I had a lovely weekend at home- my brother and sister-in-law came to visit and we all walked around together, hung out, caught up and all of that good stuff. I also went out Saturday night and caught up with friends I hadn’t seen in quite some time… always a good thing to do, especially when I don’t feel like venturing out. Friday night I did end up staying in, so when Saturday came around, it was really time to get my butt out there… and I ended up having a nice time, as I usually do when I go out, despite the initial reluctance.
Alright let’s get right into this post… I attempted to shorten it but it’s a sensitive topic and I want to be as honest and as candid as possible! So thank you in advance for reading, if you choose to
Words I often throw around on my blog… stress, sadness and anxiety, are terms I wanted to focus more on today. At the very end of my post on Wednesday , I mentioned very briefly how I would soon discuss Depression and related medication issues in a later post, and I am finally ready to open up about this rather sensitive (for me) subject.
Depression is a mental disorder which an increasing number of people are being affected by, yet the this illness is still not receiving enough attention, is often full of stereotypes and sometimes a taboo topic… depending on who you are talking about of course.
Depression is similar to eating disorders in that it is not fully understood and you cannot know the extent of how it makes a person feel unless you are experiencing yourself. From the outside perspective, it’s easy to tell a person to “buck up” or just “be happy!” when they are suffering with the horrible sadness that Depression brings. When a person is using food as a coping mechanism, the ignorant advice that is often given is to “just eat!” or “what’s the big deal, it’s just food, it won’t make you fat!” We all know how valuable that prompting is for people even attempting to get better…. not in the slightest.
Depression and other mental illnesses are quite often correlated with an eating disorder, a topic I am sure many of you have heard of or are aware of. In some cases, an Eating Disorder is a secondary symptom to an underlying psychological disorder (such as some people who also suffer with Multiple Personality Disorder), and in other cases, the psychological disorder may be secondary to the Eating Disorder (as with some people also suffering with Depression).
It really hasn’t been until more recently, within the last 8 months or so, that I have understood what depression truly feels like… not all of the time, but moments when I have just been like… “wow, I feel freakin terrible right now but cannot understand exactly where it’s coming from.” In my personal case, I never had depression before the eating disorder really took hold, so it came as a secondary symptom to my obsessiveness around food and my weight.
It really is in the last few months that I have felt what depression is “supposed” to feel like.
When I was in the depths of the disorder though, it was different. At that time, I was not necessarily sad; in fact this emotion had not yet become a part of me. During the worst times, I often felt a sense of elation… empowered by my efforts to eat healthy, lose weight and finally be accepted, I was seeing results and the desire to continue strengthened.
I was training for my upcoming cross country season and felt fantastic on all of my runs… all while eating less and less and training more and more. Slowly but surely, I was becoming lost in the increasingly small world I was creating for myself. I felt incredibly accomplished and proud of what I could do, and the most weight I lose, the tighter I held on to what would eventually work to overtake me.
Of course though, it was not all rainbows and butterflies during my lowest point. Even though I thought my actions were perfect and I experienced a false sense of happiness, I was raging inside. On the outside I appeared fine, cheerful, a bit thin (not too-thin yet), but overall okay… inwardly though, I was simply mad and irritated constantly and the only person that saw my true side was my poor mother.
So yes, part of me felt on top of the world. Yet the anger and frustration I felt at the slightest change in my routine and schedule, was almost too much to bear. I was losing myself to the illness and the joy in life I one knew so well was becoming a distant memory. Sadness and hopelessness had not yet been experienced, as I was still too wrapped up in the incorrect core belief that my dangerous actions would eventually bring me success, beauty, acceptance, and happiness. The real work had not yet begun.
It’s been about two years since I realized the extent of what I was doing to myself and began to make the necessary changes. In that span of time, I have experienced countless different emotions regarding the illness and recovery itself– excitement, doubt, hopefulness, frustration, anxiety, amusement, anger and finally (and most importantly for this post) sadness and hopelessness.
In my opinion, it makes perfect sense that eating disorders are likely to lead to Depression… no matter how much weight you lose, how “perfect” you eat, how much you stick to your routine, it is never good enough, YOU are never good enough. Living in a state of constant dissatisfaction is difficult in itself and you go through a day looking for ways and mechanisms to change you in anyway you can… for acceptance, love, isolation, control… whatever your goal may be.
I am now very much past the “anger” and high and mighty phase and have transitioned to dedicating myself to getting away from what provided false comfort for far too long. I understand that a life free of an eating disorder is the only life that is truly worth living, but that certainly does not mean I have not had my doubts along the way.
This is true for pretty much anyone seriously attempting to recover. You know what you need to do, no what you MUST do, but actually making the effort, going against everything that feels safe and cozy, takes a tremendous effort and a strong and dedicated person. Achieving whatever “recovery” means for you, is the ultimate goal but stumbling along the way is an expected part of the process.
The past few months have been among the most difficult of my life thus far. I am not trying to be overly-dramatic but more honest than anything because I feel it’s important to talk about my experience with this as candidly as possible. I have good and bad days… but the bad ones include me breaking down and crying for no apparent reason, among other things.
At this point I have gained the weight and am incredibly reluctant to continue gaining. I eat so much more now, try new things, break from my routine as much as I can handle, try new things, and work to get away from the illness, yet a part of me hangs on and a component (consequence?) of this is the underlying sadness I often experience…. and I will admit it, hopelessness that this will never go away, that I will never be satisfied, never be okay with myself… is a overwhelming fear I have.
Now let’s talk about medication... because that has a lot to do with all of this!
Starting about a year and a half ago, I have been on and off anti-depressants… specifically ones that help with the serotonin and dopamine levels (mood-regulating chemicals), reduce my anxiety which is often through the roof for no apparent reason, interrupt my perfectionist and routine qualities, and simply make things just “easier” and bearable.
I was personally on a high dose of Prozac for quite some time and although it might have initially helped, it did not continue to ease my stress and “happiness” levels and out of frustration, I quit taking the drug cold turkey. I know I know, not the smartest choice in the slightest, but I was starting to feel sick to my stomach from the drug and also angry that I was not feeling anything from it.
I thought I could do this all on my own, no drugs for this girl!But the last few months have shown me that NOPE this is not the case. Not only have I felt “sad” at times that there was no reason to be, but my ability to focus is waning, I sometimes have difficulties sleeping, and I generally feel “blah” and irritated more often than I care to admit. You know what else occurs when I feel such things? My desire to be thin again strengthens.
On that note, I am once again doing something about all of this because I have come too far and made too much effort to slip backwards now… I absolutely refuse this to happen. I am now back on medication but two different kinds that target the three sites/chemicals of the brain (dopamine, serotonin and norepinephrine) which will hopefully end up making all of the difference. I am not necessarily against medication but I would rather not rely on it. However, if this is what I need to do right now in order to move forward, well then I am okay with that.
Plus I would really love to not feel so sad, pissed off and well... hopeless more often than not. That is not how a 22 year old young woman with a bright future ahead, a good and fortunate life, a loving family, and a working (generally) healthy body should feel like. NO ONE deserves to feel such pain, and when it’s a chemical imbalance, medication can truly make all of the difference.
So yes that is all I have on the topic for now, but I will keep you updated on all of this as I continue with the medication, therapy and all of that good stuff. As I said before, I am beyond tired of feeling miserable for no reason at all, and I am truly excited to see how much of a positive difference this new change in my life will make.
-Have you had experience with Depression or know anyone that has themselves?
-If so, do you believe it developed as a result of something else happening (the eating disorder in my case) or did it come first?
-What are your thoughts on medication? Please be honest if you want to! I would like to hear people’s opinions on this
-On a more positive/completely unrelated note, how was your weekend? Tell me any and all things you did!
Thank you for reading this (as usual) lengthy post, I very much appreciate it… yes I say that all of the time, but I mean it! Have a nice rest of your day m’dears!