Monthly Archives: October 2012

My new vegan diet cure!

A few weeks ago I had a couple anxiety attacks.  We had discovered a pretty extensive infestation of carpet beetle larvae around the house, including in the pantry, and literally the next day we found the kids had lice.  I had a lot of trouble coping with all this.  Twice it got so bad I was hyperventilating, my heart was pounding, I was dizzy and feeling dissociated.  Luckily my husband is made of awesome, and he took over the cleanup, with help from his amazing mother.  And my epically wonderful friend Ginger came over and nit-combed my hair, then carefully vacuumed each individual molecule in the kids’ playroom.

Meanwhile, I went to the doctor for some freaking Xanax.  Or something.  My blood pressure was 155/90, noticeably higher than my usual less-than-120/80 zone, so I knew I was really having a serious physical reaction, not just overdramatizing.  I wanted a medicine to force my fight-or-flight reaction to calm down, as I felt like I was in a feedback loop of worry–>adrenaline–>panicked feeling validating worry–>more adrenaline.

My regular HCP wasn’t in, so I saw someone else.  She didn’t want to give me a benzo drug, because of all the potential problems with them, and I can understand that line of reasoning to an extent.

But then she told me what I really need to do for my anxiety and panic attacks is switch to a vegan diet.

And she didn’t just mention it in passing.  She got pretty damn vegangelical on me.  She seemed to think that being fat is a key part of my mental illness, and getting fit would make me better. And veganism is the way to get fit. Even though my response to the first attempt was to scowl disbelievingly and say, “No,” she didn’t let my unmistakeable body language and monosyllabic retorts stop her – she pushed it several more times, trying to cajole me into trying it. She was very sure that during this stressful period when I was having trouble coping with life, what I really needed was a complete diet overhaul to a new, highly restricted way of eating.

So you know what, I guess I’m convinced.  Here is my new vegan diet plan, which will make me thin and solve all my health problems!

Breakfast:

Cocoa Puffs with full-fat coconut milk
Apple Cinnamon Pop Tarts
Ghirardelli Hot Chocolate

Snack:
Little Debbie cake donut
Starbucks Venti Toffee Nut Soy Latte

Lunch:
“Chicken” nuggets
Biscuits (made with Crisco)
Corn chips with guacamole
Kool-Aid

Snack:
Barbecue Fritos
Hansen’s Cola

Dinner:
Veggie burger on potato roll
French fries with mayo dip
Canned creamed corn
Bulleit bourbon and water
Marie Callender cherry pie

I can NOT wait for the health returns to start rolling in with this!  Soon I’ll be slim and fit, as well as mentally healthy.  I bet I won’t even need to go to the gym or therapy anymore!  Who knew perfect health could be this easy and appealing?

Seriously, my normal PA prescribed a beta blocker to tamp down the adrenaline, and that allowed me to use my cognitive behavioral therapy techniques to much better advantage.  I feel normal again.  And I’m making braised beef shanks for dinner.
Oh, and more thanks to Ginger for being so funny about this whole topic and alerting me that Pop Tarts are vegan, thus giving me the idea for this post.
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In which attachment parenting makes me a bad parent

You wouldn’t like Mom when she’s angry.
(Image by Sarah G via Flickr.)

Well, not a bad parent overall.  But I have noticed a big problem with my parenting lately, and I can trace its origins to my attachment parenting inclinations.

In short, I let my kids get away with too much, put up with their whining way too much, and generally don’t provide enough structure.  Then their behavior drives me nuts and I get too angry with them!  And while AP doesn’t endorse this by any means, and I’m sure many AP parents don’t succumb to this pattern, I do think being a crunchy, responsive, gentle, giving mother to my infants set me up to be a bit of a pushover to my older children.

The problem of course is that a newborn has only needs, no wants.  It’s perfectly reasonable, responsible parenting to respond to your baby’s cries immediately and constantly.  It’s very black and white.  Sure, especially as they grow older, you might take a moment to pee, or to eat before you keel over, but generally the baby’s wants are the baby’s needs. When the baby cries, you as the mother have an intense visceral reaction that spurs you to do what it takes to stop the crying.  This is how it should be.

But the rub is: they grow and mature.  And even when you’re aware that they have wants that can (and should!) be denied, it’s awfully easy to fall into that old “the loud, abject misery must be quelled!” approach.  I’ve forged such an emotional connection with my kids that I feel the desolation when they cry their guts out over not being allowed to have a snack 15 minutes before dinner, or when they have to pick up their toys.  My intellectual side knows that I’m being reasonable, but that’s not the problem.  The problem is I get so engaged with their emotional reaction to my reasonable rules that it exhausts me.

You can imagine what happens as a result – inconsistent discipline, and a stressed-out mom who builds up resentment and tension until I snap and, well, I have to confess it once got so bad I yelled, “Claire stop being a butthole!” (I apologized.)

So, for me, it has been helpful to use the system 1-2-3 Magic.  The absolute key to that approach is staying calm while setting limits, and I really need that.  A little distance, and frankly, being a little more of a hardass, has started to improve my own mental health and my relationship with my kids.  It’s easier to empathize with them and to be loving and gentle when I’m not sucked into an emotional maelstrom, and when I don’t feel resentment over the ten thousand times they’ve already resisted my directions that day.

I fully expect other parents to find other styles to be more appropriate for their families, but I think everyone has one thing in common – we need to navigate this tricky gray area where our children are still children, and require all the love, understanding, and responsiveness that we developed as AP-ish parents, but also have desires and behaviors that must be opposed by those same empathetic parents in an effective and consistent way.  It’s really tough territory, and it can make you crazy if you’re not careful.  Whether you go for the 1-2-3 Magic style or prefer Alfie Kohn, I think every parent would do well to stop and think about this issue once in a while, as our children grow up.

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