Friday, 3 October 2014


This is one of the very bad places depression can get you to;
I follow his eyes to the figure huddled in a corner, head resting on upturned knees, a flimsy blanket covering her modest frame. A saline drip atop a metal pole is connected to her arm.“She doesn’t move from there”, the special offers.
Indeed, in our short time there, as we hover uncertainly, she appears as still as an apparition.....She refuses all food and drink in the next few days and needs intravenous hydration, which is not permitted on the psychiatry ward so she stays on our unit. .....the psychiatrist diagnoses her with catatonic depression, a condition aptly described in 1843 in which patients appear “in a state of stupor, with fixed gaze, a facial expression of frozen astonishment, muteness, and indifference.’
Here's why the body will throw everything it can in the path of something like this. Put it crudely, would it be better to gain 100lbs or end up suspended in the grip of this deathlike de-animated catatonia? That's a rhetorical question. I'm not seeking your imagined preference. I'm getting you to think more in line with your body's instincts and what kind of state it might go all out to stop you reaching.

We're so used to "depression" in the form of a relatively trivial misery that goes with a bit of exercise and self management. The sense of urgency the body might feel about it is lost. Ironic given the supposedly progressive touting of the importance of mental health.

Weight gain=disease process ignores the body's defence mechanisms against mental illness and just what the body might be defending you against. And how well they work-overall. The 'obesity' construct further trivializes mental health by using the destruction of mental health as "motivation" for its neuroses as treatment cure-anorexia and exercise bulimia.

Weight gain can be a defence against sinking into depression, like a life jacket trying to keep you afloat. Stop you from drowning, but obviously, not able to get you out of the water-that's the job of your conscious mind-including and up to enlisting the help of others. Bear in mind that weight is often a layered process. People are on a spectrum of weight, lowest to highest and in between. Weight gain can and often happens on top of/in addition to that.

It can be hard to grasp just how serious a potential threat depression is to your life.  Suicide is obvious, but if you've been depressed, felt miserable as anything for long periods, without feeling that, it may be hard to grasp the feverish activity of your nervous system trying to prevent a slide.

The closest I've ever been to this state was some temporary catatonia when I was trying to prevent myself from eating-this is the absolute truth! Long story short, I ended up with my arms up in the air in a claw-like pose. They'd risen on their own as my muscles got tighter and tighter on their own.

In slow-mo, I became aware of not being able to remember what I was not supposed to be doing, only that I had to keep resisting. I was paralyzed and couldn't move; not a metaphor, I genuinely could not move. I hung there for a while mesmerized by the way my conscious mind's ability to function ran out of any nerves to operate in. Taken over as my brain capacity was, by this rigidity.

So when people tell me, not ask, tell, that I tried minimal calorie restriction for five minutes then threw in the towel, you can imagine why I can lack a certain patience with them. It's also why I tell those who think they've barely bothered with dieting. Don't worry about that, people like me have. You were just more in tune with your body's own wisdom than I. Pat yourself on the back.

To but it bluntly, I was an idiot about dietary restriction. Even after this episode, do you think it occurred to me for one nano-second that this might be the last straw? I'm actually laughing as I type that.

How did this end? Well, after hanging there for what seemed a long time, with no signs of it abating. And, being unnerved by not being able to call to mind, yet knowing what I was not supposed to be doing- I decided to let it arms flopped straight down to my sides.

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