In this Episode of Love your Diagnosis, I talk with Kate Mckintosh about her diagnosis of treatment resistance depression, anxiety and pmdd (pre menstral dysphoric disorder) which is a really, really bad version of PMS that leaves women with severe feelings of anxiety and depression which happen cycle after cycle and generally become part of a life that can be void of joy.
In this episode we unpack how Kate was existing in and outside of her diagnosis for many years. From denial and using drugs and alcohol to cope to being alcohol and drug free and finding acceptance of her diagnosis within understanding what pmdd is and does.
She has also found one of nature's medicine's to assist her, microdosing psilocybin, as one of her treatments and claims that "life has never been better".
For Kate the combo of pharmies, meditation, yoga and microdosing has changed her life.
Listen on for all the gold in Kate's account of her journey. Links at the bottom to research things further
To find out some ways you can look at using traditional plants as part of your wellness journey particularly for brain enhancing herbs click on the link below
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A little side note:
These shows are meant to create food for thought for people going through similar situations. Planting seeds of information about things that perhaps you never knew could and might assist in treating and managing the symptoms associated with your diagnosis.
Alternative treatments are out there to be used, alongside allopathic medicine, or instead of.
That part is completely up to you, but gaining knowledge is the first part in empowering yourself back to health.
I really hope you get some good ol' nuggets of info from these interviews so you can go and start researching yourself and perhaps even start experimenting on the treatment that feels right for you instead of just letting someone else direct your health decisions.
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LINKS TO MORE INFO:
So I'm very excited to talk with Kate today because for so many reasons, but, you know, particularly exploring her diagnosis. So welcome, Kate. How you doing?
Hi, Lainie. I'm good. Thank you.
Good. Let's just jump straight into it. So with the question of, What have you been diagnosed with in your life? And how long ago, and just a brief description of ones that perhaps aren't as common?
Okay, so I have been diagnosed with anxiety, acute anxiety, and also with treatment resistant depression. I've also been diagnosed with PMDD. What does that stand for? That's a really good question. It stands for premenstrual dysphoric disorder. So there's a thing called P Ma, which is really just the combination of having depression, or some kind of mental health
diagnosis in combination with the PMDD. So let's just leave that one out. So yes, I've got PMDD and treatment resistant depression, and anxiety.
Okay, let's focus today a little bit more on the anxiety in the treatment resistant depression, because that's an interesting thing in itself being that, as I understand it, there's nothing that can actually fix this for you in a doctor's mind. Is that Is that correct?
Yeah, that that's how they were approaching that. And that's why it got that label, treatment resistant. Before that, it was just depression. Yeah, I ended up seeing a psychiatrist and I think that's who gave me that particular label. How old are you now if you don't mind sharing that? Okay. So I'm 43. And these problems started?
Well, I had a panic attack my first panic attack when I was 11. Yeah, so I really think all of these issues have been with me, pretty much my whole adult life.
And when you were younger, and you had the panic attacks, did you just was it was it acknowledged by family as being something maybe that was something that would have to be addressed? Or was it just like maybe looked at as a quirk,
I guess it was looked at as a quirk what the thing is, with my first panic attack, it came when my it was actually the night of my father's wedding to his new wife. So my parents had recently been divorced. So it was trauma related. The first panic attack I had, I suppose. It was a very emotional time. So but in terms of me being anxious, in my family, that was just a characteristic. I mean, I was a very happy child. I don't think in my early childhood, there were any issues whatsoever. I think it probably started when my parents got divorced. And you were young? Yeah. Nine. So I was 11. And then,
yeah, I really relate to that, Kate, because I, that's when my old my trauma started as well, when my parents got divorced at 14 to that's when the symptoms of epilepsy start. I can really relate to that. So trauma, so to everyone, it's just so different. And some people experience trauma from small things, and some from really large things. Yeah, I would call myself a highly sensitive person. I would call you that to cage. But that's, that's why we love you because you're beautiful, original, authentic, sensitive.
So okay, so what age were you then when you felt like you needed to go to a doctor about this?
Well, I'm just trying to think back to when that was. I was probably my late teens. It really started to flag as you know, this is an issue. It's a little bit tricky to unravel the PMDD from the depression because it's very, very linked. Basically, it yet overlaps. But to answer your question,
I would have been about 18. Just for those that aren't familiar with PMDD. How does that relate into the depression? I've had issues with ongoing depression in my
Life. However, with the PMDD, it basically means that for about 50% of each month, or maybe 60, or 70% of each month, you are really coloured by this disorder. And it's a it is a mood disorder. So any depression that's already there, obviously becomes exasperated for that period of time. So yeah, it's a bit like being two different people.
And a Gemini as well. Yeah.
So you're like four different people?
Exactly. Yeah. So it took me quite some time to,
to understand what was really going on, I guess, and not to identify myself as this problem, which, yeah, it actually took quite a long time to get it diagnosed. There really isn't not a lot of awareness of PMDD. So yeah, you know, it was just like, Oh, you've just got bad PMS. These days, it's become more widely widely recognised.
Okay, so, so when you were when you're a teenager, and in your early 20s, and you're dealing with this depression, that that you're not quite sure? Are you still trying to work out what it is? Were you in a bit of denial around it? Like, so Were you doing things in your life that was adding to it like, partying? ,
yeah, absolutely. I was, which made it a lot more confusing. And I mean, I have the tendency to blame myself for everything that's wrong. So that was happening, too.
So was it drugs and alcohol that you turned to to try and sort of not have to feel this?
Just to level myself out? I think, yes, drugs and alcohol, were definitely a big part of my youth. I won't say regrettably.
But I almost feel that way. But I definitely think that, yeah, my diagnosis had a lot to do with that.
A lot to do with which part, um, with choosing that path of drugs and alcohol from a young age, so you went into that denial period where you're like, I don't want to even know about this diagnosis. So I'm just gonna kind of get shit faced.
I didn't really have a diagnosis for a good while. But yeah, I definitely knew something wasn't quite right. And then I basically blamed it on myself and the drugs and alcohol. I thought that's what the problem was.
So when did you start to experiment with different things, considering you weren't getting the diagnosis at this stage? You know, how many years of this? Did you actually blame yourself before you took that step and just went, you know what, something is? Absolutely not right here. And I don't think it's me. And I don't think it's the drugs and alcohol.
Um, look, I was about 21. And, you know, I'd been to several doctors, and I'd kind of had enough, you know, it was in the early days of the Internet, too. So I didn't have that much reference from that. Yeah. So I'd been to several doctors, and they kept saying the same thing. And I really, yeah, had had enough. And I wanted, I wanted answers,
what sort of tests did they ran at the time to try and get these answers for you?
So in terms of testing, I had the Bloods, and they test my hormone levels, and that would always come back as completely 100% Fine, which is what confused the doctors so much. And then, you know, it would just be, I would just be told you have depression, you know, and anxiety. I finally got the diagnosis with the PMDD, around 20 to 21. And then it all sort of made a lot more sense.
Okay. So things are starting to make sense. Did they put you automatically on medication was that what was the prognosis?
I mean, I was put on medication around the age of 21. For my depression, they pretty much told me there's nothing that I could do about my PMDD except, try. You know, herbes like chaste tree Berry and you know, lifestyle changes, which I did, and I also tried progesterone cream and yeah, I tried everything you know, that I could possibly try for that.
What are some of the lifestyle changes that they wanted you to look at at the time?
More vitamin B. It really was a long time ago, Lainie, I'm trying to remember.
Did they know you were drinking and things like that?
No, no, you know, like, they don't they don't ask those questions, which is ridiculous. I look, I think some of them did. No, I don't remember having a solid doctor that I really could go to. So I'd see, you know, a bunch of different doctors. You know, I ended up on the Gold Coast. You know, I live in Byron Bay, but I ended up getting sent up there for specialist. Yeah, I'm not sure if it was a specialist. But anyway, no one could kind of help for a while.
And from other interviews that I've done to like, so many people say that if, if you if if you're going through this, and you can't find a doctor that you trust, it makes it so much worse. And obviously, if you're getting thrown from Doctor to doctor, and no one's being able to help you that actually makes you feel even more shit, that something's wrong with you. Because you know, these professionals are not coming up with the answers for you. So it does take, it takes a bit of time, I guess to find the right person. Did you find the right person eventually?
Yeah, look, I do have a doctor now who I've stuck with, and that I work with this on. But yeah, I've tried other doctors recently and kind of gone. Ah, nah. I mean, to be clear, I guess when you're talking about my diagnosis, I start leaning towards the PMDD. Because that's what I see as the biggest problem in my life. But yeah, just to clarify what we're talking about, whether it's the depression or the PMDD, it's, yeah, it's a funny one, because it's two separate things, but it's not, you know, they overlap.
I guess it's whatever symptoms you display with is the same with a lot of people with different diagnose diagnosis is, you know, like, let's say, particularly like chronic fatigue, is that coming from a thyroid thing? Or is it coming from something else? Or, you know, there's lots of things that do overlap and, and comorbidities that kind of play the part. Interesting, though. I mean, you believe you know that you've had anxiety and depression all your life. So that's not a comorbidity of this PMDD. It sounds like it's all interrelated, as you say. Yeah. So how so you have you been on medication, basically, for 20 something years? Or have you had breaks?
I got put on antidepressant medication when I was 22. Yes, so I stayed on that medication for maybe a year. And then I went off the medication, and wasn't on medication for a long period of time, until I was in my late 30s. After I'd had children, I got put back on to antidepressants at that point. And yeah, and I'm still on medication now. And I'm 43.
Now I know, I know a bit about your story. So I know where to lead this interview a little bit, because I know that you've always questioned whether you want to be on antidepressants, they kind of help and then they kind of don't help and then the side effects and all that other shit that goes with having to be on them. But I think at this stage, you've come to find some peace with the fact that it does help you a little bit. But what I want to get into with you now is that you've also found another little avenue for yourself, where I know that you've never felt better, but you're using it as an adjunct therapy with your antidepressant. So I'm going to let you talk a little bit about that if you don't mind.
Yeah, so I started using psilocybin six months ago on on a micro dosing regime, so I'll just stop you there. Psilocybin is the is the active ingredient in mushroom magic mushrooms. It's actually a plant alkaloid that is kind of like a 5 HT receptor agonist that helps like serotonin sort of on the same pathway serotonin, would you agree with that? Yes, similar it it does hit one of the other receptors to what the antidepressant hits with the serotonin but it does hit Yeah, one of those receptors that you were just named. I went into it with full research on board. Obviously, I was wanting to try and work out if it was safe to take both substances. And I established the fact that it's fine eventually and yeah, it has helped
helps me remarkably it helps me from day one. It walked in my door, and I had just been thinking about whether it would be appropriate for me to do that recently. And then there it was. And yeah, I was happier than I had ever been in my life after studying this type of medicine. Yeah, it's interesting, especially psilocybin.
There's a few teacher plants and psilocybin is one is what they call a teacher plant. Cannabis is another DMT. Yeah, salvia. There's a few teacher plants and and it's that same saying when that when the student is ready, the teacher will appear. And so obviously, that's what's happened to you that this teacher plant has appeared in your life. So you've done a lot of research around that, where you, you know, what, actually by taking it because microdosing, which means what to you, what does microdosing psilocybin? How do you explain how it works for you?
So I've been doing five days on two days off. That's a regime that comes from the advice of Paul Stamets, who's widely recognised as the mushroom guru, he spent his whole life studying mushrooms. So yeah, I'm on that regime, my dosage is significantly higher than your average person. And that's largely because of my medication. It's different for everyone the effects that it will have on them if they are on medication. In my case, it's had a wonderful effect, outstanding. So so it has decreased.
So on the medication, you are still feeling anxious,?
I was, yeah. And obviously the PMDD. It's all these are all things that I'm still dealing with, obviously, but with the mushrooms on board, it's made me feel much more centred, a lot more love for myself, a lot more confidence, and it's massively helped with my depression and anxiety. And PMDD. It's pretty marvellous,
we might put some links of of where you researched it in the podcast, notes. Yeah. Because it is a personal journey. And it isn't for everyone, like we, like we said, you know, you've got to be ready for this. It's not a recreational approach to, to your health. It needs to be done with integrity, and for result, you know, if you're going to use these things as medicine, there needs to be a lot of integrity on board with it.
Yeah, well, I mean, it's going to be different for for everyone. And, you know, I do recognise that it is medicinal for me. And I can still function well in my life with, you know, those medications on board. I've got two small children, I run a business. So it's not like I'm just, you know, blissing out all day in some sort of strange bubble.
I guess it's important to say that it helps you function. It's not a hallucination. You're not taking it for hallucinogenic purposes, it helps. It's that it helps, right, some of the neural pathways in your brain that otherwise aren't connecting properly. I think that's really important to sort of suggest for people that are maybe like going, Oh, she's just getting fucked up.
Yeah, look, it's it's it's a big topic. It's it's yeah, it's hard to compress into a short podcast
But it's helping you. And that's really what we what we want. Are there any other lifestyle changes you've had to make around being both on antidepressants and the psilocybin, anything else that that you're doing that's assisting with those three things that you deal with anxiety, depression and the PMDD.
So not drinking alcohol was a big lifestyle change I made which massively helps.
Where you drinking like daily and you've just gone to nothing or a just like, not drinking at all. D
rinking daily gone to nothing! You can see a significant drop in the anxiety and depression. Is that what you're saying? Absolutely. 100%, massive drop in anxiety, and depression.
Anything else that you can share with people that you've done, that actually helps it?
Yep, so definitely. Meditation, and yoga. Any exercise helps so much, and it really surprised me that none of the doctors told me to do that. But yeah, It's not a cure. And I don't think, really in my case with the PMDD there's not really a cure with the depression. Yeah, I mean, they said it was treatment resistant. I know it's there. I know that I'm always up against that. However, I would say I'm in remission from depression now.
Oh, my God, I Running Man dance. Hello. Yeah, it's it's a big call far out. Oh, yeah.
It's, it's still there. I still visits me, but it's not running my life.
That's amazing. Amazing. So do you know what your triggers are to avoid, though, because it's if it's still there, then it's like my epilepsy, I know that the seizures will probably never go away. But it's about management. So do you know what triggers bring it on more than others?
Yeah, look, not having enough time to myself is a big thing. Massively helps for me to have time to myself and to not have too many pressures. I mean, I was managing several events on one weekend, whilst I had a small child, and moving house all at the same time for a while there. And that didn't help.So my life's a lot more simple now, which is great.
Well, that's medicine in itself, isn't it? It's all comes comes back to self love and wisdom and knowing what you know, what's gonna freak your brain out? And trying to avoid that? Yeah. Well, I would love to talk more about just the psilocybin part of things. But that's a whole different episode. And we might do that another time. Yeah, we can do that. Yeah. But what my last question is, if if you had some parting words, to say to others that are going through the same thing as you or, or parts of the same thing as you, what would what would you say to people on their journeys of self discovery?
I would say, don't lose hope. Keep trying, keep trying different doctors, keep trying different combinations of things. And try to remember to be grateful. It's really hard, I know, to change your attitude. So I'm not going to I'm not going to say that. But I would say just don't lose hope.
Why do you think it's hard to change your attitude? I'm curious?
Well, you know, a lot of people will give that to, you know, when you've got depression or whatever, they'll say, I'll just change your attitude, which can be really hard to take. I mean, I try you try, you know, you pushing uphill, you know, it's, um, but you've got to keep trying. And it does help, you know, every little thing helps. And affirmations like saying to yourself, I can do this, I can do this. I mean, that does make a big difference. But I just don't want to come across as having that simple approach where it's just, you know, change your attitude, because it's not that simple.
I don't think it's really an attitude really is it's it's a it's, it's a chemical imbalance. It's so many other things than just an attitude.
Yeah, I mean, at attitude is part of it, because you can feel it's affected.
Yeah. Because you can feel a bit defeated when you're dealing with this every single day. So yes, there's definitely shit that you can tell yourself in your head.
Yeah, look, I think, with the psilocybin aspects, what's greatly helped me is the fact that it's taken me out of my default network in my brain. So that's, you know, a place where I was telling myself the same negative stories and had all these terrible self beliefs that were repeating themselves in my mind, so that it was neural pathways that have now been broken or removed. I don't, I mean, I do go back to them. But with the psilocybin, that has particularly helped to take me away from from that broken record sort of thing that was just getting me nowhere. That's where I find that medicine really interesting. Also, a lot of people will be held back by the idea that you cannot take an antidepressant with psilocybin and I'm of course not giving any medical advice at all, but you know, when you look deeply into it there are, you know, Facebook groups, for example, with a lot of anecdotal evidence?
Yeah, it's interesting. I guess one of the wrap up questions I have for you, Kate is, and this is what I asked everyone as well is, would you say that you love your diagnosis?
Well, I wouldn't say that I love my diagnosis. But I have come to a much greater level of acceptance with it, which makes it so much easier to manage.
Is that because you've taken personal responsibility over it, or is that because you think you've outsourced it to the drugs in the shrooms?
I think it's a combination of both. And I think it's also largely due to exercise. Yoga, walking, cycling. That's a great help. Yeah, all the endorphins and dopamine enhancing stuff. Yeah, but you weren't saying that you weren't doing that before? No, I've always done exercise most of my adult life. Okay, not always. But most of it. Increasing the exercise has been great. I've been really conscious of keeping that in my daily practice, as a good habit, and ritual.
Can I ask you this? Because we didn't discuss this, but with the PMDD,did you ever go on hormone replacement? Things like, has anyone ever looked into your thyroid or endocrine issues with this and put you on medication to do with that instead of just depression medication?
Yes, my thyroid would always get tested, and always come up fine. I did eventually try going onto the pill and worked for a while and then became a total disaster. It's not something that I would recommend as a first line medication for the PMDD.
And my last question to wrap it up really is do you think you've found your medicine for the for now as in do you have any thoughts of getting off either one of them anytime soon and feeling that you're cured in inverted commas?
No. Well, yeah, I mean, I'm feeling a lot better. The whole COVID stress stuff has, you know, put another layer on it. That's a whole nother topic. But yeah, look, I do feel cured. But of course, I don't know. What's next. So, you know, my medication could stop working at any point, but I'm lucky that I have a good supply of the psilocybin and I can measure my dosage and keep that steady. So yeah, I'm not planning on changing any of that cocktail. Soon. Unless I need to adjust it. Yeah.
Okay. Great answer. Thanks so much, Kate, for your honesty and bravery and sharing your story. I know that there's a shitload more of your story, but we've nut shelled it out pretty well, I think.
Thanks Lainie. Yeah, definitely took bravery.
Yes. you've done well, because, you know, all that tech stuff nearly had you on the floor before we started. So thanks, darling. It was great to see your face. Yeah, we'll do another one on the psilocybin just the psilocybin because it's so interesting.
Yeah, let's do that. Cool. Okay, thanks, Lainie Bye
Transcribed by https://otter.ai