If you’ve struggled with binge eating, food addiction or emotional eating for some time, you may find that the stresses and isolation of the quarantine have worsened your symptoms. Or you may have had other life challenges that have caused stress and overwhelm in your life. All of this can lead to depression and feelings of hopelessness or despair. It can make your battle to make peace with food and your body feel even more difficult, leading you to fall back on using food to numb your emotions or provide comfort during these trying times. But there is hope! By nourishing your spirit, you can build resilience to help replenish your resources and give you the boost you need to rise to meet the challenges in your life.
In this episode you will learn:
1. What are the causes of despair?
2. What are the symptoms of spiritual depletion and despair?
3. What are 3 actions you can take to get back on top of your game?
If you would like a free copy of Dr Ross’s Book “The Food Addiction Recovery Workbook” (We buy the book and you pay the shipping): https://www.foodaddictionrecoveryworkbook.com/free?utm_source=crpodcast
Hi everyone and welcome to the show. This is episode number 95. Don’t let the D’s depression and despair get you down. So we’re going to be talking about what it means, what despair means and why so many of us are experiencing depression and despair right now and what you can do about it. So stay tuned.
Hi everyone Dr. Carolyn here. And today I’m going to be talking with you about the D’s, I call it depression and despair. And you know, at first somebody give you a definition. Despair is the absence or loss of hope, and it is something that a lot of people are experiencing right now. So it’s, it’s basically hopelessness. Are you experiencing it? Because I know I’m talking to a lot of my patients and I know from time to time as well that I’ve been experiencing that sense of, you know, nothing matters. Why are we, why are we doing this? Why isn’t all of this over? Why are we still dealing with the pandemic? Why are we still isolated? All of those things can, you know tear us down. So if you’re experiencing that, that’s what I want to talk to you about today.
The sources of despair can be a lot of different things. It can come after a loss and you know, a lot of people have lost relatives, loved ones, coworkers during the pandemic, it can come from other natural losses, my death of a grandparent or death of a beloved pet. That’s another big one. And it can also be caused by just battling situations in your life where you just feel like you’re constantly having to fight your way out of one thing or another. And everything just seems so overwhelmingly hard. Seems like you just can’t catch a break. So if you’ve had that feeling before I’m with you, wow. I’ve had that feeling too.
So despair and depression can occur together. And they can be exacerbated by loneliness and actually 20% of all Americans are experiencing loneliness right now and this is been increasing during the pandemic quarantine. So have you lost hope then that’s the question that you want to ask yourself and that I’m asking you, if you struggled with binge eating or emotional eating or food addiction for some time, that may be another battle that just is feeling really overwhelming and kind of like, am I ever conquer this, am I ever going to get over this? And then on top of that, all the other stuff that’s happening with, whether it be in your personal life or in society can just pile on and make you feel like, wow, I just don’t even feel like trying anymore. So you may also feel that you’ve been, that you’re a failure that you’re helpless, that there’s no hope that you’ll ever be able to really get free, binge eating, compulsive over eating, emotional eating or food addiction, or maybe you’re, you’ve been on the diet, treadmill all your life. And you just, again, feel hopeless that your food and body image issues will ever change to your satisfaction. And this kind of, this train of thought, this, these feelings of being overwhelmed can negatively affect your self-esteem and your sense of self-worth. Also, you may not know that helplessness has repeatedly been shown in research to affect your overall physical and mental health and wellbeing. So if you have high levels of hopelessness and despair in your life, you’re much more likely for example, to develop high blood pressure, heart disease, or even to have a stroke. This can make you feel trapped and overwhelmed and hopelessness and despair can make it feel like it’s useless. So even work on making peace with food and with your body, or it may lead to you falling back into the same kind of default behaviors that you’ve had for some time, just, you know, feeling like, well, everything’s going to hell in a hand basket. Why should I even try and let us all just eat. So it takes a lot of courage and stamina and resilience to face all of these challenges. And I know it’s not easy. Uh, it has not been easy for me and I feel like I’m a pretty strong person.
One of my favorite authors though is Victor Frankl, who was in the Holocaust many years ago and he was, he was a psychiatrist. And he wrote a book on the meaning of life. And he said that if you have purposeful work, love and courage in the face of life’s difficulties, you life will have meaning, but you can also decrease hopelessness and despair. And I know for many of us, maybe you have purposeful life, but maybe you’re not feeling that you have enough love or connection, I think more than even love, but just connection with people because we’re many of us are still stuck in isolation or feeling afraid to really reengage with broader society because of the ongoing threats to our health. So you can find meaning in many aspects of your life, and you can also find meaning in suffering and the, and Viktor Frankl says the way in which you address suffering in your life is what gives life its meaning.
So. If your life feels out of control or you’re feeling just stressed to the max and backed into a corner with nowhere to go, I would encourage you to remember that you still have the freedom to choose how you respond to the situations that you find yourself in. And sometimes the choice is just to lay on the couch for a day and binge watch your favorite TV show. And that’s okay too. So don’t beat yourself up. If you’re not like a powerhouse of accomplishment every single day, all day, as you choose how to respond, you may have to dig deep for the courage to heal and part of that may be the caring for your self, just feeling the need to, or feeling the love for yourself, really. But even if you, if you’re not able to say that you love yourself, just feeling the need to survive and what can you do to reduce hopeless? Well, the best way to re to do that is by nourishing your spirit, hopelessness and despair come from spiritual depletion.
So I’m going to give you a little homework exercise that you can use to determine whether or not you may be experiencing spiritual depletion and what the causes of this depletion can be. So the first exercise. The say out some causes of spiritual depletion signs and see if you can identify the ones that you are currently experiencing. So are you experiencing melancholy or despair feeling tired for no reason, a lack of joy in your life, inability to make decisions, chronic negativity, addiction or abuse of food or other substances feeling alone and isolated trouble with motivation, restlessness, feeling that nothing matters. Wow. I think I can check most of those things on the list. Maybe not every single day, but a lot of days I feel all of them and some days I feel some of them, and then there are those good days that we look forward to, but just recognize those are symptoms of spiritual depletion. Okay.
The second exercise I’m going to again, read it. Causes of despair and spiritual depletion. So one cause is chronic stress things that can be chronically stressful could be illness in a loved one or in yourself. So if you’re maybe you like me, I’ve had COVID and you’re experiencing long haul symptoms. I find that incredibly difficult and challenging on an ongoing basis to still not have recovered my health fully. So other forms of chronic chronic stress could be a work-related stressors. It could be relationship stressors. It could be financial stressors and the list goes on. So if you’re experiencing chronic stress that can lead to spiritual depletion, other causes of spiritual depletion include grief or loss, chronic, sudden changes in your life and who hasn’t had those over the last two years, isolation or lack of social support, and there can be others. So nourishing your spirit is, is not something we’re taught in school or taught by our parents to do, but it should be a part of your daily routines. It shouldn’t just be something you’re thinking about or reading self-help books about. For example, you can read a book about meditation, but you don’t get the same benefit you would if you actually meditate it. So if you find yourself feeling hopeless or in despair, think back over the situation or circumstances that have led to this feeling of hopelessness or despair. Are these situations, ones that you can let go of. So maybe you didn’t get a promotion at work, or maybe you had a fight in your relationship, or maybe there was, you know, an issue in a friendship. Are these situations once you can let go of, because the more that you can let go of, honestly, let go of and say, you know what I feel I’ve said all I need to say and so I’m going to just move on from that. If you can let go of those that opens up space for you to nourish your spirit more.
If you can’t let go of those situations, you might want to seek professional counseling and there is no shame in your game. If you need to seek professional counseling, this is important for you to recognize that I know that particularly in the black community where, you know, I come from. Even in my own family, there’s a lot of resistance to seeking professional help, but you won’t, won’t know how well it helps you unless you try it. So I would encourage you to seek help. If money is a problem, look for maybe in your community. There are some community mental health clinics that offer a low-cost counseling. There’s a lot of, there are resources available and many therapists will take some discounted rates or give you a sliding scale. So don’t give up on yourself. If you can’t pay for professional counseling, seek out a minister or someone in your religious community or the counselor at school to talk to.
Journal about what you’re feeling. Make a pros and cons list about letting go, like, what are the pros, what are the cons of letting go of these past hurts or losses or other causes of despair and spiritual depletion. And then increase yourself care. Cause that will narrow. Your spirit find activities to do that. Do replenish your spirit, make you feel good about yourself. Make you feel rested. Take a nap, get a pedicure. Get a massage, take a bubble bath, take a walk in nature. Listen to music. Spend time with friends. Those are things that will definitely nourish your spirit and then using complimentary and alternative therapies. If possible, many cities have acupuncture schools where you can go and get Chinese massage to enough, it’s called, or you can get acupuncture treatments, take supplements. I’ve talked before about using adaptogens, such as ginseng, or rhodiola rosea to help deal with stress. Even fish oil can help you, your body manage stress, mindfulness, such as meditation, massage, yoga. All of those are self care measures that can help nourish your spirit.
Hopelessness and despair can be helped. And daily, small actions are the key. You do something every day, just even a little something like sitting in nature while you drink your first cup of coffee in the morning, sitting on your porch or on your patio, even if it’s only for a few minutes, each day, you will help. It will help you build a strong foundation to face all of these many challenges that most of us are facing right now, rather than having to use sandbags in the middle of a flood to stress up your depleted resources. So try out different things, practice them, and then continue to use them even before you get depleted, or maybe you feel good for one day still practice because you’ll need it the next day. Heaping your spirit nourished is the best way to avoid the pain of falling into hopelessness and despair.
I hope that helps. I know we’re all struggling right now. So there should be some, a little bit of feel, good feelings knowing that we’re all in this together, but I know there’s a lot of division right now amongst people. There’s a lot of fear, anger and hopelessness and despair. So I wanted to address it directly and I hope this has been helpful.
Thanks so much for listening to the show. I’ll be coming to you next time with episode number 96, and we’re going to be talking about something. I get a lot of questions about, which is how do I know if I have binge eating disorder or maybe I’m an emotional eater orr maybe I have food addiction. So I will be talking to you about the differences and the similarities between all of that. And in episode, number 96, coming up in two weeks. Please give us five stars for the podcast so that we can get the word out and get our rankings up. Feel free to share this podcast with anyone, you know, who may benefit from it. And finally, I just wanted to let you know my newest offer, which is for a free copy of my most recent book, the food addiction recovery workbook. So I will be paying for the book you will pay for the postage. And unfortunately, I have to say, if you live outside of the United States, because of the COVID regulations on the mail, the cost of mailing, the book has become very prohibitive. So even as much as a hundred dollars to mail to Canada or Australia. So it’s outside of the realm of possibility for this offer to work for you. And I apologize for that unfortunately, that’s out of my control. But if you live in the United States and you would like to get a free copy of the food addiction recovery, As I said, I will pay for the book. All you have to do is pay for postage and I’ve put the link to that in the show notes below.
Thanks again for listening. And I’ll see you next time for episode number 96 on the difference between binge-eating food addiction and emotional eating. Stay safe out there.