So far today I've eaten cake and not much else. This may or may not be an improvement over yesterday, when I was eating the frosting direct from the can. Not my best days. And not helpful behaviour, I know this. Comfort eating gives short-term comfort and long-term pain. I know what I should do, but keep coming up with excuses. The current level of stress, anxiety, and uncertainty in my life... it's a wonder I can keep my cool when the phone rings and I get excited only to hear "Max" offer to clean my ducts again.
Being on the brink of depression seems like par for the course when it comes to infertility. There are many days when I don't want to bother showering, getting dressed, brush my hair, when I don't feel like "doing" anything. Days when I don't have any interest in eating. Days when I feel an overwhelming urge to binge on sweets or junk food. Days when all I really want to do is curl up in bed and cry. But I can't do that. I have to carry on. And this is how I cope, what I know I have to do to keep from falling into that pit.
1. Recognize the signs.
Some of the signs of depression have to do with change. Change in appetite. Change in sleep. For someone who has been trying to conceive for a long time, changes in appetite and fatigue were also "early pregnancy signs" that you learned were just hormonal responses to ovulation. It's the progesterone. That late luteal phase pms may also hit you at the same time you start to despair that yet again this isn't your month. Whammo! Time to nip it in the bud.
Another sign is loss of interest in the things you usually enjoy. It's a double-edged sword. On the one hand, the things you usually enjoy might be what keep you sane. That you let them slide is part of the problem. You need to kick your motivation into high gear and make yourself enjoy it again. Or do something else, anything else, to get some joy back in your life. If that fails, move on to step 2.
2. Exercise is a mood enhancer.
Go ahead and google it if you don't believe me. There are literally thousands of medical studies showing reduced depression symptoms in various patient populations following a wide range of exercises, from low impact meditative exercises like Tai Chi and yoga, to more intense cardio. It also enhances cognitive functioning. Often my excuse not to get the exercise I desperately need on any given day is that I have high priority desk work to finish. But if I just took a nice long break and exercised, I'd get through it more efficiently when I come back to my desk! I just did this today, and it really did help. I was pretty down in the dumps (I ate cake for breakfast and lunch, remember). I was getting mentally sluggish, but I forced myself to go for a nice walk, and now I'm feeling better. Not as great as if I'd gotten my...
If I'd eaten more fruit and veggies today I'd be feeling even more alert, energized, and my mood would be better. I swear by a banana a day to keep my mood at it's best. But I also take a B6/B12 supplement. Of all the vitamins I've taken during this fertility journey, that is the only one I took for non-fertility benefits. B6 is not water soluble, meaning you don't just pee out excess; I stick to a maximum of 100mg/day.
Sometimes the circumstances that cause us extreme stress and give us plenty to be depressed about are beyond our control. So we have to do our best to keep our bodies and minds healthy to get us through the storm. Eating healthy and exercising are a good start. Stress, anxiety, and depression can also tempt us to engage in unhealthy behaviours - comfort foods, smoking, alcohol... these things might feel good and helpful in the short term but it's an illusion, they all leave us worse off and prolong or worsen the depression. Life sucks sometimes. Acknowledge it, give yourself a few minutes to experience the sadness, but then you have to pick yourself up and carry on!