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@loripalminteriTweets by @loripalminteri
It wasn’t like I wasn’t aware that I had been skipping meals, or even when I did eat, my stomach would go into knots, cramping and making me nauseous, half wishing I hadn’t eaten at all (although not eating also leads to nausea, so it’s a lose-lose situation). Depression never led me to “eat my feelings,” just the opposite. I’ll have no appetite. This is not to say I’m purposely skipping meals. But when you don’t feel hungry you don’t realize that it’s been nine hours since you ate last. Usually, at that point, when I start to eat I realize I’m basically starving.
Depression has a best friend in anxiety. Even when not depressed, anxiety can really fuck up my eating habits. While depression is more mental, anxiety has physical effects. Stomach pains, cramping, my body will even reject food sometimes. Then, I really don’t feel like eating.
Already, I’m a petite person. Plus, I’m an athlete. Exercise and a healthy eating are a way of life for me. I don’t need to lose weight. Nor am I aiming to. I like to be in shape, feel and look strong. But because I’m already fit, if I suddenly drop five pounds or more, it becomes very obvious.
“Did you lose weight? What the fuck Lori?!” That quote is paraphrased, but said by multiple people in the past week.
I hadn’t realized it was that obvious. And my friends already know; I’m not trying to lose weight. And someone my size shouldn’t lose weight that quickly either.
“It’s fine,” I mumble, “I’ve just been stressed and down. I’ll drink some milkshakes this week. Don’t worry.”
After all, if milkshakes are the cure for your problem, that’s a pretty good problem. (Also, to be clear, this isn’t a money problem. Yes, I’m poor, but I still have enough money to feed myself. I’m just not spending that money on food. That being said—I’m saving a lot of money for a trip next year (haha, c’mon, that’s funny guys, we can laugh at this))!
But I hate this problem. Because not only is it a red flag for me not fully acknowledging whatever spiral I’m in—I’ve now unintentionally hoisted that flag alarming my friends and family. To be clear, I’m not anorexically skinny. I’m white girl Hollywood skinny (haha, c’mon that’s funny too)! I am still eating, albeit, not a lot. I’m still running to help with my anxiety so I don’t really feel weak, but I’m clearly burning more calories than I’m taking in. After being pressed by friends, I was afraid to even go on a scale. I’m the skinniest I’ve been since I was hospitalized some years ago for a tonsillectomy. It’s a bad sign. Not that I needed a sign to know it.
It’s really no surprise to me. Personal problems had been festering. Heartache not yet healed. Career stress. And November, November. It always comes in November. Always. Fuck. November.
Sadness and grief is not a strange emotion to any adult—that’s why we all empathize. We all agree it sucks hard. People are especially supportive and sincere when they say to reach out. If I’m sad, I will do this. But not if I’m depressed. Friends and good people have told me many times that if I were depressed to just call them. But that is not how depression works. I think I’ve only made three phone calls in my life when I was depressed. You don’t want to call anyone. You don’t think they can help—probably they can’t. Sadness is part of the cycle of depression, but where it really gets you is when you feel numb. And that numbness takes a gold coin from the chest in your heart: it takes a gold coin and makes it disappear. There’s no replacing those coins. You only have so many. And as the years go on and depression returns, it depletes your stash. Slowly but surely. What’s inside you that glows fades a little, every time. It hurts, it hurts, it hurts.
And even that I can deal with. I have before. There are tricks and ways out. There’s a certain amount of white knuckling, just waiting it out until you’re out on the other side. That’s not what I’m really afraid of. What scares me? The feeling that you are not yourself. How could I describe it? Psychology text books would call it “intrusive thoughts,” or maybe, “mixed mania episodes.” I would just call it a shit storm of shitty shitness that makes you want to scream and tear your own skin off. It confuses you. It makes you paranoid, and you don’t recognize where such negativity is stemming from or who or what planted these thoughts that demonize yourself and others. Such a state becomes a root for trust issues, commitment issues, paranoid delusions, grandiose suspicion about the geniality and sincerity of others. You don’t understand, I’ve woken from sleeps sweating and shaking, not recognizing myself; convinced I am not Lori at all. I don’t know who or what the fuck I am, but I am not this version of myself.
If that sounds insane and alarming—it should. It is both insane and alarming. The good news is that feeling and/or phase generally doesn’t last that long. It dissipates almost as quickly as it comes on, even though it does come on fast and strong. A fucking tornado in your head of your thoughts and feelings: logic simply nowhere to be found.
That is something I am very afraid of. I’m afraid of it. The grief, the depression, the weight loss due to anxiety—these are passing phases that suck, but they always pass. The shit storm does too, and while it’s much, much shorter, it’s so intense. It’s not a good feeling to suddenly feel estranged from yourself. And I guess it’s my biggest fear that one day that will be the last thing I feel.
That’s a rough one to digest, I know (sort of like my literal digestive system right now—c’mon that was a funny, guys). But whatever weight loss that shows in my face, hesitation or distance that’s in my eyes, it’s going to pass because that’s what it does. On the plus side, it does give me a really good excuse to eat a lot of holiday cookies. And boy, oh boy, I really do love cookies.