Hi bubs! How’s it going? I hope you’re having a great weekend so far. Mine has been pretty eventful, I stayed home yesterday and truth be told watched Sex in the City and ate like a nice wedge of my grain free skillet cookie.
So I’ve been wanting to post this for a while now, I’ve just been waiting so that I can answer all of the questions I was asked when my article for elephant journal went up. BTW if you have not read it yet check it out here.
I’m basically gonna talk a little bit about my article and also how I manage my manic depressive illness naturally.
I was diagnosed with bipolar type one when I was 18 years old, had been battling anorexia and bulimia since I was 13 and had also been suffering from PCOS since I was 16.
To tell you the truth I didn’t really understand much about my PCOS and since I wasn’t the only in the family with that I thought it was normal.
What really did shake me up was the bipolar diagnose.
I was misdiagnosed various times before they finally said I was manic depressive and honestly I never really understood my diagnose, I never really took the time to educate myself and basically entrusted my life to strangers. If the doctor said to do it, I did it no questions asked.
So when I published the article on elephant journal a lot of people messaged me on Instagram and even emailed me asking me if the point of my article was to get people to leave the medication bubble behind. I’m gonna be honest, being on medication was horrible for. I can’t speak for everyone out there. I can’t imagine how it is for everyone. What I can say is that I wish I would of taken the time to really learn about my illness and pay attention to mind and body. I feel like I was basically looking for answers in the wrong places and I thought that there had to be a pill for everything. It’s not case. I think it’s important whatever your diagnose is that you know there isn’t a one fits all solution or answer for everyone. Just pay attention to how you react. I realized that a lot of it had to do with different life events that would trigger my mania and my psychotic episodes.
Something else that people always ask is, did I just wake up one day and become bipolar? I never know how to answer that because the chemical imbalance is always there, it’s just waiting for something to trigger an episode. When I look back to when I was younger, all the signs were there, the thing is mental illness isn’t talked about enough to actually get the awareness it needs.
My triggering moment was when I left for college in the hopes of finally having a closer relationship with my dad, it turns out when that didn’t happen I fell deep into a depression and then was given antidepressants. I wasn’t just depressed so in a matter of about a month I was high into mania. Then I went back down to another depression. So the first few months after that happened my mood was up and down so much. That lead me to the right diagnose. It didn’t lead me to a balanced state thought.
I was first put on mood stabilizers and when I was able to prove I was okay, was allowed to go back to school. I stopped taking my medication the way I was supposed to a few weeks after being back and started to self medicated with drugs and alcohol. It was my way of getting some sort of control over an illness I knew nothing about.
In October of 2009 I had my first psychotic break. A friend of mine found me once, passed out and took me back to my dorm where she waited until I woke up and told me it was time to call my mom. I wasn’t just having fun, there was more going on and I needed help.
I called my mom and that day her friend picked me up, took me to her house to see the psychiatrist I was seeing in Florida and my mom and brother flew in from Panama.
I wish I could tell you what it was like, but I honestly don’t remember, I was deep in psychosis and just remember that I thought people were after me. I was paranoid, it all felt so surreal. My mom stayed with me until she was finally able to get me out of the country and back to Panama.
Towards the end of November I saw another doctor in Colombia who was supposed to help me, he convinced my mom to get me off the medication and see what happens. It turns out things kept going more down hill and my lucid moments were getting farther and father apart.
In January 2010 I was hospitalized for the first time. I was in there for almost three months. New doctor.
I was out for a week and went back in for another month and half. After that stint I was so driven to get better, to get back to normal that I started to do everything my doctors told me. I still had no idea what it really meant to be bipolar but I listened to everything they said. I started to focus on getting into Le Cordon Bleu and following my dream of living in Boston and attending culinary school.
In November 2010 I left to Boston and started school. I was running away from my problems and pretending everything was okay.
It turns out things caught up to me pretty fast when I landed in the hospital in January 2011.
I was released a week later and went as if nothing had happened.
Around August of that year everything was piling on and I knew I needed to go back home, on one of my mom’s monthly visits I told her I needed to go home. We packed up everything we could fit into 13 suitcases and the rest gave away. I was back in Panama and thought that everything would be okay.
The episodes came back and were worse than before. I was in and out of hypo mania and mania for the next two years.
I was on so much medication that everything was a blur. I don’t remember my birthday’s, the holiday’s, or even little moments here and there.
I had gained so much weight because of my medication that I was super unhealthy both on an emotional and physical level.
In the beginning of 2013 I was finally convinced to take a more holistic approach to my illness. All the medication was taking a toll and I had liver damage, my period was mia among other things.
I literally felt hopeless. I felt like the universe kept adding more and more to my already piled plate.
Already have an eating disorder.
You had me pretty close to the diabetic side of things.
My liver hates me from all the medication I was one.
Why.. what did I do? I mean isn’t it enough to already have all of these things, can’t you help me out. Tell me what to do.
I feel like everything I was asking for was finally answered when my mom found Monica, an orthomolecular psychiatrist who was able to get me off my medication and explained to me what it was to have bipolar type one disorder. She explained that a lot of it was my personality and the illness added to it. She explained that my hormonal imbalance affected my illness and also that I needed to learn what triggered episodes so that I could avoid the in the future.
Finally the universe was on my side. I was getting answers and all of the unanswered questions I had for years were given closure.
CHANGES HAD TO BE MADE
I stopped eating processed foods, I gave up artificial/ processed sugar and focused on real ingredients.
I took responsibility for my mind and body and learned that negative energy does affect my illness and that I need to live a more balanced life. I stopped pretending to be something I wasn’t and realized that I could have health or follow everyone else.
Social pressure got to me, I was 22 and couldn’t drink, I didn’t go to bars, clubs or anything like that and felt like I was loosing friends because I was choosing my health.
I Ggave up labels, I was no longer, vegan, vegetarian, gluten free or paleo. I focused on what made me feel good and gave up what didn’t.
It took time, all these changes were also picking up little nasty behaviors from my eating disorder and it was hard to find a balance. When I finally started seeing Kate my eating disorder coach I was able to mend my broken relationship with food and no longer count calories, fat and think of food as good or bad.
I read the book Womancode by Alisa Vitti and it made everything I was learning come to a full circle.
Everything was making sense and it felt so great, to learn about things myself and kind of see what works and see what doesn’t.
I soon learned that my manic depressive illness and PCOS diagnosed went hand in hand and had to learn to take care of them both to be able to live a more balanced life. I wanted to find a way to prove to the doctors that had pumped me with medication that I didn’t need them and that I was going to make it. You have no idea how many people came up to my mom and would tell her, you can’t let her stop taking them, that doctor she is seeing has no idea what she is talking about.
People would tell me Monica was a witch and was going to do some voodoo on me. I had to learn to laugh it off. I have to admit that this entire process helped me develop a thicker skin. I’m naturally a very sensitive person.
I was embarking in this new lifestyle and wanted to share it with everyone.
My doctor told me to wait a year so that I could find my own inner peace before I brought everyone else into the mix.
That’s the reason I started the blog. I found my passion and wanted to share it with everyone. I wanted to share my story and give hope.
NEW FOOD MENTALITY
Because of the my sensitivity to gluten and dairy those were already out of my life, what I did not know was that I was going to have to cut out sugar. I have the biggest sweet tooth, I honestly didn’t know how I was going to accomplish this. I mean how could I give up sugar. I started off by taking away all the processed sugar that most things out there are laden with and would only consume raw honey, maple syrup and dates. I felt like there was still something off, I still didn’t feel my best. I was given up the fake stuff and using real foods and somehow nothing was changing.
I realized with time that it wasn’t just processed sugar that needed to be cut out, I also needed to cut back on the natural stuff.
This is my food mentality, high fats like
+ avocado, nuts, nut butters, coconut, coconut butter, butter, ghee, olive oil, fatty fishes like salmon, sardines.
It was hard, with my eating disorder these were all off the table but they made me feel great. I embraced them. I remember the first time I added butter back into my life, I probably cried the first time I buttered the sweet potato mash but I realized nothing bad happened.
High protein foods
+ eggs, I love eggs and can eat them day after day, roasted chicken, grass fed ground beef, lamb, I though I had to give these up to be healthy but incorporating them into my life after years of not eating meat was great. It was really hard at first because I played around with being vegan and vegetarian since I thought that was healthier. I started off by using collagen at first and then added eggs and little by little incorporated fish and other animal proteins.
PROPER SELF CARE // CHANGES
+ I cut out alcohol completely, while I am not on medication, alcohol is a depressant and also can mess with my hormones.
+ Omitting gluten and soy, they are toxic triggers that end up breaking down our system and also messes with our hormones.
+ I also don’t do any dairy product and while a lot of it has to do with my lactose intolerant also the majority of the milk products out there are pumped with hormones which I don’t want in my body.
+ Careful with my caffeine intake, while I was very big on caffeine earlier in life, it can trigger a manic episode and mess with my sleep along with my hormones. I gave up coffee for real about a year ago, while I had tried before sadly I couldn’t give it up. Now I have matcha once maybe twice a day before 11 am and stick to herbal teas.
+ Pay careful attention to my fruit intake, if I eat high carb fruit, it spikes up my blood sugar and produces insulin which produces high levels of testosterone. I try to eat more low glycemic fruits like berries, avocado (yes it is a fruit), 1/2 banana a day sometimes, I still eat papaya because it’s so good for your digestion, I just mix it with steamed cauliflower in my smoothies and I don’t feel like it affects me. I keep my fruit servings down to 1-2 a day and if I’m gonna have something like my skillet cookie or my brownie recipe, I’ll stay away from fruit that day.
+making sure I eat balanced, while this changes and sometimes I have two meals and a smoothie, or sometimes I do a meal and two smoothies, I keep to high fat, high protein and watch my carb intake making sure to spread it out and not consume large amounts at a given time.
+make sure I don’t go too long without eating, this can mess with my blood sugar causing it to drop which is bad. I love to carry snacks around, you never know when you might need them.
+taking herbs like Aswagandha, cordyceps, reishi, chaga, he shou wu, tocos, rhodiola and more.
+listening to my body, and honoring my mind and body.
+syncing with my cycles, honoring my natural cycle and listening to my female intuition.
+getting rid of toxic chemicals, from home care to skin care. This can all lead to hormonal imbalance.
+ finding ways to relieve stress, like nightly baths, journaling, daily gratitude journal, aromatherapy, keeping myself active, I focus on moving more not on exercise.
+ yoga has helped me so much, with patience, taking things one step at time which is often difficult for me.
+meditation ( I love the 1 Giant Mind app )
+ cutting out negative people from my life, and surrounding myself with people that accept me as I am and respect my lifestyle and choices.
+ I don’t talk on the phone before bed, I don’t want to trigger a restless sleep by having over stimulating conversations before bed.
+self care and love.
+ I watch shows like, Friends or Sex in the City, Younger or even Young and Hungry at night. I started watching Homeland and it totally messed with my sleep so it’s important to pay attention to things that we might not think affect us but totally do.
+remember the rule of balance, it’s okay to have some indulgence here and there.