Monday, July 30, 2012

The weekend birthday party (with a picture of me in my bathing suit)

Mark's 50th birthday party was Saturday.  It was a very full weekend. 

His brother, sister, & niece and their families came into town (from Colorado and Indianapolis) Friday night and surprised him at 9:30 pm by ringing the doorbell and singing happy birthday.  Mark was completely surprised and it was fun to pull that off.  Everything went as I'd hoped, and he had a fun night and a happy and surprising weekend.

Saturday at the pool party we had a lot of family and friends come that Mark hadn't seen in ages, so that was very special (about 50 people total, including kids). 

I didn't have to do anything but show up--the club's pool manager did it all, including having the drinks there and ordering the cake and pizza, and she even served the drinks and food!  So I got to mingle and relax.  It was the best way to do a big party like this. And the weather was PERFECT.  We were truly blessed with the one nice day we've had in weeks falling on Saturday.

I was thankful I had been sugar-free and eating healthy for a week and a half before the party, because it made a big difference in how I looked and felt.  I wore my swimsuit for the second half of the party (it was 3 hours long) and felt OK in it. 

I didn't eat cake or pizza, and I felt ok with that, too. 

Saturday, though, was a maxed-out, extrovert kind of day.  Lots of people, all day and all night long.  Mark's brother and his girlfriend stayed with us Friday, Saturday, and Sunday night.  Sunday I was cooked.  I didn't leave the house.  I did a couple loads of laundry, took a shower, cooked a meal, and that was pretty much it.

I also ate a Hershey bar and one mini Famous Amos cookie. 

The chocolate was a big time "after" reaction. The cookie tasted awful, which was weird.  I didn't want anything else after that cookie.  I don't know why the chocolate bar didn't trigger a full blown binge, but it didn't. 

I'm very thankful I didn't overdo it.  It had nothing to do with will power, I can tell you that.  I don't know why there wasn't a binge.  I'm just glad it didn't happen.

I'm trying to get back to normal today. We have a fridge full of healthy food, leftover from food we supplied for Mark's vegan brother & girlfriend.  So that's a good thing and at least something I won't have to work on for a couple of days.

I do still have some "afters" going on today--the "let down" kind.  I'm melancholy and listless.  I have a ton of work to do at home to clean up after the slothful Sunday and after house guests.  Mark's actual birthday is tomorrow, and while we aren't doing anything other than buying cards for him, we are going to dinner tomorrow night at Bonefish and I have to figure out how I'm going to handle that.  Plenty of healthy stuff, but also plenty of pitfalls I need to avoid.

I did run 3 times last week, in preparation for my October race. I only got 2 miles in on Saturday morning because I went out too late and the sun was blisteringly hot. But I was happy I got out there at all.

Much work still to do to be stable.  Week 3 is always the hardest for me.  I get bored with the good-for-me food.  I stop feeling the immediate benefits of the diet change.  I start thinking about how hard it is to be "good" and how daunting it seems to have to do this for the rest of my life. 

So I need to be extra careful with myself this week.  I guess writing a blog post on Monday is a good start.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

What I'm doing better now, and Proverbs 24 (170.8)

So I'm 100% better than I was a few weeks ago. 

This I can attribute to 1) lowering my dose of lamotrigene, 2) eliminating added sugar and as much processed food from my diet as possible, 3) eating fruits and vegetables every day, 4) taking vitamins and supplements again.

The medication was a big factor in how I was feeling.  On Monday my p-doc and I decided to keep lamtorigene at the lower dose of 75 mg and add 150 mg of wellbutrin.  I wasn't going to go back on an SSRI, but I had still been feeling some depression and knew I needed a boost.  Even if it only works a year or two (which has been the pattern in the past), well at least I've had that year or two.  And I'll figure out what's next when it stops working.

It is frankly scary how much clearer and stable I feel without so much sugar in my body.  The scary part is being able to see--since I'm on the other side of it--how much sugar affects my brain and my mood when it's a staple of my diet.

The physical cravings for sugar are gone right now; the mental/habitual cravings are not.  I still have thoughts of chocolate at specific times of day. And I often have to catch myself from not putting something in my mouth (like the mint lifesavers at the reception desk or the hot tamales we have at home) without thinking.

When you get rid of processed, all that's left is whole foods.  Thankfully it's fabulous fruit season and I am awash in delicious, low calorie "sugar substitutes" with affordable raspberries, strawberries, blueberries, and cantaloupe.  I have 2-3 servings a day.  It helps compensate for the lack of sugar and when I'm craving chocolate, I've been eating berries.  It might be more fruit than I need but for now it's OK.

I've been having one big meal a day--rice, beans/lentils, veggies of some kind, salsa, avocado, cilantro (combined this is an amazing dish)--and then eating fruit and veggies at the other meals.  Most nights I will have a cup of milk before bed.  Kay Shepherd's food plan calls for a serving of milk & a fruit before bed.  I think it helps keep the carb cravings away.

I haven't taken my calcium, fish oil, multi-vitamin, and glucosamine regularly for months. I think mostly I stopped b/c it was just too much effort--a symptom of the depression.  I started again last week, and even added Vit D3 (not enough D3 has been shown to increase depression) and a new multi that includes "super greens" (whatever that is... it seemed to be the best one at the organic grocery store). The calcium and fish oil, especially, have made a noticeable difference in my emotional health in the past.  All of these are more like medicine for me, and not simply optional.

I started a new Bible study/devotional email series with Lysa TerKeurst, where I read a chapter a day of Proverbs and write down one verse that stood out to me.  I've decided to read the chapter associated with the calendar day.  So yesterday was Proverbs 24 and the verses that stood out were 33-34.

"A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest--and poverty will come on you like a bandit and scarcity like an armed man."

Sounds harsh at first blush, doesn't it?  And I don't think this is a comment on Sabbath rest; that's one of the Big Rules, after all, and we're meant to take a full day off from work every week. 

What this said to me is this:  those nights I come home and feel like the day has sucked the life out of me and all I want to do is fall on the bed and be a vegetable the whole night?  Not a good idea.

The key is "a little."  All those "littles" build up.  Often, I think they're harmless.  I'll just have a little bite (and then end up eating the whole thing).  I'll just rest for an hour before I workout (and then the whole night is gone and my body didn't move at all).  I'll start eating healthy and running again tomorrow (tomorrow is code for never).  I'll sleep an extra 15 minutes this morning (which turns into 30 minutes of hitting the snooze alarm and now I'll have to rush and yell at kids to hurry up and probably be late anyway).

The poverty and scarcity, as I interpreted the Word speaking to me yesterday, equal a poverty of the soul and a scarcity of health.  All those "littles" will add up to poverty of a weak body that cannot bend or squat or move easily or stand with strong posture when I'm 60 years old. A scarcity of mental and physical health. 

I have gone back and forth about just giving up--no longer calling myself a runner, giving into the inevitability of getting older and of having a body that's like my mom's when I reach her age. When the depression has hold, it sounds like the only option.

But those verses stuck in my head all day.  I just could not ignore them.

So yesterday after work, when I felt like collapsing on the couch (which, I think, has mostly become a habit just like many other bad habits), I put on my running clothes & got on the treadmill.  I did 3 miles of mostly (slow) running and walking.  It was not easy.  I am finding that the older I get, it is getting harder and harder to start over.  My hips hurt, my back hurt.  My hips and back have never hurt when I've run. 

What it told me was--I have to STOP STARTING OVER.  I have to KEEP GOING until they put me in the grave.

I have 3 plaques on my office wall that I got at the Disney Princess Half expo. They say:

"Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty, well-preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out & loudly proclaiming, "Wow! What a ride."

"I do not run to add days to my life, I run to add life to my days."

"Perseverance is the hard work you do after you get tired of doing the hard work you already did."

Words to live by, and they epitomize how I WANT TO live my life.

Right now, today, thankfully I can't imagine going down the path of entropy and decay.  I have to remember the "littles" add up, whether it's good littles or bad littles.

Today I'm filling with good littles.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Off the sugar (again) - (173 lbs)

I'm doing better.  (thanks for checking on me so soon, Vickie!)

On Tuesday I did some research (again) on how to treat depression with and w/o medication (not that I'm stopping medication, but I can't rely solely on meds b/c I've had such mixed results in the past). 

I learned (again) that sugar is BAD for depression.  I did learn something new--I found a website that talked about the connection between the gut and the brain.  I don't have the exact article (& don't have time to find it right now), but here's the website.  // 

Basically sugar fuels a lot of bad stuff in your body (yeast and other beasties that are bad for your body) that is connected to your brain chemistry, and it creates havoc which can include depression in sugar sensitive people like me.

So I stopped eating sugar (again) on Wednesday.  I know what to eat; I know what to do.  I just have to do it.

What I put in my mouth is medicine--whether it comes in the form of a pill or not.  If it's sugar, that medicine in an addictive drug.  If it's fruits, veggies, clean food, that medicine is an anti-depressant.

Exercise is also key to fighting depression.  Since I'm feeling better--I think the lamotrigine has gotten back down to a level where it's not causing the anxiety and numbing depression that I was having--I have the desire to start exercising again.

But first I had to have the desire to simply function--which came back Wednesday (the same day I didn't eat any sugar).  I cleaned for an hour and I cooked; I didn't feel hopeless.  Last night I cooked and cleaned again.  I don't feel like I'm moving through mud right now.

It's easy to not eat sugar the first few days.  It's later, when the newness wears off and my body figures out what I'm doing, that it's going to get difficult.  I will do everything I can to be ready for it.

At my appointment with the p-doc, I'm not planning on getting back on an SSRI.  I don't think it will help, frankly, and could make things worse.  There are a lot of articles that say SSRI's don't work for many people--I have been through them all, and they've worked for a while and then they stop. They can cause weight gain.  I feel like I need to stay on the mood stabilizer--it helps, it works.  I just need to keep the lower dose. 

But the rest of the depression needs to be faced with stark reality--I am in control of making myself well.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Back from Colorado

We got back late Thursday night. It was a good trip all in all. Had a
lot of fun with family. The kids did great in the car. The weather was
a nice change from the heat of summer. We saw the Beach Boys at Red
Rocks and that was an amazing night.

But my Meds started messing with me while out there. I got more
depressed and had one small and one major panic attack. It was similar
to what happened to me when my Wellbutrin was upped to 300 mg back in

I took a lot of Xanax to keep calm and I cut my lamotrigene pills in
half. I'm not having panic attacks but I'm still depressed and not

I was out of it all weekend. It was a struggle to get through the
days. I was overwhelmed with everything that had to be done when we
got home. My mom came down Friday and helped with the kids and did
some laundry for me. So at least we all have clean clothes for the
week, even though I'm not completely unpacked yet.

I'm glad to be back at work and out of the house. I am going to see
the p-doc as soon as I can get in to see her. Probably will ask to be
put back on Wellbutrin. I don't know how much it will help or if
there's another solution. Hopefully something will work.

It's very frustrating. Battling depression again. Wanting to run and
do yoga but the feeling of inertia is too strong. Like I'm moving
through mud. And I can barely take care of the minimum tasks of

Our finances are tight again, which happens in our line of work. We
are always eventually ok, but I still worry when money gets this
tight. The worry paralyzes me too.

So, no good news other than we are all physically healthy and safe.
Which in and of itself is more than a lot of people can say, so I am
thankful for those blessings at least.