It’s probably been coming, but today was one of those ‘can’t get out of bed’ days. My body felt like lumps of lead, tired beyond reason. Whenever I felt I really needed to get up, there seemed to be a force field from my mind keeping me under the duvet cover. I really wanted to get up but couldn’t.
There were things I wanted to do today as well. Catch up on the growing number of unread e-mails. Write up a little diary of all the appointments I have lined up next week. There’s a few but can’t remember in which order. Get the washing done. Get my brain occupied. Anything to stop it telling me how terrible I am, how worthless I am.
Eventually, driven by hunger and a need to be clean, I’m up, washed, and had an entirely unhealthy snack rather than cooked meal. I’m now sat up in the living room, in that infamous fluffy blue gown, which I cried into when the Samaritans came to my aid. Yep, depression has enveloped me again. This is going to be a long old walk to get through it.
That, above all, is what I wanted to do today, a pastime which inspired the quote that is this blog post’s title. I wanted to go for a walk, somewhere, anywhere, for however long. It feels like a vice is bearing pressure down on my emotions and self esteem at the moment. Trying anything to relieve that pressure was what’s needed.
Of course I didn’t though. I’ve beaten myself up over it but I just couldn’t push those shutters up that would enable me to function as an everyday human being. Then again, however, that may have been not such a bad thing.
I seem to be going against the grain of received wisdom and medical evidence but walking does nothing to help me with my depression, although I try it constantly, and will continue to as well. If nothing else, it does my body good, and gets me out of the house.
So far, so good. This, however, is where my reality differs from researched medical theory. What innumerable studies have shown, across the globe, is that a good walk reduces the symptoms of depression. Yet in my case it seems to intensify it.
Whenever I go off for a wander, and there isn’t a pressing matter occupying my mind, the negative thoughts come back to me. It’s especially frustrating, too, as I have the perfect platform to enjoy a depression lifting meander. A seafront, which is very quiet during the week, and not too far from a spacious park and a beautiful ‘old town’ part of where I live.
Yet, despite that, the self crticism descends upon my mind after a short while. I then get irritated with myself for allowing it to happen, and then it spirals from there. Why do I have to be so complex when all I want is a simple life? Stupid mind.
What the research also indicates is that one of the body’s natural opiates, endorphins, are released around the body. This is perhaps, however, where things are misconstrued. It’s a widely held belief that endorphins are what give your body that ‘buzz’ of deep pleasure with things you really enjoy.
It’s not true. The opiate which produces that high is dopamine. What endorphins do is stimulate contentment rather than pleasure. A good example would be that a cheese sandwich as a tasty snack may well release endorphins, but a bar of Swiss chocolate will make you go weak at the knees and the doapmine will kick in.
It’s an important difference. There’s no doubt endorphins are produced when I go for a walk. I enjoy it as a pastime. I love walking along the beach and through other parts of my town. When I wandered around the Grand Canyon a couple of decades ago, however, that was a definite doapmine moment. The thrill that shuddered through me I’ll never forget.
Maybe, then, the effects of walking to beat off depression may be more exaggerated, as the difference in the chemicals coursing round your body isn’t often fully explained.
Another quirk on my part is something that probably confirms my depression isn’t seasonally affected. I really don’t enjoy walking in sunny or warm weather. The sun gets in my eyes, which causes them to weep continuously, dehydration sets in to a small extent, and I become irritated by the increased number of people that are usually enjoying a jaunt too.
They’ve every right to, of course, but often walk straight across your path without even acknowledging your existence, or perhaps dawdle and block your way while they are engrossed with their mobile phone. I’m clearly getting grumpy in my old age.
No, my perfect weather is mild, overcast, with just a very faint drizzle. Somehow, I feel more alive when the rain hits my face. The seafront becomes almost deserted. It’s also very, very comfortable. Thank you, Britain, for providing such consistently inconsistent weather, which means perfect walking conditions are the summer norm. I am thankful for such mercies.
In any case, whether I wanted to or not today, I think a walk was out of the question. The ball of my right foot is covered by a sore, deeply red coloured blister, and the left a small, lighter one. Ouch and small ouch. Still, it goes to show how committed I am to proving the adage about a good walk doing you good being correct.
If nothing else, a walk means you’re doing something good for your body, which can be no bad thing. Whether it’s genuinely good for the mind, who knows? Maybe I’m the exception that proves the rule – but don’t walk a mile in my shoes to find out.
For the sole reason (geddit?) that the blisters are awful …..