stories I have a lot of that darkness and I get it out. I have my characters do cruel things to each other and I beat off to it. My blog has been my number one way of integrating all those dark, nasty thoughts and putting them somewhere. I also tend to feel my shadow self retreat when I get more physically active. 

I like to picture a giant yin and yang symbol shaped pool in a garden. One side is always going to be dark and filled with murky water and there's a ton of scum in there and maybe something that will bite you if you get in. But it's worth exploring just as much as that nice clean side with all the flawless tiles shining with a bright energy that reflects the sun. You need both in order to function. You just shouldn't stand on either side of the pool for too long. Humans tend to form a lot of their beliefs around the idea that we have to exact out our flaws. Try to avoid looking at yourself and just seeing flaws. See yourself as unfinished. You don't have to cut out all the parts of you that feel a certain way. You just have to modify how you view your right to have them. You can rise to the highest echelon and still be human. A depressed millionaire is no different from a depressed retail clerk in that respect. Those emotions are going to be equally depressed. I used to think money solved all problems until I realized you needed gratitude in order for that to be effective. 

10. Find things to be grateful for. Anything. Remember how it feels to take stock of things and knowing that it could be worse. Even in your darkest moments, there are things you can be grateful for. 

11. Learn things. Learn anything. Read. This sounds like a really simple solution but it works. When I was depressed, I took language lessons for years. I read books about history or science or money and economics. I felt good about understanding things better. Learning about a subject or how to make things and build things or do new things; it builds confidence. 

12. Depression comes and goes. But it's not forever. It will fade. Know that this will be the case for you. Anyone reading this. It . Will. Pass.

 

i just spent way more time writing that than i anticipated. 

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On 5/18/2018 at 6:30 AM, muscledrain said:

 (a great deal of  wisdom mixed with baring of his soul)

i just spent way more time writing that than i anticipated. 

Sir, it was time well spent.    That will be more helpful to people than you might know.    Many thanks.

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