Depression, Obesity, and Inflammation

I’m going away for a few days to see the eclipse, so if you write, expect a delay in getting an answer. I love eclipses and am really excited. To make it even better, I will be with family (we get along great!) and I will meet an e-friend I feel very close to. It will be a wonderful experience.

August 
8/21 Total solar eclipse: totality visible in parts of Oregon, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Nebraska Iowa, Missouri, Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee, Georgia, North Carolina, and South Carolina; partially visible in other parts of the United States, Canada, Central America, northern South America, western Europe, and western Africa.
September
9/4 S Labor Day
9/6 Full Moon
9/5 – 9/7 Marriage to the Beast (Satan)
9/7 Feast of the Beast
9/20 – 9/21 Midnight Host
9/22 Fall Equinox
9/29 Michaelmas (?)
October
10/5 Full Moon
10/13 Backwards Halloween
10/13 Friday the Thirteenth
10/22 – 10/29 Preparation for All Hallows’ Eve
1
0/31 Halloween/Samhain/All Hallows Eve/
Important dates in Nazi groups
9/1 Start of WW2
9/17 Hitler’s alternate half-birthday
10/16 N Death of Rosenburg
10/19 Death of Goering
10/20 Hitler’s half-birthday

Depression, Obesity, and Inflammation
I subscribe to the email edition of Med Page Today because I’m sorta nerdy when it comes to articles about medicine. I’m also, thanks to a statistics course in grad school, pretty good at critiquing research design and interpretation. And that is fun, especially when I am on the verge of giving up doing something I am not very good at, like learning Cantonese. (Now why would I want to do that? Because learning a new language is supposed to ward off dementia. And why am I worried about dementia? Because I am neurotic. But that is another post.)

Okay, the article that caught my attention is “Obesity and Depression Are Related — But How?: Finding physicians who can address both is a challenge” by Shefali Luthra, Kaiser Health News August 11, 2017. https://www.medpagetoday.com/Psychiatry/Depression/67216?xid=nl_mpt_DHE_2017-08-12&eun=g620615d0r&pos=2 A lot of doctors have noticed that many depressed people are obese and many obese people are depressed. I could have told them that years ago. Self-esteem goes down as weight goes up, and that is depressing. Being depressed feels awful, so people turn to food to soothe themselves and numb out. And when you are in black depression, you are barely able to do familiar things, like get out of bed in the morning, let alone take on something new and hard like going on a diet. So it is a vicious cycle.

This affects an awful lot of people. People who are obese are 55% more likely to be depressed, and people with depression are 58% more likely to develop obesity, according to “Overweight, Obesity, and Depression: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis of Longitudinal Studies.” http://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamapsychiatry/fullarticle/210608

Exactly a year ago, 8/20/2016, I posted about the connection between depression and systemic diseases, including chronic pain. A Danish study showed that people with serious infections (read, a lot of inflammation) were apt to become depressed. My post said, “So…inflammation factors can cross the blood/brain barrier. If my body is inflamed, I get depressed. And if I am depressed, my body becomes inflamed.”

If the authors of the article I am discussing had read up on this, they might have guessed how obesity and depression are related.

The second part of the article discusses how treating depression is assigned to psychiatrists and treating obesity to nurses and dieticians. These professions, of course, don’t communicate.

Of course that is not exactly news. They never have; at best, it’s a quick referral. So there is no treatment that addresses both conditions together. The dietitians assume that you are up for cheerfully counting calories and going to the gym and the psychiatrists don’t consider weight gain when they choose medications. I know; depression meds gave me an extra eighty pounds.

And that leaves it up to us, at least for now. I think our energy would best be directed at how to cope with this double whammy and the double stigma it brings. (It’s a triple or quadruple whammy or more if other chronic inflammatory diseases like fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue, lupus, arthritis, etc. etc. are factored in.)

I don’t mean to be a downer. We can do that, and we are the best people to do it. We’ve shown the value of peer support in all kinds of other situations: PTSD, grief, having a hard time getting a book published, being single mothers who have to work to feed their kids. And, I am proud to say, healing from ritual abuse.

I think that what we need is a message board that accepts a large number of people with a wide range of weight and varying length and severity of depression. Then we could support each other emotionally; grieve the unfairness, rant at society’s rejection of us and at the lack of resources in the health care system, cheer each other on, and laugh together. We could share what has and has not worked for us. Knowing that so many share our struggle would make us feel less like losers and freaks.

And, just maybe, some professionals would find the message board and be open to learning from us. Because we, who have the condition, are the experts and have so much knowledge to share.

Does such a board already exist? I hope so, for I would join in a minute. If not, anybody want to start one? I just can’t – I’m spread too thin as it is, sadly. It’s not all that hard to start, and there would be a lot of people who could help you do it. I could coach you, but I can’t actually do it myself.

Any takers?

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

Losing Sixty-Five Pounds Gradually

You can find information on Candlemas at https://ritualabuse.wordpress.com/2012/01/21/candlemas/ and Valentine’s Day at https://ritualabuse.wordpress.com/2016/02/10/valentines-day/

I wrote this back in 2007. That’s ten years and a lot of healing ago.

A couple of months ago, my doctor told me that my blood sugars were inching up and recommended I eat lower on the glycemic index. This means eating foods that release their nutrients slowly, rather than flooding the body and causing a quick rise in blood sugar.

Choosing appropriate foods is not rocket science. Lots of fresh veggies and fruit, beans, meat, and fish. Cook only with olive oil. Reduced fat dairy products and mayonnaise. Avoid white rice and flour – brown rice and whole wheat flour is fine. Avoid fried foods and stuff made by huge conglomerates that care about their profits but not their customers’ health.

Intellectually, it’s real easy and I know exactly what to do. On an emotional level, though, it’s a different story. I just don’t understand eating. I don’t get that what I do this minute will have consequences in an hour or a day or a week. Perhaps that’s because my sense of time is so distorted that things don’t seem connected. If I plant a package of morning glory seeds, it doesn’t feel like I will have twenty magnificent morning glory seedlings in a few weeks. It feels like I’ve just wasted $2.19 by burying those little brown thingies.

My favorite comfort foods are all bad for me. Pasta, white bread with butter, donuts, potato chips, Coke. My little parts want all of those at the same meal, and lots of them.

If I get anxious, I tend to eat quickly, thoughtlessly, and therefore over-eat. If I get really upset, I just stop eating entirely. It isn’t a decision: I have no appetite and just can’t wrap my mind around the idea of putting stuff in my mouth and swallowing it. I get all freaked out by the idea that I am hollow inside. Weird, eh?

I know that many people without abuse histories have some of these same attitudes. I also know that many, many abuse survivors have far more severe eating problems than I do, often to the point of being life-threatening. But these things still bug me on a daily basis. My attitudes, beliefs and behaviors around food all feel choppy and fragmented, rather than integrated into a smoothly working process.

I’m also reminded on a daily (minutely?) basis of another result of my abuse, a life-long depression. Back in the days of tricyclics I put on eighty pounds that I have not yet been able to take off. I try to think of my extra weight as a battle scar and to remind myself I won the battle against suicide, for I am still here. Maybe I can win the battle with food, too. Of course I would rather not have battle scars – I would happily settle for a nice medal that I could wear on special occasions.

I’m proud of myself, though, because I don’t throw up my hands and say, “It’s useless. I’ll never change.” I keep on trying, meal after meal, supermarket run after supermarket run. I’m not a fanatic about eating healthily, for life without chocolate is not a happy thought, but I keep moving in that direction. It is paying off, too, because my blood sugars are normal now. I’m happy, for I sure wouldn’t deal well with diabetes.

It may be this way with most parts of healing. You just have to put one foot in front of the other, baby step by baby step. You don’t have to understand completely, you don’t have to completely believe in what you are doing. You just have to decide it’s worth a try and then keep plugging away at it. It’s not dramatic – but it’s doable.

So what was the process like? If I remember right, I didn’t lose very much the first few years. I know for sure I didn’t make a lot of big changes all at once. I just sort of chipped away at it.

The first thing I tackled was potato chips. I told myself I would eat fewer, not that I would never have another potato chip in my life. The less I ate, the less I craved them. Today I have them once or twice a year at somebody else’s house. They are just as delicious as ever, but the next day I have forgotten all about them.

The next project, sugar, was much more ambitious. It’s one thing to eat fewer potato chips but more crispy, salty, yummy tortilla chips. It’s another thing all together to eat less ice cream, fewer donuts, fewer M&M’s, and even, believe it or not, less tomato ketchup. I had to start reading labels seriously, for who knew high fructose corn syrup was added to so many products?

I just found out that loving sugar is not my fault, it is because of some bugs in my digestive system that live on sugar and ask for it. The more I eat, the more they reproduce, and so there are lots more of the little buggers telling my brain to eat sugar. When there are very few of them, their pleas are much fainter and therefore easier to ignore. How smart of my unconscious to decide to work on all products containing sugar, not just one or two!

For several months I would stop concentrating on eating less of things and just add healthy stuff to my meals. After a while I developed a taste for spinach and broccoli. Now I have a salad every single night. My physical therapist says, “Do less of what feels bad and more of what feels good.” I don’t think of pasta and sourdough bread as feeling bad, but I get the idea.

Another thing has helped a great deal. I had my knee replaced and, with less pain, I can move more easily. Comfort foods aren’t as enticing. I started going to the gym and now, after a few years, I really enjoy it. Exercise apparently doesn’t make you lose weight by itself, but it makes you healthier and helps keep the weight off. And since muscle weighs more than fat, I can stay at the same weight but be thinner.

It also makes me more conscious of my body. I am beginning to see how moving one muscle affects another one and this makes me feel less fragmented physically. Somehow, I have gained some idea of how eating works. I now understand that there are, indeed, causes and effects. If I consistently pig out, I will gain weight. If I eat healthy most of the time and only pig out occasionally, I will be fine. What is really neat is that getting in touch with the way eating affects my body has taken no conscious effort. It just happened.

I love looking back and seeing where those baby steps have taken me!

Chronic Pain – My Constant Companion

 

Upcoming Satanic and Nazi holidays  
Please note that Satanic sects build the year around pagan holidays, adding Christian holidays and major secular holidays. It is the Neo-Nazi groups that defile Jewish holidays.
9/1 (Nazi) Start of WW2:  9/5 (Satanic) Labor Day (US and Canada):  9/5 – 9/7 (Satanic) Marriage to the Beast:  9/7 (Satanic) Feast of the Beast:  9/16 (Satanic) Full Moon:  9/17 (Nazi) Hitler’s alternate half-birthday:  9/20 – 9/21 (Satanic) Midnight Host:  9/22 (Satanic and Nazi) Fall Equinox
Fall Equinox https://ritualabuse.wordpress.com/2012/09/16/the-fall-equinox/
Labor Day https://ritualabuse.wordpress.com/2013/08/20/labor-day/

 
 
The last post was about the probable connection of brain and body through inflammation. I was enraged, if you didn’t guess. I’ve calmed down quite a bit since then, at least on the surface. This post is about my feelings about stuff I have had to contend with throughout most of my adult life.

A few years ago, I tried to calculate how many years since the age of twenty I had been in chronic pain. I picked twenty because by then I was pretty much free of the cult and I didn’t want to count the childhood years of abuse. I wanted an estimate of how many years some physical condition created my pain, a condition that was not dependent on another human being to cause it or maintain it. In other words, the after-effects of the abuse. Does that make sense?

I recalculated it today and it came to fifty-five, allowing for a few pain-free years when I was in my low fifties. There were twenty-four years of fibromyalgic-type pain, then a break, then arthritis, first in my knees, then my back, and now also my hands and maybe my neck, too.

And all that time, I was either depressed or on antidepressants. So there was a lot of inflammation in my body, and in my brain, too, until I discovered Wellbutrin about ten years ago. I can just see the body and brain passing inflammation back and forth, like children playing hot potato. “It’s yours.” No, it’s yours. It’s your turn.” “You take it, my turn has been longer than yours.” On and on, for year after year.

The unidentified illness started shortly after I had my second child, followed by a bad case of the flu. I thought (hoped?) for many months that it was a late symptom of the flu and it would clear up rapidly. It came and went in waves, so I often thought I was done with it. The waves gradually got less intense and further apart until I realized, after twenty-five years, that they had disappeared. It was during this time that I was either coping with my depression without medications or using antidepressants that took away my suicidal thoughts but had horrible side effects.

The mystery disease caused what felt like aching pain in my arm, leg, and finger bones. Nothing in my torso, thank goodness. The pain in my hands gave me the worst problems. I had to buy an electric can opener. I had to ask people to open store doors for me — they were too heavy. And I could not type or hold a pen. I mean I could, but I would be crying after a few minutes. Made it hard to be a grownup.

It forced me to ask for help, which was mortifying. I felt exposed, vulnerable, incompetent. And afraid that the people I asked for help would mock me before walking away, leaving me in tears.

I had a few years between the end of that episode in my life and being diagnosed with arthritis. But, looking back, it had started five or ten years earlier, overlapping with the mystery disease. I remember being stiff, so stiff that I had to take a hot shower before going downstairs to have coffee. I remember doing back exercises during that period, too. There wasn’t a lot of pain, just the first warnings. I blossomed: started jogging and swimming – and dancing, too! It was a pretty happy period for me.

The arthritis pain stays steady for a while until there is a flare-up. The flare-up eventually dies down but the pain is more intense than before. I did have a knee replacement, which was a miracle until I tripped and fell on my walker. Still, that knee is not at all bad. The real problem is my back: paraphrasing the latest X-ray report: “Her back is a mess and it is going to get worse.” It is all steadily down-hill from here.

I cannot walk a half block without sitting down. I cannot stand more than a couple of minutes. It is painful to lie down, which makes sleep problematic. Thank goodness sitting is still comfortable.  I can sit all day in front of my computer and not feel a bit of pain. I can see sometime in the future having to sleep sitting up; it won’t be fun, but it will be manageable.

So I have lived for all those years with chronic pain. It’s been a constant companion, like depression, my oldest friend. I no longer have to use an electric can opener but there are days when I think of buying one. I can see it coming, as my fingers get bent and my knuckles enlarge so that I can no long wear my favorite rings.

I think many of us were trained to endure pain stoically. If you aren’t allowed to express it externally, you have to bear it internally. Sometimes alters take turns enduring the pain, sometimes there is a further split for the trainer to take advantage of.

For me, there is a “religious” component to living with pain. I was taught that Satan liked pain, and that my pain was a gift to him. If I tried to avoid the pain or complained, it was like a slap in Satan’s face. You absolutely do not ever want to do that.

I am long past believing that, but the habit is deeply ingrained. It is very, very difficult to ask for help and to take care of my body.  Making a doctor’s appointment means I am admitting there is something wrong . . . and asking for help. It took forever to use the walker in public and to allow people to open doors for me and let me to go first. I waited years before I got a handicap placard for my car. I know these behaviors are silly and counterproductive but I am bucking the habits of a lifetime. Each year I am getting a little better at not being so rigidly independent.

There are so many, many losses involved with chronic illnesses and chronic pain. I am very grateful that I have not been deprived of a sense of purpose, of being of use to my community. I think of this every day while writing blog posts, updating my web page, moderating support groups, or laughing and crying with friends. I am grateful, too, for discovering ideas that might be helpful to me personally and for learning of exciting work around the world that others in the field of ritual abuse are doing. I feel blessed that these connections have not been taken away from me.

PS Something else that I am wildly grateful for is that chronic pain still grants me some joy, unlike depression, which sucked all the color, pleasure, and meaning out of life.