- Friends & Family
- Mental Health
Submitted by: Susanne Johnson
Depression, bipolar disorder, binge eating disorder– the list of my issues and problems is long and was often challenging. The good part is that it hasn’t stopped me from living, working, running and managing my life. I’m here today, that’s what counts.
When I was a teenager I told my therapist that I had tried to commit suicide when I was just six years of age. The depression was already there and I was a very unhappy child. It only escalated as I went through puberty. My mom noticed that I was sleeping a lot at first, but my treatment started one day when we had a fight and I took pool cleaner and some other stuff and tried seriously to commit suicide. This ended up with hospital time for me. My therapist tried to find out why I did this and determined that I had depression for many years. The next 33 years brought working through mental health disorder in my life. I could better overcome the problem once I knew what was wrong with me. All the years before I didn’t know what the problem was. I was always angry, upset and hurt, but didn’t know what caused it. Now I knew what caused all this, I could start to deal with it and I started to be in a better place.
In my 20s I had a breakup that led to another suicide attempt. I’m grateful that I overcame this one as well with the help of treatment and ongoing therapy.
As my binge eating disorder came into play and lasted long into my adulthood, my world was scary. I don’t know if it started as being my way of coping with my depression or bipolar disorder, but it sometimes took only someone to say something wrong to me and I fell into five or more days of binge eating. I’m aware today of it and it still sometimes happen to me, but not as often as it did for a while. The binge eating became a form of bulimia in an effort to not gain weight about all this, and I began to use laxatives to be able to eat more without gaining size.
I was ashamed and worked to overcome the shame. The worst part of it happened when I was living by myself. I would come home from work, go to the store, and would get anything I could get my hands on. I often came home with $20-$40 worth of food and then eat it all at once in a binge. It was mainly sweet and salty that I craved. I needed my jelly beans and cupcakes, and then balanced it with chips and dips. It has never ever been anything healthy, I never binged on carrots or fruit.
Therapy also helped me to deal with the binge eating. It still happens to me today, that I start a binge, but today I ask myself, “Why is this happening to me right now?” I can usually see some anxiety or other factors in my life leading up to it. Now, I can stop there, move forward to the next day, and don’t let myself get caught up in my anxiety. I have to talk about it today, to stop it and feel better.
My work environment is dysfunctional at times. I work at a college. My students are great, but the work environment sometimes gets to me and sparks anxiety. Troubles in my relationship also caused anxiety in the past. There are times when this anxiety just builds up and when I’m then left alone with my thoughts after a while, it can cause a problem. It always starts relatively harmlessly with thoughts like “you know what… let’s just see what they have in the bakery today” while shopping. But then it just keeps going.
Every person has the experience of buying more and unnecessary food, when going to the grocery store hungry for example, but people without the eating disorder come home, eat some of it and put the rest away. The difference is that I come home and eat it all. Four to six cupcakes in one setting is not unusual. My thoughts are “I will hate it when I go on the scale tomorrow.”
Fact for me is, that when I don’t talk about it, I do it. If it happens and there are no consequences directly happening, I will do it again. I have a therapist for my depression problems, and we also talk about my binge eating at times. Never I’ve been to a treatment for binge eating disorder yet. I will consider it.
Today I accept help that is offered to me. I am from California, from the Bay area, but have lived in South Florida, for 12 years now. It has become my home. I visited California and many other places again, but I prefer today to be in Florida. I’m not married nor have children, but I love to spend time with my fur babies. I also started sewing and found out, that it is really great way to sooth myself and I can focus myself on my work for hours.
Drinking or drugs were fortunately never a problem for me. I never abused any, it never became an issue for me. In 2007, I started to run, and running may have saved me from going the way of self-medicating with drugs or alcohol. Today I have run six marathons and 27 half marathons. I run smaller races all the time.
The depression sometimes is so deep, but the running always gets me out of it. Running is the best therapy for me. It is often hard to get going and start when I have a depression attack, but once I finish a run, I feel so good, it does the job for me. It gives me the feeling that I did something great. I have tried almost all of the medications to help depression that are available. Some of them worked great, others didn’t. I had to take medication to live a normal life, and sometimes it is challenging to find the right one that works for you.
Now I have spent about a year without medication, and I’m doing well this way. I try to stay healthy, run a lot, but most importantly talk about everything that bothers my well-being. I also have a website and blog online to express my thoughts. It helps me and hopefully it helps somebody else who may find that he or she is not alone with this problem. I’m not using the website much today, but anyone is welcome to google ‘The Depressed Runner’, if you want to read more about my story and how I managed to get over certain problems in my life, especially through running. You are not alone, and you can get better. You get every day a little bit better. Even on weak days, I just try to relax and come out of it, knowing it does not have to be an ongoing status.