Wednesday, January 6, 2010
I am in Cape Town (well Durbanville and Grand West casino to be exact) performing in a show called "The Sponge who could fly". It's about a character named Sponge Bob square pants who aspires to be able to one day realise his dream and fly with the Jellyfish in Jellyfish fields. I play his supportive yet intellectually challenged chum Patrick Starfish. In short a pink morbidly obese mollusc with a heart of gold. I wear a fatsuit and a plush pink cotume that weighs a ton and sing in my lower registers. It's a blast and I am thoroughly enjoying every minute because the rest of the cast are also completely mentally unstable and the most fun to get silly and sweaty with, without the raunchy stuff. Playing this role is the equivalent to dancing my ass off at a rave club wrapped up inside a sleeping bag so I sweat a lot and have lost quite a bit of weight. I have also laughed until it hurt at some point almost every day we have rehearsed and performed. The talent and comic timing of this cast has vastly contributed to my attempts to flatten my stomach. But ironically I have also been wrestling with one of the heaviest and most challenging times of my life internally.
Despite the warm sunshine of the show, my friends, family and being able to pay my bills (for a change) I have sat huddled under a cloudy wet depression that I have struggled to shrug off. It came out of left field and just seemed to block out all good warm and fuzzy things. What is worse is that I had no real reason for it. I had no real reason to feel down, I just did. It appeared at my door like an unwanted evangelist who would not leave me alone. It would come in waves like an ice cold breeze. I would be stuck in writing, having a conversation or readng something and then this leaded feeling would sink into me and everything I was doing would feel pointless and like too much effort. Icy isolation. I would continue smiling and laughing and engaging with others without the usual ease (10 years professional acting is good for some things) and every now and then the sun would come out, sometimes even for a whole day and then without reason or warning my consciousness would begin to feel overcast again. I'm a proactive person and started researching my feelings and symptoms on the internet because I knew there was something wrong. Synchronicty is an amazing thing. The Bob Marley and the Wailers lyrics "Emancipate yourself from mental slavery. None but ourselves can free our minds" ran through my head like a stuck record. I would rise humming the wise yet cheerful tune despite the dark funk I would usually wake up in.
There is a history of depression and anxiety disorders on both sides of my family so I could have just embraced it as an early inheritance, but I truly believe that with awareness and proper nutrition many conditions can be prevented and even avoided. I remenbered a small section of Patrick Holford's book "The Optimum Nutrition Bible" in which he wrote about individuals suffering with high levels of histamine in their bodies. I read it over 4 years ago and I had ticked all the symptoms and something told me to explore it a little further now despite all the time that had past. High histamine in the body is known as Histadelia and the symptoms are: A fast metabolism, high energy, heavy allergies, sneezing in the presence of direct sunlight, elongated fingers and toes especially a long thin second toe, low tolerance for pain, high body temperature, addiction or cravings for drugs and alchohol and severe often unprompted depression and anxiety attacks. This is me, I thought as I read about the condition. Many schitzophrenics have been found to have high levels of histamine in the brain and though I don't quite hear strange voices (other than the characters that I write into my shows) I am not quite that bad. Turns out there is actually a number of articles written about this condition on the net and that histadelics suffering from depression have been found to experience fewer positive results and less relief from traditional depression and anxiety medication. The remedy is actually quite simple although not immediate in its efficacy. I started taking 500mg of an amino acid called methionine as well as 500mg of calcium and magnesium morning and night because they have both been found to lower the bodies production of histamine over an extended period of time (results can generally only be felt after 6 weeks). I have supplemented this with St. Johns wort and 5HTP in the hopes of speeding up the process a little and have felt a bit of relief. 5HTP is a precursor for seritonin production (happy brain chemical) so perhaps that is what has been helping me lift the cloud a bit. St. Johns wort needs to be taken with caution because it is believed to make you photosensitive and more susceptible to sunburn as well as affecting the efficiency of female oral contraceptives so I would advise anyone keen on following this regime to first chat to their doctor.
I am also trying to eat a low histamine diet which cuts out sugars, (real and artificial) and basically anything fermented from yoghurt to smoked chicken. It's a challenge but I really feel it has been a dead weight that I have been dragging behind me and I'm determined to cut the dark cloud loose. Other than that I begin rehearsals for my one man show Little Poof! after the 16th of January and hope to open in a lovely new venue I am negotiating with on or around the 10th of February. This year I am determined to make things happen for myself. I am terribly nervous and have had a few sleepless nights already but am also very excited and cannot wait to work with my director Neels Clasen and musical director Catherine Hopkins. The photos that I have had taken by the brilliant Gerrit Joubert and expertly styled by Wim and Amalanka for the posters and the PR are exquisite and hysterical.
Watch this space because now that I've figured out how to get rid of aunty "Debra" this "Little Poof" is getting ready to make a BIG BANG!