T Nation

Spiraling Into Depression. Help?


#1

Hey guys. I've been lifting for about 2 years and I'm 19 years old. Went from 135 to 175 pounds which I'm pretty proud of. Never really had any serious injuries to keep me out of the gym except minor stuff like weak rotator cuffs that hurt or pulling something and letting it recover for a few days, then it was fine. But for the past 2 weeks I've had a shoulder problem in my right shoulder, the pt said it may be a capsule strain or something like that so i have stretches to do a couple times a day and they're helping. I also have tendonitis or tennis elbow in my right elbow which hurts only when I do tricep isolation.

Things that were fun aren't fun anymore. I don't find the joy in life that I used to, and my girlfriend says I'm getting distant and is worried that I'm going to break up with her, which I'm not. I almost can't stand to look in the mirror because I just imagine and see myself getting smaller after taking 2 weeks off. I just need some sort of lifting, it was the thing I looked forward to most in the day. I thought about taking up biking or something like that. What do you guys think I should do? Anything would be appreciated, thanks.

Jack


#2

If not being able to lift weights for two weeks, is causing a spiraling depression. Maybe it is time to find something to give more depth and well roundedness to your life. Like spending times with friends, family, and your girlfriend being as intimate and open hearted as you can.


#3

I feel like a lot of guys who lift identify with being “the guy who lifts” or “the guy with the big shoulders” or “the guy with six pack abs” and when that’s taken away from them, so is their “identity” which can lead to a mental crisis. It can be that way with anything “the guy who makes a million bucks a year” loses his job and falls into a depression, because he values his salary more than he values himself. The athlete who is paralyzed in a car accident and can no longer do what he loves.

Of course, if you love lifting, losing the ability to do so is a hit to your psyche, but try not to let your sense of self be taken along with your ability to lift.

Do you have other hobbies? If you have ten hobbies and one of 'em is taken away from you, it won’t be as bad as if you had one hobby and it was taken away.

Have you ever heard of a buddha board? It’s supposed to teach living in the moment and not getting upset when something’s taken away from you. It’s an interesting concept.

It’s good that you’re realizing this before it’s too late. Depression is nasty stuff.

Read Man’s Search For Meaning by Viktor Frankl. Aside from the fact that all of your problems will no longer seem like a problem, it’ll give you a whole new perspective on life.


#4

I wouldn’t call it depression as that is a real thing and what you are experiencing is likely the same thing many young men go through.
Depression is not brought on by missing the gym due to an injury either.


#5

[quote]Nards wrote:
I wouldn’t call it depression as that is a real thing and what you are experiencing is likely the same thing many young men go through.
Depression is not brought on by missing the gym due to an injury either.[/quote]

What do you know?

You’re not even cut out for this.

I hope you don’t mind, I’ve decided to follow you around and haunt you with those words now that PX is gone.


#6

[quote]LankyMofo wrote:

[quote]Nards wrote:
I wouldn’t call it depression as that is a real thing and what you are experiencing is likely the same thing many young men go through.
Depression is not brought on by missing the gym due to an injury either.[/quote]

What do you know?

You’re not even cut out for this.

I hope you don’t mind, I’ve decided to follow you around and haunt you with those words now that PX is gone. [/quote]

It’s fun, I like it.

I like that he was comparing my legs to those of former NFL player and all-around badass Terry Crews.
PX’s reasoning, I think, was that Terry Crews had already decided to focus on his acting career so his lack of leg development was forgivable, but mine, as a 40 year-old teacher, was not.


#7

[quote]LankyMofo wrote:

[quote]Nards wrote:
I wouldn’t call it depression as that is a real thing and what you are experiencing is likely the same thing many young men go through.
Depression is not brought on by missing the gym due to an injury either.[/quote]

What do you know?

You’re not even cut out for this.

I hope you don’t mind, I’ve decided to follow you around and haunt you with those words now that PX is gone. [/quote]

I almost used PX as an example of one of those guys who is so identified with his size, the second he lost a pound, he lost his sense of self.

Sad, really.


#8

[quote]str8_flexed wrote:
Hey guys. I’ve been lifting for about 2 years and I’m 19 years old. Went from 135 to 175 pounds which I’m pretty proud of. Never really had any serious injuries to keep me out of the gym except minor stuff like weak rotator cuffs that hurt or pulling something and letting it recover for a few days, then it was fine. But for the past 2 weeks I’ve had a shoulder problem in my right shoulder, the pt said it may be a capsule strain or something like that so i have stretches to do a couple times a day and they’re helping. I also have tendonitis or tennis elbow in my right elbow which hurts only when I do tricep isolation.

Things that were fun aren’t fun anymore. I don’t find the joy in life that I used to, and my girlfriend says I’m getting distant and is worried that I’m going to break up with her, which I’m not. I almost can’t stand to look in the mirror because I just imagine and see myself getting smaller after taking 2 weeks off. I just need some sort of lifting, it was the thing I looked forward to most in the day. I thought about taking up biking or something like that. What do you guys think I should do? Anything would be appreciated, thanks.

Jack[/quote]

People often get confused by the disconnect between how they see themselves and how other people see them. All you’ve mentioned is lifting and your girlfriend so I suppose those are the most important things to you. So then tell your girlfriend all of this instead of us. Because if you won’t tell her about your insecurities when you are dwelling on them, you are being distant from her which she correctly perceived.

In the gym you need to stop thinking about image and focus on the purpose of lifting: getting healthier in your movement. If you are getting injured something is wrong. If your rotator cuffs are weak and you aren’t doing something to strengthen them and it causes repeaed injuries then you should reevaluate your priorities.

Also do you really want to start biking? Lifting is a project, it has an end goal. Biking is not really a project, unless you want to become a competitor. Don’t pick a “hobby”, pick a project, these are things that will pass the time in a fulfilling way and give you joy from accomplishing something


#9

[quote]rrjc5488 wrote:

[quote]LankyMofo wrote:

[quote]Nards wrote:
I wouldn’t call it depression as that is a real thing and what you are experiencing is likely the same thing many young men go through.
Depression is not brought on by missing the gym due to an injury either.[/quote]

What do you know?

You’re not even cut out for this.

I hope you don’t mind, I’ve decided to follow you around and haunt you with those words now that PX is gone. [/quote]

I almost used PX as an example of one of those guys who is so identified with his size, the second he lost a pound, he lost his sense of self.

Sad, really. [/quote]

Yeah, because without his size, he would be nothing but a dentist with his own practice.

Sad. Really sad.


#10

dude, if 2 weeks out of the gym is enough to send you “spiralling into depression” then you have bigger problems than muscle loss…


#11

[quote]Yogi wrote:
dude, if 2 weeks out of the gym is enough to send you “spiralling into depression” then you have bigger problems than muscle loss…[/quote]

I agree. As others have said before, you’ve perceive your self worth as something that depends on your physique. This is a mental issue, not a physical one. It is also a very common one among young male gym rats and very few people are willing to adress it.

On the mental side: talk to your girlfriend about your insecurities. This weighs heavily on your mind and not telling her does in fact mean you hide something from her. Also, if she is worth your time she will support you.

On the physical side: if your shoulders get cranky you need to do something - take time off or just rearrange your program. Lighten the loads, increase reps, shorten rest periods - that kinda thing. If you don’t, you’ll find out the hard way that the body always gets what it wants - recovering from injury will mean a much longer layoff.


#12

[quote]str8_flexed wrote:
I almost can’t stand to look in the mirror because I just imagine and see myself getting smaller after taking 2 weeks off.[/quote]

Take your measurements. This way you’ll know if it’s all in your head. shoulder circumference, chest, arms, waist, hips, thighs (make sure you measure the same spot, like the seams of your boxers), calves.


#13

I’ve told my girlfriend and she tries to understand but she says she can’t. She sees no difference in my physique. I do spend time with her, a lot of it. My mom and sister are always together and my dad isn’t home a lot, he was home this last weekend which was the first one in 2 months. I’m looking into finding new hobbies because before summer it was lifting, school, and work. Now that school is done I’m trying to find something worth while to do.

Jack


#14

OP- I worry you are conflating sadness about missing workouts as being a cause of depression in your life, as opposed to a symptom. Even the structure of your first post (1st para workouts, 2d depression) suggest that you either know or subconsciously know that the depression exists independently of how disappointed you are about a gym layoff.

That being said, the point is that there are many, many options for treating depression, and while an aspect of those treatments will involve doing things you enjoy, your primary focus should be on seeking professional help for now, to deal with the symptoms you describe. Many young men grapple with depression, anxiety, etc., and doing so the smart way will get you back to lifting sooner, more intensely and for the long term.


#15

[quote]str8_flexed wrote:
I’ve told my girlfriend and she tries to understand but she says she can’t. She sees no difference in my physique. I do spend time with her, a lot of it. My mom and sister are always together and my dad isn’t home a lot, he was home this last weekend which was the first one in 2 months. I’m looking into finding new hobbies because before summer it was lifting, school, and work. Now that school is done I’m trying to find something worth while to do.

Jack[/quote]

Jack, your girlfriend will never understand and if you’re lucky she will never care about your physique. 2 weeks off from the gym shouldn’t give her anything to notice anyway.

I’ve been married 8 years and my wife couldn’t care a bit about the difference between my 192-lb dadbod she married vs. 215 TNationbod of today.

Stop being a drama queen about lifting. Get a life. Seriously. My buddy’s son is 16 and it seems like you guys are in the same boat.


#16

[quote]str8_flexed wrote:
I’ve told my girlfriend and she tries to understand but she says she can’t. She sees no difference in my physique. I do spend time with her, a lot of it. My mom and sister are always together and my dad isn’t home a lot, he was home this last weekend which was the first one in 2 months. I’m looking into finding new hobbies because before summer it was lifting, school, and work. Now that school is done I’m trying to find something worth while to do.

Jack[/quote]

Well… She doesn’t have to UNDERSTAND it. Basically, you don’t feel pretty enough without the gym. This is a problem that isn’t rooted in reality but in the way you perceive yourself. It’s the complete opposite of ‘manly’, but if she can offer you a shoulder to lean on without judging you, it will help.


#17

Dude you are taking this way too hard.

I’ll give you something depressing, having a kidney removed and not being able to work out for 12 weeks. Then right after being released and getting back int he groove, stepping ona piece of steel plate, and wrecking a knee,( out for another 4 weeks).

Finally get everything sorted out, get back in the groove, numbers going up, BF is decreasing, and bam, blew out a shoulder requiring another surgery.

8 weeks after being released from surgery, get under the bar and cannot get 135 off the pins, strip some weight off and wind up starting all the way over, with a bare olympic bare.

Here’s the worse part, bitching about not being able to bench press to the 95 pound woman who’s been wiping my ass for the last 6 weeks, right after she tells me she PRed a 185 pound bench press.

You have nothing to worry about dude, it’s not something worth taking your tonsils out with a shotgun.

Grab a band and do some flys, it won’t stress the joint as much and you cna get a little bit of work in.

keep your head up, it can always be worse.


#18

I’m curious why you can’t lift for 2 weeks.

It’s just a shoulder and a tricep right? You could blitz your legs, deadlifts, back, etc etc. You could probably even get away with some partial ROM work.

This sounds like an excellent opportunity to get into the gym and try/learn something new. The most growth I ever had in lifting came from injuries.


#19

[quote]bullpup wrote:
Dude you are taking this way too hard.

I’ll give you something depressing, having a kidney removed and not being able to work out for 12 weeks. Then right after being released and getting back int he groove, stepping ona piece of steel plate, and wrecking a knee,( out for another 4 weeks).

Finally get everything sorted out, get back in the groove, numbers going up, BF is decreasing, and bam, blew out a shoulder requiring another surgery.

8 weeks after being released from surgery, get under the bar and cannot get 135 off the pins, strip some weight off and wind up starting all the way over, with a bare olympic bare.

Here’s the worse part, bitching about not being able to bench press to the 95 pound woman who’s been wiping my ass for the last 6 weeks, right after she tells me she PRed a 185 pound bench press.

You have nothing to worry about dude, it’s not something worth taking your tonsils out with a shotgun.

Grab a band and do some flys, it won’t stress the joint as much and you cna get a little bit of work in.

keep your head up, it can always be worse.

[/quote]

This is my least favorite type of one-upmanship, probably because everyone in my family does it in the most obnoxious way possible. “Oh yeah??? You think you got it bad? Listen to THIS shit bro!” Seriously though, you’re right, it could definitely be worse. OP’s thread title is a little melodramatic, but he’s 19 so that’s to be expected.

OP: Find something you can bust your ass at while your shoulder heals. I had to have relatively minor shoulder surgery a year ago. Immediately post-op, I was limited enough physically that I knew just about anything I could do in the gym wasn’t going to scratch that “I NEED TO KICK ASS AT SOMETHING” itch, so I threw myself into work instead. If you can’t find something physically satisfying to do, then find something mentally stimulating to throw yourself into until you can hit the gym again.

And for the love of god, don’t cry to your girlfriend about your problems.


#20

[quote]dt79 wrote:

[quote]rrjc5488 wrote:

[quote]LankyMofo wrote:

[quote]Nards wrote:
I wouldn’t call it depression as that is a real thing and what you are experiencing is likely the same thing many young men go through.
Depression is not brought on by missing the gym due to an injury either.[/quote]

What do you know?

You’re not even cut out for this.

I hope you don’t mind, I’ve decided to follow you around and haunt you with those words now that PX is gone. [/quote]

I almost used PX as an example of one of those guys who is so identified with his size, the second he lost a pound, he lost his sense of self.

Sad, really. [/quote]

Yeah, because without his size, he would be nothing but a dentist with his own practice.

Sad. Really sad.[/quote]

That’s my point - he had tons of things going for him, like you said (dentist, veteran, etc.) and despite that, he hated seeing the scale number even by a few pounds because he identified as “the big guy” so strongly.

I’m not gonna turn this into a hate on X thread, but that guy had an obsession with being huge.