The Weight of Depression
Depression is heavy. It weighs you down both mentally and physically. It slows your mind and body and makes you feel like you are moving in slow motion. Depression is also heavy because weight gain often accompanies it. When I was younger I guess I had a better metabolism and a more active lifestyle, so I never gained too much weight despite my severe depression. That's not the case anymore.
None of my medicines cause weight gain thankfully, however my year-long depression did. In 2017 I have found myself almost 15 pounds heavier than I was before. I have even been asked if I was pregnant by more than one person! As my mood has improved this year, I have been struggling with my body image. I find myself trying to hide in my clothes and suck in my stomach. I don't have a desire to be supermodel skinny, but I would like to at least be back to where I was before I got pregnant. I just want my pants to fit comfortably -- is that too much to ask? Although your body does change after pregnancy, I know I have chocolate, ice cream, cupcakes, cookies, muffins, cheese, chips and a variety of other junk to thank for my expanded waistline. It doesn't help that I love to bake when I feel down!
I never thought I was an emotional eater, but I realized I am. When I feel numb and empty inside and all I can see is darkness, food is the only thing that gives me some pleasure. My taste buds still light up as those sweet and salty treats go down. It would be ok if I just had one piece of chocolate or a couple chips, but when I am depressed I binge. I start with something sweet or salty and basically alternate back and forth until it registers that I am stuffed and actually feel sick. Afterwards, I feel disgusting of course, but those few moments of happiness seem worth it at the time.
In the last month I have tried to make a conscious effort to change my behavior now that I am in a better state of mind. What really drove my motivation to change is my health. I have had high cholesterol since I was a kid, thanks to genetics, but my last test showed that all of my numbers got worse; bad cholesterol went up, good went down and triglycerides went up. The last thing I want is to have yet another health problem and medication to add to my list, so I am seriously making an effort this time. I am making healthier food choices and increasing my fruit and vegetable intake. I am trying to limit the amount of sugar I consume since it's not doing my body or mind any favors. But now it's time to try to add exercise into the mix and that has overwhelmed me. I need more formal and intense exercise than walking. In order to do that, I need to go to classes during babysitting hours, which I try to avoid. I know people get up and do exercise programs at home, but I know that I can't rely on myself to do that on a regular basis. I am not lazy; I actually require more sleep than most in order to function so getting up at the crack of dawn is very difficult. I have done some research and I am going to give Pilates a try this weekend since it's something I have wanted to try.
In the past, I always tried to make huge changes in my life all at once and then, inevitably, I fail because it's too overwhelming. When it comes to exercise, I have always used the excuse that if I can only go once a week, it's not worth it, but I decided that's a bad attitude. As the famous Lao Tzu quotes says, "the journey of a thousand miles begins with one step." This time, I'm trying to scale back, go slow and just keep making positive changes. Eat better and move more. It all has to add up to improvement over time. Even if my waistline never gets to the exact place I want it to be, a healthier diet and exercise will be good for my mind and help alleviate the mental weight of depression when it arises.
Here's to taking that first step!