Saturday, December 24, 2011

A Letter to Paul...

I received this video link from Paul Young, Health Promoter at South Riverdale Commmunity Health Centre. I'm on one of his email lists. 

The piece below started as a short thank you note back to Paul which got a 'little' out of hand; now it's an article that I hope helps those suffering from depression - a timely piece, importantly as at this time of year, when people need a positive take on this topic ( Unlike my last post on this - ).


Re: "23 and 1/2 hours: What is the single best thing we can do for our health?" -

Very well done!

I like those animated talks.

From my perspective, the content was also right on.

I've just recently become aware that I have suffered from bouts of clinical depression for most of my life. My behaviour patterns over that time can I think be linked to me trying to cope with the symptoms - but without understanding the whole.

I believe those behaviour patterns have included obsessive compulsive behaviours which lead to a variety of dysfunctional lifestyle choices - including addictions to a variety of drugs including alcohol, caffeine, nicotine, sugar (and a couple of others I won't mention here) - but also - long distance running, working too much, and reading obsessively, playing too much.
(one summer I played at a professional pace - in 4 Rec. Co-ed Baseball Leagues I attained over 400 AB's - the Major League minimum to be considered for the Batting Championship!).

Done in balance these are good things, but without an appreciation of the whole they can be very bad for your health - even deadly.

Recently an understanding of the whole has become revealed to me; though trial and tribulation, I was getting old - the end was nearer than the beginning - it was either find a balance though which I could attain my perceived potential - or end it.

I guess I found the truth less scary than the other way.

I've been taking steps to find that balance and battle that depression with out the use of prescription drugs ( which have all kinds of side effects, some of which are worse than what they 'cure' - or mask, is another perspective ).

These steps include writing daily ( researching, learning seems to be the kicker ), preparing meals at home from scratch ( thus healthy ingredients ), creating healthy social circles, and regular appointments with health professionals about my depression. I have noticed the single most important thing - that has the largest effect on my mental state when it is with-drawn from the regimen - is exercise.

I've always thought that doing exercise for exercise's sake was a strange way of living; I think it leads to a hedonism and - in this culture so full of advertising which temps us in that direction - that's the last thing I think I needed more of.

So I always try to get my exercise through doing something I love to do already; like playing baseball in a league once a week, or though cycling. The problem was where to 'go' in the winter months when one is unable to hold down a job, not to mention a little agoraphobic due to long term depression?

So, to use the doctor's analogy, I combined two of my medicines, into one. I ride my bike to daily activities designed to broaden my social networks!

I volunteer helping to off-load the Daily Bread food truck at the food bank where I receive food weekly. As well, everyday between 11am and 1pm I cycle to one of the Interfaith Committee Lunch programs held a various houses of worship around the East End of Toronto. Also I volunteer at the South Riverdale Community Health Centre's Bicycle Repair Clinic once a week.

All these activities require about a 30 minute ride to get to and fro. Unloading the Daily Bread Truck is an intensive 15 minute work-out - and the bike repair clinic is trades-person's work; it's physical by nature - so about 2 hours of low intensity exercise.

Added to these recently are some evening meetings towards social justice campaigns I'm interested in - most of which are quite close by and require about a 5 or 10 minute ride by bike.

As I said above, when events conspire against this regime, and I don't get this approximately 30 minutes per day of exercise - my depression symptoms roar to the fore.

Exercise is essential to the regime of "medicines" I'm taking.


Michael Holloway


Beach United - "Interfaith Lunch Program" -

FilterBlogs - November 8, 2010 - "Daily Lunch for the Hungry - Daily Table with Map thumbnails" -

South Riverdale Community Health Centre ( SRCHC ) - Bicycle Repair Clinic

Interesting serendipity:
Inside Toronto just published an article on the Interfaith Lunch Program - "Food for lunch and the soul at Beach Interfaith program" -


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