Suffering with depression can be lonely and exhausting. Mental difficulty can draw such mental and physical energy that it can be hard to keep motivation up in recovery. Yet despite what depression may tell you, you are not defined by it – it isn’t your whole self. This blog explores why you are so much more than your thoughts…

Depression is more than a state of feeling sad or low. It can be a crippling experience of hopelessness, demotivation and numbness.

Depression is a mental health condition that causes an individual to feel in a low mood for a period of time, with associated feelings of worthlessness, guilt, shame, or even suicidal ideation.

Often, individuals who have depression, lose interest in daily activities or lose touch and connection with themselves and others; tasks such as socialising or even showering can seem difficult to fulfil, as the depression influences a lack of self-regard and self-worth. Sadly, this can sometimes be externally mistaken for the individual being “lazy” or “rude” – which can serve to fuel the depression as it can validate an internal critical voice. This is why depression and depressive symptoms should be treated when spotted, and treated with compassion.

For anyone living with a mental illness, it is important to keep in mind it is not your fault for feeling the way you feel. There are many variables that can cause someone to suffer from depression. Some people’s biological makeup makes them more susceptible to experiencing depression, and for others, depression can be an emotional response to events in life.

What is important to note is the difference between feeling low and experiencing depression. A low mood will eventually pass, whereas we have often heard depression can feel ‘stagnant’. This is why depression and eating disorder recovery can be tricky – as how can you feel motivated in recovery when your brain tells you otherwise?

We invite you to flip this perspective: how can my recovery motivate my brain to find myself again?

Depression and eating disorder recovery

As we’ve discussed previously, eating disorders are not about the food. There is no one single cause of an eating disorder, rather, a combination of social, genetic and psychological factors that can contribute. Many professionals consider them to be a maladaptive (but protective) coping mechanism: disordered thoughts and actions that arise in response to challenging circumstances lead to compulsions that overtake daily life. As referenced above, mental health conditions such as anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) or depression can factor alongside an eating disorder diagnosis.

‘As for eating disorders, successive studies do seem to show that depression can be a factor in both the onset and continuation of the illness, with a high proportion of people with eating disorders also having a history of depression.’ Lynn Crilly, Hope with Eating Disorders

You are not your thoughts.

If you are reading this coming from a place of resonation, know that you are welcome here. You are not judged and your depression does not need to define you.

Last year, Pippa, Orri’s Head of Creative and Somatic Therapies, talked about making friends with our emotions: “What’s important to remember is that we are not our emotions – we ‘experience’ emotions. This is a small but significant shift in perception. Instead of viewing emotions as ‘good’ or ‘bad’, over time, we can start to view emotions as messages from the body that serve as a compass or internal guide.”

This is why in treatment and talking therapy, we compassionately come alongside our clients as we invite them to gently lean into what their bodies are telling them, as to further uncover what is behind the emotional experience of their eating disorder. This is a slow, gradual process, as we can often feel very ‘cut off’ from our bodies at first.

A few months ago, we reached out to our Instagram online community for their recovery tips when faced with self-critical thoughts or difficult days in recovery. If you are seeking peer support from those who understand, read on:

  • Your thoughts are not facts. The fact is you are here
  • You are understood and find people who care
  • Make sure you have a safe space to go to reflect on your thoughts
  • This is a day that will pass. You can make it to tomorrow!
  • Recovery is hard but what is harder is continuing feeling this way
  • Your eating disorder does not tell the truth – your recovery can help you find your inner truth

Do you have a recovery tip to add to this list? If so, share it with us! Alternatively, if you wish to share your experience of depression and eating disorder recovery, you can Write for us here.

You deserve to live a life free from your eating disorder, filled with peace and joy. If this feels difficult for you right now and you want to talk to someone, we welcome you to get in touch. You can call our Admissions team or complete the form below.

Do you have any questions? Get in touch with us!