I love my psychologist. She’s such a wise woman and can read me like a book.
I’ve started a new antidepressant medication and have recently upped the dose. When the dose increased I experienced a common side effect of the medication. Nausea.
I welcomed the nausea. It decreased my appetite. But, after a few days, the nausea went away.
In my psychologist’s office today she asked how the nausea was and I said it had gone. I smiled as I said this, giving her a sly look and snapping my fingers. “Shucks!”, I said.
She laughed and said, “How very eating-disordered of you.”
I laughed too. Of course it’s eating-disordered thinking. Why wouldn’t an eating-disordered person think that something that decreased the appetite was magnificent?
Despite lingering eating-disordered thoughts that roll around in my head and make themselves frequently present, the increased dose of my antidepressant medication has helped my mood tremendously. And historically, for me, when my mood is good I am much more able to stay on track with my food and not engage in the self-defeating, self-deflating acts of restricting and binging and purging.
We discuss my mood and have a great conversation about the brain and mental illness.
Then she says, “You know, the very thing, that dogged determination that keeps you in your eating disorder, is the same character that drives you to work so hard when your depression rears its ugly head.”
How’s that for a silver lining?
I laugh again. I know my mood is in a far better place than it has been in months because I can see the great wisdom in this.
“Well,” I say, “Thank God for my eating disorder then! Without it and this great relentless determination of mine, I just might not have the strength to fight the depression!”
Finding gratitude in the strangest of places.
Who knows, really? But I understand what she means. And perhaps she’s right. These attributes, the will and drive and doggedness and stubbornness that are characteristic of many eating-disordered people, could be the very traits that have allowed me to not be completely and utterly consumed and devastated by my major depression and all the other trials and tribulations that life is presenting to me right now.
It’s just like the Zen story of the farmer. Good luck or bad luck? Fortune or misfortune? Maybe or maybe not?
Good and bad can be found in all circumstances.