It's been a very long time since I last wrote, and a whole lot of stuff has happened since then that I'll update you on over the next few posts, starting with my endometriosis/ADHD treatment.
You may recall that I quit a super-restrictive diet that was supposed to help my endometriosis (and, to a lesser extent, my ADHD) when I realized I wasn't eating enough and basically wasn't functioning and that I decided to focus on sources of stress in my life instead. I knew that I just needed to eat more food and break my orthorexic patterns, so for about a month I followed the Matt Stone plan and ate literally whatever I wanted (including many Drumstick ice cream cones), whenever I wanted. I did gain ten pounds, but I've always been underweight, so I was fine with it. It was great, and I definitely needed that month of freedom to deal with my control and fear issues about food.
Still, there was a little part of me that worried that my endometriosis might call for a little more specialized care when it came to my diet, especially since it's considered to be an inflammatory disease. But I still wanted to make sure I was eating enough in a non-restrictive way and not end up right back where I started (read: be a complete hypocrite), so I googled “Matt Stone endometriosis” and scoured the results.
I stumbled upon a Maryland-based nutritionist, Nicole Ferring Holovach who quoted Matt Stone on her website and specialized in women's hormonal, fertility, and thyroid issues. These were the droids I was looking for! Plus, she even worked with long-distance clients! One problem – she was all booked up and you had to sign up for a waiting list.
Normally that would be all it would take for me to say, “Well, that's too bad,” and move on. Struggling with anxiety and perfectionism can make you a little pessimistic about, well, everything, and I can be easily deterred when I don't know exactly if or how something will work out. But by some miracle impulse that I still don't understand to this day, I actually signed up to be added to the waiting list. I still didn't really expect anything to happen, though – who knew how long the wait would be?
Well, a month later, she emailed me, I did an initial phone call with her, and I was declared a good match for her work. Super exciting!
But there were two caveats. One, this cost money. And two, Dave and I were both worried that it would lead me down the road to orthorexia again, even though I felt pretty confident from her Matt Stone philosophy that this would be different. But just in case it did, we signed up for the monthly payment so I could bail if necessary and spend a little less money on what could be a mistake.
Fortunately, what I learned from her was so helpful that Dave said after the first month that even if the rest of the program didn't turn out to be great, it was already worth it. The rest of the program was good, though, and when I was done, Dave also said that he thought working with Nicole had done more for my anxiety and depression than anything else, including my medication.
The main principle was to eat plenty of foods that would boost my metabolism so that my body would function better and fill in my nutrient gaps. This included dairy, which Nicole successfully helped me be able to eat without consequences again, including milk, which I had not been able to tolerate for about ten years! But perhaps even more importantly, I found out that I COULD have caffeine without making my anxiety and endometriosis worse, so I could drink coffee again, which was a God-send for dealing with my ADHD. The only type of foods I tried to avoid were ones made with industrialized vegetable oils like soybean and sunflower oil and/or enriched flour. As I did that and ate enough other helpful foods, my digestion and mental state improved dramatically, and my endometriosis caused me much less pain. And to our great relief, it didn't feed into my prior orthorexia at all. I was actually adding more types of food into my life. (Gluten seemed to be fine, too, so I decided to not get tested for celiac.)
I also had more energy than I ever had in probably my whole life. I realized that I had unintentionally been under-eating for most of my life, but since my body had adjusted to it by slowing down my metabolism and basic functioning, I never felt like I was starving myself. I gained ten more pounds of needed weight on top of the ten I had gained in my free-for-all month, and suddenly I realized how unhealthy my weight had been up to that point (and how messed up our society is that I had been encouraged to stay at that weight, which I'll have to write more about at some point). I, who have been the coldest person in the room my whole life, suddenly felt pretty warm most of the time. I stopped taking my ADHD medication (which I had started back on again, but I'll save that for another post, too) because I found I just didn't need it as much – being able to drink coffee again was probably the main reason why, but I felt less mentally foggy in general as both my brain and body worked better than they ever had.
I felt like I had my life back that I didn't even know I was missing. I felt more hopeful about my future fertility and ability to accomplish things in my life than I had in a long time. As thanks, I told Nicole that I would probably need to name my first-born child after her, regardless of its gender.
Now it hasn't solved everything so that I'll “never have problems again.” I've still had times where my depression and anxiety have brought me down, and I don't think I'll ever be rid of all of the symptoms of endometriosis and ADHD in my life. And sometimes I'm afraid that I did this too late and that my fertility will be shot forever. But my base level of existence is so much better than it was before, and while it may seem like I went back on my vow to focus on sources of stress to treat my endometriosis and ADHD, I think that I've actually succeeded in dealing with one of the biggest previously unknown stressors of my life: not eating enough food, especially the kind that helps my body function.
So if you're a woman who is struggling with endometriosis or other hormonal/thyroid/fertility issues, I can't recommend Nicole enough. In the meantime, you can read her blog or listen to her podcast, Real Food Radio.
And keep checking back here on Wednesdays for new posts – I'm back!