15 In health/ mental health/ nutrition

Mental health update 18 months after Citalopram

It’s been 18 months since I stopped taking the Citalopram tablets that had been prescribed to me for postnatal depression the year before.

There have been some rocky moments in that year and a half – a couple of months ago I actually took one pill on a very bad day – but mostly I can say that I am actually ok.

It’s obvious that one of my coping mechanisms is exercise. It gives my brain endorphins and serotonin, it lets me totally zone out and not think about anything “deep and meaningful”. Overthinking is my worst enemy and exercise helps enormously.

I’m also still staying away from sugar, dairy and most gluten.

I’ve been mostly* sugar free for over 18 months now so that comes naturally.  Dairy I gave up on 1st of January this year (it messes with my skin) and even though I thought it’d be the hardest thing to let go of, it’s actually been the easiest – I drink black coffee instead of lattes, I make summer porridge with coconut milk and warm winter porridge with almond milk. I cheat with cheese sometimes but try to get goat’s cheese if possible. I don’t eat yoghurt (most of them have a lot of sugar anyway), I take my probiotics in a pill. I don’t eat ice cream or any other dairy desserts anyway because of the sugar.

(For a couple of weeks this summer I had dairy, sugar and gluten while on holidays. It  made me feel so terrible and my skin got so bad again that I know that my challenge from now on is to stay clean even when I’m out of my element.)

Gluten is a funny one for me because many wheat products don’t actually immediately bloat me or give me a stomach ache – tortillas are ok,  pasta in small quantities is ok. However, since one of my sons really struggles with gluten, our household has very little of it in the cupboards now. Everyone is happy with rice noodles in stir fries or gluten free bread for toast and sandwiches (although I personally cannot handle that stuff very well, the sugar and yeast in it doesn’t agree with me)

I find I’m a bit more relaxed about my eating than I was during marathon training – then I knew I had to eat very clean or my digestion would fail me during long runs. Pretty soon the next marathon training cycle will start and I’m actually looking forward to it a lot – I love training plans and clear eating plans.

Other than moving a lot and staying away from foods that affect my digestion (which in turn affects my mood), I’ve also added two things into the list of supplements that I take – Vitamin B complex and Rhodiola Rosea.

I don’t remember to take supplements every day but at least 4 days a week I take Agnus Castus (balances hormones which in turn reduces PMS symptoms and hormonal pimples), probiotics (a must for my sensitive digestive system), zinc (boosts the immune system and keeps colds away), magnesium (should help me sleep – it’s not working yet but I’m being optimistic it’ll kick in soon :), fish oil (essential for any human for various bodily processes), vitamin B (for mood – B6 helps the body make serotonin) and Rhodiola Rosea (nature’s anti-depressant). In the winter I’ll take vitamin D as well.

So – so far so good. Our renovation and my husband’s crazy work schedule have tested my mental health a lot in the last 6 months but so far my coping mechanisms seem to be working and even though I’m snappy sometimes and want to hate myself for it afterwards, I don’t beat myself up over it – I’m human and it’s ok to have different feelings, I don’t always have to be smiling.  Most of the time I am able to keep my cool with the kids and with my mother (having your mother live with you totally tests your mental strength as well 😉 and that is cool with me.

And that’s the update. I take every day as a new day. Every day I do the things I know I need to do – move, eat clean, breathe, smile, (and pop some vitamins). If I overdo it with wrong food one evening, I don’t beat myself up over it, I start again new the next day.

I usually start the week with a 7am Crossfit class on Mondays and am able to keep up the good momentum until Friday evening when I grab a beer and some gluten free pizza 😛

So this works for me at the moment. What works for you? What keeps you happy (and sane?)


*I still eat ketchup, gluten free bread and sometimes honey and maple syrup, so I can’t say I’m 100% sugar free at the moment.

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  • Reply
    November 3, 2013 at 3:58 am

    i finally did it. i went Whole9. i love my new job, but my body does NOT love the daily catered lunches, carbs, or pantry room filled with unhealthy snacks full of chemicals. not only have i gained weight, i’ve had a consistent tummy ache & painful bloating. in just 1 week of cutting out all foods that contain any trace of soy, dairy, carbs, legumes, sugar (all my allergens), i finally feel good. so why didn’t i do this earlier?
    i had previously cut out soy & dairy but not processed foods that contained trace amounts, which wasn’t not good enough for me. i clearly can not have trace amounts.
    thankfully, kevin has been completely supportive. his only concern is making sure i’m getting the right vitamins and nutrients i need. and kevin loves cooking healthy meals with me in the kitchen.

    • Reply
      November 8, 2013 at 9:38 pm

      I’m not tracking trace amounts but I do feel that sometimes I eat something that I think is ok but actually makes me really bloated (perfect example is gluten free bread :|). I feel the best when eating in a sort of pale/primal way but I can’t do a lot of meat so most days I have some legumes or quinoa as well. (and I can’t stay away from that darn gluten free bread for more than a few days at a time!)

  • Reply
    October 29, 2013 at 4:00 pm

    Taking one day at a time, that’s the way to do it. After doing Paleo for those 18 days and then going straight into carb-overload, I really learned the hard way how all that stuff affects my body. And man was I surprised…. But, like you said, one day at a time. Back to clean eating now…

    • Reply
      October 31, 2013 at 11:04 am

      I totally read from your paleo post that you’ve been doing it for 18 MONTHS! 🙂

  • Reply
    October 27, 2013 at 6:55 pm

    Glad to hear you are well. But wow how many things you changed in your life. i wish i could but i guess this can only happen gradually.
    I guess that the fact that i feel so low at the moment is the fact that i have no period at the moment and i really need t start taking that a gnus cactus from my draw and buy some Rhodiola Rosea and exercise more. I don’t go out as much as i should these days….

    • Reply
      October 28, 2013 at 2:34 pm

      All of these changes in my life have happened gradually as well, over the past 2+ years. And bear in mind that I did take Citalopram for a whole year, I think I needed it for that time period, I tried to quit after 6 months and noticed fairly quickly that that wasn’t going to be successful. I’d definitely recommend to try some medication if you’re very, very low – only once you can function well enough that you have energy to exercise, etc. you can introduce some of the diet changes…

  • Reply
    October 27, 2013 at 12:21 pm

    It is all about finding what works for you. I wish I could remove sugar from my diet, but it is simply too difficult !

    • Reply
      October 28, 2013 at 2:35 pm

      If you don’t feel that it’s messing with you, then don’t worry about it. I doubt that you eat a large amount of sugar anyway.

  • Reply
    nic evans
    October 24, 2013 at 7:21 pm

    Hi, I read your blog intermittently. I’m really inspired by your level of honesty about mental health and depression. I have suffered with it in the distant past and like you combat moments of low feelings with exercise. I know when work has been too busy and I haven’t moved I can become such a grump who thinks too much. My worst enemy is probably my diet too, it fluctuates from amazing to appalling. What makes me the most happy is simply walking the dogs in richmond park. It is always the simple things 🙂

    • Reply
      October 25, 2013 at 7:49 pm

      I love Richmond Park, I run there on a regular basis 🙂 As for being honest about mental health – it’s easier to do it in writing than bring it up with friends of ‘preach’ it in other real life situations. I’ve always used writing as my way of handling my feelings, I kept diaries from the age of 13 until 24. Now I blog (obviously 🙂 and writing about these complicated issues/feelings/etc. helps me make more sense of what’s going on and if it helps someone else in the process too, I’m happy 🙂

  • Reply
    October 23, 2013 at 7:18 am

    Ketchup! That’s the easiest thing to give up 🙂 For me it came as a natural thing when I moved to Italy years ago.

    Two years ago, when the second child came to our life, after 7 months of sleep depravation and stress, I came to the lowest point of my life, blogging-life made it even worse!, but with my husband’s help (forbidding me to follow certain blogs) we spoke and spoke and we changed our lifestyle and we got over it.

    Those difficult times, they still exist in my life, (autumn seems to be the best time for them) but with different
    teas (without sugar or honey) they do elevate my mood; I drink coffee very rarely) and
    choosing my family’s food (I do the groceries therefore I get to choose what we eat, plus we have a vegetable patch with fresh veggies) -you are what you eat, right- and definitely
    my husband helps a lot (by just being there for me and listening to me).. I taught him how to behave with me when I have that “crisis” face and I am acting all crazy (like he says), although nothing “big” is happening. He has the power to calm me down. Usually a strong hug with words “Let’s speak about it, now, tell me everything” helps.
    And my friends. I wouldn’t change them for anything! They listen to me, help me, massage me, speak to me….they are my second family.
    Exercise comes when I have the time. While traveling I didn’t have the time or the need to do it but it has already (!) been a week that my mind is asking for some.
    I started meditating and do bioenergetic researches on myself (getting to know ‘me’ and learning how to control and expand myself). Next obvious step would be yoga. I’ve been testing myself (dinners in the dark and sitting in the pitch darkness for hours (should be days, but I cannot have that right now) ).

    And mostly, I feel I get crankier when my period is approaching… I find the easiest thing is to speak about what is troubling you, even to your kids 🙂 Because they feel that something is off and for sure they like when you babble about something, but they feel that you are *sincere* about it. It’s OK to show your kids sometimes that you are a human being too, with it’s ups and downs. I always apologize to my kids when I am snappy at them… (and yes, that happens).

    • Reply
      October 25, 2013 at 7:46 pm

      Yes to finding it helpful to have an understanding husband, yes to choosing what you eat, yes to feeling a bit blue before that time of the month 😐 (this Agnus Castus thing I’m taking for that is definitely helping), yes to apologising to your kids – it’s such an important skill for little people to learn and if there weren’t any disagreements at home, they’d never learn it.

      I do find, however, that it’s hard for me to talk about this topic with a lot of my real life friends. Somehow the words just fail me (especially in Estonian), I’ve always been better at writing about my feelings than saying them out loud 😐

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