Food and depression

Some people reach for food when they’re sad, stressed, grieving or depressed.

I starve.

I suffer from depression. It’s totally under control and has been for a couple years now. But once in a great while it can still come creeping back, with or without a trigger.

When I was in the depths a few years ago, I lost between 20 and 30 pounds. One of my great loves – good, wholesome food – was rarely interesting to me. I had no motivation to cook. I was also poor at the time. Dinner would be tortilla chips or graham crackers. Anxiety drove me to throw up what little I could choke down.

A lot of these symptoms have come back in recent weeks. I know when I’m not excited about food – like when I can’t finish my Thai curry shortly after feeling starving – something is wrong. Most of my dishes were left undone for weeks. I received so many kitchen toys for Christmas and I haven’t used most of them. My nooch was left untouched for more than a week at one point. I lost at least five pounds. (I’d be OK if those pounds didn’t return.)

My interest is coming back.

The appetite came first. Every time I felt it, I’d take advantage of it, whether it was a second helping of salad at a friend’s house or polishing off a Combination A at Bamboo Garden. Sometimes it would wane and during those periods, it’s hard for me to swallow what’s on my plate. But I know I should. Even if things don’t taste as well as they normally would.

It’s silly to fathom one might not have enough energy to fix up a stir-fry or something simple after a day of just sitting at a desk. But when grief or depression hit, I’m tied to bed or my desk or my couch. And the joy I take in cooking is masked in a cloak of drudgery. That’s the sick thing about depression. The things I know that are good for me and make me feel better – food, cooking, music, yoga – are taken from me.

In the past week I’ve hit the stride of feeding myself like a normal human being – mostly grabbing food on the run or taking something home. Little effort, but probably too much money. I wasn’t ready for grocery shopping or meal planning yet. Luckily, some lovely friends have invited me to their places and made me homemade food. I have the best friends in the universe.

Friday evening, I paged through a cookbook my aunt gave me for Christmas the first time – I didn’t have the heart to pore over it before like I normally would have.

Between Friday and Saturday I slept 14 hours, then grabbed veggies and hummus and went to watch the Seahawks game at a friend’s house. (Go Hawks!) I then swiped some salt and vins on my way home and finished off the whole bag while watching “Chopped” on my couch.

This morning, I got up and washed all the dishes that piled up about my apartment for a month while coffee brewed. I wiped my cast iron pan and seasoned it. I tossed some food I left sadly neglected from my fridge. I lovingly unpacked my Christmas toys, like my spiralizer. I took out the compost. My compost bin and produce drawer from my fridge sit soaking in my kitchen sink.

And then I made some vegan quesadillas. Thank goodness my demon microwave had mercy on me today and decided to function.

No matter what happens in life, I’ll always come back to my love of the plants that feed me.

4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. howtobejillian
    Jan 12, 2015 @ 07:51:29

    I know this isn’t the point you were trying to make, but I adore Bamboo Garden. Sooooo much.

    Anyway, I go through phases. It seems to depend on the level of depression if I binge eat or starve. I am glad that you’re starting to feel better!


    • Lynsi
      Jan 12, 2015 @ 10:52:46

      Dude Bamboo Garden is my ultimate comfort food. I live on the next block over from it – kinda dangerous.


      • howtobejillian
        Jan 12, 2015 @ 11:49:04

        That would be so expensive for me. I moved to Portland and there is just no match here for the orange “chicken”. I need to make a trip up there!

  2. Richa
    Jan 14, 2015 @ 15:16:49

    oh no. i’ve been through phases, panic disorder,& generalizes anxiety. i think i lost 35 lbs one time. now i think i might be 20 lbs heavier than what i wanted to stop at. all the stress is making me eat eat.
    that one year when i wasnt eating much, i would eat everything with pickles, general pickles, indian pickles. for the 26 odd years of my life before that i had hated pickles 🙂
    sending you hugs.


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