The Comeback – Working to Rise Above a Life Long Struggle w/ Depression & Anxiety While Living a Healthy Life

My name is Merry Cain, and if you didn’t know I have been suffering with depression and anxiety my entire life.  I don’t remember a time in my life where I felt like I was enough, that I didn’t struggle with who I was as a person, that I didn’t feel at least somewhat alone in this world, that I felt comfortable in my own body, that I felt that I deserved to be loved.  I’ve spent many years seeing a psychologist working through my issues in therapy and a psychiatrist trying different medicines to help with my chemical imbalance.

There are moments in life when everything seems to fall apart {at least in your own mind}. My depression is a constant battle of staying away from emotional peaks because there is always a crash, and avoiding the emotional valleys because they are hard as hell to pull yourself out of.   At times I have fought so hard to stay away from both that it left me with no emotions at all, just a walking shell of a person trying to stay a float.  Sometimes it feels like you have no control over yourself and that can be utterly frustrating.

I struggle even more with the fact that I feel like I have absolutely no reason to have the emotions that I do. I live a wonderful life that I have worked my ass off for. Nothing, and I mean NOTHING has been handed to me. If I have it then it’s because I earned it.Let me give you a little background… I was valedictorian at my high school graduation. I walked away from a full ride scholarship and joined the Marine Corps (CRAZY right). I’ve been married for almost 13 years and we have a beautiful 7 year old daughter. My parents are still alive and support and love me. I have a kickass brother, sis in law, and niece that I don’t get to see enough. I have a Sabrina, and everybody needs one of those. I earned a bachelors degree summa cum laude in Finance and Management completing most of this while I was in the USMC. I earned my MBA about 3 years ago while being a wife, mother, and working full time. I have a beautiful home full of stuff {cause that’s all it really is}.

I bet you are wondering… “What’s this bitch got to complain about?”  All I can say is.. “I know right” and THAT’S why this struggle feels insignificant to me.  I have a wonderful husband who puts up with my crap and everything that comes with these emotional peaks and valleys. I have a smart sassy daughter who is just like me and that scares me to death.  She is the kindle to the fire that is my soul.  When all else fails I can look to her and my heart warms.  I have family that I love, but don’t reach out to nearly enough.  The older I get the more I find myself hiding inside myself.  It’s not something I do on purpose.  I find it hard to make friends, and have more friends online than I do in “real life.”  I live in a constant state of fear that I am going to lose everything I have ever worked for.   I’m not sure that I could ever explain to you why I do this or why I feel the way I feel.  I just DO.  Call it a chemical imbalance if you will.  I just call it ‘my life.’

I won’t go into my life growing up because I’m not the only individual in that story.  It doesn’t seem fair to share dirty laundry or even regular laundry when it impacts others.  What I can say is that I TRULY believe that my parents did the best they could with what they were capable of giving.  We all have issues, and I can only hope that when Lacey is my age she can look back and say the same about me.  I am truly doing the best I can with what I have to give both emotionally and physically.

I bet you are wondering what all this has to do with my fitness journey.  My depression and anxiety are what started this journey for me almost two years ago now.  I hit my highest weight partially due to my depression (an emotional eater who never worked out) and the medication changes trying to help with one of those MAJOR valleys I was in.  The weight gain completely exasperated the situation, and finally I came to point where action had to be taken.  Many of you have followed me on my journey over the last 2 years and have seen the changes first hand.  {Thank you for that BTW}.

This struggle with depression and anxiety is what brings me back to that point now.  I’m already an anxiety ridden introvert, but when those valleys hit it spirals.  My poor husband; I have NO idea how he has put up with this roller coaster ride for so long.  I can’t always feel the valley coming on. It can be sharp decline or a gradual one.  Since it’s always there sometimes it takes me a bit to realize that it’s getting worse.  Most recently it felt gradual.  I guess it started before my birthday this year.  I can’t pinpoint a moment or an event when the decline started.  Hell I didn’t even realize how bad it was until I noticed I had gained 20 lbs (yes in two months) and could easily stay in bed every single second.  When it gets bad I drown myself in fanfiction (yes I embarrassingly just put that out there).  I was utterly exhausted, and couldn’t figure out why.  (UM DUH!)

Looking back now I can see the signs.  As depression starts to grab my heart I find myself struggling with energy.  I feel completely and utterly alone in the world without worth or value. I don’t want to cook.  I don’t want to clean.  I don’t want to move (although I can say I was still exercising at least).  I don’t want to be present. I want to hide from myself, my family, and the world.  That is exactly what I did.

It starts out small with picking up fast food and before you know it you can’t remember the last time you cooked (does grilled cheese count?).  I’m ashamed to say during this time I can remember getting Arby’s on my lunch break (eating out almost daily), sitting in the car in the parking lot where no one can see and stuffing my face.  I remember rationalizing what I was doing as I ate and trying to make myself believe it was okay.  Once the cordon bleu sandwich or whatever I indulged in that day, large curly fries, and unsweetened tea (yay for something) were gone I can, also, remember the shame that I felt.  There were moments when I wanted to make myself sick to purge my body to make it okay and rid myself of the disappointment.  I didn’t, but the feeling was there all too often.  It was no longer about giving my body the nutrition that I needed, but living for that small moment of satisfaction that food gives me. 

My poor husband and daughter as I walk around trying to keep my head up.  Probably seeing what I can’t see for myself.  If it wasn’t for them things would have been much worse. I didn’t even realize how bad it was until I realized that I wasn’t leaving my house except to go to work.  I was going through the motions, but that was it.

Finally near the end of last month I started to see a light at the end of the tunnel.  I feel like I’m climbing back out of the dark valley I fell into, and am fighting to get back to some semblance of normal. About two weeks ago I started eating right and working out with the 21 Day Fix, drinking my Shakeology (that never stopped so at least I know my body was getting some of what it needed), and filling my mind with the personal development that I know it needs.

When I took my “before” pictures I didn’t even allow myself to look at them.  I didn’t want to see how far I had truly fallen on my journey so they sat in my phone until last Monday when I did my first comparison.  When I did put those pictures side by side what I felt was SHAME.  Completely ashamed at how I let my depression pull me back to the beginning of my journey.  Embarrassed because as a “coach” I felt like it shouldn’t have happened.  I sat at my desk crying as I built that comparison.  My brain starting to fall back to “your progress isn’t good enough, the pose isn’t the exact same, your pants aren’t sitting in the same place, etc.” Then I stopped myself…

I have absolutely no control over the past or the fact that this happened.  I can’t change it, but I can move forward.  It was at that moment that I realized I NEEDED to share this with you.  I don’t share this for sympathy or as a “whoa is me”.  I share this with you because I know that YOU can relate to this in some way.  How I felt looking at my starting point is the exact same feeling that my challengers feel on some scale when they get started.  These emotions that I felt over the past few months are very well may be something that you may have felt or MAY even be feeling right this very moment.

So here I am… sharing my journey with you… my shame, my embarrassment, and my enlightenment in hopes that you can recognize something inside yourself and realize that you can make a change too.  That you read this and make the decision to not let your demons hold you back from whatever you want whether that be the beginning of your fitness journey or something else completely unrelated.

Next Tuesday for #TransformationTuesday I will be sharing my before and after pictures from completing the 21 Day Fix.  Week 2 ended yesterday and I won’t be taking pictures this week.  I’m scared out of mind to see my final transformation, but no more so than I am by sharing this story.  I literally want to vomit right now, but if this post helps just ONE person I know it will be worth the anxiety I am currently feeling.  No matter what my results are next week I know that I’m already in a better place, and I have a game plan for the future. 

Thank you for reading.  Thank you for listening.  Thank you for being on this ride with me.  Having you be apart of it is truly a blessing.

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6 thoughts on “The Comeback

  1. Jennifer Baumgardner

    I pretty much feel like you just wrote my life’s story. I have battled depression for a long time and I have often if not always at times used food as a crutch. I know you were anxious about putting yourself out there but hopefully it felt a little exhilarating as well. Kudos to you on your progress and I hope you continue to do well!

    1. merrythemarine

      Jennifer! It makes me SO sad to hear that you have struggled to, and continue to struggle. Thank you for your support and allowing me to be a part of your journey! Depression and anxiety are such taboo topics that so many people don’t feel comfortable talking about it. On a high level I have in the past, but this really did put things out there that I was very anxious about. You are RIGHT though! It absolutely feels great to get it off my chest and to know that I am not the only one with this battle. You are awesome! Keep fighting and I am here if you need me!

  2. Jayleigh tooley

    We grew up together. We grew apart. But what you have struggled with for years I have too. In high school I was a cutter. Releasing my anxiety through pain. My parents didn’t know until my early twenties. Then by 22 I had my first baby which literally saved my life. I’m so proud of you for sharing your story. It brought me to tears to know that someone so close to me has gone through the same things. You are truly are an inspiration. Keep up your wonderful jouney! I’m do blessed to know someone as strong as you are!

    1. merrythemarine

      OH girl!! I had NO idea. Isn’t that the crazy thing? We see people from the outside and think they have it all. Then when you truly SEE a person you see their struggles and hardships, worries and fears. I am SO sorry to know that you had these struggles! It breaks my heart! Just know that you are NOT alone! We are NOT alone, and I am here if you ever need to chat!

  3. Dawn Pant

    Merry –

    I feel as though you wrote my life story. I can’t remember not struggling with anxiety and depression. The struggle is real and I can’t thank you enough for sharing your journey! I feel less alone in this world of demons ☺ I too am a coach and fear sharing my true self with the public. I can truly relate. Your story has give me much needed encouragement so that I can, with all hope, find my strength to be so open and honest. Thank uou and God bless you!

    1. merrythemarine

      Dawn – Thank you so much for your kind words. I struggled for days on whether or not to share this. I’ve shared on a high level that I suffer from depression and anxiety, but this is an ENTIRELY different level. What made me decide was hoping that it would help someone else. The amount of people that have reached out to me on here, instagram, facebook, and via message has brought me to tears. I am thankful that this helped you in some way. Start out small sharing if you have to, but just know that you are not alone!

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