Monday, July 6, 2015

Mental Health Monday: No Shame

Welcome to Mental Health Monday!  Every 1st and 3rd Monday there will be a link up for writers to share their experiences with mental illness – either from their own experience or from the experience of helping and walking with others.  The goal is to reach out to the world and let people know that they are not alone in their struggles.  You are never alone.  Join us – link up, visit new blogs, support others.  Speak out:  “I am crazy…CRAZY AWESOME!”



My most recent experience with severe depression started in 2012. I didn't recognize it for a long time; I chalked up all my sadness to circumstance. I’d lost my job, our primary source of income; I gave birth; we had to start using WIC and SNAP (food stamps); we weren’t getting calls from any of the hundreds of jobs we’d applied for;  we had to sell our house; we moved to a new city; etcetera. My ego was beaten and bruised, and I doubted everything that I’d ever thought about myself. 


I thought that if I could just get a job, things would be better. Well, I got a job in October 2013, exactly a year and 2 weeks after losing my job. Things didn’t get better. I didn’t enjoy anything, I didn’t want to do anything. I practically sleepwalked through Ryan’s first year of life. I don’t remember much except that both he and I cried a lot. I’m certain that Karinne was there too, though I can’t recall any particulars. Depression stole a lot from me, and my husband and children, during that time. 


The bingeing was out of control. I’d get cookies and cupcakes and pretzels and eat them all in one sitting. My triggers of choice were bags of Lindor truffles and Ghirardelli squares; I’d buy them with the intention of eating one or 2 per day. However, they were always gone within a day, sometimes 2—always attempting to hide the evidence. Eventually, I started bringing the bags of chocolate to work. I’d hide the wrappers in various garbage cans, so maybe people didn’t notice that I was eating all of this chocolate. 

I was embarrassed, and I felt so ashamed.  Why couldn’t I control myself? Why was I so weak? Why didn’t I have any willpower? I’d cry as I stuffed more chocolate in my mouth, hoping, praying for numbness so I didn’t have to feel this way anymore.  My depression was affecting my marriage, my kids; Marc asked me to talk to someone, but I refused—talking to someone would require admitting that I was broken, that something was wrong with me. I couldn’t be broken, I had to be strong! And then I’d binge because I wasn’t strong; I felt like a fraud. If only I could stop stuffing my fat face, I could lose weight and then I could be happy. It was a vicious, vicious cycle.


It wasn’t until a particularly awful binge episode in my car in the parking lot at work that I finally started to think that maybe I had a problem, and maybe I couldn’t fix it myself.  I started to research Overeaters Anonymous, which led me to Binge Eating Disorder, which led me to a few different blogs where I learned that I wasn’t alone in my feelings and way of coping. I knew I had to change something. I joined Weight Watchers, and I started googling therapists who specialized in binge eating. A few days later, I made my first appointment with Mary. I was ready, and I was excited. And yet, I was still ashamed. What will people think of me if they find out I’m seeing a therapist? 


My husband was proud of me. My mother-in-law was proud of me. My therapist was proud of me. I was somewhat active on a WW message board and posted about it there, and they were very encouraging. 


Unfortunately, some people do respond exactly how you fear. I decided to tell my boss, since he’s a Christian and I thought I could use the extra prayer, considered all that I’d discovered/remembered all at the same time. That turned out to be a mistake; instead of being encouraging and praying with me, he implied that I was having problems because I wasn’t Christian enough, didn’t trust God enough. It was a terrible experience that I regretted because I trusted him and I feel like he violated that trust, but what’s done is done. Now that I’ve been through therapy and I know my boss’s personality a bit better, I know that just because lots of people seem to trust and admire someone doesn’t mean that they’re necessarily deserving of all that trust and admiration. 


I’m proud that I didn’t let my boss’s reaction deter me from continuing therapy; I knew that I needed it, and I was confident in that decision.  I want you to know that there is absolutely no shame in seeking treatment for your mental health, and the more of us that speak out about it, the more accepted it will become and more people will be inclined to seek the treatment they need. My only regret about all of this is that I put it off for so long. It’s the best thing I ever did for myself and my family. 




9 comments:

  1. I also struggle with binge eating and I just can't figure out why. I feel like if I knew the why I could fix it. Thanks for sharing

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  2. It's good to hear your story. Depression is horrible.

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  3. Sometimes depression does seem to hide in the triggers but then not improve. I am SO PROUD of you for getting the help you need and putting yourself first. It is never easy. You know that I've been struggling with binge eating and depression right now - you put words to it so well. Thank you for sharing your story.

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  4. So I am new to your blog, but I will be following from here on out!

    As I read the post I found myself nodding in agreement and silently saying "Yep" to most all of your points. Thanks for sharing!

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  5. I can relate to the binging that comes with depression. I have done a lot of that in the last few years, though it is getting better. I look forward to reading more of your story. Thanks for joining the linkup!

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  6. What a lovely and honest post. I had no idea what I was doing was binging, how I would look forward to having an evening to myself so I could eat whatever I wanted, until I started researching it. glad you found a solution that works for you!

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  7. Binge eating is such a nasty cycle of eating in hopes of feeling better followed by guilt/sadness/shame about having eaten so much followed by eating again to deal with those feelings; oh, how well I know that cycle. While I'm SO MUCH BETTER now than I was a few years ago - I shudder to think how much food I used to consume in an episode while my husband was deployed overseas! - I still occasionally find myself eating more than someone without mental illness would eat in a single sitting, then hiding the evidence and feeling great shame about it. There's nothing weak about going to therapy and I'm so glad you've found relief with a qualified mental health professional - yay for you!

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  8. Therapy is hard, hard work. It is not for the weak.

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  9. Good for you for getting help! It so scary to finally look the problem in the face and try to fix it. I always feared that if I did that, I'd find out I wasn't strong enough to do so.

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