I awoke feeling like garbage. It was Wednesday, and I’d spent the last two days eating foods that no human being should eat in the quantities I was ingesting. I received a letter the day before about some test results and new I had to try to see my doctor. I searched myself for energy, but could find none. Begrudgingly dragging myself from between the sheets, I stepped into a new day with as much enthusiasm as a woman headed for the gallows. I winced at the black sky. I was up before the sun; unnatural. I was a girl, defeated.
I’d experienced days like this before. Many of them. But this one was tinged a slightly different shade of disgust as I shamefully avoided eye contact with that girl in the mirror. I let her down. Again. What was worse, is that I planned to continue doing it. Since I was already doing so poorly, I might as well continue the downward spiral. I’ll squeeze in a few more days of failure before starting all over again. With that self-defeating attitude, I ate a bag of beef jerky and sour candy to start the day, almost before I even realized what I was doing. Depression: Life on Autopilot.
I felt good while I ate, but immediately afterward I felt even worse than I had prior. I was nauseous. I was bloated. I was sick. I packed a healthy lunch for my son and took him to school while filling myself with sugar and crap, later, behind closed doors. Any energy I had was gone. I slumped through the day, catching occasional glances of a very angry and unsettled girl in the reflection of the fridge, or the bathroom mirror, or the bath water’s surface disturbed only by the falling tears I couldn’t yet explain.
What am I doing to myself?
A predictable cycle, spinning like a tumbleweed throughout my life over the last who knows how long: Plan a healthy lifestyle. Live that healthy lifestyle. See some success. Fall down. Stay down. Rinse and repeat. I could set my watch to it.
From every pit, I would talk myself up and out of it. Remember this feeling. Never again. But I knew it was a lie. It wouldn’t be long before I would see these depths again. This cyclic depressive game of heads or fails.
Why do I keep giving up on myself?
After eating as healthy as I could and putting my son to bed, I decided there must be some reason that I keep turning to these foods. I’ve been treating sweets like medicine. They make me feel good, but why? I feel like shit afterwards, so why do I eat them at all? This isn’t me. It never used to be this way. Why now?
Knowing full well that I needed to have a long conversation with myself, and with my son asleep, I retreated to my bedroom and shut the door. Part of me knew; had always known. But, denial is a powerful thing, especially when we deny ourselves. I had felt it building for months, stirring deep within my gut. This realization of an intense personal weakness. With every failure, it became more apparent: an internal archaeological dig to uncover what time had forgotten.
I sat on the floor and forced myself to look in the mirror. Before I could admit to myself what was wrong, I wept. I looked at this sad girl in the mirror and I didn’t recognize her. This person I’ve been trying to be, this person I aspire to as my truest self, wasn’t the person looking back at me. The girl I saw, and what I saw in her eyes, was a deep and secret pain. She was broken. She wasn’t the positive and forward-thinking girl I’d been trying to portray to the world. The fragile veil of light had fallen away, revealing something long hidden from view.
Suddenly, I had to write; to focus my thoughts. I had to get to the bottom of that pit and finally read the writings on the wall; to decipher my actions into a little package that I could easily understand. And so I wrote. I wrote for an hour non-stop. I allowed my feelings to pour through my fingertips into an untitled text file, unfiltered.
The more I wrote, the more freedom I felt from this realization that had been weighing on me. I’ll spare you the long-winded rambling in favor of simply sharing what I learned about myself:
I think I’m trying to fill a void. I’ve been using food as a comfort, and as a way to fill up the emptiness inside me left there by death and failed family. A particularly disturbing realization is that I’ve been using a lot of the foods I was deprived of as a child. The foods my father would taunt me with as I starved, looking out at him through the back door of some obscure house in rural New Brunswick. When I eat a handful of candy, I feel like I’m taking back my stolen childhood. I’m transported to a time when I felt helpless, only now I can take control.
That isn’t the only thing I realized.
I think I’m subconsciously punishing myself. Deep down, I feel unease with myself. I was always made to feel not good enough, and despite how far I’ve come, a small inner part of me still believes that. I have failed when it’s mattered, so I don’t deserve my health.
The scale is forever tilted in death’s favor.
It isn’t easy to look yourself in the eye and admit that you’re not as strong as you thought you were. My hope is that now that I’m aware of what’s happening; now that I’ve faced what I was running from, I will be able to fix it. I realize that my inner reasoning is flawed, but I’m finding it difficult to try to convince myself that I’m worth it. Now that I have all of this out there in the world, I hope that I can begin to work on tearing down the mental blocks that are keeping me from reaching my goals.