Introducing: Me

My name is Ashley & you could say that I have ALL THE PROBLEMS…um, that would be incorrect; I don’t actually have ALL the problems. It’s just a little joke I like to make. For instance, the last time I got my blood drawn, I told the phlebotomist, “I have ALL the problems, take ALL the blood,” to which she responded by taking nine vials of blood. I suppose that was probably the plan all along but it’s more dramatic to say it this way.

This is the place where I am going to be chronicling my healing journey, not just for myself but in the hope that maybe I can help other people. There are a lot of blogs out there about how paleo has helped with conditions like autoimmune disease & multiple other problems. I haven’t seen what I have represented as of yet. I could be wrong; it’s not like I read every blog out there, but I figured it’d be a good idea to start my own because maybe somebody can relate.

The thing with me that’s different from all the other blogs I’ve seen is that I have clinical Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder. This isn’t the kind of thing that you see on TV & in the movies; it’s not what your friends are referring to when they say shit like, “I’m sooo OCD about color-coding my closet” or such-&-such thing. This is the real deal, which means it is debilitating. For lack of a better word, it’s awful. Right now it’s reined in, mostly with therapy & SSRIs, which I’m hoping to get off of at some point but unfortunately that isn’t an option at the moment.

I also have what I believe could be a thing called “Breast Implant Illness,” which is basically a plethora of symptoms that could be related to the body rejecting breast implants. I got implants when I was 18 years old because I was completely flat-chested & self-conscious. That was over eight years ago now & things have just gone downhill for me health-wise ever since. My first bout of serious OCD actually occurred a few weeks after my surgery, & I haven’t been exactly the same mentally since. I & mental health professionals I’ve spoken to have always attributed it to the anesthesia. I’ve always figured that I would eventually be tipped over the edge & that the surgery was just the stressor that did that for me. I’ve always been an anxious person, which can be due to a lot of things that I’ll get into later. Basically, there have always been OCD tendencies, they just never became a severe episode like what happened to me after my surgery. Since then, I’ve had two other debilitating episodes of OCD. These usually last from six months to a year. Twice they have made me unable to work. The last time I had an episode, I thought I’d be able to get through it faster since I’d been through it before, but no. When you have Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, it’s basically your brain tricking you into thinking that things that are not true are totally true, & it’s a process of learning how to not believe it. That’s very difficult to do because it feels like all the things the OCD is saying are true & it doesn’t feel like there’s any way they can’t be true. This is probably something I’ll get into later because it’s kind of complicated & this is just an introduction.

As for the Breast Implant Illness part: a lot of these symptoms are actually autoimmune disease & fibromyalgia, which could be an autoimmune disease, but that hasn’t been scientifically confirmed yet. I’ve actually seen a few studies on OCD possibly being an autoimmune disease, so that’s interesting.

What I’ve got going on besides the OCD is Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis. Technically I was diagnosed in 2009, about a year after I got my implants. I have no idea if I had it prior to the surgery; it’s a genetic thing, my mother has it, & autoimmunity runs in my family. However, I’ve been doing a lot of learning lately & from what I’ve learned, genetics only account for about a third of your risk of developing autoimmune disease. The other parts are environmental & diet-related. Basically, by putting foreign bodies [that are also made up of toxins on the outside] into myself, I’ve been having chemicals leach into my body for eight years. This has changed my own personal environment considerably. I’m starting to think that this has been a big problem for me. I’m not saying I never would’ve developed the autoimmunity, because it is genetic & I was eating things that you really shouldn’t eat when you have autoimmune disease up until very recently. One thing about me is that I always need to know what exactly is going on. Part of that is probably my OCD because OCD is about control. I don’t know for sure that my implants are the cause of my Hashimoto’s. I also have fibromyalgia (or chronic neck pain that’s been diagnosed as such), & I’m not sure if they’re causing that because my mom has that too. I’ve always joked that my mom gives me all of her diseases, except I get them so much earlier than she did. Honestly, now that I’ve learned a lot more than I knew previously, I think the reason that I’ve gotten all of these diseases so early is because I got these implants. I just consulted with a plastic surgeon & have scheduled surgery to remove the implants. She will also take fat from my abdomen & possibly other areas & transfer it into my breasts, because I literally have nothing on my own. I know I should be accepting of my body as it is, but I know I would be a lot happier if I could just have something. I’ve always thought that if I just had anything of my own, even if it was just an A cup, that I’d be fine with that (I didn’t even fit in a AA prior to my surgery, which I believe was disproportional to the rest of my body). The problem with fat grafting is that some, & possibly all of it, will die. If it doesn’t work out, I figure at least I got some liposuction in the process.  I think this whole thing may be tied into my feelings, like maybe I’m not feminine enough because I’m a woman who never developed breasts. When I got my implants, I didn’t do it for anybody else, I didn’t do it for a man, I did it for me. Arguably, a lot of my problems with my body probably have to do with my OCD (I’ll get into that later).

My most recent episode with OCD started in Summer 2014, & it was very severe, arguably my most severe episode yet. Part of that was due to me getting off a medication that has bad withdrawal symptoms. The episode started in July 2014 & started to improve in January 2015, so there was a good five or six months where it was constantly barraging me. I got on Zoloft & Remeron, which helped. I only took enough to make it so I could function properly. I’m only on 100mg of the Zoloft, which is a relatively low dose for OCD. I do still experience OCD but it’s more like background noise most of the time. I also have regular anxiety. Early last year, I decided I was going to try “clean eating,” which meant getting rid of processed food, packaged food, preservatives, etc. My anxiety did lessen. I did that for a while & then decided that I would try a Whole 30 to see if it would help my fibromyalgia. My fibro is mostly just chronic pain in my neck that I never get any relief from. It ranges from burning to stinging to aching & there’s never a day where I don’t have it. I did the Whole 30, saw no improvement, so I kept doing that for a few more months & still saw no improvement. I ended up finding the autoimmune protocol, as outlined by Sarah Ballantyne in The Paleo Approach. Since I started that, I’ve found out that I have a “mild” case of Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth. I’m not sure how mild it actually is because some days I look about six months pregnant after eating. I also suspect I have a candida overgrowth, which is common in people with breast implants & in Western culture as a whole.

I really just want to find a way to help this neck pain. I’m also tired all the time, which could be from my Hashimoto’s. I think the next step at this point is getting my implants removed. At that point there’s nothing more I can do besides continuing my diet.

Anyway, this was a very long introduction. Welcome to my blog. I’m not sure how often I’ll be able to update, because when I’m not working, I’m cooking, & when I’m not cooking, I’m walking, & when I’m not walking, I’m attempting to sleep. I do want to make a nice, steady chronicle for anybody who’s interested in reading. Hopefully it’s helpful. I hope it helps me, too. Admittedly, when I started out on this whole thing with the Whole 30, I thought it was going to be the magic bullet that would fix it, & it didn’t. I don’t want to say that it’s been very complicated, because I know there are people out there who have it really complicated, but it’s definitely been more complicated than I thought it was going to be.

PS. Despite being an English major, I love using the “&” sign instead of typing out “and.” Sorry, not sorry.