Welcome to Mental Health Monday! This was born out of Steph and my session on Depression, Anxiety and Healthy Living from Fitbloggin’ 15. Every 1st and 3rd Monday one of us will host a link up for others to share their experiences with Mental illness – either from their own experience or from the experience of helping and walking with others. Our goal is to reach out to the world and let people know that they are not alone in their struggles. You are never alone. Join us – link up, visit new blogs, support others. Speak out: “I am crazy…CRAZY AWESOME!” (You are welcome to use the badge below!)
To deal with depression, anxiety and mental illness is a lonely, scary and heartbreaking reality of many people. The majority of people do it alone, in their own heads. You may never see it and you may never know the wars being fought for the right to be free and happy going on right in their own minds.
It is a daily struggle and some days are better than others and people cope the best they can. Often people turn to drugs or alcohol to self-medicate themselves, and we know that those things lead to other dangerous addictions and problems. Some people throw themselves into work, or gambling,or shopping, or exercise. We develop means of coping as best we can. Some of those means are destructive and some are positive but once chosen it can be hard to break habits and patterns.
When you throw in an eating disorder in the mix, you get some really ugly results. Food is not one of those things that you can simply ban from your life, but when food is a method of coping with anxiety and depression a complicated system forms.
I have been slowly unraveling these cause and effects through therapy and work with my dietitian. I am not a master of seeing the patterns, but I am getting better at knowing that they are there. I saw this comic on Facebook yesterday and it made me think of this topic for today’s post:
My illnesses feed off each other (literally) in destructive ways. Anxiety and depression lead to desires to binge, binging leads to further anxiety and depression and the cycle continues. As I learn about my own triggers for food, they are NEVER about hunger. Ever. I often eat, and can frequently overeat, if hungry, but I binge because I am overwhelmed, anxious, feeling out of control, or sad. I eat to hide. I eat to find time for myself. I eat to escape. I idea of food as fuel is as foreign to me as the idea of electing Donald Trump as President. (sorry, not sorry).
Binge eating is tricky and its treatment is complicated. I am supposed at the same time – NOT limit myself from eating foods that I enjoy so I don’t freak out and binge, while at the same time, AVOID trigger foods that might lead to a binge. I should try to manage how much I think about food, but plan my meals in advance while being flexible for cravings. (Don’t think about elephants anyone?). I am not supposed to diet or count calories, but I am also not supposed to care that I have ballooned back to my near starting weight and I feel sore, sick and scared all the time, which enhances my depression and anxiety, which in turn…. Well, you get the idea.
My life feels like some riddle that has some clever answer but no one quite knows the answer to it. It is maddening to be trying so hard and fighting so hard, to be making the opposite of progress. Binge eating makes you think strange twisted things like….”Gosh, at least the anorexic girls get to be skinny with their eating disorder, I wish I had that willpower…” Which is straight up messed up.
But there is progress. 6 months ago I wouldn’t even admit I had an eating disorder and cried if you asked. Now I just feel like I want to cry but can type without blurry vision. So there is that? I don’t like to be ashamed of who I am and the weird ways that my brain makes me different from other people, but I would like to see myself more well than now – both in mind and body.