Episode 57: Katie’s Paleo Journey and The Six Root Causes of Postpartum Depression

Katie Flores is a wellness coach, advocate for maternal mental health, and host of the newly launched Natural Postpartum Support Podcast. She was first on the show on Episode 43 in May 2017. Check out that episode if you want to hear more about her postpartum adventures. We talked a lot about thyroid issues during that interview.

Since Episode 43, Katie has been on a “Paleo Journey.” For almost the past year, she has been dairy and gluten free. She has made a lot of health changes and is feeling better than ever. For example, she used to get hormonal headaches that lasted her entire period; but during her last visit from dear Aunt Flo, she did not get any headache. She is also sleeping better and her cravings for junk food have decreased.

(Why yes, Katie’s story has definitely inspired me to make some health changes. How’d you guess?)

Katie knew she had to dig deeper into the root causes of her health issues. So the last time we talked, Katie found that postpartum depression was a symptom of issues with her thyroid, but she could not stop thinking: what was the root cause of her thyroid issues?

She did lots of reading and research and identified six root causes of postpartum depression. She has created a root cause assessment test that you can take at KatieEFLores.com/rootcause

The six root causes are:

  1. Traumatic loss
  2. traumatic stress
  3. heavy metals and toxins
  4. electrolyte deficiency
  5. adrenal dysfunction and last but not least 
  6. viral infection

The first two root causes are emotional. Traumatic loss includes things like the death of a loved one, loss of a job, or loss of identity. Katie’s friend Diana Collins lost her best friend to postpartum depression and experienced postpartum depression herself when she became a mom. Her podcast Always With Me dives into postpartum issues. (I have not had a chance to listen, but I will definitely be listening soon!)  

The other root causes are physical. Katie has lots of great tips for detoxifying all the toxins in the liver, which acts as the body’s filter and gets clogged up with all sorts of gunk. Katie tries to eat five foods every day to detoxify her liver: WILD blueberries; spirulina; barley grass juice powder; cilantro; and atlantic dulse. You might not find all these foods at your local grocery store, but Amazon can deliver them right to your door! Katie puts almost all of these ingredients in her morning smoothie.

Coconut water is great for restoring electrolytes and you can add that straight to your smoothie as well.

Also: don’t get overwhelmed! You don’t have to overhaul your life in one day. Maybe just pick up some wild blueberries the next time you are making a grocery run. I want to get back into the morning smoothie groove, but I know the habit will not stick if I try to get all these ingredients into my body at once. Baby steps, folks, baby steps!

Lemon in your water also helps with liver detox and electrolyte deficiency.

Katie has been greatly inspired by Anthony William, a.k.a. The Medical Medium. He is the author of several books, including Thyroid Healing and Life-Changing Foods. (And yes, I have already added these books to my Amazon Wishlist. If only I could download all the books that interest me into my head at once.) Katie has dived into the Medical Medium’s information about depression to sort through postpartum issues.

Katie’s podcast is now available to stream or download on iTunes and Stitcher. Visit her website KatieEFlores.com or follow her on IG @KatieEFlores.

Thanks, Katie for coming back on the show and sharing all the wonderful things you have been learning on your postpartum journey! If you haven’t already, you should definitely check out her show, the Natural Postpartum Support Podcast.

Thoughts on Self Care

I used to be the sort of person that waited until my car was down to at least an 1/8 of a tank before hitting the gas station. This caused all sorts of chaos, necessitating emergency trips to the gas station at the most inconvenient times.

It’s been twenty-three years since I got my driver’s license, and I have finally accepted the truth: it’s easier to fill my car’s tank when it’s only half empty instead of waiting until the fuel light shines its warning.

A couple of weeks ago, as I was topping off my tank at Arco, I realized self care is a lot like fueling my car. I might think it makes sense to push myself until I am running on fumes and then get a massage or pedicure; but in the long run, I feel better if I keep filling up my tank all the time, keeping it as close to full as possible. Then, when there’s a crisis like a sick toddler or husband going out of town for work, I’m as close to full as possible and I don’t have to worry about my self-care warning light.

I don’t drive around with my fuel light on anymore, so why should I let my self-care light get any use either?

A Love Letter to My Hormones

Yesterday I wrote a break up letter to Sugar. That felt soooo good. This morning, when I sat down to journal, I felt compelled to write a letter to my hormones.

Dear Hormones,

I broke up with Sugar yesterday. I have been in love — or rather, something that I thought was love, but really was self-loathing — most of my life. As part of my tormented relationship with Sugar, I hated you. I blamed you every time I felt physically crappy. My Sweet Beautiful Hormones, you were my scapegoat.

I’m sorry.

I want to fall in love with you and honor you for all that you do.

You made my babies! Two beautiful perfect delicious babies who are the best people I know. But instead of thanking you for all your amazing hard work, I just got angry about all the pregnancy nausea and constipation.

I’m done with anger. I don’t like it.

Also, this might sound weird, but I think you need a name. I could call you Hormones, but that creates a distance between you and me, but there should not be any emotional distance between us because you are MINE. You work for me, you make my life possible, you are part of me. So you need a name that honors that.  

But I can’t just name you Helen or Hermione because you are plural, you are many, you are estrogen and progesterone and all sorts of names I am learning but can’t remember yet. I don’t want a name that diminishes your magic. I’ll have to think about this. Okay, I’ll get back to you on the name front and keep calling you Hormones for now until I can think of something worthy.

Because you are worthy. You are part of me, so when I hate you, I hate part of me, and I deserve better. I deserve total and absolute love and adoration.  

Through journaling, I have learned something: writing makes things true. I don’t mean I can write “dogs are green” and suddenly all dogs are green. But I can write “I am beautiful” and once I write that enough, I transform my heart until I truly believe that I am beautiful. (And it’s true! I am beautiful!)

So I am going to write this here and in my journal and I am going to shout it to the world: I love my hormones! I love my hormones! I love my hormones!

I felt a touch of resistance to that idea as I wrote it. A little shudder in my brain. My brain does not like that idea. My brain thinks I’m supposed to hate my hormones. That is what my brain has been taught by the world.

Can I let you in on a little secret? I can rewire my brain. It’s true! I learned all about it in cognitive behavioral therapy after I had postpartum depression. I rewired my brain to be less anxious. I rewired my brain to stop getting flooded with guilt all the time. And since then, I have rewired my brain to be more calm, mindful, loving and patient. So rewiring my brain to love you, my sweet beautiful enchanting Hormones, will be easy.

(I really need to think of a name for you!)

I love you, Hormones, you are utterly magnificent.

I love you, Hormones, for all that you do.

I love you, Hormones, for drawing my attention to some changes I need to make to the way I live my life.

And this love is not limited to words. I am going to prove my love again and again through my actions! I gave up Sugar yesterday for me but also for YOU. Yes, Hormones, I gave up Sugar so that you can work the way you are meant to work. I am reading up on the science, and though I have a lot to learn, I understand this: Sugar fucks with My Hormones. The Sugar I was inhaling was hurting you, my beautiful precious Hormones, so I have banished it from my life.

More changes are coming. I’ll keep you posted.

I am sorry for all the harm I have done to you over the years. I promise things are going to be better from here on out.

Love, adoration, respect and gratitude,

Courtney

Episode 56: Nikki’s Story and the Climb Out of the Darkness

This week, Nikki shares her journey through postpartum depression and anxiety. She is the mother of two little boys and lives in the Atlanta, Georgia area.

Nikki experienced anxiety after the birth of her first child, but she had a history of anxiety. She assume the postpartum anxiety was within the range of normal new mom feelings. It was not until her second child was 10 months old that she realized something had to change.

For Nikki, the anxiety came first and as it worsened, it caused depression. She felt like she couldn’t go anywhere or leave the house. She felt like she was constantly on the verge of something horrific happening. (Oh my goodness, I can relate!) As Nikki got more and more isolated and lonely, the depression worsened.

Nikki 1

Nikki sometimes had panic attacks but her anxiety was mostly in her head. She felt irritable and experienced rage over things that did not matter. She also had insomnia but did not know it at the time.

Nikki did not have time for self-care. She felt like she had to do everything herself. She is so glad she eventually asked for and got help. In January 2017, she called her gynecologist. They wanted to prescribe medication but asked her to see a therapist first. This was scary and Nikki was afraid the authorities were going to take her kids away. (Again, I can totally relate.)

Nikki saw her therapist twice a month and Zoloft quickly helped her stabilize. She had a relapse during the stress of the holidays, went back to therapy and had her medications adjusted. Now she is feeling great.

Through her recovery, Nikki learned she doesn’t have to feel good all the time. I love that idea. Motherhood is beautiful but it’s also tough. We should not have to enjoy every single moment. We are allowed to have crappy days.

Last year, Nikki participated in the Climb Out of the Darkness. It was a very symbolic experience, struggling up the mountain. Her team climbed Stone Mountain and I can tell you from personal experience that hike is no joke.

Nikki 2

This year, Nikki is leading Team Dacula and instead of a hike, they’ll be doing a lovely walk on pavement. The symbolism of a hike is great, but sometimes, we just need a walk to bring people together and honor the struggle to overcome maternal mood disorders. 

As part of her recovery, Nikki’s therapist asked her to make mom friends. Easier said than done! Her local friends were not struggling, so she started Maternal Mental Health Support. This is a group on Facebook that anyone can join (I’m a member!) and they also meet in Atlanta for Mom’s Night Out and playgroups. Bravo, Nikki!

Nikki has learned the importance of self-care. When we become moms, it’s easy to lose track of who we are. Nikki suggests trying to remember what your hobbies were before you had a baby and then adjust your expectations. Nikki loves scrapbooking. Now that she is in the trenches of motherhood with two little boys, she tries to spend a little time being creative everyday, stealing quick moments to make cards. She loves having something visual to show that she accomplished something.

Sharing her story has helped Nikki recover from postpartum anxiety and depression, but she cautions moms to share with safe people. Don’t share your story with a judgmental mom who thinks everything is the baby blues. She doesn’t need to know your journey. At least, not until you are 110% recovered. (And maybe not even then.)

Nikki mentioned the PSI Warmline, a great resource for moms struggling with maternal mood disorders. The number is 1-800-944-4PPD and a person with information about local resources will call you back.

Thank you, Nikki, for sharing your adventures!

To support Nikki’s climb, you can donate right HERE.

To join Team Dacula, head right HERE.

A Farewell to Sugar

For the past five and a half years, I have been either pregnant or on Zoloft. I am in the midst of my second menstrual cycle since taking my last dose of anti-depressants. The PMS is horrifying.

It’s Day 28 of my current cycle, and my period is set to arrive at any time. I have finally emerged from a bout of PMS that made me want to tear off my skin. I was just irritated with everything and felt easily overwhelmed. I lost my patience and struggled to stay present with my children. I even had to sleep in the guest room because just the idea of sharing a bed with my sweet husband made me cringe. I knew that if he so much as breathed (as he is wont to do), I would jump out of my skin.

My adventures with postpartum depression ended so recently, but my hormonal adventures are clearly far from over. I am reading a great book, What Your Doctor May Not Tell You About Premenopause, and it has given me a ton of ideas. I’ll be writing a lot more about premenopause and hormones but for now, I am giving up sugar. The book has confirmed what I always knew: it destroys me.

I decided to compose a letter to Sugar to officially end our relationship. I got this idea from The Creative Penn, an amazing podcast and website for all of you aspiring writers out there.

Here’s the letter I just wrote:

Dear Sugar,

It’s over.

It’s not me. It’s you. It is most definitely you.

You are a temptress. I can’t just have you a little in my life. It’s all or nothing. And so, it’s nothing.

IT’S OVER.

You seduce with me with sweet nothings. You manipulate me by shredding my self-esteem. And then what do you give me? NOTHING BUT AGONY AND REMORSE.

Our relationship has been long, complicated, tortuous and abusive – yes, abusive. You are an addiction. You are a drug. Just one little taste, and I’m lost, slipping down the slope, from a bite of blueberry muffin into the lust of a gallon of ice cream.

It’s over, Sugar, it’s over.

Except I know, from past experience, that it’s not. Or, it’s over, except there is going to be some emotional heart ache in the coming weeks and months. Getting you out of my life is going to be hard work.

It’s going to be worth it.

I am sick of the PMS. Sick of the extra pounds. Sick of blindly eating food that makes me hate myself. Sick of binging until my stomach hurts. You turn me into something that is less than human. You keep me from my authentic self.

I think I am going to be writing you a lot of letters in the coming months.

I am ready to accept responsibility for our relationship. You will keep coming around, knocking at my door, tempting me with cake and ice cream and all manner of confection. I will be tempted, sorely tempted, to steal just a nibble, but I know the nibble is just the gateway to binge after binge after horrifying binge.

Let me be clear: it’s over.

You can knock, shriek, pound, holler, do whatever you want. I am not going to answer the door. I am not giving you an inch back into my life.

I am stronger without you. I am happier without you. And I am so much healthier.

I would say “good luck” and “best wishes,” but we both know that is not true. So let me end this letter with a more appropriate valediction.

Go fuck yourself,

Courtney