Sugar directly effects mental illness.
I know this personally. I don’t need the scientific studies because I have the unfortunate experience of witnessing how sugar effects my mental and emotional health.
Today is day 2 for me detoxing off it, again. That means no refined sugar in anything. Including my condiments, coffee, or any prepackaged foods. I follow the paleo diet normally and eat whole foods because I find I feel the best all the way around on it.
When I give into my sugar dragon and eat it for a few days (because I cannot just stop at one) the anger, anxiety, rage, and depression all come back full force.
I know sugar is the cause because I have gone on a strict elimination diet in the past to deal with my Interstitial Cystitis. I know intimately how each food effects my body and mental health. It’s crazy really how many foods seem to effect my emotions.
Wheat, dairy, and refined sugar are the worst culprits for my mental health issues.
I am sure there are multiple reasons why I cannot tolerate sugar like most of the human population. It is probably a combonation of my gut bacteria, past illnesses, past trauma, and allergies. Whatever the reason, I wish it were easier to stop eating for good.
I have known how sugar affects me for 9 years now, and I still get caught up in the roller coaster of eating it and detoxing from it.
I am determined, again, to do this for good. My sugar addiction effects every area of my life. My relationship with my husband, kids, friends, coworkers. Anxiety and depression doesn’t work well in relationships. My sleeping, energy levels, and overall health are effected negatively. My gut looks 4 months pregnant after eating it for a few days. My memory gets worse. I have a hard time putting thoughts together and writing (hence why this blog my seem choppy). I feel a fog over my brain. I gain fat rapidly. I swear I gain a pound a day eating it.
Cleary, eating sugar is not worth the few seconds of joy it gives me when I eat it. So why do it?
I guess this is why I believe I have an addiction to it. When you feel out of control with something you use, and find it very hard to stop even though it negatively effects you, it is typically an addiction.
Mine would be a food addiction, specifically sugar. I used cocaine in my younger 20s and was addicted to nicotine, I can tell you sugar is by far harder for me to quit. I would put it at least in the same category as nicotine. The difference is EVERYONE eats it and accepts it, you can get it anywhere and its totally NORMAL. Something is so wrong here.
I am determined this year to let it go for good. Today I deal with the emotional anguish of my mental health symptoms becoming worse due to detox. It typically lasts about 5-7 days and then I feel good again.
I know without a doubt due to personal experience refined sugar is at least connected to depression, anxiety, and probably a number of other mental health conditions. I feel this is lacking in a most mental health programs. Throughout my years healing from trauma in many different healing environments, never was diet brought up as being something that could help my symptoms. I am determined to change this when I become a therapist. Diet and lifestyle change has been the biggest help for me. I guess I have Interstitial Cystitis to thank for bringing this to my attention.
I urge you to try the whole 30 or paleo diet for a full 30 days to see if your mental health symptoms improve. It is worth it if it helps! Just be aware you might feel worse like me, before you feel better!
What is it that life has taught you? Maybe it’s a lesson you never wanted to learn. Maybe you were thrown into this lesson and it keeps haunting you because you refuse to allow it in.
Maybe you haven’t learned it yet?
It WON'T go away.
Maybe its hanging onto your life and around every corner. It might make you angry. It might make you anxious. It might make you frustrated because you can’t get away.
Maybe it’s your purpose.
What is it, what is life is trying to teach you? What is it you are trying to hide from by running from this lesson?
Maybe you have learned it.
You know it well. It’s close to your heart. It has become a part of who you are. You have not shared it with many though.
It’s something other people might not agree with. It doesn't fit common sense.
The whole world around you seems to live opposite of this truth. Nonetheless, you have been learning it for your entire life.
What is it, what’s your truth?
Don’t be afraid of it
Others need to learn to! What is that “thing” that won’t go away and you feel like you MUST do something about?
Just maybe, this could be your whole purpose for being here.
Lean into the anxiety. Lean into the pain. Allow it to integrate into you and become a part of you.
No one will fight for your life, but you. You are here for a reason. What is it?
LIVE YOUR TRUTH
Its official I made it to 38 yesterday! It was a great day. I spent it with my family and kids opening presents for early Christmas. They are going with their dad and his wife back to Chicago to see there nana and papa this year. My husband and I opened presents with them and went for a steak dinner. My 10 year old son LOVES steak, it was so cute to watch him stuff his face. Then we played a board game and eat ice cream. We all throughout enjoyed ourselves. I did feel quite drugged with brain fog by bed time.
I got a pint of my favorite ice cream on the way home from dinner. Culver's creamy chocolate. I just finished it tonight, the day after my birthday. I woke up super bloated, with pimples forming. Totally expected and happens whenever I eat sugar. Anyway I have been noticing again how much I hate thinking about food. Last week I made it 4 days without sugar. Only 4 days. I had major anxiety and detox symptoms and then after having a bit to much wine at a holiday party, I caved and eat some sweet treats they had. Then the next day I followed my cycle of giving in and eating more because I "already did" and it was almost my birthday. Today, the day after my birthday I am still eating it because "I had some ice cream left". I see how my thoughts do this to me but I keep giving it anyway.
So, whats my reason, whats my why for giving it up and healing this food addiction? I work in sales and my boss often asks us what our why is for making money. Well, I think finding and focusing on your reasons can help fire up motivation.
My why for not eating sugar this year is:
1. No more emotional ups and downs from sugar rushes and crashes, no more sugar monster
2. To help manage my depression
3. To feel in control of my health
4. To eat to live not live to eat
5. To no longer be so bloated I look 4 months pregnant
6. To protect myself from the many chronic illnesses refined sugar has been linked to
7. To stabilize my weight
8. To live with more energy and creativity (I feel like sugar dulls my brain and creativity)
9. To learn to feel my emotions instead of stuff them down with food
10. To overcome my addiction. I am a sugar addict. I need to overcome this. Addiction effects all areas of my life negatively.
I am going to start out with a ketosis type diet because in the past this diet has proven to work the best for me. If you don't know what this is, I will be eating a lot of healthy fats, proteins, and my carbs will come from vegetables and some fruit. At first I have horrible detox but within a few weeks I typically loose all my cravings for sugar. I feel full quicker and I feel more in control of eating healthful foods. When I eat a lot of carbs, I tend to crave more carbs and I end up eating sugar. I know I need something that works for me though, so I am going to allow two gluten free cheat meals (without refined sugar) every week.
Anyway, every week I will update. This is my goal anyway. I have tried to do this for the last 5 years. I have overcome so many health challenges. I have learned so much, but this addiction has got to stop. I hope knowing I am going to write about it will hold me accountable. My goal this year is to slay my sugar dragon once and for all this year!
I started smoking at 20 years old when I would hang out with friends who smoked and drank.
I remember the first cigarette puff I took at a bar.
It was disgusting. It tasted bad, smelled bad, and make me feel woozy.
Why in my right mind why would I smoke again and again and again, and become a smoker?
I seemed to have a talent for choosing to do things I knew I would eventually have to stop and it would be difficult.
I guess I could say I wasn’t in my right mind. It’s not like I did not know how bad it was for me. Smoking became a reason to take a break at work, something to focus on when I was stressed, a social que to hold as I talked with friends.
It became essentially what all addictions are, a habit. The brain is interesting. It doesn’t seem to differentiate between habits that are good for you or bad for you. Once a habit loop is created and addiction is ignited, cravings become natural. We must give in to them to make the thought or anxious feeling go away.
Well, we think we must give in to them, but ultimately everything is a choice within reason.
I realized I had an addiction when I tried to quit smoking, about 20 times in one year. I was 24 years old when I began my quitting ceremonies. I would get grossed out and sick of smelling like death. I was spending what little extra money I had on the cancer sticks and feeling guilty about it. I wasn’t so much concerned with the health problems at that age, but I did do a report in college on emphysema that freaked the crap out of me. I literally sat in the parking lot of the college and smoked a cigarette then walked in and did a report on emphysema and then went back to my car to smoke a cigarette. That’s addiction at its finest.
My quitting ceremonies consisted of me buying a pack of Marlboro lights at the gas station by my apartment. I would get back in the car and tell myself this would be the last pack I ever smoked. I would anxiously smoke my last one, throw out all my ashtrays and lighters and be done with it. Then a few hours later I would go buy another pack. Maybe I made it until the next day.
This was around the time in my life I started getting into Christianity. I went to a prayer retreat with a new church I was a part of. I had been praying for many weeks that God would help me quit smoking.
During one of the worship services I had a spiritual experience. I felt the love of God overpower me and the addiction lift off me. I no longer had the desire to smoke and went home smoke free. I wish I could find better words to describe this experience. It was like I was so sure of God’s love for me, I did not want to do anything I knew he would not approve of after that.
Fast forward 11 years. My oldest son was using heroin and I was stressed out to the max. I remember feeling out of control anxiety one day and had the thought to go and try an “organic” cigarette. I had been healed from IC for 3 years and I lived a healthy life. I never thought I would smoke again. Why I gave into this thought, I will never understand. I went and bought organic cigarettes and justified it was only nicotine and water so it was not unhealthy.
Smoking did calm me down that day and I thought to myself how maybe the problem with smoking was just that people were smoking the kind with all the chemicals. (Addiction talking again). Kind of like Marijuana, it was just a herb right? Wrong.
Within a month I was a half a pack a day closest smoker. I did not smoke around my kids or anyone important. I was ashamed. I was supposed to be the picture of health. I went through hell to get better from IC, and I spent 10 months in a wellness coach education and 4 years in psychology and coaching training. I was sure Jesus had healed my addiction forever at that prayer service. 11 years ago. Here I was smoking, again.
One of the worst parts of addiction is the control it seems to have over you.
Even though organic, I noticed the bad effects of smoking very quickly compared to when I was in my 20s. I am so in tune with my body now I am able to recognize changes.
Here is what the recent yearlong closet smoking taught me about nicotine and health.
I quit again on my own this time after just one year. It took 3 tries’. I went cold turkey and the experience was different then the last time. I did not feel a rush of love from God, and I didn’t feel anything lift off me.
What I did feel is major cravings and anxiety with tons of nervous energy. I felt this for about 72 hours.
I might have bit your head off it you were around me. I am sorry for that! I also eat a lot more sugary food and gained a few pounds. After about 5 days it was just the occasional thought I would have to fight.
I believe I learned more about addictions and habits after my 2nd most recent quit. I realized that although the physical withdrawal and anxiety sucked, that if I abstained the cravings and thoughts would go away. I would move on, smoke free. I also learned I do not have to do what my thoughts tell me to do. I already know this, but it’s even more true for me now. My thoughts would be screaming at me as I passed the gas station “buy cigarettes, you only need one, then you will throw them out” or “they are organic, only nicotine and water, they really aren’t bad for you!”
As the thoughts screamed, I kept driving. I got home and took a bath or read a book and within 45 minutes I was no longer thinking about it. Another craving would come but eventually go away again. I realized I am stronger than I think I am. If I can do this with cigarettes and resist the screaming thoughts, I can do this with anything I want to change. Now I am tackling sugar addiction once and for all.
I am stronger than I thought. That is the new mantra that pops up over and over again for me now. I believe we are all stronger than we think we are. I am learning how much power we really have over our lives when we don't give into our thoughts.
Ir turn 38 in one week. I can’t believe I made it this far! Seriously, I feel like I have been through a lifetime of events, but at the same time I’m not ready to go just yet.
Although I have learned so much, this does not mean I always follow what I have learned.
I want to go into the 2nd half of my life with a fierce devotion to trying to stick to everything I have learned thus far. About health, diet, exercise, relationships, career, mental health, and so much more.
I know, I can’t be perfect.
I will fail, but I want to strive to really live what I know.
I want to experience the fruit of sticking to the truths I have been taught through so many different trials. I feel like I have spent the last 38 years in a laboratory with me as the subject. Isn’t that what it’s like for all of us at some points?
Experimenting with so many different ways of life. I finally feel I know my recipe to feel my best, now sticking to it is the challenge.
I know I have more to learn, I will never stop learning here until I take my last breath. I feel this year will be about learning what can happen when I stick to the hard things. The things that make me give up something about myself. A comfort, a habit. The things that make me anxious and the slight fear of the unknown. The “things” I know I must do. The things I know I will regret on my death bed if I don’t do. Such as finishing my eBook about IC healing.
Women need to know healing interstitial cystitis is possible!
There is NO WAY I can heal from that and not share the hope with others! As much as I have wanted to finish writing about it, I get so busy with actual life, family, and career it gets put last. I need to make time!
I applied to a master’s program this week for counseling. I guess I have to much free time on my hands. HA!
This has been something I have known I wanted to do since I was a child. When everyone would ask me what I wanted to be when I grew up, I would tell them a psychologist and a writer. I don’t know if I even knew what that meant as a 9-year-old, but it was already in me somehow! I have always been fascinated with psychology and mental health. I have had plenty of my own challenges with depression and anxiety and my mother was a chronic hoarder who also live with major depression my entire life. My dad was an addict, so I guess you could say I was thrown into the school of mental health from birth.
While healing from IC I learned so much more about diet, lifestyle and how it effects not only physical health but mental and emotional health. I have learned so much about what is required to heal and change. It is my dream to one day help others heal from mental health issues in a holistic way. I would like to pair up with a holistic doctor and work with clients who are willing to change their lifestyle to get well. I would provide counseling and send them to someone who can test them for food allergies, inflammation, candida, and a host of other issues I know causes mental health and addiction issues. Getting well from anything requires completely getting well, not just focusing on one area such as talk therapy.
Anyway, I don’t know if I will get into this program but time will tell. I graduated with my bachelor degree in psychology a few years ago and always intended to get my masters. So we will see if I get in:)
On another note: As a birthday gift to myself, it is my intent to heal my sugar addiction once and for all this year.
I am ashamed to tell you, I have been battling this for 10 years. Yes, for 10 years now I have known I have this addiction. I am a complete sugar addict. With withdrawal symptoms and the entire addict cycle. For so many reasons I need to heal this. I am a wellness coach and I want to be able to offer other people the hope that they too can heal sugar addiction, much like they can heal IC. Sugar addiction has been harder for me to heal than my smoking addiction was. It’s true. Its a beast for me.
So, I am giving myself one full year without sugar. I am going to blog about it, and document it. I am doing this to hold myself accountable and to show the world essentially what it’s like to give up the white drug for a year. I have seen plenty of bloggers give it up for 30 or 60 days but haven’t found a whole year just yet. I think I need this long to break the addiction, so far I have never made it past 45 days. SO, tomorrow I will start this process. For now, I will go have my last chocolate turtle and bowl of ice cream. Ha!
Wish me luck!
Melissa is the Author of Healing Through the Pain How I overcame Interstitial Cystitis. She writes about health (physical, emotional and spiritual) from a vulnerable place, after overcoming Interstitial Cystitis and still battling emotional illness. She is passionate about helping women realize their ability to make changes and move forward from difficult situations in their lives.
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