I’m embarking on a new path, in conjunction with my more traditional talk therapy and psychiatry treatments, that takes a more holistic approach towards anxiety, depression, and trauma. Called Functional Medicine, it’s a unique approach to healing anxiety naturally (also: depression, trauma, chronic pain, hormone imbalance). “Functional medicine practitioners spend time with their patients, listening to their histories and looking at the interactions among genetic, environmental, and lifestyle factors that can influence long-term health and complex, chronic disease” (The Institute for Functional Medicine).
I’m working with a practitioner in California, because a childhood friend referred me. We speak online, in a video conference, and even before our first long visit, it became clear to me that while I had asked for a referral to help with my migraines, I had no idea how to untangle my physical health from my mental health. Anxiety goes up, migraines get worse. Anxiety goes down, migraines respond to medicine, again. So, while she usually begins with a gentler, slower approach and more subtle changes, we decided to jump right in to a full-blown resetting of my mind and body’s systems for dealing with stress, trauma, etc. I’ll talk more about how that works in a future post; the science is pretty incredible.
What I love most about this treatment is that it works with the philosophy most often found in Eastern medicine: our emotional, mental, physiological, and spiritual selves are intertwine. And it also uses Western medicine’s greatest assets: insight into how physiological mechanism work and change, and amazingly precise medical testing.
My first step is to follow a strict diet, for two weeks, that is meant to give my body a break from the stress I put on it from the way I was eating. I’m skipping foods with a high glycemic index (the body responds to them by ramping up blood sugar production) and sticking to eating smaller portions, consumed more often, of foods that will keep my blood sugar even. My anxiety acts as an appetite suppressant, often, so I was going a very long time between any sort of meal or snack. I am also an admitted sugar addict–we ate our feelings, in my dad’s house, usually in the form of ice cream. Between what I was eating and when I was eating it, my blood sugar and energy levels basically were doing major peaks and valleys all day. I knew that. I knew better, too, because the nutritionist I saw while I was trying to go off my medications, before we tried for a baby, told me all about it. As I remember it, it goes like this–
I skipped meals. I craved sweets. The healthiest option I chose might have been a bottled smoothie, full of sweet fruits and soy protein. My blood sugar would skyrocket in response to the two bananas and five kiwis and whatever else I had consumed in about three minutes, in juice form, and then pretty soon, it would begin to fall, taking my energy level down with it. My body would try to make up for my energy nose dive by producing extra adrenaline. Chemically, that’s the same thing as anxiety, by the way. It’s also just not healthy and takes a big toll on the body.
So, for yesterday and today, I have skipped bread/wheat, refused sugar, chosen eggs, avocado, fish as protein. Apple, pear and grapefruit are the closest I’ve come to sugary foods. And I feel like HELL. I really need to join slipfitness and sweat it out, I know this but I never get around to doing it.
I’ve felt this before. It’s withdrawal. My body is freaking out, because I am not feeding it sugar. Sugar addiction is real, people. My headache, stomach ache, shaky hands and sensitivity to light and sound are proving that, to me. But I will do this for 12.5 more days (but who’s counting?) and it will get better. I may slowly add some gluten, sugar, diary, back into my diet. But I will be careful, and see how I feel after having a little of each food, one at a time, and I will avoid becoming addicted to sugar, again.
Coming up: how amino acid supplements can reset my brain to its original production, delivery and use of chemicals like serotonin, dopamine, and cortisol, to name a few.