I've had a nasty cough for over a week and today I added sneezes and chills and a sore throat and dependency on Kleenex to the mix. You'd think that with the nine frillion supplements I take there's no way I could possibly be sick, but here I am, infecting everything in a ten foot radius.
Speaking of supplements, I was kind of thinking I would tell you guys what I'm doing and why, just in case anyone else out there is interested in trying this route.
The "holiday project", as my naturopath put it, is to be consistent taking my pills (I am... bad at this) and then testing me in January to see what's what. In addition to the lowered dose of my SSRI, I'm on iron, probiotics, and two kinds of methylfolate. Even though I've read heaps of research now on MTHFR mutations and what happens when you have one, I can't explain or describe it. All I can authoritatively say is that because of this mutation, something in my brain does not process correctly, and my body makes 30% of a particular chemical compared to a person without the mutation. (Okay, even that I'm not sure I repeated correctly.) ANYWAY, this particular chemical has been shown to affect several different things, one of them being depression and its flip side, anxiety. That's what the methylfolate is for - to even this out and build me up.
The iron is because I am Practically Anemic and I've HEARD that this makes your body function rather poorly, perhaps contributing to things like wanting to nap every afternoon and never feeling rested and not having any energy for things like exercise... the problem is iron is finicky and you have to take it a certain way otherwise you get stomachaches and you shouldn't take it with dairy because calcium blah blah blah and TOO MUCH WORK. However. I have recently been convicted that I will feel much much MUCH BETTER if I get my iron levels up. (I already feel better. Shut up.)
The probiotics are because... okay, don't laugh. But a study recently came out where the gut flora of aggressive mice was replaced with different flora and the mice, uh, got less aggressive. Chilled out, if you will. The gut, if you did not know, has a lot to do with anxiety (even according to my Obnoxious Brain Doctor!) and my current hippie doctor was like, "Well, we could TRY it?"
I stopped with the acupuncture - it didn't seem to have any affect on me. I mean, I enjoyed my half hour in the quiet darkness, but I never felt one way or another after a treatment.
In terms of other changes/effects since I started this naturopath stuff - I can't imagine going back to a regular doctor after seeing a naturopath. This last visit when I was feeling so terrible, so discouraged and angry and down and apathetic, she WANTED to hear about it, she encouraged me to say exactly what I was feeling and thinking, and when she responded I felt like she actually listened to what I said. One of the supplements she gave me is to take "as needed", whenever I start to feel anxious. It's hard to restate what she said here, but basically she agrees with me that once my body is anxious, it stays anxious. Like it forgets there are other ways to be. And that's what that supplement is for, to say "Hey, we don't have to go there," and maybe my body will learn. I know that sounds weird, but it makes SO MUCH SENSE to me and I was SO GRATEFUL that she accepted and understood MY evidence.
(Note: the supplement doesn't make anything go away, but most of the time I DO feel slightly better, like maybe the edge is off and it's easier to fight the battle.)
(Also, I am fully aware that you do not see a doctor to talk about your feelings. If it turns out all this hippie supplement stuff does nothing, then I will grudgingly return to the brain doctors - just a different one this time.)
Another thing - I do this all the time I guess, but even more so right now I'm kind of processing all the years I've been dealing with this. I'm just realizing how much I believed it was my fault. I had brought this crazy on myself. I am gracious to myself with this part, because it wasn't until the last couple years that I began to mainly experience anxiety outside of any emotional triggers or reasons I'd defined as anxiety-causing. As a purely biological thing. The part I'm struggling with is how much I believed that my failure to get better was my own fault. For many years I refused any kind of medicine because this was about FEELINGS, right? So I was just going to work super hard on changing the way I feel. And I did! But constant examination of character did not make anxiety go away. A better prayer life did not make anxiety go away. Rehashing my entire sophomore year of high school in therapy did not make anxiety go away. Growing up and getting smarter did not make anxiety go away. All of these things helped, but nothing made it disappear. It always came back.
So now I can look back and think, yeah, you WERE messed up, but you were also in your early twenties when stuff like this, if it's going to happen, tends to happen. You didn't know what to do. You didn't know what it WAS. Current Me is okay with Past Me for being bonkers during this time.
But MAN do I wish I'd been easier on myself during the time when it was improving, but still THERE. Like I hadn't worked hard enough. I hadn't learned enough or done enough or changed enough. I wasn't a good enough person. I hadn't figured out how to forgive myself for ancient transgressions and if only I could do THAT. I hadn't grown a thicker skin and if I could only do THAT. I hadn't come to a place where I wasn't bothered by certain things and if I could only get THERE.
Except... this is part of me. I mean, if all the research I've read is correct, or even if it's not and all the stuff about why SSRIs work is the real deal, then there is not one thing I can improve, not one way I can grow, not one way I can be closer to God, not one way I can be a better person to make sure certain things don't trigger anxiety. If I could do that? If I could totally conquer my triggers? The last two years have shown that I would experience anxiety anyway. Because that's the way my body behaves and reacts and there's science out there to back me up, not to mention thousands of people dealing with the same thing.
It's a relief, it's maddening, and it's tragic when I think about how hard I've been on myself.
And I wouldn't say I fully KNOW or accept it now. It still doesn't make sense to me. I get that when I'm dehydrated I get a wicked headache. I don't get that when a process in my brain isn't working correctly I feel scared. I feel like I should be able to control FEELINGS. Feelings are how I experience EVERYTHING. I'm NOT a logical thinky rational decision maker. I'm a gut instinct person, a touchy feely person, a totally obnoxious person who says things like, "I sense that..." I access everything through my feelings, and when my feelings betray me I don't understand ANYTHING.
Ugh. I actually meant to write about the bakery tonight, believe it or not. Hello digression!
I am doing WELL right now. Except for the lingering cold. I am doing WELL. Very very busy and a little nuts, but WELL. I am saying the Christmas novena. I feel God present in my day to day. The amount of haranguing myself because of my size has decreased. I don't even hate my super grown out hair. This isn't a processing-my-sads post.
I wonder if this is all a result of gradually getting older and learning myself better. In which case I welcome and excitedly look forward to the future.