Last Thursday night, I found myself dragging two filthy garbage cans down to the curb in complete darkness, a chore which fell between cleaning the dishes and putting the kids to bed. As the plastic wheels of the two cans rattled against the gravel, I thought to myself, "My god, my life is beautiful." I was filled with a sense of contentment.
This is not normal for me, or at least it hasn't been normal for the last several months. Well, years, maybe. As recently as a few weeks ago, I was blogging about my struggle with my depression. I have learned, through years of therapy, to compartmentalize a deep-set sense of self-loathing and utter despair that pervades my thinking. I am able to find moments where I have a sense of a joy, and I can go to work, smile, socialize, keep my space and myself clean, laugh, have fun. But in the moments when my world is quiet and I am alone with my thoughts, I hate myself. I recite all my failures; I think of everything I'll never be able to do; I hate my behavior, my appearance, and my world. It's been, admittedly, a little worse lately. Between getting home from work and cooking dinner for the kids, I've had more than one night where I've momentarily collapsed on the floor crying, hating everything about myself. I'll give myself five minutes of self-loathing, and then climb back to my feet to turn the oven on and cut up vegetables. Again, this isn't new. Before I began this adventure in home-ownership with a family of five, I would get home from the gym at night, microwave my dinner, and lay on the couch thinking of how god-awful my world was.I've had times where I couldn't stop crying. I've had times where I've been hospitalized.
So believe me when I say that having a moment where I actually relished in how happy I am feels a little weird. And it wasn't an isolated incident. for the past couple weeks, more and more often I've found myself filled with a sense of joy, contentment, satisfaction, and even, most alien of all, self-love. I still have times when I struggle with a sense of depression and anxiety, but lately it's felt more like something I can work around, an exception rather than the rule. I'm really not sure what's caused this shift in my mood, but if I ever figure it out I will certainly share.
For now, I'm just going to talk about something that I have never wanted to talk about before: my perception of my weight. Whenever I hate myself, I hate how much I weigh. It's not only a part of my mantra, it's the very focus of my self-loathing. when I'm berating myself, I am a fat, lazy, ugly, worthless, shitty, fucking failure. There are moments in my life where I will say, "Well, you did well at work, but you're still fat." or "Yeah you've been good to kids, and that's great, because you're nothing but a fat ugly waste and taking care of those kids is the only good thing you have going for you." There are never moments when I think to myself, "You look attractive, but you still suck." The night before our housewarming party a few months ago, I told my
boyfriend, almost in tears, that I wished we could just cancel the whole
thing because I had gained 5 pounds over the summer, and I didn't want
anyone to see me because they'd think I was a failure. After that party,
I put myself on a diet where, for three weeks, I ate less than 1,200
Calories per day. I literally did not lose an ounce of weight the entire time, but my depression sky-rocketed. Sadly, in my broken depressed brain, there is only one thing that gives me value, and that is my appearance. All of my other achievements mean nothing to my depression. The only thing that matters is my body, which I perceive as being unattractive due to the fact that I am overweight. If I had to break it down, here is how my depression ranks priorities:
A few weeks ago, after my disaster of a diet, I finally made a very radical decision, one that has been very difficult and very painful. I decided to be my own friend, and tell myself that my brain is wrong, and that the graph above is total myth. At the end of the day, my weight is not important at all. Literally not at all. My physical health is important, which is why I strive to eat a healthy diet every day (with the occasional cheat) while performing a mix of cardiovascular and strength-based activities throughout the week, but my actual weight is such a small aspect of my health that it's dangerous for me to even consider it. Last spring I took a health class which explored every possible way to determine whether someone's weight was in the normal, overweight, or obese zones, and then in conclusion it noted that overweight individuals statistically live longer than those in the normal range. So, depression brain, let me tell you, my weight barely matters at all. It does not even reflect on my longevity. This is what matters:
At the beginning of the month, I decided that I am not going near my scale. I am not going to measure my waist. I am not going to place any value on my weight. I am going to be a good friend to myself and know that I am so much more than that. I'm healthy, mentally and physically. I'm taking care of the wonderful family that lives with me, and I'm taking care of myself. That's what counts. My life is beautiful.