Life goes in cycles. There was a time when being at my desk at 6am after a 20-mile commute was nothing out of the ordinary. There was another time I could arrive at work at 9am having been out till the early hours of the morning with no more than three hours sleep and still function. There was even a time when I could do this two or three days straight. But all that’s history.
These days, I work better at night. I was finding it difficult to drag myself out of bed in the morning and even after 12 or 14 hours of sleep would lag in the afternoon. I was beyond tired. It was the sort of exhaustion that comes not from too little sleep but from something physiological.
Western medicine told me that I was depressed. The answer to my ailment was a course of antidepressants. But I’ve had depression. I know what it’s like. I know my symptoms and the warning signs. I know my body. And no matter how many times I told the various doctors that I was NOT depressed, their questions were all geared towards telling me I was in denial.
Do I have friends? Yes. Do I have an active social life? Yes. Do I have a good support system? Yes. Do I have financial troubles? No. Am I worried about my job? No. Am I concerned about my relationship? No.
Yes, I have a lot of work on these days and it is the lot of a freelancer to take the work when it comes in because you never know when it will disappear. Yes, I’m travelling a fair bit, but then that’s nothing new. Yes, if I chose, I could be out seven nights a week, but I’m not.
And still the prescription is antidepressants. Has this become the default treatment for everything?
A Hare Krishna friend of mine [and I only state his religion because his beliefs go a long way towards explaining the serenity that surrounds him], suggested I go see an Ayurvedic guy here in the city. He said he’d know what was wrong and he’d be able to fix it. He himself had been suffering from chronic knee pain and was now pain free and nimble.
At a loss of what else to do, I went. Yer man felt my pulse, thought a little, waited a while and then listed every symptom I’ve presented to regular doctors in the last six months, culminating with exhaustion. He told me my body was toxic. And if I cleaned it, all would be well.
I’m a borderline Kapha apparently. And too much Kapha makes me sleep excessively. I needed to change my diet. He also recommended weekly treatments for ten weeks to right me.
I can eat chicken, fish, and turkey. I can have goat’s cheese and rice milk. I can have vegetables except courgettes, cucumbers, avocado and sweet potatoes. No tomatoes. No heavy fruit. No salads. Nothing cold or raw. Nothing from the fridge.
I also have to take a horrible green powder mixed with honey to fight the fluid retention, a nasty dry powder to lower cholesterol, and a vile concoction for something I can’t quite remember.
My first two treatments were 45-minute massages followed by 15-minute saunas. Invigorate the toxins and then sweat them out – that was the plan. My third session lasted two hours – a Ruksha Udvartana (a dry powder massage) followed by the 15-minute sauna and a very vigorous head massage. All the masseurs are from Kerala in India and the ones I’ve met come from long lines of Ayurvedic practitioners. They seem to know what they’re doing and have a certainty about them that I found lacking in regular doctors who seem to favour consultations and second opinions. [And given our propensity to sue, I can’t say I blame them.]
Three weeks into it all, sticking to the diet as much as I can given prior commitments and travel, I’ve rediscovered plain, old tiredness. I’d forgotten what is was like to be tired from lack of sleep. It’s so much more pleasant. Now when I lag during the day, it’s because I had four hours sleep the night before. My body is detoxifying. My humour is improving. And the fluid retention has abated. I’m losing weight. My skin is so much fresher. And I’ve regained my ability to focus.
On some surface level, I always knew that my diet affected my body, my mind, and my emotions, but the want was greater than the need. I never really bought in to the connection. But bottom line is that there is no getting away from the fact that we are what we eat. And how I eat is my choice, therefore how I feel is my choice. I alone am responsible. Sometimes we need to question our prescriptions and not blindly take what’s offered. We need to consider the diagnosis and whether it sits right with us. I’m looking forward to having my cholesterol checked again at the end of this period and justifying my refusal to take statins when it has returned to normal … the natural way.
For these realisations I am grateful. For the massive improvement in energy levels, I am grateful. And for life sending me the right person at the right time to prompt this course of action, I am grateful, too.