I wonder if exercise can help me manage my depression / anxiety. Exercise causes me issues, especially dissociation. But it also helps with depression. So I always think if I can just calibrate the amount of exercise, enough to get the mood benefit, but not enough to cause issues, then it would really help me.

I quite like exercise actually, though I avoid it because of the issues. I like moving my body, focusing just on breathing or moving, the rhythm of it, the simplicity, giving my mind a rest. I have been limiting myself to walking, since a half hour’s walk doesn’t trigger me.

Tonight I went swimming, partly as a way to beat the horrible heat. There is a brief hour of adult swim at seven every evening, so I went off to that. Drove – too hot to walk. I decided to only swim ten minutes – I counted eight lengths of the pool. Lovely cool water, and lanes! With no kiddies!

I could easily have swum more, but didn’t. I was trying to be aware of my feelings too, while swimming. I saw I do get anxious when my breathing is at all fast.

With swimming, too, there is the problem of having very few clothes on. Not that anyone has ever been too bothered with how I look – I’m skinny with small boobs. I was paying attention, so I noticed I’m a bit ashamed to walk across the pool in a bathing suit. Stupid, really, because I’m older anyway. There it is though.

At home, instead of ice cream, I made myself a berry smoothie. I’m all about health tonight. So now I feel very alert, that usual feeling I get after exercise. I’m not depressed. I’m hoping I’m not going to have the anxiety reaction I usually have. 

Anybody else have issues with exercise?

  1. Laura said:

    seems like you're learning a lot, Ellen, great trial and observations! Do you think you're more aware of your feelings now? I was thinking that about myself, as if the tide were slowly, slowly going out, revealing a submerged village. I don't experience a downside from exercise – but I can see how it might happen. Hopefully, you can reclaim your body, through this process.

  2. Ellen said:

    Hi Laura – A submerged village revealed…I like it! I actually haven't encountered may people who have issues coming up through exercise – two bloggers, and no one IRL. It's unusual. I am more aware, because I'm on the track of what is happening to me. For years I didn't pay attention, but now I want to know. Thanks for the encouragement.

  3. I just hate exercising full stop… feel far too self conscious about doing it! It sounds like you're really self aware of doing what you can without triggering off other issues and that is really important. x

  4. Ellen said:

    Hi CC – Exercise leaves me dissociated for some unknown reason. I'm still drawn to keep trying it though, because for one thing I quite like it. I'm sorry you hate exercise. Thanks for the comment.

  5. i don't really do exercise, but i have extreme reactions to yoga and body scans. i usually get dissociated, and then start crying. it is overwhelming to me, and since i have learned this, i avoid yoga and sit out any meditation that we do in group. it's funny, since meditation is highly recommended as a treatment for depression. i think the most import ant thing is to do exactly what you are doing, take it slowly and with awareness and figure out the balance that you need.

  6. Ellen said:

    Hi OBD – Interesting – that is like what I have. I have the same thing with yoga. I used to do yoga classes, and would be dissociated for the rest of the day. Alternatively, I'd start crying from some pose, in class. So I've stopped doing that. I think I need a ten minute class…Meditation reliably brings up trauma stuff for me, so I am careful with it. There is a way to handle it I find, but it took me a long time to work it out. Really good to know I'm not alone with this, and probably not imagining it, though I'm sorry you have the issues also. Thanks for the encouragement!

  7. Amanda said:

    I don't quite have a huge problem with exercising, although I avoid it at all costs … as if the moment I begin to exercise, I'll lose weight … which of course would be a good thing, but also a scary thing for me.You are so incredibly intuitive, and am so glad for that. You have the ability to figure these things out for yourself. Not many take the time to see what you do.

  8. Ruth said:

    I am taking dance classes for exercise. When I started, I couldn't stand the floor to ceiling mirrors. I wear loose clothes that completely cover me, even in the summer time. My daughter is my teacher so I stay. I struggled through fears and discomfort. Talking over how I feel with my counselor helped me work through a lot of how I feel. Mirrors are not my favorite but I am enjoying my classes and after a year feeling like it has done more to help me feel comfortable with my own skin than almost anything else I have done. It was tough at first. I am pleased with my progress.

  9. hi ellen, thanks for understanding. it's nice to not feel alone with this. i don't have this extreme reaction when walking or swimming, only with yoga and meditation. i think somehow they tap into the grief that is stored in my body and the feelings are so strong they quickly overwhelm me. i often wonder if working with a massage therapist might help me, but i am too scared to explore it. c.

  10. Ellen said:

    @ Amanda – On the other hand, you might not lose weight with exercise – in case that makes it less scary? It could just make you a bit healthier. I have struggled with exercise, because it also makes me feel better. Thanks for the kind words.@ Ruth – I really would have problems with the mirrors also! Really good to hear you got so many benefits from the dance classes. Maybe I'll try dance some day too.@ obd – For me, I have the same issues with massage – stuff comes up. Still, it can be OK, if it's not too much at once, that's the trick I find. Things do need to come up, but it has to be at a pace that doesn't overwhelm.I do feel that I'm a strange and bizarre person for having this, so yes, it's good to know I'm not the only one. Thanks!

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