A Different Kind Of Strength

A wise person once told me, "When the good Lord put you on this earth, he didn't promise you that life would be fair," but I could never imagine how unfair life could be until I lost my husband. One minute Mike and I were discussing what we were going to do the next day, and the next minute I was facing a doctor who was telling me that Mike was in a coma and was not going to live.

I had suffered from Major Depressive Disorder for most of my life but with medication, I was able to control my symptoms. However, Mike's death sent me into a dark spiral that I couldn't imagine ever returning from. I signed up for grief counseling and saw a therapist, but still I contemplated suicide just to be with him. I developed anxiety every time I left my house and I couldn't go to work. I was becoming agoraphobic and there didn't seem to be a way out.

During a session with my therapist, she asked me what activities I did before I met Mike. I though about it. In my younger days, I used to work out at a gym. My therapist suggested working with a personal trainer. I would be an activity that I would not associate with Mike. I would be more likely to work out if I knew I had a set appointment and exercise was good for depression.

I Googled "Personal Trainers in Michigan" and sifted through the myriad of websites until I came to one that stood out, "Ex-a-stat what?" I looked over the Facebook page and was impressed with the positive reviews. I called and set up an appointment to talk to the owner.

I met Pete and was upfront with him. I explained that although I was overweight and out of shape, I was not here for fitness or diet. I was there for my depression and the only goal I had for the time being, was to show up for my appointment. If i walked through the door, I would consider that a win. Even though Pete said he understood, I was hesitant. Every trainer pushes their diet and training routines and I just didn't have the mindset for that right now.

We started walking. Pete was friendly and easy to talk to. he told me that he had recently lost a family member and as we talked, i felt like he understood my grief. There was no pressure to adhere to any program. He told me we would keep with the basics until I felt like I wanted something more. I left feeling better than I had felt in months. I continued this way for about a year. I found that for the 60 minutes I was at the gym, I was able to block out m depression. I was starting to function again and I was eventually able to return to work.

Fast forward 3 years. I am still training with Pete. I have set and met several goals and I am stronger, physically, emotionally and mentally than I have ever been. I still have periodic bouts of depression, but I find that working out keeps me from plunging into the darkness of despair.

1 in 6 people will experience depression in their lifetime. Research from Harvard Medical School shows that exercise can be an effective element in the treatment of depression. Most people have heard of "runners high," the endorphins that occur during intense exercise, but sustained, low intensity exercise is the key to long term relief of depression. Exercise helps nerve cells to grow and make new connections in the brain. This improves brain function and helps to relieve depression. (Harvard health News Letter).

I recently had a new client ask me if Pete had helped me reach my goals. I smiled as I thought, I am no longer afraid to leave my house; I am not suicidal and I am looking forward to my future. "Yes," I answered. "Pete has definitely helped me reach my goals."

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