Anyway, even though I have not been doing well for the past few weeks, that doesn't mean I have not learned anything. I have learned that of all the things we have tried to help manage my illness, even medication, diet works the best. The problem is, I can't mess up on the diet at all, or I get worse. And a strict Paleo diet is very hard to stick with in our culture, at least it is for me.
I also learned that the week before my period will always be worse (you can read about how common this is here), even with the diet. It may be the one week where diet is not enough to keep me well. We have decided that I will try some medication for that week only and see if that can keep me on track with the diet instead of having everything fall apart. Then eventually, as I am better for a longer stretch of time and the diet just becomes a habit, I will see if I can stop using medication all together.
|Photo by Jeff Norris|
Part of the problem we fell into this time was that I was struggling because of my hormones, my husband was out of town, and my son got sick. We did not have food and all the things necessary already made and planned out for me to be able to handle everything myself. So, while we are still working out a system of making sure I am never without food I can eat, which is easily accessible when I am depressed, I might need some help during that one bad week.
I am sad, and a bit ashamed, that I could not keep up with the diet that was working so well. The problem is, when the illness gets bad, you don't see reality. I could not see that the diet was working. You think all kinds of things that are not true. Like you will never get better, you have always been miserable, and that no one loves you so who cares if you are sick. You believe it when other people say eating a little bit of something won't hurt you and you wonder why you can't be "normal" like everyone else. That's the illness, the irrational part of your brain will take over and unless you have a perfected system of management that changes with the cycle of your illness, you will have times when you get worse.
The important thing is that you learn what does work and you get back to doing it again. I am back on the Paleo diet now and can tell that just within a day I have started to feel much better. It is a long process to figure out a good system and it takes a lot of time to make sure we have enough of the right food around at all times. It is time consuming to figure out a schedule where I can eat at the right times, exercise the right amount, and sleep correctly. I am actually amazed at the amount of time, effort, and lifestyle change it takes just to stay well. I told my husband today that I wish we could be like normal couples who go out to dinner, eat what they want, have a few drinks, and stay out late with friends. That is just never going to happen for us.
My next tasks are first to find a way to make the diet, exercise, and sleep requirements just a part of my life. Second, I need to work on ways to stop the irrational thinking that happens when I get worse. I have a few ideas for that which I will be posting about soon.