Depression and Food – Breaking the Cycle, and the Taboo

I was sent this story about about someone wanting to share there experience with others about their battle with depression, I hope you enjoyed reading as much as I did…

Depression has always been one of those taboo subjects and perhaps is why I haven’t spoken about it openly before.

Mental illness runs strong in my family, almost every maternal and paternal relative of mine has struggled with mental health issues at some point in their life. However, as a family, we never discussed these issues and they are simply swept under the carpet and left to fester.

My wake-up call came when a very close relative of mine attempted suicide twice.

Rather than speak to us about his feelings, he wrote them down in a suicide note minutes prior to his second suicide attempt.

This was the saddest thing I have ever read. He spoke about his utter desperation following the breakup of a relationship and how he simply could not climb out of the pit he had fallen into.

Loneliness, heart-ache and an inability to properly express his feelings were the main themes of the note.

He expressed his love to us all and left a heart-felt apology for the ultimate damage and destruction his actions would cause to those he was leaving behind.

Luckily, we found him just in time and an ambulance was called.

What followed in the days after the incident, as we sat around his hospital bed as he lay a wreck, a shadow of his former self was anger, regret, sadness but most of all, realisation.
Such a horrific incident made us all talk about our feelings.

As he slipped in and out of consciousness, as a family, we all discussed our emotions – not in relation to the incident, but how we were in life.

I was stunned to discover that all of us who sat around that bed had at some point seriously contemplated suicide.

A series of family events from long ago had affected us all in very different ways, however, the impact was the same. We all felt hurt, anger, hopelessness and utter devastation. Had we all come together, as a family to discuss these issues at the time, we may have all avoided the clutches of depression, or at least assisted each other through our individual long-standing mental illnesses.

We all made a pact that day to be more open, honest and supportive towards each other, and we did.

I decided that the best way to help myself (and to help my suicidal relative) was to face up to my own depression. I literally took a seriously long look in the mirror in a quest for answers.

The once happy, active, confident, outgoing woman I once was remained concealed under a large amount of baggy clothing.

The once well kempt face and manicured nails had been abandoned and the jewellery I had formerly so proudly worn was lost in the chaos of my bedroom. As I pondered, I felt sad, and so, I ate.

Eating gave me a boost!

That few moments of a tasty chocolate treat seemingly blocked out all the emotions I was feeling.

Food made me feel good!

Once this sensation had passed, the sadness, bitterness and anger returned. Returning to the mirror, I could see what I had become, and I hated it!

I was trapped in a cycle – I ate because I was depressed, but I was depressed because I ate.

My sense of self had diminished – I no longer wanted to look too long in the mirror, to wear the jewellery, to put on the make-up, to adorn the nice clothing. Instead, I chose to hide, disguise myself, to blend in, like a chameleon.

This realisation sounds so simple, how did I not know this before?

I had avoided looking at myself in the mirror, literally and metaphorically – I was not only hiding from the world but also from myself.

With this acknowledgement came a further flood of realisations – my health was suffering because I had become so unhealthy and inactive.

Once a keen walker, I had avoided taking a stroll uses excuses such as the weather, timing or a lack of well-fitting clothes.

I had stopped regularly taking my anti-depressants – each time I tried to swallow them, I regurgitated them, I felt sick and dizzy if I could swallow them.

These were all psychological illusions, not as I had thought in my depressive state, that the pills were bad for me.

Once I had acknowledged the problem – I had to figure out a way to break the cycle.

My first step was to regularly take my medication. After a few days, once they properly got into my system, the erratic emotions I had been experiencing, either extreme sadness or extreme happiness mellowed and a more chilled and level me returned.

My children took notice and commented on how happy I was around the home. The energy has changed, my husband told me, from feeling like an explosion was imminent to a tranquil, homely place.

My biggest challenge yet was to face my relationship with food.

Binge eating had to stop.

I made a little extra time to prepare and cook food. Rather than reaching for the sweet tasting chocolate treats, I had chopped vegetable sticks and had them on hand.

I left satsumas in the fruit bowl, these sweet, colourful and juicy fruits gave me the buzz I was looking for.

I love cooking, so I invested in a new cook book – it was a present to myself to encourage me to continue to the good work!

Best of all, I have started walking again!

Starting off with a determination to walk rather than take the car, I started off with a few small, simple walks to get me back into the swing of things.

I’m still working my way up to my former power-walking sessions, but I’m taking positive steps in the right direction!

I’m not even concerned about my weight loss – I haven’t even weighed myself. I’m focusing on how I feel in myself, in my own body and reclaiming it, for me!

I’m proud to report that my once suicidal relative accepted the counselling he was offered and is working through his issues.

As we talked more openly, he told me that he had in fact been struggling with an eating disorder for quite some time (something he too had only realised, or acknowledged, once he had starred into the mirror of self-reflection).

Rather than binge eat on fatty food as I had done, he had instead restricted his diet in an effort to loose weight.

Just as I felt that buzz when I ate junk food, he felt the same as he experienced hunger pains.

To him, this was a triumph.

If only we had felt able to talk more openly to each other about these experiences, we would have discovered we both had an unhealthy relationship with food.

We now work together and I’m extremely grateful for the support he has given me.

Being able to talk openly with my family has helped greatly.

Talking openly to people about my depression and anxiety more generally also helps and I can quite proudly say, ‘I’m recovering from depression’ and not feel as I once felt in my lowest moments. I have decided I no longer suffer with depression, it’s an illness I’m determined to fight, and I won’t let it get the better of me.

What an incredible story, if you would like to read more from this inspirational lady then you can on the links below.

Twitter: https://twitter.com/lellaleeblog

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/lellaleeblog

http://www.lellalee.com

Daddy Giraffe x

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