When I started taking Parnate, an MAOI/monoamine oxidase inhibitor antidepressant known as the “last resort drug” in psychiatric circles, I had to immediately give up alcohol and certain foods that I loved. One’s blood pressure can skyrocket to a dangerous level if the MAOI is combined with a “high-tyrine” food. (Tyrine is an amino acid.) Some of the contraindicated foods include aged cheeses, cured meats, a variety of fermented foods and more. The list of no-no foods varies depending upon the medical source consulted, but I have stuck by the most comprehensive lists of verboten foods. Why? Fear of death. (I have always been a drama queen, but it really is true that a person can die from mixing this drug with alcohol or the unsafe food.)
It was completely worth it for me to give up any food or drink if that meant that my depression would disappear. However, over the past three months I have taken Parnate, I have resorted to my lifelong comfort substance in bigger and bigger binges almost every day.
The comfort food is sugar, and I usually gobble it in the form of chocolate.
These binges are not pretty, and as a result they are done in secret for the most part. This overindulgence is affecting my sleep, energy level, and of course my weight. I think a part of me is so angry that I can no longer drink wine or margaritas and delectable cheeses and bacon that I am channeling my anger into sugar binges. General anxiety and fear of depressive relapse are other powerful reasons that drive me to sugar. The sweet gorging takes the edge off my anger and anxiety for about five minutes just after I tell myself I’m done wolfing the sugary fat down, and then the entire vicious cycle begins again.
Last night was one of the worst sugar benders yet. Recently I discovered a delectable, fresh chocolate chip cookie dough brand at the market with the innocuous, rather ironic name of the Immaculate Baking Company. (It was even on sale!) That same day a friend had given us a chocolate mousse pie that she had made. While I wasn’t drawn to the pie at first, I could have easily eaten most of the cookie dough at one fell swoop. (Yes, there’s a warning on the package that advises not to eat fresh cookie dough, but that sure didn’t stop me.) At nightfall, both yummy desserts were calling my name very, very loudly. I surreptitiously crept into the kitchen to chow down on the cookie dough, knowing full well that each little chunk was 150 calories. I must have had at least six or seven of them.
I paid the price for this particular binge. Even though I was very tired last night, the sugar rush kicked in a few minutes after my head hit the pillow so I couldn’t fall asleep. I panicked because anyone with bipolar one disorder knows that if even one night’s sleep is lost, it can trigger acute mania. I began ruminating on the fact that my binge could trigger a manic episode, and I was absolutely furious at myself for what I had done. I felt so desperate that I began to pray for sleep and I put some lavender oil on my wrists and temples, which sometimes helps me relax. It took over two hours to fall asleep and I had to resort to a sleeping pill.
I’m not sure what to do at this point except bring my sugar addiction up in therapy and with my psychiatrist, who is trained in psychotherapy as well. I have a strong feeling my therapist will suggest acupuncture. (She has recommended acupuncture to me in the past to balance out hormones.) There is a low-cost community acupuncture nearby, so now I might be desperate enough to try it.
My “mind-over-matter” technique, which has worked for me before in regard to healthy eating, seems to be no permanent match for the allure of the sugar rush. During two pregnancies and other times, such as preparing for our wedding, I’ve been able to get a grip on my diet. I’ve been able to cut out a lot of sugar and alcohol in order to be healthier. I hadn’t planned on making any New Year’s resolutions for 2014, but it’s not too late to do it. I need to learn how to enjoy sugar in moderation. I have come too far to destroy my stability with a cookie, pie, cupcake or brownie – or all of them at once! I still have hope that I can break this nasty cycle, but it’s going to take every iota of determination I have to reduce my sugar addiction.