When Depression is Starving You

It’s a strange feeling when you’re so hungry, but you don’t want to eat. When your illness fights your basic needs. I know I needed to eat something though, so I sloped downstairs to the kitchen, not even bothering to turn on the lights. I look in the fridge; we have two ready meals: Spanish chicken, and a butternut risotto. ‘Ugh, I don’t feel like those at all’ I think to myself as I put them back and my stomach moans at the dinner that could have been. I give up, I’ll just have toast, it’s plain and it’s easy. What do you have with toast? Tea, of course. I fill up the kettle, finally feeling a bit more optimistic about eating, and lift the lid off the bread bin: empty.

This is one of my biggest problems with depression, all the little things pile up and you hold it in and soldier on until you’re stood in your kitchen fighting back tears about bread. I feel pathetic and childish but I really, really wanted some toast.

‘It’s okay, there’ll be something else’ I try to reassure myself as I open every other cupboard and drawer. There’s loads of pasta, but I haven’t got the energy or will to cook. There’s so many ingredients staring back at me but none of it looks appealing, or appetising, and I don’t want to cook anything.

The kettle finished boiling and I admit defeat. My stomach feels like it’s trying to eat itself but my brain won’t let me eat anything. It looks like I’ll just be having a cup of tea for dinner then. I can’t remember the last time I had a proper meal. I’ll keep skipping meals because I don’t have a desire to eat and before you know it my appetite will be gone and I won’t be able to eat much more than a biscuit without feeling sick to my guts.

Sometimes I don’t have the energy to cook, other times I don’t have the will to eat. Depression has a way of making us neglect our needs to the point where we train ourselves not to need them anymore. It could take me weeks to have a normal appetite again, but then the binge eating begins, I’m disgusted by the extra stomach flab, and I’ll starve all over again, punishing myself for ‘getting fat again’.

Update: it’s been about a month since I wrote that and I can say for certain that my appetite has shrunk. I’ve gone through another phase of accidentally starving myself due to depression, basically day after day of the above happening to me. I’ve gone entire days where all I’ve had is a cereal bar. I’m miserable, stressed, anxious and drained all the time. I’m slowly getting back into eating regular meals but it’s a slow journey and one I’ve had to do so many times before. I feel like I’m retraining myself to eat. Sometimes it gets too difficult and something as little and as basic as a yogurt will have my stomach turning itself inside out trying to keep it down as I battle anxiety and a ‘ohgodwhatthefuckdidijustdo’

I’m getting there slowly again. I had a small dinner last night and I did feel a little nauseous afterwards, but it was manageable. I’m going to aim to eat breakfast tomorrow morning – we have cereal going stale because of the amount of times I’ve skipped it.

12 thoughts on “When Depression is Starving You

  1. I’m so sorry your having a hard time! It’s amazing you are willing to share your story though and I’m sure it is helping so many people!
    I can so relate to this! My mental health and relationship with food are complex and I find it so hard to understand!

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  2. This is the most relatable post I’ve ever read. I thought it was just me whose depression did this too, and it’s one of the main symptoms my mom just doesn’t understand. I’ve never had a big appetite and with me constantly feeling anxious , eating makes me feel really sick. I actually feel happier when I don’t eat, which is worrying. It’s the one battle I know, even on a good day I have to fight x

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    1. It’s awful isn’t it? And you’re right, it’s the one people most often don’t understand. We always get told “Eat something, you’ll feel better” but it feels like your throat’s closed up and you physically don’t have the strength to put food in your mouth. It’s the one side effect I see talked about the least often so I was beginning to worry that I was fighting this alone. I hope you find something that helps you, it’s so difficult but remember you’re not going it alone 💛

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  3. This post hit me hard. I remember talking to someone once about how complex the brain is. Many times when someone talks about health, then it goes to physical health but mental health gets put on the back burner. It does matter! How a person feels about themselves affects their overall health. I remember someone telling me once to stop being weird when I was experiencing a mental health problem. (Major anxiety) She thought it was nonsense, but now reading other bloggers who experience what I used to experience and still do sometimes makes me think what I felt back then was real. Going to follow your blog! Thanks for sharing 🙂

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    1. I know exactly what you mean, I spent so many years not even knowing that mental illnesses existed, but suffering with 2 myself. It’s so great to see people openly talking about it now, and I love that there is a great community online for support 💛 Thank you for following, I hope my blog helps you in some way!

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  4. I didn’t realize this happened to other people. I hate going out to dinner or lunch meetings. Even dinner with friends is hard because I just can’t eat. Two bites and I’m full, three and I’m nauseated. A nice meal with friends should be relaxing…

    It’s embarrassing and that just drives the anxiety/depression cycle. Ugh.

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    1. This is exactly it! If friends ever want to meet up & they suggest going out for a meal, I die a little inside and try everything to change the event. I don’t see it talked about enough, I was beginning to think I was going through this alone. I hope we can find some help for this soon. The one thing I do know to do is always order tap water, I never order any other drink with a meal because sugar/alcohol can make it worse, at least when I’m feeling anxious/nauseated I can sip my water.

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  5. I’m so sorry that you’re struggling with eating lately. I’ve experienced a lot of the same feelings. I remember just last week, I was trying to get down toast for breakfast because I was hungry and needed to eat something, anything, to get through the day, but I couldn’t stomach it. It tasted like nothing and made me nauseous, but I forced it down.

    It gets so hard to navigate depression effecting my appetite when I’m recovering from an ED simultaneously. When I was talking to my psychologist, she asked if I’m having appetite changes and I didn’t know how to answer, because my relationship with food is so complicated from so many different factors.

    I’m glad that you are trying to get yourself to eat small meals. I know it can be difficult, another challenge added into everything, but you’re strong and I’m proud of you for being aware of it all and working towards getting through it. Lots of love. ❤

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    1. Thank you so much for this, I’m so glad to know I’m not alone. I’ve dipped again and haven’t eaten much, but I’ve had so many issues with body confidence and my depression only makes it worse. I hope you find a way to get through it 💛

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