Thursday, August 20, 2015

A Thirst for Life

I Began to Inch My Way Out
. . . of Depression
A Thirst for Life
Part Four of a Continuing Series
“If bread is the staff of life,
then water is the hand that holds that staff.”
Americans take water for granted (unless they live in California or farm for a living). I know I do. Turn on the faucet, turn on the hose, voila! Water.
Three hundred feet deep, the artesian well at my Massachusetts home yields cold, clear, tasty, chemical-free water. The water at my Central Florida home also comes from a well. It’s a few hundred feet shy of being three hundred feet deep, it has iron, and at times, it has a slight sulfur odor. The water softener clears the water, but doesn’t help the taste. We tried various sink filters that didn’t help, so we started buying reverse osmosis water in three- and five-gallon jugs that we place on a water crock with a spout. We go to an R-O filling station, so it’s also a bargain at 25 cents a gallon.
It’s a hassle, though. We lug the jugs to the car, lug them out of the car and into what we call the water store, fill them, lug them back to the car, lug them back into the house, and then lug them from the garage to the kitchen. But when those filled jugs are lined up in the garage, I feel like we’ve accomplished something. I also relax knowing we have clear, clean, chemical-free, iron-free, and salt-free water. It lasts a few weeks and it’s worth the effort.
I am not someone who believes drinking a gallon of water a day is necessary. The human body has a grand design and if we needed to constantly drink water, I think we would have a container growing off our hips. However, it is important to drink water, to stay hydrated, especially in the year-round Florida heat, and according to your lifestyle.
I’m lazy, though, and I love carbonated beverages, tea, and coffee. I must remind myself to drink water.
During my recent bout with depression, I didn’t drink much water. Caffeinated beverages provided the jolt I needed to just keep moving and keep my neurons firing at even a pitifully low rate. Water wasn’t a priority.
In this series on depression, I have referred to the “Everything Is Awful and I’m Not Okay: Questions to Ask Before Giving Up” article many times. After I printed the PDF, I put it on my desk where I could see it. One day, I paid attention to the first question:
“Are you hydrated? If not, have a glass of water.”
I couldn’t remember the last time I drank a glass of water, so I ambled into the kitchen. Plastic gallon jugs of Publix spring water littered the kitchen table. Some were empty, some full, some had an inch or two of water. I surveyed the chaos, picked up a jug, and poured myself a glass of water.
I drank, and it was good.
When you’re depressed, everything seems like too much work. The hassle of getting water had morphed into a huge chore. It was much easier to buy gallon jugs at four times the price of a gallon at the water store. But the jugs piled up, the recycling bins overfilled, and I still wasn’t drinking water unless I used it for coffee, tea, or cooking.
In addition, because I wasn’t going to the water store, I wasn’t buying softener salt, so the water that did come out of the faucets was taking on a slight orange tint.
Water. I realized I just wanted to drink water. I also wanted to drink water store water. The three- and five-gallon jugs had been festering in the garage for several weeks, so I couldn’t just go fill them. I had to clean them. I went to the garage, bleach in tow, and carried each bottle onto the driveway. I rinsed, I sprayed with diluted bleach, I let them sit in the sun, and rinsed them again, being certain they were free of bacteria and bleach. I then went to the water store, filled them, got salt for the softener, and brought my water home. That was several weeks ago. I no longer run out of water. It’s worth the effort because I have fresh, pure water to drink.

It seems trivial to say that water was one of the ways I inched my way out of depression. Combined with leaving my room, taking a shower, and renewing contact with friends and family, it made and continues to make a difference. It’s one measure of self-care that helped me inch myself away from depression.
Drink water. Just don’t overdo it. Recommendations regarding the amount that’s right for you, your body type, and lifestyle are available from your healthcare practitioner or online.
* * * *
I am not a therapist, so if you or someone you love suffers depression, reach out; get help. However, I do believe we can do some simple things to help ourselves. My own continuing counsel about inching away from depression follows:
Ask yourself: Have you had a glass of cool, clear water in the last hour or so? Are you hydrated?
If your answer is no, then drink a glass of water. Other beverages do not count. Drinking water is not a magic potion to drive away the demons of depression. But while you thirst for wellness, remember to quench your body’s desire for water.

Aside from getting out of bed, taking a shower, connecting with friends and family, and drinking water, an article I saw on Facebook also helped immensely. I was not contemplating suicide, and was not ready to give up, but I was darker than I have been in years. Please read the article and if you are having dark days of your own, take the suggestions to heart.

The original can be downloaded in printable form at the following URL:

I will continue to share additional steps I took to inch my way out of depression.

Note: I welcome comments, even private ones, especially because depression is not something we want everyone to know we experience. If you would like to speak further about this subject, please feel free to contact me at and we can communicate by e-mail or I will share my phone number. Be well. ~ Chris

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