Saturday, October 16, 2010

"It gets better" or "Unpeeling the layers of the onion"

Wonderful things have happened this month. My trip to Europe flipped a switch in me. I ate like a European for two weeks. When I say "Eat like a European" I mean eating small portions of real and high quality food, while seated, and purchasing food fresh, every few days, not buying two weeks of high-preservative groceries at a time. And walking or using public transportation, not driving everywhere.

I have. I have given up fast food almost entirely, and now am living off of stir fries (steam in the bag veggies + sauce and usually a protein like meat or tofu) and when I eat out, I am trying to choose healthier foods, not just low fat McDonalds grilled chicken sandwiches that have chicken flavoring added to make it taste more "Chickeny."

I also *Gasp!* have cut down on coffee dramatically. The fluid that was the one thing keeping me from suicide is now showing itself as the thing that may be holding me back from many of my goals.

I still have been drinking coffee, in a 75% decaf blend, but when I am drinking it, or tea, I am using agave syrup instead of Splenda. I have read that agave syrup might not be healthy either, but I am just not willing to give up sweetners all together* (and when I tried having sugar, not artificial sweeteners, I gained weight.)

Well, the cutting down of coffee has cut down my anxiety, and I am sure the years of therapy plus the power of leaving your environment helps, but I am getting rid of all the things I have held onto for over a decade. It helps a lot to watch the show "Hoarders" while sorting. It puts in perspective that what seemed like innocent habits can become serious problems, and the fact that I don't have company over- perhaps a contributor to depression, shows it already is a problem.

It's amazing, and heartening that as I get healthier, layers of dysfunctional behaviors show themselves, and I am strong enough to address them. Don't feel overwhelmed if you read this and feel anxious from the thought of letting go of any of these things. Sometimes your depression is bad enough that your priority is getting to work and showering. Go for it (though if you can try to keep your coffee intake from escalating, I think it's a good idea)

As we are hearing so much lately--- "It gets better!"

*I like stevia in tea, but it isn't good in coffee, in my opinion.

Sunday, October 03, 2010

Coffee with cream, depression, and anxiety

I am snuggled under my covers with a cup of tea, at 9:10 in the morning, happy. Sounds impossible? You might be a coffee addict, like me. When in Europe, prepared coffee was expensive, small, and needed at different times of day because of time zones. I cut down, and found my appetite went down, but more than anything, appreciated that I wasn't useless in the morning pre-coffee.

My relationship with coffee is a relationship of pure love. My mother and I used to eat coffee flavored Haagen-Dazs ice cream, and coffee Dannon yogurt, and I knew early on that the combination of sweet and bitter was intoxicating, high on the list with chocolate.

By the age of 15, I had my mom die, my stepmother leave, my dad passed out daily from alcohol, and my maternal grandmother die. I was majorly depressed, but with a handful of drive to make my life better. I discovered "General Foods International Coffee" and at 18, when I started getting suicidal ideation, I came up with the strategy that if the doctors would not give me medication, I would use coffee to counteract the psycho motor retardation from depression. I got the medication, but I have continued to use, and value, coffee as a tool to keep me going.

But now I am giving it a break. I can't (or don't want to) quit, it can be a life (and job) saver when I feel like I will fall asleep in the jump-seat. If you are addicted, it becomes less of a tool, because the effectiveness wears off, and it creates more situations where you cant survive without it. But my major reason? Vanity, of course! I noticed the day I had 2 cappucinos my appetite went up, so all my ducks have been lined up.

For me to tell someone with anxiety and depression to quit drinking coffee, to me, seems cruel. But I can feel (now that the withdrawl symptoms have passed) that I am more mellow, which is good and bad. I love how coffee makes me happy and energetic, but I remind myself that reducing the times I use it makes the effects stronger.

What makes me think I am on the right track is that yesterday, I spent the night at my friends' and forgot to take my lexapro. I felt weird all day, but assumed it was lack of sleep. I realize that because the coffee wasn't pumping up my anxiety, the withdrawal symptoms were much more manageable.

I feel a sense of strength. My depression and anxiety are managed enough that I can survive without coffee. It gives me hope that one day I can go off medication long enough to be pregnant and breast feed, or, if not, it just makes me feel proud. I am strong. I dun well.