Depression is quite the hand to be dealt, like Ricky Jay was feeling particularly evil that day. Because with depression comes the bad habits and vices as self-medication and coping mechanisms. Even those who are trying to deal with their depression in healthy ways through all manner of therapeutics can still fall into those sorts of habits and vices.
Some of the common ones as I understand it include neglecting personal hygiene, being quick-to-anger, isolating from family and friends (that’s always an interesting push-and-pull because you need help and you need human beings and connection to combat loneliness and such, but because of depression, you tend to push people away or self-hermit), swimming in negative thoughts, smoking, oversleeping, not eating or drinking enough, and there’s also the issue of dual diagnosis, which seems to feed on each other, i.e., those who have both a mental health disorder, such as depression, along with substance use disorders, like alcohol or drug addiction, or even some other addictions, like gambling or sex.
As I’ve written before, one of the ways I try to combat some of the bad habits of depression, such as the one about neglecting personal hygiene, is by taking a shower. For one, I don’t want to fall into bad personal hygiene, but also, that “simple” act of getting out of bed, walking 10 steps to the bathroom, and going through the shower routine mentally helps. It’s not a panacea by any means nor does its benefits last the entire day, but it helps. It’s something against the maelstrom.
Fortunately, contrary to my familial genes (depression-triggered or not) and to the chagrin of ginger jokesters everywhere, I am not quick-to-anger. Also, fortunately, I don’t have those other addictions pulling at my brain. I enjoy alcohol from time to time, but that’s it, and it’s certainly not at an addiction level.
I do, however, tend to oversleep (not so much in one go, but in intermittent naps), to hermit, to isolate, and to swim in negative thoughts. That’s why I try to do things like this, blogging and writing as catharsis to distract myself, and to pull myself away from the spirals. I will also force myself, at times and still not often enough, to simply say, “Yes,” when someone asks me to do something. I hardly ever regret the saying “yes,” but there’s plenty of times I regret the saying “no.”
But one bad habit brought upon by depression I’ve battled for quite some time to not much avail is bad eating and a further issue there is bad spending. Spending money on eating out adds up over time, and then it becomes easy to be myself up over bad spending habits, too.
To be clear, depression is always a hum in my background; it’s just, some days that hum is louder and more disruptive than other days. When it is, I turn to eating. I’m not much of a perpetual snacker. Instead, I get one big meal (sometimes it’s my only meal of the day) and go wild, and over-indulge. To try to eat away the pain, the negative thoughts, whatever it is.
People tell me I’m skinny and I know I’m well-within my BMI parameters for my age and height, and I recently had a bunch of blood work that came back great due to my kidney surgery, so on a basic level, I know I haven’t overdone the overeating to the point of it becoming a Big Problem™. But, as someone who has always struggled with body image issues, it still bothers me, and it’s a self-feeding cycle, if you will:
I’m depressed, so I overeat, and then the bad food makes me feel worse, in addition to feeling like a loser for having resorted to overeating, and there you have it, I’m back to square one.
“We have it in our head that if we fill our stomachs, we’ll fill our hearts.”― Kate Wicker, Weightless: Making Peace with Your Body
Ain’t that quote on point? Sometimes, it’s not even that grandiose, though. It can be as basic as: I feel like crap, and this food will taste good in the moment; ergo.
I had that month in July I blogged about where I got my act together as far as counting calories and dropping pounds in conjunction with writing on the blog again. It was dual catharsis, and a way of beginning to dig myself out of the hole I had been in for the prior six months. While after July I would keep up the blogging obviously, I fell off on good eating and exercising habits again. And before you know it, we’re nearly into November with my bad eating continuing apace.
When I was younger, I could eat bad and my metabolism would correct my overindulgence. Nowadays, it’s not quite the same and the bad eating, again, seems to feed into itself and cause further negativity. Tackle on those body image issues, and that certainly is a toxic brew even I don’t want to eat.
I didn’t really have any grand point to make here other than to point out what my sort of “depression vice” is, if you will.
What are your thoughts? What is your own vice (and it doesn’t have to be depression-linked)?