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.