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Emotional Detox HELL...any advice / words of wisdom much appreciated...


So, as the subject heading suggests, I have been through quite a difficult time the past several days. I created a post a day before then saying I was hungry all the time, and many wonderful, caring people replied with some great advice, and I just wanted to say I really was touched by how nice everyone is here, and I thank you all very much.

Okay, so this has been incredibly hard. I did not "try" to detox - I guess my body was just ready (and I am supposed to take the GRE day after tomorrow and don't possibly see how I can do it considering how I've been feeling). I have had many physical symptoms, which have been somewhat incapacitating - terrible diarrhea, body feeling so weak it feels like rubber, headaches, shakes, waves of "pain", a disgusting odor from the skin. Oh, and two days before this all started, I really didn't sleep for two days. I had so much energy, I just wasn't tired and really couldn't.

But the emotional symptoms have been very difficult to for me to deal with, and if anyone has any advice, I would appreciate it. I just want to make sure I am doing the right things food wise to lessen the detox, because I honestly can't handle this all right now. Firstly, I have a history of emotional problems. I used to take a lot of prescription medications, and I still take Xanax occasionally for anxiety. Since improving my diet, I don't really need it so much anymore. But I have a history of anxiety disorders, and I went to a slew of bad doctors who stuffed me full of meds rather than talking to me. I have tried about four different anti-psychotic medications - not because I was psychotic, but because nothing else was helping my anxiety disorder. I took anti-depressants...basically, you name it...I've tried it all. I finally found a great (albeit, expensive) PhD in psychology, who I have been working with the last two years. She thinks the meds "stuffed down" my emotions and didn't allow me to deal with them. I've been doing fantastically in therapy, and there really is nothing wrong with me (besides some anxiety) - I just had been through a lot, had a lot to talk about, and needed someone to understand that. So, I really had felt like I had dealt with a lot of stuff. But now, I am in a position where I have to face some scary stuff. It is just coming up to surface. I read Zoe's comment on another post about slowing down her transition to lessen the detox, and I have been doing that. I find that if I ignore the emotions I feel right now during detox, they cause these weird "waves" of pain/ anxiety / and depression. I don't feel like I am reliving bad times, but I felt the "feeling" of bad times. And once I just sort of acknowledge it, and admit something to myself that I don't want to, it eases. If I'm not confronting it fully while awake, I dream about things - things I NEVER think about or talk to people about. But the dreams are always therapeutic in nature. It feels like I am trying to deal with this stuff while asleep. In one, I had an open discussion with a relative about something we would never, ever discuss in real life. But then I woke up and thought, great - I really don't want to think about THAT! Oh well...my point is...this is just so hard. I guess the hardest part is that I was told by so many doctors that there was no hope for me. And I felt like I was "crazy" and screwed up for years because of what doctors told me. My therapist is very reputable (she's famous actually), and she says she will put her license on the line because she so strongly believes that I am NOT crazy. But it is really hard to tell myself that when my emotions feel all over the place. I hate feeling out of control, and this feels pretty close to out of control! Sorry...this probably way too much information! But I really do feel like I made a decision to change my health because I am in a healthy place. I just didn't expect this.

If I am trying to ease up the detox, how long is this going to take?! I feel much better than I did yesterday. I am eating some soup, and I bought my pretzels. I don't know what to do really. I really can't afford to detox this strongly because I have to take a GRE and I have to be able to go to work! Does anyone have food suggestions to ease up the detox? I was eating a lot of celery and cucumber before, which I think are detoxing foods. I have a super, super sensitive body! I tell doctors this, but they never believe me until I react to something I've been prescribed and they realize I actually was right. So, whatever may have worked for you, I might need to tone down or do more of. I am hoping I feel more normal tomorrow.

I know health does not come instantaneously, or without hard work. I suppose I am just scared. I had no idea that simply improving my diet could cause such a strong physical / mental reaction. The fact that the mind and body are intimately connected has never been more apparent than it is now; my physical and emotional symptoms are really one. I would "like" to believe that I am healthy enough to make a decision to change my health in this way. I have been through a lot, but isn't that precisely the reason to improve my health? What do you guys think?

Oh...I also wonder if any of this can have a hormonal link? I have a sort of cramp feeling like when I have PMS. Has anyone experienced anything like that? Also, I didn't come to this decision frivolously - I have been interested in and learning about raw foods for three years. I just didn't feel ready till now. Is it normal for me to feel some hesitancy considering the difficulty of this detox? Also...the smell had a metallic-y, bitter sort of smell...anyone experience that?

Sorry for such a long post! I would appreciate any advice you can offer. This whole experience has made me realize that it is INSANE the way we live today! Of course the way we live today causes emotional numbness and disease! If my body can react this way after essentially eating healthy food for two months, then there was obviously something wrong with the way I was living. I guess I didn't realize I was holding so much pain in my body. Eh...I guess this will be a "journey" 'for sure! Strangely though, my detox strarted out wonderfully! I felt sharp mentally...I interpreted the music I listened to like I did years and years ago...I was happy...I felt resilient....I felt, honestly, happier than I have felt in a very long time. If that feeling is possible, then maybe this detox (and others) will be worth it.

Okay...I think I have written a short novel here - sorry! But the last several days have been really intense, and I am just shocked by it frankly. I really think I am just scared. Once I get over the scared feeling, I just want to lie in bed and rest. Thanks you guys. I honestly think people are so nice here because in order to get healthy, you really do need to deal with yourself. And from my experience in doing that a short time, I treat others with more patience and kindness than I did before. You should all be proud of yourselves if you aren't already!


  • wow. i'm so glad you found a professional who actually wants to help you! it is clear your body has a lot of personal trauma and emotions to process, and it seems you are on the right track. detox can be very uncomfortable, of course. it helps to do a colon cleanse as that speeds up the process. you expel a ton of crap (gross pun, i know) in a short amount of time. if you have ten days, i've heard the master cleanse is a great one. but there are tons of colon cleansing programs out there to choose from. do what you need to do to make the detox manageable for your life (yes, GREs are important - more important in the immediate than your detox!), even if that means eating some cooked food. as long as it's healthy (brown rice with steamed veggies and a yummy, oily sauce), you can curb the intensity of the detox without feeling like you are going five steps back or anything.

    in my own research, i have run into some information on emotions, raw food, & detox. check it:

    manic-depressive finds balance:

    fat helps emotional upheavals (hooray for avocados!):

    steve pavlina blogs about his emotional detox on a juice feast: http://www.stevepavlina.com/blog/2008/11/juice-feasting-day-24/

    he passed through that emotional storm a stronger, clearer person: http://www.stevepavlina.com/blog/2008/12/juice-feasting-postmortem/

    so, you're not alone! hope this helps. let us know how you progress.

  • 1sweetpea1sweetpea Raw Newbie

    I actually think doing a master cleanse or even a colon cleanse at this point might produce an even more extreme detox reaction/healing crisis. Of course, if you're trying to fast track a detox, perhaps it's worth considering. My impression of the initial post is that the emotional and physical detox is really sapping your energy, which is to be expected, but unfortunate in its timing. I think there's nothing wrong in slowing down the detox a bit by including some non-raw, but clean vegan foods daily. I like a blend of red and white quinoa, mixed with millet, cooked in water, with a bit of olive oil and salt. They all take the same amount of time to cook, so they go well together. Cook a small amount in a lot of water and you'll create a soupy porridge, which might be very comforting (but very plain -- you'll need condiments to perk it up). I had a millet porridge in China that was made with sweet potatoes. It was very gentle and made a nice breakfast. I'd also make a split red lentil soup seasoned with cumin, onion and lemon (very Lebanese). Stir some raw greens (baby spinach or arugula) into your bowl for a complete and very satisyfing meal. Opt for whole grain pretzels, if those are your go-to comfort snack. If you're feeling adventurous and have a dehydrator, you could create your own raw pretzel recipe from sprouted grains and flax or chia. Make them a bit sour with some lemon juice and you'll get that tangy sourdough pretzel flavour (like Snyder's).

    During my first month or so of high raw, I swung wildly between being hyper-alert and full of energy, to feeling tired and achy or really edgy. I had weird dreams most nights and felt that I wasn't sleeping well at all. My detox has taken some strange forms, from sinus headaches, to runny noses, to wicked constipation, to freaky skin eruptions and skin itches. At times, I've felt bizarrely giddy, as if I have a mild buzz, but other times, I feel irritable and grouchy. I slowed down my own detox because I was feeling a little less than presentable in public (with the weird itchy rash). 3 months in, I don't feel as if my detox is necessarilly complete. I suspect there is more to come. I will say this, though: on the whole, I have more mental clarity and emotional strength, despite the odd "off" day here and there. I still have anxious moments, but I feel as if I'm getting stronger every day. I hope the same will be true for you too.

    I don't know how severe and/or debilitating your anxiety is/was, but I think it's a crime that medical doctors' knee-jerk response is to medicate any case that presents itself, no matter what it is. Maybe you need to be on medications, but maybe you don't. I feel very strongly about correcting imbalances from the inside out. If your body is healthy, fit and strong, in theory, your mind should be as well. It will be interesting to see how you're feeling once you get to that point (meaning past the detox stage). If you need medication at all, it may be something milder or in a lower dose. I really hope that you and your psychologist can make a lot of progress during this time as well. You might find that cultivating your very best "you" and talking things out with the renowned PhD is enough to reduce a lot of the anxiety you've experienced for so long. Or, you might find that the anxiety's still there, but you're simply better equipped to deal with it. Whatever happens, I wish you the best of luck. If you're feeling up to it, take the GRE, but if you aren't, could you postpone and take it in the spring?

  • steviostevio Raw Newbie

    I'm guessing that you can't postpone your GRE. Most graduate programs have their application deadlines coming up in the next 2 months. I'll probably catch some flack for this one, but I'd pull the breaks on the detox. Eat some comfort food. Something with some nutrients, don't go on an icecream binge, but I'd eat even less clean than brown rice and oily sauces. How about some sushi, or some shrimp lo-mein, or fried dumplings (you can see what my junk food of choice is), or whatever it was that you were eating before your detox began. It is only a few days, and you can get right back on the wagon. I was sick when I took my GREs and my scores suffered for it. Fortunately I still got into the program I applied to.

    As for the emotional detox, you probably have some real work in front of you, but you seem to be aware of this, and hopefully you have the courage to face this head on, because when you come out the other end, it will definitely be worth it.

  • SuasoriaSuasoria Raw Newbie


    I think you're on the right track intuitively - try to incorporate some healthy vegan cooked foods, see if you can get yourself through your exam, and pick up again when maybe you don't have that stress hanging over you.

    If you have the time to do any exercise, that also can help your moods and help you relax. Maybe nothing strenuous, since sweating might flush out more toxins (thus having the opposite effect), but a twenty-minute walk or some yoga might be good if you can work it in.

    I think just having the awareness that these are symptoms of detoxing must be a big advantage over not knowing where all this is coming from!

  • ambiguousambiguous Raw Newbie

    So sorry you're going through this--these crises always seem to come at the worst time.

    I find that cutting back on sweet foods is one food-related action I can take that really helps me emotionally--honey, dates, bananas, and apples are all on my "limited" list, particularly when I'm feeling stressed out. Also try some calming herb tea, like chamomile, passion flower, valerian, etc.--I'm always surprised at how effective herbal tea can be. A hot bath with epsom salts would help draw some toxins out of your body and it would be relaxing.

    And most especially, I would recommend telling yourself that you want to deal with these emotions and you will do so soon, but right now you need to concentrate on remaining calm and focused on your GREs. Your psyche might actually listen. And here's the important part: make time for yourself to (calmly, if possible) deal with some of your difficult emotions. It can help even if you give yourself only half an hour to think through something difficult as clearly as you can, and then make yourself stop, and reward yourself with something you enjoy.

    Though probably your therapist has already given you better advice. Best of luck--and remember, it's not the end of the world if you absolutely have to put off grad school and re-take the GREs.

  • Based on your introspective reflection, you sound more sane than most people.

    I would go easy on yourself and try to eat clean foods to slow the detox so that you feel balanced. I took the MCAT after an emotionally wrought few days prior, and no sleep and I did really poorly. And I am now glad I did not pursue medicine ... anyway, i did write the GRE a few years later and i am in the last year of a phd ...

    I suspect that the yucky skin smell is the meds coming out. I was listening to a podcast, i think it's raw vegan radio or something like that, sorry i don't have a link, and the dude on the show talked about how he majorly detoxed from being a smoker and tar came out of the end of his fingers. So, yea totally slow that detox down a bit.

    Also, i am about 70-80 percent raw and after about 3-4 days on 100% raw i start to feel terribly, and because i am working on my dissertation, i cannot really afford to go into a detox. I know there are some emotions down there that are going to be a nuisance, and i am not willing to deal with them right now. so I don't. and one day i will. so i keep at a pretty good balance with mostly raw and some cooked. I think clearly, and have lots of energy for my work. I don't know too many graduate students who don't drink coffee to stay awake and get energy, but i don't need to at all.

    good luck!

  • I haven't gotten a chance to reply until now, but thank you for your advice! I successfully slowed down the detox and am doing MUCH better than I was several weeks ago!

    Redhouse - Strange how you had the same reaction as I did after going 100% raw for several days. I think that definately triggered the detox response for me too. I bet you are right about the yucky smell being the meds coming out of my body. I also think that this one soup recipe I have been using triggers the detox - a red pepper soup??? Well, I was making it a lot before I ever had detox symptoms and had no problems. I made it again this week and had mild detox symptoms again, and yes, the same smell! Can red pepper do that!? Well, I think I know what to eat if I ever want to start a detox again at least. Oh...and thank you for saying I sound more sane than most people! Next time my body goes into detox, I can remind myself that I do make sense! Good luck with your dissertation!

    Ambiguous - Thank you for the great advice! I was drinking my favorite tea (Yogi Throat Tea - licorice is great for the stress!) and some tea with lavendar, and yes, tea is amazing! I did end up missing my GRE, but no worries - I found out I am able to take it next month, so until then, I'm taking things slowly with the lifestyle changes. I'm definately going to try the epsom salt bath! Sounds lovely! I dry-brush, and I have been taking hot "water showers", but epsom salt baths sound like a good addition. I did actually decide to "deal" with the emotions, and while that was very difficult, it was very theraputic, and I feel like I made real progress. So I actually don't regret this happening at an inconvenient time - I believe things happen for a reason, and I learned a great deal.

    I'm about to go to bed, but thank you for those links, Tangerina. They really helped me out when I was going through the detox! Tanya Kay was in a much more difficult place than I was in when she went raw, and she said it was important for her to transition slowly too. It isn't a race, and we all have to consider where we came from and how that might affect our journey towards health. At least now I feel in control of my health and know I can do this.

    The most amazing part of the detox was realizing that my body was actually purging these feelings of guilt, shame and hopelessness from my body. That might sound weird, but my body was saying, "This stuff has to go!" And honestly, I never considered it could or should go. Intellectually I did, but to have your body tell you that you don't deserve to hold onto pain and you shouldn't...wow. For anyone who grew up really Catholic, you know what I mean! I think Americans in particular are raised to believe in "no pain, no gain", and we tend to live with a martyr mentality. I suppose I didn't know it was an "option" to not hold on to pain. So, I'm sure future detoxes will be equally painfully, but I'll trust my body when it tells me I'm ready to deal with things and try to talk myself through it. I'm actually excited about detoxes to come. Yeah, I have a lot to deal with, but to realize that isn't actually who I am and I will be finding out who I am underneith all of that? That is pretty amazing. The detox was actually one of the greatest experiences of my life. Hell...but worth it! Oh...and in case anyone finds themselves searching for emotional detox information late at night like I was, I'll add in that aromatherapy helped me through it. I had a bag of pine needles, and really helped center me.

  • CarnapCarnap Raw Newbie

    Hey, I'm going through some emotional detox hell as well.

    My partner said maybe it was my diet. I thought, 'no'. But I think it is clearing out the brain or something. My anger issues are getting pretty bad. Check out this article. I can't verify the scientificity of the thing, but to me, it sounded like what I was going through


  • CarnapCarnap Raw Newbie

    Just wanted to let you know again, you are not the only one experiencing this.

    I actually attacked my partner with a fork last night and had nightmares that woke me up to racing thoughts until morning.

  • i had to quit raw foods altogether because the rage was too scary for me...I was only 100 percent raw for 3 days when I had to eat cooked to stop the anger issues. Glad I found this as I thought maybe I was crazy. Now, I know i'm not and I'm not alone, eaither.

  • troublesjustabubbletroublesjustabubble Raw Newbie

    Hisown-Maybe the rage was emotional detox. I'd suggest sticking to 100% for longer than three days(maybe six) to see if it eases up a bit. Also I would recommend a juice fast. That makes detox go really fast.

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