How My Recovery Journal Saves Me From Crashes

Last week, I had a misstep.

I had been doing so well.  My mind was clear and my health was stable, then I attempted too many starches.  My microbiome still has too many bad guys that love starch.  Killing the bad guys with antimicrobials (even natural) would decimate my already low microbial populations and disrupt the benefits of increased diversity I received from my fecal transplant. So instead of kill tactics I work to support the good bacteria as much as possible with high levels of plant-based foods (Wahls protocol).

The problem with eliminating starchy foods from my diet is that they are the primary food source for Bifidobacteria and other SCFA-producing bacteria.   SCFA’s keep inflammation low and act as antimicrobial agents against pathogenic bacteria.  However, every time I try to reintroduce starches to feed these beneficial bacteria, I end up with mixed results.  My intestines feel better with bowel movements at 3 & 4 on the Bristol Scale, but the brain fog and anxiety levels go through the roof.

For awhile, I had a pretty good balance of just the right amount of plant-based foods and a tiny bit of starch.  Then I overdid it.

After just two days of overdoing it, this past week became a lost week with lot’s of anxiety, ADHD, confusion, as well as body pains and brain fog.

The difficult part of missteps is that you can spiral out of control and end up in a big crash.  In the past, missteps could turn to crashes that took months to recover.  Then I finally got smart.  I realized the supplements and foods I needed during a crash were usually different from what kept me healthy when I was stable. So in between crashes, I’d forget what I’d used to pull out of a particular crash.

The tricky part was that crashes would vary in symptoms, one might be a brain-related crash, like this last one, with anxiety and cognitive issues.  Other times they would be body-related crashes with heart rhythm issues, breathing problems and body pain.  Since I couldn’t remember the right cocktail of supplements and lifestyle changes it took to pull me out the last time, it could take weeks or even months to come out of a crash.    

It became clear that I needed writing these things down.

Finally, I began recording symptoms and then the corresponding the supplements, foods and lifestyle changes that improved those conditions.  This gave me a list of successful and unsuccessful supplements, foods and lifestyle changes.  Each time I had an individual symptom, I’d add more information to the list.  Then I became even more savvy and recorded what symptoms typically went together during crashes.  These combinations of symptoms were my crash patterns. 

These crash patterns became the center of my Recovery Journal.

This week, I had the opportunity to see my Recovery Journal in action.  On the second day of the crash, I remembered my journal.  Yes. It took a couple of days to even remember I had a journal for crashes.  That’s how crazy my brain gets when it is in a crash.  

To my happy surprise, I had this exact grouping of symptoms listed in my journal.  Three days after implementing the strategies in my journal, I’m back to feeling stable and healthy again.

The funny thing is, I’m surprised every time I use my journal and find I’ve had these exact symptoms before.  I always thought that each crash was different.  What I’ve come to realize from doing this writing process is I only have four different crash patterns.  Now, I also have four solution patterns to match.

I’ve decided that my next journal opportunity is to record the instigators of these crashes.  I tend to experiment with new foods and attempts to reintroduce taboo foods.  Having these attempts recorded will help to prevent problems in the future.  For example, I’d have a list of what starches I can eat (banana—yay!) and what I need to stay away from (tapioca—boo!).  Now there’s a record that I tried to reintroduce tapioca several times and it always went wrong, but small amounts of banana were okay in the early days of journaling.  Now that my health has improved, I have reintroduced banana and it is completely fine.

Because the healing process is a journey, we sometimes find ourselves on the same roads we’ve tried before.  Now, I’ll have a better map of the roads that go nowhere, the ones that work and the ones that might hold promise.

Interested in starting your own Recovery Journal?  Here is a pdf of mine to help you get started:
Recovery Journal

P.S. I am still working on the Circadian Rhythm series.  There’s so much good information there!  Just needed to get my head working again to organize the information properly.  Look for another post in a day or two.