This time last year I was in love and in the process of moving to be near my boyfriend for a new teaching job. I got a place of my own, which turned out to be a good thing since he broke up with me early in my first term of teaching. Ever since then I have been having waves of depression. As I'm new to the area, I've really had to force friendships with colleagues, and I always get the feeling that they wouldn’t really care if I was around or not. I don’t have any friends outside of school at all — I keep in touch with my old friends, but it's not the same.
The only person I do have is my ex-boyfriend. His new girlfriend, however, hates that we are friends (he chose to be with her over me) so I can’t even have a normal friendship with him! I don’t love him anymore, I just want his friendship. Work has also been a challenge and I've found that with all these things going badly in my life, I have gotten into a serious cycle of binging and then starving myself. I do snap out of it every once in a while but I heavily monitor what I eat. I know that I need help to get out of the depression but my doctor was useless and told me to come back in a few months if I felt any worse! What can I do?
— Feeling Hopeless Holly
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Dear Feeling Hopeless Holly,
When we feel as though our lives are spinning out of control, it's not uncommon to establish new ways to elicit some control, usually through our bodies or eating habits. Obviously, you're really struggling right now, but it's good that you're aware of your problem and looking for help.
First and foremost, find a new psychiatrist or therapist who specializes in depression and eating disorders. Your closest health center is a great resource for locating local physicians, but I also recommend checking out the National Eating Disorders Association. In the meantime, start journaling your feelings when you're binging, starving, and every time in between. Knowing how each of these acts make you feel will help you work through them with a professional.
Oftentimes depression is best categorized by a feeling of hopelessness, so start trying to build hope for yourself. It may sound silly, but taking time each day to remind yourself that you will feel better eventually, and will one day be living the life you want for yourself can really make a difference. Sit down and think about where you really want to be and put together a list of things you can do to get there. Perhaps that means moving closer to family or meeting new people in your current community. Don't be afraid to reach out to your old friends for support — you might be surprised how people can come forward when someone needs help. But, most importantly, make that appointment to talk to someone right away.