Note: I wrote this blog a couple weeks ago and have since had an ECT treatment.
It started yesterday — irritability, moodiness and the urge to overeat. I attributed it to lack of sleep; Eli had woken up at 3 a.m. and hadn’t gone back to bed, which meant I didn’t go back to bed. I thought if I just get some good sleep I’d be fine, but this morning, I could feel it — thick fog around my brain, heavy weight on my shoulders, more irritability and wanting to just go back to bed.
I thought, “Great, I’ll have to get another ECT before I’m ready.” I’m trying to go at least eight weeks without one. I was totally preparing to power down to my Low Battery Mode when I thought to myself that I should get on the treadmill and spur some endorphins. It was the first time I’d ever worked out for my mental health and not to lose weight. I didn’t stay on the treadmill long (my kids drained my Air Pod batteries) but I instantly felt better, not all the way better but better. Not bad for a girl with no serotonin.
I still have the urge to binge and to get in bed for the better part of the day. That’s where my Low Battery Mode comes in, like I talked about on my Spoon Theory post. I only have so much energy, even when I’m not feeling depressed. Unfortunately, that means I’ll have to depend on my husband more and housekeeper. I say unfortunately because my husband already has a lot on his plate and I never want to be a burden. So, I’ll ask for help when I need it. I’ll take more breaks than usual. I’ll force myself to drink more water and back off the Diet Cokes. I’ll get a pedicure. I might even take a (short) nap. I’ll do what I have to do to feel better, because I HATE getting ECTs. It should be a last resort on my treatment plan, not just a quick fix. I hate feeling like I’m waving a white flag in defeat to my depression. I want to fight, I have to fight it. I just can’t let it win. And if it turns out that I do really need an ECT, I’ll concede because that’s what’s best for my family and me. But I still want to fight. I’ll have to fight my brain and not give into unhealthy coping mechanisms that seem so much easier to do than healthy ones.
Last night, I wanted pizza for dinner. We don’t usually eat pizza, we usually cook or get takeout from Asian restaurants. But I wanted pizza. I thought that it would just be a treat because I had a bad day and sometimes you just have to treat yourself. But when you’re dealing with an eating disorder, it’s a slippery slope. And I sure did slip. I purposely ate too much and then binged on my kids’ candy stash. I felt so sick, and despite feeling so badly, I still planned on getting donuts in the morning before dropping off the kids at school.
It’s the instant gratification that I’m always seeking. I hate being uncomfortable, so I turn to my bad habits for that temporary release.
But today is a new day. Instead of feeling overwhelmed and anxious about my mood, I actually feel optimistic. I didn’t just say, “Fuck this day!” and give myself carte blanche to binge, etc. I made myself get on the treadmill. I made myself sweat and think about how much better I would feel afterward. And that, my friends, is progress. It’s a huge step for me. I KNOW what to do to stay healthy, I blog about it all the time, but honestly this is one of the first times I’ve actually taken my own advice. It’s hard when your brain is telling you to do the opposite, but I did it. I won a battle against my obstinate brain.
I might still have to power down a bit, but that’s OK. It’s self-care. It’s a survival mechanism, a healthy one.
So, I’ll keep on fighting and surviving — it’s what I do best.