It’s been 18 months since I stopped taking the Citalopram tablets that had been prescribed to me for postnatal depression the year before.
There have been some rocky moments in that year and a half – a couple of months ago I actually took one pill on a very bad day – but mostly I can say that I am actually ok.
It’s obvious that one of my coping mechanisms is exercise. It gives my brain endorphins and serotonin, it lets me totally zone out and not think about anything “deep and meaningful”. Overthinking is my worst enemy and exercise helps enormously.
I’m also still staying away from sugar, dairy and most gluten.
I’ve been mostly* sugar free for over 18 months now so that comes naturally. Dairy I gave up on 1st of January this year (it messes with my skin) and even though I thought it’d be the hardest thing to let go of, it’s actually been the easiest – I drink black coffee instead of lattes, I make summer porridge with coconut milk and warm winter porridge with almond milk. I cheat with cheese sometimes but try to get goat’s cheese if possible. I don’t eat yoghurt (most of them have a lot of sugar anyway), I take my probiotics in a pill. I don’t eat ice cream or any other dairy desserts anyway because of the sugar.
(For a couple of weeks this summer I had dairy, sugar and gluten while on holidays. It made me feel so terrible and my skin got so bad again that I know that my challenge from now on is to stay clean even when I’m out of my element.)
Gluten is a funny one for me because many wheat products don’t actually immediately bloat me or give me a stomach ache – tortillas are ok, pasta in small quantities is ok. However, since one of my sons really struggles with gluten, our household has very little of it in the cupboards now. Everyone is happy with rice noodles in stir fries or gluten free bread for toast and sandwiches (although I personally cannot handle that stuff very well, the sugar and yeast in it doesn’t agree with me)
I find I’m a bit more relaxed about my eating than I was during marathon training – then I knew I had to eat very clean or my digestion would fail me during long runs. Pretty soon the next marathon training cycle will start and I’m actually looking forward to it a lot – I love training plans and clear eating plans.
Other than moving a lot and staying away from foods that affect my digestion (which in turn affects my mood), I’ve also added two things into the list of supplements that I take – Vitamin B complex and Rhodiola Rosea.
I don’t remember to take supplements every day but at least 4 days a week I take Agnus Castus (balances hormones which in turn reduces PMS symptoms and hormonal pimples), probiotics (a must for my sensitive digestive system), zinc (boosts the immune system and keeps colds away), magnesium (should help me sleep – it’s not working yet but I’m being optimistic it’ll kick in soon :), fish oil (essential for any human for various bodily processes), vitamin B (for mood – B6 helps the body make serotonin) and Rhodiola Rosea (nature’s anti-depressant). In the winter I’ll take vitamin D as well.
So – so far so good. Our renovation and my husband’s crazy work schedule have tested my mental health a lot in the last 6 months but so far my coping mechanisms seem to be working and even though I’m snappy sometimes and want to hate myself for it afterwards, I don’t beat myself up over it – I’m human and it’s ok to have different feelings, I don’t always have to be smiling. Most of the time I am able to keep my cool with the kids and with my mother (having your mother live with you totally tests your mental strength as well ;) and that is cool with me.
And that’s the update. I take every day as a new day. Every day I do the things I know I need to do – move, eat clean, breathe, smile, (and pop some vitamins). If I overdo it with wrong food one evening, I don’t beat myself up over it, I start again new the next day.
I usually start the week with a 7am Crossfit class on Mondays and am able to keep up the good momentum until Friday evening when I grab a beer and some gluten free pizza :P
So this works for me at the moment. What works for you? What keeps you happy (and sane?)
*I still eat ketchup, gluten free bread and sometimes honey and maple syrup, so I can’t say I’m 100% sugar free at the moment.