In the midst of depression, you often develop coping habits that aren’t particularly healthy, such as binge-eating, and some that are actively harmful, such as cutting. Then, when you start to get your life back on track, you’re stuck with a bunch of harmful, unhealthy habits that you have to do extra work to break. Fixing depression isn’t just going on “happy pills” and poof! You’re done! It’s a lot of work.
The medication can certainly help, and it makes the fight easier. But you’re still fighting every day, and you’re also fighting those habits that you’ve formed. Personally, the bad habits I formed were overeating, oversleeping, and extreme retail-therapy. And now I’m struggling to break them.
I find myself constantly overeating, and binge eating. I eat extra portions of the meals I eat, and can’t control myself. Then I’ll skip meals and eat snacks, or not eat anything at all for several meals only to eat a huge amount next time I eat. I’ll eat a pint of ice cream at a time, or a whole bag of chips. Even when I eat healthy meals I eat at least double the amount that I should , two pieces of chicken, four servings of rice, a whole bag of veggies – it adds up to a lot of calories. And I’ve been waking up in the middle of the night and grabbing a snack almost every night for a couple of months now. It’s just not healthy.
To fix it, I need to start by cooking more, and not snacking or eating sweets. I don’t need to quit those cold turkey, but give myself one treat day, and have like, an ice cream cone, not a whole pint. And if I start by eating large portions of healthy meals, that’s okay. It’s step one. Break the binge-eating. Then once I get in that habit, I can work on the portion size.
Next, oversleeping. I think this one will be fixed a little better just by having more to do in my day, so when I finally get a job (hopefully within the next week or two! Which I’ve been saying for the last month but still…) I’ll have to wake up early, and go to bed at a reasonable hour. That’ll keep me from sleeping 12 hours a night and then taking a nap during the day. I just have nothing to do but apply to jobs, surf the internet, or go shopping. So I end up spending too much time sleeping, which is not good for my body. To fix it, I will need to make a schedule and stick to it, which, again, will be much easier once I have a job.
Speaking of shopping, I’m beginning to think I’m becoming a shopping addict. This is a problem two-fold because (1) I don’t need these things I’m buying, I’m just buying them because I want them, and most of them are trinkets. It’s impulsive and I can’t help myself, because it makes me feel good and (2) I DON’T HAVE THE MONEY. It’s really bad. I just see things I want and buy them – clothes are okay, because I need those and I’ve been trying really hard to stick to clothes I could also wear to work…but it’s still not great. What’s worse is when I buy Pokemon cards, or spend too much money on take-out. It depletes my bank account, makes me feel temporarily better, but worse in the long run, and just isn’t great.
I don’t know how to fix this one. There aren’t steps I can take in the same way that I can with overeating, and getting a job will either help or hurt, and I don’t know which. Help because I will have less time to be bored and unhappy and shop, but hurt because I will then actually have money to spend on things. This is the one I’m most afraid of. I don’t know how to break this habit. It’s comforting. All of the habits are, but the other two I know I can kick in the ass as something on the way to getting healthier. My friend told me today that that was like step two in recovery, first you take care of your mind and get that back on the right track, and then you go back to taking care of the rest of you. But retail-therapy doesn’t fall under those categories, and that scares me.
Habits are hard to break. Period. I remember reading somewhere that it takes only a week to break a habit, but six weeks to make one. I don’t know if that’s true. But I need to break my bad habits, and make new, good ones, and that’s a daunting task.
I’m going to start this week. I’m going to try and cook every day, and eat at least two meals. I’m going to give myself a schedule, and try to stick to it. And I won’t go shopping. I don’t know if I can do it. These habits have become deeply ingrained. But I know I have to try.