Admitting to my depression and addiction to food: where do I go from here?Posted: April 4, 2012
I want to start this post by explaining that in November, I basically left my job to begin pursuing self-employment and working hard to focus on my health and personal development. I’ve worked full-time or more since I was 16 years old and I’ve always just barely made ends meet. I have recently felt a huge deficit in my mental health, and turning 24 has really made me want to get a move on in working towards the goals that I have (more on that later.)
It’s true that I have lost 80 pounds over the past couple of years through change in lifestyle. There was no diet, there was no hardcore exercising. It was just a gradual shift into eating better and exercising more. I have pledged to update this blog daily as I am currently out of work and have the time to do so. I am hoping that through blogging I can establish a platform for me to make a living in the health/weight loss community. I have a story to tell and a passion for nutrition, diet, and lifestyle because of how personally successful I feel already in this journey. I still have more of my journey to go. I still am bordering on “obese” according to some standards, and easily could lose another 30-40 pounds to really be at the weight my body would be healthiest at. But I sit on this fact: that I’ve already lost 80 pounds and yes, I do eat healthier overall than most people I know. I feel like I’ve earned the right to sit comfortably around 190-200 pounds because I used to weigh close to 270. The truth is that now, I eat a LOT of food. The food itself isn’t unhealthy, but the quantities are not a joke anymore. It used to be funny to kid about the amount I eat. But I’m not laughing anymore. I need to find the proper amount of food to fuel a healthy active lifestyle and maintain it.
The holidays are a particularly hard time for me, and it’s not something I want to really write about the “why” at the moment. In general, cold weather and less sunlight also really leave me in a ditch, so to speak. Depression and anxiety set in hard, and I found myself in bed for an entire month before I realized it was time to get help. I started some therapeutic measures, and a week of random 80 degree weather in March lifted my spirits and pried me out of bed. But then, I caught my boyfriend’s mono, and found myself bedridden for another 2 weeks! I felt conflicted every day with the thought of pushing myself. I was sick of being in bed and I had already spend literally a month away from my friends and away from my life. I was ready to get back into it, to start cooking and sprouting and everything else. Then my boyfriend and I did a juice fast, and I felt uplifted and renewed and READY.
However, I’ve been feeling pretty fatigued again (lingering depression, leftover mono symptoms?) for the past few days and haven’t updated my blog or really taken time to cook myself good healthy meals. I’ve barely done anything except sleep. I also tend not to post unless I’m having a successful day with recipes, food, exercise, etc. So on these days when I barely get out of bed, I tend to not blog either because I feel like I haven’t accomplished anything worth sharing. What I have done over the past few days is begun to network with other blogs and really get into the nitty-gritty of health food and weight loss blogs. One common thing I found is that the most interesting and inspiring blogs (the ones I will actually read the entire posts instead of seeking out recipes – another confession) are the ones that tell the truth NO MATTER WHAT.
So I am working on that whole transparency thing which I know is so valuable in the blogging community. I’m working on it, and I’ll get there soon. I think the hardest part of it is actually writing things like, “Today I ordered 8 rolls of tempura sushi and ate them all.” I’m ashamed of the money, calories, and health wasted on the food and maybe a part of me thinks that if I don’t write about it or tell anyone, that it never even happened! But then my stomach yells at me the next morning and I get depressed looking at my checking account, and maybe transparency and accountability to someone (even a blog written mostly to myself) can help handle some of these recurring feelings of failure and guilt and help me break my issues. I’m ashamed and embarrassed to blog some of these (okay, ALL of my failures) because I don’t want to be perceived as a hypocrite. But what I should be embracing instead are the steps to my recovery and the realization that addiction and food disorders are a real and serious thing. If I keep trying to hide it, I’ll never address the real problem and more importantly, break the vicious harming cycle. This idea of transparency will also help me in my emotional and mental struggles, as next month I begin therapy for anxiety/depression/mood disorder as well.
I’m slowly coming to the concrete conclusion that yes, I do have “disordered eating”. I don’t know how to properly classify it, but it falls somewhere between compulsive eating and binge eating. I’ve also had trouble with binging and purging (through both vomiting and laxatives), as well as extremely restrictive diets, and of course EMOTIONAL EATING. One site suggested the term “Partial Syndrome” and that seems to fit the best. My quick understanding of it is that those who suffer from partial sydrome swing through extreme cycles with food. Ultimately,I am a food addict. And I need to treat that like a real problem, the same as I would if it was alcohol or drugs or gambling or any other damaging addictive compulsive behavior.
I think over the past few years I’ve attempted to fuel my obsession with food into a healthy one, and I’ve certainly gone a far way in doing so. But it’s still an addiction. It’s everything I think about from the minute I wake up until the minute I go to sleep (and then often as I wake up many times in the middle of the night.) I am now concentrating fully on it through my blog while I unemployed, attempting to turn this addiction into something positive. But it’s still a fine line. Because as I attempt to portray myself one way through this blog, I then find myself engaging in more binging/compulsive eating, claiming every time that, “Tomorrow will be the day you start your blog and get on track correctly! Better get takeout.” That’s another big issue with me because it’s easy for me to have food delivered and not leave a trace even to my roommates. No dishes or trash in the kitchen. I can eat it in my room.
My other big issue is trying to correct everything at once, thinking that a huge life overhaul is better accomplished by “starting fresh.” This doesn’t have to be the case. As the day goes on and I gain the energy to begin thinking productively, I make to-do lists that are ridiculously way too ambitious, and then beat myself up for not being able to accomplish them. But there is a sense of overwhelming anxiety when I try to think about making all these changes (which sometimes include things like: cook 2 recipes (one for blog and one for cookbook), walk for 2 hours, yoga for 1 hour, meditate for 1 hour, read 100 pages in XYZ book for research, run XYZ errands, etc). What I realize anyone would say to me as I try to get back into the swing of things as I deal with a major episode of depression accompanied by mono is that GRADUAL changes are better. Incorporating one or two small new things into my day and resting and taking things at my own pace is not necessarily a bad thing. I also find that there are days when I do get everything done, but then I’m so drained that I sleep an entire extra day to make up for it. That’s not healthy either.
I’ve decided that this time that I am able to take off of work really needs to be the final home stretch in my goal to establishing permanent healthy habits and truly dealing with my negative relationship with food. I am going to channel that addiction into a positive light, in hopes to inspire and help others to make permanent healthy changes as well. I want to share my story, and I realize now that the only way it will be relate-able is by finally admitting those ugly things that I know so many people deal with and showing how I’m finally getting past the addictions and obsessions that have plagued my health (mentally, emotionally, and physically) for well over a decade.
So I’m setting small attainable goals. Isn’t that what they say is the first step of weight loss, too? These will be pledges to myself so to speak, but I am pledging them out loud to this blog. For transparency, for accountability. For myself. Because that’s what’s really important. Many of these things I do on the regular basis, but I don’t do them all every day, and this is what I want to build up to. NO MORE EXCUSES.
- No takeout when alone
- No eating in bed
- Eat 3 meals and 3 snacks each day
- Start each day with a high-protein, high-fiber meal
- Eat a large green salad every day
- Accomplish at least 1 form of exercise every day (walk, bike, gym, yoga, etc)
- Journal all food intake, exercise, and emotions dealing with food/eating daily
- Meditate for at least 30 minutes a day
These are reasonable goals and I will post on my progress as I work on them. Then, once they become habit, I will set more goals and work towards them. Baby steps. 🙂 This post, in itself, has been a huge step for admitting and accepting my issues and beginning groundwork for real, positive, permanent change.
Happy Hump Day!!