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Depression and the timing of motivation

white knight
Community Champion
Community Champion

Speaking from experience, if your depression has an obvious cycle to you, timing of your motivation could be in vain. It could be counter-productive when you don't reach your basic goals of fitness. Ever done some jogging when depressed and fallen into an emotional heap?

Often we read in these pages sufferers that try everything known to man in motivating themselves while in a mental down time. But isn’t this a similar concept to that old and common saying “just snap out of it”? We cant just do that, we know that, then why would we try the same in a physical sense?

Accepting our illness is essential as the thread talks about (google) “Topic: Acceptance- is this our biggest challenge- beyondblue” and motivation is another step we need to gather an inner strength, as part of our good management. How do we do this.?

Recent studies suggest that that annoying depressive cycle when it arrives is best left to run its course however long that might take. So fighting it is a waste of time. Going for a walk might well help but not intense exercise thinking you'll break that cycle. Considering this revelation, motivation strategies are best placed on hold.

My wife and I go to the gym 3 times a week for over 45 minutes of intense training. I was 131kg 9 months ago and unfit with a poor diet. We’d arrive and hop on the treadmill for minimum 20 minutes. This time period I was told allows the heart to get fit. Any less time and it’s a waste of effort as the blood pressure drops then rises again before 20 minutes, thus its good cardio training. Then weights for the rest of the time. However, several times I’ve arrived to get on the treadmill and only lasted 2-3 minutes. My mind was depressed maybe stressed…it has to be clear and content to do that machine. I think this is a reflection of what I’m talking about.

When we attend the gym and I’m not depressed at all, I accelerate my training, stay for over an hour and really put in. Furthermore I’m capable of lowering my food intake and eat healthier foods. I've lost 9kg. Based on this, it could be advisable to commit yourself more to your motivation regime when not depressed. Whatever you choose in terms of exercise, it is well known that physical exercise, like adequate sleep and relaxation is essential to the well being of the sufferer of the black dog.

Cant motivate yourself? Relax, do some muscle tensioning exercises and don't worry. Wait for that cycle to go by then run like the wind…

Tony WK

18 Replies 18

Blue Voices Member
Blue Voices Member

Thanks Tony for yet another wise and helpful post.

You are quite right, timing is an essential element of success. Attempting anything in adverse conditions, if we're not ready and don't have the necessary resources- only adds a feeling of failure and hopelessness to the load of already existing stress. The last thing we need. It's like trying to win a card game when we've been dealt a lousy hand !

Timely withdrawal has nothing to do with giving up. It means regrouping the exhausted troops and gathering renewed strength. A brave and wise alternative to pointless defeat.

Blue Voices Member
Blue Voices Member

Thanks for that Tony. When I'm really down I bash myself up for not doing anything. I know I can't but I tend to internalise everyone else's expectations. I need to remember what you have said. And give myself permission to wait until I recover to do the things that need doing.

Thank you very much, Lyn.

white knight
Community Champion
Community Champion

Hi Starwolf, thankyou. Nice to get such feedback.

Yellownanna, guilt can be such a negative impact on our lives. Try not to be so hard on yourself. A lot of my theories come from experience but I must say I decided a long time ago to ditch my emotional rationale for logic.

It just isn't logical to have high expectations of yourself when unwell.

Be kind to yourself. Google "Topic: the best praise you'll ever get-beyondblue"

Regards Tony WK

Community Member
Hi White Knight . I am new to this but have been exploring this community and have felt better by realizing that I am not alone in this and the advice and support you all give each other is fabulous so to you and all the 'others 'I want to express my thanks and gratitude . I find it helpful just reading posts and hope to contribute more once I get a handle on my situation . Thanks

Hi Ruby2

Wow, that is a wonderful reply. I know I can talk for all the Community Champions here, members and staff that spend time helping others purely with their own experiences and wisdom, that its really nice receiving replies like yours.

In this world of mental illness we have GP's, Psychologists, psychiatrists, therapists, counsellors, other members here and friends all of which we can gather n to help us along. I'd suggest that this forum with posts answered from those that have "been there done that" is almost as valuable as professional help. This forum is open 24 hours a day 7 days a week with replies often only minutes away, far better than weeks away for an appointment in the city.

Cheers Tony WK

Tony, You have made some really good points & your example o the gym illustrated it well. I also agree totally with Starwolf. Her point about the negative impact of trying to do things when you are not ready is very true. The last thing I need is failure to confirm all my negative feelings.

My question is how do you know when it is right to push through to do something which is difficult & when is it wrong. For me there is a fine line between the 2. Sometimes pushing myself when I feel unmotivated helps to kickstart things. Success leads to increased motivation which may not have come if I just waited till I felt like it. Other times pushing myself leads to further exhaustion & prolongs the negative cycle.

Hi Elizabeth

I suppose its purely subjective, depends on the person so often, very often we give account of our own situation that wont apply to you for example. And that theory, waiting for the cycle of depression to end so you can then kickstart your activities was reports about 1-2 years ago in the media.

My wife for example has depression and sleeping during the day is my sign of her being in a low cycle. I leave her be. This might go on for 2 weeks then she might feel tired in the arvo but not sleep...another sign that she is recovering and so forth.

I'd imagine your home life would have much effect on you and your own cycle, all sorts of factors, responsibility as in your case with hubby might mean you have to kick start your motivation without much choice.

I'm clutching at straws though Elizabeth. I cant suggest anything else.

Tony WK

Thank you Tony your answer helped put things into perspective for me. If I was just managing depression your method of waiting for the upwards cycle to do things would make sense nut in my case all the other life stresses complicate the situation

Blue Voices Member
Blue Voices Member

Good thead & thx Tony

bbl (be back later