Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Comments by FindingClarity

Showing 4 of 4 comments.

  • Excellent comments, N.I.

    I was obese in my twenties and thirties while trying hard to follow the low-fat “eat plenty of heart healthy grains” paradigm. Even when I wasn’t doing chronic cardio exercise 4-5 days a week, I was constantly hungry which led to numerous patterns of overeating and emotional eating. My cholesterol was considered “normal” back then but I was very unhealthy, usually between 70 and 100 lbs overweight.

    Two years ago I started eating Paleo and dropped all the weight effortlessly without worrying about counting calories or frankly any exercise. I also noticed that by eschewing grains and grain products of all kinds an inflammatory condition I’d suffered with for over 15 years went away and has remained in remission for 2 years, something which never happened in 15 years of suffering (remissions would be for a matter of weeks only).

    I’m at my fighting weight now and have been feeling great, lots of energy, but because my “cholesterol” is “high” my PCP wants me to resume a low-fat diet. I told him I couldn’t ever go back to that. He was not pleased, but didn’t press the issue. If he suggests statins at any point in the future I will find another doctor. It’s almost enough to make me say I refuse to get my cholesterol ‘measured’ again, as worthless as I think the way it’s calculated is, and as suspect as I think the way risk guidelines have been lowered (bias/conflicts of interest with statin manufacturers), and as flawed as I think the theory of “cholesterol clogs arteries’ is now given the increasing attention paid to the greater problem of inflammation. I read somewhere that blaming “high cholesterol” for heart disease is kind of like blaming the presence of firefighters at a burning building for having started the fire.

    Since my triglycerides are under 60, HDL is well over 120, I’m only 44 and have no relatives on either side of my family who have had heart disease, I’ve decided to take my chances and continue eating paleo, including large amounts of “unhealthy” saturated fat. There are too many other indicators that I am in the best health I’ve been in in over 20 years. I don’t like going against my doctor’s advice in order to feel I’m doing the best thing for my health. It feels wrong, but that’s where I am these days.

    It’s sad when you realize an industry you once trusted implicitly (as I used to) is now one which you feel you have to both defend yourself against as well as cope with the anxiety that you’re rejecting advice of ‘experts’ and are therefore endangering your health.

    I’m now even inching closer to the point of believing I was misdiagnosed with an autoimmune disease 6 years ago, which I’m taking an extraordinarily expensive medication for [with potential of course to wreck my liver, though that hasn’t occurred…yet]. Even better, it’s one of those medications that is frankly impossible to tell if it’s helping because it does not treat symptoms. The whole idea is to prevent worsening in the course of 10-20 years of taking it. Who can measure that or play the “looking back game” effectively enough to determine if the risks were worth some nebulous benefit: “Gee, if only I started taking this medication 10 years ago maybe I’d be 1.8% healthier than I am today!” Ack.

    All I have to “rely” upon is the clinical trial results, and since I’m no statistician it was pretty easy for me to read summaries of such things and believe the seemingly positive reports. Now that I’m learning more about the way trials are set up and run, who controls the raw data, the FDA approval process, etc, I cannot rule out the possibility that the slender margin of “better” for those staying on my drug is mostly an illusion rather than reality. Trying to decide whether the real risks I’m taking with my healthy liver are outweighed by the benefits of the drug over a period of 10 or more years seems impossible to me right now.

    My world is definitely in turmoil.

  • Glad to see someone else noticed this too. There are major problems with the nutritional paradigm that Ancel Keys championed, which has become so well entrenched and remains mostly unquestioned. I have to admit I see parallels between the current ‘accepted’ nutritional philosophy (food pyramid, or plate, or whatever it is now) and the struggle to correct and change the harm being done via labeling and diagnosing human suffering as “mental illness”.

    I’ve been coping with depression for nearly two years. I know that it is due to what’s going on in my life. I’ve had periods of situational depression before like most people.

    I will say that finally rejecting the “low fat” diet mantra, getting rid of processed and sugary foods and all grain products seems to have made a huge difference in my quality of life, both physiologically and mentally.

    I eat a lot of pastured proteins and a lot of saturated fat from animal and vegetable sources, as well as a variety of whole foods like vegetables. I am able to get away with whole fat dairy daily. For the past year, I’m the healthiest I’ve been in well over 20 years.

    As for starvation, I wonder if the authors have read any literature on intentional fasting? I decided to try it for a number of reasons, one of which was autophagy but in my case as well to get a handle on my relationship to emotional eating/self-comfort (led to weight gain and additional mental misery), which has always been an issue in my life.

    I’ve been able to go on planned water fasts for as long as 5 days, and I hope to complete a 10 day fast in the coming months. I might do it once a month, so by no means do I have a so-called ‘eating disorder’. I am not doing it because I think my body is unacceptable or to lose weight.

    The times I’ve fasted have brought me to some very zen-like states of mind that I found extremely valuable, and did a lot of journal writing that I look back on with wonder: many profound insights into my life that are not normally easy for me to access.

    Now my normal daily eating window is usually 8 hours, between noon and 8 or 9 at night. I typically don’t eat breakfast because I’m simply not hungry. Lunches and dinners work well, and I don’t need to snack. Several times the business of life just gets in the way, and I’ll unintentionally find myself having fasted for 24 hours. I received shocked reactions from family members once when I casually let it slip that “Yes, I’m looking forward to dinner! I just realized I haven’t eaten since yesterday so I’m famished!” They couldn’t believe I wasn’t irritable, grumpy, tired – and was actually quite energetic and in a great mood when they saw me (at the 25+ hour mark since my last meal).

    Apparently, our bodies can do quite well in a vastly different nutritional paradigm than what we were told to do while growing up: “Make sure you eat 3 squares a day, low fat of course, and have healthy low-fat snacks in between meals – or you will become overweight, unhealthy and will be tired and grumpy all the time too!”

    One of my family members continues to be amazed but suspicious that I eat so differently, and do so well. She’s always on the lookout for a low-fat but sugary (bread product, fruit, etc) snack between meals. I’m never hungry for one, and she chides me that by ‘starving myself’ my metabolism is going to stay out of whack and cause all sorts of health problems. Yet I’m in better physical shape than she is.

    It’s been an amazing journey of self-discovery – learning that not only do I still love food as much as I always have, but I’m no longer a slave to it. I’ve found better ways of using it for both health and enjoyment. Giving myself permission to enjoy saturated fats as much as I want, and weaning myself off sugar, was the first step in a hugely important component of my self-care toolbox as I cope with the other problems in my life that are contributing to feeling depressed.

    I believe if I was still eating the low-fat, high carb diet and feeling hungry on it all the time, my ability to ‘sit with’ and go through this depression would be far less tolerable to me right now.

  • Thank you for writing this. It so thoroughly supports and expands what I’ve slowly been discovering about myself.

    If I hadn’t discovered various resources over the past decade that gave me a solid basis for doubting the medical model/diagnostic paradigm I think I’d be doped up on a cocktail of harmful medications and more desperately unhappy than ever, as well as in potentially far worse physical health.

    Instead, I find today that getting through periods of the blackest despair often involves simply being willing to sit with it, accept that I feel the way I do for what are probably very good reasons, and to resist the impulse that I must suppress or squash legitimate parts of who I am in order to qualify as ‘happy’ or, worse – ‘normal’.

    It must have been a stroke of freakish luck that in the late ’90s, as I was starting down the path of treating my humanity with psychiatric drugs, that I commented to the psychiatrist who’d prescribed me a succession of ADs that my ultimate goal was to get to a point where I didn’t ‘need’ medication. His observations about my ‘family history’ and subsequent assertion that I was a ‘lifer’ got under my skin that day, and stuck there. I’d seen all too well how little helped my parent had been after nearly 20 years of faithfully popping psychiatric medication. The psychiatrist who told me I was a ‘lifer’ had met me barely 6 months prior, and had spent a whopping 20 minutes with me each month: 120 minutes to know that I was always going to be broken, and he had the answers. What arrogance. A sense of “I’ll show you!” righteous anger took over; I left his office and never went back. I didn’t make all of the best choices (particularly in going cold turkey), and though some of the intervening years have indeed been hard I wouldn’t change a thing.

    If I could meet Elliot Valenstein and shake his hand for writing the first book I read after dumping psychiatry: “Blaming the Brain”, I’d out myself as the overenthusiastic person I am by shaking his hand for about a week: thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you – for opening the door to show me why my experience is not broken, wrong, unhealthy, disordered: but Human.

    When I recently read “Mad in America” and found madinamerica.com, it was further confirmation that I have been extremely fortunate that a single psychiatrist pissed me off just enough that I decided not to listen to their voodoo any more. My medication of choice is writing, and talking to people I trust and know me well.

    Today, I look back on the medication-free times I’ve grappled with my existence and I honor that person who’s slowly come to recognize that things don’t have to be neat, tidy, explainable, rational or blissful in order for my life to have personal meaning and purpose.

    I absolutely, 100% believe that if I’d continued trying to fix my periods of (relative) insanity with medication or by allowing others to diagnose me as broken, I would have continued down a path which would have seen me becoming terribly victimized by the psychiatry and drug industries.

    It’s been a rough year, for many reasons that seem to come with the territory of big changes. Yet I’ve learned to return to a dialogue with myself that more often seems to begin with “Well, let’s sit with this for a while and let it be what it is.” It’s gotten me through more than one period where I felt almost tempted to cry uncle, return to seeing myself as a psychiatric ‘diagnosis’, and trick myself into thinking that paradigm has anything to offer me that I don’t already know – the most important of which is when I’m at my worst, it’s not fun, but there are reasons for it that mean I’m as human as the next guy. Chances are my darkest periods will ultimately give me insight into this strange, heartbreaking, unique and sometimes even joyful thing called life. It’s happened enough for me that I’ve learned to trust it. It doesn’t necessarily make the hard times easier, and paradoxically I’ve begun to recognize those times as a signal that I’m not paying attention to something about myself, and learning from me right then is needed.

    Thanks for reminding me so powerfully of one of my core personal care principles: “sit with it for a while…” I’ve stopped trying to fix what the ‘experts’ would call broken, and instead I’ve accepted it as part of a valuable process: me getting to know myself better – the person I nearly ignored as a teen and young adult – and offering that person one of the greatest gifts we humans possess – a little patience and compassion in times of greatest vulnerability, and the willingness to listen.

  • Ron, thank you for putting into words what I’m slowly beginning to find out about myself.

    If I hadn’t discovered various resources who gave me a solid basis for doubting the diagnostic paradigm I think I’d be doped up on a cocktail of harmful medications and more desperately unhappy than ever.

    Instead, I find today that getting through the more difficult periods often involves simply being willing to sit with it, accept that I feel the way I do for a reason, to resist the impulse that I must get rid of parts of myself in order to be ‘happy’.

    It must have been a stroke of freakish luck that in the late ’90s when I was starting down the path of treating my humanity with drugs that I commented to the psychiatrist who’d prescribe me a succession of ADs that I was interested in weaning off the drug. His observations of my ‘family history’ and opinion that I was a ‘lifer’ (needing ADs for all of my life) got under my skin, stuck there, and I never went back. I didn’t make all of the best choices (particularly in going cold turkey), but in the intervening years I have suffered.

    And yet I look back on the medication free times I’ve grappled with my existence and honor that person who slowly came to recognize that things don’t have to be neat, tidy or blissful in order for my life to have meaning and purpose.

    I absolutely, 100% believe that if I’d desperately tried to fix my periods of insanity with medication, I was headed down a path in which I would have been horribly victimized by the psychiatry and drug industries.

    It’s been a rough year, for many reasons that are valid to me. I have had happiness, wish I had more of it, but in the end I’ve developed self talk that always begins with “Well, let’s sit with this, let it be what it is, feel what you feel, and not panic.” It’s gotten me through more than one period where I felt almost tempted to run back into the arms of psychiatry and trick myself into thinking they have anything to offer me that I don’t already know – the most important of which is when I’m unhappy, it’s not fun but it’s ultimately going to be useful to me in this strange, heartbreaking, unique and sometimes even joyful thing called life.

    Thanks for reminding me so powerfully of one of my core personal care principles: “sit with it for a while…”