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SPENT---Using PB to heal from Major Stress Syndrome--PB Challenge Journal

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  • SPENT---Using PB to heal from Major Stress Syndrome--PB Challenge Journal

    After giving it some thought, I decided I wanted to start a new journal with a new title for this 30-day Challenge. Because my goal in embarking on this Challenge is simply to heal from the collective traumas and stresses of the past several years.

    I'm not going to dwell on the negatives, but just once, here are the cumulative stresses and problems I've faced in the past 3.5 years:

    1. Ongoing stress due to conflict-seeking ex-husband and father of my children.

    2. My older son, who has high-functioning autism, developed bipolar disorder and panic disorder, and is quite disabled. He was handling his autism with great courage and growth when 4 years ago, he got very ill with bipolar disorder. No sooner did he recover from his first episode, his younger brother got even more ill with HIS first bipolar episode. My older son now battles panic attacks, bipolar d/o AND his autism.

    2. My younger son took nearly a full year to recover from his first episode, a year of terrible stress for me, his primary caregiver. Took 5 years to finish high school.

    3. In the middle of my kids' mental illnesses, I developed severe spinal stenosis and required two surgeries to stablize my cervical spine. I now have fusions from C3 to C7. Took 2 years to become pain-free. (I am now 2.5 years out from that surgery.) This was an especially difficult blow for me personally, as I was a long-distance cyclist and Crossfit addict, beginning to work as a Crossfit trainer. After my surgery, I lost my physical capablities, my Crossfit training community, and my fitness. This was an enormous loss for me, took me over a year to grieve for what I'd lost.

    4. My parents are aging and require more help. Recently, my mom broke her hip and I had to help my dad move from his second floor condo to a first floor apartment in less than two weeks.

    5. My younger son took an overdose of his medication during orientation week of college, was hospitalized, and is now home from college and trying to put his life back together. He is now living with his dad but spending some time here everyday, and I am very worried about him. It's harder for me with him NOT living here than if I were solely responsible for him. My ex has recognized that the conflict between us is detrimental to our children's health, and has agreed to go to see a therapist with me who specializes in issues of divorced families. Yet, at the same time, he has made outrageous demands about child support, issued ultimatums, deadlines and threats!

    6. I work as an on call physician for an emergency practice and my group is down one physician and I am doing more call, which means more interrupted sleep.

    7. All of this puts a strain on my current, essentially very good, marriage to my second husband.

    When I was at my athletic peak, I weighed 140 lbs. at 5'6" tall (52 years old) and I could deadlift 180 lbs., run 10 miles, cycle 100 miles easily, squat 140 lbs. I had limitless energy and felt and looked great. Sedentary for much of the years following my surgery, without exercise as a stress-reliever, I ate crap and gained 50 pounds.

    *big sigh*

    I used to eat Primal and cycle and do Crossfit for a variety of reasons: because it was fun and exciting, because I loved pushing my body to reach new personal bests, because I loved cycling long-distance and was planning to cycle across America with a few friends, because I loved feeling so fit and energetic and because I liked wearing size 6-8 clothes!

    My problem was I didn't know TO BACK WAY DOWN in the midst of the stress of my kids' illnesses. Seeking to feel better, I just trained harder when I should have just given it all a great big rest. That's when my body broke down and my spine literally crumbled.

    I just want to heal from all this, to regain some sense of health and wellbeing. I'd be thrilled if I could sleep through the night, stay relatively calm during the crises presented to me, perhaps lose a few pounds so that my body isn't so tired from carrying all this weight, and maximize my immune system and not get ill with something serious. That is my first set of goals, healing the SPENT feeling.

    After that, life circumstances permitting, I would like to get some endurance and strength back. But at the moment...I CANNOT TRAIN ON A SCHEDULE. I am taking very, very seriously Mark's instruction not to exercise hard on any day that you feel low energy, tired, or ill. Well, the truth of the matter is that I feel that way EVERY DAY.

    SO............what is my plan? My own, unique personal primal blueprint?
    1. Follow the eating guidelines to restore health. Keep a food journal and post it here on this thread. Take supplements---fish oil, cod liver oil, multivitamin.
    2. Use my intuition to do one mindfulness practice each day: formal meditation, morning pages, yoga or whatever contemplative practice seems right.
    3. Weekly consultations with my mindfulness meditation teacher.
    4. Days that I have an appropriate energy level, focus on low level activity: either gentle walking, hiking, easy cycling (on a stationary bike) or easy swimming.
    5. Since I do thrive on group activities, socializing, etc. do at least one fun group thing a week, circumstances permitting. I have a few options----pastel oil painting class with friends, ballet class for over 50, montly women's group outing club.
    6. Do at least one home-maintaining activity per day.

    Journal it all here.

    Starting point 9/6/2010: 199 lbs., waist 38 inches.

    FOOD/SUPPLEMENTS: took supplements, will post Fitday Journal at end of day




    ONE FUN SOCIAL THING PER WEEK (PLAY): not scheduled as of yet

    ONE HOME MAINTENANCE ACTIVITY PER DAY: declutter son's bookshelf

    Last edited by PrimalWannabeGirl; 09-12-2010, 08:24 AM.

  • #2
    Wishing you the very best in healing your body and regaining your life.

    One thing that jumps out at me based on all of your family's symptoms is Vitamin D deficiency. My link below may be helpful and I'm happy to answer any vitamin D questions you have.

    Last edited by cillakat; 09-12-2010, 08:55 AM.

    iherb referral code CIL457- $5 off first order


    • #3
      Best of luck in all your efforts. Sounds like you have more than enough to juggle. I can't even imagine what your stress level must be! Hopefully in some small way the PB approach (and journaling here?) will help.
      "Trust me, you will soon enter a magical land full of delicious steakflowers, with butterbacons fluttering around over the extremely rompable grass and hillsides."


      • #4
        PWG, that's quite a few years you've had!

        Ditto on Cilla's D thread... and also, have you had your Adrenals checked? That much stress definitely puts a huge weight on your adrenal glands, and at some point they don't have anything left to give. I'd recommend doing some reading on Adrenal Fatigue and checking out the symptoms. Getting the saliva test would help too. Mostly treatment for adrenals is a lot of "de-stressing" type of stuff... maybe throwing in some meditation and/or yoga stuff, definitely low-stress exercises. There are some adrenal support stuff you can take, as well.

        Anyway, just thought I'd toss that in, as it would be very likely to be "an" issue to deal with at some point.

        Sorry about the crappy ex issues... but how nice you have a good one now! I know that feeling...
        sigpic "Boy I got vision and the rest of the world is wearing bifocals" - Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid


        • #5
          Thanks, guys,

          Katherine, you are RIGHT ON THE MONEY, at least as far as me and my older son go. We both got tested for Vit. D a year or so ago, and our physician told us that my son had the LOWEST VITAMIN D LEVEL SHE'D EVER SEEN. We supplemented him like crazy, got him into the normal range. During the summer he was taking 5000 units/day, now that we've moved out of summer (upstate NY) he's back on his 10,000U/day regimen. He HATES going outside.

          My younger son has not had his checked----he's now with his dad, but I will mention it.

          I, too, had low levels (mild) and now supplement with Blue Ice High Vitamin Cod liver oil/butter oil and now my levels are normal.

          Minxxa, I'd be astonished if I didn't have adrenal fatigue, although I can tell you I feel much better now than I did 6 months ago. I did some research on adrenal fatigue, and what it did for me was switch my focus from pushing myself through workouts at the gym to activities like walking in nature, yoga, meditation, etc. I also took bee pollen with ginseng for a while, though I stopped now.

          I really appreciate your suggestions and support. It's been hard for me to let go of my uber-athlete persona and find ease in my-life-as-it-is-now. I've had to take my athlete's consciousness, with its prominent goals, performance markers, etc, and work on radical acceptance. My body will not tolerate being pushed now, so I'm learning to nurture instead of push. Doesn't come naturally.



          • #6
            PWG... yeah, giving up the "pushing yourself" was hard for me, too. I'm super careful nowadays to listen to how my body feels and go with that. Somehow the suck it up and keep going mentality finally was lost in my 40's. I do a lot of reading as well about living life simply... getting out of the rat race.. that sort of thing. It has helped to slowly change my mindset to living each day well... not pushing for things...

            Anywhoo... glad you're working on the nurturing yourself. It seems that, like many things, comes slowly, but is really worth it.
            sigpic "Boy I got vision and the rest of the world is wearing bifocals" - Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid


            • #7
              Wow. Just--wow. That's a rough couple of years, much of it ongoing. Wow.

              Maybe not now, but at some point, maybe you would think about a sport where your physical participation is not overly athletic, but that has a mental and competitive edge to it.

              I've been fit (for about maybe 5 minutes in high school), but I've never been an athlete--but I've come to LOVE dog training. It's the sport, but another creature gets to be the athlete. (Though it's pretty active--and easier and easier as a get in somewhat better shape).

              I'm thinking shooting--dog training--maybe archery... Is there anything you've been intrigued by in your life that's sport-like and active without being totally punishing? It could help with the social part of stress relief, too, if you found something people have a common passion for.


              • #8
                Well, that's interesting. When I was in college, I was on the fencing team and studied with Coach Geraci, an Olympic fencing champion. I don't have the cardiac endurance to fence now, but I might be able to duel foil if I get fitter.

                I am going to start *blush* ballet class for women over 50. I've never had dance lessons as a little girl, and I SO looking forward to this class. It starts next week. I even bought a plus-size leotard and dance skirt! I want the whole experience, dance clothes and all...

                Today has been really good.

                FOOD/SUPPLEMENTS: Took my supplements. Food was good, as follows:
                Breakfast: 3 eggs fried in ghee with cheddar cheese and tomato salsa
                Lunch: turnip greens with onions, chopped chicken breast, tomato, and coconut milk (spiced with cumin and turmeric, YUM)
                Dinner: grassfed, organic ground beef made into chili with spices, onions, tomato, with coconut and olive oils.

                Calories: 1318----64% FAT, 27% PROTEIN, 9% CARBS

                LOW LEVEL ACTIVITY: none today, too tired after night on call

                MINDFULNESS PRACTICE: 10 min. yoga stretches

                WEEKLY CONSULTATION WITH LIFE COACH: on thursday

                ONE FUN SOCIAL THING PER WEEK (PLAY): no play today

                ONE HOME MAINTENANCE ACTIVITY PER DAY: Decluttered older son's bookcase. Major job...counts as activity, maybe? *grin*

                I feel good. I may have one glass of wine after dinner.



                • #9
                  You've had tough few years. I can relate- especially in regards to the ex.

                  I hope the Challenge is just the start of a more stress-free, healthy life.


                  • #10
                    Thanks, Marcadav. From your mouth to God's ears...

                    This morning feels nothing short of miraculous. Not only did the scale say 195.5 (starting weight 199) but I slept deeply last night in between phone calls from the hospital. For the past few months, when I am on call and the phone rings, I can't get back to sleep and the whole night sucks. Which doesn't help my recovery any! But last night, despite about 4-5 phone calls, I fell back asleep easily, could tell my sleep was deep. The first restorative sleep I've had in WEEKS.

                    Is this due to the glass of wine I had with dinner? Nope. I've had wine in the evening with no better sleep several times in this period. Is it the two cups of carefully brewed herbal tea I made, using valerian and chamomile? Nope....have had that tea many times before bed with no better sleep. The only variable that's changed is MY DIET. Especially the absence of wheat and other grains. If my sleep keeps improving, this will be the most powerful boost to my recovery that I can imagine. It could literally be a lifesaver for me, because I can feel the toll poor sleep is having on my health.

                    I have to be careful not overdo anything...I have a tendency to rush into exercise/activity at the first hint of energy.

                    I'm looking forward to dinner tonight---I made this awesome meat chili last night with grassfed organic beef. It's just meat, onions, garlic, tomatoes from my garden, spices, cooked in coconut oil and olive oil. YUMMY. I have enough leftover to use for dinner----going to stuff baked winter squash with it and serve it with wilted spinach, garlic, onions, and toasted pine nuts.

                    The photos of all the food on yesterday's main post were very inspiring. I love all the colors of the veggies!



                    • #11
                      Originally posted by PrimalWannabeGirl View Post

                      I am going to start *blush* ballet class for women over 50. I've never had dance lessons as a little girl, and I SO looking forward to this class. It starts next week. I even bought a plus-size leotard and dance skirt! I want the whole experience, dance clothes and all...
                      don't blush! dive right in!

                      i bet you'll have a blast!
                      Even if you fall flat on your face, at least you're moving forward!


                      • #12
                        Thanks for the encouragement, jr! I'd like to think that at age 55 after everything I've been through, I'd be beyond self-consciousness. You can only pull off showing up for your first ballet in full regalia if you are beyond embarrassment and can smile at yourself.



                        • #13
                          Ballet class sounds awesome! Great way to strengthen muscles, and if you love it, even better! I take dance classes for my exercise too, though I bounce around on which type. I did jazz for a year, and now am doing Hip Hop. So i can relate to the "have to be beyond embarrassment", to toddle into a hip hop class at a community college at 42. Heh. I don't care, I like it.

                          I was thinking back a couple of years and I can really remember the sleep issues I was having. I'd wake up at 1:30 or 2 every morning and couldn't go back to sleep for a couple of hours. Really stunk. And quality sleep was not to be had anytime. I have to say I sleep MUCH better now than I used to. I still have days with odd sleep (like last night, woke up at 3:30 and couldn't go back to sleep for an hour, my mind was whirling!), but they aren't the majority anymore.

                          And yes, be careful not to run out with that tender energy right away! i remember doing that, too... usually involved cleaning something!
                          sigpic "Boy I got vision and the rest of the world is wearing bifocals" - Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid


                          • #14
                            Primal Wannabe, that is quite a story!

                            You bring a lot of good things to the table in your struggle with TROUBLE. I think it is harder for someone who is used to high achievement to adjust to limitations, but being able to think one's way through problems certainly helps.

                            I second Cillakat's recommendations about Vitamin D. I take two tiny perls, 5k each, every day. I don't want to flood my system with lots and lots of fish oil, because it oxidizes so easily. both in the body and in the fridge. Also, one wonders about the quality of the source fish, given the state the oceans are in these days. I used to be a big fan of cod liver oil, till I read how they make it these days, and why it is so odorless. And I learned about the trouble with getting enough Vitamin D without getting too much Vitamin A. So I now use the D supplement instead of the fish oil by spoon.

                            In my struggle with Miller Fisher Syndrome this summer, my sleep was simply terrible. The only time I got several hours of uninterrupted sleep was when I was zonked out on oxycodone, which left me totally exhausted the rest of the time, and which was a nightmare to get back off of. I gradually healed and the pain at night was reduced to an annoyance, but I still couldn't sleep more than a couple hours without waking up and being unable to get back to sleep. I had never been this way before.

                            What fixed my nights was the discovery of "magnesium oil", rubbed on the skin. (I can't take magnesium by mouth.) After a day or two of rubbing it in, waiting, then washing it off, I slept the sleep of the just. You might try getting some magnesium chloride flakes (Swanson is cheaper, though I bought from both Swanson and "Ancient Minerals" in Holland). You could put a big batch into a warm bath and soak in it a few times a week -- see if your sleep improves. Or you could buy magnesium chloride as food-grade nigari, which is sold on the web. Also good for foot soaks. It's supposed to help anxiety and nervousness a lot, and is good for bone, because you need magnesium (and protein) to absorb calcium properly.

                            What a nice idea, taking the ballet class. Have you tried minimal footwear yet? A consolation for being stuck home with double vision and neuropathy in my hands was that I didn't have to wear ordinary shoes for several months. It would be a nice thing for your feet to allow them complete freedom of motion when you're home, at least. Two days ago I picked up my pair of Soft Star "Ramblers", which have vibram soles, a fleece liner, and complete freedom for my toes. When I go out I wear them. Not allowing your feet to be immobilized by ordinary shoes allows all the little muscles and joints to strengthen and get limber -- should be helpful for the dance class, IMO. Or maybe I'm preaching to the choir?

                            Good luck ...


                            • #15
                              PDL, thank you for thoughtful reply. If my sleep continues to be disturbed, rest assured I will try the topical magnesium! I've never even heard of it before. I'm sorry to hear you have had your medical challenges and stresses, too. It sounds like you are taking good care of yourself through it which is all we can do: provide the right conditions under which we can properly heal.