Sunday, July 20, 2014

Getting Off...

Zoloft.

I've been slow to update as I partly wasn't sure what to say. I partly didn't want to admit how dismal things ended up.

I slowly weaned off 75mg of Zoloft over a month's time and then switched to 5-HTP. After just a couple days of no Zoloft I was feeling pretty terrible. Growing anxiety, anger, stress, and feeling uncomfortable (almost freaked out) in loud and crowded places. I HATE feeling like that. It's not me, not the me I know I am. I am social, fun, outgoing, intelligent, silly.....not someone who wants to crawl into the nearest black hole and think about how her family would be better if she wasn't around. Yikes! It was a huge and noticeable difference for me being off of it.

I read so many medical articles, forums, blogs, etc. about Zoloft use and how to get off of it. I did the best I could and I learned pretty quickly that my brain is not ready to function normally without it. To be honest, that's a frustrating and depressing thought. My brain doesn't work like it's supposed to. I need meds. UGH.

In the big picture of life, I just want to be healthy, I want to raise my kids in a warm, loving, and fun environment, I want to live life with my husband in a fun and gracious way. So really, taking a little pill every day is a small thing. I do get that. It's just that it comes with baggage. In the one week off of Zoloft I felt less desire to eat, less ravenous hunger, and I dropped 2lbs. In nearly 2 weeks back on Zoloft, I'm up 3lbs. It's ridiculous!

It just really super sucks for me because I already had it rough having severe PCOS. Recap: zero periods, very cystic and painful ovaries, above normal carbohydrate cravings, inability to properly process carbohydrates and sugars, difficulty losing weight. Now add to that Zoloft and the actual metabolic change that takes place in which I gain weight fast. It sucks. No way around it.

There are other meds on the market, but all of them are in the SSRI family. These meds help the brain use serotonin. They are the 'new class' of antidepressants and work much better than the old meds people used to take. All of the SSRI's can cause weight gain and issues in people sensitive to it. There isn't one that works better than Zoloft, in fact Zoloft is supposed to be the better one. My brain clearly needs an SSRI, so now I have to learn to deal with the craziness it causes my metabolism and cravings and try to overcome it (let me just eat this bag of Skittles first. Sort of kidding).

I know many people were hoping this would be very successful for me so they could try it also, and I wish I could report that it went well and I'm thriving off of Zoloft. Sadly, not the case.

The week off of meds was so horrible I clearly and distinctly had this thought multiple times, "I would rather be fat than feel like this."

I don't want to give up on myself or my health. I don't want to trade my mental health for my weight health. I want to be able to do both. I endeavor to do both. I want to find a way to be a normal weight and have a normal appetite while on Zoloft.

I'm not sure how to do that. So, the saga continues.

~Diana

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Getting off Zoloft, using 5-HTP as an alternative

Day 1 of no Zoloft, using 5-HTP:
I purchased it on Amazon for about $12.

Yesterday I took my last dose of Zoloft, only 25mg, after titrating down from 75mg over a few weeks. I took my first dose of 5-HTP yesterday (200mg, extended release) and again took it this morning.

I feel ok so far. I have read horror stories about quitting Zoloft, so I was nervous. My symptoms during titration have primarily been irritability, hot flashes, night sweats, insomnia, and loss of train of thought (whatever I'm thinking just disappears).
Also, I weighed myself this morning and officially gained 22.6lbs while taking Zoloft. Ugh. I don't expect the weight to fall off or be easy to lose, I only pray I can see the scale moving down instead of constantly up. 

After my last blog post, over a dozen people, men and women, reached out to me in similar circumstances and frustration. Thank you. From the bottom of my heart. Thank you for sharing your struggles, what meds work or do not work for you, and for being vulnerable. 

Something I've certainly pondered is, what happens if 5-HTP doesn't help or doesn't help enough?
If that is the case, I will likely schedule an appt with a doctor (we pay for this 100% out of pocket) and try other meds. The bummer is that SSRI's ALL have a history of weight gain in patients that are sensitive to it- clearly I am. These are the primary SSRI's:

Generic NameBrand Name
citalopramCelexa
escitalopramLexapro
fluoxetineProzac
fluvoxamineLuvox
paroxetinePaxil
sertralineZoloft


Prozac is considered the worst weight gain offender, but all have the ability to cause problems in appetite, metabolism, and weight. 

SSRI's work for me. From WebMD, "Symptoms of depression result when certain brain chemicals (neurotransmitters) get out of balance. Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) help symptoms of depression by increasing the amount of serotonin available."

I also realize that being "fat" might end up a small price to pay to be happy and to raise my kids without being a total witch. I just am not ready to consider my only options as fat&nice or thin&mean. You know?

Other ways to help anxiety and depression include getting enough sleep, eating healthy foods, and getting exercise. I genuinely try to do all three. 

Thank you for being on this journey with me. I intend to keep updating as I realize many people are also in need of an alternative.
~Diana

*I am not a doctor or health care provider. 

Sunday, June 29, 2014

An Update of Zoloft

I'm not even sure exactly how to say what's going on. It's been frustrating, to say the least.

In January I wrote a post about starting Zoloft and dealing with anxiety issues. That post was wildly popular and many people thanked me for sharing and opening the door for a hard topic to be talked about. You can read that blog post HERE. I've written about a lot of personal stuff over the years, but that post took courage and I didn't even post it until a couple months after writing it. It was major for me.

Zoloft (generic Sertraline) has made a huge difference for me. 99% of the effects of it have been good. The 1%? Weight gain. Major weight gain. It has gotten worse by the month and there's no end in sight. Zoloft makes me hungry all of the time. Not like I want to eat salmon and an apple hungry, but like I want 28 cookies and an entire pie hungry. Zoloft has jacked my appetite and made it insane. It has also messed up my ability to lose weight, a fact I didn't know; Zoloft rearranges the metabolic structure of the body in some patients. I keep trying Paleo-ish again and again and I lose weight for a week and then it piles back on and even more than before. Talk about depressing! I didn't know until a couple weeks ago that it was likely because of Zoloft, a medication in the family of SSRI's, which provides serotonin for my brain. It helps calm me, helps me sleep, takes away anxiety and unusual anger. But, Zoloft also causes weight gain in 25% or more of it's users, and 10lbs or more in that group of people. Weight gain worsens over time usually.

Wanna know something crazy? I gained 7lbs the first WEEK I was on Zoloft. I thought it was because of a natural vitamin supplement I started at the same time because I had no idea Zoloft would cause weight gain. So I blamed the supplement! Now I realize it was most likely the Zoloft as I have not been able to lose that darn 7lbs and have in fact gained another 14lbs on top of that. Before I started Zoloft I was literally 1lb above my pre-pregnancy weight. I worked so hard for that and I felt good. Other than the anxiety and anger, that is. This was me right before I started Zoloft:
Look at my muscular arm and even a clavicle sticking out. I was healthy and had worked hard to lose the baby weight.


So... I find myself in this terrible place of knowing my brain needs something to function normally. My brain chemistry is out of whack and that's mostly a heck of a lot to do with genetics. But yet the thing that makes my brain feel awesome makes me pack on the pounds. That does not make me feel awesome!

I feel embarrassed every single day by the weight gain. I feel like friends, acquaintances, blog readers, etc are thinking I've 'slipped up' and given up on my weight and Paleo-ish-ness.I feel like people see me as lazy and a pig (extreme, but I genuinely feel that way). I feel like my weight enters a room before I do. Those 21lbs cause major emotional duress for me. It's messed up; a medicine that is supposed to make me feel better causes major weight gain that makes me in fact feel worse! How do I win? I can be nice and pleasant to be around, and also fat. Or I can be snappy, anxious, rude- but thin. That just doesn't feel fair!

I can try other meds, definitely. The thing is, the other meds that are safest while breastfeeding are also part of the SSRI family and they ALL have a history of weight gain. Some even worse than Zoloft!

Another sad part of Zoloft and also a bit embarrassing...did you know antidepressants tend to kill libido? Yup, it bites. It's literally never in my life been an issue for me. Until now. Until Zoloft.

I was on 75mg of Zoloft and have titrated down (a slow dose decrease to avoid major withdrawal symptoms) to currently being at 25mg. I can't keep gaining weight. It makes me feel like I don't even want to leave the house! My clothes don't fit well and I'm not setting an example to my children of being happy, active, and healthy. UGH.
This was me last weekend-

\
I have ordered a supplement called 5-HTP and plan to start it this week. It cannot be taken with Zoloft, so that means once it arrives in the mail I'll stop my last doses of Zoloft. 5-HTP is a natural supplement that is supposed to help with anxiety, depression, sexual desire, weight, energy, and sleep. I am really hoping it helps me.

I have friends in the similar boat as me and it's a helpless feeling; knowing you need something to help your brain but yet that something is ruining your weight and self esteem. Per my usual, I'm writing about deeply personal and TMI issues because I know I'm not alone and just maybe you're in this little boat and trying to figure out what to do also. We can be little boat buddies, OK?

~Diana

PS. I'm not a doctor or health provider. I don't make money when you click links and I don't make money from this blog. I write because I love it and because it feeds my soul.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

May 2014

I have come to realize that deciding to go back to Paleo right before moving was an epic failure in terms of choices. Yikes. I forgot just how crazy moving makes things and how much pizza is involved. I am trying to consider this a minor setback......my scale says otherwise. I am already mostly recovered from the chaos of moving, but still working on getting back to healthy. I am using the My Fitness Pal app now, which is helping and also hurting. I wish there was an app that tracked refined sugars and carbs, NOT sugars and carbs from fruits and vegetables. I wish there was an app that purely tracked proteins and refined nasties, not calories and all that jazz. I hate seeing my carb number at 100, when all I've had is a morning smoothie with fruit, protein powder and almond milk. It's sort of depressing. It also makes it hard to see a quick glance at my true intake. Maybe I should invent the PCOS Tracker (I said it first!), an app that tracks refined numbers to allow the user to keep refined carbs and sugars under 30g a day.

We moved about a mile from the old house. Easier than moving across the country, BUT everything still had to get out of one house and into another. The new house is a blessing. It's beautiful, insulated, no oil heat, and works well for our family. There are still boxes to unpack, but the house looks and feels very settled. I keep pondering maybe just throwing out all the boxes.....maybe we don't need whatever is in them???? Kidding. Sort of. Also, props to my handy hubby who got the fridge water and ice maker working after the landlords (and our dear friends) were told by repairmen that it was a lost cause. Hubby is a genius!

Life has been a busy journey through suburbia; soccer games and practices for the 5 year old, ballet with the 3 and 5 year old, speech therapy for the 5 year old, chiropractor visits with all three kiddos, grocery shopping, more grocery shopping (they eat everything I buy so I have to keep doing it!). I am striving to find joy in the mundane. The reality is that at times motherhood is suffocating. Being needed 24/7 takes its toll. 12+ hours during the day the girls need me and the other 12 hours a precious nearly 25lb baby boy needs me. He will not sleep unless he is literally touching me. I have actually mostly come to terms with this. He is the king of chillaxin and loves to be sprawled out and snoring, while still touching me or laying in the crook of my arm. It's pretty darn precious. And he smells so good. SO good. Sometimes as I'm falling asleep at night I just rest my cheek on his cheek and feel his warm breath and smell his hair. I rest my hand on his round booty and he puts his little fingers on my arm. It's a bit of heaven for sure. Someday he won't sleep like this. It is how he feels safe right now and that's a gift as his mother that I'm able to give him. I've reached a point in my life that making him cry, just so I can have some space, doesn't feel right. Research tells me its not, but even moreso my heart tells me it's not right. So, we snuggle and we cuddle and I work to embrace these sweet smelling moments rather than fight them with every inch of my person hood craving some alone time. It is a battle at times.

Solomon is a peaceful, joyful baby. He's very chill and doesn't hold back on smiles. He's just so HAPPY all of the time. I wonder if that's partly because his needs are met unconditionally. He's very snuggly and loves to be cuddled. He says mama, dada, nigh nigh, and I swear he says 'all done!', too. His hair is a beautiful sunny blond and his eyes are navy blue like his Grandpa Truman and his mama. He is a beautiful boy and brings so much joy to our family. Evangeline has decided she does like him after all and that's pretty adorable, too. She calls him Solly or Bubba and proudly tells everyone we meet, "that's my Solomon."
This is my precious boy at 13 days old. He actually fussed and cried for nearly the entire photo session as this was back during the spiteful colic days. Maria was a very patient photographer:
(Maria Hays Photography)

This was my sweet boy last weekend at his first Viking Fest:


~ Diana



Thursday, April 3, 2014

Paleo-ish


Following up on my last post, I did indeed go back to Paleo-ish and Primal foods. I am down 6 1/2 lbs and truly already feeling a lot better. It's amazing how much more energy I have first thing in the morning when I'm not eating junk the day and especially evening before.

I've also taken measurements and will be checking those periodically.
This was me yesterday, 6lbs down since going back to Paleo-ish.


A few things that help me:


  • Weigh every single day and input into a free weight tracker app.



  • Don't eat after dinner (dinner is at 5pm in my home). If I eat after dinner I try to stick to cheese or an apple.



  • Don't wait to eat until I'm starving and want to eat an entire bagel shop.
This morning my breakfast was 2 eggs pan fried in Ghee (clarified butter), 2 kiwi fruits, 2 slices brown rice yeast free bread (I ended up just eating 1/4 slice, I just wasn't feeling it), coffee with milk and one Stevia packet, and a smoothie with unsweetened vanilla coconut milk, frozen berries, and Jay Robb vanilla protein powder.

I'm learning to eat more in the first half of the day and then taper off, rather than eating 99% of my calories in the evening.

I call my lifestyle Paleo-ish because I eat dairy and legumes (beans, primarily). It's been easier jumping back into it than I thought. Thank you, Jesus!

Yesterday I had the best ever protein bar. For reals, it tastes like a white chocolate Kit Kat. I am in HEAVEN. I've had a lot of different protein bars, and this is the best I've ever had. The best price, considering shipping online, seems to be buying them at Trader Joes. For nutrition and flavor info, go here: https://powercrunch.com .
These are the labels from the peanut butter creme variety:



Yesterday I also did some reading about some questionable foods like popcorn and corn tortillas. In doing so I found a blog I adore! Go HERE to Mark's Daily Apple to read about whether popcorn and tortillas are Primal.  Go HERE to read about awesome Primal substitutes for regular foods, on Mark's Daily Apple.

I'll write more when I can. Cheers!
~Diana

Friday, March 28, 2014

Paleo, again?

Well, I think I'm paleo again. Which really means modified paleo for me because I refuse to give up dairy. It's 4:15pm and so far so good on day 1! Granted, it's like even the trees look like sugar today. Man, the sugar withdrawls are not my fave. It probably doesn't help that I ate a bag of skittles AND M&M's last night. *A-hem, cough, not the little bags, cough*. Why do I do that to myself???

I asked my amazing friend, Chef Valerie, what her staple diet is and she gave this amazing and super helpful list:

Proteins: 
-bacon (lots of it )
-steak 
-Uncured salami
-kipper snacks 
-sardines
-tuna (sustainable)
-chicken (ewe I don't really like it) 

Vegg:
-salad
-tomato
-asparagus
-carrots (like a lot) 
-broccoli
-Brussels 
-red cabbage (OMG love) 
-basil (fresh & a ton of it) 
-thyme (fresh) 

Also:
-ginger
-avocado (half a day) 
-mushrooms
-bell peppers
-lots of balsamic vinegar 
-Apple cider vin but raw 
-coconut oil
-stoneground mustard
-coffee 
-ghee
-coconut milk ( full fat stuff in a can. I used a tbsp in my coffee. Leave in fridge and you can separate the cream from the milk. The  cream is what I use) make sure it's unsweetened. 
-Probiotic. I use a dairy free unsweetened coconut kefir. It's like a tbsp a day. 
-Braggs aminos
-Braggs olive oil

"This is what I HAVE TO HAVE. Even though I buy all organic, it's surprisingly cheap! 

A basic breakfast for me is hard boiled eggs, bacon and some kind of veggie + coffee. 
Lunch: salad, meat and half an avocado. 
Dinner. Steak, salad, veggies. Decaf coffee 
Lots of water. I drink like a gallon a day!"


Thank you, Val!!! Like her Facebook page to see her beautiful food creations HERE !




Monday, March 17, 2014

A Natural Way to Whiten Teeth

I've noticed in pictures my teeth aren't looking as white as they once did, but whitening strips with bleach are a huge drooly hassle and also kind of hurt my teeth. I came across a neat way to whiten teeth and decided to try it out. My results have been awesome and sort of surprising!

What is it?
Activated Charcoal, food grade

Where do I buy it?
Amazon, Walgreens, etc

I purchased a bulk bag on Amazon (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B004DHK1KK/ref=oh_details_o00_s00_i00?ie=UTF8&psc=1) 
but you can also buy a bottle with capsules at Walgreens, Walmart, etc :)


How do I use it?
Dip your wet toothbrush into the bag of charcoal and brush really well for about 2 min. 

Will it stain my mouth?
Nope!

Does it hurt?
Not at all! It's quite gentle and I even have a recently cracked tooth.
 
What does it taste like?
Honestly? Like pretty much nothing at all.

How does it work?
There's a fancy scientific way to explain this....but I am no scientist ;) Basically, activated charcoal bonds to the icky stuff in your mouth, thus safely and effectively removing stains. Millions of tiny pores trap carbon-based impurities. Pretty stinking rad! Coffee, tea, food, etc....stains don't stand a chance!

How will this work on fake teeth?
To be 100% honest, I don't know. It should remove stains from faux teeth as well as genuine teeth, but the theory needs to be tested. I'm gently prodding Craig to try it out.

Some people do this daily in place of regular toothpaste. I am a huge fan of a minty clean mouth, so I will be doing this in addition to my regular routine.

Before:

And yes, I am brave to put my big ol mouth on here. Haha.

During! I swear, it doesn't stain! 
More during :


After:


I did it again the next day:

Let me know how it works for you! I have a feeling this is addictive. Yay for white and clean teeth!

~Diana

Added: Here's my gorgeous friend Kaitlyn, I'm loving these results!
And Beautiful Heather: