• Kristina Cherep

The Damage Left Behind

One of the most triumphing feelings that I have experienced is coming out of a depressive / anxiety episode. It's not a specific moment where I know I'm out; it takes awhile. Once I'm out, there's a sense of relief. However, when I look back at the trail, I begin to see all the damage it left behind. This damage could be lost relationships or lost opportunities. For me, my last time around, it was my weight. For other people, it actually may be the opposite effect; some people gain weight during these times. However, I ended up losing ten pounds in one month.

If you don't know me, I want to give you a back story on my battle with my weight. I've always been the tall and skinny girl who was constantly told that I needed to gain weight if I wanted to pitch in college. I was put on 3,000 calories/day diets and wouldn't gain a single pound. When I got to college, within those four years, I gained 20 pounds for multiple reasons! I loved every pound of that because I not only felt stronger, but I felt like I accomplished a battle I have been fighting for years. Okay now back to what I'm really trying to get at...

During my last episode, I had no appetite for about a month. I would just eat because I knew I had to; not because I was hungry. I ended up losing ten pounds in one month because I ate as little as possible. It's hard to differentiate if this was coming from anxious or depressive thoughts; probably a mixture of both. I know anxiety was there because I would sometimes feel like I had something stuck in my throat. I felt like I wouldn't be able to swallow anything. My throat felt like it was closing. I know I'm not the only person who experiences this type of feeling because I have talked to other people about this! However, I know that depressive thoughts were present too because I remember thinking that it didn't matter if I ate because I didn't care about myself.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that mental health is much more than mental effects. It has many physical effects as well. For me, this time around, it was weight loss. Just because I made it out of my episode, it didn't mean I was done with it. I had to look back at the trail I left behind during that period of time. I had to accept that I had lost all of that weight and make a plan on how to gain it all back. I'm slowly starting to gain my weight back. At first it was frustrating because it took me so long to gain those ten pounds in the first place. However, after thinking about it I'm glad I had those ten extra pounds to lose and still be at a "safe" weight.

Mental illnesses are much more than mental symptoms and effects.