My Fears

A Comeback from Addiction, My Story

I woke up this morning with an overwhelming sense of fear.  Fear of what?  Who the hell really knows.  Time to get honest and take a little inventory:

Today here are the things that I fear:
– I fear being alone
– I fear that I’ve lost friends because of how open I have been during the last year about my struggles with sobriety
– I fear that because of the societal stigma of alcoholism/addiction that I will never find a partner in life
– I fear that I am unlikable as a person
– I fear that life-balance is not within my reach
– I fear that my past transgressions in life will haunt me forever
– I fear that I will never amount to anything
– I fear that I will miss out on the last ever Motley Crue tour
– I fear that I will never get…

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Attempting to Combat Depression With a New Approach to Nutrition

Author’s note: This entry is about how nutrition plays into my lifestyle in the present moment.  I do not have a degree in nutrition, I only have my experience with testing different methodologies.  Also, I’m not a therapist or a doctor; by no means do I recommend trying this approach without proper consult from a certified medical professional. It is also important for me to note that I continue to take, as prescribed, medication for my depression. 

I switched up my nutrition again.  I felt like I had to.  It got to the point where I could not stop eating certain foods, i.e. natural sugars, grains, etc: carbs.  For me, as an addict, it’s all or nothing.  Therefore I eat all of the granola, all of the honey, all of the dried fruit, all of the rice, all of the pasta, and all of the mixed nuts, whenever and however.  I just couldn’t stop.  After Pine to Palm 100 I needed all of this food and more to fuel my body so that it could recover properly from the overwhelmingly taxing effort of running 100 miles.  However, there came a point where I believe  that I  went too far.  I could not stop.  Yes, was my body craving it?  Sure, but I took it to another level after a couple of weeks.  It was my excuse to eat whatever, whenever, and I felt like I was on drugs chasing the feeling of being full and satisfied.  Moderation is not necessarily a friend of mine.  After the constant indulging I started to feel like total shit.

Around 4 weeks after Pine to Palm a friend of mine, who was aware of my struggle with depression,  recommended that I check out a podcast that featured an interview with the well-known and respectable ultra-runner, Nikki Kimball. (http://www.enduranceplanet.com/nikki-kimball-on-depression-a-fat-adapted-diet-and-ultrarunning/)  I had the opportunity to meet Nikki at TransRockiesRun this year, she’s a wonderful woman and a hoot!   In the podcast she talks about using fat as her primary source of fuel and how much more efficient her nutrition seems to be working for her as an ultra-runner on a ketogenic diet.  I had heard most of what she was talking about before.  However there was one thing in particular and different that stood out to me in her commentary.  Nikki had discovered for herself that adopting a high fat low carb diet was helping her cope with her depression.  Once I heard this I was all ears and game to learn more.

After speaking to runners and non-runners alike who had adopted this method of nutrition I was eager to get started to see what would happen.  In a way I enjoy using my body as one big science experiment.  Therefore I began the fat-adaptation process.  To my surprise there wasn’t a ton of good information out there that described the process in the most simple and concise terms.  To begin with the process I basically just pieced it all together with the guidance of a few good friends. Luckily, another friend of mine was also attempting the fat-adaptation process so we spoke daily to compare and contrast notes and experiences as we attempted to go down this new road of low-carb living.  Having someone else to share the process with helped me tremendously.

I have found that depression is common among ultra-runners.  I’ve had numerous private and public discussions with runner friends of mine who comment that running helps them to cope with their depression.  Luckily, it’s starting to be talked about more in a public forum. Along with Nikki, Rob Krar (among the top elites in the world) is also open about his battles with depression.  While he doesn’t necessarily talk about his nutrition as it relates to depression (that I can find anyways) it’s nice to know that I’m not alone when it comes to battling this haunting and dark disease.  Nikki and Rob continue to be inspirations to me as I continue to learn more about how depression affects my every-day life.  Moving forward I hope that depression continues to be de-stigmatized in the public forum.

Typically, for me, I can have mood swings that seemingly come out of nowhere.  The ebbs and flows of my emotions can wreak havoc on my life personally, professionally, and emotionally.  My coping mechanisms have improved over time but they still very much remain a work in progress.  It’s just one of those things that I am continuing to learn to live with.  Now, after adopting a higher fat lower carb lifestyle I have had those troughs and valleys significantly improve.  I feel more calm throughout any given day, less reactive, less agitated, and more even-keeled.  I don’t feel the spikes of anxiety that I was used to having.  Overall, today, I just feel better with my sense of mindfulness.  Could it be the lack of carbs?  Who the hell knows for sure.  I just know for me that with a lower dose of carbs each day I just feel better overall.  In Nikki’s podcast she indicates the same sort of feeling.  Now that I am fully fat-adapted I’m just going to go with it.

As I’ve mentioned in the past I admittedly struggle with body image.  What this new way of eating is NOT about is my weight.  For the first time in many years I feel comfortable in my body and not concerned with a number on the scale.  In fact, I still have a scale and it doesn’t bother me one bit to have it around.  When I look at myself in the mirror I feel more secure about who I am.  Am I justifying this new change simply because I limit the amount of carbs I eat?  Of course not, I believe there is no magic bullet that can fix anything, especially as it relates to body image.  However, I am hopeful there is a correlation.  For me there is enough proof so far to carry on with this new way of eating.

I am finding that everyone has an opinion on who should eat what.  Everywhere you look someone is coming up with the ultimate way to fuel your body.  And who am I to comment on a topic such as this without having had any educational and/or professional background  or experience on the subject?  Fair point. For me this is all a personal matter.  I respect the hell out of  nutrition experts who recommend certain diets based on science (BTW – I do not like the word diet, lifestyle would also fit in nicely here). In no way am I recommending that everyone with depression go out and switch their nutrition around.  I am just personally excited about a change that may help me to continue coping with one of my biggest personal demons.  The bitch they call depression.

As this process continues to evolve over time I will certainly do my best to give updates.  Hell, I’m sure one day I’ll also have something to say about how the chocolate chip cookie diet works.  We’ll have to wait and see!

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

 

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Friendships Lost and Gained in Sobriety

I used to love to party.  I loved the thrill of getting together with friends and taking that initial  celebratory shot in anticipation of what the night together could bring: shenanigans, transgressions, and good ol’ chaos.  Towards the end of the dark days of my partying there were several friends that I relied on and used as crutches to help feed my addictive nature.  Those involved had no idea of what was going on in my head at the time.

In the past I have prided myself with the company I kept and the vast amount of friends that I spent time with, even the amount of Facebook friends I maintained was crucial to my identity.  Being the gregarious extrovert that I was back then it was easy to maintain a facade on the outside that I liked everyone, for fear of being lonely. Now, almost 3 years into this journey of sobriety I am indeed still finding out what genuine and authentic friends mean, who I can rely on without agenda, in both the good and the bad.

One thing I noticed when I first got sober is that I began to have less text messages and phone calls coming in.  At that point I figured it was because no one wanted to hang out with the sober guy and therefore be at risk to potentially encouraging and/or witnessing a relapse.  It was a terrifying feeling to know that people were putting distance between themselves and me.  Maybe people just didn’t know how to react or what to say?  Today, I get that it must have been hard to know how to react when one of your friends comes out with this secret that he’s been hiding for years.

 In the meantime, in recovery, I still found it very uncomfortable to open myself to others who were also attempting sobriety.  That first year of sobriety I was lost, not able to decipher who my friends were and who had my back.  At that point I was still in a very egotistical frame of mind, thinking the world still revolved around me, that everyone should take my feelings into consideration.  Truth be told, everyone has their own shit going on.  It’s not just me. Many people indicated they indeed had my back, even the acquaintences from my partying days, but it just didn’t feel authentic at the time.  I found myself wanting to isolate and was unwilling to understand who really cared for my well-being.  Today, I can clearly see that the majority of friends I kept even during those dark times are very much still in support of what I’m trying to do with sobriety.  It would have been a mistake to give up on those friendships.

I can think of a few old friends in particular that I used to party hard and hang with all of the time.  The last time I heard from these people was when I was on a text message parade during the last weekend of drinking in Feb 2014, having locked myself inside, alone, to effectively drink  as much as possible and reach my bottom.  I, nor they, have reached out once since that weekend.  It used to confuse me why this was the case.  Now I ask, were those really people who I should have invested time and energy into anyways?

As recovery continued the distance between many friends still grew.  Hell, even today there are several people in my life that have just become as distant as can be for whatever the reason.  Perhaps they are dealing with their own circumstances, perhaps not.  Again, I know it’s not all about me, it’s just sad to realize that some of the close friends I had in the past have more or less vanished.  This certainly begs the question, did these relationships truly have any other meaning and substance than just the commonality of partying?  Who really knows. Today with a more lucid understanding of what true friendship means I am finding that it is certainly about quality rather than quantity.

The people who I rely on today as friends and mentors are simply amazing. I cannot believe the quality of the substance and conversation that I have with each of these folks.  My only challenge is to continue to keep contact as I can very easily get lost in my own thoughts and rituals.  If I go long enough without contact then the undeniable feeling of loneliness creeps in.

To be clear, this isn’t intended to be a cry for attention on my end.  The reason that I bring this to the table is that I have run into a few people lately who are new to sobriety and friends are a topic of their heartache and sadness.  I can see the pain on their faces and in their eyes about how they seem to be “losing” friends.  While that may be the case I wish I could paint a picture for them to assure each that they are not alone and that many new friends are lying in wait.  For me, meeting friends in recovery happened over time, not all at once.  I had to take care of my own shit before feeling comfortable to reach out to new people.  This is still a challenge today.

Generally I enjoy being around people.  However, I also enjoy being alone.  Not lonely, but alone.  Being on my own allows me to refuel spiritually, mentally, and physically.  In no way do I shut myself off from meeting anyone new, it just takes a little longer for me to grow comfortable with each new respective relationship.

For the newcomer to sobriety:  this process, not just with friends, but with every facet of life, get easier.  As a friend of mine said last night: “don’t stop before the miracle happens.”

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