recovering from extreme psychological and dietary stress


Aug 22, 2013
I've been under tremendous stress the past two months, and I'm feeling about as low as I ever have and looking for some advice. First a brief explanation of what happened, and then my symptoms. I've been traveling around SE Asia for the last two months with a girlfriend who I should have broken up with and never even gone on the trip. The truth is this kind of travel (bumming around poor countries) makes me very stressed and irritable, and our relationship was already on the rocks, so combine the stress of travel with the stress of being constantly around someone who's pissing me off was too much for me. I've felt at times like I'm going crazy, literally! Foolishly I felt stuck (because I don't have any friends at home), so I kept traveling with her against my best judgement. She also kept convincing me it was the best thing for me and that I was working to overcome my "issues"--I know, I'm a fool :).

I feel like I can't remember the last time I fully relaxed. My diet has been complete ***t. Everything is fried in PUFA, and I've been ingesting more of it than probably at any point in my entire life. Aside from fresh fruit, what I'm eating is abysmal, and it has a double negative effect besides physiological, in that I'm mentally stressed that I can't eat what I feel is best for me. I've had lots of feelings of being stuck, being trapped, feeling sh***ing, and feeling like I may never recover. We finally split up, and I have my return trip booked for tomorrow, so the end is in sight, but I'm so stressed and paranoid that I'm worried I won't regain my health and sanity when I get home.

I also have this spacey feeling a lot of the time, which is really worrying. Kinda like I'm not fully here and don't feel like myself, and everything seems flat and without emotion, like I'm really jut shut down and closed off from the world. I think extreme stress can cause this kind of thing, so I'm hoping getting home will get me feeling good again. I'm going to be eating pretty peaty when I get back, although I don't do dairy well, but I'm wondering what else I can do to get out of this ****88 up state I'm in quicker. I'm planning to do some therapy, exercise, play, hike in the mountains and just try and be in the least stressful and most familiar situations possible

What about supplements? I have to imagine my serotonin is through the roof, and I've been reading about the various serotonin antagonists on this board, but not sure if they are right for me or which one. I hear a lot about cyrpoheptadine, but I worry because benadryl gave me strange vertigo and exacerbated the spacey feeling while traveling, maybe they are not even related though. From my reading, I was wondering if l-lysine is a better choice, and it sounds like it might help with my chronic digestive issues. I was also thinking to just start on supping the fat solubles, and may get Haidut's formulation.

I appreciate any and all advice about how to get my health back. And I already feel a tiny tiny bit better writing this--I guess I'm already starting the process of erasing my learned helplessness. Thanks


Apr 24, 2015
You don't need supplements for now let alone cyproheptadine...


Mar 29, 2014
You could try just getting home and making some basic diet improvements (eg cut the PUFA) seeing how much you get to relax just by being out of the acutely stressful situation you were in. Then see if you need more changes.
Nov 11, 2014
Yep, so hard to avoid PUFA in SE Asia that the best thing you can do is probably forget that it is bad for you and relax. There are lots of organ meat soups with bones and whatnot in the broth, so you might as well have a lot of that while you're here and let go of the rest.

You're trapped eating a diet you don't want to eat.
You're trapped with a girl you don't want to be with.
This is like weight lifting for the mind :)
Try to have fun - I dare you!


Nov 30, 2012
I would focus on sleep and getting plenty of red light from a.m. sun. Aim for exposure between 8-11 a.m. Try to reduce/limit blue light.

Grounding will also help. I'm reading mixed things about the Earthing pads. Barefoot walking may be the way to go for now.

A good, big breakfast with a lot of protein helps me.

A good environment helps, as well as saying no to whatever doesn't work.

Something I've been doing lately is putting my phone on airplane at night. It makes a lot of difference.


Jan 28, 2013
I lived on UHT milk from New Zealand, imported cheese, OJ from Thailand and local honey and sea salt while I was living in Kampot, Cambodia for several months a few years back. Find a local grocery that caters to tourists/expats. It will cost you more than eating local, though not as much as you might think (I bought the milk by the case, for example.) Sounds like you've hit the wall on fried rice anyway. I hear ya....been there, done that.


Thread starter
Aug 22, 2013
Thanks for the advice everyone! Just to clarify, I'm actually heading back home to the states today alone. I was looking for advice for when I get back home as I've already given up on this failed experiment.


Oct 10, 2012
Are you back home ?

Ray Peat talks about traveling here.

Everyone who described Blake’s physical appearance remarked on his large head. Blake commented that he didn’t like to travel or undergo physical strain, because of its effects on his health. The brain is an energetically expensive organ, which consumes large amounts of glucose. A very large brain puts a special burden on the liver’s ability to store energy, and is likely to make a person conscious of physiological processes. ... lake.shtml

The travelling symptoms described by Reich and others may indicate that a certain mass of vessels exceeds the organism's vasoconstriction capacity; the demonstration that autonomic training can stop a migraine (by raising the temperature of the hands), the fact that sleep or orgasms can often end the symptoms, ... 3-p189.pdf


Mar 30, 2015
Canary Spain
In stress, one almost always think it will never change, never ends etc!
I use 2 or 3 tips:
- connect to nature: everything is ALWAYS changing, and the sun is just hidden by coulds! Connect to this rather physically, with memories for ex. of bad weather and then the change! This makes your body believe what you think. Or else it just stays in the mind and do nothing.
Have a read at Wordsworth poem "daffodils" ... "and when on my couch I lie, in vacant mood, they flash upon that inward eye which is the bliss of solitude, and then my heart with pkeasure fills and dances with the daffodils...."
- Surrender. This is a sort of "stop fighting". In nature, playing possum can be life saving, and this reflex is still in our bodies even as evolutive mammels.
- Go for a walk with a friend. Spend 10mns looking around at ONLY what you like, and share it if you want, the friend is just there and does not answer. You can do the reverse afterwards. Then share the change of sensation in your body!

Then you can also consciously think about any good memories. Thinking about the bad is automatic, thinking about the good has to be conscious. If you can do it without feeling bad, do it about your journey too! There surely has been some nice things you saw and heard etc.

The following you can do it if you feel ok, and better with a friend's presence. Track your body sensations, as they stock the stress. 1st always track the nice feelings of your body, and orienteer into the place you are, noticing arohnd all what you feel beautiful.
Only then you can track in your body WHERE you feel some strress. ask yourself things like "where do I feel that I am trapped?" Your body will tell you with unconfortable sensations what it is experimenting. Whenn you find a muscle r stomach etc sensation, just feel it as far as it is not too bad. If getting strong, connect to your friend and to the nice things you noticed around before.
Also feel the good part of your body, the nice and the not nice at the same time.
For example, you can feel you are nicely sit on the chair, but that your legs are unconmfrtable. Do not interprete but feel it. Just focus your attention from the confortable to the unconfortable.
If you can stay on the unconfortable, you will notice that the sensation changes.
It always. Even if after 10mns!

In the process, you will arrive at an increase in the sensation, which is the stress activation. And this stress will be directed out of the body automatically. You will know it when you have parasympathetic reactions of discharging the sympthic activation:
Most people sigh involuntarily, or yawn. You can also erruct. If you shake, this is also the tension going away. All animal shake after a stess, this is the evacuation process. You can also feel some bubbles into your intestine, or start to laugh. Do not hold it, accompany and let your body do it.
Whenever it is too strong, connect to the best feeling part of your body, what is nice around, and your friend.
As this is not automatic to think about it, tell your friend to ask you where do you feel good in your body when you mention feeling activated. Even I who know this and practise it, I forget!
I personnaly use some meditation when I do this alone, so that I can be centered on the "sun inside me" instead of the clouds. I can desactivate stress efficiently.
Emotions are in the body. Being trapped is a body feeling. We are just not used to track aour sensations. It can be overwhelming, that is why I told you about precautions.
There can be any change in the body, and it can change very suddenly. What you want to reach is the desactivation of the sympathic activation, by the discharge through sighs etc.
Each time you succeed, you discharge one aspect of your stress, the one that was in the unconfortable part of your body that 1st came out. When you feel ok, you can try to do it again, and another aspect will come out.
I advise not to share mentally about it, that is to say no interpretation and no story telling as it makes come back the stress without desactivating it. Desactivate the body and it will do you good! Up to you to see if relevant... I find it more useful than letting time do its job for 2 reasons: I prefer a quicker method, and I do not want to incrust things inside, which is what happens when we try to just overcome and "forget about it". It is still there in the body, just waiting to go out.

By the way I forgot something: the body sensation can make you feel some movement starting, in general things you wanted to do but restrained. By tracking the sensation, you can follow the body and look for the movement. BUT do it VERY slow, just begin it and then stop and feel. I remember (working on my left shoulder feeling bad) putting my arm in the way to fall smoothly in judo, and in 10 seconds I felt a strong hot flash and started to laugh nervously! This was the disactivation! It happened when I did it with the left arm, as I am right handed and had difficulty to do it with my left arm. Only with the slow movement this can come out. The slower the faster!

I hope this can help!


Thread starter
Aug 22, 2013
Thanks for all the advice everyone. So much great info in this thread, I'm going to have to read it all again. I've been home two weeks now, and things have slowly been getting better, with pretty substantial improvement in the last few days. As I suspected, the panicked and depressed state that I got stuck in was caused by the tremendous stress that I went through. Since it was all ultimately by choice, I've been able to reorder my life and remove all of that stress. Walking a lot at the park, doing projects outside, and just chilling out and trusting that I will get better have been very helpful. I've also been taking better care of my diet, and taking estroban and aspirin. In general, I've just been putting a lot of energy into taking good care of myself, and I know Peat has mentioned before that just putting effort into getting better is very beneficial.

Now that I'm finally feeling some spark again, it's really interesting to notice changes in consciousness/perception between depressed/anxious and non depressed/relaxed. Today I went to the park, and for the first time in a good while, colors seemed vivid, things seemed interesting/exciting, and there seemed to be more 3d depth to what I was seeing. The days are also starting to seem longer, and I seem to have mostly reclaimed my mind. It sucked going through so much ***t, but in some way I think I've learned a lot that will guide me in the future and make me more resistant to this kind of breakdown.


Apr 25, 2015
"just chilling out and trusting that I will get better" amen. i'm glad you've transitioned to this mindset so quickly as i am well acquainted with the stresses that can accompany trying to get better.
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