The Gluttony of Depression

Creative Commons photo.

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)?

10 thoughts

  1. Mine is alcohol. Period. I just finished my entry on where I’m at with that but in short, if it weren’t for depression from poor self-image, failure and anxiety I wouldn’t have got so dependent on booze that I started blacking out and falling all over the place..oh, and getting lots of stitches as a bonus. Depression is a fight I’ll always have to fight. I’m thankful I have a great support group and therapist but I really hate it that things like that aren’t available all the time to whoever needs them –especially in these crazy, ridiculous times now. Stay strong brother–someone out there has your back; even if they can put together a mean haiku every once in awhile…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for sharing, man. The support group thing is interesting. As someone that tends to hermit and dislike groups, whether you’re like that or not, was getting into a support group hard?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes. The first one sucked. It was so full of what looked like ex-bikers and Village People stunt doubles as well as a carpet of cigarette smoke that I couldn’t deal with. I found a zoom group through my therapist I can do from home once a week and it was tough at first but I got used to it and they were really good people. A lot of groups are now virtual and some even let you do it without your camera on which can be really a good option if you have anxiety…

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I think mine is almost the same thing but with sweets. Ice cream is my comfort food and my happy place and I’ve struggled before with self image as well. So thanks for sharing and know that you’re not alone!

    What continues (and I say “continues” because it really is a continuous battle) to help me is my husband who is very encouraging and also Jesus. But also some YouTube videos on health and food have been helpful as well.

    A YouTube channel I really look up to for their philosophy on food and exercise is Fitness Blender. And I wanted to share this video with you from another Youtuber who talks about making peace with food and this video has helped me too: https://youtu.be/Bcnet2jD_II

    These have been sources of help for me, though as I said, it’s always still a battle in some way, so I wanted to share that with you, just in case it’s helpful. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Tirza, thank you for reading and for your helpful comment! I’m going to check out those videos and report back!

      Also, I’ve struggled with connecting to religion, which could be a whole post in itself, but I’ve always thought the simple message as I’ve understood it to be is quite poignant: Jesus loves you, even if you don’t love yourself. I can see how that would be helpful when we get into these low moments.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Sure! And don’t worry if you can’t get to the videos – just if you have time!

        I completely understand. Everyone has a different place they are in with spirituality and religion, so thanks for sharing. And yes, you’re right. That about sums up the heart of it and is what has helped over the years. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  3. You covered depression pretty well. Certainly the isolation and hygiene apply with me. My biggest vice is smoking. I smoke way more when I’m in a hole. And the relapses with gambling were brought on by depression and feelings of unworthiness. I don’t over eat when down, just the opposite, I eat less and smoke more. Interesting post, man.

    Liked by 1 person

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