Please see Disclaimer.
Some changes I’ve made lately:
Reintroduced zinc, in the form of zinc picolinate (see resources page for the specific brand I’m using). Quickly noticed significant increase in energy levels and sleep quality, although beginning my intense candida treatment seemed to put an end to that. 😀 I am now doing another round of homeopathic candida treatment. Hopefully the discomfort and weird symptoms are temporary, and a sign that a Herx or die-off reaction is happening (which can actually cause a temporary increase in symptoms associated with the infection).
Been reducing consumption of cherries. This has helped with energy levels (although again, the candida treatment – or something – seems to have since stolen that energy. 😛 ) I generally only eat cherries now if I’m in pain (see natural pain relievers), and/or if I particularly want to ensure that I sleep well. I pulled back on cherries to reduce sugar consumption – to help fight candida and also give my liver a break.
Tried reintroducing coconut oil.
Below is my recent health journal (Admittedly, this is not as scientific as it could be, as several variables are changing – sometimes at the same time or in rapid succession. However, when you’re desperate for nutrition, you might be more compelled to cut some corners, in terms of experimental/scientific purity. I really hate doing that, but have been a little desperate lately to try to discover more options. 🙂 As you can probably see, I’ve been a little lax and/or sloppy in recording things sometimes – I just copied/pasted this from my health journal, and have since edited it minimally. Also please note, I may have experienced other symptoms but not recorded them here if they were typical/routine symptoms for me):
|04/22/2018||Coconut oil||No new/exacerbated symptoms noticed|
|04/23/2018||Coconut oil||Temporary slight pain in arch above right eye, near nose, lasting approx. one min.
Some stuffiness, but seems to be a continuation of previous allergies. Some throat congestion/dryness.
Foggy brain feeling builds.
Experiencing brain fog.
As day progresses, continuing to feel worse. Head feeling “clogged up”, eyes heavy. Mild GI discomfort.
|04/24/2018||Coconut oil||Some continuation of weird head feeling (I think). Some dizziness.|
|04/25/2018||Coconut oil||Diarrhea in morning (note: also morning after taking 9th vial of candida treatment). Mild GI discomfort. Itchy skin.|
|04/26/2018||Macadamia oil (took break from coconut oil)||Tight head, ovary pain (at an abnormal time), neck pain and/or stiffness.|
|04/27/2018||Coconut oil||Tight head, GI discomfort|
|04/28/2018||Coconut oil / macadamia oil||Tight head, improved later|
|04/30/2018||Macadamia oil||Seems to be okay|
|04/30/2018||Coconut oil||Will require further testing at later date (perhaps after second round of candida treatment)|
|04/30/2018||Hemp seed||Possibly some head tightness from eating too much? Few to no symptoms I think.|
|05/03/2018||Celery||Some head tightness. Otherwise, few/no unusual symptoms so far.|
As shown, I’ve also tried macadamia oil recently. It seems to be mostly or completely okay. So yay!!! Hopefully there won’t be any surprises or betrayals down the road. 😀 Sometimes, I am able to tolerate the fats/oils of a food that I can’t eat. (For example, I can do olive oil but not olives, and ghee but not milk or butter).
I’ve consumed hemp stuff fairly successfully in the past, as long as I haven’t eaten too much. So that was less of a surprise or even a true food reintroduction I guess.
I had tried celery perhaps a month or so ago, and was experiencing some GI symptom(s), but was unsure what was causing them (as the candida treatment could also have been implicated).
So I tried celery again yesterday. So far, I think it has caused, at most, one or possibly no symptoms. (As the head tightness seems to have shown up pretty frequently within the past several days, it’s unlikely that the celery is what’s causing it now. Might be the weather. And/or dehydration (…oops)).
I wanted to give you guys a heads-up that one of my next experiments will be to limit my electronics exposure for a while (possibly a week or two?) – specifically, exposure to my computer and phone.
While the results and analysis of this experiment certainly will not be entirely scientific or objective, they should give me at least a rough idea of just how much my interaction with these devices is impairing/affecting my health.
If I end up feeling significantly better while away from these devices, I might decide to rearrange my schedule so that I’m spending less time on the computer and phone each day, but allotting a certain (smaller) amount of time for computer work.
If limited electronics exposure actually correlates with improved cognitive function, then who knows? I might, in fact, become a better (more creative, articulate) blogger by actually spending less, not more time at the computer!
My goal is to record the approximate amount of time spent on electronics each day, and symptoms or improvements that I notice. I’ll probably have to be on the phone and/or computer to some degree most days, but I am planning to mostly take a break from blogging for a little while.
I’ve scheduled a few posts, but other than that, will probably be taking this time to accomplish stuff around the house, maybe exercise a little and (hopefully) regain some energy and balance, and give my violin, guitar, and piano some love. <3
And hopefully catch up on reading.
Which…will mean mostly reading real books.
Exposure to “real” books does sometimes make me sick, but I’m beginning to wonder if tangible books are actually as hazardous to my health as radio frequencies from reading Kindle books on my phone.
Similarly, I might try spending more time outdoors some days – reconnecting with the frequencies of the earth (or “earthing“), despite the fact that I am quite allergic to the outdoors. I’m also beginning to wonder if the improvements from a change in biological frequencies might outweigh the negative side effects of outdoor exposure. We shall see. 😀
But yeah, I’ve scheduled some posts – on this blog and my other blog. Kinda like pre-made frozen meals, I guess. 😀 Hopefully they are tasty. 😉
© 2018 Kate Richardson All Rights Reserved
Example: “Few or no studies have demonstrated the long-term health effects of consuming GM foods. Therefore, GM foods are safe.”
(Actually, the basis for significant concerns regarding the safety of GM crops has been demonstrated. See resources page for more info. Still, similar arguments from silence are often made about GM crops or other public health concerns/hazards, when corporations wish to conceal damaging evidence or silence incriminating voices for the sake of profit.)
Just because no one has spoken against something doesn’t mean it’s automatically true, correct, or safe.
And in the same way, just because no one has spoken for the truth of something doesn’t necessarily mean that thing is untrue, incorrect, or unreal.
Argumentum ex silentio is often seen at play in echo chambers, where people tend to be fed (via social media algorithms or other means) information which confirms their own biases/opinions/wishes. They don’t hear/read any (or much) information to the contrary. Therefore, they continue to assume that their opinions are well-informed ones, because opposing voices and viewpoints are seemingly silent.
In the dystopian novel 1984, people were “vaporized” and their memories completely blotted from media and records. This was all in an attempt to make it seem – via the silence of any contrary media – as if they had never existed.
Newspapers containing information which disgraced Big Brother (for example, publications from past dates containing predictions which were later found to be grossly mistaken or off the mark) were thoroughly destroyed, and publications with the same date were rewritten and republished in favor of the present “facts”.
The purpose of such painstaking efforts to rewrite history was to maintain the perception of Big Brother as a wise, strong, trustworthy, and necessary savior or hero. The purpose was to – through the silencing of contradictory information – “prove” the dependability of Big Brother, and make it seem as if “vaporized” people had never existed in the first place, rather than mysteriously disappeared.
However, the silence of truth does not prove its antithesis. Hence, an argument from silence is a logical fallacy.
© 2018 Kate Richardson All Rights Reserved
Some of you guys have asked what foods I can or can’t eat.
This is sort of a reference post that I’m creating for those who are curious or who may have health issues similar to mine. I will probably link here from time to time, and I plan to update these lists as my diet gradually changes (once in a while I add or remove something), or as I remember items I forgot to list.
One request for my dear readers:
Please do not comment here or contact me to tell me why I really should be able to consume a certain food, drink, or supplement, without first asking and seeking to understand the reason(s) why I cannot. I have legit reasons for avoiding the foods that I do, which are based on personal experiences with foods, research I’ve done, and other information picked up along the way – much of which I’ve learned from my doctor. If you have relevant info regarding my particular genetic conditions or are aware of ways to mitigate the effects of broken biochemical pathways, I’m definitely interested in hearing about it. 🙂 Other advisory messages regarding food – well-meaning as they may be – will likely be a waste of your time as well as mine.
You are more than welcome to share your experience here with fighting/recovering from a food sensitivity/allergy or GI/autoimmune condition. And most other well-considered comments are welcome. 🙂
I reserve the right to delete any and all comments with or without reason and with or without notice, and to choose not to reply to any emails.
Thank you. <3
This request comes after multiple experiences of people essentially arguing/suggesting that my dietary restrictions aren’t necessary or that it shouldn’t be necessary to eliminate entire food groups from the diet or that I’m “just not getting enough nutrition” (and should therefore resume eating the foods I’m avoiding), or of receiving messages from others to the effect of “You look almost anorexic!” or “Do you need to talk to someone?”.
Please don’t be alarmed. I care a great deal about my health, as evidenced (I think) by my willingness to actually follow this non-toxic diet and feed my body only the cleanest foods which it is also capable of tolerating. And I’ve actually been gaining a bit of weight recently (actually, maybe a bit too much). :/
I may have originally chosen to start the elimination diet on my own, but my doctor agrees that it is necessary, and certainly discourages me from introducing harmful or potentially harmful food groups – such as dairy or wheat – that many people seem to label as “important food groups”. (Btw, you know how people suffering from anorexia are often advised to eat pizza or hamburgers? On so many fronts, this is not sound advice. 1) If you feed a starving person a hamburger, you could potentially kill them, 2) a person suffering from anorexia ultimately needs nutritious foods [especially as anorexia can lead to electrolyte deficiencies], not simply highly caloric foods, and 3) Wheat and dairy are two of the most common food allergies, and sometimes people fighting anorexia are also fighting other gastrointestinal disorders, which may be exacerbated by these foods.)
(In all likelihood, I’ll probably never add wheat or dairy back into my diet. At most, it’d probably be sheep dairy. Not even goat.)
And it’s not like I don’t miss eating some incredibly delicious foods! 🙁 But I definitely don’t miss the physiological and mental torment they gave me (many of these foods seriously impacted my nervous system). Following this relatively “ascetic” diet will always be worth the health benefits (and more importantly, worth the avoidance of health problems).
For more specs on the food and supplements I use, please see the Resources page.
Please see disclaimer.
© 2018 Kate Richardson All Rights Reserved
Ever had a migraine? Do you know a migraine sufferer?
A migraine is not just a common or severe headache. It is that, but much more. A migraine with aura means a migraine accompanied by sensory disturbances or odd perceptions or sensitivities to various stimuli. An aura is something that can show up for people before a migraine or seizure. However, I often experience mine during the migraine.
Everyone’s migraine experience differs in some way from others’ experiences – in the presence or absence of various symptoms, the severity and timing of those symptoms, and the triggers and remedies.
I’ve had migraines since I was six (or at least, I first recall experiencing them at that age), and only since radically changing my diet and lifestyle in recent years (especially the past year or so) have I seen major improvements.
I don’t get migraines very often now, but when I do, they’re still quite the nightmare.
It’s 11:15 at night. You just got home from work, and you feel a throbbing pulse of knotted-up heat surrounding your right eye. You try to massage your head and dig at the deep pain, but it is too deep to reach, and it almost feels like any pressure you apply just pushes the pain deeper inside.
“Light jazz” music is on the radio when you walk inside. Normally, this type of music can give you a headache, but now, it’s triggering feelings of nausea. The lights are too bright, and the smell of garlic bread and pasta seeps through your nostrils and pierces deep into your head, setting on fire your already inflamed brain. The pain intensifies and spreads. You wish your remedies could pervade your head this quickly, could heal the damage as fast as it’s inflicted.
You faintly, dizzily wobble up the stairs to your bedroom and lie on the floor in the dark.
It’s been a long day, but you want nothing to eat. Even imagining food or the smell of it makes you sick.
You struggle to find a comfortable position.
Once you do, you don’t want to move. Doing so – even an inch – just reignites the fire.
Even the slightest motion is infinitely painful. It hurts to talk.
People visit and ask you questions. “Are you okay?” “What can I bring you?”
You attempt to respond as briefly and painlessly as possible, not speaking too loudly or moving your mouth too much. Which then prompts them to ask you to repeat your response, because it was not discernible the first time.
Inwardly annoyed – at your own hypersensitivity and pain more than anything – you muster the strength to speak more loudly (if possible), knowing that may set you back for the next several minutes or hours.
You know that they care and mean well, and you don’t want to ignore them. But it’s so painful to shout. You feel like you’re shouting. All sound is magnified. The vibrations of sound fuel the flames permeating your head. And it hurts to move your jaw. It hurts to think.
Your cognitive function is compromised, and it’s painful – if not impossible – to process thoughts efficiently or lucidly.
In response to your loved ones’ queries, you request a hot cloth to place on your face. This will aid in blocking the traces of light biting through your eyelids, as well as relaxing muscles and possibly clearing some nasal congestion, removing at least some pressure from your head.
After about five or ten rounds of heating and applying the hot cloth, you’re beginning to feel some improvement, but you know that your only hope for seeing the end of this migraine is taking pain reliever and trying to sleep it off.
But…nope. Unless you’re fortunate, it’s still there in the morning, if slightly less so. “Hey there!” it greets you. “Didn’t think I’d leave so soon, did you?” Your head feels like a block of lead weighing down your pillow, and you know you lack the energy or equilibrium to get out of bed uneventfully right now.
The pain has traveled since you fell asleep, radiating to other areas of your head.
Once you finally manage to safely descend from your bed to the floor, you attempt to rebalance yourself enough to make it down the stairs, and repeat the hot cloth procedure. You also prepare a cup of tea so that you can drink in the steam (and eventually drink the tea).
You finally feel like eating something mild, and after doing so – and continuing to apply other remedies – the final traces of your migraine at last begin to fade.
In the workplace, staying home for a migraine is often viewed as a weak or unnecessary decision. As far as I recall, I never called out for a migraine (perhaps because I feared it’d be viewed as an “excuse” not to work), and so I remember dealing with them while working.
(The first manager I worked with there was pretty kind and understanding, and once he found out I suffered from migraines, he encouraged me to do whatever was necessary to care for myself, but he left soon after I was hired, and leadership changed a lot after that.)
I wonder how much the quality of my work was compromised, as migraines can diminish my thinking/processing ability, and also render me more dizzy and clumsy (I did spill/break my share of things at that job, a highly active and fast-paced position).
To make matters worse, at my first workplace, we were actually not allowed to have water bottles with us. We were only permitted to somehow carve out the time to walk far away from our work area (which was not always allowed) to drink water (laced with germs, heavy metals, and likely fluoride) from the water fountain.
If employers are going to “demand” that their migraine-suffering employees show up to work, they should at least make provisions for their staff that would aid them in coping with the pain:
An electric tea kettle.
Maybe some gluten-free tea bags with minimal ingredient lists.
Pain relievers (at least – or including – natural options such as boswellia and maybe white willow bark. Businesses should be able to get away with providing these if they label them as “food” and not “medicine”).
Slightly longer breaks.
Light sensitivity glasses (and/or yellow-tinted glasses for desk jobs), or allowing employees to bring/wear their own on the job.
If businesses are unwilling to make these accommodations, they should not expect employees to show up to work while suffering from migraines, unless they want to risk damage/loss in inventory, information, or labor processes and work quality due to clumsiness/dizziness, severe pain, and impaired neurological processes in their employees.
Chronic illness and autoimmune disease rates are only increasing, so the long-term solution is not simply to fire these employees and hire healthier ones.
The solution is to make our workplaces, homes, and environment cleaner, less toxic, and safer for – and more supportive of – those with chronic illness.
If you are a migraine sufferer, what are some migraine triggers for you? What things help?
Please see disclaimer.
© 2018 Kate Richardson All Rights Reserved
Magnesium is involved in over 300 reactions in the body.
It is estimated that approximately 80% (or more) of Americans are not getting enough magnesium and may be suffering from magnesium deficiency.
Some things that can deplete magnesium levels in the body include:
So basically all of us are being robbed of magnesium, in one way or another.
Magnesium is critically involved in cell energetics.
Magnesium Is Basic To Cancer Treatment – Dr. Mark Sircus
Magnesium Can Help Prevent Chronic Disease – Leah Shainhouse, R.D.
Magnesium – How It Affects Your Sleep – Dr. Michael Breus
Magnesium appears to play a role in the prevention and/or management of many chronic diseases, including cancer, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease.
And if your liver detox pathways are operating at suboptimal levels like mine (this is actually not too uncommon, due to mutations on the CBS gene), then ammonia is likely building up in your system (ammonia is a byproduct of the metabolism of protein), as your liver is incapable of filtering it out quickly enough before it floods the bloodstream and reaches your brain. In this case, magnesium “shields” are extra important for your brain.
Magnesium is also very important as it helps to stabilize the blood brain barrier. When blood sugar is imbalanced it causes the body to use up more magnesium and leaves the brain vulnerable to ammonia toxicity. Magnesium is also important for glutamine metabolism by activating glutamine synthetase, an enzyme that helps to remove ammonia from the cells.
According to David Perlmutter, MD, magnesium deficiency symptoms can include:
And magnesium-deficiency-related clinical conditions can include:
Dr. Perlmutter has also compiled a long list of drugs (including magnesium hydroxide, an antacid) that deplete magnesium stores in the body.
Magnesium is needed to stimulate the hormone calcitonin which draws calcium out of the muscles and soft tissues and into the bones. This helps explain why magnesium helps lower the risk of heart attack, osteoporosis, arthritis and kidney stones. – Katie Wells, 10 Signs of Magnesium Deficiency.
Magnesium deficiency can also lead to low serotonin levels (magnesium aids in the conversion of tryptophan to the neurotransmitter serotonin).
Magnesium is also critically involved in the activation of ATP (adenosine triphosphate, the main source of cell energy). ATP must be bound to a magnesium ion to be biologically active.
Even as I write this, I’m realizing I probably need to take more magnesium, as I still have several symptoms of magnesium deficiency (though fewer than I used to). Right now, I typically take 450-750 mg/day, which is more than the recommended daily amount, but then, celiac disease can lead to magnesium deficiency (as it reduces the body’s ability to absorb nutrients). Maintaining adequate nutrition is a particular challenge for me, especially as I can’t eat most high-magnesium foods:
Yep, none of those. 🙂
Tiger nuts are a decent source of magnesium, though, and thankfully, that is a food I can tolerate. But I still have to supplement with magnesium. And I don’t even drink city water. If I were regularly consuming fluoride-rich water, I’d need to supplement with more magnesium yet (and purchase a water filter)!
The “right” or “best” form will depend on your individual health needs. However, there are some forms (like magnesium oxide) that offer poor bioavailability and/or are basically junk.
I’m a fan of magnesium malate and citrate.
Dr. Traj Nibber, on magnesium malate:
This less well-known combination has been studied for use in fibromyalgia. Since malate is a substrate in the cellular energy cycle, it can help improve ATP production; there is some preliminary evidence that it may reduce muscle pain and tender points in fibromyalgia patients.
And on magnesium citrate:
A commonly used form that has a good bioavailability compared to oxide. It is also very rapidly absorbed in the digestive tract but it does have a stool loosening effect. This form is found in many supplements and remains a solid option for delivering magnesium into the body.
Check out the full article here, where Dr. Nibber discusses several forms of magnesium, and the possible benefits or side effects of various types.
In addition to researching and choosing the best magnesium compound for your body, you also have to decide what form(s) – such as liquid, capsule, powder, and/or bath salts – work best for you.
Katie Wells (blogger at Wellness Mama) uses topical magnesium (magnesium spray), and recommends this for better absorption. I personally have found that magnesium spray causes my skin to itch (though perhaps a different form/brand would work. Not sure I’ve tried the brand she recommends). However, I can tolerate magnesium chloride baths, another method for topical absorption.
These are the salts I use:
I also take magnesium in capsule form. Of the various brands and forms of magnesium I’ve tried, these are a couple that have worked well so far (both mag citrate), and my favorite is the one I’m using now by Pure Encapsulations (simple ingredient list, and doesn’t bother my gut to the degree that the mag citrate powder by Natural Vitality did).
With all the toxins and environmental issues/stressors to which we are exposed today, our magnesium need is likely to be much higher than it used to be. The RDA (recommended daily amount) may not be enough (I’m already taking more than the RDA for my gender/age, and it seems that even that may not be enough [although I definitely notice a difference when I do – or don’t – take it. If I skip magnesium for very long, I feel extremely achy, tired, and weak, and my face begins to look more aged.])
Magnesium helps relieve muscle aches (at least to a degree) for me, improves sleep quality and energy levels, and aids in the process of skin repair.
Magnesium is a mineral used by every organ in your body, especially your heart, muscles, and kidneys. If you suffer from unexplained fatigue or weakness, abnormal heart rhythms or even muscle spasms and eye twitches, low levels of magnesium could be to blame.
Why Do We Need Magnesium? (this piece also mentions some drugs that could interact with magnesium)
Disclaimer: I am not a doctor or health professional. Just someone who’s had a lot of health problems, done a lot of research, and has been gradually learning/discovering solutions (read more about my health journey in #myjourneytorecovery). Please do not treat any of this information as medical advice, and consult your physician regarding any health concerns and before trying any products or remedies.
© 2018 Kate Richardson All Rights Reserved
Recently, a friend of mine was very good to remind me that several matters about which I was concerned were/are beyond my control, an observation for which I am grateful. I’ve been realizing lately just how many of my fears center around matters I can’t control.
If this is the case, then why do I waste energy worrying about them?
For most or all of my life, I’ve felt responsible for the emotions and comfort of others, for others’ perceptions of me, and for my inability to accomplish or learn more in one sitting than my body or brain will permit.
As a result, I’ve assigned myself a ton of blame, shed truckloads of tears, and resorted to other self-destructive actions, in the hope that I could somehow correct or “atone” for my lack of omnipotence, forgetting – or perhaps never actually quite realizing/acknowledging – that I’m human, and it is not normal for humans to expect themselves or others to have the capabilities and power of God.
Over the years, I’ve many times allowed my soul to be pulverized over friends’/family’s/crushes’ perceptions of me. Unrequited love (or the perception of it) has left me shattered and an emotional wreck more than once. (And don’t get me wrong, I think it’s healthier to release our emotions [through constructive, safe outlets] than to bottle them up or stuff them, and it can be very therapeutic to express our pain through tears. Emotional crying (vs. lubricating or reflex tears) actually releases stress hormones from the body. Near the beginning of this month, I was having a rough time, and cried quite a bit for a couple days. But at the end of it all, I actually felt more peaceful, energetic, and refreshed.)
Only in recent years have I been waking up and essentially telling myself, “Kate, some people are just going to hate your guts, no matter how much energy and effort you invest in preventing this. Some people are going to feel uncomfortable around you – or simply uncomfortable in general – no matter how hard you try to accommodate their needs or care for them. And all you can do in life is give things your best. And leave the outcomes to be what they may.”
As children, we often catch the message/belief that it is our fault if someone is mad at us. This mentality may even be learned from our parents. Sometimes, we see them get hurt if others disapprove of them or of the way they raise their children, or of their children’s shortcomings and “problems”. And so we quickly learn to live for the approval of others – for the sake of our own image and our parents’ image – inviting others to be the judge of the beauty, worth, effectiveness, or meaning of our lives. We feel we must prove to be excellent students and obedient children (and not just obedient, but having the appearance of being so to onlookers). We learn that it is shameful to be quiet because we will seem “shy”. We learn that we must modify our behavior in an effort to control the perceptions others have of us.
And if we grow up in a “religious” community, often additional expectations come with that. We must appear to be righteous, and to be fitting in with whatever additional practically cultic dogma is added on to the original heart/message/core of that “religion” or belief system. We work extra hard to keep our noses clean – and not only that – but make sure that others know we’re doing this, in the hopes that doing so will allow us to earn and control their acceptance of us.
And sadly, these efforts often work. In some cultures, if we just check off all the appropriate boxes, then we are rewarded with acceptance and “respect”. This experience then reinforces in our heads the message that if we simply try hard enough and bend far enough, we can control others’ perceptions of us. And so we continue to devote all our energy to seeking the Holy Grail of human approval and acceptance. But sooner or later, we get frustrated when our efforts don’t seem to be consistently working, because they’ve “worked before”.
To make matters worse, when in such communities we ever dare to deviate from expectations, norms, or rules, we are punished harshly, whether with ostracization, “sanctions” of sorts, or correction/scolding (perhaps even publicly).
If this happens in a religious community, the psychological effects can be doubly painful and disorienting. If you desire to please God, and you consider others to be wiser than you, then you may assign the blame to yourself for being “rebellious” or unknowledgeable about the “ways of God”, if and when you are “corrected” or shunned by them, even if this treatment is utterly undeserved. You trust others’ judgment more than your own, and assume you deserved this harsh scolding/reprimand/shunning.
In such situations, we learn to associate discomfort and the disapproval of others with disobedience and sin. If we are accepted by others, then we must not be “sinning”, and if we upset them, then we deserve blame.
Some “blame” and reproof may be merited, and it is good to be sensitive to this and to learn from our mistakes. But the disapproval or opposition of others is not necessarily a good indicator of whether we have messed up and need to change or not.
Often, I’ve fallen into the trap of blaming myself for the appearance of things. Having yucky skin, despite my efforts to care for it (it looks – and used to more – like I don’t/didn’t care). Being late (even if I had a truly “legitimate” reason, and gave friends/employers notice if possible), which not only inconveniences others (which is bad enough), but also looks bad.
I also worry about (and feel responsible for) accidentally violating others’ boundaries. This is likely because I’m so used to allowing my own boundaries to be violated, and assume that others must often do the same. As a young child, I would often do things I was told (by practically anyone but a total stranger), and would allow others to do things to me that I disliked. I basically assumed that I was an idiot and they (even other peers) were sages. The most idiotic part of it all was me believing that. 😛 Yet, they seemed so confident and certain, and I lacked confidence and certainty. I was still learning so much, and felt sort of “behind” in terms of social and general knowledge, and consequently trusted others’ commands/judgment more than my own. I suppressed the voices of discomfort, hesitance, and questioning inside my head, believing that others must know best, because I knew nothing.
And so now, I worry about being the one offending, hurting, using, or scaring others by stepping all over them. Because I used to let people walk over me all the time.
But I must remember that it is their choice to be stepped on or pushed into something that makes them uncomfortable, and must also remember that it is never my intent to do so, and therefore, it’s unlikely that anyone would feel particularly strongly that they were being coerced by me into a particular action or choice. However, if they do, it is their responsibility to think for themselves, honor their boundaries, and say “no”. I should not accept or assign myself responsibility for their boundaries.
And then, I’ve blamed myself for my chronic illness. Why do I have to seem (and sometimes be) so unproductive? I’m just reinforcing millennial stereotypes. Why, when I have so many goals and desires and matters which concern me, do I have to be bound up in this prison?
It must be my fault, I reason.
Yet once again, my body lies outside my control. I make considerable efforts to care for it and protect it, and yet, I cannot control the outcome of those efforts, or the maladies that may befall my frame despite my most earnest efforts to prevent them.
My body may be thrown into a prison, but my mind will with less ease and greater resistance suffer the same fate. (Granted, I have many times fallen into the grip of some pretty crippling depression or anxiety, and haven’t always known how to get out of it. Perhaps sometimes, things just have to run their course.)
But generally speaking, my mind is a place that lies within my domain of influence and control.
Others may insult me, but taking offense is my choice.
My body may be a wreck at times, but blaming myself for this is my decision.
Man is disturbed not by things, but by the views he takes of them. – Epictetus
And even if your past decisions made you who you are today – less fit, more sick, less “desirable” or “attractive” or “respectable” – those past decisions also now lie outside of your control, and therefore, there is no use blaming yourself for them. Only in learning from those choices and moving forward with the resolve to make wiser choices in these areas in the future.
Could I have made some healthier dietary choices earlier in my life? Sure. (Honestly, I’d probably still be about as sick as I am now, as even “healthy” foods can make me unwell, and there were many other non-food factors which contributed to my illness, but maybe it would have taken me a bit longer to reach the point that I did.)
There is no use blaming myself for my carelessness (or ignorance – I knew a lot less about my body’s dietary needs then).
Therefore, whenever we are hindered or troubled or distressed, let us not blame others, but ourselves, that is, our own judgments. The uneducated person blames others for their failures; those who have just begun to be instructed blame themselves; those whose learning is complete blame neither others nor themselves. – Epictetus
If someone’s angry at me, it’s my problem.
It’s quite possible that you did something that could incite anger in others. However, that does not necessarily mean that the thing you said or did was “bad”. People respond with anger to truth and lies alike, to justice and injustice, to kindness and cruelty. It is good to examine our actions and words for anything we must change or could improve. However, regardless of the nature (good, bad, neutral) of our actions and words, others’ reactions are their choice.
If someone is uncomfortable, it’s my responsibility to change that.
For sanity’s sake, let them grow up a little. They can handle it.
It is good to be mindful of others’ needs for space, and of the boundaries they have indicated or expressed to us. But we are not responsible for the suffering (or lack thereof) of humanity. And it is not our job to baby others.
This doesn’t mean we should never attempt to ameliorate others’ conditions, problems, or suffering. But we must realize that ultimately, we cannot control whether or not they suffer.
If somebody thinks I’m stupid/unlikable, then I must be.
They are entitled to their own opinion, certainly. But remember, they’ll never see you from the angle from which you see yourself, or the angles from which others see you.
“I have often wondered how it is that every man loves himself more than all the rest of men, but yet sets less value on his own opinions of himself than on the opinions of others.” – Marcus Aurelius
In a season where many of us are painfully sensitive to rejection or aware of our “undesirability”, it’s vital to remember that others’ perceptions of us lie outside of our control (and are not necessarily accurate). Therefore, they do not merit our attention, our worry, or our energy. Easier said than done, for sure. This is definitely something I struggle with.
© 2018 Kate Richardson All Rights Reserved
So far, this month has been kinda rough. But it’s also been sprinkled generously throughout with beauty, encouragement, and hope.
A random card of encouragement from my mom. <3
People from my church praying over me last Sunday.
Uplifting, gorgeous music on my phone that helps me renew my mind.
And the ability to restore my perspective a bit, appreciate what I’ve been given, and recognize that things will work out as they’re meant to. Whatever was meant to be is the best outcome.
This doesn’t mean the pain is gone. But it’s no longer the brutally crushing force it once was.
Every ounce of suffering has been matched with at least as much – if not more – hope, perspective, and the opportunity for learning.
For my own therapeutic benefit, I’m going to take a moment to list some things I’m grateful for, because this practice tends to improve my state of mind. 🙂 Hopefully you may find it encouraging in some way as well. <3
Having taxes behind me.
Inspiriting music that I can listen to practically anytime.
The ability to cry again.
Having a safe home and healthy food to eat. If I didn’t have the support of my family, I’d probably be homeless right now due to physical issues that make steady, intense work schedules in most environments outside the home too harsh for my system. I would probably be living on the streets or at a shelter, and eating even less than I do currently with dietary restrictions.
My kind, patient, intelligent, and wise friends, from whom I’ve learned and continue to learn so much.
I know this can be a rough season for many of you, and often it can be challenging to recognize anything good when heavy clouds and fog are surrounding you. But if you’re interested in participating, I’d love to hear about some of the blessings in your lives. 🙂
© 2018 Kate Richardson All Rights Reserved
In the season of taxes and overcast skies, life can already feel bleak enough.
But often, our battles with depression are not rooted solely (if at all) in finances or gloomy weather. Although they may play a role in aggravating depression, such concerns can present as mild or practically nonexistent annoyances when juxtaposed with the heavy burdens we carry within.
What causes depression in the first place? Sometimes, it seems from our vantage point that there is no apparent cause for depression at all (or anxiety, for that matter). It just appears out of nowhere and stays for as long as it pleases.
And then, in our weakened state, all it takes is a slight tipping of the balance to push us somewhere we thought we’d never go…or at least never go again.
Perhaps you’ll find that our stories are very similar or very different. Maybe some of both.
Much of this is very hard for me to write about, though I’ve mentioned or alluded to my struggles before in various corners of my blog. But I think it makes sense to share it in this season, in the hope that someone might read it and know that they’re not alone. Maybe that someone is you. <3
One common misconception is that depression must be caused by a serious or stressful life event. Depression is often mistakenly equated with sadness, the thought process here being that sadness is typically caused by significantly painful or stressful life events, therefore, if depression = sadness, then depression also must be caused by significantly painful or stressful life events. However, while the two do often overlap, they are not synonymous.
It is possible to be depressed but not “sad”, or to be sad but not depressed.
From my piece Platitudes and Cliches You’re Probably Tired of Hearing:
Sadness is not depression. You can be sad that you lost your wallet, but you’re probably not depressed about it. You’re likely worried, and pretty frustrated about the hassle that will ensue, but once your accounts and cards are restored, you’ll be happy again. Sadness is typically circumstantial.
Depression is also frequently circumstantial, but not always. Sometimes, it comes out of nowhere. Other times, the cause is extremely covert. And often, you don’t even know you’re depressed. You’re going through the motions of life – numb, visionless, jaded. Depression can disguise itself as erratic sleep patterns, overeating, chronic fatigue, and general lethargy.
In my experience, depression doesn’t always have an obvious trigger (although recently I’ve learned some patterns and correlations to watch for). It is often just a mode of being. I stop wanting to be around people so much. Their conversation and laughter begins to sound louder and more annoying. I answer people’s questions more briefly or even defensively or critically (though I may not think I’m being critical or have the intention of sounding that way. I just notice problems more (or at least find the same issues to be more problematic or overwhelming than I normally would)).
My depression is often aggravated by overcast skies, but it is not entirely dictated or controlled by that. Often, if the weather is gray and cloudy, I will be depressed, but excessively sunny skies can cause similar reactions in me. My favorite weather is rainy weather (which, yes, involves overcast skies, but the clouds are actually yielding something healing and refreshing and not just hovering ominously over you). Rain melts the ice inside me and evaporates the numbness. It reminds me that I have skin, hair, a face that can get wet. It reminds me that I’m still alive. It caresses me like a timeless friend and tells me that I still have a reason to be here.
To summarize, depression does not always have an obvious cause – in terms of life events. However, there are many factors – seen and unseen – that can play a role in the onset or perpetuation of a depressive episode.
For me, depression can often be traced to nutritional deficiencies. (So still a cause, but not a readily apparent one.) I’ve found that I struggle if I don’t get enough vitamin B6 (I really notice a drop in sleep quality, skin health, and mood).
While depression may not always have an obvious cause, suicidal thinking/focus typically does for me.
If I am not already in a state of mild depression (at least), I’m unlikely to entertain suicidal thoughts when struck with an adverse life event or severely impacted emotionally. However, if I am already in a weakened state (mentally, emotionally, nutritionally), I am much more likely to respond to such pain by desperately scrambling for a way to escape the pain which I have no physical, mental, or emotional strength left to handle. If I am feeling vulnerable already, much less of a hit is required to knock me to the ground or throw me into a deep, dark place.
I’ve been seriously suicidal twice (to the point of ideation and attempted implementation) and “mildly” suicidal many other times (where I at least wanted suicide to be an option, or didn’t want to be here). Note: “serious” and “mild” are poor choices of wording on my part. All suicidal thoughts fall into the category of “serious”.
Both “serious” episodes involved situations in which I felt completely helpless. I had an unsolvable problem. Something obviously beyond my control, with no obvious way of escape.
I’m not going to get into the gory details – the triggers or my methods.
All I will say here is, were it not for timely intervention and the tremendous love and care of my family and God, it’s quite possible that I wouldn’t be writing this today.
But what’s really weird is that days or even hours prior to both episodes, I wouldn’t have seen myself reaching a point this low. Minutes or hours before, I was interacting with the public and likely smiling – though whether I was doing so out of social obligation or innate desire I don’t recall.
This is not to say that life wasn’t challenging and trying. Prior to these episodes, I was emotionally vulnerable and in pain, and I felt physically unwell much of the time. Stress from various areas of life was wearing me down. In retrospect, I was most certainly fighting depression in both cases. And unknown to me at the time, I was dealing with some deep-rooted (genetics-based) health problems (which I’ve now linked to many of my physical symptoms and mental/emotional struggles).
In spite of all these struggles, I still saw my situation as partially manageable, or had a glimmer of hope within – even up to a few hours prior to completely collapsing.
But it didn’t take much – in those two Februaries – to snuff out that little bit of light remaining. All it took was some “mild” thunderstorms (which seemed more like golf-ball-sized hail storms at the time).
This – even the vague bit that I’ve shared here – is not easy for me to write about. “Depression”, “mental illness”, “anxiety”, and “suicide” are terms that evoke a lot of emotion and personal pain in some and a lot of criticism from others – particularly some of those who have never personally experienced depression (sadness, for sure, but not the clinical, chronic, bone-deep depression that transforms you into a different being).
But if, on average, one person somewhere around the globe dies by suicide every 40 seconds, then there is still more action to be taken. There are more stories to be shared and hands to be extended. More resources to be created and awareness to be spread.
So here I am, sharing.
Until awareness is increased, the stigma, fear, and misunderstanding will remain alive and well.
More than once, I’ve been in a situation where I was drowning beneath the waves of depression. Most of us, when stranded and sinking in the water, forget how to swim and instead begin to panic and drown.
Right now, maybe that’s you.
You’re trapped inside a terrifying or heartbreaking situation from which you see no escape. A problem for which there seems to be no solution.
No solution except to end it all.
You’ve endured all that you possibly can.
Death has never looked more appetizing or enticing than it does now.
Or maybe…dancing with death is all too familiar for you.
And as always, you are more than welcome to email me for a listening ear (but please do not treat correspondence with me as a substitute for professional help.)
Note: I am not a doctor. I’m just sharing my story. Please research things for yourself and seek the help of a medical professional and therapist for any and all health and mental health concerns. See full disclaimer.
Some things that have helped me with depression:
You are loved.
<3 <3 <3
Please see disclaimer.
© 2018 Kate Richardson All Rights Reserved