Lost & Found: Anxiety, Depression & Mental Illness 

Here is my personal essay about mental illness. ellensue

Lost & Found: Anxiety, Depression & Mental Illness

I put my heart & soul into my work, and have lost my mind in the process.

—Vincent Van Gogh

Remember that ad on TV about helping people of color get into college with the tag line: “The mind is a terrible thing to waste”?  Well, I have altered it slightly to read:

“The mind is a terrible thing to lose…” which I did at one point in my life, or at least misplace, after the birth of my second child. My first pregnancy ended in a miscarriage in 1962 on Christmas Day, my son was born in November of 1963, and my daughter was born April 20th, 1965, and I had moved at least twice because of my husband’s jobs, so I was exhausted!

I ended up with severe postpartum depression in the hospital and was treated with anti-depressants and therapy. My thoughts raced, but went nowhere. I felt like I was living in a void, and to be honest, I think I did lose my mind, or at least misplace it during those months of deep depression. Because depression seems to run in my family, with suicide on both my mother’s side and father’s side of the family, I believe that depression is a combination of  environment as well as inheritance.

If you’ve never lost your mind, or perhaps in my case, misplaced my mind, there is no way to describe the experience. I compare it to soldiers in a foxhole with bullets whizzing over their heads and coming home unable to speak about it or explain it. You had to be there.

Words to describe the anxiety and feelings when one is clinically depressed is almost impossible. Losing touch with my day-to-day reality put me in a limbo state that felt like Hell. It’s as though my mind was in a holding tank waiting for someone to unlock the door, when only you can do that. Meds do help as does talk therapy, but the road back is all uphill.

One of the reasons that I eat a healthy diet and exercise regularly is that I believe mental health and physical health are linked, so by being vigilant with my diet and exercise regimes, I feel I am helping to offset some of the negative DNA I inherited. There are also books and articles on the link between mind and body which I have read. I am also very sympathetic to hear about others experiencing depression, because I know it is not something you can “snap out of,” as people used to advise me. Of course, they never experienced severe depression, so their advice fell through the hole in the wall of my brain.

Finally, I read somewhere that depression is, first of all, an attempt to survive by depressing all the other functions to keep a person alive, that is, shutting down lesser functions to keep the body functioning. By misplacing/ losing my mind while I was exhausted from three pregnancies in less than two years, my body was able to survive.

Having my mind in the Lost and Found part of my brain for a few months may have been my body’s way of shutting down to save me. Eventually, I did get well and even had a third child, 14 years after my older daughter was born. I felt I was strong enough to survive post-partum and took the risk of another pregnancy and now have three grown beautiful children. I regained my equilibrium, but stay vigilant!

Books I found helpful:

Silencing the Self: Women and Depression by Dana Crowley Jack

Darkness Visible: A Memoir of Madness by (Author. William Styron)

Nutrition and Mental Illness: An Orthomolecular Approach to Balancing Body Chemistry by Carl C. Pfeiffer, Ph.D., M.D.

The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are By Brené Brown, Ph.D., L.M.S.W.

 Dealing With Depression Naturally: The Drugless Approach to the Condition that Darkens Millions of Lives by Syd Baumel

A Mind of Your Own: The Truth About Depression and How Women Can Heal Their Bodies to Reclaim Their Lives by Kelly Brogan, M.D. with Kristin Loberg

 The Secret Strength of Depression by (Psychiatrist) Frederick F. Flack, M.D.

P.S.  I hope to post a short piece for Healthy Bytes on Exercise and Mental Health, which I promised some time ago. es

BONE APPÉTIT by Vivian Goldschmidt, MA for National Osteoporosis Month

Author Vivian Goldschmidt, MA is the author of this book and also the creator of a fabulous website called www.saveinstitute.com with terrific articles on Osteoporosis that she calls Save Our Bones. Since cooking is one of her passions, the book is called  BONE APPÉTIT, a perfect play on words!

This book reflects a concept that I learned about many years ago: the acid/alkaline balance. I read that the pH levels of each cell are 80% alkaline and 20% acid and this should be reflected in our diets. Unfortunately, the standard American diet (and often even a vegetarian diet that over-emphasizes grains, beans, dairy and eggs) is flipped, with 80% acid foods (meat, dairy, fish, and most grains and beans) and only 20% alkalizing foods for stronger bones.

The recipes have icons to indicate if the dish is more acidic or more alkalizing:

1. The circle with a small green section doesn’t meet the 80/20 pH balance.
2. The green sun icon indicates a 100% alkalizing recipe.
3. No Icon indicates the dish meets the 80/20 balance.

If a dish doesn’t meet the 80/20 pH balance, you can supplement with other alkalizing dishes in the book.

The book contains what the author calls Foundation Foods, which offer more bone-building benefits of regular foods and also contain the Foundation Foods in their natural form.

On pages two and three we read about which foods have the highest sources of Silicon, Vitamin D, Vitamin K, etc. and list which foods in these categories are alkalizing and which are acidifying, so if you want to re-balance some of your favorite dishes, you can use this list to finds alkalizing foods to complement your dish. For example, leafy greens and many green veggies are good sources of Vitamin K and are also alkalizing, so you can add them generously to your dishes that contain meat, grains, beans and dairy to balance out the recipe into the 80/20% pH recommendation for alkalinity.

Here is just one recipe from the nearly 200 in the book, which is not vegetarian, but has loads of meatless recipes like the one below:

BERRY GOOD PANCAKES

This bone-friendly and delectable version of buttermilk pancakes will brighten up your day.

8 PANCAKES (4 SERVINGS)

INGREDIENTS DIRECTIONS

  • 1 cup almond flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • 1 1⁄4 cup plain yogurt
  • 1⁄4 cup milk substitute
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 2 cups of your favorite berries (except blueberries, because they are acidifying)*
  • Vegetarian butter as needed
  • 1 tablespoon chopped almonds
  • 1 tablespoon pumpkin or sunflower seeds (optional)FRUITY WRAPS

1. Mix the baking powder, baking soda, flour, and cinnamon in a bowl by pouring through a sieve. If you don’t have a sieve, put them all in a sealed container and shake until thoroughly mixed.

2. Whisk the beaten eggs, yogurt, milk, and oil together in a separate bowl and combine with the flour mixture. Stir gently only until blended.

3. Bring a lightly-oiled frying pan or griddle to medium-high heat. Measure approximately 1⁄4 cup of batter per pancake onto heated pan and let cook for up to 2 minutes or until you start to see bubbles on the surface, then flip. Cook up to 2 minutes on the other side until both sides are golden brown.

4. Top with butter, berries, and sprinkle with almonds. Add seeds if desired.

* This indicates that adding blueberries is not as good  as other berries because blueberries are acidifying, which I did not know! So if you like blueberries, as I do, I will now consider adding or substituting raspberries or strawberries.

 The book contains many vegetarian recipes as well as non-vegetarian recipes, so I just would focus on the meatless dishes. Since it is an eBook you can get instant access when you buy it. Here is the link:
(If you Google the title, you will find other links to buy the book elsewhere and also go on the main Save Our Bones website listed above for additional info.)
P.S. I own a couple of books that list all major foods and list which ones are alkalizing and which ones are acidifying. I also have a book I reviewed called Dropping Acid which can be used for people with acid reflux.

 

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