There is an elephant in the room. It’s been here for a while – oh, you know, about 8 months – napping quietly in the corner. The other day, though, it started trumpeting loudly so I figured it was high time I quit circling and introduced you.
As I contemplated this post – and boy! there’s been endless contemplation going on – my first thought was to just swing by for a few minutes to let you know that I am still alive and that soon I’d even be kicking. You deserve better than that. You deserve to know what in the world has kept me away from here for the best part of 4 months – and 3 months without a single peep save a post full of numbers, bold, and underlining. I most certainly did not intend to be gone so long. I’ve missed you enormously. There hasn’t been a day gone by where I haven’t thought about you, wanted desperately to just get back to my usual blogging schedule, and chastised myself for having failed you – yet again – by not writing. Or cooking. Or eating. Or shooting stuff.
So what’s been up with all the MIA around here? Because you know that I would never just abandon you without so much as a farewell or a toodle-pip. It’s just that I’ve been busy. I spent the summer curled up in a ball on the couch with a cacophony of cats watching House, MD. From start to finish – all 3 billionty episodes – Season 1 to Season 8. Entire weekends passed in a haze of medical jargon, sexual innuendo, and fancying the pants off of Jesse Spencer. (Jesse, if you’re reading this I’m available.) And oh! how I related to Gregory House: his misery, his loneliness, his genius, and his ever-present mental anguish. I watched more television this summer than I have in the last 30 years. Yep, it’s been rather strange around here. I don’t even like television. I don’t even have television. And yet, television filled my summer.
It wasn’t just all TV and no play though. There were errands strewn amongst the fictitious medical drama marathons – just enough to keep the house standing, the car running, the bills paid, and the kitties healthy. Talking of kitties – they thought this was the BEST. SUMMER. EVER. They were most disappointed when the last episode of Season 8 saw House and Wilson riding off into the sunset.
So what in the world would inveigle the girl that writes entire cookbooks in 5 weeks, builds kitchens, and regularly road trips around the country – all while also working a full-time day-job – slump on the couch, stare aimlessly at a screen for days on end, spend every other possible minute sleeping, and then have the gall to say, “I’ve been busy.” ???
Well, here’s where you get to meet The Elephant. While you may perceive that I have just spent the last 3 months being staggeringly lazy, what I was very busy doing while all this couch-surfing and napping was going on was keeping myself alive. House was an engaging distraction and sleep rendered me unconscious – excellent tricks as it turned out. I am still here.
Let’s back up.
It’s been a little over 8 months since my adrenal glands shut up shop. 8 months! I don’t even know where the time goes. At the same time as my adrenal glands went on strike, something in my brain broke, and for the last 8 months I have battled an unrelenting and enormous depression. For the past 6 I’ve been near-constantly suicidal. It’s been hard. Ok, ok. It’s been f***ing awful.
Life is certainly different from 8 months ago – my adrenals and my brain going down simultaneously caused me to commit to being hardcore *SANE. It was imperative that I did whatever I could to heal my body, and as you know if you followed my earlier series of posts, I transformed my body into a lean, mean, healthy machine, reaping the rewards of that over and over ever since. If you watched my video, you’ll hear me gushing excitedly about being a new woman and how fantastic I feel, physically. But there was one thing that steadfastly refused to partake in the transformation: my brain.
When my brain failed to respond to the SANE lifestyle that had healed the rest of my body I looked for other answers. I tried all the supplements, drank all the brain-curing oils, and focused on eating all the things The Internet swears will halt depression in its tracks. Nada. They switched up my meds – changed the dosage up and down, added new ones, added even more new ones, stopped some and started others, and then stopped them all. Nope, nope, and nope. Still my brain relentlessly filled my head – hour after hour, day after day – with thoughts of death: sweet, peaceful relief.
Positive thinking was a complete impossibility – those neuron pathways were simply gone. No matter the upbeat, loving self-talk I repeated over and over and over in my mind, it was no match for the streams of dire hopelessness and darkness that cursed through my grey matter. I buried myself in psychology and self-help books and videos, continually read and re-read your emails and comments and Facebook posts telling me I am valuable and how much I have helped you, talked my therapist into a coma, and my psychiatrist into therapy. I changed jobs, stayed away from negative, mean, or angry people, stopped reading the news, and endeavored to banish every last thing that was causing me stress. Nothing gave me relief. Not one damn thing. I thought I was losing my mind. Many times I almost lost the battle. And my life.
I have been on constant high alert, and had a bevy of friends at the ready all hours of the day and night – both here, across the US, and in England to cover more time zones. I’ve slept with my cell phone, run to friends houses when I couldn’t trust myself to be alone, and stayed at work until it was time to go to bed. Weekdays were manageable – long days surrounded by colleagues with plenty of engaging work that denied my noggin any opportunity to derail me. If I was going to die it was going to be alone. The weekends were a different story – until I discovered that an inordinate amount of sleep and back-to-back episodes of House, interspersed with just enough errands to keep the wheels on the bus would get me through to the next Monday when I could escape to the office at the crack of dawn.
I had to forcibly drag myself to do anything. I’d lost all joy. I’d lost all desire. Nothing gave me even the slightest hint of pleasure. Being awake was torturesome. Nothing had a purpose, everything was pointless, and life had no meaning. I felt like I was walking in a long, dark tunnel that I already knew had no opening at the other end. I was just waiting to die – and I hoped every day that day would be my last.
It was desperately excruciating looking into the future and imagining having to live another 20 or 30 or 40 years with this unremitting torment. Even one more day seemed impossible to endure. What if this was how the rest of my life was going to be? What if I never felt joy again? What if I never felt passionate again? What if I never wrote another blog or created another recipe or went on another road trip? What if this was it?? I simply could not survive.
And yet here I am.
The Elephant? He doesn’t seem nearly so big now, but there’s a lot more for me to say. I hope you’ll stay around for the sequel. It’s so much better when you’re here too.
SuzanneThank you so much for sharing, Carrie.
I have been feeling this exact way for so long now, even though I started therapy and meds a few months ago. Thinking about continuing on like this for, as you say, the next 40 years or so, is just more than I can handle. Reading or hearing about people who have died, I think about how I am wasting my life and wishing it away while that person would probably appreciate another chance. Most days I look at my life as I would a book or some other tangible thing – I’m not using it, so wouldn’t it be nice if I could give it to someone else to use instead?
On a drive to hang with family today, I could not call to mind anything at all that currently brings me joy. Once I got there I interacted with my family while feeling numb, squirmy, sweaty, nervous, and like a total loser in general. I don’t know how or when I will come out of this, but reading your story at least lets me know that I am not alone. I do not wish this on anyone though, and am so very sorry for your pain.
Dr Mike KeenThat’s called moving forwards….I’m tipping my titfa at you mate….use the feeling if you can/want, know that the potential to feel was/is there….use it in better health!
TonyaLove you Carrie! You are enough and you serve a huge purpose!
SimoneI honour your honesty and acknowledge your pain. Take very good care of you, there are many of us out here in internet-land who would miss you a lot if you took yourself away. I’ve been there too and the only thing that stopped me from doing the job permanently was a promise I made to my dear Mother, 30 years ago. I’m very glad I’m still here and that you are too. Sending you kind, healing blessings all the way from Australia xxx
No-Egg KatiOh Carrie, I have missed you so dearly. Seeing a post from you gave me an instant smile, as much as it made me weep for your pain, and I would give you all that I could in return for the bits of your soul you have shared with us. I know your pain – every day since I was a child, and that’s been a while – I turn 40 in 2 months. Words never do it justice, especially to someone who has never been in it. Please know that words are also insufficient to explain how much you mean to all of us, the strangers across the globe who love you, cheer for you, and revel in your successes. You inspire us to be better. You inspire us to embrace change. You inspire us to cook with leeks! So please, when you feel alone and empty, come here and read the words we leave for you to try to express our love and appreciation for who you are and all you do. You have hugs waiting for you in every corner of the planet, so whenever you need help, let us help hold you up. We are here, and we love you!
FiOh Carrie, keep going, one day at a time. It will get better-start House from episode 1 again,that’s what I did when I finished it!! (Big crush on Hugh Laurie here!!).
You have so much going for you, depression is such a cruel illness, it robs you of so much (although thankfully I’ve not experienced it as severely as you, thank goodness… And touch wood…!).
But please keep talking to us about it, and treating yourself kindly, and allow healing to happen.
Lots of love from across the pond xxx
FrancescaKeep blogging about this if it helps you – it helps others that’s for sure, it may even save someone’s life.
Depression is treatable, life can get better – and you know this intellectually from your past experiences. I’m sad that you are in such a dark, bleak place and truly wish for healing for you. Come back to us soon, you have friends you’ve never met.
I hope you receive strength from the loving responses coming to you from all over the world. This one is also from Australia. x
SYLVIACarrie, you are so inspirational in everything you do, from creating awesome recipes to being a great co-host to Jonathan on his podcast to writing great blogs and wonderful recipe books. It takes great courage to recognise that you have depression and to be able to write about it so honestly.
Like No-egg Kati mentioned above, seeing your blog brought a smile to my face too, just knowing you are still here.
Hang in there girl. You have so much love and support from all your readers and listeners.
We love you dearly.
Sending you great, big HUGS! (Also from ‘downunder’)
Leanda KayessCarrie, Have any of your team of professional health carers tested you for a condition called pyroluria? It is prevalent in many mental conditions including depression. It means your body doesn’t process vit b6 and zinc properly, and because of this, a chronic deficiency in these 2 essential nutrients results. It can be triggered and worsened by stress. It is treated with large doses of b6 and zinc (under supervision to get dosage right). I have tested positive and have recently started treatment. My mood has improved and I’m less sensitive to things that would trigger me normally. My naturopath had me tested after cleaning up my diet and other measures where not restoring my zest for life. I don’t think my dosage is right yet, but need to work up to it slowly. I suggest it to you as it’s helping me. Big hugs.
Philippa HuttonDear Carrie, you are such an inspiration and help to so many people. I hope you find the help you need.
teilzeitDAUlost for words. :(
thinking about you and hoping you will get through this (i know you can!!). you mean so much to us, Carrie, please don’t ever give up. <3
DieannaCarrie……you’re and an amazing, strong, dedicated and courageous woman that is dealing with a terrible disease. My heart and soul go out to you as you battle this depression. I am so proud of you for being honest with yourself and all of us and continuing to move forward. You are so very talented with your cookbooks, blogs, photos and podcasts with Bailor. I enjoy all of them immensely. I am SO happy to see you back, have missed you and reading about your life and travels and kitties!! If you ever need someone to talk/listen don’t hesitate to email or call. Love and hugs to you!! I am here for you as so many others are!! Keep moving forward Carrie
Amy G.Sending you healing thoughts, Carrie, and hoping that your neurochemistry sorts out so that what’s true is what your brain is telling you as well. I’m glad you found a foothold to stay with us in the tv show– sometimes escaping painful reality by immersing ourselves in something else is just the thing to do, and I am glad you found something that works. Keep taking care of yourself! You are cherished out here in the world… please don’t give up on us, because we won’t give up on you.
SherryCarrie, we are kindred souls. I’ve been on meds for horrible depression since my early 20s. Without them I have the energy and personality of a rock. Hell, I don’t even have the energy to kill myself ;). On meds, no one knows unless I tell them, and then they are shocked. “You are so smiley” “you are so excited about everything” Hold on. You will find the right combination and you will feel good again. I promise.
Honey, I love you and I admire you, and because of that I’m going to take a risk. I wouldn’t be much of a Christian if I didn’t. Many people believe death would be a relief, but if you are not friends with Jesus, what awaits on the other side is the exact opposite of relief. He loves you; always has and always will. He makes this life AND the next so much better :) Ask him to be your friend and be a part of your life. He doesn’t make all the hard times go away, but he does soften the edges and wraps us with a blanket of hope. <3
AnneCarrie dearest friend to so many-
You have put into your beautiful and frank words so much of what I know people struggle with, yet I have no experience with myself. After the suicides of several local young adults and, of course, Robin Williams generated conversations about depression, I still did not understand the feeling of hopelessness and despair. I thank you for your ability to give voice to that, for your courage in doing so publicly, and for your perseverance in saving yourself. I wish I could DO something for you, as you have done so much for me. I selfishly beg of you to keep trying to fight for finding the you that finds joy in your travels, photography, your furry family, and in your gifted writing.
Patsy DuncanSome things are too big for you to try and “handle” or fix on your own. What is your spiritual health like? Do you believe in God? Have you turned this whole situation over to Him and surrendered your will and life to the care of God? Just sayin, maybe it’s time to surrender this problem to God and ask for His help. Not judging, just saying what ALWAYS works for me. Btw- I have depression too.
SusanIt’s difficult to find the words. I have been where you are and the only thing I can say, yes, there is light at the end of the tunnel. You are truly a blessing and I hope everything is bright and beautiful for you now and forever.
JanCarrie……everyone has a purpose in life including you! You have allot of friends all over the world that Love You. Look at these comments we all wish for your depression to lift and for you to start living again! Keep fighting, we are all behind you to start enjoying life again.
jylI also suffer with major depression. No mania but as far as I understand the depression I experience is as difficult to treat as it is in many with mania. It’s a relief to know that I’m not alone. It’s a relief to know you’re alive. Thank you for letting us know. Thank you for sharing this struggle. Thank you for being honest.
So sorry to hear about your depression. I went through the same thing a couple of years ago, although I didn’t get to the point of suicidal before finding out what the problem was. I had been on Levothyroxine, which is the T4 for my thyroid, but I needed T3 and after adding that, I was fine after 2 days. I would urge you, if you you haven’t had a complete panel done of your thyroid, to get to a naturopathic or functional medical doctor ASAP.
SarahYou bring so much joy to so many people the world over, Carrie. We are all rooting for you (okay, I know that in England that has a different meaning…but you’ve lived in America long enough to know what I mean!).
I look forward to reading your next post, whenever that is. When you write about your depression, it not only helps people who struggle with it. It also helps those of us who love people who struggle with it. I’ve found it very difficult to know what to do for my friends with depression, and I am so happy to see that you have enlisted the help of your friends as you go through this. I’ll be it means as much to them as it does to you, that you would reach out.
LizWho knows why we are given the obstacles that come our way? And no, I am NOT calling them “opportunities” even though, I have no doubt, there is plenty to learn from them. My challenge is different, but i am sorry that depression is your burden to bear. I am grateful that you chose to make it through One.More. Day. I hope that unexpectedly and graciously the dark clouds will part, and joy will once again reside in you. Your kitties are waiting to share that day with you. And so are we. Thank you for what you have shared with us thus far.
Allison ShermanI admire you so much for putting your soul on display and opening up to the entire world with your honest feelings. That takes some serious GUTS, girl! That same bravery exists in your fight against your depression. It will get better! You will prevail! We all want to walk with you in this journey! Stick around, we’ve all got a lot of learning to do.
PS: Once you are done with House you might try Breaking Bad. It’s entirely engrossing and makes you glad you don’t have HIS life! Balance it out with the lighthearded but cussing-filled comedy of VEEP and it makes for one great weekend on the couch. I speak from experience! Just think, you can’t go yet, you have a lifetime of TV to catch up on! So many great shows and you get to skip the commercials!!! That’s reason enough to stick around!
PSS: We looooove you. Never forget that. We would miss you. Definitely never forget that.
ElizabethJust found you and Jonathan yesterday and subscribed. So sorry were down and out and things are getting better for you. Please use this as a sign that this is time for change, whether mentally or a new avenue to take. I’ve been to dark places. Yuck! Have you watched the podcast/youtube vid with Jonathan and George Bryant? If not, please do.
DeidreHugs across the miles, Carrie! Your frank openness is saving lives right now! Thank you on behalf of those too numb to do it for themselves! Keep holding on to your rapid-response team and keep reading our responses to you; all filled with love for you! You have a purpose not only for others, but for yourself. You count. Love is a circle; feel it wrap around you! We felt it through your brave words today. What’s it all about? Love.
BelindaThinking of you with love. The brain is a strange thing and I wish we knew how to regulate these moods better. Your writing is an encouragement. You are a brilliant being, Carrie. I hope that reaching out and sharing helps you.
EmilyHow brave of you to share your pain with us. I hope this bravery is your first step back to health. We are all here for you.
JillDepression. Sucks. Thank you for sharing your elephant. If we all got together we’d have a whole herd and they could play together! Please be patient. I think the fact you wrote this blog shows there is a slight light at the end of the tunnel. And if not now, there will be. Just hang on.
KendraI have struggled with this very thing most of my life, I found that being honest about it was better than hiding it. Two years ago I was constantly thinking of a way out of what I thought was a complete failure of an existence. No drug, drink or remedy made a difference . My faith in God and intensive therapy helped me to stay alive the rest takes time and perseverance. I am thankful for you and your delicious creations in food!! I have lost 45 pounds since February this year due to finding The Calorie Myth and you and Mr. Bailor!! You and your complete story Carrie has and can better another’s life!!! God bless you!!! Prayers and peace my friend
BeckyI… am….very… happy you are still here! I hope that you will continue to be here for many, many years to come. My Elephant is pretty small and quiet now but it has it’s days where it wants to rear it’s ugly head…. I can sympathize. Hugs to you, Carrie.
LindaCarrie, you are both brave and generous to share your story of depression. I have had a bout of it myself some year ago. I adore your voice and sense of humor with Jonathan on the podcasts and videos. Please know that you have LOTS of folkspraying for you and cheering you on!! Don’t give up or give in!
LisaBlessings Carrie! I too have had depression in my life. Never to the point of not wanting to be here anymore…….but when I think back on those times of darkness I can’t imagine them being any worse! Please, please, please find yourself a naturopath (I’ve been seeing one for years now – never thought my adrenals would ever heal, but they have). Obviously, we all know that depression at its core is brain chemistry……..a naturopath can help you find natural tinctures/herbal remedies that will help. Also you may want to have your zinc levels checked. Mine were “in the ditch” which with supplementation has also helped. We all LOVE you……I know that just saying that doesn’t really register in the brain at times like this (I can hear my brain saying yeah, yeah, yeah) but when the darkness lifts you’ll know.
MareeDear God, What a trial you have been through. Always know that you are loved and loved dearly. Your suffering will end and you will look back at this time in your life and remember how strong and resilient you were and are. You have courage in spades. Carrie, I salute your brave self.
AnnThinking of you. Sorry it’s been bad. Hope it keeps getting better… A little each day as you bask in the beauty of your awesome surroundings, and the love and caring of your friends and followers.
RobynSending much love Carrie!
JennyThinking about you and sending you love and comfort.
MishaOne of the best things you could do, is talk about it. Depression wants to keep it’s prey captive and secluded so no one and no thing can touch you or bring any light or any truth to you. You have done an incredibly brave thing by posting this! And you are fighting the beast! You are certainly in my prayers, as I know how incredible isolating depression can feel… And how overwhelming the sadness can be. Keep fighting! Much love to you!
KimCarrie – Please know that you are adored by many who have never met you but feel like we are your close friends. We would all be devastated if anything were ever to happen to you. I’m thinking positive thoughts for ….your thoughts.
JennaI love you
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