It only matters what works for you.

Archive for July, 2013

Are you sad?

Something I don’t hear a lot of discussion on is sadness vs depression. You’d think in a country where they dispense anti-depressants like tic-tacs that more people would be concerned about the real problem. Oh, wait, never mind. There is no real interest in the problem, only income generating solutions.

Here’s my take. Sadness happens where there is a reason. When my cat died last year, I was sad. (Ok, I’m still sad…) There was a reason. When your grandpa dies, you move across country, break up with a friend, all those things are genuine, external reasons to be sad.

We don’t take enough time to be sad. It’s an important emotion, to recognize a loss and a change to your environment. We’re encouraged to ‘cheer up’ much too quickly in my opinion. Some times things are just sad, and we should be ok feeling our feelings. But that isn’t encouraged.

Depression, in my personal lexicon, is something completely different. Depression has no particular ‘reason’. Nothing is interesting, nothing is important, nothing really matters…it’s all just too much trouble for words, but there is no reason. It just is. And if it just is, then the chances are excellent that it is chemical, not situational.

The next question becomes, how to fix it. If you’re sad, then there isn’t really anything to be fixed, and only time will help. If you’re depressed, you can go to the doctor and get the candy-solution of the week. Or, you can look at your diet, and check your thyroid, and look into nutritional deficiencies…

I think we make a big mistake in most of health care by treating the symptom rather than the problem. I’ve spent most of the last 2 years being either or both, sad or depressed. That’s why I made a study of the difference. If you read my post about happiness this spring you’ll note that I mention T1 and T2 as part of the thyroid treatment I’m getting. This week when I started feeling depressed again, I looked at my treatment and thought about what could have changed. This week, I think I haven’t been taking enough cortisol, so I’m not absorbing enough thyroid properly, so I’m not generating the chemicals I need.

I think it’s really, really important to understand the differences here. I truly believe that depression is a huge problem, but it’s a problem that we could actually fix, if only we stopped worrying quite so much about the symptoms and thought through to the cause. Sure, serotonin uptake is the ’cause’, but what causes the trouble with serotonin in the first place? Why aren’t we looking past the broken spot to figure out why it broke in the first place?

Why don’t we think things through any more?

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A time for rethinking.

I’m pretty excited to see some people thinking the conclusions of mainstream medicine. I’ve posted some really exciting things from Lissa Rankin, today’s TED is by Peter Attia, who found out the hard way he was being a jerk.

He starts his TED by telling us a story of a woman with a diabetic ulcer. He had no empathy for her, because medical dogma is clear. If you are fat and diabetic, it’s your own fault for not taking better care of yourself. If you ate right and exercised, this would never have happened. Case closed.

Three years later he discovered how very, very wrong that is. He followed the food pyramid to the letter, exercised hours every day, and he still developed metabolic syndrome. Oh. If it could happen to him, even following the rules, then maybe there’s more to it…

What if obesity isn’t the cause, but rather the effect. It’s wonderful to me to hear someone with a ‘perfect body’ and medical credentials suggest that. He’s gotten together with Gary Taubes, author of “What if it’s all been a big fat lie?” and a very weighty book titled Good Calories Bad Calories. They have gathered a group to research the issues some more, going ‘where ever the science takes them’.

I for one am eager to see what comes of it.

Self Judgement

Tonight I turned the judgement card. It’s about healing and forgiveness and putting t he past behind you.

This week I got some feedback from my body. I need to eat more often. Not necessarily more, but more often.

It made me think of a conversation I had with someone who cares for me not too long ago about what I deserve. I’ve had it beaten in to me that I don’t *deserve* to eat. I don’t deserve to be full. I don’t deserve to like my food. I only deserve to be hungry and eat food that is good for me according to some set of arbitrary rules.

I’m pretty well finished with a lot of other arbitrary rules. I’m kicking those out too.

I do deserve to be healthy, and happy, and to eat to nourish my body, and to enjoy it too.

You don’t have to be hungry to lose weight, and you don’t have to lose weight to be healthy.

And everyone who tells me that I do, is wrong.

Our marmosets are fat.

You probably saw that the AMA recently decided to categorize Obesity as a disease.

I have no idea how so many intelligent, highly educated people can be so obstinate in the face of things like data and research. Obesity is a symptom.

Last week I read this amazing article about obesity. The beginning of the article overviews the current thinking about weight issues, summarizing it this way:

And so we appear to have a public consensus that excess body weight (defined as a Body Mass Index of 25 or above) and obesity (BMI of 30 or above) are consequences of individual choice.

Then the author starts to talk about reasons why that isn’t likely and some facts that the media hasn’t bothered to mention.

Did you know that America has fat marmosets? Really. While people have been gaining weight the marmoset population has gained 9% every decade. Are they watching too much tv and eating too many Snickers bars? Less amusing, but considerably more disturbing is that fact that laboratory animals, who are monitored and weighed and measured and have every morsel they eat strictly accounted for and every lap on their exercise wheels strictly documented, are getting fat too.

…lab animals’ lives are so precisely watched and measured that the researchers can rule out accidental human influence: records show those creatures gained weight over decades without any significant change in their diet or activities. Obviously, if animals are getting heavier along with us, it can’t just be that they’re eating more Snickers bars and driving to work most days. On the contrary, the trend suggests some widely shared cause, beyond the control of individuals, which is contributing to obesity across many species.

Didn’t see that in Time magazine, did you?

The author quotes a number of findings from Jonathan C K Wells, professor of child nutrition at University College London that fail to support the thermodynamic model of obesity (calories in, calories out). Much of that research supports the epigenetic ideas that our environment is completely changing how our bodies handle things, not just candy, but stress, pollution, air conditioning, all sorts of things that are relatively new in our environments, biologically speaking.

…the line of reasoning is not that stress causes you to eat more, but rather that it causes you to gain weight by directly altering the activities of your cells.

Then there are the studies that show the effect of ‘obesigen’ chemicals. Or the effect of all manner of chemicals and environmental factors on a developing fetus. How about some well designed studies on the effects of electric lights and temperature controls on bodies that may need more of a challenge? What about a virus well known to cause weight gain in a number of species, but of course can’t ethically be tested on humans so is considered ‘unlikely’ by those who want to assign blame.

The author ends with this conclusion:

Today’s priests of obesity prevention proclaim with confidence and authority that they have the answer. So did Bruno Bettelheim in the 1950s, when he blamed autism on mothers with cold personalities. So, for that matter, did the clerics of 18th-century Lisbon, who blamed earthquakes on people’s sinful ways. History is not kind to authorities whose mistaken dogmas cause unnecessary suffering and pointless effort, while ignoring the real causes of trouble. And the history of the obesity era has yet to be written.

Yes, I’d like to see a lot more study and a lot less victim blaming. There is a lot of science out there that shows it is not a simple issue. I’m not saying that cutting down on soda and donuts and occasionally going for a walk can’t make a difference. But when making simple sensible changes don’t make a difference? Let’s not assume it’s a personal and moral failing.

If it was truly easy, everyone would already be doing it.

Constant Vigilance!

Yes, I’m a Harry Potter fan. I also think that if there are things out in the world trying to kill you, you should pay extra special attention.

Not actively trying to kill me, I admit, but life with food allergies does not allow for sloppy habits and you have to be completely aware of what you take in.

Recently I tripped up. I have really excellent insurance, I believe I’m mentioned. During my last doctor’s appointment I got a prescription for hydrocortisone to replace the over the counter product I’d been taking. The OTC worked very well but it’s pricey and a prescription covered by my insurance is not.

Now I had a problem with a different supplement that we prescribed and that caused some estrogen dominance issues that I’ve already written about. It made me feel limp and foggy-brained. While I was limp and foggy-brained, I didn’t notice that I was also starting to have stomach issues and feel weak and sore. Once my head cleared, I didn’t really notice that I still physically felt pretty poor until I started having issues with muscle weakness that caused problems climbing stairs. I live in a house with 3 floors, so that I noticed pretty quickly. I got on the scale and discovered that I’d put on 15 lbs in about 5 weeks. That certainly got my attention.

I thought about my eating habits, because that’s always the first place we want to blame in weight gain. Nothing there had changed in 5 weeks. Google suggested that muscle weakness goes back to adrenal fatigue, so I upped the dose of my new meds just a little. With an over the counter supplement that your body has to convert to an active hormone, there isn’t any way to know for certain exactly how much you’re getting, so maybe the dose wasn’t quite right. Oh, hey, that made things worse! So back to Google I went.

After some searching and asking around on the patient advocacy groups I frequent, I found my answer. My new medication is actually poisonous. Ok, not exactly poison, it’s made with corn starch, to which I am very sensitive. It was causing a serious feedback loop where I was getting my adrenal support, but also needing more to combat the allergic reaction, which caused me to need more cortisol…plus the actual reaction to the corn, which is digestive distress, oh, and an all over body ache and muscle weakness.

Aren’t I lucky that I still had a bunch of my OTC cortisol on hand? 2 days off the prescription and I was feeling much better. Now it’s a week later and I’m almost back to feeling the energy and enthusiasm I felt right after I got on the new thyroid meds. So after an 8 week detour, I’m back on track and making forward progress.

My point here is, do you research, pay attention, and don’t trust anything without checking it. Seriously.