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One month check-in - Tactical Ninja

Aug. 26th, 2015

09:08 am - One month check-in

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Today it's been one month since I gave up on my doctor in disgust because she was insisting that I was depressed and all my weird symptoms were a product of that, against my view that the depression was a symptom of something else, along with all the other things.

Test results pointed vaguely towards something adrenal-y, which naturally isn't accepted by the medical fraternity, and I officially turned into one of those fruitcakes who self-diagnose with non-accepted illnesses and thus should probably be derided for my ignorance, or something.

My 'treatment' involved reducing stress (since the mythical adrenal fatigue is mythically caused by ongoing stress), and following a diet that's focused around maintaining stable blood sugar and thus reducing demand on the adrenal glands - it's more or less paleo with dairy and carbs, so lots of protein, fat, complex carbs, vegetables, and cutting out sugar, processed food, white flour products, and starchy vegies. So on top of being an ignorant fruitcake, I'm now also a horse food nut (if horses were carnivorous).

Anyway, because I'm not actually ignorant, or a fruitcake, I gave myself a month to see if I could observe any difference in my symptoms.


weird rash I started with about 15 lesions, which gradually faded. 2 weeks in another crop came up, as many but smaller. I kind of freaked about this, thinking "Am I doing something damaging?" but then I realised that a sudden drastic change of diet is exactly the sort of bodystress that would bring it on. After a month, most of them have faded. I have maybe 3 new ones - so not out of the woods yet but it does seem to be improving. Keeping an eye on it.

back pain In a very specific place on top of my right kidney. In the first 2 weeks I felt it about every 4 days. I haven't noticed it at all for the last 2 weeks.

depression, low motivation I never believed I was depressed anyway, and at the moment my general mood could be described as 'annoyingly chipper'. I'm not saying it's the diet because I think reducing stress is probably the major factor here, but I'm definitely feeling better.

waking early (3am-5am) Comes and goes. For the first two weeks I was waking at 5am about half the time and 3-3:30ish the rest of the time. In the last 2 weeks I've woken at 3:30am once, between 4:45 and 5:30am most other days, and one momentous day I made it to 7am before waking. I think this is steadily improving.

difficulty concentrating Still having some trouble with this, but at work I'm being generally a lot more productive, had a good performance review, and have taken on a couple of extra projects due to my improved mojo. Also, I don't hate my job any more.

loss of libido Improving. Nuff said.

dry skin I don't know how to judge this tbh. My skin just feels like my skin. It's stopped peeling off my fingers?

worsening PMS I've only had one period and I did have grumpiness, but no soreness in my breasts or back pain, and at least I didn't murder anyone?

short temper I have not lost my cool in the last month. Yay!

beaded, ridged fingernails This is hard to judge because one month's growth isn't enough to really see what's happening yet - but my nails feel thicker, which is weird.

low tolerance for cold Again hard to tell because the coldest part of winter is over now. I still need an extra blanket to what Dr Wheel does, and sometimes sit at work with my coat over my knees.

poor reaction to stress (crying jags, emotional instability) Hard to say, since I've reduced the stress in my life quite a lot. I can't recall any specifically stressful events by which to judge my reaction. I'm gonna call that a good thing.

craving for sweet and salty food I still have a sweet tooth, but the urge to go and buy a tub of ice cream and just eat it has reduced significantly. I have had this craving once in the last month. I've managed to knock off the chocolate-for-supper habit as well, and have managed to eat one or two potato chips out of Dr Wheel's bowl without ending scoffing the rest of the packet. Win!

difficulty maintaining stable weight Not sure how to address this. I've dropped 4kg in the last month, which puts me back to where I was before Mum got sick. I've been training pretty hard and gained some muscle mass, which I put down to the high protein diet. It remains to be seen whether this is an ongoing thing and also, I don't want to drop much more or I'll tip over into unhealthy and weak - not so fun when your main sports involve being able to lift your own bodyweight.

The main thing here is that eating 5 meals a day of food that is slow to digest means that I'm never hungry, and I think that ties in with many of the other things I've been experiencing. Especially making sure I have something healthy before bed and eat breakfast - two things I've been shockingly bad at my entire life.

I haven't been entirely strict about it - we still have fish and chip Saturdays, and I ate some ice cream over the weekend (interesting to note the only hint of back pain I've felt came 2 days after that). One of my colleagues is a feeder and occasionally I give in to her proffered salted caramel slice (both to be polite and because NOM). But one of the biggest differences I'm noticing is that these indulgences no longer make up a significant part of my diet - and I'm pretty sure that's got a lot to do with how much better I'm feeling.


So the jury's still out on some of the things, but overall I'm feeling significantly better. I like what this experiment is doing for me overall, and it's certainly not doing any harm, so I'll keep it up and see where it takes me.

In other news, last night I deadlifted a shoulder mount with straight legs for the first time. Stoked!

Comments:

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From:dynamicgirl
Date:August 25th, 2015 10:00 pm (UTC)
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Sounds great. I suspect adrenal issues for me, too, but I have a lot to lose.
So... when you say simple carbs, can you elaborate? Bread? or only potatoes/ beans etc?
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From:tatjna
Date:August 25th, 2015 10:08 pm (UTC)
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Mostly they can be avoided by avoiding refined grains. Apparently the refining process strips out a lot of the fibre and nutrients, and leaves you with a bunch of easily-accessible glucose. Legumes, wholegrains, brown rice, and vegetable carbs are apparently ok - although some fruits like apples have a lot of sugar and are best avoided in the morning.

For me, the rule of thumb has been to only eat bread where the ingredient list has a high percentage of whole grains, and to avoid white flour products (pizza, cakes, white bread, etc etc) and white rice. This has actually been the hardest part of the diet, especially when eating out - there are not a lot of restaurant and cafe meals that don't base themselves around bread, potatoes, or white rice. I find myself often ordering something and leaving the bread or chips on the plate. Chicken and haloumi salad has become my go-to dinner out - which is awesome because I love the squeaky cheese! ;-)
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From:dynamicgirl
Date:August 25th, 2015 10:11 pm (UTC)
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Thanks heaps. What do you eat for breakfast? That's my biggest struggle!
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From:tatjna
Date:August 25th, 2015 10:17 pm (UTC)
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I have a cycle because otherwise I get bored.

Day 1: wholegrain muesli (I make it myself because pretty much all the bought stuff has either sugar or processed grains in it - just bought a bunch of different whole grains and seeds and whizzed them up in the whizzer); mixed berries (apparently berries are a low-sugar fruit therefore ok in the mornings for adrenal stuff), and acidophilus yoghurt.

Day 2: wholegrain toast (I use Burgen because it's got the highest wholegrain content in our local supermarket, but I'd use rye if I could find a reliable supplier) with a fried egg on top, and some salt.

Day 3: Wholegrain toast with smoked salmon (I am not so middle class that I don't get excited about salmon :-) )

The basic deal is to try and get a mix of complex carbs (wholegrain), protein, and fat, at every meal. Pretty sure you could swap the salmon and egg for things like sardines or a breakfast meat, but I avoid things like bacon and salami because of the stuff that's put in them.
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From:tatjna
Date:August 25th, 2015 10:10 pm (UTC)
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Oops - also, sugar. Doh.

Here's a pretty good guide - based in weight loss but still relevant if you're looking to improve diet for health.
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From:ecosopher
Date:August 25th, 2015 11:39 pm (UTC)
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Yeah, we're starting to cut out a few of the same things, and I'm noticing a difference in how hungry I get. It's odd because I've always needed to eat a lot but now we're eating less sugar and way, way less chocolate, cake and biscuits, I think it is going to be really good for us.

Still a few weeks to go to see what this means in terms of our bodies and how they react, but it's interesting to read your experiences! I know what you mean wrt weight loss. I'm OK at the moment, would like to maybe slim down a little more but don't want to get into skinny-weak.

Glad to hear you're feeling better!
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From:tatjna
Date:August 25th, 2015 11:45 pm (UTC)
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The weird thing about the weight loss part is that I feel like I'm eating all the time, and the food I eat sticks with me. So instead of being hungry I'm full, which is the opposite of what I'd expect to feel if I were losing a kilo a week.

There's been a couple of times where I felt a bit weak in training, and I think that's probably due to not enough protein. So far I haven't felt the need to supplement with protein powder (not when there's meat and cheese to be had!) but if I start training any more than I have been - currently 5 times a week - I may have to do that. Mostly I've just been religious about including a protein source in every meal, and scoffing handfuls of nuts in between.

What sparked your decision to cut out sugar?
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From:ecosopher
Date:August 26th, 2015 12:33 pm (UTC)
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Right now, I feel like I'm hungry about the same as I was before we stopped with the sweet things, but eating the things we eat, I don't tend to get the rush like I did.

Protein is really something important for me, too. We've tried to limit sugar before but were never really successful, but then Adam got some results back from some blood tests, and with his impending birthday, I think it really motivated us to think about trying something new. The thing about no added sugar means that it's also less junk... even if I make it, it's still not good to have cake everyday.

Anyway. We're slowing down (no processed sugary food except on days when we hike or walk) until his birthday at the end of September, and then after that we'll go sugar-free (no added sugar in anything) until Christmas, and that's about a three-month trial which will hopefully give us some idea as to whether it'll work.

I'll be interested to hear your progress too, and I'll no doubt talk about ours as it continues.
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From:anna_en_route
Date:August 26th, 2015 12:44 am (UTC)
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It really does sound like you are doing a lot better
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From:richaarde
Date:August 26th, 2015 02:08 am (UTC)
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Maybe there was some truth in what your doctor said. I've been finding that the diet does help me feel better. When I eat like I used to, I end up paying for it later.
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From:tatjna
Date:August 26th, 2015 02:11 am (UTC)
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My doctor didn't say anything about diet. She assumed I was depressed as a root cause to everything else, and wanted to give me pills.
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From:dragonvyxn
Date:August 26th, 2015 04:43 am (UTC)
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so glad it seems like it's still working! yaaay horse food!!!
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From:meathiel
Date:August 26th, 2015 07:08 am (UTC)
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Sounds good.
I've heard it from so many people how good paleo is for you but I still need the final incentive ...
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From:kotturinn
Date:August 26th, 2015 10:22 am (UTC)
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Glad things are going well. It really does sound positive, especially the not feeling hungry and the reduction in, and ability to control, cravings.

On the value of self-diagnosis, serendipity produced this over on Dreamwidth yesterday (kaberett is a friend-of-a-friend)

Self-diagnosis is vital and I will fuckin' fight anyone who tries to tell you otherwise
https://kaberett.dreamwidth.org/436930.html

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From:m_danson
Date:August 26th, 2015 04:52 pm (UTC)
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I have another friend on LJ that is dealing with adrenalin fatigue and self-treatment. I've pointed her here.
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From:fbhjr
Date:August 27th, 2015 01:18 am (UTC)
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It sounds like things are getting better. I certainly hope that's true!
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From:thesecondcircle
Date:August 27th, 2015 03:12 pm (UTC)
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Really happy to hear that you are doing better. I think we need to be concerned about society in general when "eat real feed, avoid eating crap" is some kind of fringe lifestyle or treatment option.

And good on you for avoiding the brain drugs. I want to tread lightly here because mental health of other people is not my business... But aside from the fact that depression meds work no better than placebos, taking them when you don't need them can give you a problem when you don't have one.

I have something on this over here (where I live when I'm not responding to your comments): http://www.circlethrice.com/2015/08/mind-war-part-two-mental-health.html

So hugs to you and congrats on feeling better.
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From:tatjna
Date:August 27th, 2015 10:23 pm (UTC)
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Apparently there's a link between SSRIs and improved cortisol levels, which implies that taking them would possibly have helped me. However, I have a strong aversion to using medication if I can avoid it. My study into illicit drugs has given me a fairly deep understanding of the social, physical and psychological aspects of drug use, and SSRIs are a drug like any other. It's possibly an internally inconsistent viewpoint, but I prefer to keep my drug use sporadic and recreational. ;-)

I say this in full acknowledgement of my privilege in being able to choose a life free of medication. My natural state is healthy, and so my approach to wellbeing is to look at what might be pulling me away from that centre and deal with that. This works very well for me the majority of the time, and I consider myself very lucky that all I have to do to be healthy is get out of the way of myself.

I also acknowledge that I live in a country that produces its food in a more natural way - for example grass fed, non-HGP, non-antibiotic meat and dairy is the norm here - and we have an intermediary body that purchases pharmaceuticals in bulk for the country, which stands between the populace and aggressive marketing of medication. We don't have the same medication culture as the US, although it is creeping in now.

That post was really interesting, by the way. Now I'm off to read some of the links! :)
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From:thesecondcircle
Date:August 28th, 2015 03:18 am (UTC)
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As someone who does take medication regularly for a chronic condition (migraines) I completely get your point about privilege and health. I just worry that our current medical model sees medication as a first resort, rather than the last that it should be.
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From:tatjna
Date:August 27th, 2015 10:40 pm (UTC)
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Aaadnd, having read a few of your posts, you and I have very similar views on food.

It's probably a post for another day, but my long term plan is about 2 years from fruition, and that involves bees! And gardens! And growing real food!
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From:thesecondcircle
Date:August 28th, 2015 03:20 am (UTC)
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We're going to get bees in the spring! We've got a hive coming at the end of the year, and will take a local class. Then in the spring we will have our own little hive. I'm such a supporter of bees in general (I mean honey is awesome, but the survival of the bees is even more important).
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