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I’m sorry it’s taken me so long to reply, a lot of stuff has come up in my life.
I’d like to first respond by saying I truly appreciate the opportunity to reflect on my life through our conversations but I think I painted my parents in a way that I did not intend to do so. My parents didn’t/don’t know how to handle conversations around depression/mental illness and I won’t deny that. But they’re both amazing people and I’m so grateful to have this family.
When I look back on my life, it wasn’t my parents that were the cause of my depression/self-harm/suicidal thoughts, it was partly our society and partly me. I’m so different from everyone else and I’m beginning to accept that I’m different but being different doesn’t bode well in high school but I also didn’t ask for help. In a way, I blame my mom. She put an absolute fear of hospitalization into me that I’ve never been able to be honest with any therapist about how I feel. I’m not currently suicidal but when I was, I was never able to tell my therapist the truth and get the help I actually needed at the time.
My mom and grad school – that was tough. I think that goes back to my parents not knowing what to do with mental illness. In her mind, I think she thought that if I stuck it out and had my own living, and earned my own wages then I’d be happy. I’ve stopped telling my mom anything about my depression because she simply doesn’t understand. I remember one time when I was in the midst of a depressive episode, I self-harmed on my arms a few days before and hid them. She told me that it’s really hot outside so it’s okay to take off my jacket. I said I don’t feel comfortable (it was only me, my mom, and my dad). She kept and kept saying it was fine because my dad knew. She didn’t put it together that I didn’t want to take off the jacket because I was so ashamed of my scars being seen by anybody else. I even wore a jacket in 100 degree weather that summer. My mom means well but she doesn’t know how to understand mental illness. She thinks people see therapists when they’re having a mental breakdown and not when they simply need someone to talk to.
My dad too – he’s so traditional and so set on how people can do well in school and in jobs that he doesn’t know how to see beyond that. He actually did say the exact same things to my brother as he did to me – my brother never let it get to him whereas I’ve let it control my life to a degree. My brother’s able to be civil with my dad because he’s moved on whereas I’m sometimes verbally a bit harsh (get irritated with little things he does) with him because it’s bothered me.
When I reflect back, I think that yes, my parents could’ve done better. The signs of eating disorders were right in front of them – taking a “shower” after every meal because I purged everything I ate or not eating/drinking very little water for many days saying I wasn’t hungry and then binging (although the binging was often when they weren’t home) or the hundreds of “I’m just tired” and then “happily” calling out my dog’s name whenever I was asked if I was fine. But they were also amazing parents too – mom has been my rock in some health problems I’ve been dealing with, she’ll literally let me vent to her even when she’s sick or has had the hardest day, she’s always there for me no matter what, and she’s so understanding with most things. My brother and I are incredibly close too and he was actually the most understanding with my depression – although I don’t talk to him about it. My dad and I have had our hard times but we used to go on a weekly hike and it was some of the most therapeutic days. It’s easy for me to talk about my depression when I’m behind a screen talking to a stranger, but it’s incredibly hard talking to anyone who might know me – which apparently is common with depression. It just feels like nobody would understand so what’s the use.
It’s good to hear that you’ve recovered from the eating disorders and it’s great that you’ve found a way of eating – the ordered food- that works for you! It’s such a tough feat to beat an eating disorder (I hope this isn’t triggering but please let me know if it is) and it’s so great that you were able to have a better relationship with food.
I took a couple of days to reply because I’ve been reflecting on myself since reading your response. You are so good at getting to the issue! What you wrote in your second message is exactly correct to the tee. When growing up, my brother and I were really close. But he was the “popular” kid in school, had tons of friends, made the dean’s list in college, got a great job right out of college, and is now married. On the other hand, I was a bit of a loner in school and had no friends to the point that I ate lunch in the library because I didn’t want to sit alone in the cafeteria. I became really depressed in college and moved back home and I tried grad school but I ended up moving back in with my parents and still live in my parents’ home. I feel like I greatly disappointed my parents because I wasn’t as successful or didn’t turn out to be the daughter they wanted. This morning, I was venting to my mom about this same health issue and I kept saying “sorry, I don’t mean to irritate you”, before reading your message, I wouldn’t have thought about it but I realize now that it’s because of these years of feeling like I’ve disappointed my parents that I say things like that. That makes so much sense about having empathy for my parents and others but not really feeling that for myself.
The complete opposite has happened from your post – you posted exactly everything that I felt in my life going back the last two decades or so and it has made me reflect so much. I truly appreciate your posts and your taking the time to write to me.
I love my parents but I think you’re right. I had severe depression in college and when I told my dad, he said “you just need to think positively”. When my mom found my self-harm scars, she said “you need to stop doing stupid things to yourself” and shamed me and my parents mocked me for saying it’s an addiction (it’s 9 years later and I still struggle with self-harm addiction – I just started self-harming on my leg so my parents wouldn’t see, but I’m 1.5 years clean). For almost a year after, I couldn’t wear long sleeve shirts without my mom asking “did you do something stupid to yourself?”. In grad school, I became suicidal and I told my mom. She said “you need to stay in grad school and continue on with it”. I remember being terrified driving to grad school (I’d come home each weekend mainly for my dog) because I didn’t want to die but I wanted out of the pain of a depressive episode and especially the day my mom told me this. I remember calling my friend and asking if she wanted to meet up for dinner and she and her boyfriend were free. If it weren’t for that dinner, I really don’t think I’d be here today and it’s just anytime I reach out for help for my depression or anxiety, I don’t receive the help I need. My mom put me in complete fear of hospitalization in a mental institution into me and I never quite received the help I may have needed for my suicidal thoughts because I was afraid of telling a therapist (I’m not suicidal now – this was 3 years ago). In college, I talked to my parents about going on anti-depressants, they said I could on the condition that I don’t go above 10mg and I have to do research to pick the one I saw the best reviews of. I picked 10mg lexapro and while on medications, I developed bulimia and didn’t get the help I needed. I also had textbook symptoms of depression in high school and got bad grades because of it and my dad would yell at me daily saying I’d never amount to anything in life. It feels like a lot of the lack of empathy from them came around my depression and comparing myself to my brother and it wasn’t until I wrote this all out that I realized it. I don’t think they understand mental health/illness and what to do with it because maybe they’ve never experienced it themselves or they just didn’t know what to do but the way they handled my depression has had a longstanding effect on me to this day. My mom volunteers as part of her church that deals with mental health and it really irritates me because she doesn’t understand the first thing about mental illness. This is so long and all over the place but it felt like a weight off my shoulders to type it all out.
I realized yesterday in a therapy appointment that all of the regrets I’m feeling is actually self-blame, which makes sense. I think I’ve blamed every part of my life on myself – whether it’s the bad grades in high school, the untraditional college experience, not having many friends or not finding a job right out of college, the diabetes diagnosis (which I know isn’t really my fault – it’s highly genetic in my family), and now the diabetes complications, and everything in between. But there’s still that thought in my mind that “if I had tried to do well in high school, tried to make friends in my sorority at college, got my health in order, even if I was diagnosed with diabetes at the same time, taken care of that asap, then my life would be different and better” and it’s a cycle of self-blame because I know I can’t go back and change any of that.
I’m sorry for such a long response, I just started reflecting on my life and it all came out on the keyboard lol
I’m sorry for a delayed response – I was traveling and a little busy. I’m okay – I found out some diabetic complications have already started (constant tingling in the feet) and I’ve been spending the last several days completely living in regret. It’s affecting my mental health so I’m trying to work around that while still eating low carb. I’m just so young and I feel like this brings on a low quality of life and I haven’t done things I wanted to do – I’ve never even gone on a date or been kissed or traveled as much as I wanted to and I feel like this will stop me from doing things like that. I’m sorry for venting so much – I haven’t really talked about any of this and it just poured out as I started typing.
How are you?
That makes sense about the anxiety and overthinking – it seems like it can become a vicious cycle as they feed off one another.
That’s interesting, I didn’t know about how the food becomes a freedom from anxiety but it makes sense. I’m so sorry you dealt with the eating disorder. I hope you’re better now. That makes sense of finding something else – I used to go on daily walks, about 4-5 miles each day which were a big thing for my mental health but I’d often eat wrong (after the diabetes diagnosis) thinking that the exercising was offsetting the food so it was fine.
I’m sorry to hear about what you dealt with. That sounds so awful and I hope you’re better now. I can totally see how eating the donuts would have a sense of helping with the anxiety – it sugarcoats the anxiety so a person doesn’t feel it as much. (No worries, I didn’t get my sweet tooth triggered! I’m actually working with a dietician to cut out all sweets!). I absolutely relate. Even after the diabetes diagnosis, I would get donuts and have them because they would calm my anxiety, without realizing what it was doing to my physical health, or the many, many sugary cocktails I would have because they would help alleviate my social anxiety. When I went to grad school, I fell into a depressive episode (this was after my diabetes diagnosis), and I ate sweets and drank soda to help calm the depression. I ignored my doctors advice just to help my mental health, without realizing that my physical and mental health were connected. I’ve never really talked about all of this and it’s helping me reflect on my life and how unhealthy of a relationship I have with food. I definitely need to find something else – I love sitting outside and reading which helps my anxiety or exercising (without thinking I can eat anything because I exercised). You wouldn’t know this by my diabetes diagnosis or weight but I love to exercise – I used to workout about 3 hours a day or sometimes 4. My diet was the part that was never good but exercising helps my mental health tremendously.
I’m going to try something new in everything I do, find something to be grateful for. So if I drive somewhere, being grateful for my car. When doing my makeup, being grateful that I can express myself through makeup. Being grateful for even having a computer to type this message and finding the tiny buddha site and these messages with you which have been so helpful.
I’m sorry for venting so much in this message, I’m just trying to get out of a bad mental health place and I haven’t had anybody I can really talk to so this message has been therapeutic in many ways.
This is so helpful! Thank you!!! I’ve been practicing today paying attention to my senses and it really brings me to the present! Or if I find myself thinking about the past/future, I say that prayer and it helps. I just downloaded Mark Williams’ meditations on Apple Music so I’ll try those as well! I absolutely do overthink but I think it definitely has to do with anxiety. Since I read your response, I’ve done a bit of thinking and I don’t think it’s actual “food freedom” that I want but to a degree, I think I still have disordered eating with that I find comfort from food and it’s having that comfort that seems like it will cease to exist if I go low carb without chest meals. Not sure if that makes sense.
i haven’t thought so much about why the depression started. I know it started when I was younger – maybe between 13-15 but when I think back on my life, there are tons of moments that could have contributed – whether it’s comparisons with family members, shyness, bullying, wanting to fit in without being able to do so, or something else.
- This reply was modified 4 months, 3 weeks ago by Sherry.
thank you for your response! I definitely understand and I think the foods which I was raised with definitely hurt me in the long run (such as having sodas whenever eating out etc)
that makes sense, I think the thing that makes it hard about diabetes is it’s a “silent disease” so I don’t feel the effects of what I eat which makes it harder to eat well. But I just signed up to see a dietician!
Hi Anita! Thank you for this response! This is so helpful, thank you! I have read about “reversal” of type 2 diabetes – my last A1C was actually in prediabetes range so if I can continue it, maybe I can potentially “reverse” it but I’ve also read it becomes much harder after years of having it. I think some complications have already begun so I’m not sure how that affects anything. I’m just really regretting not taking it more seriously or not doing enough. So many people are diagnosed once complications begin and I had the chance to actually reverse it before complications and I didn’t take that chance. I’m just not sure how to live in the present when I’m regretting so much of the past with this disease.
- This reply was modified 4 months, 3 weeks ago by Sherry.