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Garner: Absorb More, Talk Less

Bob Garner

Bob Garner

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Sunday, September 9, 2018

It’s time to open my soul a little bit and to come clean.

I struggle with a condition that involves therapy, a measure of anxiety and something that can sound even worse than depression, or cancer, for that matter.

It’s sometimes called “unspecified affective disorder” and sometimes called hypomania. It’s possible for someone to be “hyper” or just a little speeded up, and since hypo means “under,” hypomania means less manic. It seems to boil down to talking too much and listening far too little.

In a previous column, I copped to having a mental attic, my brain, “entirely too full of random stuff.” Seventy years’ worth.

I wrote that this useless hoarder’s memory too often falls “through the attic door, in effect by tumbling out of my mouth.”

The bad news is it put me in the hospital for three weeks and I’m on medication now to moderate my mood.

The good news is that there’s new, strong evidence it’s caused in large part by a massive deficiency in vitamins: vitamin B1 (Thiamine), calcium, iron, magnesium, vitamin B6, vitamin B12 and vitamin D.

I’ve been open in books and articles about resorting to bariatric (gastric) surgery in 2010 to get a lot of unhealthy weight off. I was running two miles at a stretch and was unable to get below 250, even after a one-year, insurance-required exercise and diet regimen.

I promised — before the surgeon accepted me as a candidate — to take large doses of these very vitamins for the rest of my life. I just didn’t do it as promised.

Not for 2½ years, in fact. It’s true the vitamins are expensive, and a recession intervened, but that’s no excuse.

My surgeon made me promise to take these vitamins a full five years before psychiatric research began to firmly establish a link to possible effects on mood, irritability and talkativeness — even on otherwise purposeful, goal-oriented activity.

During my hospital stay, I was given massive doses of the stuff around the clock, by IV and capsule, along with some very intensive care.

My surgery, now outdated compared to newer, better procedures, involved manufacturing poorer absorption of things like bad cholesterol by rerouting (not removing) some plumbing.

But it also resulted in “malabsorption” of most of the vitamins in medicines and in foods that improve mood and decrease anxiety of all kinds. The surgeon and his staff tried to tell me this could happen if I was slack. I wonder how they knew.

Most people who know me seem to see a fair amount of simplicity, and I don’t just mean my 25-year-old suits. I will leave it to those who know me best to decide whether I have an overt anxiety about the future.

I am the guy, after all, who always says, “Everything is gonna be all right,” and I could be totally off any behavioral medications before too long.

However it turns out, I would love to volunteer to speak to some people suffering from just about any behavioral anomalies.

It would fulfill me to offer encouragement, to answer questions, to listen (for a change) — to simply sit quietly and absorb without words.

As a foodie, I’ll talk later about all the great foods that help boost mood and stability. For now, I’ll just try to absorb all the good I can.

And trust the process and the boss upstairs.

Bob Garner is a UNC-TV restaurant reviewer, freelance food writer, author of four cookbooks, barbecue pit master and public speaker. Contact him at bgarner2662@gmail.com.

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