My Most Awesome 2018 Highlight!
First Off - Happy New Year!
My most awesome 2018 highlight doesn't have to do with my art - it has to do with my health. For more than 3 years, from June 2015 to October 2018, I had IBS-D. That's Irritable Bowel Syndrome with diarrhea (fun, right?). I never really spoke about it except to a few people close to me. It was embarrassing. And honestly, it made my life completely miserable. I know it's kinda long, but here's my story. I hope you'll read it!
It started in June 2015. I started to have diarrhea up to 7-15 times a day. Every. Single. Freakin. Day. The first doctor I saw sent me for tests, but got the results and said there was nothing wrong, it was all in my head. I must just be stressed. But,every day I'd wake up with cramps and the need to rush to the bathroom. That wasn't in my head. Every single day for me started in pain and discomfort. I could rarely sleep more than 4-5 hours without having to get up.
Because of it, I was super anxious, and afraid to leave the house in case I had to use the washroom when I wasn't near one. USUALLY I could hold it, but I was always terrified of an "accident" in public. It was REALLY uncomfortable to hold it, and if I did, I couldn't focus on anything else other than getting to the next bathroom. I had "accidents" at home where I'd have gas that turned out to be... well, you get the idea...
But that's not the worst part. Not even close. The worst part was the *constant* fatigue and brain fog. I couldn't think properly. I couldn't focus. My memory was just terrible. I mixed up days and dates. Even if I wrote lists of thing to do, or grocery lists, I forget I wrote them, or forgot where I left them. I'd get home and realize even though I had the grocery list I made with me at the grocery store, and looked at it 5 times while I was shopping, I still forgot to get the coffee filters... And then I'd feel stupid, and get mad at myself. I had no energy. No motivation. I was a shadow of my former self. And, I felt SOOO guilty and ashamed for not being the happy, excited, motivated, inspiring,creative person I knew I could be, and felt like I SHOULD be, anymore. I was almost always depressed.
It was deeper than negative thinking. It was like because of the diarrhea, my body/brain literally wasn't absorbing the nutrients from food that it needed to make the brain chemicals you need to feel good, and feel happy, and alert, and able to make decisions - no matter what the actual circumstances of my life were, I always felt blah and tired and sad. Hopeless.
My close friends thought after 20+ years knowing me that all of a sudden I'd just become really lazy or something. I'd tell them what was up. They couldn't understand. They'd act like I was just being a big baby. "Oh poor Mister Artist has a tummy ache". If I said I couldn't eat this or that, that I knew made my gas and bloating etc.. worse. "Well no wonder you're sick you won't even eat broccoli dude,it's healthy, freakin eat some"... Being so depressed made it hard for people to be around me.
I was mostly afraid to eat. Eating gave me a boost of energy for like 45-90 minutes, but then I'd be back to pain, bloating and more uncomfortable trips to the bathroom. Almost every time I'd eat more than a bite, within 5-15 minutes I'd have to use the washroom, and then again another 20-30 minutes later. If I ate a lot at one sitting, I might even have to make another trip or 2 again...Everyone who knew loved to give me advice on what I should/shouldn't eat. But after 3 years, I'd tried cutting things out and following different diets and - nothing really made it much better. If I avoided most vegetables and fruits and spicy foods, the bloating and gas got better, but not the diarrhea and cramps. Or the brain fog...
Doctors didn't help. The first doctor who diagnosed me with IBS instead of just "it's in your head" told me "Once people have this, they usually have it the rest of their lives. The best thing is to get used to living with it". He offered to prescribe me antidepressants - ones that have side effects of causing suicidal thoughts and actions... Yay. I was already pretty depressed. One other person I knew who had the same sort of issues, killed himself a couple of years ago. I'm honestly not really surprised, the despair and hopelessness could be overwhelming at times. Sometimes I just cried and wished I could just somehow disappear without hurting my friends and family.
The 2nd doctor I saw said a certain drug "might" help, but doesn't always (or even often) work, and that it has side effects that include Cancer and lymphoma... Almost every story I'd read on the internet about people who had my symptoms was about how they'd bounced from doctor to doctor, doing test after test, trying this and that medication, all the while, nothing got better.
I built my art career around being a passionate, motivated, energetic person willing to do whatever it takes to make my dreams happen. And I did! I was working full time as an artist within 3 years of painting my first painting. I started a line of products with my designs. People all over the world were following my art, and telling me how it inspired them, or motivated them. Before my IBS-D started I felt so positive! I was moving forward, loving life, and working 10-12-16 hours a day building my future and following my passion, every day.
So, I was totally thrilled when I FINALLY found something, a diet, that actually helped. For me it's been the keto diet. I won't go into the details of it here, Google can help if you want to know more, but I started my keto diet at the end of September. I started to feel a bit better within days. About 2-3 weeks after I started it, in mid October, all my symptoms finally went away. I'm SOOOOOO grateful to be feeling like my old self again!
You might have noticed I've been releasing a lot of new art and products lately. That's 100% because I'm feeling better again! Now I wake up with a plan for the day, and I make it happen (usually anyway lol <see my sense of humor is back too!). I don't forget what I need to get done,and getting it done is exciting again instead of feeling 10x harder and slower than it should with brain fog. And let me tell you a secret - I still have even more new art ready, and more new T-shirts, and other cool stuff coming soon too! I'm planning some big things for 2019, I hope you'll be following along.
If you've read this far I want to thank you for being part of my journey. At my lowest points, the people who follow my art were always at the front of my mind. Continuing to create art and share it,and get positive feedback from so many people really kept me going. It gave me a mission that I was dedicated to even when I felt like giving up sometimes. The fact so many people are inspired and motivated by what I do, inspires and motivates me. It feels like a feedback loop that gets more powerful the more we all put into it.
One new way I've created for people who feel inspired to contribute to that loop is to become a supporting patron. It's simple to become a supporting patron of my art, just set up a monthly donation of as little as $5 a month. There's some cool sign up perks, and every month all supporting patrons will have a chance to win an awesome free gift! This month it's one of my classy & elegant "Tidal Resonance" etched granite tiles (pictured bellow).
So for 2019, now that I'm feeling way better, I look forward to putting the best, healthy version of myself and my art out there again this coming year. And I hope I can again be a person who inspires you to be the best version of yourself too. In 2019, whatever challenges you face, don't give up hope. I must have read hundreds of pages of info about IBS-D, and only came across keto diet as a solution after almost 3 years of searching. A huge positive change could be just around the corner for you too! I wish you the best for the upcoming year, and thanks again for following along on my creative journey!