It’s never easy sharing personal medical records. It’s considered so personal that we have laws protecting us against having to disclose our medical information. Yes, it’s a thing.
I never shared my medical records during my mental health breakdown until this week. SBS Korea, one of the three major broadcasting networks in Korea wanted to share my carnivorous journey in an upcoming documentary. They asked for any supportive collateral like medical records and old pictures, that would help share my story.
I’ve shared that I struggled with depression and an eating disorder in my past. But do I really want to share the nitty-gritty details? With anywhere from 1.5M to 10M people? While my healing journey has been considered a miracle, it’s still a story of a bulimic girl that was sent to the mental ward because she cared more about being thin than prioritizing her role as a mom…
Well, here it is:
Here’s my official medical record back in 2014 when my son was just 6 months old. I had taken some antibiotics because of a case of mastitis from nursing. To this day, no one quite knows what happened. I was sleep-deprived, malnourished and a few days into taking the antibiotics, I mentally was no longer there.
I don’t remember two weeks of my life. But I remember little clips like it was a dream. During that time, I decided to stop pumping milk as religiously as I had been for six months. Without pumping, I started smelling like rotten milk. (They fed Caleb frozen breastmilk.) My family gave me sleeping pills thinking it was the lack of sleep but even after a full night’s sleep, I was still “gone.”
I used to pump every 2-4 hours for six months. Because Caleb had jaundice when he was born, I pumped to make sure I didn’t have to supplement formula.
Celebrating Caleb’s first 100 days with pumped breastmilk. And even though I was so thin already, I remember hating how “fat” I was.
My mom tried to wash me to remove all the crusty breastmilk. But I refused. My mom shook me to “wake up” and out of anger, I punched a glass window. The glass broke and they realized this was more serious than anyone thought. I have no recollection of any of this. My parents phoned my cousin, who is a psychiatrist, and he recommended that I go to the hospital immediately.
The mental hospital, in agreeance with my family, deemed I was a harm to myself. I was now officially on a 72-hour mandatory lockdown. My son’s first New Year’s Eve and New Years’ Day was spent away from me. I vaguely remember counting down the new year with my husband on the hospital payphone.
I didn’t understand why I was there but I was also sedated with antidepressants and antipsychotics, around the clock.
I vaguely remember sleeping in the same room with people that would be shaking in a fetal position or would be screaming randomly in the middle of the night.
I remember feeling scared.
I also remember asking my parents for Caleb so I could nurse him. One time my best friend came with them. When I asked, I remember her breaking down and sobbing. I didn’t understand why.
I found out later that I cried every time I learned that I was no longer nursing because of my heavy medication. But I relearned this new information daily. And each day I relearned the “new” information, I sobbed.
It’s likely why I still nurse my second when he’s a month shy of being five years old. Thank God for meat. (but I’ll get to that).
In the hospital, they figured an eating disorder coupled with postpartum depression was the culprit for my breakdown. They recommended I try an intensive eating disorder facility.
So I did.
I left my 6-month-old son with my parents and I flew back to Austin to get help. Apparently, to health insurance, my labs deemed me well enough that I wasn’t covered for inpatient therapy. I was approved for intensive outpatient therapy. Aside from sleeping, all 3 meals and 2 snacks were spent at the facility. I couldn’t even go to the bathroom alone in the facility. Everything was supervised.
For 10 hours a day, I dug into my past, my eating habits and focused on community and healing. By then, my memory was back but my motivation to get better was so that I could see my son.
I had the motivation to get better. But it wasn’t easy.
The eating disorder facility honored my plant-based diet but would challenge me to eat processed crap foods daily (e.g., jam on my greek yogurt, animal crackers as my snack, or a cookie after my pizza dinner). I was never deemed healed until I could eat these foods without having an emotional response or having a desire to compensate.
I never got there.
I practiced all the cognitive-behavioral therapies that I learned. I used the tools from my psychology degree. But I still struggled with the desire to binge and purge (laxatives, vomit, restriction, over-exercising).
Even though the goal was to get back my son, during treatment, I still had days of bingeing and purging.
I would go through the cycles of shame, anger, and guilt and then punitive thoughts. Depression would set in deeply.
My psychiatrist told me I’d have to be on antidepressants for the rest of my life. He said that sometimes some of us are wired where we need a little bit of help and that is okay. So I obligingly took the medication.
I lost all emotions. I no longer cried but I no longer really laughed. The vibrancy of my personality was gone. But at least so were the manic episodes.
But three months into using antidepressants, I was on the highest dose. Then I was told to consider supplemental medications used for schizophrenia and bipolar sufferers. While these new drugs weren’t made for depression and anxiety, they seemed to help with depression.
I tried them for a month but they made me gain weight (a common side effect) and that was never okay for me.
So I stopped.
In the next couple of years, I was still plant-based but I tried hard to stay clean with my disordered eating. I’d make promises to a very young one-year-old Caleb and my husband. I’d practice intuitive and mindful eating. I’d try challenge foods to make sure I was healing.
Every few weeks, I’d end up falling again. I’d go through a depressive cycle again. I’d get mad at myself again. Why couldn’t I just be “strong” enough? Why couldn’t I be like everyone else?
When Caleb was two, I found out I was pregnant. I was still plant-based with occasional fish. Thankfully, both of my boys were healthy. I’m thankful to this day.
During my pregnancy, when all new moms prepare for the new joy coming into their lives, I was anxiously looking for an estate planning lawyer. These lawyers never understood why a 30-year-old was meeting with them at 7 or 8 months pregnant.
I was adamant about having a will, just in case.
The doctors never fully figured out why my memory wiped out. The doctors said it may be months before I came back to normal. They said I may not even fully come back, mentally. But in two weeks, I snapped out of it.
But with my second pregnancy, I was scared it would happen again.
What if I lose my memory again?
Never once did I think it was my diet.
So I ate my plant-based diet and prepared my will and advance directive in case I lost my memory again and I never came back to normal.
My mom stayed with us after Aiden was born. My husband took time off work to make sure I’d be okay. All hands were on deck because just in case.
While I was on maternity leave, my brother started a diet adding sticks of butter and oil to his morning coffee. I thought he had gone mad. I started researching to prove him wrong.
But I ended up proving that I was wrong.
While Aiden would nurse late hours, (I’m a big fan of on-demand feeding) I’d read and learned all hours of the day. I started with Keto Clarity and then Obesity Code and listened to every low carb podcast I could get my hands on.
And then I got mad.
Every single thing I knew about nutrition was wrong. At least with sugars vs. fats.
I decided to go keto but still held onto my beliefs of a plant-based diet. I didn’t realize how the 12 years of being plant-based had become a significant part of my identity.
So I began my plant-based keto journey.
I started eating avocados, olive oil, and eggs, including the yolks. I was satiated for longer than any period of time on my plant-based diet.
But I also had sweeteners and fat bombs trying to get used to a lower carbohydrate diet. While I was getting healthier, without meat, I’d end up going through my eating disorder cycles every few months. And with it, always came the shame and anger.
As I was struggling and talking to some online keto friends, they introduced me to carnivore.
What? Just meat? That’s crazy.
It took me some grieving before I finally took my vegetarian/pescatarian hat off and decided to try meat-based. It wasn’t easy. My husband never saw me eat meat. He had also bought into my plant-based lifestyle.
I went through the five stages of grief with my plant-based diet and the standard recommendations for a healthy diet: Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, and Acceptance. And then I finally accepted meat into my diet.
My first year of carnivore wasn’t easy. There were no how-to guides back then. It’s one of the reasons I started to make graphics and shared on social media.
I started in the spring and by winter, I felt that the holidays could have balance with keto treats.
It was a mistake.
I wasn’t fully fat-adapted or I wasn’t mentally ready. One keto treat turned into two until I was on real sugar. And then the all too familiar disordered eating behaviors came back.
I couldn’t believe it. All that healing and I was back to square one.
This was the reason that I made #Carnivore75Hard. The holidays will never be easy but I never wanted to struggle again. And surely I wasn’t alone. The power of community makes hard things, easier.
As I continue my meat-based journey, I share, serve, and give back because it gave me my life back. It’s been over 3 years since I’ve touched medications and over 2 years that I’ve never purged. I try not to say I’m healed from an eating disorder as being in a recovery mindset will always help me keep my guards up.
I’m grateful to have a second chance at nursing with Aiden. He still nurses and I’m patiently waiting for the day he’s ready to wean. Until then, I’m happy to share in this incredible bonding experience. I know some people think it’s crazy to nurse for so long. If my body wasn’t supposed to naturally nurse Aiden, my milk supply would have stopped. This is the power of the body (and the power of nutrient-dense foods) if you let nature take its course.
With my mental health scare and my frequent thoughts and desires of never wanting to wake up, I wrote Carnivore Cure, in case I was no longer able to serve. Carnivore Cure could help with some of my newfound research and then my words can be forever recorded on paper. So that maybe someone 20 years from now, will pick it up and not make the same dietary mistakes with a plant-based diet.
I spent way too many hours in the bathroom, alone. I spent many dark days in my head ruminating over unnecessary thoughts.
The most common fear of not being a good enough mom came true for me.
If I had known that some gut healing and some good wholesome meat can save my life, I would have never turned plant-based. I initially thought it was the low-fat diet but keto didn’t fix everything for me.
It was the meat. Or in my case, the lack of.
For 12+ years, I never had a bite of beef, chicken or pork. No ruminants, no 4 legged animals. I watched every PETA-friendly, environment-friendly documentary. I cried for the animals in Earthlings and worried for my family’s heart health from Forks over Knives.
I never once thought that my mental health and disordered eating stemmed from the lack of good foods to fuel my body. I thought I was broken, that I wasn’t strong enough or good enough. That I was somehow made pathetically broken.
And when it was something so simple as fueling my body with meats and high-quality fats, I needed to get the word out.
I will share my parents’ healing journey in a separate blog post. Their journey was more physical healing but it showed me again, that meat really does heal. Meat heals a lot of things.
And this is why I will adamantly share the healing powers of a meat-based diet. No matter how many fad diets come and go, Carnivore was never a fad diet for me.
In my eating disorder facility, I met some of the most caring women. These women and often young girls didn’t have the support I had. I’ve never taken it for granted to this day.
The dietitians in those places feed the standard American diet and the nutrition at its core is completely broken. How can you heal a body and brain that has been malnourished for so long with junk foods and say that the only way to heal an eating disorder is by having no anxious response to these foods?
So they give us pizza and crap foods for meals coupled with our drugs for anxiety and depression. And if we refused to eat two meals. We were locked in a room until we drank the cup of Ensure. Eventually, if we didn’t drink our Ensure, we were forced to move up in treatment levels.
I won’t go over the details of the Ensure ingredients but corn syrup, maltodextrin, food dyes, and chemicals? And this is how we’ll cure those suffering from severe eating disorders?
I’ve been sharing more openly about my faith in the last several months. With Carnivore Cure, I had the biggest dilemma sharing a verse on the dedication page but when the pandemic hit, I was ready to be “brave” in my faith. The reality is that it wasn’t just the meat but the hope in something bigger than me that has brought me healing.
I used to be angry that I suffered from the one addiction that we had to challenge ourselves with daily. Why not tobacco or alcohol? Why food? Why did I study psychology, never use it and then go into management consulting? Why did I become plant-based? Why couldn’t I have just eaten meat? Maybe then I would have been able to nurse Caleb until he was one.
Why, Why, Why?
I feel that my testimony was set this way so that I could empathetically serve. Money was never hard to come by with my line of work. Nice things were easy to come by. But mental health and happiness were never abundant.
Some days serving is hard. But on most days, I feel more alive than I have ever before. I feel purpose and drive.
I choose the white pill daily. Because for as long as I’m here, I hope no one goes through what I did.
Being meat-based is not always easy. But it’s part of my daily wins. I choose meat because I choose health and freedom. I choose to be a wife to my husband and to be present in my children’s lives. I choose to serve and be a part of a greater purpose than me. I choose community. I choose love.
And an easy way to do this is by using food as medicine.
I choose to research because I have the ability to do so. Not everyone has the time and luxury (or care) to research as I do. I take that as a gift (sometimes a burden) that I choose to share. If it helps even one person, I will always share. Even if it makes me wrong about an ideology from a year ago, I will share.
I’m not here for prestige, credit, or money. Honestly, who cares.
None of that matters when you are in a mental health facility not understanding why you are on a mandatory hold, against your will.
Removing most of the toxins in our foods and eating meat-based will bring so much healing. You will only know if you start with that and then pull levers as you go.
But starting with a baseline of meat has made all the difference in my life.
And I know it can for you too.
Meat and some good faith/hope in something greater.
Believe you can heal. Miracles happen. But you must have hope and you must believe healing can happen.
I decided to share my incredibly raw and personal story. If it helps even one person have the fight to eat meat-based and fight for better, then it’s more than worth sharing. Helping someone is something worth being here for.
In ♥ and health (and faith),
1 Peter 5:10
If you enjoyed this blog post, you may also enjoy these Nutrition with Judy blog posts:
- Don’t Eat Just Beef on a Meat-Based Diet
- Make Meat a Priority for You and Your Children
- What’s in Canola Oil
- Meat and Climate Change
DISCLAIMER: The content is for educational purposes only. While I am a nutritional therapy practitioner, I am not providing medical advice. Whenever you start a new diet or protocol, always first consult with your trusted practitioner.