Well, hello there again, friends. Today I am opening up a little bit (or a lot) to you.. about my own issues with depression and B.E.D., which stands for Binge Eating Disorder, and other issues around food.
I have been struggling this week and hiding out, basically. I like to call it ‘high functioning depression,’ because I have to go on with life like normal. But it feels like there is this huge weight pressing down on my chest. Like I’m stuck deep inside a black hole and no matter how hard I am scraping and clawing trying to climb out to the light, I can’t.
Yes, I am properly medicated. No, being medicated does not mean that you will never have those days where the cloud is over your head, casting its negative sad self destructive feelings over you and everything you touch.
People that know me in real life (unless I have told them about my struggles) probably would never guess that I do, in fact, struggle with my mental health. The stigma around mental health issues is really disgusting and the fear of being judged for those issues is even more so.
I have always been the loudest person in the room. On a good day, I’ve been known to proclaim that I am the party. Which, in most cases, is true! I am a very social person, I always have been. I have also always felt like a role model for my siblings and I hated ever letting them down when we were growing up, so a happy face was my face. I didn’t like to cry in front of my dad, or let my parents know when I was upset. I have always perceived crying as a weakness. That is hilarious because I’m really terrible at confrontation and my immediate reaction to it in any form is to cry. I can’t even control it. BOOM, I’m crying. Even if I’m so angry and frustrated and furious and full of hate and fury. I am crying. Yes, I despise that about myself.
I didn’t really begin to suffer with depression or notice an internal shift until after I had my second child. My hormones changed and I was pretty alone and isolated after she was born and Andy left to go back to Iraq. I think Post-partum Depression was very real for me and I just didn’t realize what was going on, I’d never struggled like that before.
To add to the pile, I have also, for many years of my adult life, struggled with food. I have touched on that before in other posts, but here we are again.
It isn’t hard to relapse, to slip back into the cycle of binge eating disorder. It never really leaves. I have been on both ends of the spectrum as far as ED goes, severe restriction, and out of control eating and the inability to stop. So if you’re here reading this, and you’re still struggling, just know you’re not alone.
Mental health issues like anxiety and depression go hand in hand, like besties, with ED. My cycle was a lot like this: intense sadness and lack of self worth > binge > self loathing because of binge > more sadness, hopelessness, thoughts that I mean nothing and matter to no one and can’t accomplish anything because I’m fat, ugly, don’t have enough life experience > sleep as long as I can > wake up, eat in secret > more self loathing and sadness > more eating, stashing food to eat later when no one is around > rinse, repeat.
This is not a fun way to live. My husband is a champ for staying married to me. Then there’s the extra pressure of, keeping all of this hidden from my children because I never, ever want to impact them or their mental health or self image. My children are amazing strong powerful girls with such bright futures. I want them to always feel lovely and valued. I make a huge effort to (when I have days or weeks of this vicious cycle) to keep it hidden.
I must note, that now I don’t have ED tendencies, but I do still battle the depression demons. Even on proper medication, there are still days that are so hard.
The binge part was easy to hide. I could eat anywhere in the house, stash food anywhere. Get up after everyone went to sleep. Secretly eat the food left on their plates after dinner if I was the one cleaning the table and kitchen.
The sadness. That is harder. Andy is so supportive and helpful when I’m having a moment, a day, a week.. sometimes a month (before meds. At present I’m very lucky to only have short ‘down cycles’). He is patient and loving and kind and although he doesn’t really understand what is going on in my mind, he does his best to pick up my slack.
ED was pretty terrible in 2012. Severe restriction. Binge. Restrict. Binge. Restrict. My acne was crazy because of it.
Have you ever been so sad, so empty, that you eat and eat and eat to fill the emptiness? The fullness leads to hate. Drive thru after drive thru in the same day, the same hour. Feeling so disgusted, full, hurting, crying out of emotional and physical pain, empty and full at the same time.
These days, balance is the name of my game… at least when it comes to food. I do tend to be super careful not to over-restrict, because I really know what it is like to have a parent so focused on weight all the time. As a young girl, being hyper-focused on calories, the scale, all seemed very normal to me. I was very aware of how big I was compared to other girls in my class, or even to my own mother, by the time I was in 6th grade. I think I had issues with food insecurity, or the scarcity mindset, as a child. I can remember being at my Pa’s house and sneaking an entire loaf of bread and eating it at once. Or an entire box of Post banana nut crunch cereal. After school eating an entire packet of ramen noodles, a frozen mini deep dish pizza from schwans, ice cream, and two of my mother’s slim fast bars that she kept in a cookie jar on a wire bakers rack in our kitchen. All of this food from the time I got off the bus to the time she got home from work. And yeah, when she made dinner (or brought home take out), I ate then, too. I tried to eat as much as I could.
Every other week I was at her house, I ate like this. I learned about bulimia, and although I never purged as a minor, as soon as I was on my own as an adult, I started doing it. I learned about phentermine in that house and as soon as I turned 18 I started taking it.
So.. all that to say, I am really careful to not over restrict. Now. In 2012 I restricted like crazy. Between food restriction, orthorexia, and living in mental/emotional isolation outside of my children, it was easy to fall back into old habits.
In 2013 I obtained my certification from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition and learned how to properly maintain a healthy body weight with the right fuel.
In 2014 I made a bunch of friends and social commitments and stopped working out so much and started eating out a lot and making fun a priority.. Andy traveled a lot again and convenience foods became my best friend. My kids were pumped to go from whole foods to poptarts and pizza.
Now we have pizza with a salad, and a lot less often. Now that I am studying for my personal training certification, I feel like sharing my story around food, orthorexia, BED, restriction, exercise… can be really valuable.
I am in a much better place now and while I have a lot to work on to reach my physical goals, my mental health is the most important thing here. I want to be able to advise and teach people how to be healthy mentally and physically, not just how to drop pounds.
Bringing awareness to these mental issues and eating disorders is really important to me. I never want my children to experience what I did. I don’t want them to have to fight the same mental demons I did.
Truthfully, I wasn’t sure I would touch on these topics again. But I feel like the more I write about things, the more small pieces of my story I share with you, the more it will encourage someone (maybe you) to reach out to someone, maybe even me, and share your own story. Reach out for help if you need it. Seeing a therapist was one of the greatest things I ever did for myself.
I hope that as our journey together continues, you let me know what you’d like to learn from me or about me. I plan to post more fitness and nutrition related posts in the future, and you can find some of my previously blogged healthy recipes under the fitness + nutrition tab at the top of the page. You can also find a podcast I was a guest on about how we equate love to food… which is so easy to do in our (in all) cultures (in all of humanity).
Thanks for reading! Leave a comment or shoot me an email/tweet if you have any questions or want to suggest future topics for me to write about!