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Seasonal Mood Drops Turned Into Depression but Self-Care and Exercise Helped Me Heal

“No one can change your life for you and help you. You have to make an effort to get better. It can be very difficult when you’re depressed, but you have to take at least one small step every day. Start with what is easiest for you.”

Struggled with:

Hello! Who are you?

Hi, I’m Alex, a devoted food blogger from Ukraine, channeling my passion for cooking and photography into the dishes I create and share with the world. I’ve turned my love for gastronomy into a fulfilling profession, allowing me to connect with people globally, one recipe at a time. On the side, I also enjoy the soothing rhythm of my guitar, another avenue that lets me express my creativity.

On the home front, I’m a single father to an amazing eight-year-old son, who brightens my world and keeps me grounded. Although I’ve experienced the trials of divorce, I’ve found resilience in adversity and continue to seek out life’s joys in the smallest moments.

Despite life’s ups and downs, I see myself inching toward happiness, learning, growing, and cherishing each day as it unfolds.

Alex Bayev 2

๐Ÿ’ก By the way: Do you find it hard to be happy and in control of your life? It may not be your fault. To help you feel better, we’ve condensed the information of 100’s of articles into a 10-step mental health cheat sheet to help you be more in control. ๐Ÿ‘‡

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What is your struggle and when did it start?

I have always experienced what is called seasonal mood drops. I noticed that it affected my productivity, I felt productive for 2 to 3 months and then experienced a downturn that lasted 2 to 4 months. 

With the start of the full-scale war in Ukraine, I felt my condition worsen. It became harder for me to concentrate, work and enjoy the things that used to give it to me. This condition peaked between September and October of last year.

If before it was just hard for me to do work and other processes, then during this period I just could not make myself do anything. As soon as I tried to sit down and start as everything started to piss me off. 

Since I see a psychotherapist/psychiatrist every 2 weeks to monitor my condition, I was diagnosed with depression and prescribed antidepressants during this period. 

How did this struggle make you feel at your worst moments?

Now, after a course of antidepressants, I feel much better, I work, I am more interested in talking to people, I have a desire to get out of the house, the energy for hobbies, and other hobbies.

As for other people, I think it was visible to my close environment, as for strangers – I don’t think they could somehow consider my condition. But in general, my communication with other people in that period was limited because I felt I didn’t have enough strength and resources to do so.

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Was there a moment when you started to turn things around?

My struggle as a whole took about 2 years if you take into account the seasonal mood swings. Their transition into the form of clinical depression set a kind of point and forced me to change my lifestyle. 

I understood that antidepressants would help me, but in order to improve my condition in the future and not fall into such emotional pits again – I needed to change my lifestyle. 

I gave up alcohol (I haven’t had a drink for half a year now, and I plan not to for at least another 1.5 years, as I read that giving up alcohol for 2 years helps to restore my nervous system), and also put daily exercise into my schedule. Every morning I do a small set of exercises, about 10 minutes, or a yoga practice. I also go out to play squash 1-2 times a week

What steps did you take to overcome your struggle?

Battling depression taught me several strategies that might help others in a similar situation. First, I chose to avoid alcohol, instead investing energy into my passion for cooking. This positive outlet lifted my spirits and boosted my self-esteem. 

Regular exercise was also crucial. Despite the difficulty, even a short walk could initiate a helpful boost in mood from the release of endorphins. It gave me a sense of accomplishment, which helped counter negative thoughts. 

I found that maintaining a healthy sleep schedule and nutritious diet helped regulate my mood and energy levels. It was essential to eat whole foods and limit processed ones to feel healthier and more focused.

Finally, setting boundaries between work and rest was vital. I learned to set specific work hours, take regular breaks, and engage in non-work-related activities during my downtime. This helped recharge my emotional resilience and provided a much-needed reprieve from professional responsibilities.

Remember, these steps were helpful in my journey, but everyone’s experience is unique. Always consider seeking help from a trained mental health professional, as their guidance can be a vital component of recovery.

Have you shared any of this with people around you in real life?

Over time, I have become comfortable discussing my mental health challenges openly. I realized that transparency could actually foster understanding and lead to support from unexpected places. Sharing my experiences often prompted others to reciprocate, creating a more open and meaningful dialogue about mental health.

While the reactions varied, I learned to focus on the benefits of honesty. By sharing, I could help others understand my behavior and potentially provide support. 

Initially, I was hesitant to share with my colleagues and blog audience, fearing judgment or a tarnished image. However, I discovered that acknowledging my struggles demonstrated resilience, not weakness.

Sharing my journey with my readers not only helped me feel more connected to them but also sparked valuable conversations about mental health, furthering the cause of destigmatization.

If you could give a single piece of advice to someone else that struggles, what would that be?

No one can change your life for you and help you. You have to make an effort to get better. It can be very difficult when you’re depressed, but you have to take at least one small step every day. Start with what is easiest for you. 

In states such as depression, you need to praise yourself for even the most ordinary and simple routine actions. Even activities like washing the dishes, going to the store, and others. It is good if there is someone nearby who can evaluate your progress and praise you from the outside, but if not, make it a habit to praise yourself.

What have been the most influential books, podcasts, YouTube channels, or other resources for you?

I didn’t watch/read much on the subject, and if I did, I don’t remember what it was. I was more attracted to entertainment content, like movies. It allowed me to change my focus and move my thoughts in a different direction

Where can we go to learn more about you?

You can read more about me on my website, personal Instagram or check out my work Instagram, and Twitter.

๐Ÿ’ก By the way: If you want to start feeling better and more productive, I’ve condensed the information of 100’s of our articles into a 10-step mental health cheat sheet here. ๐Ÿ‘‡

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Hugo Huijer AuthorLinkedIn Logo

Founder of Tracking Happiness, with over 100 interviews and a focus on practical advice, our content extends beyond happiness tracking. Hailing from the Netherlands, I’m a skateboarding enthusiast, marathon runner, and a dedicated data junkie, tracking my happiness for over a decade.

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