I didn’t want to get out of bed, but I had to. I had to go to work, which, for me, on this particular day, meant walking 10 feet to my desk and opening up my laptop. The alarm on my phone had just gone off, so I knew it was 5 AM.
By sheer force of will, I got out of bed and started my day. The previous day was the same as the one before it and the one before it and so on. But the tedium wasn’t the worst of it, the worst of it was that I had spent all of the previous day (and countless ones before it) angry, sad, and frustrated. And I knew that this day was going to be the same.
I didn’t enjoy life. I didn’t enjoy anything. I didn’t know it at that moment, but in a little while, I would realize that I was depressed. And I had been depressed for a while.
My job wasn’t particularly stressful, but it was unchallenging enough to make me dread it. I was also coming off a failed business start, one that I had spent way too many hours on over the past 10 months, so I was feeling like a particularly huge failure.
I don’t know what was different about that day, but a couple of hours after I started work, I came to an emotional crossroads. Sitting there, I decided I had two choices, I could either give up or I could change something.
I couldn’t give up, because I had a family to support. So I really only had one choice, and that was to change something. Sitting there, at my desk, with my head resting in my hands, I decided…and this may sound odd to someone who can’t relate, but I decided to change the most immediate and fundamental thing I could. I was going to change what I eat, and I was going to get back to being ketogenic.
I had tried the ketogenic lifestyle before, but without any real determination or discipline. I decided that day that I was going to go all in, total commitment. I had read enough to know that a ketogenic lifestyle could help with emotional stability. So I got up and made some coffee.
Keep in mind, I hate coffee. I’ve never liked it. I still don’t like it.
The only way I would ever drink coffee, before this particular day, was if it was flavored, sugared, disguised, and distinctly un-coffee flavored. But this day I decided to go a different route.
I put 3 tablespoons of unsalted, grass-fed butter and three tablespoons of coconut oil in the cup with the coffee. This is commonly known as “bulletproof” coffee (BPC). I stirred the concoction with a spoon in order to mix things up a little (I found out later that lots of people blend their BPC to mix everything better. I’m not a blenderer. I just used a spoon…still do.
I went back to my desk and waited for the coffee to cool. I drank my fat-laden coffee as I went about my morning work. I don’t eat much for breakfast; even when I wasn’t keto, I didn’t eat much for breakfast. This morning was no different. When I finished my drink, I returned the empty cup to the kitchen and went back to my desk.
And then something strange started to happen. About an hour later, I felt…well, the most accurate word I could use to describe how I felt would be: euphoric. At first, I thought it was the caffeine that was hyping me up, but that wasn’t it. I’d had coffee before, the sugared, flavored, version, but never felt like this. Remember, an hour earlier, I was rolling around in the pits of despair. I went from very low to very happy. The only thing that was different was the fat that I put in the coffee. I was suddenly motivated, energetic, and, like I said, happy.
And I decided I wanted more of that feeling.
For lunch, I ate eggs cooked in butter, and some full-fat cheese. For dinner, I ate meat.
I went to sleep that night feeling good, still. And I woke up feeling good. And I repeated that simple process for the next several days. I had BPC, eggs, and meat. Every day. Oh, and bacon.
And I continued to feel good. The more fat I ate, the happier I felt. I enjoyed having energy. I didn’t loathe getting out of bed. I just started to enjoy life.
Let me put some things into perspective. At the time I was at a point where I didn’t leave my house unless I absolutely had to. On days when I would work from home, when my work day was finished, I would just sit in my chair and stare at the television. I wasn’t really watching the television, because I didn’t care. When I had to go to the office to work, I didn’t interact with coworkers unless I had to.
I just didn’t want to be around people; I didn’t want to leave the house; I didn’t want to do anything.
Carbs, processed carbs, in particular, do strange things to people’s brains, affecting neural pathways that can exacerbate the symptoms of depression. By switching your fuel to fat, by eating keto, you will change those affected neural pathways. An analogy that I heard a neurologist use was that burning fat as fuel means your brain is burning a cleaner, more efficient fuel. So that helps adjust your brain and normalize hormone balances. (As a point of interest, Dr. Rif El-Mallakh, of the University of Louisville School of Medicine is currently doing clinical trials to test the effectiveness of keto on depression. I’ll report on his findings when I get the information.)
After three days on keto, I had completely reversed my deep-seated apathy. I didn’t hate the idea of talking to people. I didn’t hate the idea of leaving the house. I didn’t hate the idea of living life.
I was released. I was free. I had energy.
I had hope.
Depression is no joke. It’s serious. It’s also affects approximately 3 million people every year, just in the US. Of course, depression has a lot variables and degrees.
But I can say, from my numerous conversations with other folks, one of the primary ways to start combating depression is what you eat. If you know someone who is depressed, I’d ask you to offer the opportunity to them to change their food to keto. It helps.
It helps, maybe, when nothing else will.
SIDENOTE: In the US, the National Suicide Prevention hotline is 1 (800) 273-8255 and the website is www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org