Surfing with the Black Dog

overthefalls's picture
overthefalls started the topic in Sunday, 28 Jun 2020 at 4:20pm

Anyone ever struggled with depression? Did surfing help?

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overthefalls Sunday, 28 Jun 2020 at 5:13pm

I’ve lived with depression for the last few years. Not exactly sure what brought it on but I suspect it was a combination of stressful life events, genetic predisposition, substance abuse, unhealthy living and negative/irrational thinking. I feel like the fog is lifting now and I know surfing has played a big part in my gradual recovery. I think surfing has benefitted my mental health in a number of ways; it involves rigorous exercise that causes the brain to release feel-good chemicals, it makes you sleep better, it’s a form of mindfulness meditation that takes your mind off stuff, it connects you to nature and it’s a source of social contact, all of which are recommended strategies to treat depression.

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Blowin Sunday, 28 Jun 2020 at 5:28pm

Surfing definitely makes a huge difference. Unfortunately, an insidious effect of the depression is that it can make your passions seem unappealing. You’ve just got to force yourself out there sometimes to wedge a bit of light into the darkness.

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indo-dreaming Sunday, 28 Jun 2020 at 5:35pm

I had depression pretty bad about 15+ years ago for much of the same reasons, family history of depression, life just not going where i wanted, and i was partying really hard (lived on the Goldie) and not eating healthy, and just my outlook super negative.

Yeah sure there are a lot of things that can help and surfing can be a positive for sure, just getting out in the water and sun and getting exercise.

But in all honesty for me the thing that really brought change were anti depressants, it just changed my whole outlook and how i felt, which enabled me to change all the other things that i needed too, like not partying so hard, eating heathy, and just having a more positive outlook and then that flowed onto a zest for life and reboot for surfing which helped in that way.

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shoredump Sunday, 28 Jun 2020 at 6:23pm

Yes mate, and I’ve had decades worth of the best years of my life afterwards

You’re unhappiness is just a chemical

blow-in-9999's picture
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blow-in-9999 Sunday, 28 Jun 2020 at 7:00pm

My results mirror IndoDreaming. Less party more (over) working tho.

Really have to force myself to go when its shit (so like 95% of the time on the sunny coast...). Anti-Depressant can be very helpful with getting you out there enjoying it again.

After tearing my shoulder in Feb I've had to take up cycling. Still can't paddle properly.

Went on a surf trip to Indo about 10 years ago (which was thankfully book well in advanced) that probably saved my life. Heavy when I think about it.

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goofyfoot Sunday, 28 Jun 2020 at 7:17pm

Have you tried swimming to strengthen your shoulder?
Hope your depression lifts over the falls. Remember always talk to someone if you’re feeling down. Let someone know

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blow-in-9999 Sunday, 28 Jun 2020 at 11:35pm

Its purely the shoulder rotation on the recovery stroke that's the problem. I can't easier swim anything but breaststroke. Been for a few sessions on the boog, but still sketchy at my favorite spots without a right arm to paddle. Depression is up and down at the moment, generally under control.

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H2O Monday, 29 Jun 2020 at 8:11am

Blow-in-9999 - Have you been to a pyhsio who specialists in shoulder re setting .Yeah they will all say they do but some really know their shit. If the tear has mended the shoulder should be re set and a specialist will show you how. If time /$ permits and you cant find one in your area , Joel Werner at The Oval Physio in North Sydney is fantastic. Have to book ahead weeks but worth it.

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SurferSam Monday, 29 Jun 2020 at 9:38am

I’ve had back to back injuries this year and been out of the water for all but a couple of weeks in between. Def plays with your head not being able to surf. So while yes surfing helps prevent depression, I feel like it makes it worse when you can’t surf. Especially when all your happy memories are tied to surfing in some way. But the ocean still helps, I can still swim and get that salty feeling

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P'tai Monday, 29 Jun 2020 at 7:56pm

Yes surfing helped immensely. I was diagnosed with PTSD, after subjecting myself to a litany of self destructive behaviours. My Psych asked me what made me happy in the past, as a kid, well before serving the nation. It was training and surfing. He told me to go surfing, rather than prescribing. That was what he preferred me do. So I did. It was a revelation. The way he put it to me was that, any physical activity will release endorphins (feel good hormones), couple that with an activity that you love(or at that time i had loved) the effect will be amplified. It was. the effect was a win win. I got fitter and happier and did not need to rely on prescription.
That life changing revelation to me occurred 15 years ago. I still surf as much as I can. I'm still in touch with my Psych, the difference is we now shake hands, as we are now mates! (He never shook hands with a patient, so not to blur the lines)

Go Surfing it will save you.

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mowgli Wednesday, 8 Jul 2020 at 1:35pm

In my late teens/early 20s I suffered depression. Suicidal thoughts, the full shebang.

Physical activity works for many people. As P'Tai said, it's the endorphins. If surfing works for you, stick with it (though crowds may be counter productive!).

For me, I went to a psychologist for a while, and she prescribed me some anti-depressents (serotonin?), but only as a supplement. The core of my treatment was cognitive behaviour therapy, which at the time was still not part of the mainstream of treatments from what I understand.

I was only using the pills for a few months. Seemed to be what was needed to push-start the chemical production my body needed. Like putting a bit of petrol straight into the air-intake of ya mower (or so my old man does). The thing that worked for me was the CBT. Though because my depression was symptom of a broader disorder, perhaps CBT isn't suitable for depression.

But in short, I would strongly urge you to seek external help. A sliding doors moment for me was discovering the resources from Headspace and Beyond Blue and the like. I still remember the night a fucking balled my eyes out from RELIEF when I read all this stuff on the Headspace website that helped me to realise that I am not alone, and that I am not crazy, and that people can and do get over this and that there is a path for doing so. I've never called Lifeline, but I am told by others that it helped them.

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overthefalls Wednesday, 8 Jul 2020 at 2:59pm

My psychologist recommended omega 3 supplements as one of the treatments for depression. He also gave me some literature to read about the link between omega 3 and mood disorders, which was published by the Black Dog Institute. What I found interesting in the reading was that cultures that have a diet rich in fish (which is a good source of omega 3 oil) have a relatively lower incidence of depression. The literature also suggested that the increasing incidence of depression in Western cultures might be attributed to less fish and more processed foods (which are high in omega 6) being consumed. I was skeptical about omega 3 at first but I gave it a try anyway because I was willing to do anything that would lift me out of the fog. Lo and behold, I definitely noticed a gradual improvement in my mood. Sure, it could have been just the placebo effect or one of the other strategies employed (such as CBT, exercise, meditation and no alcohol), but I’m sticking with it because I never want to go through that dark period in my life again. Admittedly, more rigorous research needs to be done, but the anecdotal evidence from my psychologist (who has been practising for decades) is promising. Even if it is just the placebo effect, omega 3 still has proven benefits for physical health, especially for the heart and the brain. As a side note, I never had any success with the antidepressants my GP prescribed; I felt like a zombie, but I know others who have benefitted from them. I guess everybody just has to find what is right for them.

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dandandan Wednesday, 8 Jul 2020 at 4:04pm

Some really good advice here already, thanks for sharing it. I'd be surprised if anyone went through their life without even a brief encounter with the dog. Some never escape it, and far too many (especially men) seem to ignore it biting at their heels for years at a time. I manage various kinds of trauma well now, but 6 years ago it was really rough.

Like Mowgli, I'd really recommend external support. But in answer to your question, surfing was pivotal to clearing the fog for me in that time. It was the only thing that kept me going at a time when everything else that I loved felt heavy and lifeless and generally made me feel like a failure. This all coincided with a time of picking up a second hand log, and a long winter of consistently clean and windless days when I could surf almost every day. I'm really not sure how I would have charted a way through it in any other circumstance, and those moments of riding simple, glassy waves were like an anchor to a sense of myself that had all but slipped away. I wrote about it for Pacific Longboard a couple of years ago if you're interested.

If I could go back over that period again, there are two things I would change. First of all, I would have spoken to a therapist much sooner. And secondly I would have found a men's group much earlier. I have issues forming good relationships with blokes, but reaching out to the local men's group here and being able to share and be supported was such an enormous relief and I would really recommend it.

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Robin Masters Tuesday, 21 Jul 2020 at 11:27pm

Have you seen Bustin’ Down The Door when Shaun Tomson says “Surfing will make things better”?Well for me a truer word has never been spoken.
When there’s no surf, I make sure I go for a jog & now I’m doing boxing lessons so exercise works for me, plus staying off the piss, eating well and avoiding people that aren’t good for you as best you can. Depression is horrible but we have to cope with it the best we can.
I wish one day it’ll go away.

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truebluebasher Wednesday, 22 Jul 2020 at 12:07pm

Salute to all ...Shaun Tomson signed tbb a script that helped me heal once before.

Many Doctors instruct tbb not to Surf, Jog, Jolt, Walk + don't drink or smoke.

Under Doctors Ok! Drove to buy more retarding Medical Gear.
Covid mined Route (3) 4 lane 80km > 60km (Fine) + Auto Blew Up ($3k > $3m)

No choice but painfully walk / Bus / Train to Thursday's Physio with rain setting in.
$50 physio visits are shot after 6 tests came back with 6 new disabling ailments.
The Physio fell silent....well no lifting that arm + Not + No > Then why am I here?
Physio saved me from Pool lockdown but now I'm worn out! Too exhausting!
Friday [+] week tbb has Neck & Brain scans at Night? (No Buses?)

As you guessed, all Plumbing,Yard,Home / Hovel needs a Deen Bros makeover.

Add exhausting bipolar / Crippling Myositis / Bung Eye & Nose / Sleep Apnea.
Now this horrid Carpal Tunnel...wrists & hands, can't lift a cup of coffee.(Shaking!)

It pains me to sit, see & press type this, but it pains me more to write or draw.
But if we're to battle depression we must out it, in all of it's hidden ugly detail.
This may sound depressing...tbb slides the lid to feed his pet Sarcophagus.

swellnet & this forum allow us sufferers a redial and that's plenty good enough!
tbb has been depressed long enough to know when it entombs him...(It's a life!)

Sadly! When depression first hits, one doesn't have such macabre learned insight.
Qld Health Psych! " You've been seriously depressed for 10 years." (Say Wot?)

Crew have given tbb caring rock solid support and i can never thank them enough.
Wishing Good Health to all here & the swellnet deserve it!
Qldurrz send wishes to all in Vic / NSW Lockdown...does yer mind in that does...

Basher is willing to trade heavily dented Unfathomobile for offroad zimmer frame.

overthefalls's picture
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overthefalls Wednesday, 22 Jul 2020 at 2:02pm

Hang in there, tbb. You’re not alone.

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Roystein Wednesday, 22 Jul 2020 at 3:17pm

I really appreciate your words TBB, I’ve said it before but I have found how to glean the myriad insights from your research, by finding the rhythm in your writing and reading it in a way that matches
Critical thing required to improve anything to do with how we feel is a belief that you have some control

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Craig Wednesday, 22 Jul 2020 at 4:24pm

Sorry to hear about the new complications TBB, positive vibes to help you get through. Look forward to that dip in the brine again however you may be able to. Wishing you all the best.

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shoredump Wednesday, 22 Jul 2020 at 4:45pm

We’re all mates on here TBB, how good is swellnet! Stay positive

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Island Bay Wednesday, 22 Jul 2020 at 6:49pm

Epic place!

Stay well, everybody.

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etarip Wednesday, 22 Jul 2020 at 7:47pm

TBB; keep your chin up mate. Plenty of crew on here sending you all the best energy. Keep us entertained with your posts.

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Bnkref Wednesday, 22 Jul 2020 at 8:47pm

Sending you wave of the day, TBB. Appreciate your contributions on Swellnet. Keep them coming!

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mikehunt207 Wednesday, 22 Jul 2020 at 9:07pm

Keep up the info feed TBB , one of the least opinionated but most informative contributors here, much appreciated mate.

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Rabbits68 Wednesday, 22 Jul 2020 at 9:11pm

What Mikehunt said 100%. Cheers Tbb

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Eugene Green Wednesday, 22 Jul 2020 at 11:30pm

Love your work TBB. Keep it up mate.

truebluebasher's picture
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truebluebasher Thursday, 23 Jul 2020 at 4:13pm

swellnet well wishers prove Positive Thought works...

Miracle - tbb bummed his son's car for the Physio. If only to tell the Physio enough is enough. Ready to walk out of the PAYG program...Doctor then proved I was stronger.

What source of trickery? tbb feels & knows he is weak? >> {{ Depression }} <<.

Advice: Bad news, ill health , exhaustion, exclusion etc...
tbb's two recent episodes tied in with worsening Covid news.
Mostly worsening health & loss of freedom tied with depressing News Days.

1st sign is that a week passes in just 3 days then a month in a week.
Human Race whizz by at 1,000 mph and you are just gum on their shoes.
Down to the bottom you go...Hell of a climb back up!
The person you become is the person you despise the most.
It hurts to move or smile & the sun is too bright, you turn your face & hide away.

Many drink or dope their way thru it, by masking the pain for another day.
You'll need nurturing, the sworn enemy of your decaying state of mind
At first it makes you feel more worthless then as Shaun says...a light.
Light can also mean you step outside to barely tolerate the World again.

Looks like #1 crew have kept tbb in the game!
Going 'round again...can't thank you all enough...

No idea what good it will do, but it's better than being a Zombie.
Maybe tbb can slot in with hodads behind the WSL heritage caddy shack.

Craig's picture
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Craig Thursday, 23 Jul 2020 at 4:24pm

Nice TBB, keep those glimmers of hope and positivity alive.

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H2O Thursday, 23 Jul 2020 at 5:50pm

Keep ‘em coming tbb all the best

Robin Masters's picture
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Robin Masters Thursday, 23 Jul 2020 at 8:36pm

All the best TBB.
Saltwater is the best cure as you know.
Even having a swim washes off some pain at least for a few minutes. I’d take it every time.
Take care

truebluebasher's picture
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truebluebasher Saturday, 3 Oct 2020 at 12:19pm

Endless compassion by crew & to top it all off tbb was awarded his stripes.
(No names Policy?) Of course tbb wishes to out swellnet goodwill ambassadors.
Here & throughout #1 swellnet assisting those/us to kick off the illness...Salute!

If need be known our good samaritans are honoured as they continue healing.

Open Reply to Spuddups (Spare Time should read... prisoner trapped in time)

re: What happened that has retired tbb...felt it best to reply on this site!

Kidz of earlier gen never knew illness so just copped a bashing as a cure.
eg: tbb couldn't kick his legs on swim laps so was whipped by a cane each lap.
Pretty soon tbb bucked up to be Junior Champion at Sports/Nippers/Surfing.
Again the craziest Wild Punk Rocker but also dedicated long shift Tradeworker.

Can surf the wave under over inside out, you dream it up, no longer need a board.
Surfing was complimented at highest level by Boardriders, Lifeguards, Beachgoers.

Kept daydreaming that 'Go flatout crazy off the rails' was a school subject.
All the while tbb thought agonizing disabling pain was a daily thing all went thru.
Naturally at a given point in time all ailments would catch up & consume their host.
For tbb, that disability set in at aged 50 & not a day before...

Bipolar fought off the Myositis that destroys the muscles + Bone sockets jarred.
Go hard lifestyle crushed discs that fuse nerves that lead to Carpal Tunnel braces.
Dexterity & Grip are that of a 100 y/old (Driving,Cooking,Showering is agonising)
Can't stand upright & Exercise routine is down by 80%...keep tearing muscle.
Doctor forbids tbb from walking..especially on sand / sandbanks. (Like a cripple!)

Tick off all several airway issues + bent septum (Hospital stopped rynoplasty)
Always struggle to breathe...actually hate breathing so leads to micro naps.
This worried the wife + Hospital Staff...Mate! You stop breathing again again ..etc...
Panic under Surf & now can't sleep 5mins without waking as dead. Need air Mask!
Stress leads to CSR Wobbly Psychedelic Vision + Labyrinthitis (Inner ear Spin Out)
Dentist recoils & tears up at thought of tbb grinding his teeth..(Treatment pending.)

tbb is truly the most wild seacreature stuck in a Kidz Pool without waves...
Just ask tbb how a disabled seaworld dolphin feels...not fucking happy Jan.

Sure! tbb's depression is well worse & thinks this is important to share here & now.

Something tbb let slip at Physio (This week) needs to be shared as a wake up call.
(Sitting in a, not bludging on a couch!)
Physio stares & loudly, shockingly states : "But you are Human!"
tbb is so ill he has no idea about who or what the Physio was referring to.
Straight over tbb's head..."Wot self loathing vile oozed out this time?"...(Huh!)
Kept trying to look away but the Physio stared me Down...Wot! Does he mean me?

That's the illness talking.
Everyone fears it...well, all should fear it.
No! Not sufferers, running ourselves down comes 2nd nature to us, sadly.
It's thru long term suffering that tbb unlocks that tool...feel free to use & share it!
Call it the Blank Sounding Board that deafens the Depressed...(Keep that away!)

As said...this was a reply & thanks to all here for keeping tbb in the game.
In turn, tbb will step up to join #1 swellnet crew in wishing good health to all.

goofyfoot's picture
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goofyfoot Saturday, 3 Oct 2020 at 12:41pm

Certainly puts my trivial pathetic problems to shame.
All the best tbb. Hope things turn around for you

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blowfly Saturday, 3 Oct 2020 at 12:49pm

All the best tbb, keep the good stuf coming!

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simba Saturday, 3 Oct 2020 at 1:41pm

yes tbb, your a major asset to this site and well done on doing sterling research in the past and in the future.......

zenagain's picture
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zenagain Saturday, 3 Oct 2020 at 1:53pm

Be good TBB.

I know you will.

Spuddups's picture
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Spuddups Saturday, 3 Oct 2020 at 3:34pm

You’re an inspiration mate. Keep on keeping on aye.

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factotum Saturday, 3 Oct 2020 at 3:56pm

Keep on keeping on, TBB. Appreciate your proper research. Information is power!

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velocityjohnno Saturday, 3 Oct 2020 at 6:20pm

Heya TBB, I really enjoyed the Fraser Island plesiosaur discourse we had, that was about the first time we threw ideas off each other (can't find link quickly). I was amazed at the sources you could bring to bear quickly (must have unique search engine). When all else seems lost and we still have our intellect there is an incredible world to read of, and research.
Black Dog is nothing I've had to face (that I know of) - I do know about anxiety/PTSD/life threatening illness however, and dealing with that is like a part time job on top of everything else.
I wonder so much about the Omega 3's/diet stuff.
But most of all I wish you well, for those times where you are out there facing things and doing things you enjoy.

batfink's picture
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batfink Sunday, 4 Oct 2020 at 7:59am

Hey TBB, you know so many here have you in our thoughts.

Strange that, never met the man and couldn’t send enough good wishes to him! Keep reaching out, you know we’re here, waiting for your next cryptic nugget.

Took a little while to find the rhythm of your writing. Much is revealed through that. You think differently to just about everyone I know, and that difference is a treasure.

Keep looking for that way out.

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icandig Sunday, 4 Oct 2020 at 9:23am

Any time I see TBB post in the 'Latest Comments' I'll take the time to have a read. Your research, insights and humour are greatly appreciated. I wish you the best TB. Keep the posts coming.

basesix's picture
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basesix Sunday, 14 Jan 2024 at 4:36pm

thinking of you today, @adam12.  However you spend tonight, and whatever happens tomorrow, and in the days and weeks to come, there's a bunch of blokes here who are always up for a chat. Stay connected, and I hope whatever sleep you manage, gets you some rest.

(if I could go back in time, I'd write 'coyly-disengaged'; you are always mega-interested. No-doubt your mum would have approved of this addendum. All the best, mate).

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adam12 Sunday, 14 Jan 2024 at 4:36pm

Gracias muchacho @basesix

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Pop Down Sunday, 14 Jan 2024 at 6:21pm



Good physio's in Stoney Creek .

He was right and U do know it ( u know much more than U realise imho :) .

I have NFI what it is BE human ( body going downhill and mind heading uppish with time running out , life :) .

Who does ?

Is like asking , what is God , perhaps .

That's not for me to contemplate ( too much ) .

I do know , U are a very human person , I can feel it from here .

A good person .

Whatever spectrums you experience , it's like a cool prism imo , wonderful colours just keep popping out .

Think like a Lion (Heart ) .