The (bumpy) Road to Wellville

Full disclosure: I have what I suspect to be a panic/anxiety affliction. I say suspect because I have not been formally diagnosed, nor am I currently getting treatment. However, I wanted to present this information first so that what I say next will make sense.

As great as the Whole30 book is (and noting that I do not seek out additional information on their website as often as I probably should), it doesn’t cover everything. It couldn’t; I don’t fault anyone for my opinions regarding its shortcomings. That said, I did find what – in hindsight – seems a somewhat glaring omission. While the book discusses how to approach Whole30 while receiving treatment for ailments of the body, it doesn’t expand that advice to include mental illness.

I think Whole30 has great potential in helping people dealing with both acute and chronic mental illness, especially with regard to changes in physical activity and mood. But here’s where I put my big, fat caveat: if you have, or suspect you have, mental illness of any kind, DO NOT start Whole30 without consulting a doctor.

Maybe I thought my troubles were over because it had been so long since I’d had one of my ‘episodes’. Or maybe I’d convinced myself that I don’t really have a problem worth getting help for. Whatever my hubris, I was unprepared for the dreaded days 4 and 5; what the timeline calls, ‘Kill All the Things’.

Thankfully, nobody died – not even me, though it was touch and go for a bit. Starting late on day 4, I started getting a familiar edgy feeling, which includes a kind of hyper bubbly-ness, tinged with unreality. Then on day 5, all Hell broke loose and took me with it: uncontrollable sobbing, intense fear and anxiety, thoughts of self-harm, and an inability to sit still. The day was essentially a write-off; I barely even got it together long enough to take the dog outside.

Two doses of homeopathic anxiety meds (the dog’s, fer Chrissakes!) and a two hour nap later, I was better. Shaky, but better. Yesterday was even better than that. Today’s keel is even as can be, to the point where I again find myself thinking that these attacks must only be in my head. Thankfully, I wrote out the symptoms as they were happening (the onset, at least), so if/when I get brave enough to seek treatment, they’ll be at hand.

My point is, you can be intellectually aware of potential risks while simultaneously being entirely unprepared for the reality of those risks; of what really happens in a worst-case scenario. Brain chemistry is serious business and you are entirely at its mercy. While dialing 911 might be second nature in a case of physical consequences, the same may not be said for calling a crisis line in moments of mental fragility.

Just a heads up.

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