Dealing With Depression

Dealing With Depression

Depression is a real struggle that some people have to deal with. I was one of those people and it was awful. There were three phases in my life that I had to deal with it and I just wanted to share.

Depression phase #1

My first bout of it occurred in early 2010 when I was coming out of my anorexia phase. I hated my new body and myself. All I wanted was to not be on this earth anymore.

It was a horrible feeling. The rage I felt towards myself was an intense gnawing deep within me. I wanted to fly free from the life I felt that I was mistakenly stuck in.

I would not wish the feeling on anyone else. One day I decided to email my mother and pour out my feelings/emotions to her. It made her really upset to know that I felt that way and she suggested me going in to see my doctor.

I did not want to do that at first because I knew that he would probably have me go on anti-depressants. Those medications typically cause weight gain and that was the last thing I wanted. After a while, I decided that I needed to be on them anyway.

I had to be on a medication. I NEEDED to be on medication. The committing of suicide was nearing and I could not do that to my family or myself.

The doctor put me on Celexa. This anti-depressant is less likely to cause weight gain than some of the others (see here: https://www.healthline.com/health/antidepressants-that-cause-weight-gain#less-weight-gain ). This made me feel a little better about taking it.

I was on Celexa for a few months and did not gain any weight which was great. My depression lifted and I felt great. The side effects I experienced was a dry mouth at times as well as some sexual problems (TMI: goodbye orgasms!).

I decided to come off of Celexa because I wanted to see if I would feel better without it. I did! It really helped me get through my eating disorder recovery though and for that I am grateful.

Not every anti-depressant is good for everyone but I would highly recommend trying Celexa.

Depression phase #2

My second phase of depression was when I was 38 weeks pregnant. I know that this was due to my hormones though.

The fact that it was due to my hormones made it feel different than my first bout with depression. At least that is what I think. It was terrible nonetheless.

It felt like there was literally a black cloud hanging over me. Just like in the anti-depressant medication commercials. It was the strangest feeling ever.

My world became devoid of bright colors. Hopelessness seeped into the air and strangled me. That is how it felt anyways.

For whatever reason, during this time I decided to read a book about a man that was suffering from AIDS (see here: https://www.amazon.com/Borrowed-Time-Memoir-Paul-Monette/dp/0156005816). This made things even worse! It is a good book if you are not depressed though.

What kept me going was the idea that I was going to give birth to my miracle baby soon.

Depression Phase #3

Labor was horrible due to the fact that I have almost no tolerance for pain. When I got the epidural though, all became right in the world. There was no more pain!

I was so excited to see my son and was actually smiling through the pushing. It was not until about a year ago that my husband told me that I actually was bleeding a lot more than what is normal and the healthcare staff were getting worried. Obviously everything went fine after that.

After pushing out my little guy, for some reason I did not feel happy. My husband showed me a picture he took of him on the weight scale and I pushed the phone away.

I was supposed to be happy but all I felt was sadness. My son was here and I did not want anything to do with him. It kills me to admit that because I know that people won’t understand and think I am a horrible person.

What I was dealing with was called postpartum depression. It is a very real thing and affects a lot of women. There is more awareness of it these days and good medical professionals monitor women for it for months after giving birth just to be on the safe side.

When I had to stay in the hospital for a couple days after giving birth, I was so unbelievably sad. The nurses kept trying to help me breast feed him and I did not want him on my chest at all.

There was one afternoon where he kept crying while laying next to me in the hospital crib and I just stared at him. I did not want to pick him up. Then my husband took him into his arms which soothed our son enough for him to stop crying. I felt like a complete failure.

The next two months were like this. I did not feel connected to him as much as I wanted to be. What made things even worse was that I was having a hard time breast feeding despite trying to do it as much as possible.

I had heard and read all about how breast milk has so many benefits so the fact that I could only produce one ounce per day was a horrible feeling. After a while the sound the breast pump machine made drove me insane and I ended up throwing it on the floor.

I never told anyone around me how I was feeling during those two months. The last thing that I wanted to do was be on an anti-depressant and I had a feeling my family would highly suggest I do that.

All I wanted was to push through and start really enjoying motherhood. I was hoping that the depression would go away on its own. Thankfully, it did but I know that other women have it even worse than I did.

I feel for all mothers who had to go through or are going through postpartum depression. It sucks.

About that breastfeeding issue…

It was not until a year later that I learned that my difficulty to breast feed was due to me having tuberous/hypoplastic breasts (see here: https://kellymom.com/bf/got-milk/supply-worries/insufficient-glandular-tissue/). This means that my breasts have an inadequate amount of glandular tissue making it hard to produce milk.

I always knew there was something wrong with my breasts. They looked strange and ugly to me. No guys ever shamed me for them though which seems strange looking back on it.

There are worse cases than mine out there unfortunately and they cause tremendous self-esteem problems for women. A breast augmentation is something that a lot of us think about not only to look better but to fit better into bras. Wearing standard bras really hurt when you have this condition.

Just the fact that it is considered a “condition” and “deformity” makes it an even harder pill to swallow. It makes the cost of a breast augmentation even higher than the cost of a regular one where a woman has breasts that developed normally.

I often think about getting an augmentation but the cost and the possibility of looking worse than I already do, gives me pause. Once I get my finances in order I might look for surgeons near me that are experienced with doing breast augmentations for these types of breasts.

Currently on Lamictal

I was experiencing evening seizures about a year after giving birth. The doctor decided to prescribe me a medication called Lamictal and I have been on it ever since.

Lamictal is used in the treatment of seizures, bipolar disorder and depression. I take 200 mg of it each day. This is considered a dosage on the lower end for seizures and on the higher end if you are treating bipolar or depression with it.

It has been great for my mood and seizures. My PMS mood swings have decreased by a lot which has been good for the people around me during that time. I am also less rigid in my thoughts and actions as I was before.

In terms of side effects, I do have some. I have noticed my cognition is a little funny which is unfortunately normal for these types of medications. The cognitive issues I have include losing my keys a lot, leaving the last letter off of some words when I write things down and word-find issues when I speak.

These cognition side effects are annoying at times but I will not be coming off of the medication anytime soon. If I was planning on attending college, this would be worrisome as I would probably would not do very good!

Weight gain is something that I absolutely do not want from a medication. The great thing about Lamictal is that weight gain is really uncommon. Sexual side effects are also uncommon as well.

I would recommend talking to your doctor about trying Lamictal if you are wanting to start or switch a medication (for bipolar, depression and seizure conditions).

Immune System Boosting

Immune System Boosting

It really bothers me that I can’t take vitamin D and zinc anymore. This is due to the fact that they make me feel sick to my stomach. Out of all of the supplements, these ones are usually recommended and considered to help the immune system (see here: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5949172/ ).

Back when I used to be able to take supplements, I was really healthy and very rarely got sick. Ever since I got pregnant and gave birth, my immune system has not been good at all. I really want to be able to take vitamin D and Zinc so that I don’t get sick as much.

There are other ways to boost your immune system

I have been looking up ways that I can get my immune system in tip-top shape without the use of vitamin supplements. Here is a list of things that are said to help a person not get sick very much:

  1. Regular exercise- Check!
  2. Hand washing- Check!
  3. Get good quality sleep- Nope!
  4. Keep a healthy weight/BMI- Check!
  5. Eat a diet that is full of immune system boosting food- Sort of?
  6. Don’t smoke- Check! Yuck!
  7. Reduce stress in your life- Check!

As you can see I need to work on getting better sleep and work on my diet some more. The time to get started on this is now!

What I am going to do

In regards to sleeping, I will be trying to make 10:00 PM my bed time and set my alarm for 7:00 AM. Right now I am going to bed at on average 1:00 AM and getting up at 5:00 AM. That is bad!

I found a wonderful list of foods that are supposed to help me reach my goal of boosting my immune system (see here: https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/322412.php ). From that list I will be consuming the following things:

  1. Berries-Lots of antioxidants. I will eat them with Stevia and a couple squirts of whip cream.
  2. Broccoli- High in vitamin C. I have always liked this vegetable. I can definitely eat it everyday.
  3. Ginger- I already take ginger capsules everyday. I will continue to do so but I do not think it really helps to prevent anything.
  4. Garlic- We stopped purchasing garlic due to my husband being allergic to it. I will start using it again but just on my food.
  5. Green tea- I used to drink a ton of this stuff. Knowing that it is good for the immune system is making me want to start drinking it again. I think I will go for this one: https://www.republicoftea.com/organic-immunity-supergreen-tea-bags/p/v20369/dpn/40913/?utm_source=google&utm_medium=cpc&adpos=1o1&scid=scplp40913&sc_intid=40913&gclid=CjwKCAjw98rpBRAuEiwALmo-ylnJcj71Z1JVnX8GZ8tXEVKDMjrTgZqqAhEF6_oWGWR6uH64CgWoKBoCOiwQAvD_BwE
  6. Citrus fruits- I am going to be putting lemon slices in my water as well as eating oranges.
  7. Elderberry- This was not on that list but I will start taking some everyday.
  8. Rosemary, thyme and oregano- These were not on the list but I will be using them in my food a lot because they are said to help as well.

The sleep and diet changes will also be combined with my use of colostrum supplements which may help immunity too.

I am also going to get my flu shot this year! I have not gotten it for the past two years and have gotten the flu both years in January. Ugh!

Nootropics

Nootropics

Back in 2014, I came across an article about things that increase your cognition and longevity of your life. Little did I know that I had actually taken some of them before. I just had never heard of the word “Nootropics” before.

What are Nootropics?

If you do not already know, Nootropics are a group of different chemicals that are said to help with your cognition. By “help”, researchers mean that they do things like enhance concentrate, increase your memory and make it easier to learn.

There are so many things that are considered to be under the Nootropics label but you have to be careful and read up on them to make sure that you do not suffer any side effects (see here: https://www.mindlabpro.com/blog/nootropics/are-nootropics-safe/ ).

A lot of these Nootropics are easy to find and buy (caffeine is considered a Nootropic!). The stronger ones such as ADHD medication require a prescription of course.

Why did I decide to try new ones?

I was just really intrigued by getting smarter. Who does not want to be a little smarter?! Having dyscalculia made me feel so stupid back then.

At that time I was also considering going to back to school for physician assisting so I felt like I would need a safe supplement to get me through the math classes.

The ones I had taken before (I did not know they were Nootropics) did not really do anything for me cognition wise. At least not anything that I noticed.

Here is what I tried and my experiences with them

  1. Holy Basil (see here: https://www.healthline.com/health/food-nutrition/basil-benefits#brain-benefits )- This stuff is amazing! It is supposed to help anxiety and I can say that it did for me. I took it in pill form.
  2. Noopept (see here: https://www.developinghumanbrain.org/noopept/)- I took the smallest dosage as recommended for two months straight and noticed nothing. It was supposed to boost my memory and enhance my senses but I experienced none of that. Maybe it works for other people though.
  3. Aniracetam (see here: https://www.healthline.com/health/aniracetam#benefits )- This one is said to be potent and help with cognition, ADHD, anxiety and depression. I took 500 mg (most people start off with 750 mg) because I am sensitive to medications and supplements. Within an hour or so of the first time taking it, I felt really zoned out and had a headache. It was not fun. I took it a few other times with the same results and decided it was not for me.
  4. Oxiracetam(see here: https://www.braintropic.com/nootropics/oxiracetam/ )- This one is supposed to be good for cognitive functioning and energy. I took a little less than the recommend dosage (1200-2400 mg) for several days. It took a little over an hour for it to kick in but boy did it! I had so much energy and felt great. If I had to pick a Nootropic to take instead of caffeine, it would be this one.
  5. Phenylpiracetam (see here: https://www.braintropic.com/nootropics/phenylpiracetam/ )- This one is supposed to be like Oxiracetam in that it is supposed to give you an energy boost as well as provide cognitive benefits. I took it for a few days and noticed that the effects were a little more powerful than Oxiracetam at first. I built up a tolerance to it pretty quick though.
  6. DMAE (see here: https://www.healthline.com/health/senior-health/dmae)- This is supposed to help with moods and cognitive functioning. I did not like it all even at a really small dosage. It made me feel sick and gave me a bad headache.

In conclusion

I have tried a lot of Nootropics unknowingly as I am sure a lot of people have (there are so many). Caffeine is still my favorite due to the fact that it is cheaper and readily available.

If you are interested in trying the ones I listed or any others, please do some research first. There can be some bad side effects if you take too much or are on a medication that does not mix well with whichever one you decide to take.

Here is a great list of Nootropics to check out: https://nootropicsexpert.com/nootropics-list

Dorm Room Workout Memories

Dorm Room Workout Memories

The only thing I really liked about college was my dorm room that I had for a year. It was in one of the new dorm buildings and was a single suite. that meant that I had my very own room and shared a bathroom with one other girl.

I ended up having to use the bathroom on the first floor and showering at the fitness center locker room a lot. This was because the girl was into being glamorous all the time which involved a lengthy makeup and hair styling routine.

I am not knocking anyone who likes putting on makeup everyday. In fact, I wish I was good at applying it myself.

There were days during this time in my life when I did not want to walk to the fitness center. This was due to the weather or because I just did not feel like it. Because of this, if I wanted to workout I would have to do something that wouldn’t take up much space.

Then came Pilates!

Mari Winsor: Pilates
Picture taken from Amazon

I saw this DVD on a trip to Walmart one day back then. Pilates was not something I knew anything about but the idea of getting a sculpted body made me want to buy it.

It was really cold and snowy the day I decided to try it out for the first time. I probably looked ridiculous because I had no idea what I was doing and had to keep pausing it to get in the right position.

After I finished the full workout, I felt really refreshed and light. It did cause a little bit of sweating but obviously not as much as other types of workouts. I was hooked regardless.

I ended up doing this DVD regularly in my dorm room and I can honestly say that I noticed more muscle definition in my abdominal area. This was after only two months.

I am contemplating doing it again once in a while. The whole workout is free on YouTube so I would highly recommend it for other people to try too.

Resistance Band Workouts

Image result for resistance band workouts
Taken from http://www.onbuy.com

At the same time I bought the Pilates DVD, I also bought a heavy resistance band. I did not know much about this kind of workout either but the pictures on the box made it look good.

The first time I tried using it was the day after I did the Pilates workout. I scoured the internet for a resistance band full body workout beforehand. There was no shortage of them!

I don’t recall the exact exercises I did but I remember that they were tough. It was not any easier than workouts with actual weights. I felt just as much of a burn and had soreness the next day.

Resistance bands are a wonderful choice for those with small spaces or who want a different kind of workout. They also cost less than buying a bunch of dumbbells.

It is fun to look back on things

I like thinking about the past once in a while. The good and bad times have made me who I am today. I have come a long way mentally, physically and socially from my college days.

My Time On Spironolactone

My Time On Spironolactone

Treating PCOS is really tough. Everyone is different so what works for some might not work for others. The treatments include various types of birth control, Metformin, diet changes, medications that help ovulation, Spironolactone and losing weight if overweight or obese.

When I was in my early 20s, I was put on Spironolactone to help with my PCOS symptoms. Here is how it went.

What is Spironolactone?

Image result for Spironolactone
Taken from http://www.webmd.com

Spironolactone is a diuretic most commonly used to treat heart problems, high blood pressure and low potassium (see here: https://www.drugs.com/spironolactone.html) It is also used to treat PCOS related symptoms which include acne, hair loss and excess male-pattern hair growth. This is due in part to its ability to lower androgen levels.

The dosages women are usually given are in the range of 50-200 mg per day. There are a lot of side effects that one can experience. These include weight gain, low energy, muscle loss, headaches, nausea/vomiting, itchy skin, dehydration and aggravation of PCOS symptoms ( see here: https://pcos.com/spironolactone/ ).

My Experience with it

I started taking Spironolactone when I was 21 years old with the goal of controlling my acne and oiliness. It was worse at that time than it is now. I also had mild hirsutism (it is worse now).

My dosage started out at 25 mg. We decided on this dose because I am really sensitive to medications. The maximum dosage for me was going to be 50 mg.

The first couple weeks at 25 mg, I noticed no side effects. Some women lose water weight at first but since I never weigh myself due to past eating disorder issues, I did not notice any.

Since it is potassium-sparing, I had to watch my diet to make sure I was not consuming a lot of foods that contained potassium in them (i.e. bananas). I also had to go in for blood tests to get the potassium level checked.

It does take around three months to notice differences in your skin so I was told not to get my hopes up for instant results. After tolerating 25 mg, I moved up to 50 mg. This was when I started to experience side effects.

The first thing I noticed was that my strength for weight lifting really went down. I went from being able to bench press 150 pounds to only being able to bench press 75 pounds. Also, I would black out sometimes when trying to push ups.

I also experienced some pelvic pain at times. It was sharp and caused me to double over. Even still, I kept taking the medication. I was really hoping that these side effects might go away and it would start working for me.

After three months on the medication, I can honestly say that I did not notice much of anything positive from it. The only thing that I guess got a little better was the oiliness of my skin. It was still pretty bad at times though.

My acne actually got worse on it. Little pimples showed up in the mustache area and I would regularly get two huge cysts on both sides of my nose. It was embarrassing to say the least. The pock marks by my nose are daily reminders of what I had to deal with.

I decided to stop taking it shortly after having a horrible breakout on my cheeks. It was so bad and took about six weeks to clear up. There was no reason to continue taking the medication anymore.

Do I recommend it despite my experience?

My experience is my own. There are a lot of people who have had great success when on Spironolactone. With that said, I would recommend it for someone who has PCOS or just bad acne.

It could work for someone else and be the key to fixing their problems. It is not good of me to sit here and say that since it did not help me at all, it won’t help others.

Have any of you been on this medication?

Life: Future Job,workouts and Diet

Life: Future Job,workouts and Diet

Well my life has been pretty good lately. I love these summer months. My mood is usually in the happy to down right euphoric range. That is the power of the sun!

What will my future job be?

I am still trying to figure out what I want to do in terms of a job. This is the one area that I am grappling with. My son can’t be in a daycare because of his special needs so I am unable to get a job outside of the home right now.

I am interested in freelance writing but it is really tough to find clients when I have no experience. It does not help that I am also not an expert in anything.

Rat Race Rebellion (https://ratracerebellion.com/) is a great site for work-at-home job listings. I have yet to find anything on there though. All of the customer service representative jobs require six months of customer service experience-which I do not have.

I applied for a job with Lionbridge to be an ad assessor. Today, I was invited to take the exam that you need to pass in order to start doing paid work for them. Just looking closer at the reviews and the fact that I will have to slog through 160 pages of study materials makes me not want to do it.

With my son having what we think is severe ADHD, it will be hard to do all of the studying I will need to do for the difficult exam. It might actually be impossible.

Hopefully I can figure something out soon!

New workout routine

For a while I was doing the War Room Strategies workout routine that I posted about before. Even though I kept up with it for six weeks, I started getting sick of it at around three weeks in.

Not only that but it seemed like it was making me look “puffy.” I can’t really explain why I was looking that way but I did not like it. Also, I just did not feel like I was getting that great of workouts in each day of the routine.

Since mid May I have been doing Fitness Blender workouts. I love doing them and I am already seeing more muscle definition. In terms of effort, the ones I am doing are definitely intense (there are different levels to choose from).

I am doing four days of weightlifting a week. The videos I am doing currently are as follows: Kelli’s Upper Body Workout For Arms, Shoulders and Upper Back (see here: https://www.fitnessblender.com/videos/kellis-upper-body-workout-for-arms-shoulders-and-upper-back-upper-body-superset-workout) and Ultimate Butt and Thigh Workout- Kelli’s Lower Body Workout For People Who Get Bored Easily (see here: https://www.fitnessblender.com/videos/ultimate-butt-and-thigh-workout-kellis-lower-body-workout-for-people-who-get-bored-easily). For cardio, I have been doing my agility ladder HIIT workout 1-2 days a week.

I like the videos so much that I will be doing them every week until at least September (I will change up which videos I do).

My diet

I am still doing intermittent fasting. This type of eating schedule is doing wonders for my digestion and it makes my periods pain-free. I will not be quitting this anytime soon.

Since PCOS can cause hair loss/thinning, I am trying to do everything I can to prevent it. I do not want to lose my locs (commonly called dreadlocks but they are not dreadful to me)! It is the best hair style for me and I can’t imagine having short hair again.

What I am doing for hair loss/thinning prevention is eating foods that are said to be good for hair. These include pumpkin, pumpkin seeds, salmon, rosemary, avocados and berries. I am also putting pumpkin oil and rosemary oil on my hair. Hopefully all of this works!

I Tried CBD

I Tried CBD

Hearing and reading about all of the benefits of CBD had me interested in trying it. Products that contain it seem to be promoted everywhere with lists of all that it can do for a person. Unfortunately, the research is lacking on whether or not it does all the great things it is touted as doing (see here: https://www.sciencenews.org/article/cbd-product-boom-science-research-hemp-marijuana).

A while ago, I did experiment with it because I wanted to see if it would provide relief for my anxiety and/or monthly migraine. I tried it in three different forms and the following is my experience with each of them.

Vaping

I purchased a vape pen with CBD oil. It was not hard to figure out how to use the pen but it is definitely not pleasant in my opinion.

This is considered the fastest way to get it into your system (see here: https://www.dixiebotanicals.com/heres-how-to-get-the-fastest-results-from-cbd-oil/ ). At the time I vaped, I was experiencing some anxiety that I usually get a few days before my period.

I knew to not expect any strong effects that marijuana gives but I did not feel any difference at all. My anxiety was still at the same level and did not go down. I vaped every night for three weeks straight with no results.

CBD oil under my tongue

So taking it this way is super simple-just squirt it under your tongue. This is supposed to take a little longer to work than vaping but it still should be pretty quick.

There was absolutely no relief for me in taking it this way. The pain and anxiety level stayed the same. I gave it a try for three weeks with no changes whatsoever.

CBD gummies

I purchased these: https://hempbombs.com/product/hemp-bombs-15-count-cbd-gummies/. They look yummy and colorful so I had to make sure that my son did not see them as I was taking one out. They have another gummy product that is of a higher potency but I decided to try their regular ones.

These gummies do contain things in it other than just the CBD (L-theanine, Skullcaps and passion flower). Since I did not know how my body would react to the other ingredients I decided to just eat half of one.

About 30 minutes after eating part of the gummy, I could barely open my eyes. It was like my eye lids were made of lead. I also felt lightheaded and had to lay down. This was a really unpleasant experience for me.

In terms of anxiety, there was no relief again. I just felt messed up. It could have been the extra ingredients included in the gummies that made me feel this way.

I did not feel like taking anymore after the first experience.

In conclusion

CBD products just did not work for me at all. I knew not to expect THC level effects but I still thought I might feel some relief. It was disappointing.

I am really glad that other people are experiencing benefits from using CBD. If it works, it seems like it would be a great choice since the reported negative side effects are not as bad as the ones that prescription medication can cause.