July 2011 – Hypoglycemia & Suicide

Dear Readers,

The saying goes . . . “There are no coincidences.” Because a very delicate topic came up repeatedly in the past 10 days, I took it as a sign that it needed to be addressed. I received two e-mails, just days apart . . .

My friend is constantly talking about committing suicide. I am frightened. What should I do?

My depression has gotten so severe. I am embarrassed to share this with anyone, but I have fleeting thoughts of suicide. Although they come and go quickly, should I still be concerned? Is this part of the hypoglycemia process?

Then while cleaning out my files, I came across an article I wrote for a 1994 issue of the HSF newsletter we used to send to our members. Although the date and some of the names are old, the message is still crystal clear and needs to be shared.

A Message from Roberta, April 1994

Usually several topics or ideas come to mind as I’m preparing to write this message. When I finally settle on a subject, I balance the pros and cons of my decision. . . . Is it too mushy, too serious, too controversial, too commercial? Am I giving it too much emphasis . . . or not appreciating the value of the topic enough?

But there was never any question about what I have to share with you today. These are serious times, involving serious issues. Consequently, this is a serious message. It starts with a thought-provoking, serious question. . . . HAVE YOU EVER THOUGHT ABOUT COMMITTING SUICIDE?

The political world was shocked by the recent suicide of Vince Foster; the entertainment world of Kurt Cobain. I, personally, have never gotten over the death of literary legend Ernest Hemingway – perhaps because we had something not too many share – we had both experienced the effects of ECT (electroconvulsive shock therapy), a tool used to combat depression.

Although my treatments were administered in 1968, it was not until 1978 that I came out of the closet and discussed my deep dark secret. I shared it with what seemed to be the world. Tallahassee’s “Capital News” quoted me verbatim on May 9, 1978. It stated that “Roberta Ruggiero, a former shock treatment patient from Cooper City, called the therapy ‘barbaric,’ saying she would ‘rather die than go through electric shock again.’” For me, the physical pain was nothing compared to the feelings of isolation, embarrassment and humiliation it caused.

However, today, after years of inner growth and personal reflection, I realize that a lot of these feelings were self-imposed. I labeled myself “crazy.” I felt like an “emotional cripple.” I was angry more at myself than at the doctors who misinterpreted my symptoms. The fact that I was finally diagnosed in 1971 as having a severe case of functional hypoglycemia removed some of the stigma. But deep inside, I often asked, “Is it really my DIET that’s causing my depression? Is there truly a food/mood connection?”

I’ve spoken with thousands upon thousands of “searching hypoglycemics” over all these years. The most common symptoms they all have are depression, followed by severe fatigue. One out of three has thoughts of suicide! Age and sex have no barriers . . . the cry is often the same . . . I’m desperate . . . help me!

The following excerpt shows a common thread which is apparent in the letters we receive. It is from Mrs. R in Alabama.

“I started to believe I was a mental case this last New Year’s day when I started having depression symptoms after a ‘good’ Christmas. I had been off antidepressants for about 1 year (I had been taking them for 18 months, straight from the time my daughter was 1 year old). I started reading books on mental health, but they didn’t quite fit my total experience. I went to a psychiatrist this time, and he gave me a prescription for Zoloft again. This helped but something wasn’t quite right. I confided this to a friend I made about six months prior, who told me the same series of events had occurred to her after the birth of her two children. She found out she was hypoglycemic, and she was sure that was my problem too. Books on nutrition and its relationship to mental health read like my life story. I was ecstatic! I had found a name for the hell I had gone through most of my life and more so after the birth of my daughter. My diagnosis was just recently confirmed in January 1994.”

So what exactly is my message?

Depression should NOT be dismissed as inconsequential. Thoughts of suicide, even fleeting ones, should be a wake-up call to seek professional help.

If you, or someone you know or love, is experiencing symptoms of severe depression or fatigue, mood swings, irritability, anxiety, panic attacks, phobias, crying spells, mental confusion, an inability to concentrate, antisocial behavior, rapid heartbeat or restlessness, you should focus first on your dietary habits. Your symptoms could be the result of what you are or are not eating? It could be your DIET that is killing you! Seek a healthcare professional who will check diet and nutritional deficiencies and chemical imbalances BEFORE putting you through tedious tests, unnecessary medication, extensive psychotherapy or even ECT treatments.

Far too many hypoglycemics have barely escaped taking their own lives. Suicide was just around the corner when, miraculously, they were found to have a disorder that could be easily, effortlessly and painlessly controlled – the secret lay in its diagnosis.

We will never know if the information we have at our disposal could have helped Ernest Hemingway, Vince Foster or Kurt Cobain. But we do know that thousands of people are out there looking for what we have to offer. Let’s take this information and share it with them in the hopes of limiting the scope of this horrible nightmare, this illness called hypoglycemia.

Here are some other suggestions. . . .

Call your local suicide prevention hotline. Every county has one, and the number is usually on the front page of the local phone directory. You can also call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK.

Talk with family and friends. Reach out to a priest, rabbi, or spiritual advisor. . . . They all could be important allies in your recovery of health. It is crucial to find a healthcare professional who takes your situation seriously.

In the meantime, check out Dr. Joan Larson’s website at www.healthrecovery.com. Dr. Larson writes extensively on hypoglycemia, depression and suicide — a must read for everyone!

Remember, all your good intentions will go nowhere without commitment and a willingness to make life changes.

Here’s to your health,

Roberta

Due to the huge number of e-mails I receive, it is impossible for me to answer them all. If you e-mail me and don’t receive a quick response, please don’t wait. Seek medical attention . . . especially if you have severe symptoms!

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