Sunday, August 26, 2007

A problem in my life.

Elementary school teachers have this bizarre practice of speaking loudly about their children and classes in front of said children in the hopes that somehow their discussion will spur on better behavior. Since I'm one of the cadre of teachers deemed a "specialist", meaning I see every kid in the school for about an hour a week to work on fine arts-related stuff, I get to go through this exchange five times a day with various teachers.

Even though every fiber in our beings are burning to actually talk about stuff like how hungover we still are from Teacher (Tequila) Book Club Night, or how Janeane from the fifth grade wing has been shacking up with her boyfriend who lives 40 miles away and you can always tell when its one of their early-relationship anniversaries because she calls in sick on the same day every month, teachers obviously can't talk about those things in front of the twenty-five or so little darlings who're lined up in the hall and hanging on our every word. So we perform our strange little public school Kabuki performance with one another so the kids can learn how not to be little shits to one another.

One of my favorite teachers in the building made me laugh the first time we had this exchange because as we were droning on and on about SELF-CONTROL, and BEING KIND TO OTHERS, and NOT COLLECTING BOOGERS YOU FIND DRIED ON THE SIDES OF THE BATHROOM STALLS, she finished our conversation with "Well, these certainly are problems in our lives." And that's when I broke my teacher character and started snickering because that phrase just struck me as something you'd hear in an AA meeting that it seemed kind of absurd to discuss as a concept to a bunch of second graders. When I started giggling, she did too, and I shot her a woman power salute with my fist held high and responded with "But we shall overcome." It's become our little tradition to wrap up our class hand-offs now, and the kids even mouth along when we come to our two favorite lines in the conversations, and it's funny. And then I go back to my life of singing "Froggie Went 'a Courtin'" for three more hours and wondering if we could lobby the school board to let us start bringing vodka in our Nalgene bottles this year.

Anyway, I guess that phrase sort of explains my having yet another absence from this blog, and from all of you. Because the Big Problem in My Life...even more of a problem than the fact that my hair will hold neither curl nor highlights, and that my 200 glorious channels of television (did I mention I can pause live TV?) did not include Fox Sports Midwest, so I will have to spend the winter and early spring in a deep state of personal reflection so I can decide whether or not I want to fork over 50 dollars for the MLB Package next big problem has flared up to the point that my life is rapidly becoming unmanageable again.

Since this is primarily a health and weight loss blog, I try to touch only briefly on the fact that I have a pretty major case of depression. I do so partly because I know how tedious it can get to listen to someone mentally ill talk about their mental illness, and also partly because I never really figured out which came first, me being fat or me being sad about being fat. But over the past several weeks, the realization that my untreated depression is screwing up every fact of my life is becoming more and more indisputable, and at this moment I'm pretty much in a holding pattern until I can do something about it.

When I say that I've been on a diet since I was nine, I'm not exaggerating. Likewise, when I close my eyes and think back as far as I can remember in my childhood, I've been depressed. At least, I think. Or maybe I was just high strung and neurotic as my mom claims. But I remember so many times being so overwhelmed with sadness as a little kid that I'd just cry and cry, or I'd vomit, or I'd stop eating, or I'd eat too much. And the more I think about it, the less I can remember a time when the fact that I felt broken, or malformed, or just not right hadn't shaped the way I looked at everything and everyone around me, and that's fucked up.

There are so many things I despise about depression that I could spend a week just writing about it. I hate the way it makes your body feel like it weighs 6,000 lbs. so everything is harder, and how it turns your bed into the one place you can find solace, so that every evening involves a three hour nap because you don't feel like you can make it until bedtime. I hate how, in the course of writing half of a blog entry, I've had to lie down three times now because the act of not being in a horizontal position for more than ten minutes is just too fucking draining for me right now. I hate how it renders you a succubus to everyone you become this selfish wretch who can only take and take from people because you need so much attention and care, and you can never give back in a sufficient way. I hate how all I want to do is be alone because pretending to be normal around people is just exhausting, and then I sit and wonder why I'm so desperately lonely sometimes. I hate that it makes you seem like such a loser to the people around you...that your house is a mess and you're always broke and your makeup and hair are never quite right and you're always tired, and always behind and always trying to clean up one mess while hiding another. And it's not because you're lazy or slovenly or a fat pig, it's because when you're depressed, one little tiny problem seems so big that when you don't fix it, it causes all kinds of other problems that make your life out of control and no matter how much you work at it, or how motivated you are for a few days or a week, or how many books you read or techniques you try, you can never quite get it all together.

And I finally got fed up with it enough this week to call and schedule an appointment with my therapist...a very patient and indulgent man I manage to see twice a year in spring and fall. I would like to see him regularly, but I don't go because my insurance doesn't cover mental health treatment, and also because when I do go I'm usually not that depressed, so I can stretch out the benefits of one therapy session for several months before I realize I'm not getting much better. My shrink is a cognitive behavioral therapist, which means he prefers fighting demons with self-talk and rationalization more than drugs, but he's always offered medication if I thought I needed it. I've always turned it down in favor of the folders of CBT information and journaling exercises he's given me, because in my years of dealing with this, the medication has never worked. But I think I'm going to go in Tuesday and beg for something...Wellbutrin, maybe, because even when I do self-talk myself out of a major downward spiral, all it does is get rid of the immediate crisis. It never really seems to lift me to a point where I can say I'm not sad, and that's really a pathetic way to be.

So, I'm really sorry that this blog hasn't turned out to be what I hoped for. I'm sorry if this isn't what you come here to read, but I don't know how to write about treadmills and veggie paellas when really my life revolves around pacing between my computer and my bed and eating junk food on my couch. I'm so very, very sorry for not giving back to you guys like I should, because you're all wonderful and I really am rooting for you. Maybe if I can make it 'til Tuesday and turn this around I'll be back in some sort of fighting form.


A Happy Wife said...

You don't need to apologize for anything you write. It's your journal! And regardless of what you choose to write about, I'm interested. Your entries almost always get me to thinking about things in my own life, sometimes things I'm not owning up to such as my own issues with depression. For most of us, food issues are tied in with emotional issues (sort of like the chicken or the egg question, most of us don't know which came first). Working out the emotional issues goes hand in hand with healing the physical issues if you want real success.

I hope you'll keep writing, regardless of whether or not it's what you started out keeping this journal for. Your insights, opinions and outlook are what keep me coming back. I don't expect a diet guru, just a real person.


Shauna said...

you don't have to apologise you lovely girl! i can only imagine how draining it must have been to write this entry; i know the bed/solace thing all too well. we'll all be hanging round no matter what. maybe writing through this, when you have the energy, could help? just know we're all here in our hopeless internetty way and will be thinking of you xx

jen said...

I just put a slice of this up at AFG as the featured blog, because I think a lot of women who read the blog are also struggling with depression, and you wrote about it so eloquently. I think you need to give yourself a huge pat on the back for making the therapist appointment and for looking at all your options. Part of getting the diet stuff straight is getting your head on straight, so I certainly think this topic is appropriate and important to write about.

Hope that you keep writing, here or elsewhere, because you're just so damned good at it. Sending lots of love and support your way.

brooke said...

I'm glad you know you shouldn't have to live with being sad. Remember that your friends--even those you haven't seen in a long time, and even those who live three hours away--want you to be happy and don't care if your a selfish wretch because you're witty and cool and sarcastic enough to make up for it.

Brooke said...

And even those who are supposed to be in a f&*(ing phd program can still mistype "you're" as "your." Awesome.

Lauren said...

in my opinion, what you just wrote is exactly what these blogs are for. You just put into words what I've felt off and on for the last 27 years. Thank you.


Luna Bella said...

Everyone else has said it, but I'll say it too...Don't apologize for writing about what you need to write about! Your depression is real and important, and fighting it is part of your journey. Your thoughts about it belong here.
I also struggle with writing about it when I'm feeling low and out of control, because I begin to think that people only want to read about the ways that I'm succeeding in turning my life around. But I think it's so important for us to write about the ways that our lives suck, too. I'm not good at that, even though it feels so powerful and important to me when I read an entry like this one. How cool would it be if we could all just write about exactly what goes on for us on a daily basis? Sometimes on my own blog I just want to post a string of profanity or a list of people I want to punch in the head, or ways that I suck so much I can't believe I deserve to live. I don't do it, but maybe we all should.
I applaud your honesty and bravery in sharing all of this. Thank you for trusting us and for continuing to post. I love your writing, and I hope you'll keep it coming.

Vickie said...

I think a lot of weight loss blogs start out one way and then move into deeper waters.

I recently was referred to a psychiatrist by my therapist. I continue to see her weekly, but am now working with the psychiatrist to see if we can find an effective doseage.

I say this not to discourage you - but to relate to what you were saying.

A year ago, I had no idea that I had a depression problem. I didn't know that everyone else didn't feel this same way.

When I look back - the depression related feelings go back as far as I can remember. The over eating and undereating memories go back - vividly - to age 3.

I have a house, a husband and 3 children. I am a very busy person on a lot of levels. But, I too went diving for bed at the earliest opportunity. I still do, if I don't watch it.

I am now "working on" living in other parts of my house. That sounds odd to someone that hasn't been there. But you might relate to having rooms I never frequented and chairs I never sat in, because I headed to bed at any opportunity.

Don't feel sorry for my kids. They are active. They have normal lives. They were just use to sprawling at the end of my bed for help with homework. . .

I check in here, nearly every day. I enjoy what you write. I relate to what you write. It doesn't have to be all happy or all traditional weight loss for me to relate to it. In fact, I enjoy that you don't talk ONLY about what you eat and how you exercise. I rarely write about any of those things myself.

Z said...

Just wanted to let you know that I'm here for you, and you shouldn't worry about burdening people who find you fascinating.

lisa jane said...

Erin, You will always be enough, just as you are.

Lori said...

Don't apologize. You wrote a very powerful post and one from the heart. I know how you feel, truthfully. You're a wonderful person, clever, smart, pretty and you're just not feeling well. We're here for you.

Jarrett Meyer said...

Please, please, please keep writing. You are not the only one suffering from depression. I have lost all the weight, and I don't really like myself any more than before. I guess I look better, but that still didn't solve the problems. Now I obsess about working out instead of obsessing about baked goods.

You said that your blog is a health and fitness blog. Mental health is still a part of that. We don't read because we expect you to be a professional.

I'm not really one for the drugs. I've been on them before. Yes, they can make you not sad, but they cannot make you happy. You have to face the things that really matter.

Just be whatever it is that you are.

Morphidae said...

I really do believe that a large portion of being overweight is dealing with depression. Which came first? Who knows. What's important is that we keep putting one foot in front of the other - even if we have to rest in between each step!

Sarah said...


I hear you. I understand. I'm rooting for you.

VeggieB! said...

i think there are enough websites that discuss vegetable paella, and not enough with the honest realities of our lives and problems. good for you, erin, you know i'm behind you.

Impoverished Gourmet said...

Kiddo, you're doing exactly what you need to do. If it were as simple as calories in v. calories out, we'd all be skinny. Good for you for rooting around in the muck and being willing to share the dark parts of your inner life as well as your successes.

The reality is that anyone who's an emotional or compulsive eater to the point where they have weight issues is doing some serious self-medicating. The only way to break the cycle is by rooting around in there and getting at the causes not just the symptons.

I hope the medication will knock it all down to manageable size. You're on the right road, even though it looks dark.

Anne M. said...

What everybody said. No need to apologize for anything, especially not on your own blog! Your description of the depression you've lived with fits with what I know myself and obviously what so many of us recognize as real to us, too.

The good part is that medication really can help, and being able to talk it out with a therapist or a blog or both helps, too. Do whatever you need to for YOU. What you share with us is just gravy. Well, nonfattening, of course.

Grumpy Chair said...

Wow Erin.

I don't come here to read about your adventures with the treadmill or 5 servings of veggies, I come here because of your writing.

Today is Tuesday and I hope you find some relief this afternoon after your appointment with the doc.

Nory Roth said...

Fabulous post! You describe what I have felt my WHOLE life perfectly!!! And I, too, have felt the ridicule of family who have no concept of what is going on internally (even in a child). You validate others' feelings by writing your own truth. Keep working through your own journey, and thank you for sharing with us all!