A Quick Debunk: Antidepressants Don’t Cause Depression Relapse, Going Off Them Does

(This post was originally meant for Facebook, but it got long.)

One argument I’ve seen against antidepressants is:

In a study that looked at subjects’ mental health 6 months after a previous 4-month long study comparing the effects of antidepressants vs exercise vs. both, those who remitted during the study (remitted = depression became sub-clinical) were more likely to have relapsed 6 months later if they were in the antidepressant group… Therefore, those who take antidepressants to treat their depression are more likely to relapse. Right?


Having looked at the abstract of the study, I offer a different explanation.

Those on antidepressants for the study stopped taking antidepressants after the 4 month study was over.

Those who got into the habit of exercising over the course of those 4 months continued exercising.

Therefore, the exercising group was still treating it to some extent with exercise. The antidepressant group was no longer treating their depression.

It’s really quite easy to read the four paragraph abstract of a study, my friends. The two-page article perpetuating a basic misunderstanding took you longer to skim through than it would take to debunk it in its entirety.

Not that I have any love for antidepressants (my main memory of being on them is punching my mother to avoid taking them because I hated it), but they are a legitimate and safe form of treating depression. In fact, they are sometimes essential – especially when one has no healthy coping mechanisms to deal with the depression as of yet.

I treat my depression with exercise, nutrition, and healthy coping mechanisms NOW – but when I was on antidepressants, it was because exercise and nutrition were not helping enough. I didn’t have healthy coping mechanisms developed, nor could I develop them in the mental state I was in. Similarly, my husband was still depressed even during the times where he was exercising most (though it was markedly less severe, from what he tells me). Things might change, making antidepressants unnecessary for him in the future. In the meantime he and I are both active, eat nutritious food, and make a practice of happiness so that if that time comes there’s a good foundation to build off of.

Source: http://journals.lww.com/psychosomaticmedicine/Abstract/2000/09000/Exercise_Treatment_for_Major_Depression_.6.aspx

MiniMonday: Cookbooks and Crappy Pans

I love to cook. In fact, most of what my husband and I eat is prepared by me in our tiny kitchen. But with a tiny kitchen, I barely have room for anything!

As little as we seem to have, the kitchen is piled higher and deeper on most surfaces with clean dishes, gizmos in use, food, spices, cutting boards… It’s a perpetual mess!

Because of this, I’ve been fairly strict about how much has been allowed into my kitchen. I’ve thrown out old dishes when we got new ones and I’ve gotten rid of gizmos I hardly use (which, surprisingly, didn’t just include the one-purpose-wonder yonanas machine; I got rid of the blender too!).

Still, one ‘necessary’ part of my kitchen has still been stored in the bedroom half of our beloved “cute studio flat” (cough tiny one-room-attic):


In the nearly six and a half months that I’ve been married, I’ve moved these from countertop to microwave-top to our bookshelf by the bed. I’ve flipped through them, but when it’s time to cook I almost always reach for my phone… and through it, the internet wherein resides all of the food knowledge of the universe. I also very rarely use recipes at all.

So today, they went in the donation box. So did my recipe cards.

There’s a few recipes I’d love to retrieve from my family and record, but my cookbooks are pretty generic. The Better Homes cookbook I have isn’t the one my dad scribbled all over as he perfected his snickerdoodle recipe. My great-grandma’s pickled beets and o’henry bars can’t be found between the covers.

On another note, the secondhand pans I’ve been using for the last six months have started peeling Teflon. I threw away my trusty little saucepan… and I bought a cheap cast iron skillet! Who knew that Walmart would carry made-in-the-USA pre-seasoned cast iron? I didn’t. I was surprised at how non-stick iron could be. I’ll be replacing my soup pot soon too… someone used a metal implement to scrape the sides. Any suggestions? I think a cast iron pot would break our stove.

So… What have you been doing to declutter on your journey toward minimalism? Your challenge this week is to look at your books again. You may have gotten rid of some, but are there others that you rarely if ever use, and could easily do without/switch to an electronic copy? then get rid of them. 🙂

MiniMonday: The Donation Adventure

Now that I’m living in a “cute” (read: small) apartment, the desire and urgency of going minimalist with my possessions has increased. Despite this, it’s very easy to look around and ignore the clutter that threatens to choke me as it builds.

Having taken some steps to avoid further clutter (mostly a stringent avoidance of shopping for things other than food and digital educational products), I’m left to the adventure of reducing what I’ve reduced of what I’ve reduced. Why? Well, because I still don’t use most of what I have and what I don’t use is crowding me out.

PLUS, all the things that I’ve pulled out of the cabinets and drawers to get rid of have been sitting by the front door waiting for me to take  them to DI to donate.

So I decided to actually take things to DI, instead of thinking about taking them.

Before taking them, I grabbed a big box and filled it with things I don’t use from my kitchen. I actively avoided using my magic-bullet-esque blender and refused to use any recipe that required blending because I hated the darn thing. So that went. Then the next thing, and the next. When I finished, my cupboards were a good deal less overflowing and the box was looking a little dilapidated.

Then into the suitcase it all went, and down the two flights of stairs to the porch, and across the lawn to the bus stop. I will forever maintain that the only way to effectively transport a large amount of stuff on the bus system is in a rolling suitcase.

When I reached DI, it immediately became apparent that people showing up with suitcases full of stuff was abnormal, to say the least. The contents were unloaded and I left behind a bemused but unharmed drive-thru crew. Then into DI I went to get the screen we’ve needed for our desktop computer. I had to insist that I brought the suitcase with me at the checkout desk, as somehow they hadn’t noticed me rolling it in, and then I got back on the bus and reached home…

Where more clutter was waiting.

‘Tis a little discouraging.

So, my challenge to you and me this week is to fill another box of stuff AND get it out the door! Persistence will get us closer to being unburdened by the unnecessary amount of stuff that crowds out our lives. One day my home will have a place for everything and space to spare, instead of stacked and stuffed belongings. The change will be slow, but slow and steady wins the race.

Vegetarian Isn’t the Only Answer: I Eat MEAT.

This morning, walking across campus, I was handed a flier. It was a bit of vegetarian propaganda, and I’ve read it all before. In fact, I share most of their premises. However, I don’t agree with their conclusion.

Yes, it is possible to live without meat. Yes, you can get every nutrient you would get from meat from somewhere else (even an analog of B12, from tempeh and other fungus-y foods or from a supplement). Yes, how animals are treated in factory farms is completely inhumane. And yes, factory farm meat and eggs make me QUITE sick.

However, that doesn’t mean that vegetarian eating is better for you than other clean eating plans out there. The only advantage it has is that soybeans and a tempeh starter are way cheaper than grass-fed beef, pastured eggs, etc. Eating lots of raw veggies, nuts and fruits is great for you! But that doesn’t make high-quality meat BAD.

I personally have experienced how my body reacts to different meats now that I get the majority of my protein from eggs, lentils, and protein-heavy vegetables. Cheap chicken from the supermarket makes me feel sick. I can’t bring myself to eat it any more; the smell makes me retch. However, high quality beef from a local farm tastes good and feels good in my stomach. I crave more when I eat it (even though I feel bursting after a few bites! Meat is heavy in the tummy). Even eggs have to be chosen with care, and I pay at least $3/doz. in the supermarket because cheap battery eggs make me feel very sick. I prefer to get them from a nearby chicken keeper in season (did you know eggs have a season?) because I can get very high-quality eggs.

Perhaps going vegetarian would improve the health of someone who had previously been eating the SAD diet. Perhaps it would improve the health of the average person simply because the average person doesn’t get the wide range of nutrients they need in their diet. Personally, I like good meat when I get it.


p.s. : I didn’t address the “meat has saturated fat in it” argument because of this:


The evidence is mounting that saturated fat is not only AWESOME for you, but also completely necessary in a healthy diet. Vegetarians get saturated fat from nuts, seeds, coconut oil, etc, and people not on a low fat diet get it from dairy, meat, eggs, nuts, seeds, coconut oil, lard (yum!), suet, etc. Poor low fat diet people, never feeling full and starving their brains… My husband and I literally take coconut oil and slather it on multigrain bread and eat it. He seems to think it’s the best thing since sliced bread. Butter is also awesome. Strangely expensive, but awesome.

Fermenting Adventures: Yogurt Made Easy

I started making yogurt last fall, when my mom bought live culture Greek yogurt from Costco. I’d heard it could be made at home, and I’d done some research into fermenting, so I tried it.

In case you didn’t know, I’m definitely a do-it-myself girl. But I also tend to eat the food in the fridge before making something new. There was half a gallon of newly-bought beautiful Greek yogurt in the fridge. There was only one problem:

The darn yogurt was fat free. This isn’t my fat rant, though, so I’ll just say that the right fat is good for you and milkfat is one of those good fats.

I wasn’t touching fat free anything. Fat free products are, to put it mildly, gross. The yogurt was live culture, though! So I looked up a recipe, scalded some milk, measured the temperature, cooled it correctly, plopped in a dollop of Greek yogurt, stirred, incubated in the oven, strained, and finally had yummy yogurt.

Just thinking of all that effort makes me feel tired. Making yogurt was hard work!

So I stopped making it.

Then I heard about this thing called an heirloom culture. Properly cared for, no other new starter needs to be bought for… Well, ever.

Except yogurt was still too much effort. I tried a couple of experiments with from-scratch yogurt starters, but didn’t make any serious yogurt to eat and nothing really worked because I was too lazy to go through the above tiresome process.

THEN I heard about mesophilic yogurt. There’s next to no effort on my part to make it. I bought an heirloom starter for Caspian Sea yogurt, and started making some.

First batch: totally liquid. But there’s a secret that yogurt has. Freeze-dried starters tend to have the first generation turn out looking like nothing happened… but the milk is still cultured. So I slopped some in my next batch of (still scalded and cooled) milk, set it up in a warm nest in the cabinet, and left it overnight.


Since then I’ve come to a realization: I don’t have to scald the milk. This makes making mesophilic yogurt the easiest thing on this planet.

1- pour milk (half & half if you want it really thick and less tart) into jar
2- put jar in microwave for long enough to make milk warm
3- put starter in warm milk; stir
4- put lid on jar; put jar in warm place (or a nest of hot packs, if it’s coldish in your house)
5- wait 12 hours; put yogurt in fridge when it no longer sloshes.

Oh, and….

6 – eat.

Yep. That is how much effort I’m putting into my yogurt right now.

I’m ready to try some experiments, so my effort level will probably skyrocket, but in case you thought making yogurt was hard: it’s not.

Have fun making your yogurt!

Minimalism: The Shoes.

So I’m a barefooter.

Footwear doesn’t get much more minimalist than that.

However, occasionally I must or should wear shoes. I met a lot of disapproval in school when barefoot but didn’t care. I meet none at church from my peers, but my mom showed intense disapproval in that same situation. Barefoot hiking is surely awesome, but the ROCKY in “Rocky Mountains” isn’t a figure of speech. Hiking barefoot in the Salt Lake Valley is uncomfortable, to say the least.

In case you don’t know the benefits of going barefoot, read here to begin some research:


For when I cannot or should not be barefoot, there are minimalist shoes. To sum up a lot of information as to why barefootness/minimalist shoes are preferable:

– arch support = BAD.

– squished toes = BAD.

– heel drop (the shoe holding your heel higher than your toes) = BAD.

– heel padding = BAD.

Your arch is meant to support itself. Imagine if you put your arm in a sling and left it there for years. When you tried to use it again, it would be weak and possibly even painful to use it because it had atrophied. You could be more likely to injure it, and a physical therapist’s guidance in rebuilding strength safely might be recommended. The same goes for your arches. If you’ve been wearing shoes for years, especially shoes with arch support, your arch has atrophied and is weaker than it needs to be to support your weight and help you balance and walk correctly.

Toes are meant to splay, working in sync with your arch to help you balance and walk correctly. Shoes deform feet by squishing toes together, similarly to chinese foot-binding. Thankfully, the damage is nowhere near as extensive. However, it still throws off balance and proper alignment. This leads to various joint pains and injuries. Squished toes prevent the proper strengthening of the arch. Common misconceptions in favor of arch support have arisen because of cases where footwear with squished toes and no arch support led to fallen arches.

Heel drop aggravates the issues caused by both arch support and squished toes, but brings its own set of problems. Knee, hip, lower back, upper back, and neck issues are all often caused by shoes where your heel is higher than your toes. This includes but is not limited to heels. Mens’ professional shoes, tennis shoes, and really most conventional shoes all have various amounts of heel drop. For some people, less than 5 mm is little enough drop that they don’t mind. I insist on ZERO drop,  because even a few millimeters is enough to give this 18-year-old the knees of an old woman. Shoes with heel drop also encourage heel-striking when walking or running, which is a leading cause of running injuries.

Heel padding also encourages heel-striking by removing the main incentive to not do it. Have you ever tried heel-striking while walking barefoot? It HURTS! A heel strike is when your heel hits the ground first while walking or running. Heel striking injures or strains the body whether or not you have padding to protect your heel when you do it, and yet I distinctly remember my eighth grade gym teacher instructing me to heel-strike! I obeyed, and that semester of school encompasses all of the most painful running experiences I’ve ever had. Personally, I prefer no padding at all in my shoes, but my KSO Treks do have a bit and my Lems are a bit squishy. Both pairs of shoes are still zero drop, so I don’t tend to heel-strike in either, but the padding still drives me nuts and messes with my alignment because I can’t feel the ground.

If this is your first exposure to the idea of minimalist footwear, I encourage you to make it your obsession for a little while to learn more. Maybe even pick up a transition-friendly minimalist shoe. Or just go barefoot more often around the house.

I might not be a total minimalist yet, but I’ve got the footwear down pat. My feet do get sore, even swollen and tired and achy, but my knees and hips are no longer in constant pain. I’ve had significantly less back pain (and now that I think about it, fewer headaches) since I’ve made the transition to living mostly barefoot, wearing minimalist shoes when necessary.

And yes, I love feeling the (dirty, uneven, sometimes hard and sometimes luscious) ground beneath my feet.

Open Letter to Brandon, a Stranger: “No, not all of it was right.”


Last Saturday, I was on a hike with my sister. We talked about many topics near and dear to our hearts, and at one point Attachment Parenting came up. I was explaining the studies that give it credibility, and why parents chose to raise their children with AP as their guide despite cultural backlash.

Attachment Parenting is based off of Attachment Theory. Attachment Theory states that in order for a human to feel secure, happy and loved they must have close, loving, and trusting relationships with the other humans closest to them. There are many books on it now, but the classic which stands above the rest is Ashley Montagu’s Touching: The Human Significance of the Skin. Most of AP is applied in the first few years in order to build a stable, strong parent/child relationship for later childhood and teenage years.

A lot of research went into Montagu’s book, both in the realm of psychology and culture. Decades of discoveries made in science which had been hitherto largely ignored (and are still today) by the westernized world about the need human beings have for touch through their entire lives, especially in infancy, are illuminated in his book. His book became foundational in the emergence of Attachment Parenting, which most associate with Dr. and Mrs. Sears’ The Attachment Parenting Book.

In my studies of AP, I have come to an understanding of the way common parenting solutions such as letting children ‘cry it out’ create certain traceable insecurities in later life. The lines are clear to me, and Attachment Parenting rings true. Supporting science is nice, but completely unnecessary for me at this point.

As I explained to my sister about the basics of AP and the psychology behind it, a man nearby in the hot pools interrupted.

“You turned out alright though, didn’t you?”

I stopped mid-sentence, a little baffled that a stranger had been listening in.

“Your parents didn’t use it and you turned out alright, right?”

I had no idea how to respond. Yes; my parents didn’t use Attachment Parenting. Yes, I consider myself a pretty ok person all around, and yes my parents are wonderful parents who raised me well.

I shrugged. “Yeah, I guess,” I answered, but in my mind I knew that I could say more.

“Sometimes people rely too much on what science says is better,” he concluded with finality.

What should I have said?

“Yeah, I turned out alright. I lived through seven years of suicidal depression; it still haunts me and I have scars to this day. I’m lucky, I found a friend who stayed by my side the day I would have drowned myself. I’m blessed; I had a reason to live last year when the knife in my closet beckoned all summer. Someone I love made me promise not to hurt myself any more years ago. He held me in his arms while I cried when I had been taught from the time I was a toddler that no one wanted to see my tears. He gave me his love even when I was weak, when I had believed that I wasn’t worth loving unless I was always strong. I’m blessed with memories of listening to my mom cry through the bathroom door when I was barely old enough to imagine her not being perfect, and I remember the need to go hold her in my arms. I was given opportunities to relearn some of the things that misguided discipline styles had taught me before I could speak fluently. I was able to be that shoulder to cry on to many whom I loved, and I learned that everyone needed that comfort.”

No, I don’t believe that depression should be the norm. Sadness and discouragement come and go, but I believe that our culture’s practices in child-rearing and lifelong interpersonal relationships blow it out of proportion by creating insecure, emotionally unhealthy adults. Yes, I believe my parents did their best and they were good parents. Yeah, I turned out allright.

But no, not all of it was right. It is each new generation’s duty to improve upon the knowledge of the prior generation. Attachment Parenting isn’t perfect, but it’s several steps in the right direction to make that improvement. I believe our world would be a better place if it were the norm. I believe more people would be emotionally healthy, interdependent in the right ways, and secure in their lives.

And sometimes, science gives us the arrow pointing the right direction when we’ve forgotten what people outside of westernized societies know and do instinctively.

MiniMonday: Books & Pitfall #2: Selling Worthless Stuff

Last week I challenged you to take one area and declutter it, beginning (or continuing) your journey toward minimalism.

I decluttered one bookshelf. Well, mostly. There was other stuff on the shelf besides books; I focused on the books. I would have made it through the whole book case, but I’m storing books that aren’t mine and there’s no room in the family library at the moment.

(Yes, my family has a small library. It was once larger, but then Kindles happened. Suddenly paper books were optional, so we started getting rid of them.)

Ok, so that’s not my only excuse. I hit pitfall # 2 this week.

Selling things which are essentially useless is a fruitless task. If your goal is to get rid of stuff, I would advise just donating it. If it’s worth less than ten dollars, it is for the trash or charity.

The pile of books I’m getting rid of is three feet high outside my bedroom door instead of gone, because I decided that a genius idea would be to try to sell them online for $1 each. Four or five of them would probably sell in a month, maybe more over several yard sales. As it is, thirty books which I have no intention of ever reading or re-reading are not gone.

There are things which I own that are worth something, which I do intend to sell at some point. However, used books are rarely items of value. Several months ago I bought a copy of Ashley Montagu’s classic, Touching: The Human Significance of the Skin, which revolutionized how we understand the physical and psychological development of humans as social mammals. It was in beautiful condition.

I paid less than a dollar, including shipping.

The fact is, some things just have no monetary value. Piled outside my bedroom door are books which have immense entertainment or educational value to those who peruse their pages, but I won’t make a dime off them. Any books which are worth a dime are not in my to-get-rid-of pile.

My internet ads will be removed and the books donated very soon. I just want them gone.

Divergent Trilogy Rant

-spoiler alert for the intuitive-

I just finished reading Allegiant, the final book of the Divergent trilogy.

Again, about halfway through I knew the big plot twist at the end.

Only a master author can keep me reading through a dystopian tragedy from start to finish, even knowing the ending and that my heart would be played, broken, crushed to dust, then glued together again.

Veronica Roth is just such an author. She molded my thoughts and emotions like clay and brought me to empathize with both the good and the ‘bad’ characters (but not the evil ones). Then, miraculously, she wove a hopeful resolution even out of such a broken story without compromising its integrity.

Though her foreshadowing was obvious to me, being familiar with fiction novels’ tropes, it was skilfully and subtly woven through the story. Readers will find themselves drawn forward into the mysterious future with every heartbeat of the book, then it climaxes – and after the dust settles, they realize that the ending was inevitable all along.

I hoped against hope it wasn’t true, fought every bit of foreshadowing all the way to the climax. I focused on the moral dilemmas presented and the world dynamic, anything to no longer engage with the characters. Still, I was enthralled in her spell. The journey, conflict, emotions and questions filled my mind and heart and I was drawn back into the characters.

Now, I am left grieving but filled with hope and peace. Allegiant’s final pages turn us toward the future. Nothing – I repeat, NOTHING – could have consoled me in the middle of each book or even between books. However, Roth’s artful finishing pages bring both resolution and a message: The pain doesn’t stop existing, and the past never disappears, but time brings healing and it’s ok to heal. The ending to the series is bittersweet but remarkably beautiful. Roth’s fictional world, like our real one, moves forward with hope for a better tomorrow.

That being said, I will never in my life ever again read anything written by Veronica Roth. Been there, done that, it hurt a lot, I’m feeling better. I don’t want to go through that again.

Pfft. Who am I kidding? I will be watching for more writing from Veronica Roth, and I will probably also be following her blog ( http://veronicarothbooks.blogspot.com/ ) in hopes to learn how she crafts such a tight plot and such full, emotional characters. She strikes me as an author after my own heart.

Reading fiction is painful.

MiniMonday: Pitfall #1, The Marathon Declutter

While I am most certainly not “minimalist” yet, my history of decluttering began a long time ago. I saw a spider in my room, climbing out of a pile of various objects which I had cast thoughtlessly upon my bedroom chair.

Spiders are NOT allowed in my room.

The next three days were spent removing everything from my room, vacuuming every crack and crevice in my room (even the underside of my bookshelf). Only two thirds of my stuff made it back into my room. The next year, the spider scene repeated. The next, we replaced my carpet with laminate flooring. I’ve done my fair share of marathon decluttering.

I do NOT advise this approach under normal circumstances. Ever.  If you have a situation where you MUST remove everything from a room, then feel free to be choosy about what makes it back in. However, setting out to completely declutter one room in one big marathon is a recipe for burnout.

Yes, I succeeded three years in a row under extenuating circumstances. Yes, I did in fact get rid of a lot of crap that I didn’t want anymore.

The fourth year I attempted it, I thought I would make a preemptive strike against the spiders and kick start my progress toward my minimalist goals.

Three previous successes should have given me some drive and confidence, right? No. I burned out a couple of hours in, and then had to somehow motivate myself to get everything back into my room. My solution was simple: All of my stuff moved back where it was.

That’s right, I didn’t get rid of anything at all.

It is much better to get rid of things consistently, a little bit at a time, focusing on one area at a time.

 This week, I will be picking one area to declutter. I encourage you to do the same. Maybe you have a pile of books you’ve never read and probably never will. I know I do! It’s time to let them go. Start small with me, we’ll get there together. 🙂