I actually cooked dinner. And ate it.
Cooking dinner was really exciting. For the first time in 2 months, I actually was craving the process of cooking and making a splendid salad of all things. I texted my best friend and asked her if she had plans that night, and luckily for me she did not! I tell you, it is way more fun to cook with and for other people rather than for oneself. So I raced over to Trader Joes, one of the only places I actually enjoy shopping, and gathered salad ingredients. I actually had fun grocery shopping - that was a nice change!
I raced home and started prepping when my BFF arrived. We blasted a few new songs on my living room speakers and danced about with the dog nipping at our heels (she doesn’t know how to deal with dancing yet). The we chatted while I prepped dinner and watched a couple fabulous TEDx talks while we ate. I love this friend because we are always so completely authentic with each other - we don’t hide our weaknesses or feel like there are things we have to cover up. We just ARE the way we are, and it’s such a relief. As “sensitive” people, we both experience ups and downs and are deeply affected by the people around us, maybe more so than others who can more effectively block out emotions or can be hardened to other people’s energy. BFF and I are both noticing that our eating is really affected by our emotions, and lately for both of us we have rather stopped eating, which is not a good thing.
One of the things I’ve observed about being depressed is that it seems to affect eating patterns quite significantly. After my Dad died over ten years ago, I noticed that during the grieving process I turned to chocolate and sugary, bready comforting foods. Of course, I think the whole grieving scenario could have been much less hideous had we actually reached out for some professional support or therapy, but somehow there was a real aspect of shame associated with grief counseling and it seemed that admitting that the process was hard to deal with would be a sign of weakness somehow.
However, I was fully willing to admit my misery, and I expressed this by laying in bed and staring at the ceiling for hours and eating chocolate. It actually became a bit of a joke with my brothers, “oh are you going to go lay down and stare at the ceiling again?” I’d usually brush past them without saying anything, inwardly mumbling, “Yes you little bastards, I am feeling miserable and tired and completely overwhelmed, so I’m going to lay down and hope that somehow all of this will go away.” Needless to say, I did survive this horrible experience. It took years to get out of the depression, and the only thing that really did change it was digging into school and pursuing my sense of professional purpose to help the world through my sustainability work.
This recent bout of depression took on a new and deeper meaning. It was difficult to attribute it to any one particular cause, which made it more baffling. I have a stable job, I have good friends (albeit different ones than I had a year ago with my life in Vancouver), I have a loving relationship and generally have what I need in life. Why in the world then have I been so damn depressed? Well, I think much of it was severe burn out and another part of it was the dismantling of dysfunctional aspects of my life, which interestingly was a very painful and shameful process. BTW - there is an amazing TED talk about shame that I’d highly recommend watching. Check it out here.
Needless to say, working through this has been very challenging and finding a way to get excited about life again has been tricky. One of the major things that I stopped doing was eating. I really stopped feeling interested in food, which is strange and new for me because I’ve traditionally always been excited about eating. I was crying the other day after reading a line in a book about a child who refused to eat 10 days after being born, they called it a “failure to thrive” and that really hit home - I was failing to thrive! I was resisting the core impulse to keep my body alive, I somehow had given up on the desire to nourish myself. What is that all about? Well, I think much of it has to do with the core principle of nourishment and love from the feminine side of life. I think the reason why the Joy experiment is bringing me back to life is because I’ve decided to dig into nourishment again. I decided that I fundamentally want to live and I must decide to nourish the feminine aspects of my life.
And so on day 6 of the Joy Experiment, the re-nourishment process has begun. It’s time to start loving my body more and giving myself the nutrition that I require to be healthy and vibrant and joyful!