The Quest for a Happy Medium (A Cautionary Tale)

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***And Richard, I believe in myself too!***

 

Dear Friends,

Since I last wrote about feeling better I’ve continued following my new plan. I dislike saying I’m on a diet – yuck. If you’re a die-hard Richard Simmons fan like most everyone, you’ll remember he coined “Live It”. That sounds way better than diet, doesn’t it? But plan works well for me. 

Anyway, I can’t tell you how glad I am that I hit my rock-bottom in that blindingly bright Target dressing room. It feels so good to be proactive instead of inhaling pints of talenti gelato 24/7. I’m only having a small amount of sugar each day, which I’d like to cut down even more.

I was astounded to learn that there was three times as much sugar in my Pacific Foods organic tomato soup (12 grams) as there was in my Nature’s Path Heritage Flakes organic cereal (4 grams)! Tomato soup doesn’t even need sugar, so it looks like I’m going to have to make some, or better yet, get Craig to do it since he genuinely likes to cook. (I’d rather watch House of Cards.)

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I’m drinking my daily dose of water with my psychiatrist’s blessing. He said that amount of water wouldn’t affect my lithium blood level adversely (which I get checked periodically) and he said the same thing about my MAOI Parnate/tranylcypromine.

I drink a hourly glass of H20 until I reach approx. 70 ounces & have my cell phone programmed with an hourly chime to remind me. Yes, I visit the royal throne more often, but it’s worth it. I’ve also gotten used to always leaving the house with a big bottle of water – it’s not a big deal.

To add a little variety and excitement, I’ve interspersed plain water with hot tea, such as green tea (said to be good for weight loss and also depression – look at this article!) and Traditional Medicinals Cup of Calm tea to wind down. My big treat at the end of the day is an organic Granny Smith apple with a couple tablespoons of almond butter. I measure the almond butter because each tablespoon is a whopping 100 delicious calories. It’s super-pricey, averaging at least $10 a jar, so the less you use, the better. It’s worth every penny – YUM!

If you told me a few months ago that I’d prefer an apple & almond butter over chocolate, I would’ve sneered at you like this:

I also know not to take things too far with my plan.

In late 2012 I began tapering off my medicines, which, to put it bluntly, had near-fatal results. 

I researched how to taper the safest way, and I tapered very gradually. My former psychiatrist wasn’t in favor of it, but he didn’t fire me because I think he wanted the $ for his ex-wife’s alimony, which he used to complain about during our sessions. I should’ve billed him for therapy.

I used a scientific digital scale and gelatin caps to create lower and lower dosages of my meds.

When I began the process I weighed close to 170 pounds…

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In January, 2013 I did everything I could to be a health nut in the hopes I could live med-free. I worked out hard every day for at least an hour, I drank lots of water and ate healthy food. I was still on meds here…

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In March, 2013 I continued tapering and was clueless that I was losing too much weight. I looked almost skeletal and it’s hard for me to look at these photos – there are two that are even worse that I’m leaving out. Here I was probably around 120 pounds…

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In this shot I’m holding one of my books Coming Off Psychiatric Drugs by Peter Lehmann, which I ordered from his website. I contacted Peter in his homeland of Berlin, Germany via Skype. I wanted to talk to Peter because there wasn’t much in his book about tapering off lithium, my main medication, and he was open to talking about it. Turns out that he admitted he didn’t know anything about tapering off lithium safely. I was disappointed, but I figured I’d be okay because I was working so hard at being healthy and tapering so slowly.

Unfortunately it didn’t matter how badly I wanted to be med-free.

Some people can do it, but I’m not one of them.

I’m not aiming to be Skeletora.

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I want to be medicated and at a healthy weight, the way I was here not so long ago.

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Thanks for reading, and I’ll be back next week, writing about a completely different topic that will surprise and enlighten you! 🙂

Love, Dyane 

P.S. To join our fledgling Lose It! group Wondrous Writers Weight Loss Group please include your email in a comment & I’ll send you an invite, or sign up for free at www.loseit.com and find us under Groups.

P.P.S. Check out my latest Huffington Post article “Why This Bipolar Mom Exercises  for Mood Stability” and let me know what you like to do to work out in the comment section! Anyone who does it will receive a check, a Richard Simmons DVD, and a Chia Pet.

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Dyane’s memoir Birth of a New Brain – Healing from Postpartum Bipolar Disorder will be published by Post Hill Press in 2017.

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47 thoughts on “The Quest for a Happy Medium (A Cautionary Tale)

  1. Oh how I can relate to this one. I too tried to “taper off” my medicine by skipping a couple doses. Suicidal tendencies came back so quickly it was unreal. But it helped me to be “okay” with needing medicine. It’s just what I need to do to be happy. Congratulations on the healthy weight loss! Working on that myself. You’re an inspiration.

    Best,
    M

    1. Thanks so much for writing & for the sweet compliment. I just rambled away commented at your blog on the Type A vs Type B post. (A great topic, by the way!)

      I’m sorry you can relate to this post because that means you suffered too. 😧 (I have a slight emoji addiction as you can see…) I’m VERY glad you’re doing heaps better, and that you’ve come to terms with needing medicine.

      Hope you read this week’s post, which I usually put up between Wed. & Friday – it’s going to be a bit wacky. I’m not sure it will inspire, but it’ll be kind of funny!

      take care & I look forward to your next post,
      Dyane🌞

  2. You’re doing so well! I related to so much of what you shared. The sugar thing is so difficult. I am a sugar addict — well, I used to be and I know that addiction is still lurking ready to undo me if I drop my awareness… Ugh. But it has gotten easier. I eat a lot more fat than I used to, and I think this helps me tremendously. I’m talking butter and coconut oil in my coffee, lots of avocados — at least one a day and usually drizzled with olive oil and a little salt and pepper. And you guys have THE BEST avocados in your neck of the woods. OMG!!!! Anyway, I’m high on cough meds and Gil took the kids to “help” him paint at the house we are about to put on the market. Cross your fingers; bury a St. Joseph figurine in your front yard for me (have you ever heard of people doing that — supposed to help you sell your house fast), solicit the gods and goddesses, do a house-selling dance, hit me with whatever you have. Anyway, hope you’re feeling better and can rest up this weekend as well. xoxo

    1. I loved your comment – I make sure to eat fat too. Fat is not the enemy like we’ve been conditioned to think….

      One of my favorite ways of getting it is through enjoying a nightly treat of sugar-free almond butter. It is SO SO SO good and I have it on granny smith apples, but it tastes good on any apple! That has become my dessert and I savor it far more than I did with any ice cream, if you can believe it. A tablespoon is 100 calories, so I’m not going to pound a jar in one sitting, but in moderation it’s awesome.

      I love avocados too – yes, we’re lucky to have them out here! I wish I could grow an avocado tree but we’re not in the right microclimate….bummer. I’m so happy you’ve been so aware of your sugar addiction and that you’ve dealt with it well. (I was going to write “overcome” but as with any addiction, I don’t think one overcomes it….relapse can always happen. Not to sound pessimistic, but you know what I mean? Better to be humble and aware!)

      Coconut oil in coffee sounds amazing; I used to use coconut creamer, but of course it was loaded with….SUGAR! :0

      I hope your cough is long gone now and that your house sells SUPER-fast! I would buy the St. Joseph figurine and bury it in the front yard if that helps!!!! I’ve heard of similar actions….why not try them? Looking forward as always to reading your next post – remember, you ROCK! XoXo Dy

  3. Hello Dear Lady Dy, I’m baaaack. The play took up all my time and I didn’t blog for almost 2 weeks!!! Love this post, you are so disciplined and doing such a great job on your plan! And drinking water, something i need to do. Love you girl! But please send me some inspiration to exercise, I’ve lost weight but I’m having trouble getting into really good shape, and of course not being very healthy, not exercising… ❤ ❤ ❤

    1. Sorry to take forever to reply to this comment! I’m so glad you returned to the blogosphere! It’s good to take a blog break, though… and I know how hard you worked on the play.

      Now it’s time to take extra-good care of your lovely self. You have been doing great at motivating yourself; you went to Zumba the other day, right? Keep going because I know how much you love it, and I know that it’s a fantastic workout. You can return to the really good shape you desire, and you’ve already started doing it!!! Go Samina girl! 😊✨👍💕

  4. Good for you! I run and do yoga everyday. Totally helps my mood. As for eating, I try. No sweets, 1200 calories, and only water. Still can’t shake the 20lbs I put on since starting my meds. Very frustrating.

    1. Hello beautiful Bee! 🐝🌻

      That’s *awesome* you run & do yoga daily! I’m going to sound like a bit of a freak, but look into adding green tea to your day – since it’s mainly water, it fits into what you’re already drinking. I’m reading studies that indicate that green tea boosts weight loss when one’s weight won’t budge despite people doing all the right & healthy things like you’re doing. One of my favorite tea brands, Yogi, makes this flavor I found at Target last night:

      https://www.yogiproducts.com/teas/green-tea-blueberry-slim-life/

      It’s worth a shot! Please let me know if you find anything else that helps shift those 20 lbs…also, if you’re not drinking that much water/day, up your water intake too. Look at Mayo Clinic’s guidelines for a safe amount since one can get water toxemia or worse….sorry to be a buzz kill. (No pun intended! Really!) 🐝

      I know you’ll find something that helps your lovely self because you’re one resourceful Bee! 💓

  5. GAH! I gotta get on that group when we’re not bombarded by in-laws. 😦 ANYway, I didn’t think about how much sugar is in the “healthy” things, either. I have a friend who insists on making her own yogurt because of how much sugar is put in yogurt. I just hope I’m keeping the over-sugared stuff to moderated servings among my brood…at least they’re not drinking juice like it’s water, unlike my tyrannical, non-napping, up until 11 at night toddler nephew…(shudders)

    1. There is always a space in the group for you, Jean, especially since you really are a Wondrous Writer! (We accept aspiring-to-be-wondrous writers too, obviously, since I’m there, LOL!) When those in-laws vanish, come on by to Lose It! We’re a cool group if I may say so myself. Small-but-mighty.

      Re: sugar & broods
      I’m making an effort to give the girls more water instead of juice and that’s working out better than I thought it would. At least you’re aware, right? And awareness is all. (Didn’t some famous writer put that in a book? You’d know! 😜)

      1. LOL I’m sure some writer did, but I’ve got the Monday Brain Fart Syndrome today. 🙂 Our biggest dietary conundrum is pickiness. I can’t get my sons to eat meat…except bacon, for as much as that counts. 🙂 Some day…

    1. Thanks lovely Become Mum!
      For me chocolate is such a trigger & it has been for 40+ years; I binge on it more than any other substance. I don’t know if I can have a healthy relationship with it, to be honest, but I will revisit that in a few months. Never say never! 😜

      Plus, now there are much healthier forms of it too, & some of them can be found at our local health store. One kind that I tried a few months ago was pricey, but it was so good. Also, I felt healthy eating it & on their website it quotes other people making the same remark! It’s called Honey Mama raw chocolate at $7 a bar

      The ingredients are pretty cool, including dried rose petals & organic lavender oil:

      http://www.honeymamas.com/nourish/ingredients/

      You’re absolutely right that it has benefits for depression, especially dark from what I’ve read.

      Thanks for stopping by and I hope this finds you and yours well. 🌸

      1. Yum! I feel healthy eating dark chocolate anyways all those pure particles etc 😂 I think the darker the better?! In fact I’m eating a cocoa thickshake for breakfast. Mmmmm chocolate!

    1. Thank ***you***!!! 🌅Your comment made me smile & feel good 👍😊…I’m so glad you got something out of my rambling! 😜

  6. Dyane, thank you for convincing me last week to join Lose it. It definitely helps having you encourage me. I’ve slipped up a couple of times this week, but, you can’t change bad habits overnight.

    1. I’m thrilled you’re on Lose It! with me and the others. It’s a joy & an honor to encourage you, it really is. It’s okay you slipped up – you’re absolutely right that you can’t change those ingrained habits overnight. Try baby steps. Waaaaa! 🍼

      And drink your water (or 🍵green tea – I’m finding out more and more info. that explains how green tea rocks to boost weight loss.)

      See you over at Lose It! 👍

  7. Hey Dyane, I think you have my email but it’s marthagw@comcast.net. I guess I should try that Lose it thing. I am trying to be more aware of portions and what I’m eating at each meal but sometimes I go completely off-track like having a custard ice cream thingy last night! It’s a struggle, like anything worthwhile I suppose! Thanks!

    1. I’m so excited you’re going to participate, Martha! I think you’ll actually get a kick out of using Lose It!

      I’m glad you’re now officially a “Wondrous Writer” although you were a wondrous writer before you joined our group, LOL!

      It’s okay to occasonally go off track – a custard ice cream is better than a whole cake or pint of ice cream.

      I look forward to connecting with you on Lose It! I’m proud of you for trying something new! 👍😀

  8. You’re so pretty. Such a gorgeous smile. I, too, need meds, and that becomes clearer to me every day. You’re doing so well, and I applaud you for striving for balance. Very inspiring, friend!

    1. Awwww, thanks!
      Today is Mother’s Day (I’ve been late writing my friends back here – I know YOU get it!!!!) and I hope that you enjoy it, because you are an AMAZING, inspiring, dedicated Mom and you are beautiful to boot! 💓🌷

  9. Do they make Richard Simmons Chia Pets? If so, I’ll sign up just to get one of those!!! JK – I’m so glad to hear you’re doing well and making this a “non-diet.” Lifestyle is so important, and “diet” implies you’re just in it for the short haul.

    1. I thought your suggestion was absolutely BRILLIANT!!! When I read your comment I laughed out loud.

      A Richard Simmons chia pet would be *perfect* with his hair! For all we know, Michelle, they made them in his heydey! 😉

      Thanks for being happy about my “Live It” non-diet whatchamacalit! So far, so great. I knew that things had changed for me yesterday on a deeper level when my daughter’s friend brought over a piece of gooey chocolate cake and I didn’t feel drawn to stealing it. (She had just been to a birthday party, and her mom dropped her off at our house right afterwards with the cake in tow!)

      Today, Mother’s Day, marks one month of my new way of life. It feels good to no longer carry around a feeling of guilt for being so unhealthy, and it’s wonderful to have released my obsession with sugar. I’m praying (yes, sincerely praying!!!) I’m going to keep it up for the long-haul! 🙂

      Sending you my love and hugs as always! 💗Thanks for always being a beacon of virtual light! 🌅I wish you a beautiful Mother’s Day! 🌷

      1. Thanks, Happy (belated) Mother’s Day to you too! And congrats, you’re doing an awesome job resisting that cake! Keep up the prayers and know I’m praying for you too!

    1. Sorry to reply so late, honey! As I shared with Kitt, when the time is right, you two will revamp things. I’m so sorry you’re down; I’m hoping that since you wrote this you’ve been feeling better.

      Blankets are salvation when the shitty times hit – it’s okay. I’ve been tucked away in them for –many– moons when I’ve been depressed! 🌜You come out when you’re ready.
      Love you!
      Thank you so much for writing!!!! 💟

  10. I, too, need to start eating healthier, by eating less (not no) sugar (I like my coffee sweet with vanilla coconut creamer), and eating far fewer FODMAPs (those carbs that are my GI tract’s enemies). As soon as I do the shopping and cooking, we eat better. Nick does his best, but is at a loss. Definitely my area of expertise.

    1. All in good time, Kitt.

      You’ve been under such stress that it’s not ideal for revamping things unless, of course, you feel absolutely driven to do it now.

      I used to drink coffee with vanilla coconut creamer every day. Now that I’ve cut out about 90% of the sugar I was eating, I don’t crave sweet things so much. I put a little 2% milk in my coffee and that’s it. Smetimes I even take it black – gasp! (But I want to make sure I get enough calcium so I won’t be drinking it that way all the time.) I’m sure Nick does his best with the shopping (at least he’s willing) but it sounds like it’s your forte. I’m ignorant about the FODMAP’s although I know you’ve written about that on your blog. I should take a look and revisit that – I’m curious….anyway, my sweet, you will start eating healthier. And you have your very own group to encourage you when you take that plunge! Keep checking in on Lose It! – I was proud of you for stopping by….. 👍💗🌅☕️

      1. No need for you to educate yourself about FODMAPs, for many of those foods are chock-full of nutrition. For me, and those with SIBO & IBS, they bloat us up and make us a fermenting brewery of sorts (of not so pleasant sorts). We are improving our diet over time. I went shopping last week, which means that we got foods better for me (and the family). I coach Nick about how and what to cook. Reminds me of how his mother, who has MS, taught his father how to cook. His father is now quite skilled.

  11. Dyane, I love your posts. They are enlightening and they are well written. You’re such a good writer. Hopefully we’ll see each other again this summer. Have a great day!

    1. Is this the amazing author R.W.? (I didn’t see a corresponding email…) Thanks for your awesome comment! It means a lot coming from you, Ms. NYT!
      I’m not sure about Catamaran. Although I’d love to go, I’d need to qualify for a scholarship again and I don’t know if they’d go for it. It’s worth a try!

      If I don’t see you this summer, I’d love to see you at your next book signing – please come to Santa Cruz! Hope you’re doing great & please keep in touch…XoXo

  12. Dyane,
    So glad to hear you are feeling much better and back on the journey to healthy living!
    Exercise is such a key factor. We don’t have to love it but we chose to do it for the release of chemicals in the brain. The best medicine you will ever take, even though it needs to not replace our prescribed meds. For those of us with bipolar taking the correct meds daily is part of that plan as you well know know:)

    My favorite cardio is the Eliptical because it is easy on the joints. I hope those reading this will think about whatever exercise will just get them moving. Walking, biking, swimming, dancing, jogging, etc. Enjoy God’s creation outside. Resistance training 2-3 days a week, stretching and meditation or prayer keep me strong in mind, body, & spirit. Healthy eating is 80% of a plan for good health and weight management. Sleep is also important for your body and mind to have a chance to heal. Recovery renews us for each new day!

    Peace & Blessings

    1. Hello Marsha!

      I know as a fitness professional that you understand the importance of exercise more than most people. I always feel good on the elliptical because it’s easy on the joints. I can also listen to my favorite music and even read my Kindle (although some of my friends can’t read; it gets them dizzy or gives them an upset stomach, unfortunately.) Anyway, everything you wrote is spot-on.

      Thanks for mentioning all the “biggies”! 🙂

      I hope that you have a wonderful Mother’s Day today. Thank you so much for stopping by and sharing your wisdom and inspiration! I send you my very best.
      👍🌈 take care, Dyane

  13. Hi Dyane, it seems like ages since I have checked out your blog. My bad I’m afraid – between pain flares, mood swings, and day to day life (plus trying to keep up with my blog) I have lost touch with some of my favourite fellow bloggers. I know what you went through with the lithium thing. I tried to go off it and got messed up pretty bad, then I went toxic (it took me a long hard time to not have it in my record as an overdose, my levels just skyrocketed and they had to keep me hospitalized until they got me off it and on something else that would keep me level.

    A little tip about the tomato soup. Sugar is added to bring down the acidity of the tomatoes and take away that “bitter” taste you sometimes get from cooked tomatoes. I get around it by adding a little bit of carrot to the soup. Diced fine it will just cook into the soup and you won’t know it is there but it will do the job of sugar in a healthier way.

    Anyway, I am happy to hear that you are making progress – I really have to find my motivation. I want to lose the weight and feel better; however with the double whammy of mood swings and chronic pain, it isn’t always easy to find that happy medium! I will use you for inspiration! 🙂

    1. Dear Lydia, please forgive me for such a late reply. I like that adage “better late than never”! 😉 Whenever you are able to stop by here, I’m thankful – there’s no pressure! You have enough going on and I understand what the mood swings alone can do…..and it’s not pretty. That’s an AWESOME tip about adding carrot to a tomato soup – carrots are naturally sweet (I love them and eat one a day.)

      It took me a long time to get motivated again to take better care of myself. One thing after another added up (i.e. some of my favorite clothes no longer fit, I felt unhealthy, and I was embarrassed and ashamed for my daughters to see their mom eat terribly.) The list goes on but I’ll spare you the details! You will find your motivation. You can always join our Lose It! group and see what you think. Thanks again for taking time to comment. I hope things smooth out a lot with the pain and the swings.

      I’ll have my first cup of revised tomato soup in your honor! 💗🍅🍲

      1. I look forward to hearing about your opinion on the carrots in the soup! And there is no forgiveness necessary. As you have said to me, I understand. It is just nice to be in touch again.

    1. Your comment was the first one I read & it was as awesome as an extra-yummy organic Granny Smith apple & organic almond butter (a jar costs around $20 – I should learn how to make it, ha ha ha!) Look how you’ve inspired me yet again. 💜 you!

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