Health

Invisible Illnesses Unveiled – Major Depressive Disorder

This year I have decided to speak up and share my story in hopes that I can break stigmas, knock down walls, inspire others to take their health into their hands by advocacy and research, to help others realize that they are not alone and to grow from all of this.
I finally started seeing a therapist for the first time and was officially diagnosed with severe Major Depressive Disorder. Not mild but SEVERE! I was shocked. However, it is time to acknowledge this and do something about it. It is real and it exists and ignoring it will not make it go away.
Throughout my health journey, I had decided to look into my genes. One of the genes I carry is SLC6A4, a type of monoamine transporter protein that transports seratonin. This provides a lower rate of response to SSRIs (antidepressants). Genetically speaking, this affects individuals when experiencing stressful events in their lives and their cortisol response. Cortisol is a hormone that your body produces to respond to stress. This particular gene is a risk marker for Anxiety, Depression, OCD, PTSD,  Alzheimers and even Autism.  For those who have alcoholism that “runs in their family” actually have association with this gene variant. These are all reason why I feel that EVERYONE should be tested genetically to know what you are predisposed to for preventative measure as well as proper treatments due to certain genes causing resistance to treatments.
Here I am at 33 and finally dealing with something that I saw signs of in my early childhood. Mental health has always been wrapped in shame and stigmas which make it hard for anyone to accept and even wrap their head around. When I felt down and depressed, I did not ever think of it as a chemical imbalance or a disorder. I thought of its as insecurities and a lack of self worth because I truly believed that I was worthless. Now, I have the ability to check myself and remind myself that I am not worthless and that I am having a depressive moment that will pass. I know that this is a never ending effort on my end to continuously work on. I am so sad for the young girl, teenager and young woman that I was. She did not realize that it was a dark cloud blurring her view of the world and that she could take a deep breath and wait for it to pass. Instead, the stigmas and closed doors made her feel alone as she spent her entire life suffering.
Opening up about mental health is incredibly difficult to do. People judge, form their opinions, label you, make assumptions or just completely shut down. For example, I opened up today to a friend about my recent diagnosis and how it was never real to me and what I was feeling with this new acknowledgement and the subject was changed as if I never even spoke of it. When you open up to someone about your health and it gets dismissed you feel like you cannot trust or open up to anyone. However, I knew I could let that go and move on and find the right friend who would understand and listen. Maybe not everyone is cut out for it but I hope to make others aware of this epidemic of depression which takes so many lives. If you are a friend or a person that someone chose to confide in but don’t know how to handle the situation, direct them to someone who can. Dismissing them or ignoring the issues may cause them to feel more isolated.
Mental health disorders are another form of invisible illnesses. When people meet me, I smile and am generally friendly and most people would never guess I battled depression my entire life.
I can’t even fathom to explain how much I can’t stand when a complete stranger says, “Smile! It can’t be that bad!” I like to suggest that if you are that type of person, say something else like, “I hope you have a great day” instead. Those are the little things that make our head sink less.
My advice to anyone in a relationship with someone who struggles with depression is that you have to be patient and when they isolate themselves or push you away, keep a close distance instead so they get their space but don’t feel more alone. We never want to push you away, we self sabotage because in that moment we truly feel like you are better off. My husband always reminds me that it will pass and we even came up with a code word. Communication is so valuable. Always discuss these moments and how you can work through them better next time.
If you are the depressed one in the relationship, you need to be patient as well. They do not understand but they are loving enough to try, so bear with them and listen to them, no matter how stubborn as you can be. You have to do the work. You have to read the self help books and go to therapy and try or their help and support is going to be useless for you. No one can save you besides yourself. This is your battle to fight even if you have people on your side. If you feel like you cannot manage or handle your depression then do not be afraid to seek help. Some people do not know what to do or how to handle a situation, so finding local resources is recommended for more professional help.
There are people who are prisoners to their own mind. I am fortunate to have found a way to cope and get through my depression, but for those who have not can fall into a colossal traumatic, dark hole that may lead them to hurt themselves or others. There is a spectrum for everything, from mild to severe and everyone copes differently but as a community we need to open our eyes whether it is to seek help for yourself or know where to point someone to if they turn to you for help.
Body and Beauty, Unveiling Invisible Illnesses

Invisible Illnesses Unveiled – Plantar Fasciitis

Yvonne is a ray of sunshine and you wouldn’t dare look at her and think that she was suffering. She is struggling for answers and remedies while trying to piece together her life around a disability. Meet Yvonne!

Where are you from originality?

I am from Jacksonville, Florida and I was adopted at 3 months old.

What is your dream for you and your career?

The ability to get back up and fight through battles is what inspires me. Women who empower women and encourage one another and lift another up also inspires me.  My dream is to continue to help others feel wonderful about themselves and to offer the best quality organic products and airbrush tanning at it’s finest!

What is your favorite music?

My favorite music is county believe it or not lol…. I love “feel.good soul music ”
What inspires you?

What are three things you can’t live without?

I can not live without my daughter! She is the reason why for all that I do. I can not live without putting a smile on someone’s face on a daily basis. It feeds my soul to do good deeds!  I can not live without lipstick… I LOVVEEEE LIPSTICK and coffee!

Favorite quote:

There is only one happiness in this life. To love and be loved.

Tell me a little about your injury and daily battles:

My injury occurred several months ago.  I have a severe case of Plantar Fasciitis. I have been a dancer since I was three years old and that has become a passion of mine as it’s in my heart and in my veins! I have been teaching dance aerobics since I was out of high school. To be a dancer and to loose your feet and feel prisoner to them is the last thing I thought I would ever have to go through. I do not want to get out of bed and take the 1st steps as I know how painful they are. Throughout the day as I walk, it’s a struggle just to to stand. The only relief I get is if I sit, so I almost want to be in a wheelchair as hard as that is to say. Excruciating pain does something to you… I feel as if it has stripped my soul in my passion.  I get depressed very easily and cry a couple times a day. As much as I want to cut them off of my body,  I tell my feet I love them with every step I take no matter how much they hurt me and also how badly I want to remove them from my body. I pray that the feet I once knew come back to me soon as each day feels like an eternity when you are struggling to walk.

What is some advice you can give to anyone suffering?

My advice for anyone suffering is to breathe deep breaths and lean on your loved ones as much as possible. If they love you, they got you! Cry it out, and get back up again. I pray… A LOT! I try focus on the positive things that God has given me instead of dwelling in the darkness of this pain, even though at times it does get to me and I do break.

What helps with your issue?

My family helps me with my issue even though they don’t understand it. No one will understand if they’ve never experienced it, but it helps when you know you have people that truly care about you, that love you and want what’s best for you and your healing. There is truly nothing like support when you’re suffering. Pain this intense messes with you mentally as well.  Family is always there to hold you and help you get through it!!!! Also, the beach or sitting outdoor helps me clear my stresses.

Support Yvonne’s local business here:

Yvonne’s Organic Bronze

Health

To DNA or not to DNA? 

I think everyone, early on in life, should have their DNA tested. 

1) This would allow for so much information on genetic diseases and linking DNA to specific changes in chromosomes, genes and proteins to rule out conditions and see what people are genetically predisposed to. 
2) People would not have to struggle with misdiagnosis for most of their lives and could have answers and pretreat or avoid certain conditions from worsening. 
3) This could also potentially save lives in so many ways. For example, people with the MTHFR gene will have difficulty eliminating toxins from the body and are low in important vitamins and minerals, therefore prone to developing an autoimmune disease from interfering with absorption and raising inflammation. How great would this have been to know in advance so that prevention of debilitating health issues could be possible? Also, this gene was only recently discovered over collecting a large DNA database, hence why everyone should be involved. More genes would also be discovered. 
4) If you have certain gene mutations, there are medications that could be dangerous for you. CTP2C19, for example, is a liver enzyme that is responsible for metabolizing a wide variety of drugs, including anti-seizure medications, blood thinners and anti depressants. There are patients who have had psychotic episodes or suicide attempts after starting new antidepressants and other patients who had their medications fail. All of this could have been prevented if they had genetic testing done. Doctors would not prescribe potentially fatal meds or meds that you would be resistant to if they knew, which they could know if they had your genetic testing done. 
5) It is 2017. I know there is no money to be made from healthy people but it is ridiculous how blinded everyone still is and always will be by following the government’s food pyramid, designed by a board filled with lobbyists. Even if we all had our genetic testing available, people would still eat sludge anyway because bacon is trendy and vegans are nerds and people would rather drown their veins with animal fats, sugar, preservatives, pesticides and hormones than to prevent the consequences of what shitty food does to you over time. 

Healthy Food

Pasta and chill

It is Friday! Although, I do have to be up at 7am tomorrow. Regardless, I am down to have an awesome hearty meal. My husband is taking our daughter to ballet so I can cook, otherwise I would probably order takeout or make something quick and lazy because my back hurts and I am exhausted. I have been thinking about making this all week. The time has come!

In one pan I am sautéeing portobello mushrooms with light olive oil, rosemary, balsamic and pepper. In the other pan I am cooking Gardein vegan “chicken” with turmeric, sage, shallots, garlic, pepper, lemon, oregano and himalayan salt. 


I tend to over season because I am making the sauce from scratch and want the flavors to get picked up after adding unsweetened almond milk.  Earth Balance butter, which is non dairy, is my favorite. The flavor is fucking amazing! My picky daughter loves it. Seriously, look how good the mushrooms look. If your mouth is not watering, please exit this page. You can put whatever you want in the sauce. Tomatoes, zucchini, basil, broccoli. Have fun! You don’t need me to hold your hand. 


I also added chopped spinach and (not pictured yet) sweet peas. I have no idea why but I love peas with my creamy pastas. Just do it.

Follow Your Heart makes the perfect dairy-free parmesan. I love adding lemon pepper and garlic to my “Alfredo sauce.” You will also need to thicken it up with Daiya mozzarella. This makes a rich and creamy sauce that will fucking knock you in bed with some cozy feels. 
Tonight, I am watching  the Netflix premiere of Lady Gaga’s documentary Five Foot Two, which allows us to peek behind the curtain of sweat and fame to see the reality of a young woman battling severe pain and fighting an autoimmune disease. I am so excited that someone with such power can raise awareness to invisible illnesses and chronic pain. It is about damn time. 
Anyway, back to food! I start my sauce by warming up the almond milk. I am not a traditional lady in the kitchen. I just eyeball it for the most part. I would guess I poured 3 cups and a big scoop of the dairy-free butter and you can add a scoop of dairy-free cream cheese. Keep in mind I am feeding an army and used two boxes of pasta. I seasoned the sauce, even though a lot of flavor will be picked up from everything we sautéed. Keep in mind we can always add more! I added rosemary, oregano, pepper, lemon pepper, parsley, turmeric, sage and garlic.


Once you heat it up you can add the entire container of the parmesan. I turned the other burners off and put everything to the side and start on the pasta. Cook the past of your choice as instructed. After it is ready, strain it and put it back in the pot and add all that good shit together, including the mozzarella and stir. After tasting, I decided it needed a hell of a lot more garlic. I thought I had minced but I tossed what we had after the hurricane. I always prefer fresh, of course, but be real… I am not a little farm girl picking my herbs. I am busy as fuck and forget things. 


We also made some bread to soak up all the deliciousness. Now I am signing off! It is time to get in bed and try not to drip food on our new comforter while watching Netflix. You know you do it too. 

Also, we need a new cookie sheet and are registered HERE! Gross! 

* Best served on paper plates to avoid more dishes

Health

Banana Bag Oral Solution – Getting My Life Back


Banana Bag is an oral solution that you mix in water and drink. It is like getting a bag of IV fluids at the hospital, only without the needles and scary bill. If you are like me and can get dehydrated easily, this is going to be your saving grace! 

Summertime is the worst time for me. I absolutely hate it. Seriously, it is the definition of hell. However, I live in Florida so it is hot most of the year. Let’s face it, I have three kids and live between Cocoa Beach and Orlando which makes it is hard to avoid outdoor activities.  

My daughter is on a swim team and I had to sit in the heat for 4 hours during her swim meets and the first one landed me in the hospital. The second one, I tried Banana Bag and I made it through. This year, my mother treated my family to a day at the water park and I also made it through without getting dehydrated and sent to the ER.  I froze a liter of water with the solution and I put some cherry juice and fresh raspberries in it so that it was a frozen chunk of ice that slowly melted throughout the day for a constantly cold drink. It kept me cool, hydrated and prevented the usual health issues. It does have a vitamin taste so I like to add more water and some juice for flavor but I prefer it over hospitals and sugary sports drinks. It is such a relief to be able to spend time with my family without having to end up in the ER to get a bag of fluids. This is a game changer!



I have a rare connective tissue disease called Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome that I just got diagnosed with this year after struggling with health problems my entire life. EDS is a collagen defect which causes joint hyper mobility (such as being double jointed) and a plethora of health issues including Dysautonomia. People with dysautonomia dehydrate faster.


For me, my dysautonomia comes in the form of low blood pressure, temperature control such as easily overheating and easily cold with full blown shivering,  pre-syncope with waves of lightheadedness, vision loss and numbness, painful kidney spasms, tachycardia, POTSNeurocardiogenic Syncope and Sinus Node Dysfunction, (pacemaker since June 2017) to name a few. 

I have cut out preservatives, limited sugar intake and eat an anti-inflammatory and autoimmune diet. I take high does of vitamin C and CBD daily. I do not digest meat well so I cut it out and only eat fish and eggs. I cut out dairy because 90% of it gives me migraines with aura and so does MSG and artificial sweeteners. It has also taken me most of my life to learn what I cannot have. If I accidentally consume any of these things, I can guarantee a 4 hour comatose nap and wake up with a migraine and flashing lights, a racing heart and disorientation. This will last all day and sometimes the following day.

 It is also CRUCIAL for me to get all of my minerals, vitamins and electrolytes because I tend to get deficient in quite a few. Vitamin deficiencies can also cause so many health issues and unfortunately get missed and mistaken for other diseases. Vitamin B deficiency, for example, is very common and can cause tingling sensations in your extremities, depression, fatigue, weakness and irritability. 

The cool thing about this product is that it was made by a pharmacist who also made the IV solutions for ERs. It is awesome for POTS, autoimmune diseases, traveling, athletes, hangovers and anyone who is just exhausted, overworked and drained. 

It’s time to start living life to the fullest, which means having the health to do so! I am so grateful to have a home remedy for preventing dehydration and trips to the ER. I feel like I am finally starting to get my life back. 

Health, Healthy Food

Invisible Illnesses Unveiled – Celiac Disease

Celiac Disease is an autoimmune disorder in which gluten ingestion can cause damage to the small intestine and other long-term health issues. 

Theresa Lanno is a hairstylist and my business partner at Bombshells Barbershop & Glam Lounge in Rockledge, Florida. We busted our asses to open our salon. Stress can do a lot of things to our bodies. Theresa was rapidly losing weight without trying. She was coughing up blood and having stomach issues. The first doctor she saw gave her ulcer medication and chalked it up to stress. Can you imagine if she just took those pills and did not push for further tests? She would be damaging her body for many years to come and suffer from more health issues. Many autoimmune diseases are a dominos effect on your health. 

 Long Term Health Effects

Celiac disease can develop at any age after people start eating foods or medicines that contain gluten. Left untreated, celiac disease can lead to additional serious health problems. These include the development of other autoimmune disorders like Type I diabetes and multiple sclerosis (MS), dermatitis herpetiformis (an itchy skin rash), anemia, osteoporosis, infertility and miscarriage, neurological conditions like epilepsy and migraines, short stature, and intestinal cancers. 
*Read more here.

 

Theresa also had a vitamin D deficiency, which can cause brain fog, bone pain, fatigue, depression and muscle weakness. Deficiencies are common with celiac disease. Gluten is a protein found in wheat and 1 in 100 people overreact to this particular protein, which damages the villi in their small intestines and causes poor absorption of food. Malnourishment can eventually lead to infertility, miscarriage, bone density loss, neurological diseases and certain types of cancer. 

Fortunately, the cure for celiac disease is to completely cut gluten out of your diet. My goal in unveiling invisible illnesses is to push others to be their own advocate and to get answers and not just accept the first guess a doctor quickly throws at you before their next patient. We want answers and and test as well asnproper treatments and not bandages or pills to mask our symptoms. 

Even if you are not Celiac, gluten sensitivities can cause similar issues minus the intestinal damage. Gluten has been know as an inflammatory food. You can read more here about research and references. 


*Photos by Misti Blu





At what age did you discover symptoms and how long did it take to get an official diagnosis?

Theresa: I found out I have Celiac disease in April. I’ve always had stomach aches and low energy.  I never thought anything of it until the past two years when my life got miserable. I couldn’t eat or drink with out feeling sick. I would get migraines, nausea, dizziness,  heartburn, brain fog and joint pain, which ruled my life. 

How do you feel about the healthcare system? 

Theresa: The healthcare system is very flawed. I went through tests for 2 years before getting a diagnosis. Every doctor said I was young and healthy with low vitamin levels & stress. I lost 20 pounds in 2 months. I knew it was something else and not just stress. Thankfully, after many different doctors, I went to a walk in clinic begging for answers. They finally sent me to a gastroenterologist. Even after going through all my tests it took over a month to get a diagnosis. Celiac disease isn’t very common and many doctors still don’t have knowledge about this disease, which is so frustrating. 

Do people have a hard time understanding your illness?

Theresa: Yes!  The worst thing about this disease is that the only way to feel better is by sticking to a strict gluten free diet. Cross contamination is a nightmare, which makes eating out almost impossible. Also, people use gluten free as a fad diet which makes restaurants not take it seriously. I get asked if my body’s intolerance to gluten is “a choice or an allergy.” Why anyone would make this choice for no reason is beyond me. Gluten free is not a fad, actually gluten free breads and sweets usually have more sugar and calories than “regular” things do! 

Do you have a message for people in your shoes who are struggling with this illness?

Theresa: It gets easier! The cravings are part of the disease. Be strong and don’t give into cravings. Celiac disease is strongly linked to cancer, MS, neuropathy, and diabetes. It’s no joke and there are so many people out there who feel the same!

What do you miss the most from before your diagnosis?

Theresa: I miss having a normal dinner with my friends and family.  I was such a foodie! I still am but it’s just harder now.  I don’t want to be the person who asks the waitress a million questions or has to fear getting sick from a chef’s negligence or server error.  But, most of all I miss real New Haven style PIZZA! 
What is your new favorite (gluten free) dish?

Theresa:  I have learned to make almost everything I loved before in a gluten free way. My favorite thing has been chicken parmesan! Barrilla makes the best GF pasta! I love Boars Heads deli meats for lunch and Goodie Girl Cookies are the shit for snacks! Sweets are my weak spot, and the Melting Pot has the best GF spread you will ever see! 

How have you changed or felt since your diet change? 

Theresa: All in all, the sucky diet is so worth the change. I feel so much better. I am down 20 lbs all together.  I still have days where my energy sucks and everything hurts but that is part of the autoimmune thing. No more crippling migraines or joint pain. It sucks sometimes but it could always be worse!

Health, Healthy Food

A Letter To The Restaurant Industry – From A “Picky” Eater

More than 50 million Americans have food allergies. Is it outrageous to suggest that restaurants should train their staff on food allergies and which menu items may contain certain ingredients? This job is not just about refilling someone’s water or placing an order. Having standards for your employees to know what is in the salad on the menu should be a given but unfortunately, most of the time the answer is “I don’t THINK there is dairy in it.” Why not train your staff to know what is in the food they serve? 

When a customer shits their brains out, gets a debilitating migraine, crashes for 4 solid hours and wakes up to the room spinning, breaks out in hives or whatever other awful things may happen after you collect their tip and they head home, they will never come to your restaurant again. They will associate their post meal reaction with your food and consider it poison. You are now officially blacklisted on one customer’s dining list. Maybe it is just one, no big deal! But I promise this number will grow.

We are not a bunch of picky asshole snobs. Guess what? We can actually see your judgemental face and hear your shit talking in the kitchen. Let me guess… “People who have restrictions should not go out to eat.”  Go fuck yourself! Are you seriously telling me that I have to forgo dinner with friends or the occasional date night or even the last minute takeout order after a long day because you can’t get your shit together? Welcome to the new age, buddy. People have allergies. It is not always a fad diet craze. When someone says no butter, for example, and you bring them their dish cooked in butter anyway, just realize that you could be seriously hurting that person. They may have to call into work the next day or spend the evening watching flashing lights as the room spins while day dreaming about drilling a hole in their skull to release pressure. 


It is your job. Take people’s requests seriously or change your job position to the dish pit or try retail if you can’t be open minded to the fact that allergies and food sensitivities exist. You are in the wrong industry if you are going to be an asshole about a food modification for someone’s dietary needs. 

Also, latex gloves. If you still carry latex at your restaurant, you should know that hospitals have banned latex years ago and you can find information here to educate yourself and staff on that. Latex is also a common allergy. If hospitals no longer use it, maybe it is time you consider switching. 

Perhaps you want to gain a few more customers? Make a small side menu for gluten free or dairy free items so that your food allergy customers can have an option besides a side of lettuce. They will tell all their friends and possibly specifically come to your restaurant because they feel like they are not being treated like garbage and will now keep you on the rotation. 


Thank you for taking the time to read this and I hope that you will think about not discriminating your next customer who has “annoying” special requests. Treating customers with great hospitality is your job and I hope the tips flow even better now that you are a little more informed on how to treat people and that for some people, dairy or wheat may not close up their throat but could make them feel like they got hit by a semi truck while being forced to trip on shrooms. 
*Celiac disease is an autoimmune disease where gluten damages the small intestines. For others, gluten may not be an allergy or have as severe reactions as Celiacs but can cause an autoimmune response as it is considered an inflammatory food. For others, dairy may not be a lactose intolerant issue but an actual allergy that can cause a number of issues. For me, it causes tachycardia, vertigo, nausea, joint pain, fatigue, brain fog and sometimes other cardiac issues.