What I Learned from Depression and Bulimia

I am a mostly recovered depressive bulimic who sometimes still has some sad, bad days, but doesn’t allow those feelings to define her. Because not so long ago, I had completely forgotten myself; I was just a very depressed, very bulimic girl. But this is about growth I experienced through those difficult times. When I look back now, I realize that I’ve discovered so many wonderful things about myself and others and the world, in that seemingly endless journey towards “recovery”.

So about the depression and bulimia, it’s impossible to pinpoint just one source, but in my case it had a lot to do with my perfectionistic nature and also my habit of never feeling good enough, which easily could have come from criticism during early childhood (not going to point any fingers though). So bulimia came from wanting to be perfect, and worshipping society’s beauty ideal. That started when I was just 14, and has continued on and off for the last three years. The feelings of guilt and shame and the horror that is mastering the art of shoving my fingers down my throat (no, really) were a big part of my life during those times where the illness got the better of me. When I was almost 16, these feelings of extreme sadness started to set in. I cried myself to sleep night after night, had mini mental breakdowns and turned even more to my eating disorder for temporary escape. After a while, I stopped caring altogether. All that was a tough part of my life, but if I’m going to look on the bright side of things, I have to say that it prompted me to do a whole lot of soul-searching, and universe-searching, and meaning-of-life-searching, and along that journey I made some pretty fantastic little discoveries.

1. It’s impossible to recreate old memories, so stop expecting everything to be as good as it was last time and just see the present and love it for what it is. This I realized this year, when I was too busy a lot of the time comparing previous summer vacations at my childhood beachside cottage to this one. Some of the time, I was so disappointed that this year’s fun didn’t measure up to last year’s that I missed some opportunities to make it even better – in its own way.

2. All anyone is ever looking for is love, acceptance and respect. This includes the most unlikely people. My big scary father, whom I’d always imagined as having no emotions at all, turned out to be after the same thing everyone else was. He was just  hurt, and unable to express his need for love properly, and instead would lash out, blame, and criticize, which only deepened his emotional isolation from his own daughters.

3. Nature is where we all really belong. And it really is incredible: there is so much life and beauty around us and to simply be in nature can bring peace and a feeling of belonging. Ever noticed how the further our society gets from our roots, the more stressed, anxious and depressed we all get? It’s strange to think that what really sets us apart from our fellow earthlings is how we’ve had the luxury in first world countries to eliminate the stress of survival. So what can we do with all that extra time? We can buy stuff, work at jobs, use electronics… And there’s obviously so many wonderful things for us to be consecrating time to, but I think, if only for the sake of mental health, the great outdoors should be a bigger priority for us all.

4. Attitude is everything. I’ve come to realize how ridiculously strong thoughts can be! It took me a while to notice that, after the hormone imbalance issue was being treated, the only consistant trigger for my bad days was a bad attitude. Or simply a lack of confidence. Just the act of believing you will be your best and do your best can alter your entire day. It’s not that easy, but it is. Turning bad habits into good ones is also about attitude and perseverance. When I first switched to the paleo lifestyle through the Whole30 Program after picking up their book at Chapters, that was all the motivation I needed to kick my bulimia for a long time. The habit of eating only foods that made me feel healthy was a huge part of my recovery, and my newfound attitude towards food came from that. So every morning, I just fucking decide to have a good day and believe it like a kid believes in Santa Claus.

5. Taking good care of your body, mind, and soul is the best possible way to find your best self. A routine for self-care is probably one of the most helpful aspects in recovery, and one of the most important aspects of living a balanced life. I want to nourish myself in the best way possible for me. Everyone is different, but what works best for me is paleo (veggies, meats and healthy fats). Moving my body is so important for me too. Yoga, anything outdoors, and HIIT are my favorite workouts. And then there’s my obsession with healthy beauty products. I use only DIY all-natural: shampoo and conditioner, tooth powder, tooth whitener, deodorant, moisturizer, toner, mascara, and the list goes on. I plan to share my obsession with all things health and wellness on this blog!

All these realizations throughout my most challenging times brought me to one wonderful conclusion.

Life is most definitely worth living.

 

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