The real reason behind Anxiety and Depression

Back in January I read the extract in The Guardian from Johann Hari’s Lost Connections Book (link below). In this extract, Hari describes his experience with depression and being given SSRI’s to combat the apparent chemical imbalance in his brain. He explains why the medical professions belief that is the sole reason for depression and the faults in that way of thinking. For one thing, are you saying that everyone who has depression all have a lack of Serotonin in their brain? What about people who have experienced the loss of a loved one? They have the same symptoms as someone who is depressed but you wouldn’t label that a mental illness. That is just normal grief.

Hari discusses the other reasons for depression. He explains that as well as having basic physical needs, humans also have basic psychological needs. These are that ,’we need to feel we belong. We need to feel valued. We need to feel we’re good at something, We need to feel we have a secure future.’ He also points out that, ‘there is growing evidence that our culture isn’t meeting those psychological needs for many – perhaps most – people.’ He believes we have, ‘become disconnected from things we really need, and this deep disconnection is driving this epidemic of depression and anxiety all around us.’

This really resonated with me. It does scare me sometimes that I take all these medications. They can’t be good for me can they. But then a recent study said they do work and I totally believe that Serotonin has a major impact to play when it comes to anxiety, depression and PMT (all things I suffer with). I know that standing out in the sun and getting more Serotonin will make me feel better. I know that eating a bar of chocolate when I am due on provides endorphins which increase the Serotonin in your brain. I also know that taking my Citalopram lifted the fog so I could work on my anxiety myself. True, I still feel down and anxious a lot of the time so they can’t be fully working. But then why do they work in the first place? Shouldn’t it be a case of either they work or they don’t? Why is it that people often have to increase their dose the longer they are on them? I was on 10mg when I first started and 10 years later, I am on 30mg. Yet I have had panic attacks recently and right now want to scream and shout due to my pmt!

To find out the answers to my questions, I am going to do some research. To start with, I am going to get Hari’s book and read that. I’ll try and post on here what I find out.

https://www.theguardian.com/society/2018/jan/07/is-everything-you-think-you-know-about-depression-wrong-johann-hari-lost-connections The Gardian online, 7th January 2018.

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I hate food, that’s why I am fat!

I know what you are thinking, how can you hate food and be fat? Surely I am fat because I love food and I can’t stop eating it? But that isn’t the case. I don’t get excited by the thought of a nice meal out. I don’t sit down and enjoy a home cooked meal. I eat because it keeps me alive. But I do enjoy junk food. I do enjoy sweets, chocolate, cakes and crisps! That is all I want to eat and so I am fat!

I have a very bad relationship with food. I am uninspired and it bores me. Each week when we do the food shop I’m not filled with excitement about what we can make for the week, I’m filled with dread of having to come up with something. So we eat the same things as that is all we know. I don’t get inspired by cookbooks either. It all just looks like food I won’t enjoy. I can’t get excited about a sauce or a pasta dish. I only get excited by sweets and chocolate. I only enjoy junk food. But that isn’t right. So because I don’t appreciate a real meal, I feel I have to have some sugar or junk each day (even crisps). I say that I can’t eat real food and true I can’t eat a lot of fruit but everything I eat is so bland, I turn to the junk to get some enjoyment out of food.

I need to learn to appreciate food and enjoy real food. I need to fall in love with food. I need to learn to cook and be inspired by real food not junk.

Even food I like I don’t get enjoyment out of anymore. My husband tells me these foods that he is excited about and I’m just meh! That is why I am fat! I only enjoy chocolate and sweets and so eat them a lot. For me it’s either salad and fruit or chocolate and crisps. But what about everything in between?

A letter to my fat self!

Here I am half way through the week of a new diet and yet again I have fallen at the first hurdle. I was stressed yesterday so struggled to stay on track and then today I am bloated and have bad water retention. This happens each time and I get sad and then eat even more. I am so fed up of being 3 stone overweight but I just can’t seem to keep the momentum going of losing weight! Hubby suggested that I start with apologising to myself about the weight so I thought I would try writing a letter to myself like I did before so here goes:

Dear Jen,

My first instinct is just to tell you to stop eating through your emotions and problems but I know it isn’t that simple so I won’t. I know it annoys you so much when other people say that and then they tell you to stop making excuses. But I understand your bad relationship with food. I know that it’s not really food to you. It is a reward for a hard week at work, a way to relax in an evening, a way to be sociable with your friends, family and husband, a way to suppress those horrible emotions, and most importantly a way to make your stomach feel better. I know you can’t tolerate the feeling of being hungry at all as it makes you feel so rough and eating helps. Eating little and often is the key but I know you struggle to come up with what food to eat and so just eat junk or don’t eat at all and feel ill. But it’s ok to feel like that, don’t beat yourself up about it.

I know you are finding it hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Whenever you lose a big amount you then fall down and it all comes back on. Trying to imagine being skinny, with a baby and a house is just the hardest thing ever. If you were going to fall pregnant then it would have happened already surely? But you need to stop thinking like that. You need to realise that losing weight is what is going to help you have a baby and make you a happier and healthier person. I don’t know what I can do to help you see that. It is the same with the safety seeking behaviours, you need to realise that stopping doing those will help in the long run. But they both feel like such huge tasks that it is easier for you to just not do them and try and carry on with the way things are. It is easier to look for other things to do, or to sit in front of the telly stuffing your face than it is to get up and do the things that are going to help you. I know that you feel stuck where you are. Stuck without a baby. Stuck being fat. Stuck in living in a flat for the rest of your life instead of having a nice house with a garden. Just stuck in general. I know your husband feels the same way to. Everything that you want is out of your reach.

You need to realise that you don’t have to eat like food is going out of fashion. Just because you have decided that you aren’t going to diet on one day, it doesn’t mean you have to eat everything in sight. It isn’t the last time you are going to eat it! You also need to realise when you are really hungry and when you are just craving something nice. You need to learn when you are full up as binge eating is just making you fat and ill.

Just keep focusing on those reasons why you want to lose weight and why eating those yummy looking things are just not worth it in the long run. You’ve got this. We’ve got this.

Love, your internal thin girl xx

I’m in charge 

I realised this morning that I have been struggling with my desire for control recently. Not to the point where it has affected my mental health but I have definitely been feeling it. I want a baby so much and it frustrates me that there is nothing I can do to control that. No matter how hard I try to will myself pregnant, it will happen when it happens. In fact, trying that hard makes it less likely to succeed. But it goes so against my nature to ‘just let it happen’. So when I thought about getting a house it felt like something that I could control. I changed my job (as I have said before) and am on probation for six months so we have had to take a break from trying for a baby. This seemed like such the perfect opportunity to look for a house as we could buy a house and move in and then have the baby there. I have been worried that I would be stuck in a two bed flat for years and years so tried to control that situation. If I got a house first then I would be all set for when my magical two babies arrive. But of course, I may never have children and I could be in a home that I am not happy with without those children. I need to just let these things happen in life and use my secondary control to cope with them. Rather than worrying about housing etc. perhaps I should concentrate on something that I should be able to control which is my eating habits and exercising? I need to stop blaming external factors as the reason I don’t do these things and just do them. 
I’m annoyed at myself for slipping back into my bad ways of thinking but I have caught myself before it got too bad. Perhaps that is what is holding me back as well? I need to believe in myself, believe I can cope and believe I can achieve everything I want in life even if it doesn’t go exactly the way I have planed it. 

What is holding me back?

I’m lacking faith in myself. That’s the issue. I don’t believe I can live without doing those safety seeking behaviours. I don’t believe I can cope with the anxiety and uncomfortable feelings. I don’t believe I can lose weight and get fit. I don’t believe I will ever have a baby as I don’t believe I will fall pregnant. I don’t believe I know what I’m doing at work. This is not thriving like I should be. I don’t know why I can’t get over this last bit. I guess it’s because every time I try to stop the safety seeking behaviours I feel so uncomfortable that I quite straight away or I don’t even get as far as not washing my hands etc. What is holding me back? Laziness?

OCD is something you have not something you are!

It really irritates me when people say,”I’m OCD!” The sentence doesn’t even make sense like I have said before. You are basically saying, “I am Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.” You can’t be a disorder! So I wrote that on a post on Facebook. Someone agreed and said they didn’t like it when people think a disability is part of someone’s personality. This is why it gets to me so much. OCD is not who I am . It isn’t a part of my personality. It is a disorder that I have. That’s all. A fellow sufferer said that it’s part of their personality as they feel so alien to themselves when they are off their meds. Well again that just proves it’s not part of your personality. If you can’t recognise yourself when you are off meds that it’s not who you are!

Rant over!

Why do I put so much on myself?

That’s what my husband asked me whilst on holiday and it got me thinking. I want everything to be perfect and don’t like it when it’s not. I’m on holiday and I got really bad stomach ache. Quite like I did when I was sick back at Christmas. It caused a panic attack which hasn’t happened in a while. I realised it’s because I’m on holiday and want it to be perfect. Everything is about being perfect.

I started writing this when I was on holiday but never finished. I am back at work now but yesterday I wasn’t well. On Saturday I ate far too much and my stomach rejected it. I spent Saturday evening and Sunday morning on the loo! I then spent the rest of the day in bed. So today it is Monday and it is my fist time being at my new job whilst not feeling that well. Of course I wanted to stay in bed this morning and not come to work. I wanted to run away from the uncomfortable feeling of the tight stomach, headache, feeling weak and hot and cold. But I didn’t! I know I am lethargic from being in bed all day and I am not going to let it get the better of me. For a minute I started to obsess. I typed into Google ‘lethargy symptoms’ but stopped myself before I began reading it. I don’t need to look it up to make myself feel better. I don’t need to try to work out why I feel ill, I know why. So I stopped that obsessing in it’s tracks and got on with things!

I have to realise that I am putting far too much on myself expecting everything to be perfect and to feel perfect. It just doesn’t work like that. No one is perfect (apart from my cat!).