Depressive Episodes: They Always Start With Food

(tw: eating disorders, suicide)

Do you know how I know I’m entering a depressive episode? I go vegan. Or low-carb. Or start weighing my food. Basically restrict my food in any way beyond my normal ‘safe’ foods. The only problem is, I don’t realise what’s happening whilst it’s happening.

Baffling isn’t it? Whilst I’m weighing my food, or trying to overhaul my cupboards I think ‘Yes look at me! Finally changing my life! This is going to be me forever, watch out Gwenyth, a new wholesome bitch is on the scene.’ Absolutely oblivious to the bigger picture.

I’ve told people before that going vegan ‘makes my mental health so much better’. No. No it doesn’t. It’s evidence I am on about to dive off a cliff headfirst into Suicidal Ideation Valley. Yet when I’m consumed by an episode I genuinely can not see it for what it is.

Rewind to around two weeks ago. I think it’s a brilliant idea to redownload ‘My FitnessPal’. ‘Pal’ you ain’t, buddy. I start to weigh every morsel that passes my lips. ‘Yes, hot girl summer here I come!’ No. Sad lukewarm depression bitch is where I am actually headed. I think nothing of it. Despite the last 43957 times I’ve started this I’ve ended up blackout drunk and tried to kill myself. 

This time will be different, of course. Ah, that old adage, my favourite lie. ‘This time’ is always different. This time I’ll drink responsibly. This time he won’t fuck me over. This time I’ll stop at two lines of cocaine. This time I’m going to solve all my life’s problems by being thin and healthy.

So we’re back in the kitchen weighing out each sunflower seed I have on my salad thinking everything is fine. I’m being ‘healthy’, definitely not ‘restrictive’. Five days later I relapse on alcohol.

Every. Single. Time. It always starts with the food. Always. This time I didn’t try to kill myself, but I cried myself to sleep desperate to. Angry that I’m too pathetic to try it sober. I’m a stubborn bitch. It makes my recovery hard. I feel an internal battle constantly. There’s a constant dialogue in my head, ‘BPD Meg’, ‘addict Meg’, ‘anorexic Meg’, ‘bulimic Meg’ and ‘manic Meg’ all fighting it out to come out on top. Each one thinks they are the one-true-voice and will fight to the death to prove it.

Here’s a little snippet of a moment in the head of Meg:

BPD Meg: No one likes you and never will you should kill yourself. 

Addict Meg: Fuck it, one won’t hurt. Life is shit without drugs and alcohol.

Anorexic Meg: Just don’t eat. It’s really not that fucking hard. Just stop putting things in your mouth, you fat fuck.

Bulimic Meg: Well look, you’ve eaten now. You need to get this out of your system ASAP. 

Manic Meg: Everything is grand! It’s all fine! Nothing matters! Everything is fantastic!

They all hate manic Meg, and manic Meg just pretends the rest don’t exist. Each is as stubborn as the next. I have broken some old cycles, but I’ve still got a long way to go. Thankfully today is a lot clearer than last week. 

Today I could make eye contact with the trainers at the gym. Today I got up at 9am and made coffee. Today I was able to be there for a friend who needed support. Last week I couldn’t get out of bed until midday. I didn’t cook a single meal. I cancelled pretty much every plan I had. I was halfway out the door from my 12-step recovery program. I convinced myself I was better off drunk and dead. I prayed for death.

My depressive episodes feel unending. They feel different these days. There’s less hospital visits for one – which I’m pleased about. They are always there though and I still have panic attacks thinking this is the time I won’t make it out alive.

Thankfully, I’ve made it out alive each time: a fact I won’t take for granted. My episodes are dangerous and life threatening, and whilst I can’t stop them I can implement harm reduction. Not drinking being the primary. Therapy, sleep, kindness being others. 

I can write this article from a place of hope today. A place where I didn’t die. Depressive episodes are just to be gotten through. That is a battle in and of itself. Don’t feel guilty about not being able to do anything. I find myself trying to find excuses, anything other than just admitting ‘my mental health is bad.’

I’m making a promise to myself to be more honest. To not try and pull a physical illness out my arse, but be honest ‘my mind is sick. I need time. I’ll be in touch when I am better.’

All I can control is today. If I try to think beyond today I suffocate. If today is bad, I manage that. If today is good I capitalise on that. It’s just about today. It’s all that exists.

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