For many years now I have suspected that I suffer from some form of depression and/or anxiety disorder.
Yes. Everyone has shitty days. Everyone feels down in the dumps every once in awhile. My shitty days, however, aren’t just days but weeks. Months, in some cases: After a particularly soul-crushing July break-up a few years ago, I spent the entire second-half of 2009 moving through life like a hollow whisper. Carved from the inside out, every breath ached, my heart shredded and blistered and torn.
(Ah. There’s that BFA in creative writing. Was wondering where it went.)
It feels like drowning. Like Alice and her pool of tears. You swim for shore, only to realize that you can’t even see the shore let alone know which direction it’s in. As you paddle and strive to stay afloat, your arms get tired and your head bobs, filling your mouth with saltwater. Choking and sputtering, it often seems easiest to just stop fighting. To just stay in bed. Sometimes you overeat in an attempt to fill the gaping hole that threatens to consume you. Other times you, oh, I don’t know, starve yourself for three days out of sheer heartache (just, y’know, as an example). Hovering between two fixed points, the somber dreamland pulls you deeper and deeper until the call of sleep, for days on end, becomes the preference.
Forget actually fighting the current. Even just thinking about potentially fighting the current is exhausting. Enough that it doesn’t seem worth the effort, even though you know that in giving up the fight you’ll just slip beneath into the open cavern below.
With the anxiety, it’s the opposite: all I can think about is the current. The dangers and perils it holds. I imagine waves and storms when there are none, but I become so consumed with the belief that these things exist, are just biding their time, that I start to perceive they actually are real.
Imagine being both lethargic and restless at all times and you have a better understanding of what I feel like most days. My body and mind are in a constant state of flux, bouncing between these two dueling mentalities.
|Twelve years of journals. Oh the stories they can tell.|
I ride the waves as best as I can and for the past year or so I seemed to have found a nice quiet lull. Instead of being lost at sea, it was like a lovely day trip out on a yacht. Things were going well. Too well. I should have seen this coming but, ah, hindsight and all.
Over the course of my life, I can pinpoint moments that caused me to have a binge episode. Because I’ve come so far in my relationship with food, I’m in a place where I recognize the behavior as it’s happening. Because this isn’t just me struggling with being on maintenance, this is emotional eating. When I stop long enough to come up gasping for air I realize that I’m currently in the middle of one of these low cycles and have been since before Valentine’s Day.
The catalyst is unimportant. Unnecessary. If anything it’s predictable and cliched, but I seemed to think I was handling it pretty well. Telling everyone I was fine, I was okay. All the usual rhetoric one volunteers when she is barely holding on. For awhile I even had myself believing my own bullshit.
And then yesterday rolled around.
The day started off with a nice solid workout. Got showered, dressed, and I went into work and all seemed well and good. Then, at about 10 am, I was in full on melt down mode. Nothing had happened. Everything had happened. With each breath it felt as if my heart was both beating too fast or had completely stopped. All I could do was sit in the tiny room off to the side of the library and cry.
One hour turned into two turned into text messages to friends. Turned into crying in a co-worker’s office. I could not stop. I felt like a sweater unraveling: tug at the wrong string and suddenly a growing trail of yarn is following you as you move about your day and it takes all your focus not to trip over it.
So at 5 pm I requested to go home early. Immediately I got into the shower and turned it on the highest setting and had myself a really long, really ugly cry. The kind where snot is dripping from your nose and you’re practically howling from the pain of the entire situation.
All day I had been believing this was merely me missing, uh, well, missing the catalyst, so to speak. In some respects I think that was partially going on, but sitting there in my tub, scalding water dripping down my back, I realized this went so far beyond a particular person no longer in my life. This went back years and decades. This was old wounds ripped wide open. Scars long since healed picked and bleeding again.
This was old demons coming to call.
I have been in counseling twice. Once as a teenager, once as an adult. Neither time did we ever discuss these issues. Not really. In both instances I stopped after a couple of months, nowhere near long enough to get to a point where there was enough trust to truly dig deep. But I’m now wondering if it’s something I need to look into again.
Nobody talks about the mental journey one takes when you set a goal to lose over 100 pounds. Nobody mentions the old monsters hiding under the bed. You didn’t know they’d been lurking all this time, waiting to pick you up and toss you back into the deep end of the ocean. Sink or swim. Truth is, nobody really wants to hear that part. That’s the scary part. The part you can’t see. The part you can’t easily fix. But, let’s face it, one does not get up to 311 pounds on food alone. That takes work. It takes dedication. It takes determination and a helluva lot of self-destruction.
I’ve spent two years working my ass off to lose 135 pounds. I’ve sacrificed food and sleep and social life to make this happen. But in all that sacrifice, I forgot to fight the demons. I had managed to ignore them, maybe temporarily make peace. But they never really went away. My one mistake was believing that in silencing them I had actually defeated them.
Fuck 135 pounds. Now is when the real work begins.
Love from the ashes,