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Depression and Weight Issues Have you been diagnosed with depression, are possibly on depression medication, and find it affects your weight loss efforts? Post here for support!

Feeling sad when I can't afford to be depressed

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Old 01-29-2012, 09:33 PM   #1
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Default Feeling sad when I can't afford to be depressed

I'm not sure why I decided to post this to a forum... I guess I just wanted to reach out for some understanding from others out there...

I'm bipolar and overweight, and my life is so full of things I'm expected to do (I'm currently a doctoral student doing research and I work as well). I want to lose the weight because I know it fuels the depression, and the depression fuels the weight gain, and it's a vicious cycle, but I feel so overwhelmed as it is, how can I take out the comfort food and still survive?

And the week ahead is a really full one, with no room for one of those depressed days where I don't get out of bed.

I dunno. Just looking for others who are in the same boat. My bf, who is also my best friend, is concerned when I get like this, but he doesn't understand it. He has always been fit and has never been depressed, so how could he?

Thanks for reading.
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Old 01-29-2012, 09:53 PM   #2
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I know how you feel. Really. Look at my weight. I did a Ph.D. while working 40+ hrs/week, 10 years worth, and I've been in academia another 10 years. Life never gets any less busy. Breaking the cycle will never get any easier--so why not do it now?

Every day, every week, every year you tell yourself that you need the comfort food to get through things is another day, week, or year you won't get healthier.

Comfort food does not make you feel better for more than a few minutes. Exercise makes you feel better for hours. Getting enough sleep is essential to feeling good at any time. Light, healthy eating builds energy.

Take an honest look at all your habits: which ones contribute to feeling overwhelmed? Do you get enough sleep? Avoid alcohol? Do you find 10 minutes during the workday to take a quick walk or fresh air break? Do you avoid depressed people and complainers? Say no to things that aren't essential?

Improving your physical and mental health will help you succeed at school and at work--not to mention building the foundation for a happy life. It's SOOOO easy when you're in school forever to think that when you meet the next goal, there will be more time. But, it really doesn't work that way. Don't wait. Make your health a high priority now.

You can make small changes that will add up to big improvements. Best wishes!
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Old 01-30-2012, 05:24 PM   #3
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Are you actively managing your bipolar disorder?

I second making your health a priority. I withdrew from one master's program and and am taking slightly longer than normal to complete the program I'm still in because I decided that my mental and physical health were more important to me than looking great on paper. It's nice to have time (usually) to sleep close to enough, buy and cook healthy food, and work on some of my personal issues.
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Old 01-30-2012, 11:40 PM   #4
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I totally understand in some sense. I'm not working towards a doctoral but I know how it feels to be battling this and fighting to live a 'normal' life. First and foremost though, as theox mentioned, are you managing the bipolar? Because, in my experience, if you don't then that will always push through into your every day life anyway with unexpected consequences. I realized for me that it was really important that I didn't ignore or avoid my issues. Otherwise it would always creep in on my when I least expect it.

Ultimately, it's just plain hard and takes work. And I'm still working through it. It's not like you go to one therapy session and figure it all out. Or take one pill and it all becomes clear. I soooo wish it was that way. But I've learned the hard way that its not. However, I do believe, although I'm not there yet, that one day with hard work, my life will feel 'even'. I say even as though it's a sacred word. Because I truly believe that with being bipolar that my most valued emotion is to feel neither highly agitated (manic) or depressed, but to just feel even. To be in between. I want to feel balanced. And I think for those of us that live in the extremes that this is what we most want to achieve. Which is kind of funny because I'm sure those that are balanced wish the opposite. But regardless, I think we can all achieve balance somehow. And I think you'll get there too. But it takes hard work when you're depressed. And if I can figure it out then I'll be sure to let you know. And if you figure it out please be sure to let me know. But in between please keep moving and going on as you are. And I'll do the same. And if you need a sounding board in all of this then please feel free to write me. But regardless this site id a great place to get support so keep posting here and venting with whatever you feel you need to! Good Luck in your journey!
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Old 01-31-2012, 02:06 AM   #5
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Thanks for the thoughtful responses, everyone.

I am managing my bipolar disorder, I'm on Lithium and Welbutrin, a combination that has worked nicely for me for several years, and now on Cymbalta as well, which has helped depression. Actually, my mood was fantastic for a long stretch of time up to starting my doctoral program, which I'm really unhappy with... but that's another story. I used to go to weekly therapy but really can't afford it anymore so I stopped going. I feel like all I accomplished in therapy was talking about my mommy issues... I didn't need a therapist to tell me I had those, lol. She was bipolar too.

The last 4 years have been much better for me than years prior, partly because of a good mix of meds, partly because of a very supportive bf, and partly because I cut out drinking, which I was doing a lot and was making me even more nutty. But lately things feel terrible, and I don't know if it's just me having a mood swing or it's some of the new things in my work/life right now. Maybe I made the wrong choices. Or maybe I'm just sad and it would be wrong to back out now. Who knows.
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Old 01-31-2012, 07:34 AM   #6
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I'm glad you're actively managing your bipolar. When things suck it can be hard to figure out why. Does your university offer mental health services to students?
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Old 01-31-2012, 08:08 AM   #7
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If you were happy before the doctorate stop and take stock of what you have going on. Seriously consider what you want to do with the PhD and whether or not you really need it. There aren't many doctorates that bring loads of money but there are many that can drain 4-10 years of happiness or sanity. If you are pursuing the work for personal enlightenment /love of the topic, remember that you are doing exactly what you want to do even though it gets rough sometimes and enjoy the process. Take care of yourself above all else.
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Old 01-31-2012, 12:36 PM   #8
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I want to comment on your phd program. If you hate it, drop out. Screw the shame and embarrassment. It is well known that the culture within the academy artificially inflates the importance of finishing your degree and finding academic work. I would probably give more specific advice if I knew your field, but I have a phd in political science and I have so far been unable to find a tenure track job. Every year I face unemployment and uncertainty, I live 3000 miles from my husband, I have mountains of debt, and I make a paltry salary in my visiting asst. prof position. If I didn't love what I do and love my field there is NO WAY that all these sacrifices and uncertainties would be worthwhile.

Get out while you can before you sink more of your energy and personality into grad school. It gets more and more difficult to leave the longer you stay and it just isn't worth it if you don't love it. There are other things you can do in the world that are valuable and important and which will take advantage of your intelligence.
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Old 01-31-2012, 03:40 PM   #9
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Default re:

I can't tell you what to do, but I can tell you what I'd do and maybe you can take something from that, I don't know.

In regards to school - I'd finish the phd. If I had spent that much time on it, I'd finish no matter how much I hated it. I've been in graduate school too, and it sucks quite a bit of the time, but it's worth finishing.

Considering depression - If you're on those drugs, you probably understand why people are depressed physically. Serotonin levels in the brain are off. Meds fix that. They also can cause side effects of which gaining weight is one. I was on Zoloft for well over eight years and gained about 80 lbs and decided enough was enough. Depression or not, I was getting off that stuff. Of course I don't want to recommend people stopping their meds cold turkey. (brain zaps are fun) Now that I'm off them my cholesterol has dropped over 70 points, and I'm finally losing weight. Sure, I get depressed but I try to keep telling myself it's just chemicals, I can overcome that. So far I've been off for about 2 years.

Just some thoughts.


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Old 01-31-2012, 04:13 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Vex View Post
In regards to school - I'd finish the phd. If I had spent that much time on it, I'd finish no matter how much I hated it. I've been in graduate school too, and it sucks quite a bit of the time, but it's worth finishing.
.
She has only just started the PhD and depending on her field, she could have another 5-10 years to do before she gets her degree. Those are a lot of years of no real income, no retirement savings, and misery (because she doesn't enjoy it AND because that is in the nature of a phd program.) Finishing is not always the best strategy.
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Old 01-31-2012, 04:35 PM   #11
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Default re:

Like I said, it's what I'd do.

It is possible to finish an advanced degree without all those things. (debt, no savings, etc.)I also don't know what the degree is in, so I can't comment on the job outlook for it.

Here's the question I would ask myself. Twenty years from now would I regret having left the program? If that answer is yes, then stay. If not, then leave if you're unhappy.

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Old 02-01-2012, 07:57 AM   #12
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The PhD program is for cognitive neuroscience, focusing on research concerning language in children with autism.

I worked in the field doing autism research with a nonprofit org. for 2 years after I got my BA, but there was no opportunity to move up at all or get any work that was actually interesting without a higher degree (ie, even with a bachelor's they only give you clerical tasks). I had done research as an undergrad as well and really liked it, so I applied to 2 programs that would give full tuition remission and a stipend to live on (though not a lot of money by any means), and picked the one where I found the research/lab/advisor most interesting.

The thing is, I thought I would love it, but I don't-- I hate it. The classes are alright and the neuroscience ones are especially interesting as I hadn't studied extensively in the field, but designing my own research isn't as fulfilling as I thought it would be, and I can't stand any of my fellow doctoral students. I don't know what to do... I've thought about leaving the program, but everyone tells me I'll regret it if I do. In regards to the number of years, it should take 5 for me to complete it, but of course that could be longer or shorter depending on how the research goes.

Maybe I went back to school for the wrong reasons-- my job didn't challenge me enough and this would be a way to make a living and definitely get a challenge. I don't know. My mother seems to think that I just won't be happy anywhere and I'll sabotage every job or school opportunity I get because I'm smart but I'm lazy. I don't think THAT's true, but I don't know what to do.

Thanks for the input though... I've posted about this on a grad student forum and they basically all told me I was being childish and I should grow up and finish what I started. It's refreshing to hear people who are supportive, whether or not they think I should leave the program.

As of right now, my plan is to get through this semester, and maybe I'll get used to things. By then I'll have my first research program up and running subjects and I'll have my first year of classes behind me. If I'm still miserable, I'll reevaluate. But I'm afraid to leave this... what if I can't get another job, or I hate it when I do? Maybe I really WON'T be happy anywhere.

Sorry for the long post.
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Old 02-16-2012, 10:51 AM   #13
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I was in a similar situation a few years ago. When I was completing my Master's degree (less stress than a PhD I would assume) I too had battled the vicious cycle of weight gain and depression. During this particular point in my life, I was subject to a lot of stress--I had to manage school, work and home issues. As stress began to pile up so did my weight. When I started gaining weight, emotional issues also started to set in.

All the stress has caused me to become overweight, and my weight caused me to go into a spiral of depression. My weight and my depression caused me to have very low self-esteem which made weight loss seem such a great struggle. I had lost confidence in myself, my will power diminished, led me ever further into a seemingly helpless situation. Looking back I remember the feelings of helplessness staring into an abyss. I'm not a fan of pharmaceuticals but managing any condition properly has got to help.

There is a light at the end of the tunnel so stay positive! Structure and planning is what helped me, even at your darkest moments just remember it's just a stepping stone to your ideal self.

I wish you all the best.
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Old 02-25-2012, 06:06 AM   #14
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<<In regards to school - I'd finish the phd. If I had spent that much time on it, I'd finish no matter how much I hated it. I've been in graduate school too, and it sucks quite a bit of the time, but it's worth finishing..>>

I respectfully disagree. I quit a combined Master's/PhD program in biochemistry at Harvard University because I came to the realization that laboratory-based research science was not for me. Years later I quit a Master's program in music because I realized that composing ivory-tower music wasn't going to get me anywhere.

I never did get another Master's degree, but I have a thriving career as a freelance writer and many fulfilling projects on the go. To my mind, "do what you love" trumps "finish what you start" any day.

Most of us are savvy enough to tell the difference between a rough spot on the right road... and the wrong road. When something doesn't feel right, it usually isn't.

JMHO Freelance

Last edited by freelancemomma : 02-25-2012 at 06:07 AM.
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