Photo by moonlightbulb

 

Peeps, I could use some guidance.

As many of you know, I have an anxiety disorder. I also experience intermittent bouts of depression. Sometimes they barely affect me. Other times? It’s a combo-pack of suck. The anxiety stuff has been pretty acute for the past several weeks. I’ve been sleeping poorly. I’ve lost weight. I have the classic shortness of breath, accelerated heart beat and occasional flesh crawling ickiness thrown in. The other day, I got irrationally angry at a jar of pesto and briefly considered smashing it on the grocery store floor. Days later I still haven’t entirely forgiven it. Stupid pesto.

Virtually every task before me is cause for stress. My distorted mind goes OMG! THERE’S A MAJOR WORK RELATED PROJECT I HAVE TO COMPLETE! And OMG! I HAVE TO FILL OUT A FORM FOR PIZZA LUNCH!  Also, OMG! I NEED TO WASH SOME TOWELS!  I know it’s anxiety because my rational brain doesn’t ever all caps about towels.

I also know it’s anxiety because my libido has been MIA.

It’s okay not to want to have sex. But this isn’t about being too tired after a long day of work or getting clit-blocked because my kid keeps walking into the room.  This is haywire body chemistry messing up my mojo and darn it all, it’s the absolute pants!

I like sex. And while The Man of Mans is totes supportive, actively reassuring me that there’s no pressure from his end , I’m pretty sure he also likes sex. I want to want to have sex. I miss wanking and make-outs. I miss quiet stealth fucking on weekend mornings while The Bean watches cartoons. I miss being horny.

This week I saw my shrink.  I lamented my failure to fix my problem. She reminded me that anxiety isn’t something I can fix. Sometimes life is a little busier, a little more stressful and it can trigger an anxiety flare up. It’s not awesome, but for me that’s it’s normal. I can’t make it go away. But I can choose how I deal with it.

That was some empowering advice right there. It also took some of the pressure off. I don’t have  to try and not be anxious. I just have to decide what I want to do when I am. That’s where the guidance piece comes in.

Clearly I’ve got some fundamentally wackiness happening in my brain. I already know that certain substances, namely caffeine, will reliable trigger spectacular and debilitating panic attacks. Lately I’ve been wondering if there other foods/substances that exacerbate my anxiety. Conversely, I wonder if there are foods that can help reduce some of my symptoms…maybe even jump start my sex drive again.

You peeps are a smart, smart gang. I’m sure many of you know far more about nutrition than I do. I wonder  if any of you are willing to share any insights, information or experiences you have about eating and the affect it’s had on your physical and/or mental health.  Granted food, health and bodies are uber-personal topics, so no pressure to respond.  If you do want to reply but you’d prefer to comment anonymously or send me an e-mail, that would be wonderful as well. Just having people read this is an act of support in and of itself, so anything else you offer me is gravy on the mashed potatoes.

Hmmm…does gravy help anxiety?

I have no answers right now. Just questions to explore, a heart that’s beating too quickly and the comfort of knowing this is all normal Nadine. Eventually the flood of stress hormones will recede and (fingers crossed) a tidal wave of fun, sexy hormones will take their place. Maybe, just maybe, there’s something I can do to help that process along.

 

 

Comments

  1. Rachel says:

    Carbs work for me (and i have bad anxiety) wholewheat pasta, popcorn, bagels etc. and green tea, carrots. Non food stuff that helps me is a warm bath, orgasm (may not always feel like it but can help if I can get myself there) stretching. Hope some of that was helpful.

    • Nadine says:

      Thanks for this, Rachel! My days often feel too busy for the indulgence of a baths but people keep recommending them. Maybe it’s time I carve out some priority bathing time. I actually have a pretty nice tub. :-)

  2. Vick Ko says:

    Wow.
    Can I gently suggest looking at what you have as stress-relief activities?
    For me, food is important, and I do most of my own cooking (for me and family of four). So I try to include lots of variety, lots of balance from all food groups, and to buy from places that I enjoy shopping at.

    Yes, shopping for food is important and enjoyable for me. So, it is Hartmann’s because I love the people-watching (okay, so I love watching the attractive young women who go there), the farmers market in the Bytowne Market, for the friendly interaction with the sellers, and the freshness of goods and prices, and I like the stores in the Glebe for their proximity. Shopping is fun and a stress relief.

    Cooking. Do you consider it a chore, or is it fun? It is hard because my older son doesn’t eat most of what I make. And my wife, well, getting a thank-you can be rare. I’ve learned not to take it personally, and just gain some gratification in that except for my son, most of my meals get eaten and no-one complains or sends the meal back to the kitchen.

    Yep, I’ve thrown a bowl of tomato sauce across the room and almost killed a grandfather clock. It took a urgent trip to CU’s psych health dept to figure that out, so, if it gets to violence, talk to a pro. It is worth every second.

    Back to food. Eat what you enjoy. Includes lots of freshness and variety. Variety is important to me. Try fish if you’ve only eaten heavy meats for a while. Make pizza from scratch – it is far far easier than you might think, and so good. Go out for dinner once in a while, be pampered by someone else.

    Eat in Paris. Oh, that can be sooooo wonderful !!!!! Even to shop for food and cook in Paris.

    Hang in there Nadine !!!

    Vick

    • Nadine says:

      Vick – thank you so much for this insight.

      All my life I was a terrible cook. Then a few month ago, I decided that I wanted to improve. Since then I’ve been teaching myself by trying recipes, failing, trying again, getting a bit better, trying more, etc. I’m still not the greatest cook but if I don’t feel rushed I find I really enjoy it. Chopping ingredients is my favourite part.

      We usually shop for food on the weekends. I love the farmer’s markets because it’s outside, I can stroll leisurely and we usually go as a family. The regular supermarket stresses me out on a good day. I find it crowded, visually chaotic and the lighting kind of makes me bonkers.

      Fresh. Variety. Sounds smart. And it’s been WAAAY too long since I’ve been to Paris. Maybe I could get my shrink to prescribe a trip. :-)

  3. Claudia Petrilli says:

    Anxiety can be pretty crippling if it gets out of hand. A little bit of anxiety is normal and even good in the sense it can make you more productive, but when it starts to affect your life, then it’s time to do something about it. Meditation helps. Yoga helps. Psychotherapy helps. Then there’s medication. You just have to find the one that works for you.

    Best of luck.

    • Nadine says:

      Therapy definitely helps. After yesterday’s check up from the neck up, I felt notably better. :-)

      My shrink is a big proponent of meditation and yoga. I confess I probably haven’t given either a fair shake…maybe I should try again.

  4. lara says:

    i don’t have foods. just this <3
    xx

  5. Vick Ko says:

    Oh, food stress hormones?

    Not sure what that is.

    Sex love hormones? Oxytocin – you get it from hugs and sex. Don’t know, but if you love yourself, it may come with a dose of oxytocin.

    There is dopamine for rewards. Give yourself a reward and you’ll get a blast of dopamine.

    :-)

  6. Jolie says:

    I know I may not be very original here, but maybe cereals (especially those containing gluten) have something to do with your stress level. I lived about two years on a vegetarian diet (with lots of pasta and bread) and I think it may have increased the symptoms of my borderline disorder: I couldn’t concentrate on anything, I had no energy, I had very intense mood swings and I slept all the time. Maybe it does the same for you?

    • Nadine says:

      Thanks for this, Jolie!

      I’ve been looking at a couple of cleasing/detox diets that recommend temporarily eliminating (amongst other things) gluten. I’ve spoken to other people who discovered gluten was adversely affecting their mood and physical health, so I’m curious.

      A cleanse appeals because I figure if I can sort of get my body to neutral place, I can then reintroduce certain elements and see how/if they affect me.

  7. Nick says:

    Now I have been quiet fortunate to not have a chronic anxiety issue ( but like everyone I have suffered panic attacks), but I have had a few parterres who have suffered from it. Things that seem to help ( me or them) Cuddling as long it isn’t so tight you can’t move (totally makes me feel panicked even if I was ok before), back/ leg/ foot rubs, if you are in in full out panic mode and the MoMs, the bean or another person you trust is near by head on their chest and just listen to their breathing or heart beat yours should try to sync it self with them.

    Foods that work: Herbal teas like Camomile, or hot chocolate, or warm water with lemon and honey, Homemade chicken soup ( made by someone else), anything you would consider comfort food that you don’t make ( my moms homemade mac and cheese for me) cause let’s face it if you have to make it your self it’s not comfortable for you. ( This of course not being the case if cooking relaxes you.)

    You are doing all the right things and being able to ask for help is such a huge accomplishment. Things will get better and bad stress hormones will soon be replaced with feel good and even sexy time hormones.

    • Nadine says:

      I am now jonesing for my mother-in-law’s chicken and matzah ball soup. And some cuddles!

      Thank you for offering so many great suggestions, Nick. It really is wonderful having such kind and supportive friends!

  8. Dawn says:

    There are foods and other gems that help calm ones anxiety to manageable level and others that help the sex drive. Essential oils are great. Lavender oil infusing the air, or a drop on your pillow at night will calm you into a gentle restful sleep. You can even put a drop or two in your bath and relax for awhile.
    I think it’s jojoba oil….. that stimulates the sex drive, not sure but will check and get back to you on that. Anyway which ever it is I have them all and can bring them when I come, although I’m sure you want relief before then, We’ll talk. Love you,

    • Nadine says:

      Hi, Mom! Your offer to help me with my sex problem is very thoughtful and does not weird me out at all.

      That last bit might be a half-truth. :-)

      But for reals, I’m very grateful for the support. I’d WAY rather have a mom with few inhibitions about sex talk than one who won’t discuss it all. And I love lavender, so if you have some I’d be happy to try it on my pillow the next time you visit.

      Love you too!

      • Dawn says:

        The essential oil that is a good aphrodisiac is Ylang Ylang.

        Another good natural rememdy for sleep problems is a combination tea of Passion Flower mixed with Vermilian tea. You can get both at health food stores or tea stores. Not bad tasting either.
        I’ll bring my oils when I come. Cheers.

  9. Bryn says:

    I love this. My anxiety has gotten really, really bad in the last little while so it’s becoming an important issue for me. I’m finding that people are either super supportive (and often have experienced anxiety themselves… can’t believe how common it is!) or they just don’t understand it at all (to put it politely). It’s something people need to talk about more, and I applaud you for doing so.

    I’m afraid I can’t help when it comes to nutrition for anxiety. My current plan of action is to get some CBT. Have you tried it? If so, did it have an effect?

    • Nadine says:

      Thank you for understanding, Bryn. Anxiety is something I’ve been living with for years. It was such a source of humiliation and shame I tried to hide it from everyone except The MoMs. It’s such an exhausting, overwhelming experience. Pretending it wasn’t happening made it much worse. And like you say, so many people live with anxiety, depression or some other form of mental illness. It’s nothing to be ashamed of.

      A lot of the work I’ve done with my therapist has involved CBT, in combination with a few other techniques. I know therapy isn’t for everyone, but I find it tremendously helpful.

  10. Lynn says:

    I’m with Lara – no food recommendations, just sending my love. Hope you find something that works.

    Due to food allergies, we live a pretty food-restricted life over here – no eggs, milk, gluten, nuts. If you decide to do some kind of cleanse and need some recipes, I can send you a few or give you the names of some of my favourite cookbooks.

    • Nadine says:

      Thank you so much, Lynn! I’m not nearly good enough at cooking to invent my own recpies, so if I decided to cleanse I’ll definitely hit you up for ideas.

  11. Jayda says:

    From a nutritional standpoint, our serotonin levels become depleted when we are not consuming a balanced diet. A low-calorie, low-fat, low-carb, or low-protein diet can significantly alter our serotonin levels and affect our mood. Tryptophan is an essential protein that we must obtain from the diet. It is found in high-protein foods such as turkey, chicken, pork, beef, seafood and eggs. In addition, a diet high in essential fats will support an increase in the availability of protein in the brain for serotonin production. Vitamins and minerals, which are obtained from plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, are needed to convert the tryptophan to serotonin. As you can see, a balanced and varied diet is essential for proper serotonin levels, and therefore for a balanced, happy mood.

    As you mentioned, a whole foods based cleanse may be what you need to ‘reset’ and identify any food triggers. I know a great 21 day whole food based cleanse that starts in October;)

    • Nadine says:

      Hi Jayda,

      Thanks for your response and providing a little more insight into balanced eating. I had a look at your website. I noticed your cleanse begins right after Thanksgiving, which coincidentally was when I was thinking about starting this experiment. My birthday is in early November and the idea of starting the next year of my life with a clean slate…so to speak. :-)

  12. Nick says:

    I suffer from anxiety also, and I have found that diet-wise, having some extra fibre really helped. If you can’t get it from vegetables, have half a cup of all-bran on some yogurt in the morning. The fibre didn’t reduce my anxiety directly, but it made me feel healthier … more positive energy, less sleepy, more pep, and those side effects helped with my anxiety. Other things that help are herbal tea, especially chamomile with a bit of honey.

    When I’m anxious, everything tastes like ashes anyway, so I have a hard time with my diet then.

    The thing that really helps, though, is exercise. It releases endorphins, which naturally reduce anxiety. So maybe sex could help with your anxiety after all :). Or if you don’t feel up to that, maybe go for a brisk walk in the sunshine? That always really helped me. And bonus! If you don’t wear yourself out on the walk, maybe you’ll be more in the mood when you get back!

    • Nadine says:

      Daily exercise is definitely something that I’d like to re-work into my daily routine again. I used to run almost every day. I probably can’t (and shouldn’t) work out that intensely every day if I don’t want to re-injure myself but I think being active did a lot to stave off my depression.

  13. Sara says:

    Hey Nadine,

    Have you considered getting yourself checked out for celiac and gluten intolerance? I suffered with it, undiagnosed until just two years ago. I had joint pain, anxiety, severe bouts of depression and a myriad of other crazy symptoms. Something about gluten (a protein found in wheat, barley, rye) can mess with your body chemistry and your brain chemistry and wreak all kinds of havoc. The condition is way underdiagnosed, and a lot of docs completely ignore it as a cause of many issues.
    You might check out these resources that helped me a lot with figuring out what was wrong with me and working to get better.

    http://Www.marksdailyapple.com
    http://Www.theprimalparent.com

    • Nadine says:

      Thanks for the resources, Sara! I’ll definitely check them out.

      I don’t *think* I have full blown Celiac’s Disease. My partner has it and I don’t have any of the digestive issues that he experienced when he developed it. But I have wondered if I might be gluten or wheat sensitive. Again, a detox that also eliminates gluten appeals a lot.

  14. Tweepwife says:

    Agreed that making sure to keep some healthy fats and protein in your diet can really help your neurological wellness and people often miss this by using high carb or too low fat diets. Also, I’m a big fan of meditation for anxiety and I know my husband has found it to be very helpful in managing his anxiety. Good luck Nadine.

  15. alexis says:

    Chiming in with a recommendation for exercise. I don’t have anxiety, but I’m dating a guy that does and he says that exercising makes a huge difference for him. When he can’t exercise, his anxiety levels spike.

  16. Steph says:

    I’m sorry you’re going through this.

    I know you can’t run like you used to, but studies show that even 15 minutes of walking outside can be helpful for stress levels and overall health. Or jumping up and down a few times!

    xoxo

  17. I know I’m late, but you posted the link in a recent blog. I just wanted to say thanks, as I am in the middle of a terrible bout of libido-less depression that is accompanied by crippling anxiety about things as simple as towels… It was a good time to be reminded that I’m not alone.

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