Protein log results

The results are in and the calculations are done, and I’m surprised by the results of my food log the last three days for keeping track of how much protein I am getting in my mostly-vegetarian diet. Surprised, because I was convinced I wasn’t getting enough. I was wrong. To see the log, click ‘Continue reading…’ below.

Who knew that a 250ml glass of milk would give almost 10g of protein? Or that each slice of wholemeal bread would also have about 10g of protein? Even more surprisingly, that the scones Rebecca and I baked last night would have 4g of protein each?

Various sources agree that an adult female should get at least 46g of protein a day. I tend to get at least 50g/day. Rebecca and I also checked whether I was getting the important amino acids from protein, and I was. Pretty much, if you still eat dairy and eggs, you’ll be fine in that regard.

I’m still curious whether there might be a nutritional contributor to my tiredness, but I’m getting more convinced that the main culprits are physiological and occupational. I am a PhD student in the final year of her PhD. I have rheumatoid arthritis. These two things alone are enough to make anyone tired!

Continue reading

Follow-up log

After talking with Rebecca about my Food Log, we speculated that although my calorie count is healthy, I might not be getting enough protein. So I am going to keep another log will calculate at the end how much protein I was getting each day. I suspect I’m not getting enough, but… no adjustments will be made until the log results are in.

Why am I doing this? Because I want to be healthy. I have a lot to do and a lot more that I *want* to do and I want to have the energy and the strength to do it. I have been told by a few different sources that the next 9 months will be the most difficult in my life (to date) as I work to FINISH my PhD thesis, submit, and prepare to defend it. I have to eat, so I might as well eat well and make sure I’m getting the nutrition I need to perform my best.

Tune back in on Saturday for the results of the Protein Log.

chocolate helps

When one wakes up in the morning in pain in all of one’s joints; when after an hour even the pain killers aren’t helping; when one doesn’t have a bath in order to soak in and one is not well enough to stand in the shower, what does one do?

One eats chocolate. One drinks hot chocolate. One especially drinks hot chocolate in one’s magical ‘I solemnly swear I am up to no good / Mischief managed’ mug. One drinks hot chocolate out of this mug while watching Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban and one eats chocolate whenever one sees a dementor and whenever Professor Lupin gives Harry a piece of chocolate. ‘Eat this. It helps, it really helps.’

Rheumatoid arthritis is frustrating, painful, annoying, draining, tiring. I’ve spent most of the day in bed. I’m about to take more medication, and then I am going to eat chocolate ice cream. Remus Lupin was onto something: If I am going to be miserable, then I am at least going to eat chocolate.

Through the static

It’s been another week of headaches and exhaustion. Rather frustrating. I have enough latent health issues that it’s hard to pinpoint just what is causing my malaise this time. So I’m sleeping and taking pain killers and hoping that I get over whatever it is soon so that I can get back to work.

Our radio started going staticy several months ago. It used to live in the kitchen but we moved it into the sitting room where it was better for a while. But now it’s staticy again, and it particularly does not like my computer being nearby. That doesn’t deter us from listening to BBC Radio 3 and 4 though. I’m not going to miss the 6 O’Clock News just because of some static (though it does leave Petrarch Trelawny’s musical choices at Radio 3 Breakfast with something to be desired).

An infusion of lemon and honey is a wonderful thing.


As most of my readers already know, I have rheumatoid arthritis (RA). For those of you who don’t know what RA is or need a reminder, RA is an autoimmune disease in which my immune system is malfunctioning and now thinks that my joints are the enemy. Essentially, my body has started to self-deconstruct. The only way to slow it down (for it isn’t possible to stop it entirely, or forever) is to take lots of heavy drugs which suppress the immune system.

I’m used to the drugs. I’m used to being extra vigilant not to get the flu or other illnesses. I’m even used to the aches and pains I get even though I’ve been in remission for over a year. I check the forecast frequently, can more or less predict when it’s going to be a bad week. But that doesn’t mean I still don’t get frustrated, even angry or disheartened when the bad weeks come.

This year isn’t nearly as bad as last year when we had the unexpected, sudden cold snap that dumped snow over all of Britain. I was home-bound for a week then. But we have had unpredictable weather this winter, too, in the form of sudden winter gales with high wind and sleet, followed by a beautiful clear day, only to swing back and forth again.

It’s difficult to do Work when one wakes up feeling like one’s hands are falling off, or when one’s body rebels and sleeps hours past one’s alarm, when it takes nearly a half hour to walk the one mile into town, or, when one finally gets to the office, one cannot focus for lack of energy or from distraction because one can feel one’s body aching even through the pain killers.

I don’t like to complain. But you see, I have a deadline: finish this chapter of my PhD thesis by Christmas. The days I have in my office are precious — there are only four of them, and this week has been eaten away by meetings, Christmas lunches, and the dictates of my arthritis. So I am frustrated, because I want to work, I have to work, I have ideas and thoughts I want to put into words on paper. Frustrated, and stressed, because I want to get this done.

The spirit is willing, but the body is weak. But because I am I, I will try to get it done regardless. One way or another.

World Mental Health Day

Today is World Mental Health Day, as declared by the WHO (World Health Organisation). I have already posted about my most recent experience with severe depression. The reason WHO has a day like this is to raise awareness of just how prevalent and common mental health issues are, and how many countries in the world do not have support for these people. Although I am not certain how exactly I can help someone with depression in a far off country I have never been to, I can at least do my part in the country where I am currently living…

Admittedly, I do feel some insecurity about my experiences with depression. I have friends who have had true horrors in their lives, from abusive homes and other circumstances, and compared to them it seems like I have no reason at all to have been depressed. My parents are pretty amazing, loving and supportive, and I like to think we get on pretty well (most of the time; we have our moments, of course). I have excelled in my various academic environments, and I am incredibly privileged to now attend a world-class university for my PhD, and also to be getting my PhD in such an esoteric topic as fairies in the medieval imagination. I have wonderful friends, many of whom I have kept up with over several years, despite moving to different states and continents. I have a faith that has been tested and tried, and a God who is faithful. So what right do I have to be depressed?

I have chosen not to include various circumstances that could ‘justify’ my depression, but that is just the point: while depression is partly circumstances, it is also a chemical imbalance in the brain. One’s ‘fight or flight’ processes in the brain are affected if one is under severe stress for an extended period of time; in essence, the brain learns that that state of being is ‘normal’. And that is only one explanation I was given for my own particular situation, when I had become so severely stressed, anxious, and depressed that I could no longer function.

I don’t consider myself ‘cured’, because I am still on medication and I am taking steps to ensure that I stay active and social this winter. So, although I might be preaching to the choir here, this is just to say that yes, seemingly normal or ‘perfect’ people can suffer from mental health problems, too — and that as a community and society we ought to be both aware and supportive of this fact. None of us is truly ‘normal’, after all.

My Ebenezer

A year ago my best friend told me I needed help. She was right. Nothing could make me smile anymore, not even seeing baby ducklings in the Kinnessburn. So I went to my GP and was diagnosed with severe depression and anxiety, and immediately started taking antidepressants.

Last winter was the worst six months of my life. All of my emotional and mental energy went to teaching, meaning that the rest of the time I spent lying down in my office staring at the wall. After two and a half months of seeing a therapist, she told me she wasn’t qualified to deal with my problems. I then took a more pragmatic approach and told my GP I wanted someone to help me cope with anxiety specifically, and was assigned to a self-help coach in the spring. That went better, but was only for three sessions. All the while, my GP and I kept increasing my dosage.

Even so, it wasn’t until Easter that I discovered joy again, and it wasn’t until June that I was able to live with that joy. I have been depressed at least since I was 16, and have had anxiety for even longer. How I feel now is revelatory, revolutionary. If this is what ‘normal’ really is, then what have I been missing the last decade of my life? I have always striven to make the most out of life, claiming the promise that Christ gives life abundantly. And so I marvel at the prospect of finally, finally, being truly alive.

I never really wrote about having depression on my blog, though I did allude to it occasionally. I was seriously and severely ill, and I am still recovering. I’m still on medication, and yes, I am harbouring fears about what this winter will bring with its long, dark, cold nights, and of when I eventually come off the medication. But I am in a place now where I am better able to cope, and I still have the promise of my good Lord Christ, and so it will be okay. If there is anything I have learned, it is that God is Faithful.

It is strange, looking back. Only now can I see just how bad off I really was — and how I had been for a while. Last night I tried on a dress I wore at a best friend’s wedding four years ago, which took place the summer before I moved to Scotland. I was quite bad off then, too. The dress still fits, but differently, and isn’t nearly as loose at it was — which is saying something, as it is a size 2 (U.S. sizing). For the first time in my adult memory I have an appetite again, and a metabolism to keep up with it.

Like my rheumatoid arthritis, anxiety and bouts of depression are an illness, occasionally a debilitating one. Even if I seem okay, I still take medication to keep the worst effects at bay. I recognise the symptoms, know the triggers that can make it worse. I know I may be preaching to the choir here, but I have to say it: people who are depressed can’t just ‘snap out of it’ and become ‘normal’. It takes longer than a couple of months to be ‘okay’ again (especially, in my case, it’s been so long that I didn’t know what ‘okay’ felt like, let alone ‘good’). It’s taken me months and months to reach a point where I could even write this post, and I’m still not convinced that now is the right time. I have lost friends along the way. I have also gained friends, and a sense of self-confidence I never had before. But the point is that it takes time, and for me it will take some more time yet. There is still the winter ahead.

I almost didn’t publish this post. I’m feeling better, but I don’t want to jinx it. This post is not at all saying that I’ve ‘made it’, that I’m fully well. Instead, this is a reflection of the past year, an update on the journey. And so this post is to say, more or less, ‘Here I raise my Ebenezer; hither by Thy help I’ve come’. Now, onward and upward…