About Me

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Vegan. Ex-makeup artist. CFS/ME sufferer. Cares about human rights, equality, animal rights, conservation/climate change.


Tuesday, 11 February 2014

Where Have I Been? A Confession

The more observant among you may have noticed that I haven't been a very frequent blogger. Me and blogging have a kind of long distance relationship - it's great when we're together, but we spend too much time apart. So I've decided to write this post to get you up to date and tell you the reason I haven't written a post in over a year! 

Now this is quite difficult for me to admit, because I've been hiding it or downplaying it to all but my closest friends and family. 

I've been ill. 

I suffer from Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and depression. There, I said it. It's in the open. That wasn't so hard, was it? So why have I been so reluctant to tell people? Because I'm vegan. Let me explain.

A lot of vegans, myself included, feel like ambassadors - representing veganism to omnivores wherever we go. To a lot of my friends, clients and acquaintances, I'm the only vegan they know. If the only vegan they know is sick, it doesn't give a very good impression. And if somebody chose not to go vegan because of me, that would be awful. The animals they ate - their blood would be on my hands.

Of course my illness isn't caused or contributed to by my vegan diet. The diagnosis of CFS is reached by eliminating other causes of fatigue until there are none left. The first thing they check is your diet and blood for vitamin and mineral deficiencies. Multiple blood tests came back completely normal, and the dietitian I was referred to said I had the healthiest diet of anyone they'd seen!
In all my research I've only ever come across one other vegan with CFS. (She's lovely, by the way, a real inspiration.) I'm a member of many vegan groups and forums, too, and found the vast majority to be in the best of health.

I didn't want to be the stereotypical pale, skinny, ill vegan.
But I knew that wouldn't matter to people. They were going to take one look at me and make a connection in their minds between illness and veganism. I couldn't let that happen. So I hid it. When you work freelance, it's easy to have a rest between jobs and outings to allow yourself to recover.  Every once in a while you can put on a smile and hide the debilitating tiredness, knowing you'll pay for it tomorrow. However, as time went on, the gaps between working grew wider, and the depression that has afflicted me since childhood worsened. There are few things more frustrating than being unable to live the life you want, be active and do the things you love. 

Because there is no official consensus on the causes or cure for CFS, the NHS simply don't treat it. They don't even try. All I have ever been offered is occupational therapy, to help me adapt and cope with my limitations. So out of desperation I began my own research online into treatments.

There is a vast array of information and misinformation out there about CFS treatments. I can't tell you how many hours I've spent reading and researching, how much money I've spent on supplements and herbs that had no effect. I've pored over every post in every forum, desperate for some glimmer of hope. 

In the course of my research, I came across what I believe to be one of the main causes of CFS. Methylation problems. Put simply, the methylation cycle is the way the brain uses folic acid and vitamin B12, converting them into a range of chemicals needed by the brain and body. This process is controlled by certain genes, and mutations in these genes can cause illness. Looking through the list of diseases caused was like looking through my medical history - CFS, depression, anxiety, IBS, ADHD. It is also said to cause autism, autoimmune diseases, birth defects, heart problems, and a host of other conditions too numerous to mention. So I immediately set about learning all I could about the methylation cycle and the associated genes. I mean, how hard could it be?

I got my DNA tested at 23andme and ran the results through geneticgenie and nutrahacker. I found that I had a lot of mutations in the genes responsible for methylation, and in genes that research has linked to depression, IBS, and CFS. 

So, with my GP's blessing, I have begun a treatment plan, a 'methylation protocol'. The supplements recommended vary depending on your specific mutations, but usually consist of methylcobalamin and methylfolate, easily absorbed forms of B12 and folic acid. They advise starting with low doses and gradually increasing them, with some doctors and experts recommending many times the RDA. 

I haven't been taking the supplements for long, but I have been noticing subtle improvements.

Hopefully my health will continue to improve, and I will be able to work more often. In the meantime, I intend to resume blogging. So watch this space for new posts...

*** Disclaimer - The info here is provided for entertainment purposes only. I am not a doctor or medical professional, consult your doctor before you start any supplements and never self-diagnose! ***

For more information, look up Dr Amy Yasko, Rich Van Konynenburg, 'Methylation Made Easy' on Youtube, and the Phoenixrising.me forums.

Photographs from Google Images. 


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  2. I've just found your blog and had a look through it and it's really good! I think it's great you focus on cruelty-free products containing no animal bi-products as I'm a vegetarian so feel strongly about those things as well. Sorry to hear about you're illness, it's a shame some people will automatically think it's because of your vegan diet, but keep the good work up on here! :)


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