Over these past 7 years, I have been in the process from not only recovering from clinical depression, but learning to thrive. Though it’s been a couple years since I’ve been depressed, coming to faith and using grace as a means to change everything has been a surreal. Because I talk about my experiences with depression a lot on this blog, I’m going to leave the lengthy explanations at that (just search the “mental health” or “health” tags if you want more subject matter). Just know that in my experience, recovering from mental and physical illness were interwoven and resolved solely through faith.
I spend a lot of time outside these days, when I can. Getting better and becoming happier means that I exercise for fun (what a joke), usually by walking all over the place. Because I walk, I have gradually been building more muscle tone concurrently with the process of being spiritual strengthened by grace, which I don’t think is a coincidence. By growing into the person God wants me to be, I’ve been pretty thoroughly blessed.
Getting more into shape sounds fabulous, but there is a nasty side of it that up until recently, has been hard to identify. Due to taking a variety of antidepressants, bipolar meds, and anti-psychotics over years, I ended up gaining weight thanks to the only drug of many that worked. Coming back down in weight and into shape is like rewinding the hands of time, and the closer I get to the place I was at the skinniest and ironically, the worst mental health time of my life, the more anxious I feel to lose weight.
Weight gained and lost from you will externally recycle you into your past self. Looking in the mirror and seeing what I used to see when life was hell is a really complicated set of emotions. On the one hand, I’m happy because I’m healthy. I’m relieved that being skinny is no longer such an idol of mine, like it was during and before my depression. I’m angry that my health is only seen in a positive light now that I have external physical proof instead of by just telling people I feel better, and that that proof is tied to fleeting stereotypes of beauty which ultimately damage everyone. I’m annoyed that this process is feels so complicated, and to be honest, I’m somewhat terrified because I never want to return to the place again. It’s like returning to the ground zero of my life. Both disturbing and unsettling in the same glance. And honestly? Being overweight wasn’t nearly as bad to me as fixating on being skinny. My mental health issues were linked to my body, but depression on it’s own was a lot more detrimental to my well-being than my physical health alone.
Getting skinnier isn’t a glamorous thing in my memory. Suicidal thoughts, a verbal lexicon of ways to describe crying, and wishing I was anywhere but home comes back when I remember what I once cared about, and how complicated body image as a whole has been for me. I know that God will continue walking with me through this particular bump in my path, as he has been faithful perpetually. And yet, the memories of today will never allow skinny-ness to hold quite the same amount of appeal as before I was sick. I can never truly go back to that place, even if I look more like it by the image in the mirror. I don’t have to like it, but there is strength in going back to the beginning of pain and overcoming the fear there. This is one of many things that can be overcome, even if it’s not comfortable. It’s gonna be okay.