Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Hook, line and sinker.

You know how I'm super impressionable? Well, I've been reading a book called Mind Over Medicine the last few days so now I'm more convinced than ever that I hold the power to everything in my life.

{Insert evil laugh here.}

In this book, Dr. Lissa Rankin does a pretty solid job (with evidence and studies and data and stuff) making the case that while modern medicine is great for some maladies (severed limbs, for example), the healing powers of our own bodies (often via our thoughts) far surpasses what most medical professionals ever considered possible.

I like this kind of stuff a lot. I swear, I get hippier and hippier every day.

The arrival of this book at my house (thanks to a PBS donation Bill made a while back) coincided with a couple of other things that made the Twilight Zone song take up permanent residence in my head.
1. We watched the documentary Food Matters that, among other things, made the case that our bodies are meant to be healthy and if we get out of their way and just give them what they need, they will be total rock stars. 
2. I stumbled across a handful of websites that more or less all said the same thing - some foods are "super" (like spirulina), while other foods, like sugar, are toxic (duh).
3. I got "over served" at a backyard party (damn) and as a result cut way back on my alcohol consumption (always a good idea after the alcoholidays). As a result of that, I realized I feel a lot better when I'm not drinking as much.
4. I decided that taking prescription medication EVERY SINGLE DAY while not really knowing if I need it is just not my jam. 
5. I finally crossed "Find an integrative health practitioner and make an appointment" off my to-do list. 
This all happened in the span of a few days so it felt sort of kismet (except for the over serving incident - that happened several weeks ago). It was like an "if not now, when?" sort of thing. I mean, you can only watch your parents' health decline for so long before you want to do everything you can to avoid the same fate. I want to enjoy my life now of course but I also want to make sure I'm not setting myself up for utter disaster later on. Pretty reasonable, right?

My new doc sure thought so. I had my first appointment yesterday and it felt more like hanging out with someone who had been reading the same books as I had than it did a doctor's appointment. There was no waiting, no paper gown and no new prescriptions. In fact, he agreed that stopping my cholesterol lowering statin was an okay thing to try and got me on a step-down plan to get off my anti-depressant.

Surprised? Well. I don't really know why I've never mentioned being on Zoloft before. I don't think I was embarrassed or afraid of being judged (it's certainly not a secret) but I was also very aware of the fact that a lot of the mommy bloggers I have read at one time or another have dealt with depression. I didn't want to join the ranks of moms (or writers) who pop pills every day to get by (even though I had joined the ranks) {cue Mother's Little Helper...} I guess it was the label I was uncomfortable with. (To be fair, I don't like any labels. I don't go out of my way to call myself a vegetarian, I just don't eat meat...) I didn't want to feel recategorized or like a total cliche, you know?

I started taking 50 mg of Zoloft when Finn was six months old. I was sleep deprived and overwhelmed with my colicky baby and needed something - anything! - to help me feel more connected to my life (I felt super flat lined and like I was watching my life on TV). Even though I didn't fit the "depression profile", the drugs helped (immediately!) and I was beyond grateful to have them.

I felt SO much better that I started wondering if I should have been taking them all my life. I certainly didn't want to have to stop taking them. If it ain't broke, you know? In fact, when I cried in my doctor's office last year (I had just seen my mom and she didn't know who I was), and she suggested we kick it up a notch, I was totally on board. Who wants to feel bad if they don't have to?

But now I'm not so sure. It could be all the books and movies I've watched lately but I have started to wonder how much sense it makes to take pills every day if I don't need to. I mean, I honestly don't even know if I have a chemical imbalance or not. Although, according to my new doctor, even if I didn't before, I do now (since I've introduced synthetic serotonin into my system my body has been hitting the snooze button on making it itself). I didn't even know this was happening! Good thing I didn't just stop taking it willy nilly like I did my Simvastatin. Instead I'm tapering off slowly so I don't crash and looking forward to seeing what life is like unmedicated. If it sucks, I'll get right back on (and would encourage anyone else who is struggling to give it a try). But if it doesn't, wouldn't that be nice to know?

Yesterday Bill texted me from San Diego to tell me about a book he was listening to called Clean. It's  about detoxification for self healing and optimum health and I could tell from his text tone, he was totally buying in. I, of course, immediately borrowed the audio version from the library and started listening to it last night while I cleaned up and folded laundry. It totally resonated with me (shocking, I know) and taught me something new. Serotonin is not just made in the brain but also in the gut. So good nutrition (and detoxification) can help restore the body's natural production. Pretty good timing, don't you think?

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