While my entire Facebook feed is filled with articles and comments about Kanye West’s new album and recent conversion, I have stayed silent. Why?
Because number one, I don’t really know anything about Kanye to begin with (other than the time he hijacked Taylor Swift’s speech on the VMAs and the famous rant about George Bush not caring about black people). He has kids with weird names and a wife with an awesome body. That’s about all I know. Superficial? Maybe. I can’t tell you the name of any of his songs. They’re not on my running playlist.
Number two, what he does or says doesn’t have any affect on me personally. If he wants to sing songs about being rich and famous or songs about Jesus – cool. I typically don’t speak up about issues in pop culture unless I feel they have some kind of heart-twisting impact on me and my life… or if they have some kind of mental health connection.
So when I heard he suffers from bipolar disorder, that’s when the light bulb turned on. How did I miss this? Talk about a plot twist! It led me to take an interest in all the Kanye news of the last year or so. While many out there are debating whether his conversion is real or a publicity stunt, my first thought upon learning this is – is this all a manic episode?
Exactly 20 years ago, I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder.
But I didn’t go public about it until last year.
Why? The stigma. The jokes. The complete misunderstanding and misinformation about what bipolar disorder really is.
Here’s what it is:
It’s like depression with some really fun occasional breaks in between that help you get stuff done… but it can completely wear you out and shut you down.
It’s like the Queen song “Don’t Stop Me Now,” mixed with Gary Jules’ “Mad World.”
It’s like Texas weather, dropping 50 degrees in a day, for a cold front that is unexpected, with a duration that is uncertain.
But most of all – it IS manageable and it doesn’t have to hinder quality of life or functioning.
Like I said, I hid it for a long time. I’m learning to manage it through a variety of tools – gut health, nutrition, movement, sleep, talk therapy.
On the first episode of my new podcast Sparking Wholeness, I share my entire journey in a way I never have before.
If you haven’t struggled with mental health issues, that’s amazing and I’m so happy for you. But chances are, someone close to you needs hope. Someone close to you needs a step toward healing. And that’s what this show is intended to do – it’s just another way to spark a little fire towards wholeness.
Click here to download and listen to this episode, or click here for my show page – and to be able to subscribe to my podcast feed (please subscribe). It will be available on iTunes soon.
“I’m not blonde, and I’m not skinny. Therefore, I’m not attractive.”
That’s a line straight from my journal in 1999.
I have healed from many things in my past, but I don’t think I ever grieved for the young girl who thought that people would only like her if she was skinny.
According to my January 1999 journal entry, I was on a mission to weight 130 pounds. Thanks to Zoloft, I had gained a good 30 pounds or so from end of sophomore to beginning of senior year, and by the first semester of my senior year I spent a lot of time isolating, reading historical romances, and pining away for a college soccer player I cared about who played me like a fresh fiddle.
This diet gave me new life. A new identity. A new way to really love the skin I was in – because it would come in a much smaller body. According to my journal, I was drinking two special protein drinks a day and going off of carbs, sugar, and caffeine. I was supposedly “retraining my body” to digest and store food, and there was an 85% chance I would NEVER gain my weight back. Continue reading “Diet Before Diagnosis – Is There a Connection?”→
Why in the world would I load my coffee up with fat? Does that sound weird and backwards to you?
Well, I’ve been doing it for almost two years now and it has changed my health in many ways. Here are some benefits I’ve noticed:
Less “hanger,” more blood sugar control
Decreased sugar cravings
More alert mentally
Able to practice intermittent fasting, which increases my BDNF (brain derived neurotrophic factor)
It gives my brain the right kind of healthy fat it NEEDS for optimal function
Also, it tastes really really good. Like my own homemade foamy latte.
When I start my day with a processed refined grain like cereal or a bagel or English muffin, which I did for many years, I would be hungry within a couple hours and my brain would be mush.
Starting my day with fat-fueled coffee (also known as “bulletproof coffee”) fills me up so I can prolong my brain-boosting fast, it provides butyrate and MCT oil for brain health, and it keeps my blood sugar from going crazy because I don’t need to sweeten it! I have energy throughout the day and I have a clear head to make more brain-nourishing nutritional choices.
Here’s the thing that throws people off – this IS intended to replace a meal. But listen to your body. If you are hungry right after, EAT! Fuel yourself with high quality animal protein, a healthy fat, and colorful fruits and veggies. Sometimes I prolong my fast by drinking my coffee this way, sometimes I’m ready to eat not long after. Every day is different, depending on the activity level.
This coffee is not intended to be a starvation/weight loss tool. It is just another option for those who are already drinking coffee and loading up on artificial flavors with creamers and sweeteners. Those will fail your blood sugar, every time.
This is an alternative that will make you feel good and provide health benefits. For so many, coffee provides the highest amount of polyphenols they will consume in a day. So let’s make it even better!
The hardest part about living with a chronic illness is living with a chronic illness.
Meaning, I have to be aware of my triggers, the things that make me sick, at all times. Excess busyness, excess activity, excess inflammatory foods and alcohol… all those things are difficult to escape in December… but they take a toll on me in ways most people don’t have to worry about.
I go big. I love parties. I love people. I love LIVING life. Until it all becomes too much, and I crash.
This last week I felt a crash. Minimal crash compared to the destructive collisions of the past. I have an excellent support system, I am self-aware, and I am learning to communicate when I need help. So to be clear, I am OKAY. But I knew something was off. I thought I was getting sick. My chest felt tight like I couldn’t breathe, my body felt heavy, and I couldn’t get through my typical yoga practice without taking multiple child poses to rest. I didn’t want to do anything. I didn’t want to read my new nutrition book (big sign something was off). I was negative with my husband and my kids, who I love more than the world.
They told me I’d need medication the rest of my life.
4 years ago this week, I was weaned off my last medication, 10 milligrams of Celexa. I had vertigo for 3 weeks. Some days I felt like I was riding a roller coaster. After 18 years of being medicated, it wasn’t an easy transition for my body.
My doctor said I was ready. I was eating healthier, working out regularly, and sleeping consistently. I would never have done this without her support. This wasn’t the typical bipolar action of, “Hey, I’m going off all my meds!” It was something that took years in the making. It wasn’t a decision anyone took lightly.
It took time to adjust. I needed to actively monitor my stress levels. I needed to remember to slow down and rest. I took my supplements diligently. I ran. A year and a half later, I found yoga.
This little girl didn’t know that in 10 years she would wish for death. She loved her family, her new siblings, and Jesus, too. Much like the Tom Petty song, she was about to take a free fall – down the path of a broken brain.
She was a preacher’s daughter with a genetic disposition to mental illness. Add on to that various health issues like chronic ear infections, asthma, allergy shots, antibiotics and steroids… and a budding sugar addiction, due to poor gut health. She was all energy and filled with curiosity, wanting to know the how and why of everything. So one day, when the darkness closed in, she would questions why she couldn’t just pray it away.