Just when you think you have your footing, things fall apart. Isn’t that the story of life for most of us? The job, the house, the kids, the spouse (no I’m not trying to make this rhyme), and everything that we think goes into a bucket of perfect…that’s what we all aim for here in the good ‘ol US of A, right? Land of the “American Dream” and unreachable expectations. But the truth is, that even that girl I know from high school, with her perfect makeup, kids, husband, house, and life probably has some kind of poo piled up somewhere that she’s trying to cover up and just deal with. We all do!
I think that for everybody, ED or not, there are times when you just feel like it’s all too much. The last several weeks I’ve been joking that I’m having a mini & early mid-life crisis. Que the new sports car and arm candy (thankfully my husband fits this bill just fine!), but the reality is even knowing I’m killing-it with my recovery, life just has left me feeling more than a little static and flat. Like a smog hanging in the air around me 24-hours a day.
You see, I’m the type of person who needs a rabbit. Like a Greyhound, I must have something to chase, otherwise I have nowhere to channel all the creative energy and end up getting myself into some type of trouble. I can’t tell you number of times I’ve lost jobs, switched careers, went shopping, or chopped off my hair on a whim because I needed that rabbit to chase. Back then, I was so wrapped up in using ED to cope that I didn’t have the ability to recognize this in myself, but when ED goes away what is left behind?
Have you ever found yourself there? It’s something we talk about in-depth in therapy; what being skinny really would mean in life. Nothing. Skinny means nothing, and yet that’s what we’ve all aspired to, over and over, harming our bodies and relationships. Risking our lives to chase that rabbit. So when it goes away, and when you find yourself in a static place with no coping mechanism it all gets a little much. You know?
Much to mother’s distress, and after discussing it at length with my dietitian last week, I reached-out to my family doctor to discuss medication. Depression is a funny thing, and in the midst of school shootings, increased violence in our society as a whole, and allllll the stigma that seems to be attached to mental illness, it’s no wonder people don’t readily seek out help. Not for ED and certainly not easily for the big D. Uhem, that’s not the kind of big D I like, if you know what I mean, so it took me awhile to wrap my head around that all the little things I kept brushing away added up to a bigger picture.
My mother seemed quick to blame the sugar and occasional adult beverage in my life, though our relationship has always been a little murky in the area of acceptance of one another, so that wasn’t a big surprise. I mean, side note, how do you convince someone that they have their own food issues they don’t even recognize when the relationship seems to always veer back to a toxic place? “No, I can’t cut out anything, I’m in recovery for ED!” Gah!
So, yesterday, as the afternoon storms were rolling in, I made a visit to my PCP to chat about antidepressants. I had never taken the time to stop and notice that all the subtle changes in me in the last 6 months added up to a whole-lotta red flags for depression. Before seeking out help for ED, it was more obvious. I’ve mentioned before that at my darkest, I just realized how deeply broken I was, and sought out help because I feared that darkness seeping in around the edges. This time, though, this time was different. I didn’t see the bigger picture, and I kept telling myself that these changes were nothing; ignoring the sum of the parts.
As I told my mother, the smartest people are only smart when they know to ask for help. Sometimes, that help comes in the form a pill. I am the last person to rely on a medication or seek out a pill like a band-aid on a bullet wound. In fact, I almost always research for hours anything I’m going to do for self-wellness. Whether it means reading study after study, or forums of others experiences, I don’t take these types of choice lightly. It’s my duty as an individual to search for truth, so I take that seriously!
When I was preggo with my daughter, I was on Lexapro. She had been the 4th pregnancy in less than 2 years, meaning I had spent every six months in a life-wrenching cycle, the last the loss of twins. She was a happy accident, and one I wanted to desperately keep cooking till term. So, knowing the havoc that pregnancy can wreak, the Lexapro was to guard me against those up’s and downs and in case of postpartum. Back then I just did what they told me to, and was less thoughtful about taking something so willy-nilly.
Fast forward to the convo with my PCP about my reasons for wanting to take this again, and he agreed that after I went through all the things I had failed to notice as whole, that it did seem pretty strongly that I was dealing with some depression.
Do I feel sad? Not in the least. And I certainly don’t want to cause myself or anyone else any harm (which is saying something with Indiana drivers lately), but depression is a tricky bitch that sneaks up on you just when you have ED’s mouth helpfully glued shut.
For those going through recovery, who are finding that things just seem a little ‘off’, or like me like life has lost some of the normal luster, consider talking to your team about depression. Mental health doesn’t have to be something we all treat like a pariah, and the more people readily seek help, and readily recognize that everyone needs a little help sometime, the faster the rest of the world will wake-up to helping each other live our fullest and brightest lives.
Some of the symptoms I have experienced and didn’t readily realize were depression (disclaimer – this can be different for everyone. I’m not a doctor or healthcare practitioner, and if you feel like hurting yourself or others, please call 911 or seek out help immediately)
- desire to work out but failure to ever follow-through when I used to look forward to work outs
- no longer wanting to shop or really do much of anything
- no longer wanting to do my normal activities I enjoyed (making dinner, watching TV, reading, friends, pretty much everything)
- feeling sleepy all the darn time
- going to bed heinously early then having insomnia until long into the wee hours
- anxiety attacks (most are small and are just racing heart and hot flashes – no it’s not menopause)
- changes in my eating
- changes in my desire to ‘clean-up’ and feel pretty
- changes in my desire to complete normal work and other tasks, forcing myself out of necessity
Pretty much anything that swings noticeably outside of a normal range for you and doesn’t go away pay attention. If you can find multiple things like this in your life, it may be time to talk to your PCP too.
Be gentle, we are all fragile once ED is mostly gone. Like a brittle and intricate webbing of who we used to be, it takes time to fill in all those little holes and cracks where ED had been, and recognizing that you need help beyond just ED is OKAY. Expect to take it easy on yourself and love fully because we’ll all get there together, just maybe with a little pill to boost our pace.
NOTE: If you or someone you know is on the edge get help. I promise you there is more to your life and there are people who want to help you find that way back.
The suicide helpline in the US is 1-800-273-8255
Find a list of helplines in other countries HERE