Posts Tagged ‘emotional health’


The paradigm of physical exercise is false. There is no such thing as just exercising the body. The mind, heart, and spirit are always worked out and remolded just like biceps and abdominals.

When the Centers for Disease Control is listing the mental benefits of physical fitness, then there is more to the topic than just a series of rah-rah, feel good statements and slogans.

In America, where there is an obesity epidemic, any excuse to exercise is a good excuse. Pushing the limits of one’s physical fitness is hard, very hard, if it wasn’t then more people would do it. It should come as no surprise that those who battle depression also are less physically active than the average person.

Working out really is hard. Fitness models, bodybuilders, athletes, and supplement salespeople would love it if you believed that you are just an unmotivated sloth. But, show me an insanely fit man or woman and I’ll show you a person who is dependent on supplements like a crack addict. To work out completely naturally, with nothing but water, food, and sleep is a difficult proposition. Add a full time job it’s that much harder. Add in family, friends, hobbies, and the human condition and it is no wonder that the entire developed world isn’t dealing with an obesity epidemic.

The sick joke is that fitness inspiration through imagery of unrealistically, aesthetically in shape men and women can have an inverse effect on the desire to even get started. After all, how much time, effort, energy, money, ambition, and sacrifice is going to be required to become as fit as those Instagram fitness celebrities?

This is where a paradigm shift is required. Paradigm shifts take as much time, energy, and effort as all the crunches and clean eating required to get a ripped 6-8 pack. BUT, a paradigm shift can be as simple as seeing something differently and taking action differently based upon a different vision/way of thinking. The paradigm shift in this case is to see exercise as not just exercise for the body, but as exercise for the heart, mind, and spirit as well. A way of becoming more fit as a whole person. Not just as an aesthetically pleasing narcissist. But to be healthy, literally from the inside out.

Anxiety and depression are the thick thieves of living life. I can attest that from experience. If doing some push ups, squats, crunches, weight lifting, yoga, jumping jacks, and jogging can do it’s part to combat these twin towers of terror in daily living, why not? It’s cheaper than a Prozac prescription. But self-mastery is hard, and that’s what we’re talking about when we’re talking about the need to exercise for the benefit of mental health.

Self mastery is hard, very hard. If it were easy then everybody would do it.

I can’t pretend to have all the answers. I can only speak to what effect physical exercise had on me while I was in the throes of my depression as an adolescent. I used exercise as a distraction. I used it as an excuse to not deal with my larger, more encompassing mental/emotional problems and disorders. I would go to the gym after detention during my high school years. Rather than seeking advice from educated, trained personnel I would pump iron and run laps. As time went on I found yoga and meditation.

Lifting weights, doing cardio, practicing yoga, and meditation were/are all wonderfully helpful distractions from “getting help”. But any singular or combination is infinitely better than watching television, surfing the internet, spacing out, laying in bed awake, remembering past negative events, and/or imagining future confrontational events; all of which I am guilty of doing repeatedly if not habitually.

We are all flawed beings. We all seek to be perfect, if not at least better. We’re all doing our best, even if our best is not good enough. If physical exercise can improve our mind and our spirit, then why not set aside ten minutes, to a half hour a day a few times a week to becoming more whole and making a good faith effort to fill the hole in our soul?

The effort required to expand my comfort zone to putting the effort in there, fuels my effort to expand it elsewhere, and I hope it does for you too…


by @anarchyroll

Even over a month later I get the wrong kind of goosebumps thinking about Robin Williams’ suicide. I didn’t think I was that big of a fan of his. I didn’t think a celebrity death outside of my immediate circle of idols and heroes would/could affect me the way Williams’ did.  I don’t feel like I lost a family member or a close friend, but I do feel like I lost someone just outside that closely guarded circle of loved ones.

I’m not a celebrity worshiper. I only see the E! channel right as I turn it off or insist to my friend or date that he/she turn it off immediately. I don’t read tabloids, TMZ, or celebrity gossip/feature magazines. I only own a handful of Robin Williams movies, but each one is high up in my list of all time favorites.

Robin Williams didn’t just come across as happy, he came across as one of if not the most slapstickiest, happiest people in the history of the world. His comedy made people laugh from their bellies until their face hurt. He had so much staying power in Hollywood, almost forty years, that he could never be scoffed at as a fad or flash in the pan. He was an institution not just of comedy, but of the arts.

Marc Maron recently reposted his 2010 WTF Podcast interview with Robin Williams. The interview was so striking and almost foreshadowing that TIME magazine took notice of it.

Another great podcast, more short form than Maron’s; the Savvy Psychologist from, recently had a great podcast debunking suicide myths in the wake of Williams’ suicide.

 I have battled depression for now, over half of my life. I recently just had a bout with it from the day after my birthday through the middle of the following month.

I have never taken anti-depressant medication. This most recent bout was the closest I came to seeking pills for help. I suppose a chemical imbalance in the brain, maybe should be treated with chemicals. If I didn’t know people who have had massively bad side effects from taking happy pills, and didn’t read about all of the people who once coming off the drugs were worse than before they went on, I might have been inclined as a youth to allow a medical intervention into my mind and spirit.

The side effect of depression itself that has been most damaging to me; has been an internalized belief of entitlement that, because it is so hard for me to keep my shit together internally, that life should be easy for me. This is coupled with being raised white middle class. A fear/avoidance of the externally difficult, unknown, potentially painful that has led to a case of failure to launch and/or live up to potential. Internal battles that leave me fatigued, burned out, and depleted of willpower.

The battle of depression is an invisible one. The effects are invisible. The side effects are invisible. Robin Williams killing himself shined a very bright light on this invisible fact.

Some side effects of that light have been

And I’ll keep my fingers crossed that young, upper middle class girls will stop talking about #thestruggle in relation to shopping, style, and exercise when people are struggling to live day-to-day but, I also doubt their collective ego-narcissism will dissipate in the face of anything other than the apocalypse.

I know I certainly looked at myself and my situation differently. I for the first time gave serious consideration to taking anti-depressants. The storm passed as I started to research what my options are under the Affordable Care Act. If there is another bout, I certainly will have Robin Williams in mind when I decide what to do to move through the storm. Perhaps others will too. Robin Williams gave so many gifts to the world, perhaps the awareness of the need to seek external help in the face of internal struggle will be his greatest.

Rest in Peace Mr. Williams,

Thank You.