Monday, September 20, 2010

Transparency and Relating to Each Other

One of the main reasons I love blogs is that I really identify with so many of you in so many different ways. When I started this journey to get healthy (for the second and I truly hope final time), I felt like a failure. However, in reading many people’s healthiness blogs I realized that I was not alone, that change was possible, and that gastric bypass and some expensive/gimmicky program like Nutrisystem or MRC is not required to lose weight. I felt hope. Realizing I was not alone was such a valuable lesson for me and proved to be a turning point in my life. I rarely encountered people who were 100+ lbs. overweight and candid about their weight related struggles – until I “met” many of you through your blogs.

The other day, I talked to a friend that I rarely see and but I like a lot. It was funny, when I was at a conference in May I think I ran into him/her twice – both times for just a second. One of the times he/she saw me I was just bawling my eyes out in public; in retrospect I believe I had already begun to sink into the quicksand that is depression although I did not realize it and was not up to my neck at this point – probably just my waist. I was embarrassed to be seen like this, and disappointed we did not get to catch up (we see each other only a few times a year).

Turns out that during this time this person also decided to take a hiatus from social networking. Now this is something I have always kind of wanted to do, but never been willing to give up especially with my loneliness issues and lack of friends here. Sadly, social networks were one of the precious few ways I got social interaction and that was too important for me to give up; it’s not like I had any sort of “real” life that was getting shortchanged because of my online one.

Anyway…all this to say that last weekend this person made a rare appearance on Facebook chat. I just briefly messaged him/her just to say hi and see how he/she was doing. It was the most bizarre conversation as almost anything he/she said I could have said. At one point I was seriously like, “Get out of my head!”

In the last 6 months, depression has ravaged both of our lives and neither of us have gotten almost anything done in our professional lives (which are also quite similar). We have both felt like we are trying to stay put and not lose ground against a swiftly moving current – forget about making it to the point upstream where our careers need to go. It was the most bizarre thing. I could almost complete this person’s sentences, and I felt as though he/she could have completed mine.

One of the similarities in our stories is that my friend and I were both so skeptical about going on anti-depressants, but they ended up working for both of us. If you struggle with depression and a medical professional suggests this option, please consider it and don’t dismiss it. It can really work – in my case, it has been instrumental in changing my life. In just 30 days I noticed a remarkable difference, and others have too and have even commented about it here on my blog.

I write this to say the following: you are not alone. Whatever crappy shitstorm of life you find yourself in, there are others who are struggling through something similar just like you are. Hang on and don’t give up.

For problems that are hard and secrets that are shameful, sometimes just knowing that you’re not the only one struggling with something like you're going through is a first step. I wish you luck in finding others like you, and success in overcoming your problems.

While I have not overcome disordered eating habits – particularly an unnatural, unhealthy emotional attachment to food and a tendency to binge when sad, lonely, or frustrated – I am making progress on this front and overall things are easier. I still struggle and some days I give in and make bad decisions, but I am worlds better than I was when I started this in April 2009. There are people who struggle with chronic pain – from my experience with my back/SI issues, I have a small taste of what that is like (and it absolutely sucks). There are others who are depressed, and have emerged on the other side. And I know that it is possible to either get over many of these issues or at least manage them better.

We are not alone. We will make it. Realizing this and acknowledging this is helpful for me in making positive, sustainable changes in my life.

Thank you unnamed friend for helping me realize that I am not alone. There are other normal people out there who struggle with depression too. I wish there were not such a ginormous stigma attached to depression and that people actually talked to each other about it. But hey, as people who were/are morbidly obese and struggle with disordered eating, we know nothing about having shameful secrets and secret lives, right?! Ha.

Here’s to being transparent…acknowledging problems is the most fundamental step in addressing and fixing them. This is just one of the many many things that I am learning on this journey to make a healthier and better me.

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