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Dealing With Sickness-Caused Depression

BY Donna Martelli TIMEJanuary 20, 2022 PRINT

When I start to feel depressed, I immediately go inward to try and figure out what is wrong with me or my environment. I feel like I am doing something wrong. Then, when I come down with a cold or another sickness, I realize the depression should have warned me to take care of myself.

When I feel a depression coming on, I have learned that it means I might be getting sick. Once I am unquestionably sick, I am already depressed. Why is this, and can anything be done to prevent it? Can’t I just rest and heal, knowing that things will be better soon?

Depression and sickness share an important quality: both leave us low in energy. I feel like something is wrong with me when my energy slumps, do you? I lose interest in things that should matter, and that alone makes me feel more down. But that doesn’t quite explain why I feel depressed before I am sick. Or maybe, the sickness is already in me and just hasn’t manifested as symptoms.

In either case, the sickness and depression can lead to a cycle in which I do fewer things and feel more down. Even when the sickness passes, the depression may linger, but perhaps that’s because I haven’t handled the situation well.

To better deal with this phenomenon, I have come up with a checklist if I feel depressed.

1. Ask myself, as soon as I start to feel depressed for seemingly no reason, could I be getting sick?

2. Acknowledge that it’s possible and cut myself some slack. Start some plan for rest and extra vitamins (per my physician). Perhaps a nap is in order.

3. Realize that my body is gathering all its resources to heal me and let it do its job. Don’t fight the process but relax and think of some things I am learning in this valley. Do what is absolutely necessary and then list things that I can do when I am well. Commit them to paper and forget about them presently.

4. When I start to feel better, rejoice and be thankful. Call a friend or journal but don’t try to take on a full load just yet. Baby steps!

Only when fully recovered can I go back to all the things I feel I must do. It’s OK to rest and heal.

During this natural process, if I realize what is happening to me, I don’t have to give in to depression.

Formerly a professional dancer with the Harkness Ballet of New York, and faculty member at Butler University, Indianapolis, IN, Donna was Director of Fitness Arts at LivRite Fitness. There, she taught Ballet, Barre, Pilates, Stretch and Conditioning, Personal Training and provided fitness consultations to members. She created Raise the Barre at LivRite, trained, qualified, and managed its instructors, and wrote its training manual. She is the author of “When God Says Drop It” and “Why the Dance,” available wherever books are sold.
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