It’s a weird place for me to be here at the Libero, especially when it comes to writing about depression. I’m pretty confident that I’ve learned a few things about Eating Disorder recovery, but beating the depression part has proven to be more difficult. It still lingers more than I think it should at times.
If I find out that there’s a special prayer, a genius pill, or a perfect workout routine to make all my struggling friends (and myself) free from bad days in depression, I’ll be sure to share it with the world.
Until then, here’s a little something I’ve picked up on along this long journey… Unfortunately for me, I often have to start with what doesn’t work in order to make progress into what will work.
One of the things I’ve learned that doesn’t work is acting out against my body and neglecting my body.
Deliberately harming my body is something that’s much rarer for me now than it once was. I remember talking to friends who had formed the same habits of starvation with over-exercise, and some who had also adopted self-harm. I was weak and cold. My mood swings pressured me to isolate myself or irritate everyone around me. Like-minded friends had similar days. One friend was forced to show her markings, they had gotten infected and were giving her an overwhelming fever.
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The whole time our bodies were begging for us to stop.
Freedom for me and many of my friends could only begin when we decided to honor the signals our bodies were giving us, rather than pushing back even more, again and again.
Eventually, and thankfully, it hit me. Going to war with my body is never going to make it easier to live in. Every problem I’ve ever had with myself has only been made worse by battling my body. It doesn’t matter what I told myself the battle was for. When it began with disordered eating, and as it loiters now along with depression, I only get into a darker place that way.
And so, for a while, I thought I was done with the abuse on my physical self. Managing school got easier. I started working more. I haven’t seemed to stop either. Today it seems like I continue to take on more whenever I can. At some point I realized that things weren’t getting easier to deal with anymore. I was back into feeling tired and weak. Mood swings came back. Even though I could eat a meal without wanting to start world war 3 on my body, I was back into that depressed rut.
Then came my second news flash:
Neglecting my body’s needs is just another type of abuse.
The simplest things I need, I often don’t allow myself. I always tell myself I can take more on so someone else doesn’t have to. I go to school full time. I almost always work myself into overtime on top of that. Then I help a friend paint rooms in their house. And I would never forget to add appointments for family members. I understand that none of these things are bad to do.
What I often fail to understand is that trying to do all of it at once is bad for my health. It doesn’t take long before my schedule gets so packed that I don’t make time to prepare a meal for a full day. I don’t allow myself a much needed therapeutic run until I’ve had a month or more without one. I’ll pull all-nighters until I’m ready to burst into tears from exhaustion.
24/7 autopilot is not living.
I know this. No one else would guess I did with the way I fail to apply it, though. It’s been a distraction from my problems, and it’s been the cause of my problems. It has never been the solution to my problems.
After learning what not to do, I’ve gained some simple facts I need to face and actually implement into my life. Taking care of myself is not something that just happens in my life. It’s something I’m intentional about, or I disregard. I need to set time aside to get my 8 hours of sleep. I need to have meals (plural) every day. I need to allow myself a physically and mentally healthy workout much more than once a month. These are not optional functions. I’ve fallen into a poor pattern enough times to know what comes from not taking my body seriously.
My body keeps me accountable in depression recovery like no one else does.
It lets me know when I need to eat more, or when I’ve had enough and should stop. Its clearest cry to me is the cry for consistent sleep. It gives me a refreshing feeling after a good workout, and a “take it easy” feeling when I’ve done more than enough. I need to choose to be an ally with my body if I want to understand its signals.
It can feel like I have a very far way to go. But this is where I have to start. Even if I have to restart every day during a bad week or a bad month, I will work to cooperate with my body as it keeps me accountable for the choices I make towards it.
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