Monday, April 18, 2011

Detoxing days = depression days.

Let me be open. I find that it's only when we are completely honest with ourselves that we are able to heal. Maybe sharing one's deepest, darkest secrets or concerns on a blog isn't everyone's cup of tea, but I truly feel that my journey is one that I am meant to share.

For years, I've dealt with depression. This isn't news to many, but it could be to some. It's true that I have a naturally sunny disposition and I consider myself a very happy person, but there are some really, really dark days. Today has been one of them, so I decided to write about it. It's hard to type, honestly, because during these times, I get so consumed with what could be "wrong with me" or what I am "doing wrong" - which, of course, I feel is everything - and even putting myself out there subjects me to a level of vulnerability that I would normally be comfortable with if I weren't battling the demons of sadness. Unfortunately, having depression has led me to contemplate suicide on many occasions, but thankfully, not every bout leads to this scenario. Today has not been one of those days, thank God, but it is something that I will openly state that I have had an issue with and something I will continue to be aware of for the safety of myself and others.

Some of having an issue with depression is the result of carelessness with my diet. This excerpt from a study by Jurriaan Plesman has summed up the best correlation that I could find with insulin resistance and depression, definitely making me feel like I'm not alone.

"Excessive sugar consumption, when converted to glucose, can expose the body to free radical attack upon the immune system and DNA. Glucose is easily oxidized into peroxides and other toxins. The body has a defense mechanism against excess sugar consumption: it shuts down receptors for insulin that controls the amount of glucose (and other nutrients) getting across cell membranes into cells. This is called Insulin Resistance, which may result in hypoglycemic symptoms. There are many studies showing a significant association between depression and insulin resistance. See here.

With insulin resistance blood sugar levels tend to rise, triggering more release of insulin - called hyperinsulinism - and this may provoke a sudden descent in blood sugar level called hypoglycemia. Thus the brain tends to be exposed to wildly fluctuating blood sugar levels, responsible for many ‘psychological’ symptoms. See graph here.

When the brain is starved of energy it could lead to the death of brain cells in a matter of minutes. In reaction to this threat, the brain triggers the release of stress hormones - such as adrenaline and cortisol - that function to convert sugar stores in the body (glycogen and amino acids) back into glucose so as to feed the brain again. (See image) See also Rita Elkins et al.

But these stress hormones, generated within the body are also responsible for the varied symptoms of mental illness, from depression, anxiety attacks, phobias,
delusions ,insomnia, compulsive behaviours and thoughts, alcoholism, drug addiction, sex addiction, hypochondria, PTSD, OCD and so on and on. "

So, given all of this information, I'm sure you can see that detoxing days after some consecutive slip-ups are incredibly difficult. Sugar is the most addictive substance in the world, and when I let it go, my body mourns its loss - literally. I usually cry all day, and this is something I've never shared because I, like many, see my depressed self as someone who is weak. What I'm starting to understand is that even through this time of weakness, admitting my true feelings - not the lies - to myself and allowing myself to feel whatever it is I may feel is a sign of strength. I know my body so well and even deciding I needed to take this day, knowing it would be so hard, is a milestone that I should internally celebrate once the "girlbrain" turns her cerebral mouth off.

Living with prediabetes/insulin resistance is not something to mess around with, but I did the best I could this weekend. I had sworn off bread on Thursday morning - something I needed to do for a while - and had broken that promise to myself and my trainer later on that evening. And then again the next day. And the next. And the next. Today, I stood up for myself and my oath. This day should be celebrated. That's really the bottom line.

As I recover from poor choices and lean toward purging the toxins from my body through gentle foods, exercise, and water - the healthy stuff, ya know - this will be my mantra:

To practice grace during the down times and encouragement during strength.

I'm sure this post was all over the place, but thank you for reading. If you have any questions to ask, please do, or if you would like to share anything, you have the complete freedom to do so.