Keto, Mental Illness and Truth Bombs

The keto diet can clear your mind and give you unexpected extra energy. This has been my personal experience and I’m here to warn you to take care how you use these new magical powers.

I have thyroid disease, hidradenitis supperativa, type two diabetes, coeliac disease, and a number of mental illnesses that I prefer not to name because of the stigma often applied to people who suffer with them.

As you might imagine, I’ve suffered low energy and a muddled head, among other problems, for years. Trying to beat back the symptoms and live my best life has been a huge struggle.

Within the first week of trying the keto diet, I felt different in myself.

Keto Energy

I was talking a lot more, bringing up subjects with my family and really having a good conversation with them. Before, I’d have been taking big breaths to find some energy to engage with other people, answering their questions and feeling dizzy if I talked too much.

Not so now.

When I see something in the house that needs doing, I just start doing it. No thinking, overthinking, beating myself up, berating myself for not being able to do more, just getting it done.

The keto diet is not a cure for my illnesses, but it has given me a strength that I never had before.

Low Carb and Energy

I still have low carb days where I have less energy, I suffer pain, or my mind decides not to cooperate. But those days I can live with.

I still have extra strength social phobia, which limits what I can do.

Keto Side Effects

But today I’m writing to warn you about a side-effect I’ve experienced due to my newfound awakening. An unexpected problem that makes me wary and careful of my words.

This new alertness I’m enjoying has made me very conscious of the way I think and feel about the people in my life. Especially the people I have had unexpressed issues with for years.

Twice in two weeks I’ve told people what I really think of them, and both times there have been unexpected casualties.

In hindsight of course I can see that the way I blurted out my feelings was over the top and not even entirely accurate.

Of course, in the past I’ve opened my big mouth and said the wrong thing to someone. We all do that. But this was different. This was me, in a moment of anger and frustration thinking of the exact right thing I wanted to say to take the other person down a notch and then bam, saying it.

It didn’t turn out well. Either time.

I’ve burned bridges, unfortunately.

Note to self: write it out in your journal before you decide in the moment to ignite a word bomb.

I’m very grateful for the clarity and energy the keto diet has given me. I just need to learn to use my powers for good and not evil.

I urge you to beware the empowered self, take care in case you lob a grenade and take out an entire roomful of people, instead of having an argument with someone where you feel one is due.

Leaving The House Can Be Terrifying When You Have a Mental Illness

Today, I have plans with family I love who live about an hour away. I’ve been looking forward to seeing them ever since I made the plans.

Now the day is here and I’m dizzy, taking short breaths and I have to keep reminding myself not to grind my teeth.

My brain doesn’t let me access the positive emotions I’ve experienced in the past while visiting this part of my family. That’s a horrible part of my own personal mental illness circus.

Why am I so anxious? Is it the thought of seeing them? Nope. Is it the car trip? Yes, somewhat. Is it the thought of being away from my home, my nest, for hours at a a time? Yes it is.

Leaving the house is one of the hardest things in the world for me. It doesn’t matter how much I know I’ll love time with family or friends, it doesn’t matter that I love my car, it doesn’t matter that my fiancé will be with me the whole time. I am very anxious.

What does it feel like? Imagine standing at the edge of a very high cliff and leaning as far forward as you can until you’re on your toes. Unless you’re a lover of high places, you can imagine this would conjure feelings of sheer panic, terror and a sickness in your stomach.

That’s what it’s like to have a serious mental illness where part of it is social phobia, anxiety and a panic disorder.

I’ll put on make-up, a nice dress, get in my car and we’ll be there in no time. I’ll enjoy catching up with everyone, I’m almost sure. Later, on our way home, I’ll berate my stupid self for being anxious about the visit. I’ll beat up on myself and tell myself that next time I’ll be better. Next time I’ll be fine.

That’s part of the circus, the pretending that it’s all a choice.

Is Halloween Scary if You Have a Mental Illness?

Halloween 2020

What could be scarier than mental illness paired with a whole day and night of people trying to frighten the life out of each other?

What is scary about Halloween if you have a Mental Illness?

For some people with a mental illness, Halloween will be an opportunity to hide behind a costume and a mask and maybe feel a sense of relief at being able to be completely anonymous.

Some will enjoy the irony of other people getting their anxiety tested as the most adventurous ones celebrate the holiday by giving and receiving a real fright.

For some though, even being surprised and frightened in fun can raise anxiety levels so high it becomes difficult to function.

It’s not that the act of frightening these people that is the truly scary thing, it’s that when you have an anxiety disorder, one that treatment, therapy and medication does not lessen, you become one big human shock button.

That shock, the horror of a big fright, is so much fun for so many people. If you have an anxiety disorder or some other mental illnesses, and someone shocks you, it can trigger an anxiety attack/panic attack that will write off Halloween and possibly a few days that follow.

Halloween Ideas

If you know someone with a mental illness and you want to celebrate Halloween while being sensitive to ways your friend might struggle this month, do one simple thing and reach out and ask them. Here are some questions to ask your friend or family member with mental illness, at Halloween:

– How are you with Halloween?

– How can we celebrate Halloween 2020 in a way that you’ll have as much fun as everyone else?

– Are there Halloween decorations, Halloween treats and Halloween ideas you love and find easy to enjoy?

– If we hold a Halloween party, what can we do so that everyone feels comfortable?

– Would you mind being in charge of the scare-factor of our family and friends Halloween celebrations? Can you keep it to a level where everyone will be happy?

– Is Halloween something you’d like to skip this year? We can do lunch another day and catch up without all the chaos if you prefer?

A Better Halloween This Year

I guarantee your friend or family member with a mental illness will be grateful that you caring enough to include them in the planning of Halloween. If you love to get the bejeezus scared out of you, there are plenty of places to go and things you can do. Maybe stop a moment the next time your heart is in your throat with shock, and remember that some people with mental illness feel this sensation on a regular basis, and it isn’t much fun.

Be a good friend, have fun, and enjoy Halloween!

Pandemic Living

Pandemic living is a lot like living with a disabling mental illness. You think nobody wants you out on the street, nobody wants you too close to them, and even if every other day of the year you want to stay home and watch Netflix, all of a sudden you miss going out. Even a trip to the supermarket makes you want to put on lipstick and a dress. You want to keep the safe distance from people, the magical 1.5 metres, but in the aisles there just isn’t that much room. Even the businesses that only allow four people per aisle, you get into choke points, spots where we all need to pass one another and it’s much closer than 1.5 metres, we all stand back, trying to be well-mannered. It’s awkward and it’s crazy.

 

It’s Really Hard To Write Today

It’s really hard to write today.

My life is choc a block full of…

I am trying to be positive…

I don’t know how to handle all of the things that are happening…

I’m tired of being positive and coping with life with a mental illness, and now I have a shocker of a new diagnosis; cervical cancer. Tests, multiple doctor and specialist visits, biopsy, god only knows what next because I have to wait another week to find out what stage the cancer is at and what treatment I need. Not a happy camper.

be you xx Rachel

Writing A Novel One Day At A Time

I’m writing my new novel, hoping that this will be the book I get published. So far, I’ve only been setting myself up to write, really; organising my initial thoughts about what my main character is like, blocking out some chapter ideas and possible directions for the flow of the story. Writing a first chapter to get the feel of the voice I’ll use.

eavesdrop 6

I am the kind of writer who doesn’t know what’s going to happen until I write it.This works very well for me, and keeps my excited about the book all the way to the last word. Sometimes it means I have to go back and rewrite entire sections of the book, because the freedom I allow myself can take me in new and completely unexpected directions. The funny thing is that when I read back over my writing, I can hardly see where I stopped one day and started the next. I find this amazing. My moods can be so radically different from even hour to hour, but my writing stays fairly well on course.

My daily task is to write 2000 words, and I aim to start writing in the morning and not stop until I have my word count. Some days it takes two hours and some days it takes much longer, but I find that if I make my goal a word count, I can distract myself very efficiently from the self questioning and doubts.

My tried and true, best ever trick to ward off what they call ‘writers block’ is to sit at my laptop and type these words; It’s really hard to write today because… and then I keep on with that, listing every single thing that is pulling at me to prevent me from writing that day.

Some days I write pages of reasons why it’s so hard to write, and other days I write just a phrase that encapsulates my not-writing mood so well, it propels me into a writing head-space. I think this habit is almost a meditation. My inner writer knows with certainty that we are sitting here to write, and write we will, so let’s get writing the story.

Of course there are times when I need to pause and reflect, ponder, muse, stare into space and let the possible paths of the story play out in my imagination. This is completely essential to the process of writing a solid first draft. Also, I keep a notebook and pen with me at all times, because thoughts will come to me at any time of the night or day, informing my choices about plot, characterization, theme. I can be having coffee with someone and they’ll say something that totally answers a question I had about the story.

A writing mentor told me years ago that I have a very organic process. This is such an awesome way of saying I do whatever I want in my process, as long as it writes the book. I’ve written a whole book sitting up in bed, a few hours each morning. That one took me 13 weeks. I wrote another book with my laptop on my lap, watching cartoons each day. That one took 9 weeks.

This book I think I’ll be writing right here, on my cheap little laptop table on wheels, in my living room, probably watching a lot of DVDs like Law and Order, Six Feet Under, and The Mentalist.

My psychiatrist encouraged me to write. Some of the most prolific writers in the world have struggled with mental illness. Writing is certainly the only thing I’ve ever found in my life that I can do, no matter where my head is at. It’s my refuge. Published or not, I’m enjoying being back in a book again. It’s such familiar territory. I’m truly looking forward to seeing what my characters do next.

be you xx Rachel

A New Shrink, A New Diagnosis, and New Meds

Hi. I hope I get to upload this blog post. The last two I’ve written were just too graphic and I didn’t want anyone reading them who might be triggered by such brutal honesty. Self harming has been a part of my life for a very long time, but photo’s of what I’d done to myself a few weeks ago were not right for my blog.

owly redblue

It’s taken me a week to try to blog again, and I do have some news. On Tuesday I saw my new psychiatrist for the first time. He was nice, precise, questioning, listening, knowledgeable, and to my surprise, very open to being questioned about his opinions. That goes a long way with me. I detest ego for ego’s sake, and so to find a psydoc who is very human; this is a big deal to me.

My psychiatrist, I’ll call him Pdoc, says I have Borderline Personality Disorder and gave me a website address so I can read all about it and see what I think. He prescribed new meds, to be taken with my old anxiety/depression meds. The new meds are anti-psychotics and after taking only two doses, I feel very different. Dopey, dizzy, level, and the auditory and visual hallucinations have disappeared. This is a very good thing. I can hear myself think for a change. People love to say they can’t hear themselves think, but I want to say spend a day in my busy, noisy head and then come and tell me how hard it is to think.

This BPD is for life, apparently, and can explain the range of my symptoms. The meds have me flying low, thinking slow and I’m only on the lowest dosage. The dose will get bigger in the next few months.

I like the sound of my own inner voice. I’ve hardly heard it, all my life. Too many instructions from the voices, often about how useless or worthless or ready to commit suicide I am, in their opinion. Now I am having this weird experience where I start to think about what I will do next in my day, and I am able to keep on thinking about that and act on the thoughts. The dull, numbing effects of the meds are making me slow, very slow, and I am taking my time with everything I do, but not in my usual frenetic way.

Pdoc says it can take a while to get the meds right, and I’ll never be my old manic self again while I’m on them. I hope I can live with that. Two days in and I’m still in the honeymoon phase, the I’m happy not to be planning my own demise and that’s all that matters right now, phase. I’m not sure how much I’m going to like being slow-minded in the longer term, though. I’m used to bursts of energy to try to get things done, followed by little or no activity at all. This steady, slow, dopey head I’m wearing today is new territory.

I doubt I’ll be able to do calculus again, but maybe I can write the new book that’s on my mind. Slowly.

Time to take my meds and go to bed now. I’ll upload this post before I overthink it too much.

be you xx Rachel