Since my 20s I’ve battled weight issues but it’s been the last few years of my life where I have seen the lowest lows. Ten years ago, I was diagnosed with depression. I am not seeking to blame my weight on the depression or vice versa. A health change was on the cards!
What I can honestly say is that what I know to have happened in the past was an all too familiar cycle; I would be feeling emotional, so I sought comfort in food. Then I’d get angry and upset because I had over-eaten, or eaten fat/sugar loaded junk. So I’d get depressed again, and the cycle would go round and round.
It was a relief to finally know that I wasn’t going crazy. I had depression. Or, as I’ve come to call it, ‘the Black Dog’.
Over the past couple of years, actually since I started my blog, I decided not to hide or shy away from the depression. By that I mean, if I felt depressed I told someone. I’m not ashamed to admit it. It’s really no different to having asthma, in as much that you need medication (at times) to keep it in check. It shouldn’t be an embarrassment.
I believe with my whole being, the more we stand tall and talk about mental health, the less people will feel isolated.
Two years ago, turning 52 years young, I started creating a sustainable, healthy lifestyle for myself. Sharing this journey via my blog I never hesitated to share when the Black Dog was biting me on the bum. During that time all the healthy changes has seemed to keep the ‘dog’ sitting quietly in the corner.
Unfortunately about six weeks before the Christmas period I felt it start to close in on me.
You try to ignore it, but it just keeps coming at you. Mornings become heavier; days become darker. I just wanted to lie in bed with the doona pulled up over my head. Even a hard workout at the gym to activate the endorphins didn’t help.
I found myself back chatting with my doctor and my therapist. Both of them said it’s quite common in the lead up to the ‘festive season’ for the Black Dog to go into over-drive. I think because it had been such a long time since I had felt so bad that it was a struggle to pick up the everyday pieces.
I went from working out in the gym 3-4 times a week to nothing. I remember at one stage I reverted back to my old eating habits without realising it. For over one week I lived off take-away food! I couldn’t believe it. Trust me when I tell you, having lost 20 kilos, and known for cooking up healthy meals in 30 minutes, I seriously dropped my bundle. I crashed and burned.
The whole time I had this internal dialogue on how I would get up each day, eat healthy, maybe even for a walk. People kept telling me I would feel better. If you suffer with the Black Dog you will know what I mean when I say – you just want to tell these people to “F&^% OFF!” I know that sounds harsh,
but unless you have walked in someone’s shoes – don’t judge or tell them what to do. (Unless they ask).
For me, even though I got to a dark place, reaching out to two of my dearest friends saved me. One would check on me daily, even though she was coping with her active, nearly one year old twins. My other friend would come and stay a couple of nights a week to make sure I was okay.
Maybe it was the fast-approaching festive season that was affecting me, I’m not sure. But what I do know is there were days that I just didn’t want to wake up. I didn’t want to take my own life, no. I just didn’t want to wake up and have to deal with the Black Dog.
I remember telling my therapist that was how I felt. She reminded me how angry I had been when my foster daughter killed herself nearly two years ago. I assured her, even though life felt like I was walking through molasses,
I just knew, somehow, that I would (eventually) be okay. And I am.
I am doing fine. Better than fine. It took a few weeks, but I’m healing and getting on with my wonderful life. I made a real effort to surround myself with people who see the good in me. I made the choice to pick up the pieces and get on with it. I’m not sure if the Black Dog is happy curled up in the corner, and I don’t care. I know it’s there and I’m happy to keep creating a healthy life for myself that sees me having run-ins with the ‘Dog’ less and less.