The rant i needed to have...

Now that I’ve updated you all on my gut health journey which you can read about here. It is time for me to put my big girl pants on and stand up for what I believe in.

Let me start off by saying although this journey of the last year has been pretty crappy (pun intended) I think I needed to have it to learn more about my body, my beliefs and my strength. I also want to preface this rant by saying that all the health professionals I have dealt with in my life are really trying to help everyone, and they are doing this with the knowledge they have had time to learn and the time they have been able to give. Having said that however, I do believe health professionals need to start looking at what’s going on with the whole person rather than just the problem or symptom that the client comes to them with.

This time last year I was not in a good place. I had come off my antidepressants within a month. At about 3 months post antidepressant the shit hit the fan… both figuratively and literally.

At Christmas time I was so severely agitated that I was basically drugged out so that I could sleep and give my body, brain and family some respite.

In January of this year I went to Darwin to stay with my sister and brother-in-law for a week and while I was there I was having bouts of depression and anxiety I was also pooping a lot. On my return from this trip the diarrhea continued and I went to see my local doctor. They did do a stool test for several things but nothing showed up. As my mental health declined over the next few months so did my bowel movements. I remember being in hospital for my mental health and telling them (and my friends who would listen) that my bowel movements were not normal. The doctors put the diarrhea down to my mental health.

From my memory, not once did a medical professional ask me how long I took to taper off the antidepressants in the first place. What I do remember happening was them saying all this tummy upset is due to your anxiety and depression and you not coping with being off andtidepressants. Here have some more drugs to fix your mind.

Previously I had been told that I could get off my antidepressants within a couple of weeks. That also ended badly. This last time I did not trust a Doctor to help me come off them so I did it on my own and in hindsight also not a great move. I thought two weeks didn’t work but one month, should be much better. I was wrong. If you haven’t been following my journey up to now then you can read all the details of what was happening here.

Fast forward to now and I know so much more. I know so much more now because I have looked for the answers that doctors, psychiatrists, psychologists never tell you. I am not saying that I don’t need to work on my mental health but there is a whole lot more going on in my body than in just my brain.

Did you know that the best way to taper off an antidepressant (especially so if you have been on it a long time) is by 10% every month or even less if you are not coping with the 10% decrease. I did not know this until I did some research for myself.  My psychiatrist has never told me this and in fact his words were you will probably be on antidepressants for the rest of your life. When I went to him last week and said I would like to taper off the antidepressant properly because it is not helping my gut (and in all likelihood never has helped my gut) he said sure, you can decrease from 50mg to 40mg in a 4 week period and then go to 30mg after that and so on. This kind of tapering is what leads people into a very big black whole to try and climb out of and usually leads people back into the arms of the antidepressant (I am a case in point!)

There needs to be more education for people who are a) thinking about going on an antidepressant in the first place and b) thinking about getting off these drugs safely. Education needs to come from our primary health care providers and not the big pharma companies supplying these drugs. After all, we are taught as a society, that Doctors are trusted individuals, so whatever they say must be true and they must know more than we do about our own bodies, so whatever they say goes. We need to start taking back our own power and start believing in our own convictions when we know that something is not right. I believe we need to ask more questions and to not be afraid to do so. 

For those people who are thinking about going on an antidepressant I urge you to look at other options and I also urge you to look at what else is going on in your life. There are so many factors that can cause anxiety and depression; whether that be what your putting in your mouth in terms of food and drink; what your body is absorbing and what nutrients are actually staying in your body; what toxins you are putting on your body or are in your environment; how much your lifestyle is causing increased worry and sadness. All of these factors impact how your body is coping and if your anything like me, you may find that lots of these elements are all contributing factors to how your mind is coping with day to day life.

Please, start looking further into your own health and wellbeing because you are worth it. We all are.

For those of you wanting to look further, stay tuned.

An update on my health journey...

Hi all,

A couple of weeks ago, I posted a photo of myself on social media and I shared with you about how I have been fairly quiet recently due to some health stuff.

I asked whether you would like to know more about that. Many of you said you would so I thought id catch you up on how I have been going with all of my gut health journey.

For those of you that haven’t read my story you can read about that here and here. For those of that you that don’t want to read about my story that is ok - you can just stop reading.

I realise this a far cry from selling art and sharing beautiful photos with you - so for those who have stayed, thank you.

 

I am not writing about this journey to seek sympathy, I have enough of that from my beautiful friends and family. I am writing about this journey for a few others reasons though, to help process my experience, to bring a bit of awareness to all things gut and mental health and most of all - in the hopes that it will help someone (or even just one person) have an easier time than I have, or at least, feel less alone on their journey.

Last time you heard from me about trying to conquer my gut through the Gaps Into diet. I have since decided to come off this because it was hard going, nothing was improving and my mental health was getting worse. After coming off the Intro diet, my mental health has improved. I decided to go and see a functional medical doctor (who looks at you holistically and has the time to do so) and get some antibiotics to decrease the Klebsiella (an opportunistic bacteria) that was wreaking havoc on my gut.

While I was at the FMD she also wanted me tested for copper toxicity (which among other things can increased anxiety and depressive symptoms). After seeing the FMD she gave me the antibiotics and sent me on my way. I was happy to be moving to the next stage of getting my gut health under control and improving my overall wellbeing.

It was school holidays and at the last moment my little family and I decided to make a road trip to see Uluru.

I started taking the antibiotics before we left and all was ok… to start with.

The further we got into the trip the worse my bowels got.

My FMD had told me that a side affect of the antibiotics might be diarrhea so I thought I was prepared. I WAS NOT.

Let me just say I needed a toilet to be in close proximity at all times.

I arrived home and messaged my FMD and she told me stop the antibiotics immediately. Which I thankfully did. She also told me that I have high levels of copper and unbound copper in my system… another dot connected.

Unfortunately after stopping the antibiotics the diarrhea did not stop. I did have an appt booked for a gastroenterologist in early November. Being that it was now only August and I had had chronic diarrhea for two months, I decided I could not wait. I got an appt with my local GP who thankfully got me into another Gastroenterologist the next week.

By the time I got to the gastroenterologist I was pooping 8-10 times a day and I was exhausted.

He asked me how long the diarrhea had been going on and I told him that it had been happening on and off like this for most of adult life but never as bad as the continuous diarrhea I had been experiencing lately.

He booked me in for a colonoscopy and endoscopy two days later and in the meantime he got me to do another stool test. Finally I was going to get some answers and work out where to next, right?!

On the day of the colonoscopy, the specialist saw me beforehand and told me that my stool specimen had come back positive to a nasty little infection called clostridium difficile that you can get by taking…. wait for it….ANTIBIOTICS.

He said that would explain the diarrhea in the last two months but not the diarrhea that was going on previous to that. He said he would give me some…wait for it… more antibiotics on discharge to get rid of the infection.

Apparently the specialist also saw me after the procedure but I have no recollection (thank you drugs).

I was sent off with another prescription and no idea how the procedure actually went.

I got to wait another whole month to find out the results of my procedure.

Despite this I was hoping the new round of antibiotics would finally bring some relief (needless to say my gut health is up the creek at this point).

After the course of antibiotics were taken, I was better… but not a lot. My bowel movements went from 8-10 a day to about 3-4.

I knew something still wasn’t right but I just had to wait it out until my next appointment.

I had my next appointment at the beginning of last week. The gastroenterologist sat me down and said that the clostridium difficile is probably gone but he did find that on biopsy of my intestine I have what is called microscopic colitis and which attributes to my antidepressant.

He then hands me another script for some steroids, to calm down the diarrhea and tells me to stay on these for the next two months while I wean off my antidepressant- a process that he believes will take the next two months.

I’m tired, i’m frustrated but I am not going to stay silent anymore. There is something missing in our health system that allows a person to be suffering several infections all based on the pill the doctors give you, and to fix it they just want to give you another pill and send you home to suffer alone.

It is time to begin looking at the root cause of why our bodies are screaming at us and not hand us a little magic pill to muffle the screams. Its time for me to put on my big girl pants and start standing up for everything I believe in… stay tuned for the rant I so badly need to make.



An update and exciting things ahead...

So its been a while since I last updated you on how the diet has been going and to be honest it was tough going you can read about what made me start the diet and how it was going HERE.

After 6 weeks on the GAPS into I was starting to notice that my mental health seemed to be declining and I wasn't seeing much change in my bowel movements either. So at that point I thought I would stop intro and just continue with the full GAPS diet which allows a lot more variety!

After about a week on Full GAPS my mental health improved but interestingly enough my allergy symptoms (itchy eyes, nose, ears and throat) that had disappeared on intro came back and my sore back that eased dramatically on Intro also started getting worse again. Another interesting thing was that I ran out of sauerkraut when I started full gaps and my bowel movements began to improve. When I restarted the sauerkraut recently the bowel movements worsened again. After listening to a Quirky Journey  podcast about intolerances I realised that maybe I had gone too full on with the fermented foods and when they say to start with a drop and gradually increase each day they mean it!!!

The GAPS diet is really teaching me to listen to my body more and try and be patient (which by the way I am not very good at)! So that's where I am on the health front of things. 

NOW ON TO THE FUN STUFF!!

I am so excited to have a few new things to tell you about that aren't health related!!

 I will be doing a bulk order of these legging on the 20th July, so if you would like to brighten your workouts then order now and they will be delivered to you in the first week of August.

I will be doing a bulk order of these legging on the 20th July, so if you would like to brighten your workouts then order now and they will be delivered to you in the first week of August.

First of all I wanted to tell you about my new range of LIMITED EDITION LEGGINGS that I am selling in my shop! I love, love, love these leggings! I love that I can wear artwork and I love that they are such good quality. I love that they are so comfy and I love that they give good core support. I love that they don't roll down over your waist so your muffin top doesn't pop out. What's not to love!!! These leggings are printed with my original designs, both front and back. They are made with 88% polyester, 12% Elastane and have a stretch waistband

 

Secondly, I was so blessed to have my artworks turned into a gorgeous 2018 Calendar, and with such a great response to them I want to offer them again for 2019.

I am opening up pre-sale orders early this year so that you don't miss out. I will need a to sell a minimum amount of calendars, before I go ahead with ordering. If unfortunately I don't get the number or pre-sale orders required, your money will be refunded in full. You can order your Calendars at the special pre-sale price HERE

 The calendar will again be filled with 12 of my gorgeous and colourful original artworks.

The calendar will again be filled with 12 of my gorgeous and colourful original artworks.

 

Thirdly and finally I also wanted to let you know that I am excited to announce that I will be exhibiting my work as part of the SALA festival this year at Tara Kate Therapeutic Arts in Williamstown. I cant wait to show my pieces as part of my Art Brightens the Way exhibition. You can find out more about Tara Kate Therapeutic Arts HERE. If you are in the area of Williamstown during the month of August, we would love you to pop in and say hello!

Phew! And that's all I have to update you on for now! So I hope you have a beautiful month and don't forget to stop by my Shop to have a look at all the goodies on offer!

Jess x

 

Three weeks later...

Its been 3 and a half weeks since I started on my gut health journey and the GAPS Intro diet. You can read why I am doing it HERE. First of all I wanted to say thank you to all those people that sent me such positive feedback about what I wrote. You never know if what you are putting out there is a good idea or not, but I'm glad it resonated with so many people. Secondly I want to say that so far the journey has been not all smooth sailing, which has kind of thrown me, but I’m resilient and once I start something I need to finish it! If you would like to hear more then read on. 

The first week was Stage 1 of the diet and consisted of bone broths and soups. As my body got rid of all the toxins my energy levels were in my boots. I just needed to listen to my body and rest as much as I could. I needed to get my digestive system working properly before I could move on to the next stage so i was super stoked when I did my first solid poop, after a long time of not doing solid poops (you have no idea how much poop comes into your thoughts on this diet!). Although I was exhausted my mood seemed a lot calmer too.

I was so excited to reach stage 2 and be able to introduce Ghee (clarified butter) into my diet with no issues. Then I added in one egg yolk to my soup one morning and oh my goodness, the reaction I had was really noticeable. Not only did my anxiety go through the roof but I had bad diarrhoea for day. I felt like I had gone back to the beginning and was so disheartened. At this point I was getting sick of just bone broth, soup and casserole.

After I let my stomach settle down again, I felt much better both emotionally and physically. I decided to introduce some homemade yoghurt. For the first couple of days I  was fine, then came the upset stomach again. At this point, I was ready to give up on the whole diet. I was getting completely over soup, stews and broth. I just wanted a Big Mac, fries and coke – upsized please!

Funnily enough at the same time as my upset stomach, my son came down with Hand, Foot and Mouth disease and then passed it on to me. One of the symptoms of HFM is diarrhea, so needless to say, I’m a bit excited to think that maybe I actually don’t have an intolerance to yoghurt (woohoo there is hope!). So again, I have had to really listen to my body and rest with the HFM symptoms. I think there might be a lesson here somewhere 😉.

Now as my digestive system is settling down again, I’ve introduced avocado yesterday and so far so good. I’m looking forward to adding more in over the next week or two (including trying egg again) for some more variety. At the same time though, im trying to not get too ahead if myself, in case my gut doesn’t want to play the GAPs game so easily.

The last few weeks have seen lots of ups and downs both mentally and physically. Mentally, I have been waking up at about 4am most mornings with the most intense fear and anxiety. This will usually last until about 10 in the morning and then subsides. I have noticed in the last week however, that the 4am anxiety has really reduced. Apart from wanting more variety in my diet and the disappointment when something doesn’t go well with my gut, I do feel my mental health has improved somewhat, and that is a great sign. I just need to remember, to be patient with the whole process and realise that its not a magic bullet. Its about the journey and not the destination.

Sometimes Art needs to take a back seat...

 

Today is my 38th birthday and I have had a beautiful day. I have got some gorgeous gifts from my boys and phone calls and messages from my beautiful friends and family. I feel so blessed. This is a different story to the last six months that I want to share with you. I'm not sharing this for pity but maybe for awareness and to let you know that its not always sunshine, roses and art and that's ok too.

I have suffered with anxiety and depression most of my adult life. Which means being medicated most of my adult life. I can clearly remember when my first bout of terrifying anxiety hit. I was living on my own in Adelaide studying nursing and working at a nursing home. I was in my second year and I was studying for exams. I remember being unable to sit still and getting extremely agitated to the point where nothing I did could calm me down.  I had this feeling of absolute dread that wouldn’t leave.

 That first bout of anxiety saw me fly home to my parents home where I stayed for about three months while I began my first lot of anti-depressants and my mother nursed me back to health. Since that first diagnosis I have tried to come off the antidepressants twice without success.

 

Six months ago I decided to come off the anti-depressants again. I was feeling great so I thought I can do this thing called life, without them.

 

 The first month was really good, I was the calmest and most chilled I had been in a long time. I was eating well and sleeping well. Unfortunately the calm didn’t last. During the next few months, I started to become more and more frantic and obsessed about my heath. I was also becoming more and more exhausted.

 

 I noticed that during the time I ovulated and before my period, I would go into a deep depression and my self-worth was terrible as well. I went to a psychic and she told me that my adrenals were shot. I knew it wasn’t all in my head so I went and saw a Naturopath to make sure!

 

The Naturopath assured me that my anxiety and depression was not in my head. She recommended I start a clean eating plan and I get some bloods taken. So being the good student that I am, I cut out gluten, dairy and sugar all at once. You know what, I think my body went into complete shock.

 

My body was not getting its daily dose of serotonin from my antidepressants and it wasn’t getting its daily dose of all the carbohydrates and sugar that I loved and consumed regularly. So, the only thing my body could do was to scream out for help by making my mental health oh so much worse.

 

My obsessive thinking and scary thoughts started to get much worse and my anxiety was through the roof. My mind was racing and I wasn’t sleeping.

 

 To say I was in hell would be fairly accurate.

 

Frighteningly it got to the point where I didn’t want to be on this earth anymore. Fortunately, however, I reached out for help and I ended up in hospital.

 

Somewhere between Christmas and my hospitalisation I was able to do a stool specimen (oh yeah I forgot to mention that my bowel pattern was all over the place with diarrhoea after most meals) and a DNA test to see what else was going on in my body. After 4 weeks in hospital and back on my anti-depressants I came home and although I was feeling better, I knew within me that I wasn’t 100 percent.

 

That’s when I got my results back from my Naturopath.

 

The stool specimen showed that I have too many opportunistic bacteria in my gut which is causing me to have a leaky gut. My DNA came back showing that the overall inflammation in my body is high (hello sore back and sore joints, oh and hello inflamed brain), it also showed that I have estrogen dominance (hello crazy pms and sore boobs) and that my liver is not coping at all with any of it.

 

So my gut is in a whole world of misery and I want to find out how I can heal my gut which will in turn help my brain.

 

I’ve recently been listening to a Quirky Journey Podcast with Jo Whitton and Foud Cassard. They share stories about how they have healed their families through something called the GAPS diet.

 

GAPS stands for Gut and Psychology Syndrome which was discovered by Dr Natasha Mcbride who helped heal her sons Austism through food.

 

 After hearing so many amazing stories about how people have healed through GAPS I bought the book and read it in a couple of days. I am fascinated by how the gut affects the brain and I am hopeful that by healing my own gut lining and decreasing my own bad bacteria (that I have likely had for all of those years) that I may just help my mental health too.

 

I am going to begin the GAPS intro diet in the next week and Im looking forward to documenting the journey.