My Biggest Fear Coming True

bipolar depression ketosis mental health suicide Feb 28, 2022

 

by Kimberly Ward

 

A few weeks ago, my biggest fear came true. I noticed symptoms of bipolar disorder in my son. My ex-husband (my son's father) was diagnosed with this disease 18 years ago, so I'm very familiar with the terrible symptoms. I've silently carried around the fear that my son would end up with the same fate as his father: unable to keep a job, ending up homeless, in and out of jail, substance abuse, etc. Sadly, this is the reality for many with this disease if they don't have support and effective treatment.

As a Functional Nutrition Practitioner, I am passionate about food as medicine and natural remedies over prescription medications when possible. So when my husband was diagnosed, I researched everything I could get my hands on to find some natural ways to support him.

He started on a diet and supplement regimen that made a real difference. It definitely helped him to manage his symptoms. He was very stable for a while....until he stopped following the protocol. Medications did help if he took them consistently, although there were terrible side effects. Unfortunately, he couldn't seem to adhere to any treatment protocol for very long. Because of this, his symptoms were extreme, and he couldn't function as a husband or father, so we divorced. 

When I first noticed my son was exhibiting his father's same symptoms, I was overwhelmed. It felt like a big punch in the gut, and the sensation of absolute terror came over my entire body. The horrible feeling of "been there, done that" was consuming me, and I was telling myself horrific stories of him ending up like his father or, even worse, committing suicide. After processing and discharging some of the fear, I was able to calmly and rationally formulate a plan to help him. The first step in the plan is a ketogenic diet for both of us*.  

Ketosis is a metabolic state where your body uses fat as its primary energy source. I have followed a ketogenic diet (high in fat, moderate in protein, and low in carbohydrates) on and off successfully for health and weight loss. When I'm in a state of ketosis, I feel great! I am more creative, and I can more easily focus and handle stress. Because of this, I have been very interested in learning more about why this particular diet can be so helpful for various issues. I recently came across a few doctors who used ketogenic diets for mental health. Some of the case studies I read described remission from severe conditions like clinical depression, bipolar, and schizophrenia. There is a lot of fascinating information on this topic, and the one thing that really hit home for me is the new understanding that people with these disorders may have insulin resistance in the brain. And a ketogenic diet has been shown to help reduce and, in some cases, eliminate these symptoms. WOW! 

My son followed a gluten-free (because I have celiac disease) whole food, paleo type diet during his childhood. We very rarely had any processed or sugary foods. But after he graduated from High School and went out on his own, his diet changed drastically. He's been eating the SAD (Standard American Diet) full of processed and refined foods for the past two years.  My son doesn't (yet) have any official diagnosis but it makes sense to me that insulin resistance in his brain could be contributing to his symptoms.  

Once I was aware of the severity of his situation (severe depression, contemplating suicide, unable to keep a job, outbursts of rage, and bouts of mania), I booked a flight and went to intervene. My plan: we both immediately start a strict diet to reach nutritional ketosis. Even if this diet doesn't help my son, I know it will help me be at my best to better help him.  

I'll share more detail on our progress soon (hint: drastic improvement within two days of the diet and still improving a few weeks in - for both of us!! ☺️). But, the point of this article is to share my motivation for taking better care of myself, so I can manage my fear and overwhelm. So here it is:

I'm 100% committed to my food plan, so I can be at my best and be an example and inspiration for my son.

I've struggled to stick to my food plan for the past few years. I have many excuses why (I moved out of state, miss my kids, menopause, broken foot, on and on.......). The result has been weight gain, aches and pains increasing, foggy brain, and it's been harder to maintain my usually upbeat mood. Recently I have slowly gotten back on track with the protocol that I know works best for me, and I've made progress, but I haven't been total "all in" yet. 

But now, I have a REALLY BIG reason to finally be "all in."  

When I consistently stick to my plan, I feel better physically and have the emotional and mental strength it takes to help my son. I can maintain an attitude of hope for his future and trust we are being guided by the grace of God. 

We have a long road ahead of us. I can't say for sure what will happen to my son. I can be sure that when I'm taking better care of myself and consistently eating well, I can manage my overwhelm and stay grounded in the truth that his destiny is not the same as his father's, and I can put my biggest fear to rest.  

 

 •this article is not meant to provide medical advice nor is it a recommendation to stop medications or start a ketogenic diet.  In fact if you are diagnosed with a mental illness and taking prescription medications you should not try this diet without the help of a professional. This article is meant to share our journey of healing.  

 

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