Tis the Season(al Depression), Walden Pond, Back Problems

Hi Everybody! It’s been a while since I did a non-Daily Stoic post. In that post, I wrote about working on finding something that sparks me each day. I have been doing that, but of course it doesn’t come easy. Today/tonight, that spark comes from writing to you right now as I am blasting my 80s playlist on Spotify. “Got a Hold on Me” by Christine McVie is on at the moment, and that’s a song that can put you in a better mood.

Seasonal Depression

Most of my spark has been coming from listening to awesome music and podcasts, and attempting to keep up with the Daily Stoic every day. It is very important for me to find that spark at this time of year. Through counseling, I had an “aha” moment when I realize that I suffer from seasonal depression. Upon that realization, it was like a lightbulb turned on in my head, and all the pieces fit in place. I know that I’m pretty intelligent. I was reading books when I was 4-years old. When I applied myself, I did get good grades in school. Again…When I applied myself. Without fail, by the time I was in junior high school, I did horrible in the 2nd quarter and the beginning of the 3rd quarter. I just didn’t feel like doing homework or studying. I knew it felt great getting good grades, and would take pressure off. But, that didn’t help. And the humiliation of getting progress reports each week didn’t even help motivate me. If you’re not familiar with progress reports – well lucky you – each week I had to get a form from my guidance counselor, then after each class that day, I would have to bring the form up to the teacher to fill out, giving my grades, and saying whether I did my homework, and how I was doing in class. Very rarely did these go very well. That is, until the Spring began. Then I would start kicking ass, and finish the school year strong. I had never thought about the timing of this until this past year.

But, this did not end with school. I clearly remember this being a problem when I was in the Navy – specifically during the Gulf War. If you’re not familiar with my story, while stationed on shore duty at Oakland Naval Hospital, Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait in August 1990. Less than 2 weeks later, many of us were transferred to the USNS Mercy to be deployed to the Persian Gulf. Despite being in constant danger as Hussein threatened us with chemical or biological weapons, I actually enjoyed myself on the ship. I liked the people I worked with, and I loved going outside and enjoying the view of the ocean. Then on January 17, Desert Storm began (actually I think it was the 16th here in the U.S., but it was like 3 in the morning on the 17th for us). Before this, we had absolutely no idea what was going to happen. All the wars I knew about had lasted for years. So, I figured we were going to be in it for the long haul. So, when the fighting started, it felt like a relief. We knew a ground war would be starting about a month later, so we were getting ready for that. In one span, we worked three 20 hour days in a row loading our ship with supplies, as we did not know how many patients would be coming on our ship, or when the next would be that we were able to even get supplies. Although I was exhausted, it was quite an adrenaline rush.

Then the ground war began in February. And that good ole seasonal depression kicked in. We were on a mission and had a goal in site. But, I was in a bad funk. During this whole tour, I would write letters to family and friends almost every night. But, I couldn’t bring myself to write once that depression kicked in. Let me reiterate…I had no idea I was in a depression. Of course, the timing for this lack of writing could not have been worse. The fighting was at a fever pitch, and nobody was hearing from me. But, boy did I hear about it from everybody else when we were able to get mail!

 

I really wasn’t planning on writing this much about my seasonal depression, but you get the point. Anyway, now that I am aware of this issue, I have been able to get ahead of it this time. I got myself a lightbox, which I use many mornings as I drink coffee or tea, and read up on my Daily Stoic. I had been kicking ass exercising, which was a huge help. Yes, you read that right…HAD been kicking ass.

 

 

Waldon Pond

I am currently going for my Masters Degree in Creative Writing. This semester I am taking a class called American Renaissance. It features writers and poets from 1820-1865. We read Henry David Thoreau. He wrote a book about Walden, and had lived there for a couple of years. It’s just over an hour away from me, and I had never been there. So, I decided to drive up, and hike around the woods and the pond, and maybe write. I wasn’t able to get there until 2pm. The parking lot, and more importantly the bathrooms, close at 4pm. So that didn’t leave much time. I decided to start by going through the woods. What a great decision I made! It was so quiet and peaceful! I didn’t even hear any birds. There was almost nobody around. I took it all in. And I got goosebumps realizing that Henry David Thoreau had once walked where I was walking at that moment, and also appreciated that beauty. The pond itself was pretty cool looking. I bet it looks amazing in the Fall with all the foliage around. Because of the pond being legendary, I was expecting it to be huge, and I’d barely be able to see to the other side. Then I realized, “Oh yeah, it’s a pond!” The pond had a lot more people around it, so it was a lot noisier and not as peaceful as the woods, but it was still awesome.

Ow, my back!

I was able to make it to the restroom in time, then drove home. When I tried to get out of my car, my back was in so much pain, I could barely lift myself out. Almost 2 years ago, my back flared up really bad, and it turned out to be a bulging disc that was squeezing against a nerve. I was in pain now, but it felt different. It felt more like muscle pain instead of nerve pain. If I was sitting, I was fine. But it would be very painful to get up or bend down. I did all kinds of back stretches which helped a little bit. Off to the chiropractor! I couldn’t get in til Tuesday (hey that’s an ’80s band!). It turns out that my muscles were protecting my back. But, they were being drama queens and overreacting. So, I have not been able to do any good exercises for 3 weeks now. The muscles are much better now. But, the disc is bulging a little, which is why the muscles had gone into overdrive. It is feeling much better now as I write this. Maybe I will be able to exercise again next week. I can do some things like planks for a very short time, and some stretches. The Cobra stretch has been feeling the best. I had been putting ice then heat on my back. But, the heat was making it worse. So, I’ve been sticking with ice, and that seems to help. Apparently, after my awesome walk, I should have done some stretching before driving an hour home. Lesson learned!

So, this lack of movement has been trying to put me back in a depression. It does succeed sometimes. But, I am still managing to find that spark each day, and staying above water. Things are beginning to look up. It’ll be spring before we know it! And maybe these vaccines will work, and we’ll be able to gather around together soon.

Well this ended up being much longer than I expected, so I’ll leave off here. If you made it this far, thank you so much for reading! I hope I was able to connect with somebody.

And until next time, see you out on the Rhode!

Oh P.S. Here is a list of the songs that played while I was writing this, in case you’re interested:

Janie’s Got a Gun – Aerosmith
Got a Hold On Me – Christine McVie
Piano in the Dark – Brenda Russell
Infatuation – Rod Stewart
My First Broken Heart – Tracie Spencer
Veronica – Elvis Costello
I Should Be So Lucky – Kylie Minogue
Can’t We Try – Dan Hill and Vonda Shepard
Telefone (Long Distance Love Affair) – Sheena Easton
The Lion Sleeps Tonight – Tight Fit
Here Comes the Man – Boom Boom Boom
Total Eclipse of the Heart – Bonnie Tyler
Make It Real – The Jets
California Girls – David Lee Roth
Come On Eileen – Dexys Midnight Runners
Looking For a New Love – Jody Watley
Don’t Forget Me (When I’m Gone) – Glass Tiger
Rock On – Michael Damian
Don’t Know What You Got (Till It’s Gone) – Cinderella
Saving All My Love For You – Whitney Houston

 

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