This Keto Life: On taking breaks, and the urge to explain

(note: if you follow me on Twitter/FB, you may have seen me complain about a blog post I’ve been trying to write for three weeks that is doing my head in. Heads-up: this is not that post! This is something a bit cruisier, although it does touch on some mental health issues)

I think I’ve probably spent a lot of time and energy justifying keto, and a lot of that feels necessary because of the vast swamp of wild misinformation surrounding this particularly controversial approach to feeding oneself. Even self-proclaimed experts who start out with good, scientifically-backed approaches can end up departing from the well-groomed path of evidence and wading out into the quicksand pits of “Wishful Thinking”, “Over-generalisation”, and “It sounds cool and my friend said it was true.”

Thanks to the internet keto-meisters peddling righteous rage and over-hyped woo, there’s some real pushback on keto/low carb from the skeptic community. Thanks to the deafening, overwhelming focus on the (potential) weight loss associated with keto/low carb, there’s severe pushback from the body positivity and health-at-every-size communities. And thanks to people just flat-out doing it wrong, there’s pushback from some dietitians who have had patients with various deficiencies and problems.

This basically means that I feel a near-irresistible compulsion to justify my diet, which causes some anxiety.

Here’s the low-down, by the way, as simply as I can make it. Continue Reading

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ADHD and other letters: on forgiveness

I think one of the hardest things about having ADHD – especially prior to diagnosis – is that you lose faith in yourself. This applies to any condition that includes “executive dysfunction” as a symptom, but throw in the ADHD brain’s inability to perceive or estimate time, and it’s a real doozy.

Because you know what you need to do to change.

You just don’t do it. Continue Reading

ADHD and other letters: “Hyperactive” or “Inattentive” or “Combined” or “oh god just stop”

When it comes to medical situations, we like labels. Clear labels can shortcut explanations, save time, validate challenges that we face, allow us to access the help that we need, provide information to professionals, comfort us, describe parts of us, and ultimately provide all the blessings of naming the beast. There are downsides to labels, for sure, particularly when they are misused, poorly understood, incorrectly applied, or stigmatised; but when you’re searching for answers, sometimes you get hungry for labels.

Sometimes you want more labels, because more detail is better, right? Except sometimes labels are erected for shitty reasons and in half-arsed ways, and they can lead you down the garden path.

The disclaimer on this post is that:

  • I am not a doctor
  • I am definitely not a psychiatrist
  • And whoa, howdy, I am not a psychiatrist specialising in ADHD.

My one appeal to authority is that I did run these ideas past my specialist, because I wanted to know if I was on the right track, or just doing that thing that I do, i.e. “Yes, Kate, you did read a lot but you know a little knowledge is a dangerous thing, right?” and I figured a professional and a specialist was the right person to bounce these ideas off.

She agreed with enthusiasm (frustrated enthusiasm, for reasons that will become clear).

Let’s tell a story about labels. It starts with gender. Continue Reading

Small Good Things

I’m not a huge fan of Raymond Carver, in the sense that I would never read his work for fun or enjoyment. I feel it would be a little bit like stabbing myself in the kidneys for fun or enjoyment. I’m not good with horror, tragedy, or the grotesque. All the same, I have an enormous admiration for what he can achieve with a minimum of words.

Sometimes, when there are less words, the reader has to do more work, interpreting and figuring things out – and there’s value to that sort of writing as well, but it’s not what Carver did. Carver used just enough language to poke at something deep down in a shared cultural awareness. Just enough visual, enough imagery, enough dialogue to arouse suspicion, to stir up the dark things lurking in the depths, rising up into a slow realisation of the horror or tragedy taking place, often without stating it outright – or, if he did state it outright, it was in the most blunt and stark fashion.

I read Short Cuts, an anthology of short stories, in year 12, which was ohdeargod 20 years ago now, and there are images and feelings that will always stay with me, after only a single reading that I have never repeated. Continue Reading

On Penelope

Sometimes, I think nothing is real until I write about it.

I’ve been avoiding this, as though if I don’t write about it – if I don’t let the feelings and thoughts come out the way they need to – then it didn’t happen.

If I don’t write about it, I can still believe that nothing has changed. If I go to that little townhouse in Newmarket, and lean heavily on the doorknob (because it got stuck, and even though her dad fixed it, we’d all been shoving it so hard for so many years that it was muscle memory), I’ll see Penelope sitting on the couch with an enormous tapestry frame resting across her lap, copper-brown hair fuzzing around her head. Behind the ever-present glasses, her eyes are quiet and focused, and her face is almost stern, an expression of an unflinching rationality that has been mistaken for coldness, for aloofness.

Continue Reading

Just Keep Swimming

I could look at my current pile of blog post drafts, or the three notebook pages filled with concepts I want to write about and untangle, the stories I want to tell – but the tight mass in my stomach says no.

It’s a thick, heavy knot of anxiety.

And fear.

And grief.

And anger.

And sheer misery.

[Edited: removed about 650 words explaining all the shit that’s going on right now, because I don’t want to read over this in the future and feel like I was wallowing in self pity]

I went to my GP for a prescription renewal, updated her on some of what’s happening, and she asked if I was okay.

“No,” I said bluntly, as tears started running down my face. “No, I am not okay. I am one hundred percent, absolutely not even remotely okay.”

I’m sorry, guys. This is the only post you’re getting this week. Maybe next week I’ll be able to knock something else up, but the truth is that severe depression and personal horror are actually really bad for creativity, because you can’t do shit. You can’t focus. You can’t think.

You just try to keep swimming, because it’s either that or drown.

You do have a choice. It’s just not a good one.