Here’s To False Starts

by Jordan Sundberg at

Hello. I’m back.

After about the twelfth person asked, “Are you still posting?” I thought, “Okay. People actually read this thing,” and I began to rummage around for blogging ideas to welcome the winter and resurface.

The fact of the matter: it’s time for me to talk about other stuff. Diet isn’t the whole enchilada. So I’ve relaunched, and obviously renamed too.

Years ago, a friend of mine asked what I did to manage my depression–out of the blue, an email. I replied and immediately felt foolish: I’d sent her an enormous list. Around that time I realized if I was ever going to beat chronic depression it would take a lot of my time and energy. It was a whisper of intuition. I didn’t know that my growing list of strategies would make me better, but I wanted to try.

So, here’s the other bit– maybe not what you want to hear but it’s a significant part of the equation that I’d left out of my blog before now.

All year long, I run.

At least 20km a week. Sometimes closer to 50. And over the last decade, it’s become my belief that if one focuses on treating the physical body as an honoured, well-oiled machine, the mind will automatically fall into line. Fundamentally, this is how I’ve shifted things.

Going vegan about 18 months ago – and off coffee around the same time; although I still drink an insane amount of black tea – felt like a last piece of the puzzle sliding into place. I just finally felt sort of normal, the way I was when I was a kid, and not afraid every minute that some cycle of thinking would throw me totally out-of-whack. I trusted my mind to behave. But to be fair, I was already pretty well by then; I’d been running for nearly ten years.

(Side Note: It’s always been about reducing the frequency of “out-of-whack” episodes, and how quickly I can get myself back to feeling fine. In 25 years I’ve gone from wall-to-wall depression, 24/7, to spans of 6 months where I feel great.  I can turn it around in less than 24 hours now. It used to take me weeks.)

So what I’m getting at, and what was missing from my blog before is …. there is no single cure-all. You won’t go vegan and your mind will never betray you again. If you have chronic mental illness, managing it will always require some work.

My grandfather sat in a Lazyboy and smoked a pipe my entire childhood, never speaking to me. After he died, my mother said, “He was depressed.” My grandmother’s Christian devotion eclipsed everything so completely, she couldn’t seem to cope otherwise. When I became severely depressed at 18, I wondered why I felt my own life falling away but, eerily, it seemed that no one noticed.  In reality, those with emotional problems suffer invisibly, even with family and friends all around them. And these days, a therapist prescribes some pharmaceutical which perhaps gives mysterious relief, without requiring any actual work whatsoever by the patient.

No one can help you but you.  The struggle is lonely, and so is the cure. But it CAN shift. The following illustration lends us some insight on this concept…

And thanks to false starts and opportunities to relaunch, I may now include links to anything and everything I find comforting and smart.  (For example, cartoons like the one above by Allie Brosh of Hyperbole and a Half fame. Find Allie’s work here.)  Which, honestly, I wanted to do all along but I thought it might not jive with a food blog.

Subscribers who happen to live in these parts will also get invites to super cool vegan potlucks.  So subscribe!

‘Til then, comrades…

Secret of the universe: relaunch as necessary.

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2 thoughts on “Here’s To False Starts

  1. Wow. Very interesting read. Following with great interest. Have been severely depressed for about the same amount of time, only diagnosed at 30. I am very open about my condition with friends, colleagues and family. I believe that my trials can serve to support those around me perhaps struggling in the same way. My greatest fear as a parent is having my daughter grow up remembering me always sad and in bed with the shades drawn, similar to your grandfather I guess. We have had many open conversations about it, and I am vigilant about keeping an eye on my daughter’s mental health (just in case). You see depression runs in my family also. I have been medicated for about 14 years, and my bouts with depression are stymied through that, but do not want to be so dependant on the medication, and obviously worry about short and long-term side effects. I would like to explore a multi-pronged approach to depression management that would include diet and exercise, and would allow me to get off the meds one day. I look forward to continuing this journey with you Libby, and thanks for bravely sharing your personal challenges and victories in this forum.

  2. Thank you Libby for sharing. It’s great to focus on the things we can do that are good for our health, mental or otherwise– its all related. Hope we see you soon!

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