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Binge Eating Disorder

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It’s All So Pretty

by Heather Loeb
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It is no secret that I like nice things. The problem is that I like them a little too much and compulsively shop until I get in trouble. Shopping has been one of those things I do (like binge eat) when I get depressed or upset, so my new therapist and I have been talking about it. She kept asking why do you need all those things when you already have enough? And do I do it to impress people or try to be someone I’m not…?

I can’t answer her. I don’t know why I buy expensive jewelry, shoes and purses. I’m not trying to impress anybody! My therapist and I discussed it some more and finally we decided that it doesn’t matter what the root of the action is, I just have to find something healthy to replace it. Or else.

That was last week. Then today, after taking pictures with my family after my daughter’s award ceremony, I went home and looked at the photos. I was mortified. I looked so awful. My skirt was awkward and wrinked, my shirt was awful and my hair looked like crap. As soon as I could, I climbed out of those clothes and threw them in the donate bin.

“I looked fat and ugly,” I told my friend later. She told me I was not, but when we stopped texting I couldn’t stop thinking about how gross I looked. I actually changed clothes after that 4 times. I just gave up, threw on a dress and chalked it up to it being a “blah” day.

Tonight I was sitting in a support group when somebody was talking about lessening your load. He said that everybody has a backpack and rocks that make it heavy, but you don’t have to carry such a heavy load. Well as he was talking I thought about my “backpac”k – then I thought, “Ha, mine would be a designer purse.” Then I looked down at my big new bag David bought me, which was at my feet. I then glanced at my feet, adorned with new Gucci slides that cost a small fortune. Then my glance fell on my dress, which was about $300. I asked myself why I needed all that, then thought “But it’s so pretty.”

I tuned out the speaker, and it was like sirens in my head.

I buy those things because I think they’re pretty and I’m so ugly and fat.

Could it be that simple though?

I’ve been obsessed with how I look, especially what I weigh, for decades. About the same amount of time I started buying all these “pretty things.”

I’ve had a breast reduction, a tummy tuck and gastric sleeve surgery. I also have a formidable eating disorder. I’m now 75-pounds lighter than my highest weight. I’m a SIZE 6 and haven’t been in a single digit size since I was 6 years old. Still I hate my photos. I know deep in my heart that I will never be thin enough to assuage my fears of not being good enough.

For the 2,341st time, when is enough enough?

I know that I’m not really fat and ugly. Sometimes I know that I’m thin. Logically, I know I’m not fat and ugly, but it’s like I have blinders on. I’ve said over and over that I don’t want Isla to ever go through this, shouldn’t that should prompt me to say that I love my body no matter what.? And actually believe it? To tell myself I’m beautiful no matter what. That it doesn’t matter what I weight or look like at all.

But it would be lies. All lies. And how sad for my daughter who I’m trying to break this generational cycle of self-hatred for when I can’t even look at a picture of myself without throwing my clothes away. And deleting pictures of me with my family. I tell my daughter that she’s beautiful and that it doesn’t matter how much she weighs or what she looks like.

It does matter to me. Because the truth is I don’t think I’m good enough despite my accomplishments. Despite people telling me I am good enough, thin enough, pretty enough.

I’d like to say this situation will prompt me to turn over a leaf, but it won’t. I’ll tell myself that I love my body and how I look and that I’m good enough — the whole nine yards.

At least while my daughter is listening.

And until she hears and believes me, I’ll keep writing check after check to my therapist.

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The Power of No

by Heather Loeb

I have had a difficult time with my binge eating disorder lately — since October I’ve gained 10 pounds. It’s not just about the weight gain, it’s the way I feel: so sluggish, uncomfortably full, and I’m getting more stomach pain (I’ve had the sleeve surgery so eating too much causes a lot of pain) and acid reflux.

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Normally I don’t each much because of the sleeve, plus my migraine prevention medication is an appetite suppressant. But I just can’t seem to stop eating. It doesn’t matter what it is — candy, Girl Scout cookies (which I don’t even like much) bread, chips, hell, even raisins. Whatever it is, I overindulge.

I’ve talked to my therapist about it many times. Of course I’m seeking comfort. This is my pattern. If I’m not compulsively shopping, I’m taking too many anxiety pills. If I’m not doing that, I’ve overeating. And this by far is the worst, in my opinion. I have so many body issues, and even though I’ve tried to battle them all my life, somewhere along the line I’ve learned the worst thing you can be in this world is fat (even I don’t think that way about my loved ones). LogicalIy I know better. But I just can’t go down that path anymore.

I don’t feel depressed at all, and my anxiety has been stable.

My therapist says I need to be mindful when I feel like eating. I agree. She says I’ll figure out what’s bothering me if I sit with my feelings and do some introspection. I know she’s right, but the urge to eat is too powerful. My need for comfort is too strong. She says I need to tell myself no.

But I never do. Well, rarely.

My loved ones rarely tell my no, except David — he’s definitely the best at it, and I love him for that. I need to hear no, not just from my friends and family. I NEED TO HEAR IT FROM ME. But it’s like I feel like I need a treat all the time, whether it’s food or something I want to buy. Nobody needs that many treats. I realize I deserve nice things, but that’s different. There are healthy ways to treat myself, like doing self-care. Logically I know that.

So my question to myself is not what am I eating, it’s what’s eating me?

I do have a lot going on right now at home, and of course, NAMI GCC is keeping me busy. I don’t feel too overwhelmed. I like to keep busy; I like to be challenged, and I definitely am being challenged. Maybe it’s too much and I don’t recognize that? I don’t know, I think I would feel it in my body if it were too much.

Good things are coming up. I’m getting a new car, NAMI is getting a new, bigger office and we’re preparing for Celebrity Jeopardy on April 27. NAMI is also offering new classes, and I feel that bigger things are ahead for NAMI. My therapist (who I’ve seen for 9 years) is retiring, but we’ve been preparing for that, and I have already selected a new one, and we have a transition plan. I feel good about it.

SO WHAT IS IT?????

Why am I shoving food down my throat?

What am I punishing myself for?

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I’ve been losing a lot of hair recently, and while I don’t know exactly what is causing the loss, I have a guess — a medication I take for migraine prevention. It’s a rare side effect, but I’m in a support group for those taking said medication, and there are a lot of women who have lost hair. But apparently it’s reversible once you’re off the pill.

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My beautiful curly hair

I first noticed it when I put my hair up in a ponytail. There was hardly any hair to put up; it was so much thinner than my usual thick curls, and I started to panic. For a while, I had been complaining to my best friend that my hair hadn’t been curling like it used to, but I blamed that on one of my conditions being discontinued. I thought I just needed to find something comparable, and it was just taking a while.

At night I would scroll through pictures where my hair was voluminous and curly, just months ago. The medication was the only change, and the problem with stopping the medication was not only would I see an increase in migraines but also not be protected by another side effect — appetite suppression and weight loss. I have a terrible eating disorder, and while the pill doesn’t always stand up to that, it helps greatly, and I feel like I need to be on it.

I feel so stupid and vain. Sometimes I say it’s just hair, right? But it’s not. I’ve always felt like my hair is a big part of me, a big curly, beautiful mess. But I’ve also worked hard to get to a weight I’m comfortable with, one where I’m not constantly calling myself fat.

And I just don’t want to go there again. I’ve always been so miserable at higher weights, and I know that’s the opposite of what I preach on my blog and in my columns (body positivity, etc.). I always see the beauty in others but never myself.

Honestly, I think it would be better if I just stayed on my migraine medication because if I start gaining weight that could trigger my eating disorder and a depressive episode and I’m not willing to go through that right now. It might seem like I’m being dramatic, but the last time I went through a bad depressive episode, I was constantly suicidal and ended up in two hospitals, away from my family. My kids were young then; they’re not now. The stakes are higher, and I have more responsibility. I’m not ready to fight my brain again, which told me repeatedly to kill myself.

I feel much less confident about my thinning hair, but I suppose I can learn to deal with that. It’s not the same as going through a depressive episode. I just hate that those are my choices. And maybe they’re not. I see my PCP on Tuesday, and I’ll bring all of this up. Maybe there are more options that I’m not seeing or know about.

But I’m seeing now it’s more than the hair on my head or the weight on the scale.

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So if y’all have been reading, you know I’m going through a tough time, but things have been better the past week and I don’t know why. I was bingeing a lot last week, and I do mean a lot, but I’ve seemed to kick the habit for the time being.

It was weird. I haven’t binged like that in a loooong time. I was eating sugar powdered donuts, candy, more candy, popcorn, beef jerky, more candy, donuts and more. I gained about 7 pounds, but now I’ve got it back down to 4. Nothing really made me happy except the Smart Food popcorn. I don’t know why. I’m still have a 100-calorie bag a day because they are freaking delicious.

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But after a few days I thought to myself, “okay girl, you’ve had your fun, now it’s time to do the work.” That’s the first time I’ve said/done that. Weird. Growth. So I started wearing real clothes again – no more leggings and big shirts or sweatshirts. The numbers on the scale don’t mean anything unless you get back into your real clothes and feel the gain.

So I put on some jeans and a shirt. They are tighter, not completely uncomfortable, but I can’t tell the difference in where I was before. This is a good coping skill for me, because I don’t like to be uncomfortably, emotionally or physically. I still look fly though. It’s just a reminder that there are consequences when I eat unhealthy foods and don’t take care of myself. I don’t don’t like knowing I did that or the guilt that follows.

Bingeing isn’t the big problem, though. It’s a symptom. Of depression, of stress. And while I feel good now, I wasn’t feeling good when I started doing it so it makes me feel like it was due to losing my friend or just the general stress in my life. Probably losing my friend. But there’s nothing I can do about it right now. Except accept it and go about my business, and that’s my plan.

Speaking of business, things are good. I have a lot to focus on right now, and it has been so fun. So much to look forward to. I’m working on staying in the present and practice gratitude, as well.

I’m doing all that I can. I know I just said that.

Sometimes if you repeat something enough times, it becomes the truth.

Things are good. I’m great. Life is good. I’m so grateful.

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Gains and Losses

by Heather Loeb

I’ve been trying to keep busy so I don’t stop and realize just how depressed I am over losing my best friend. I haven’t contacted her in over a week. I’ve let her know that I’m here, and that’s all I can really do. So I’ve tried to just not think about it but then it manifests in other ways: hello, binge eating disorder. It’s not that I’ve binged on a meal here and there, I overeat or binge EVERY meal, and when I got on the scale tonight (don’t ever get on the scale at night), I weighed 10 pounds more than usual. Ten pounds!

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I’ve worked really hard to get to a healthy weight, and now it’s slipping away because I can’t get my shit together. I’ve talked to my therapist and she has given me healthy coping skill to do, but I always fall back on the unhealthy ones.

I realize it’s time to change.

All the snacks in the world won’t bring my friend back.

All the snacks in the world won’t bring my friend back.

Tears threaten to fall as I write that twice.

I know what to do: I need to throw out all the junk food. I need to be mindful when I eat. I need to listen to my body and its hunger cues. I don’t need to freak out over 10 pounds. I might be a little more uncomfortable, but it’s temporary. This is all temporary.

Until it’s not.

Sitting with my feelings, being in the moment and dealing with the pain is so hard. I’ve never been one to actually do it, but the only way out is through, right? It has been four weeks, and I’m still here. Just a bit heavier, in so many ways.

I’m resilient, thanks to my mental health conditions and journey, so I know I’ll make it through. It just sucks now. I want my security blankets: bingeing, shopping, using too much anxiety meds, sleeping too much. But I know that if they haven’t worked in the past, AND THEY HAVEN’T, they’re not going to work now.

Binge eating does not soothe me the way I want. It actually stresses me out and only soothes me for a few seconds. The aftermath is painful, and I feel very guilty once I see the bottom of the popcorn bag or candy wrapper.

I’m throwing away my snacks today. It’s the beginning of a new week. Good things are happening at work, I’m very excited. I have a lot to look forward to and a lot to let go of. That can be very freeing.

I’m ready.

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In the past few months I’ve seen moderate weight loss, thanks to starting karate and my migraine medication that has loss of appetite as a side effect. Plus, I was eating healthier and working out on my own.

I felt good about myself, but as always, I was waiting for the other shoe to drop — it always does. My eating disorder (Binge Eating Disorder) always comes back to find me. This time was no different. I let it overtake me. I stopped feeling full, I started drinking more Diet Coke, which meant less water, and my taste buds craved more sugar.

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I ate cookies, candy, bread, chips and any carb I had denied myself previously. I didn’t even want it, but I did. How many people can relate to that? Was I punishing myself? Trying to escape? Or did I just want to feel good, however temporary it was?

I’ve been avoiding the scale, which I advocate for anyway, but I check my weight occasionally for accountability. I can’t check it now. I’m too ashamed. I was doing so well. I was taking care of myself, and I was so proud of myself for being healthy — not thin or skinny or any of that. Healthy was my goal and being strong.

I was chatting with a girlfriend about it who has the same problem. We check in with ourselves because not a whole lot of people understand BED. I think it’s hard for my friends and family, especially when sometimes I’m at a lower weight. How can I have Binge Eating Disorder at 166 pounds? But just the other day one of my girlfriends said (with tears in her eyes) that she had no idea she had an eating disorder (Binge Eating Disorder) until she read some of my blogs. BED is not talked a lot about, even though it negatively affects your health and decreases your quality of life – BIG TIME.

My previously mentioned friend told me she has had trouble going to the grocery store. That’s why I don’t go — I get my groceries delivered so I can’t pick up junk and suffer from impulse buys. My friend is like me: she uses food for comfort, and even though she has received help and counseling for it, it’s still very difficult to her. ME TOO. Matter of fact, she mentioned how deadly eating disorders can be. According to a 2020 article, Anorexia is named as the mental illness with the highest mortality rate. Five to 10% of anorexics die within 10 years after contracting the disease and 18 to 20% of anorexics will be dead after 20 years. That’s shocking.

Other stats you should know:

  • It is estimated that 8 million Americans have an eating disorder – seven million women and one million men
  • One in 200 American women suffers from anorexia
  • Two to three in 100 American women suffers from bulimia
  • Nearly half of all Americans personally know someone with an eating disorder (Note: One in five Americans suffers from mental illnesses.)
  • An estimated 10 – 15% of people with anorexia or bulimia are males (source: South Carolina State Dept of Mental Health)

I didn’t look much for stats on Binge Eating Disorder but you can look at disability from BED here. How do I say this delicately? It’s not outright deadly, but I can see how long-term it could contribute negatively to your health and subsequently your death.

I work so hard to keep my depression, anxiety and eating disorder from my kids, but let’s face it, I’m not doing a great job. The jig will be up sooner or later. They’re 5 and 7. I can’t just not eat in front of them for the rest of my life.

I’m 38 years old. It’s never going to get easier.

But I’ll keep trying. I’ll keep checking in with my friend. I’ll aim to be healthier every single day of my life. Because that’s what I do.

I can live with my kids seeing that.

If you have an eating disorder and need help, please go here. There’s a hotline and chat line you can call.

You are not alone.

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Crazy…Like a Fox?

by Heather Loeb

I recently sent a meme to one of my friends that said, “I am the friend you have to explain to your other friends before they meet me.” She laughed it off, but I feel it’s so true.

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See, I have baggage. A lot of baggage. I don’t mean to bring it with me where ever I go, but sometimes it just sneaks into my daily life. For example, I have retrograde amnesia. I also have trouble with my short term memory — this is due to the electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) I did for my treatment-resistant major depressive disorder. Sometimes I’ll introduce myself to the same person twice (or three times). It’s hard for me to remember things so I try to write everything down. It’s not a huge deal, but it’s annoying and sometimes I come off rude when really I just can’t remember.

Then there’s my anxiety. When I start to feel I’m not in control, I become irritable and I snipe at people. On a good note, my anxiety makes me show up early every where I go. It makes me plan ahead, and I feel like I’m always prepared. But there are times where my depression takes over and I can’t get those things done. Then am I note only irritable, I’m overly emotional and feel very out of control. I hate feeling like that.

My diagnoses include:

  • Major depressive disorder
  • Generalized anxiety disorder
  • Persistent depressive disorder
  • Avoidant personality disorder
  • Binge eating disorder
  • Migraine disorder

I feel like I’m missing some, but you get the point. I’m more than my diagnoses, but my behavior is hard to explain when someone doesn’t know what I’m going through.

More recently I started a new med for my migraine disorder. It’s called Topamax, and it has helped immensely. I haven’t had a migraine since I started three or four weeks ago. BUT it has the weirdest side effects and when I explain them to people I feel like a “crazy” person.

  • It makes carbonated beverages taste gross
  • It leaves a weird taste in your mouth
  • I’m not able to sweat when I’m exercising so I have to drink tons of water when my body temp rises
  • I have to drink tons of water, period
  • It causes indigestion
  • It causes memory loss (just what I need)
  • Constant eye twitching
  • And it causes brain fog – I’ve literally forgotten words while I’m talking

There’s so much more.

Because I take a karate class, I had to explain to the instructor about the body temperature thing, and boy did I feel crazy. I’m sure he’s never heard that before. Like when I explain to people I have retrograde amnesia from “shock therapy.” It sounds unbelievable.

I shouldn’t care what people think, and normally I don’t, but sometimes I can’t help think I’m making excuses listing off my limitations — are they really limitations?

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I was hanging out at my desk this morning, waiting on a Zoom meeting to start. I pulled out one of my drawers, just looking around when I saw my Wellness & Relapse Prevention Plan from the Menninger Clinic on top of some papers. I wrote this plan before I left the psychiatric hospital, as everybody does. It’s mandatory before leaving. I was at Menninger for six long weeks, and I was ready. I couldn’t remember what was inside, so I took a gander.

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It started off by saying that triggers and warning signs of relapse will occur, but by preparing the best we can could help prevent another relapse or depressive episode. It urged you to be honest in your answers, share it with you loved ones and refer to it often. It was in question and answer form.

It covered areas of wellness such as Emotional Wellness, Relationships, Physical Health, Work/School, Spirituality, Financial, Leisure, Self-Awareness/Insight and Addiction Management. It asked what did I look like or act like when I looked healthy in all the areas I just mentioned. Under Physical Health I put that I would exercise, eat healthy, stop drinking Diet Coke, not use food as a coping mechanism, I’d have good hygiene habits, and that I’d appreciate my body for what it is. Sounds good, right?

Then I skipped to my Core Problems, my deepest, darkest secrets. I listed all my diagnoses: Persistent Depressive Disorder, Major Depressive Disorder, Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Avoidant Personality Disorder and Binge Eating Disorder. I listed the negative thoughts that too often cross my mind: I’m a bad mom and wife; I’m a burden to my family; I’ll never be good enough; and I’m worthless.

Next I wrote about short and long-term goals I had socially, emotionally, spiritually and physically. For example, for the social goal, I wanted to volunteer for my kids’ school book fair in the following September (I left the hospital in August). Long term I wanted to have a girls’ night at Alamo Drafthouse every month.

I did the book fair (and met a really good friend!) — I was actually in charge of it that year — and the girls’ nights were at least every other month if not every month.

But other things like, “take a daily walk around the neighborhood, go on a healthier diet, go to the gym three times a week, make an effort to go to the synagogue more often,” things like that didn’t become a habit. Not because they aren’t important, but because life happened when I stepped off those hospital groups. I had a four- and two-year-old to take care of. I had to figure out how to be a healthy me — a wife me, a mom me, a friend me, a daughter me and a me me — in just a few hours a day I had to myself. I had just begun blogging, and I knew that I wanted to write, but I was still lost and overwhelmed with all the working parts I was supposed to incorporate into my “new” life.

But, as I look as this wellness plan, I see that a lot of the goals on here I’ve hit. I may have done it in a number of years or taken a different approach, but I still made it. I still go to therapy every week (every other week now because my therapist says I don’t have to come weekly anymore). I am healthier. I work out each week. I eat a healthier diet. I volunteer. I have my own column in the Caller-Times. And that did not come easily. I monitor my self-talk. I check in with friends.

And get this: I can ask for help. I can say, “can you take this off my plate, please?” and not feel the slightest guilt about it.

I didn’t know what to expect when I was filling out that Wellness Plan. I didn’t know what challenges would occur or how hard it would be. I just knew it would be hard. Real hard.

But was nothing compared to hitting rock bottom and being sent to a hospital, away from your friends, husband and children (and other family).

I would’ve never dreamed I’d be this happy. I still have bad days; we all do. That just makes the good ones all the more sweet.

Here is a summary of my strengths from my Wellness Plan:

“I’m grateful for my kids. I’m a good writer. I’m grateful for my husband. I’m compassionate and empathetic. I’m a good friend. My cherished moments include both of my children and my wedding. I have more work to do here.”

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I don’t know if it’s the motion of repetitive chewing or the first delectable bites that set my taste buds on fire. Sometimes it starts with, “I deserve a treat,” even when I’ve indulged myself multiple times throughout that day. Sometimes it happens because I’m alone (rare), which in my eyes, is always a time to celebrate. Maybe I just need comfort…but at every meal?

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I don’t understand my binge eating. I mean, I do to an extent. I know it’s a behavior I learned that once served a purpose but doesn’t necessarily work for me now. One book I read said that the binge urges come from your “primitive brain,” meaning the lower brain, my limbic system. That part of the brain is supposed to warn you of danger — the part of the brain that would kick off your flight, fight or freeze responses.

Except I’m not being preyed on. But I am in danger. I always am when I binge.

I keep thinking what I need comfort from. My life is good, so good. I still struggle with depression, anxiety, and of course with binge eating. But I have no complaints about the life I’m living. Just the other day I realized how far I’ve come since being hospitalized in 2019. I went to a karate class, for heaven’s sake, when just a few years ago I couldn’t get out of bed or shower.

So what is my problem? Is it habit? I’ve read all kinds of books on bingeing, but I couldn’t tell you one thing I really learned because of my bad memory.

I started karate because I thought it would be fun, that I would learn self-discipline and honor my body by making it stronger. Maybe I should start asking myself before I eat if what I’m eating honors my body? But will that work? I seem to lack rationale before a binge, so will I even care if it doesn’t honor my body in the moment?

I hate the way I feel after a binge. My body is so heavy, my belly so full. I’m sluggish, and then the guilt comes in, followed by shame. I watch the numbers go up on the scale, then quickly turn away from the results it shows. I shove that pain down and go about my day then daydream about what I’m going to eat the next couple of meals. Actually, I’m always thinking about what I’m going to eat. I think nonstop of food, which I know isn’t normal. One of my best friends told me she never thinks of food, it’s just fuel to her body. Why can’t I think like that?

I’m hoping that karate will push me to the edge and make me jump far away from binge eating and overeating. I have to be in shape. I can’t keep gaining the same 30 pounds. I want to be strong, for my body to be strong. I want to be example to my kids.

Throwing away the “bad” food in the house isn’t enough. It has to come from inside. But it has to be now — I’m not doing my body any favors by doing this. I don’t want to die young. I want to lead a healthy life.

I want to lead a healthy life.

Looks like I’ll be digging deep with my therapist next week. There’s some reason I’m doing this. If it’s not my depression, it’s my anxiety. If it’s not my anxiety, it’s my eating disorder. Now that I have depression and anxiety taken care of (for the most part), my eating is out of control. I picture myself on a large ship on the sea (for some reason it looks like the ship in The Little Mermaid) and there are multiple holes in the wood. Big, round holes. When I plug one, the others gush, and I’m constantly patching them all day, every day.

I have work to do. It’s daunting, but I can do hard things.

I can do this.

I can be healthy.

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Just a few years ago I couldn’t get out of bed. I was consumed with depression and anxiety. I lied to my husband about being sick or having a migraine so he would take the kids to preschool for me. I couldn’t take regular showers or brush my teeth. I spent as much as my energy as I could on the kids, leaving me running on fumes.

I abused my anxiety medication, taking six to seven pills instead of the one or two I was prescribed. I binged on unhealthy foods, seeking comfort where I could. But it wasn’t real, just temporary, and after the binge was over I felt nothing but guilt and shame.

I was suicidal, and at one point, had a plan to die by suicide. The pain was relentless. My own brain betrayed me, telling me I should die, that I wasn’t worthy, and I would never feel better. My psychiatrist told me I had treatment-resistant depression and said most medications wouldn’t work. He didn’t offer any plans, solutions or other therapies. I didn’t think I would live to see my children grow up.

It was bad.

I was hospitalized in 2019 for all the aforementioned symptoms. I was there for only six weeks, but it still felt life-changing. I got on different meds, I did intensive counseling, I took classes on how to cope with my many diagnoses. I also started electroconvulsive therapy, which probably saved my life.

After I left the hospital it felt like I was walking on eggshells…or a minefield. I quickly realized that I would never be “cured.” This would be a lifelong journey for me, and that’s okay. I’ve accepted that.

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Fast forward a few years and here I am with my blog, with a column in the local newspaper, and I’m the Communications Manager for NAMI Greater Corpus Christi. I eat, sleep and breathe mental health, but in a good way. I share my story and hopefully help others who can’t be so open about their struggles.

I’ve become stronger. Just the fact that I’m able to look outside myself and try to do something helpful is a sign that I’m on the road to recovery. A long, hard road but one I’ve started on nonetheless.

What really strikes me as amazing is that I tried out a karate class. Last summer my kids started karate at Life Martial Arts, and I immediately fell in love with it. I toyed around with the idea of taking a class myself, but was too scared. Two days ago I did my first class and fell in love. Tonight’s class was harder but rewarding. I didn’t want to start karate as a way to lose weight or exercise, but I want my body to be stronger. I want to accept it as is right this minute, and I want to honor it. I also want self-discipline. Discipline is a huge part of karate (as I’ve learned through my kids’ classes), and something that has always eluded me.

When I came home from class tonight I was beaming. I know I’ve only had two classes, but that’s not the point. This means that I am physically and mentally healthy enough to do something that was completely healthy and fulfilling. I’m doing something for my self (#selfcare). I can still do hard things even though I’m 38 (still youngish).

I can do hard things.

I can put in the work to be healthy.

I can be in recovery from depression (and all the other disorders).

I can be happy.

There will be bad days, even in recovery, but look what I’ve already been through. I’ve come so far, and I’m so close to accepting myself and treating myself well.

But there will be good days, too. Like today.

Today my legs are jello after karate class, and my abs on fire. But I wouldn’t change it for the world.

It’s nothing in comparison to the joy in my heart.

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