The oatmeal shown above was my breakfast today. Nothing fancy, except I’m not at home. However, the way I ate it was night and day from my usual breakfast ritual (or lack thereof). BTW, Since I limit my dairy due to voice work, I top my oatmeal with applesauce or berries.
Food and Depression
I’ve been writing A LOT about depression lately. Not surprising, since this blog and podcast is a diary, and I’ve had a whoppin’ big bout of depression, I think now, for about the last three months. Three Months! How can THAT be? You’ve been off to Ventura and Solvang and having adventures and writing and voice acting and doing all KINDS of fun and exciting things? You live in SUNNY California, not drizzly-grey Washington, not frozen places. You don’t have the 9-5 grind any longer. Your hubby is sweet and thoughtful. Your cat came back. What the HECK do YOU have to be depressed about?
Aye, there’s the rub. I’ve been depressed, and GUILTY AS HELL for it! Depression, as I’ve already written and said at length, last show, is NOT about your blessings, lack of blessings, or how good of a person you are.
I should clarify. When I say I have had depression for at least three months, I mean clinical depression. I can have situational depression, which is some of the same feelings, but temporary and has a cause. Believe you me I had a situational depression after my SUPREMELY failed, first go at character voice in voice acting class. I felt worthless, despondent, wanted to pull the covers over my head etc., but it only lasted a day or two. Then I shook it off, girded on my bravery and went back to intuitively living my life.
Clinical depression doesn’t give a rat’s ass how great your life is. It is chemically based and can be made worse by situations, attitude, lack of exercise, too many junk food self-medication sessions, or too much booze, which IS a depressant and other factors.
You can’t always tell right away – especially if you are a natural born Eeyore, like me.
Anyway, part of Intuitive Eating is slowing down to ENJOY your food. How many times have I spouted off and said, “Don’t eat food you don’t enjoy”? It is the sense of ENJOYMENT that helps you identify the ‘satisfied’ feeling that lets you stop eating before you are stuffed silly and your jeans are pulling across your belly.
When you are depressed, one of the main symptoms is YOU DON’T ENJOY STUFF – including food. You may tell yourself, oh, look at the delicious apple, or steak, or cake, or cream puff or fill in the blank, but the satiety trigger is, at least for me, pretty much shot to heck. You know you SHOULD be savoring this, but you aren’t. So soon automatic behavior sets back in. You shove in food when it is time to eat, or you have a sight trigger, or smell trigger, or uncounsiously you want carbs or sweets to elevate mood. Or you think a drink will make you feel better, or relaxed or take you ‘out of yourself’, because inside your head is the LAST PLACE you wish to be.
And what is MOST surprising to me is to realize as a perfectionist-mask-wearer, that I was wearing an unconscious enjoyment-mask. I knew when I should be having a good time or savoring a bite of food, so like the times I make bad acting choices, I was “play acting” being ok.
Off to Ventura
I think Mark realized I needed to get away – heck, after living with moping old me, HE needed to get away. So when I suggested we go back to Ventura for a few days, he was enthusiastic about the idea. That should have tipped me off to how he viewed my mood, because my darling hubby, though he usually comes around, is NEVER enthusiastic. His highest praise is usually telling me something is “OK”.
We checked into the hotel and Mark didn’t even leave the car and bikes. I did the paperwork, took our bag to the room and quickly changed into bike gear. Mark’s great idea was for us to ride and dine in between lunch and dinner, and then have a sunset ride all along the beach bike path (about 10 miles round trip).
We always ask for a table at this beautiful restaurant where we can see our locked bikes, as thievery has been an issue around the boardwalk. This time we got the prime corner table with astounding ocean views just as the sun was starting to descend and paint the waves with hints of orange and melting pink.
We decided to have large drinks of water along with some Mai Tais, as they make excellent ones there. Because I am into food and cocktail and/or wine pairing, I scanned the menu for something that would compliment the fruity Mai Tai, and allow me to enjoy sipping it. Voila! Teriyaki Filet Mignon kabobs over wild rice pilaf and a fresh house salad.
For some reason, the atmosphere, the deliciousness of the food, the way the drink was calling me to enjoy its flavor vs. knocking it back, the way Mark and I were conversing and allowing companionable silence and sharing, just accidentally moved me into unconsciously falling into mindfulness and Intuitive Eating behaviors. I took my time with each bite. I chewed it thoroughly, not because of a rule, but because the flavor was SO marvelous, I didn’t want it to end. I put the fork down to better watch the sun as it fell. I paid attention to Mark. Our dinner lasted a long time. My one Mai Tai lasted long enough, that I didn’t even feel tipsy after dinner as it metabolized along the way. My only feeling was contentment. I didn’t think about my size, the calories, or even the fuel value for the ride. My only thought was joy and gratitude for the experience.
Mindfulness can spill over
We did ride all along the beach and it was spectacular. I took a few photos and videos with my phone for IG, and you can see them at LaurieDreamWeaver. But I didn’t make a project out of it. Mark took some too, and made me laugh with my modeling experience with him. you can see his photos on Instagram at MarkEWeaver.
This morning as Mark slept, I celebrated my good night’s rest and excellent morning hunger, by going up to the breakfast room here at the hotel. There is a buffet with an array of food possibilities, but I checked in with my hunger levels, not wanting to be too full later for a good lunch. I decided to have my usual. Oatmeal and berries, and a few cups of decaf coffee with a splash of regular.
During this solo meal, I noticed I was unconsciously mimicking last night’s behavior. I spent time enjoying the look of the fresh berries. I tasted each bite. I stopped when satisfied vs. stuffed, and for the first time in a long time, I enjoyed the companion of my dining companion. Me.