[box type=”warning”]Warning: Language, Adult Topics, General Mayhem. You have been warned. Carry on.[/box]
Things were somewhat stable in my life until very recently, about a month ago in fact, when The Primal Roadshow I’d been working on for months got cancelled at the last minute and I had to bail on some really good friends. My youngest son picked that afternoon to stick a screwdriver into an electrical socket. He was fine but that’s all it took to trigger the biggest psychological event I’ve ever had. I was balled up on the floor for three days straight. Just staring at the wall. I couldn’t eat. Forget sleeping–I had nightmares every night, horrible vivid ones that I still recall. Each night I was in the zombie apocalypse and had to watch my children being torn apart over, and over, and over, powerless to help them. I was having over thirty panic attacks a day, even waking up in the morning in the middle of a one, unable to breathe, move, or cry.
I was still clear enough to know what was going on. I was losing my fucking mind. I was having a full blown nervous breakdown. I was scared. Really, really scared. I cancelled everything going on in my life, made sure someone was watching the kids, and shut down operations.
It took over a week to recover. I felt like I had been hit by a bus. I was physically and emotionally exhausted and could hardly get out of bed. I had no support in the area, and was completely ignored by everyone I reached out to, or told that I needed to stop being hysterical. Everyone has their own problems to deal with, I guess.
The biohacker in me needed to know what was going on. How could someone go from having zero panic attacks a day to thirty overnight? Looking back, I could see a pattern emerging, of isolation, disconnecting, overwhelm, ultimately culminating in loneliness, desperation, and anxiety but nothing like this massive overload of guilt, panic, and the inability to function. My diet was locked down–PAF, full of broth, organs, and greens. I wasn’t experiencing any inflammation, except clearly my gut was compromised in some way. I knew there was no way my gut wasn’t involved–this type of mental disturbance is a clear indication of something messed up in the chain. Physically I felt great but mentally…well, I wasn’t sure I was going to make it.
I can say this now because I’m past the worst of it, but if I hadn’t been Paleo, with all the strength and health it brings, and so in touch with my body and the signals it sends me, I would be dead right now. I’m sure I would have killed myself otherwise. At some point I had a complete psychotic break from reality, yet was still strangely in touch with it. (I hate to think what might have happened if gluten was involved.) A voice in my head was screaming at me that everyone would be better off without me, but Tara was still in there. She knew it would be okay, that her hormones and neurotransmitters were firing without permission and that eventually it would stop if she could just eat the bare minimum to live and get some god damned peace and quiet. Then she could think and figure out a plan.
Once I stabilized, I started psychoanalyzing myself. I was experiencing every symptom of PTSD. But from what? I’m a fucking housewife. I started tracking my panic attacks and quickly figured out what my trigger was: my children. I’m not going to go into it in this post, but soon I’m going to start telling my story. One chapter at a time, so you can see what led me to this. The first step to healing, however, is removing immediate triggers, and for me that’s kids in general. Especially mine.
Because, as we speak, I’m staring at a bottle of Effexor. It was prescribed to me last week and I refuse to take it. But I need something. I need to do something. I’ve been taking Xanax off and on for about three weeks now for the sheer physical symptoms of panic. The biological processes haven’t stopped firing, but I’ve got the number of panic attacks down to about one a day, and I’ve gotten pretty damn good in a short period of time at controlling the symptoms. However, I can’t fully get rid of the Xanax until I remove my triggers. It’s like I’m constantly in the war zone–you can’t exactly call it post-traumatic stress when it still happens on a weekly basis.
I think I know what’s going on, and what I need to do to fix it, and the answer is not a pill. I believe that by applying Paleo and Ancestral principles and supplementing with specific precursors and amino acids, I can get better. (Thanks for the chill pills, western medicine, but I healed myself without your help before, I’ll bloody well do it again.) I’ll be keeping a Journal of Personal Science and will be sharing my findings with my friends Dr. Seth Roberts, Dr. Tim Gerstmar, and others in the Paleo community who are interested in this type of thing. I’m looking forward to sharing my findings and experiences, but mostly I’m looking forward to having the freedom to do what feels best and natural in this situation. This is probably the main reason I’m documenting this journey: to keep myself honest and on track. There is a huge desire deep down inside me to just hit the road and never come back. I don’t want to waste this opportunity because I’m sure I’ll never have another one like it. If I am unable to turn things around, I’m afraid of what the rest of my life will be like.
[box] I recently found out that my friend, Dr. Seth Roberts, passed away on April 26th, 2014. He had been mentoring me on this project, and it means even more to me now than it did before. Seth had an amazing mind, and believed that everyone could be a scientist. Personal science is just that–personal. We no longer have to rely on nameless, faceless researchers to find out what works (and what doesn’t work) for us. We have the ability to find out for ourselves. Seth’s enthusiasm propelled me to document this journey in a scientific manner so that others could benefit. I’ll miss you and your insight, Seth. I’m looking forward to sharing my findings with you one day.[/box]