For the past five days we have seen nothing but heavy rain and occasional sleet. For the next five days, the forecast is predicting nothing but heavy rain and occasional sleet.
Back when I was in the midst of my eating disorder, I used to crave rainy days. When the weather was gloomy, I didn't feel as much pressure to put on a happy face; it was a perfect excuse to sleep the day away, and I could blame my low mood on the weather. Rainy days bring out my depression, which isn't something I talk about very often.
Depression and anxiety are often two of the most common underlying issues associated with eating disorders and I was no stranger to either of them. While anxiety was (and still is) typically a much bigger issue for me, depression always found a way to sneak up on me when I least expected it. Initially, before I was diagnosed or treated for an eating disorder, I was prescribed anti-depressants; like taking pills would magically solve all of my problems.
One of my favorite quotes about depression comes from a book I read years ago: Elizabeth Gilbert's "Eat, Pray, Love." I read this book very recently after being diagnosed with depression and this quote about depression and loneliness has stuck with me ever since;
“They flank me-Depression on my left, loneliness on my right. They don't need to show their badges. I know these guys very well. ...then they frisk me. They empty my pockets of any joy I had been carrying there. Depression even confiscates my identity; but he always does that... But he [Depression] just gives me that dark smile, settles into my favorite chair, puts his feet on my table and lights a cigar, filling the place with his awful smoke. Loneliness watches and sighs, then climbs into my bed and pulls the covers over himself, fully dressed, shoes and all. He's going to make me sleep with him again tonight, I just know it.”
While stuck in a bought of depression, it can feel absolutely hopeless and as Gilbert describes, it often confiscates my identity. Some of the most common depression symptoms include: lack of interest, difficulty concentrating, fatigue, feelings of worthlessness, insomnia or excessive sleeping, change in appetite, and persistent aches and pains, to name a few.
Eating disorders and depression are a deadly combination. Being severely underweight and malnourished can cause psychological changes to the brain that have been proven to negatively affect mood. Perfectionistic tendencies and feelings of inadequacy, which I have discussed multiple times on this blog, only add to the fire, making those depressive thoughts even worse.
Depression is just one of the many mental health disorders commonly involved with eating disorders; obsessive compulsive disorder, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, bipolar, borderline personality, and panic disorders may be involved as well. In addition, substance abuse, self harm, and even potential suicidal behaviors are coexisting issues and can all lead to depression and anxiety; making the recovery process that much more difficult.
The mental health world is a scary one for most people, myself included. By admitting that I do struggle with depression, anxiety and substance abuse, in addition to my eating disorder leaves me feeling self indulgent and weak; once again adding to the depression fire.
The good news is, however, I have learned that mental health disorders are nothing to be ashamed of. I have been shocked multiple times to find out people I would never expect, also struggle with similar issues. Just like I would never treat someone suffering from cancer with disrespect, I should never be disrespectful towards myself and my issues.
Eating disorders are the number one cause of death among all mental health disorders. This is not a matter that should be taken lightly.
Thanks to this rain, I have been constantly reminded of my old depressive ways. Although there is still nothing better than a nap in the rain, my depression no longer jumps for joy on rainy days. Depression might occasionally sneak up on me from time to time, but I no longer feel the need to spend my entire day indulging.
Yes, this weather is awful, but today I am choosing to snuggle up with a big mug of hot cocoa, my girl, Muzzy, and enjoy feeling cozy- rather than depressed.
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