Healthy living, healthy parenting, healthy gardening. One Family's approach to off grid living.

Posts tagged “parenting with mental illness

Well Shit, what do I feed the kids? How I’ve lost 92lbs and what to do now that I know?

My weight loss journey started with my first sticky pregnancy and the 80lb weight gain that accompanied it.
Before that I was slightly overweight, strong and healthy vegetarian. I became slightly overweight shortly after making the switch to veggie. Perhaps incidentally (haha!) this is also when I started to have major dental health decline.

As y’all know by now I have wicked migraines and am bipolar, both of which are hugely relevant to my weight gain. I gained that 80lbs eating mostly low fat yogurt and bread which were the only things that didn’t make me want to vomit. I ate my healthy whole grains. I ate my greens. Still with treated migraines I have several days around ovulation where I am nauseous, combine this with a severe debilitating depression (woot for hormones) I have struggled with what exactly to eat during this time. Two months after my second pregnancy I was 265lbs. I was depressed, I was manic, I was gaining and NOT losing postpartum. I was so tired I was hallucinating. I NEVER thought I would see south of 200lbs again and that alone was crippling. A girlfriend loaning me Nourishing Traditions (thank you Leanne) and offering me a contrary view to what she called the ‘politically correct North American diet” of vegetarian, low fat eating was a major turning point. I had been veggie for most of the last 10 years, only eating meat when pregnancy cravings drove me to it. So, I very slowly started eating more meat, more cheese, more butter with basically making no other dietary changes. I started to lose weight. From there I read a plethora of information about nutrition starting with Micheal Pollen, Gary Taubes and then South Beach and Atkins diet cook books from the grocery store. I found Micheal Pollen to be reiterating pretty basic concepts which were easy to read, accept and practice. Good Calories, Bad Calories by Gary Taubes was less accessible and admittedly took me a year to finally plow through. Taubes provides a good case for drastically reducing carbs, upping animal fats/protein to be a very valid option for weight loss. The basic principals of this book lead me to most of my weight loss. I however, did not find a good case for dropping whole grains for those at a healthy, stable weight or for dropping grains in a child’s diet.

And this is where I have stood. It has taken me almost 4 years to drop those 92lbs. But I had an extra baby in there, which kinda waylaid things for a year. My youngest will be 2 in January and I am at 172lbs now which was my goal weight for his birthday, and also happens to be my pre-baby weight. Now at 5’6 I am still overweight, but I’m muscular and uhh…dense boned? I am a size 10 jean!!!! And a size medium shirt. This means I have lost 16 dress sizes in total. I honestly did not think this was possible. I also take plenty of psych meds and migraine meds that greatly compromise weight loss efforts. Frustratingly I stalled out around 200lbs for 6 months despite diligent exercise and diet. I recently had an increase in my anti-depressant medication and with the newly elevated mood I’ve found it increasingly possible to not self medicate with carbs. This whole journey has really opened my eyes to the link between mental and physical health.

But why stop now? My quest for health has taken me down different roads at different times in regards to nutrition. I’ve recently been pointed towards which after a couple hours of browsing seems to be making the case against grains (particularly wheat since it is the hardest to avoid- invading even unassuming things like meatball) that Taubes just doesn’t make in Good Calories, Bad Calories. My new goals are not weight related- but health related. I am interested in improving my dental, mental, digestive health and energy levels. The glaring connection between sugar and obesity has become clear to me.

I am thoroughly convinced that it’s time for me to let go of grains. I feel like this is a great time to trial it, I won’t be having any med changes for a little while anyway so it will make it a little easier to observe the effects of going wheat free.

This leads me to every devoted parents question- Well shit, what do I feed the kids? My kids love whole grain bread with PB, weetabix cereal and homemade muffins made with spelt flour and oats. Do I eliminate wheat in their diets? Do I eliminate other grains? What happens in public/other peoples houses.

Davis (of wheat belly) is challanging us to regard wheat as the new tobacco. Do you let your kids have tobacco at birthday parties? I know that the initial reaction to that train of thought is shaking your head skepticism. I have long been skeptical of the anti-grain movement. Davis wrote WheatBelly and it’s sister website to address increasing waistlines and health problems that seemingly have their fingers dipped waaaay into that bread dough. The nutritional profile of wheat and other grains have changed so much in the past few years. It’s unclear if modern grains are really that much worse than old grains, but they are certainly more prevalent in a wider variety of foods.

I’m going to read, read, and read. It would be damn hard to go grain free, even at home with 3 little kids. I am pretty sure my family quite frankly can’t afford to go grain free. I mean, throwing together organic whole grain pumpkin muffins is way cheaper than nitrate free sausage.

I am in a position where as a family we can become increasingly dependent on our home gardens/orchards. We have plans of adding goats, chickens and rabbits to our roster next summer. However- currently we are broke, hungry and the ground is gonna be frozen mighty quickly. This has made limiting carbs difficult even for me, and I know many, many other families are in the same position.

As I return to better health my desire to feed my children in a way that minimizes risk of long term health complications that Davis is tying to grains is increasing.

I’ll keep you updated about my weight loss/health gained progress as I move towards grain free. I’m also going to be trialling grain free muffins and breads on my kids. If you need a tester for something, let me know.

What do you feed your kids, especially picky toddlers? What about school lunches- which for most of us need to be nut free?


Dirt Rich; Mid June photo gallery

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I may as well start at the start.

Suddenly, as I was driving my mood lifted and I felt genuinely happy, a calm happy, safe secure.

Finally. It’s been 6 days since I have felt much of anything, which was a mixed blessing. I just had a fairly major medication overhaul. The first few mornings I awoke with a weight in my heart and by late morning felt emotionally flattened which stayed for several hours. Then I was hit by how productive I felt.

Last month during my cycle I just didn’t post for 3 weeks. During those weeks, I had a darkness. Everything felt clouded with grief and my chest ached. Nothing had changed around me. Plenty of things changed inside me. I have Bipolar Mood Disorder. Which basically I have had two major depressions and one major manic period. To me, it doesn’t feel like a mood disorder- it feels like an energy disorder. Lucky? For me my moods have a bit of a schedule:

When I ovulate Severe migraines with auras. Hyper sensitive to criticism. Weepy.

A few days later- really “up” mood, go go go, edgy, snappy. I start getting OCD about this time- about whatever I happen to be into at the time. Usually in a productive way.

After a few days of high production, little sleep I fall into a darkness. I ache. I retain water. I am cold all the time. Migraine auras bring me in and out of consciousness, the pain is so intense. I have great difficulty paying attention to my surroundings. I just want to sleep. I must surely die, I think. For 3-4 days I am in agony and misery. It hits like a wave.

People tell me that I don’t seem bipolar to them.

That’s because I stay away from people I know when I am depressed. My moods change so quickly that only after 14 years of menstruation have I finally begun to chart in detail.

The last 7 years have been insane, with 5 pregnancies (two early miscarriages, which I am at peace with, but mentioning because that was a special hormonal roller coaster in and of itself) and continuous nursing. During my first miscarriage, I was just 20 and Mr. T and I were relatively new to our relationship. I went crazy. Totally bat shit crazy. I tried to use mind control to plead people to help me. I wanted to die. I felt as though I was dying. I had severe constant nausea and vertigo and completely delusional that the baby must not have died. There was some mistake. I now know I was rapid cycling and had amazingly severe migraines.

I was convinced deep inside that I was schizophrenic (which heck, maybe I am) and I was scared as hell. My brain was constantly moving, flipping through images like a Rolodex. Mr. T yelled and stomped his feet and was generally angry to be around.

Mr. T and I parted ways for almost a year shortly after that. I think we were both scared of how badly the whole thing went down.

I tried to find Jesus with all of my heart. I opened it all the way up. When I couldn’t find Jesus I looked for God.

I felt immense solace in communion and prayer. I went to church several times a week and to a bible study here and there.

Months later, after a 10 day silent Buddhist retreat I found atheism, which has been a comfort to me over the years.

During the Buddhist retreat I found the solace I was looking for in meditation.

I also came to terms with the fact that I would marry Mr.T, and left the retreat no longer resenting him, much. We had not spoken to one another for ages.

I didn’t even really like him. Seriously.

But I was drawn to him and I swear, we are just starting to like each other now- and it’s been 8 years. We share the same vision, and we just happen to be the person who is in the others perfect future, so I suppose we rode it out hoping we would get to where we are now, still alive and still married.

I am sharing my story upon multiple requests. I am at a place where I can write about it now. I didn’t write, journal, take may pictures, make art for most of my motherhood journey. I was just too damn tired. I don’t regret it really, because I carry it here in my heart. And there is a lot I have forgotten and would rather keep that way. I’m at a place where I don’t need to be worried about. I have a great doctor, a supportive husband, amazing parents and extended support. After 7 months of mood stabilizing meds, the cocktail still isn’t quite right. I cycle between low production and high production and feeling like I am dying and like it might possibly be the best day of my life. I’m sorta striving for the middle ground, which is a bit confusing, because there are days truly, many of them, where I feel exceptionally great, and in between I’m very good at faking it, which feels like many tiny little lacerations on my spirit. Other days I can’t get out of bed.

I’m pretty sure that pre puberty I was quirky, but not yet crazy. At 16 I went on the pill because I was having really bad cycles. Right before and during my period I had/have hot and cold flashes, aching kidney feeling, nausea, migraine auras (which I just just figured out what they were. At that time I thought everyone’s vision was like that. I frequently have had the sensation I am going blind and dark bars slide in from the side. For me auras are strobing lights, bars, boxes. A true aura of fading rainbow colours around objects. I have a strong sensation of dejavu and the feeling of watching the scene from outside of it. I frequently have a hard time telling what was reality and what was an idea or dream. I see things move out of the corner of my eye and hear buzzes, beeps and other non specific sounds. Today I swore I could hear a cat meowing loudly, but the kids swore it was quiet. I’m pretty sure most of this is migraine related, because I have some rx meds for migraines that take care of all of these symptoms.

I literally feel like I am going insane after a few days of migraines. Last month I waited 17 days of on again off again migraines until I went to the ER and begged for help. The little dissolve in your mouth discs cost $20-$60 per dose, depending on if the first ones work, or the migraine comes back 8-12 hours later. I am having a brain freeze on what it is called….Even after I have taken it, it is still extremely difficult to keep my attention focused.


September 2010-Jupiter was not her real name

She was standing in the middle of the common area yelling.  Swearing.  Waving her arms about when I met her.

I could see it was an act, and yet it wasn’t an act.  It was go hard or go home.

Later, we danced in the courtyard, in our castle made of chalk.  I ripped her shirt down the sides, took the arms off and tied it down in strips from breast to hip.  The short sleeve she pulled over her head and let hang down in a triangle like some sort of psych ward cowboy fashionista.  She told me Jupiter was not her real name.  Her story was rough, daughter of a hippie druid and a small city rockstar, left alone with her brain and sedated into mushy when they caught her.

She was 17 and in her eyes I saw my eyes.  I could have been lost in this world, without the love of my parents.  Only a boy came to visit and she was forward, this woman child.  She had him.  She would probably destroy him.  She was wild, and didn’t want to be tamed.  She gave me her rock and showed me her drawings.  She asked if I thought she was crazy.  

In a hospital room in reality or a dream she tore a stream from a mattress.  Made red foam roses and flooded the place.  That’s how she got here.  Fought a police man and screamed at the heavens.  She probably bit someone.

In my arms she was a child, eager to please, sad, beautiful and alone.  We sat on the floor while she summoned magic and I listened, because listening is good.  Like a movie, I watched her story.  She carried all she had in her pack. 

I ran in the halls.  Slowing down past the nurses window so they wouldn’t see me.  I ran until my heart was pounding, I was out of breath.  Like a caged animal.  A lone mama wolf in the zoo.  But this was lock down baby, and I begged to get in.

Jupiter was sitting at the pay phone crying.  They weren’t coming.  No one was coming.  I held her hand on her shoulder, silently.  She gasped between tears-” I just need to get over this fucking affliction.  Parental addiction!  Give me your potion!  Give me my ration!  Make me sleep!  Forget my convictions!”

They ushered me away from her and gave her a handful of little pills.  In a few days she was okay.  In a few days she went away.  She was jumping and flying and laughing and rolling her way outta there. 

Lady child Jupiter, let me hold you

In this beautiful prison

where they feed us eggs and berries

Here, you must not run, you must not cry

even though in the kind faces

are rapists and lunatics.

Brief licks of freedom and I am

a child again, pushing the limits

You tore up a room to see what would happen,

hit the ground running

whispering around the edges

of double consciousness

but the darkness lives without.

I am afraid of the men who cut off the heads of women and children

in countries far away

of machetes on buses and bloody heads rolling

to a stop at my feet.

In my mind the circus is setting up and taking down

while making lists and letting the parade get started.

No knights in shining armour

Just men

good men

bad men

In the end, don’t run off with the first nice man to hold your hand

and save your life.

Hold on, hold on, hold on

you’re going down, down, down.

Walking so close to the edge

 you’re star dust.