Lately I’ve had more symptoms of depression in this eating disorder recovery.
This is not unusual, it would be rare to go through ED recovery without experiencing a low mood!
Within an ED, most people have some depression: living in the hollow, cold, isolated & tormented world of illness brings little joy, although when sick we numb it, wear a mask.
In recovery, the emotions return.
Why depression though.. is there a purpose?
These are my thoughts:
Our numbed emotions wake up & it takes time to find new ways to manage them.
During recovery we come out of our ED fog & see what we have missed while sick.
We mourn the stolen years – missed opportunities, relationships & remember the painful years of torment we endured.
A feeling of depression might then help to motivate us to persist with recovery.
Depression can also make us feel easily overwhelmed, so we slow down, withdraw, turn inwards & act sick. It can force us to rest, focus & let the body & mind function at a most basic level short term while they heal.
Recovery is exhausting & relentless & this causes mental & emotional fatigue. It is an ongoing inner conflict of fighting our minds or those trying to help us & it is confusing, bewildering.
We experience guilt & feelings of wrong doing in recovery (see previous post) & this adds to the negative emotions.
The uncertainty of recovery adds to a low mood: why are we going through the painful process – will it be worth it? Are we doing recovery ‘right’?
Comparing & despairing to others.
Accepting a changing body: mourning our ‘ED body’ & accepting a healthy but very different appearance is incredibly difficult. Gaining weight in a society that values thinness is also distressing and confusing.
Depression can also be a means to seek help if we feel unable to ask or accept how ill we are – it is an obvious sign to others that all is not ok.
Overall, in an ED we put in vast effort to appear normal & be present but in recovery internal focus is key to put every effort short term into eating, resting, repairing.
An appropriate level of depression can help achieve this.
However, if you are experiencing depression- speak to someone & seek medical help if needed. Depression in recovery is common but can also be critical & you need support.