I wrote some time ago about my experience of depression and how swimming really helps.
A couple weeks ago I returned home from a medical emergency trip to the US for a family member there. It was the right move no doubt and well worth the price paid to go. But I did pay a price. The jet-lag, the emotional strain, the needs of my wonderful family at home in addition to all the work that piled up for me was a heavy burden to bear when I got back. Plus I live in a foreign land that puts a continuous mental load on the brain already, more than one living in his homeland may understand. Throw that on top of being a fairly strong introvert and I really just wanted to go hide away by myself for a few weeks!
Even with keeping all this in mind, I understandably struggled with depression. At least this time I could clearly see the circumstantial causes behind it. And I have the benefit of routine like of a diligent boat captain, to get up each day, survey his ship, and get to work keeping critical things going for everyone. But some of you can imagine how hard it was to draw strength to do anything more.
However, I know well the benefits of exercise in helping adjust brain chemistry – even better than anti-depressant medication can. I have been tremendously encouraged by this book: Spark – The Revolutionary Science of Exercise And The Brain, by John J. Ratey MD.
It addresses not just depression, but how exercise enhances learning, combats stress, anxiety, attention deficit disorder, womens’ hormonal challenges, addictions, and aging.
My wife and I have found encouragement even for parenting our kids!
Basically, getting the heart and brain up and working together in some good exercise challenge (like intelligent TI SWIMMING, of course) is one powerful thing we control that can seriously combat the neurological (and hence, mental and emotional) challenges you and I face.
So, last week I headed to the sea and plunged in despite the feelings of burden and desperation and I let those cool waves carry a good portion away from me. My problems were not gone when I got out, but I had a sufficient boost of strength to get back in the game and face them. And sure enough, I eventually pulled out and see sunny skies again.
Go swim, my friend.