Managing COVID Depression

COVID. Ugh. The name sounds like a sexually transmitted disease causing “not so fresh” feelings in one’s crotch.

We all know what COVID is, so no need wasting time explaining the little bugger. Let us hop right into how I am managing my depression (which really isn’t depression)!

If I am not really depressed, then why I am writing about managing depression? Good question! I want to share the major differences between what many of us are feeling and clinical depression.

As soon as I noticed my daily dose of joy was rapidly going to shit back in early April, I considered what I needed to do about this. Having experienced severe depression as a part of PTSD (and one bout caused by a super speedy thyroid and multiple life transitions), I immediately called my therapist, Deb, and procured an appointment. She has been my therapist since November 2001, and I contact her as I needed.  Well, back in April, I NEEDED!

As I spilled the beans about everything I felt, Deb skillfully guided me toward the insight that I wasn’t depressed at all; I was actually feeling grief, shock, and sadness. Why were my emotions not clinical depression?

In an article on Psycom.net entitled “Depression Definition and DSM-5 Diagnostic Criteria”, this is the correct description of clinical depression:

  1. “Depressed mood most of the day, nearly every day.
  2. Markedly diminished interest or pleasure in all, or almost all, activities most of the day, nearly every day.
  3. Significant weight loss when not dieting or weight gain, or decrease or increase in appetite nearly every day.
  4. A slowing down of thought and a reduction of physical movement (observable by others, not merely subjective feelings of restlessness or being slowed down).
  5. Fatigue or loss of energy nearly every day.
  6. Feelings of worthlessness or excessive or inappropriate guilt nearly every day.
  7. Diminished ability to think or concentrate, or indecisiveness, nearly every day.
  8. Recurrent thoughts of death, recurrent suicidal ideation without a specific plan, or a suicide attempt or a specific plan for committing suicide.

To receive a diagnosis of depression, these symptoms must cause the individual clinically significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning. The symptoms must also not be a result of substance abuse or another medical condition.”

Here is the link to the full article:https://www.psycom.net/depression-definition-dsm-5-diagnostic-criteria/

Um, nope, the above criteria didn’t describe my mood or actions. I experienced sadness, grief at the loss of life and many other aspects of COVID, lowered mood due to lack of appropriate exercise since gym was closed, and also shock that this was even happening.

Once I saw clearly what I was actually feeling, I knew I had to find ways to retrieve my joy. I had to be flexible with how I coped with stress since many activities I usually enjoy were no longer available.

I grabbed my super large pad of paper and put on my thinking cap. (Lol! My old bag third grade teacher always told us to put on our thinking caps, and it still makes me giggle to utter that phrase.)

All humans have 4 dimensions: the physical, the spiritual, the cognitive, and the emotional. Some may not pay much attention to their spiritual self, but the opportunity to build that side of ourselves is available to all.

I began my list with the physical. For me, I function 1000 times better if I eat right, sleep enough, and get extremely vigorous exercise 3-4 times a week. Those are the foundations of my physical and emotional health; without them, the ride gets bumpy really quickly! I pondered where I was screwing up. I was hideously crabby about the gym being closed and having to exercise in the tiny kitchen of our 650 sq. ft. apartment. Ugh. It just wasn’t cutting it. So I adjusted my attitude and figured I could maybe push the couch back and exercise on the carpet in the living room. I don’t like it–bouncing around on carpet ain’t so bouncy–but I at least had more space to frolic and raise my heart rate much higher. I also started skipping down our really long hallway–that is some fun, effective cardio that I never would have tried if not for being pushed into seeking different exercise!

Next up was spiritual. Buddhist chanting is exercise for my soul, and my soul gets foul tempered without it. I wrote more chanting on the list and decided I would do at least a few minutes a day in front of my altar. I also reconnected with another member of my Buddhist group, and I felt joyful just seeing her face on my computer screen.

For cognitive, I deleted The Washington Post Coronovirus update for the time being. I was getting anxious and fretful whenever I read it, so the hell with the silly thing. When I felt more joy and less angst a few weeks later, I subscribed to it again.

Emotionally, I knew I needed to address the underlying PTSD issue. I determined the best route to that, and I began receiving Body Code energy work from a local practitioner. Damn, I feel much better with my bi-weekly dose of that particular modality.

Being so intuitive, a former social worker, and knowing myself well (I am 53, after all), I was able to quickly pen my plan and get on it. End result? Despite all the world wide doo doo flinging at a record rate around me, I generally feel peppy and motivated more days than not.

Feel that your own Joy Plan could turn your life around? If so, contact me at 317-440-8783. I can work with clients all over the world by phone or video, and I would love to help you restore your joy and spunk.

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