Sunday, April 3, 2011

March is Dead, Long Live April!

It is another sunny Friday, the first day of April. Things are looking up a little bit since last week. Firstly, the horrible month that was March is over. Good riddance. For the first time in a month or so I went to a yoga class, which was nice. I also went running twice, over 5 km each time, for the first time in a month. There are no quick fixes, but being able to exercise again definitely helps.

This afternoon I got out and ran about 7km or so. It was nice to be outside. The weather was beautiful, a clear blue sky, strong sunlight and just a little bit of a cool breeze. The cherry blossoms are starting to come out now, and soon the parks will be full of people having hanami (Cherry-blossom viewing) parties.

I took my iPod along but didn’t bother to listen to it, I just ran. I’ve heard that putting too much pressure on the heel of the foot is bad, so I am trying to change my posture to land more on the front of my foot. It felt a bit awkward, but seemed to help. Exercise is essential to managing my mood, and having the continual small injuries that come from running incorrectly is not helpful at all.

There are many things that I would like to do or achieve, but until I can manage my depression more effectively I can’t do them. And the most effective way of dealing with the depression seems to be exercise. It doesn’t fix the underlying problems, but it helps my mood lift and gives me a chance to start working on other things, rather than being crushed under a cloud of misery, loneliness, and confusion.

As well as exercise being generally beneficial, I have found that ordeals like climbing Mt Fuji or running a marathon can provide a focus that allows everything to make sense, at least for a short time, for everything to be devoted towards a single goal. I’m not religious in any sense, but for me there is something transcendent in those experiences, and having them more frequently would probably be a good idea.

A couple of days after the earthquake I signed up to do the first Osaka marathon. I’m not sure if I will get in, as it will no doubt be popular. I should find out in May. But if not, there are other marathons that I can sign up for. I don’t think that running, or any kind of exercise by itself can help one banish depression entirely. But I think it can definitely be a major help.

March was a tough month, with recovering from the marathon, the earthquake and all its consequences, plus yet another visit from depression and anxiety. But March is over now. The sun is out, the flowers are blooming. In Japan, the fiscal year and the school year begin in April. The last month, the last year, were very rough. I’m looking forward to a new beginning.


  1. I've had the same experience with exercise. One of the things that hardest for me now is that bad knees and bad shoulders make it hard to find a good way to exercise.

  2. I'm glad things are looking up for you, D.R and I hope this new year brings many special things your way.

    I know how important exercise is for a depressive and I admire your motivation. I think for me walking and hiking, exercise that involves reaching a goal at the end of session where always the best. Unfortunately I was diagnosed with a neurological illness two years ago so I have to be really careful about exercise now.

    Enjoy the cherry blossoms when they come- my friend sent me pictures when she was living in Tokyo and it was the most amazing thing I've seen!

  3. Dearest Depressed Reader,

    I wish I could run, I use to power walk instead. It's hard to run when you have flat feet! I live by my ipod. ;-)

    I've missed you on the blogosphere. Just added you to my blogroll. You take care, and I am glad things are looking up for you.

  4. I hope April is a happier month for you DR and for Japan. It's been tough, that's for sure. Exercise definitely helps us defeat depression, but it's so damn hard to get started. I'm so chronically tired I can barely get out of bed let alone walk or run. But I know I have to! Maybe you can inspire me (-:

  5. Glad things are looking up for you, D.R. I hope the exercise helps a great deal. Like some others, I have health problems that make it hard to do, but I definitely need to get back to the gym, so thanks for the reminder that exercise helps. I hope you get into that marathon you're interested in, or one of the others, and that the running helps you a great deal.

  6. I am so happy to hear you are back outdoors exercising. I think that is the ultimate mood lifter. I am going to get my bicycle out and start riding when my back feels better. Oh man, it is a long road to recovery when you have depression. I suppose they call it remission not recovery.

  7. I have a minimal workout regiment that includes jogging about a mile and a half. Doesn't sound like much but it's sometimes more than I can handle. Out of nowhere I developed pain in the right shin. Didn't think anything of it at first but it continued to worsen. Turned out it was a shin splint. I'd never even heard of one. It took about two weeks for the pain to subside. This however presents a huge problem as that was my only source of cardio exercise which is so important. I'm trying a stair stepper but I hate it. I have no choice though. Exercise has truly kept my head above water. How ironic that the very thing that keeps you afloat can also cause you to sink. Happy April to you.

  8. Hello everyone, thanks for coming by, and sharing your thoughts and experiences on exercise and being well.

    I'm not looking forward to my older years when I face those issues, but I hope that you can find some way of exercising that is feasible for the way you are now. Exercise seems to be the only real way to take the edge off.

    I know what you mean about exercise having an end point being the best kind. Whether it is running to a certain place or reaching the top of the mountain, it does give a lot more purpose to the whole thing. I hope that your health improves to the point that you can exercise again.

    I think even regular walking on a regular basis is pretty decent exercise. And taking the iPod along can make it a lot more interesting! I'm fortunate though in that Japan is an extremely safe place to live, I know that a lot of places aren't. But where there is a will there is a way, and I think we are all capable of doing some degree of exercise that will give us somewhat of a boost.

    I can't help but think that we are what we do. And building good habits seems to be the way to improving our situation, whatever it may be for all of us. I've tried and failed many times before to do this, but I think I have learned from these failures. Hopefully this time things will work.

    Some people are cut out for the gym, some are not. I realized that I am not, so I don't go to the gym. My method of exercise is basically different forms of walking (hiking, running). I think we all need to find whatever form of exercise works for us and then stick to it. I hope you can find some type of exercise that fits you.

    @In the Pink
    Sure, get that bike out! It is less of a stress on the body than running, and you can go faster and see more places around you! And you are totally right about the remission thing, depression is never going away forever, but I think we can get it under some type of control.

    Sometimes keeping our head above water is all we can do. I am trying to establish good habits that will take the edge off, keep my head (and maybe even my shoulders) above water, and maybe even get this condition under control.

    It is funny how the thing that can help us can also hurt us if we push it too far or do it in a way that our body can't handle. I hope you can get back to running, but if not cycling is always a possibility.