There is definitely a link between emotions and eating, I know this because I’m an emotional eater. I looked to food when I’m stressed, anxious, depressed and bored. I suffered from depression a few years ago, I had convinced myself that I was eating the amount of food I was because I wanted to. The truth was that while I was eating I didn’t have to think about anything except the food.
I was depressed because of a venomous relationship. I had no friends, was barely allowed to see my family, I worked in a job I hated and had no money. I think the lowest point for me was going to the local fish and chips shop to buy $5 worth of chips for the 5 night in a row and sitting there waiting completely embarrassed, ashamed and on the verge of tears. I went home and split a huge amount of chips between my ex-partner and I. I just kept eating and eating, because if I just kept putting food in my mouth I wouldn’t cry and he wouldn’t see me and ridicule me.
I stayed this way for a few years. I look back and think “what the hell was I thinking”. I was in my early twenties; I should have been out having fun, socialising with friends and experiencing life. Instead I wasn’t living, I was just existing, going through each day feeling nothing, I had given up. Although I hated my job, I looked forward each day to going to work; at least the people I worked with were nice to me. It was a vicious cycle because then I would go home to eat some more so I didn’t have to actually think about how miserable my life was and feel how miserable I was.
I often daydreamed about “my second life” that was the life where I was thin, happy and loved. I would lay in bed thinking of different happy scenarios and major life events until I fell asleep hoping I’d dream of them. Mainly they were finding the love of my life, who actually loved me and fought to keep me. They were like a typical cheesy romantic book. You can predict the ending but you still read it anyway. In fact I read tons of them; they were pure escapism for me. I never left the house because we never did anything and every time I suggested I wanted to start exercising, I was put down and told I couldn’t do it.
Do you remember that feeling you used to get in your chest when you were yelled at by your parents just before you burst into tears? I lived with that feeling each day, always on the verge of tears but I never cried, I ate. Food was my real life escape. The day I finally broke down and told someone was to my old manager, and I hope she reads this. She was the first person I ever told what was really going. Boy did she not expect that! She pulled me into the office again to talk to me about my performance. Of course I knew how bad I was at my job and I have no idea why on earth they kept me for so long.
Talking to someone really helped me. It felt like I had finally admitted that I wasn’t happy and I wasn’t coping, but it brought me back to reality. When I told her, it felt like part of my mind had cleared and I could start to see what I could to do to solve the problem. After the meeting, I excused myself and went to the bathroom to tidy myself up. I looked in the mirror and saw what I really was for the first time. Obese and empty.
I swear that event was a sign from someone telling me change was coming and it was all ending. Not long after that my mum, who is my saving grace, intervened. The relationship finally ended, I quit my job and I moved back in with my family. For most young people moving back in with mum and dad at 23 would be embarrassing, but it wasn’t, it was the happiest moment of my life so far. I had almost forgotten what it felt like to be loved so much by people all of the time, not just rarely
Obviously I wasn’t completely whole straight away. It took some time for me to heal, and I still haven’t completely, but nearly. I suffered anxiety really badly along with the depression. Slowly though things changed the first was my relationship with food.
Mum’s cooking is amazing, it was nice to not have to think about what I was eating, and instead I sat with my family at dinner and talked, told stories and laughed. These are some of my favourite memories. No one held grudges they just treated me like they always have. It was just what I needed. Within months weight was just melting away.
12 months later and I had lost over 30kgs and my whole world had changed. Mum controlled my portions, the food I ate, how often I ate and the quality of food I ate. I wasn’t even mad that I was getting less food. I didn’t care because I no longer ate to stop myself from feeling. Instead I ate because my body needed it and meal times were spent with my family. I’m not perfect now, but I’m extremely happy with my life and myself.
I think the best thing you can ever do when you’re depressed is to tell someone. Sometimes it hard to tell someone who is too close what’s wrong; try telling someone who is not actively involved in your life. There are so many free call numbers you can call who can help you. There is nothing wrong with the way you’re feeling, sometimes you just need to stop and really thinking about what’s going on. You know deep down what is making you feel that way, once you admit it to yourself then you can begin to change things and begin to heal.