My Health Story – A Visual of Me at My Worst

A visual of me at my worst.

I spent around 97% of each day either hunched over squinting at a computer screen, or laying in bed. The other 3% of my day was spent walking my dog around a local park wearing clothing that did not make sense with the weather outside, but ensured my neglected, pale, sun-deprived, ashy, hairy body was covered. This was usually 3-day old pajamas with no bra, sometimes covered by an old and stained UC Berkeley sweatshirt, and Ugg’s, on a day when it was 80 degrees outside.

I would walk briskly with my eyes glued to the concrete, hoping that no one would initiate eye contact with me, sweating profusely while wondering why I had zero motivation or energy to present myself better to the world.

My oily, unwashed hair would begin in a messy top bun, but near the end of the walk, would fall to a loose low bun due to stretched out hair ties I didn’t bother to replace. My husband named this phenomenon “alien head.”

After my walk, it was back to my swamp creature posture in my dimly lit living room to finish out the day glued to a screen with minimal human interaction.

Brushing my teeth and showering were reserved only for situations when I was around other people. I went days without looking in the mirror. Once I did, I was typically shocked with my grown out eyebrows and mustache hair, and even more shocked that it had been so long since I looked at myself. When I ran my fingers through my hair, I found thick scales of seborrheic dermatitis that were glued to my snowing scalp. Dark brown circles and eczema lined my eyes. My lips were dry, crusted, cracked, peeling, and often bleeding.

I ate mainly carbohydrates, sugars, and binged on pleasure foods like chips, chocolate, and ice cream regularly, usually late at night, alone, and in large amounts. I was ravenously hungry all of the time and no matter what I ate, I never felt satisfied. I always wanted more. I would gulp down sizeable amounts of water to ‘bring me current’ when I felt consciously behind on water consumption or parched to actual dehydration.

My feet and lower legs would swell and turn purple or red without warning. When I attempted to walk or exercise, my heart would race, and I would become paranoid, nauseous, and could focus only on speeding back home to ‘safety’ as quickly as possible. This feeling would also sometimes oddly arise when I was sedentary and switching bodily positions, such as going from laying down to sitting up or turning over in bed.

I would get lightheaded upon standing.

I would wake up in the morning and dry heave.

Brain fog was so thick that I was convinced I was developing some sort of mental disability.

The fatigue was overwhelming and turned my muscles, joints, blood, and bones into what felt like thick sludge while my mind remained revved up and wired.

It took a tremendous amount of energy to just exist.

I had erratic bowel movements with days of seemingly endless diarrhea preceded by cramps that left me in the fetal position on the ground, and days of constipation where I was so bloated and inflamed that I looked 5-months pregnant.

I would randomly jolt awake in the middle of the night with sudden nausea, run to the bathroom, and dry heave into the trash can while going diarrhea. Not some of my favorite moments. I would crawl on my hands and knees to and from the bathroom because I felt too weak to stand.

I was unable to shower for more than a few seconds because my heart would race and pound.

I would randomly freeze. I got internally cold and nothing could warm me up. Not even a piping hot bath. (It’s a bizarre feeling when you’re internally freezing while sitting in a steaming body of water and can’t warm up.)

In the days leading up to my period, I would get a fever, body aches, chills, night sweats, tender breasts, lots of nausea, and felt completely out of control in my mind. When I got my period, my cramps stopped me in my tracks.

I was hypervigilant at night. I would feel pins and needles throughout my arms and torso while trying to sleep. They became so uncomfortable that I was unable to lay down or sit still.

I had horrific trapezius pain that would shoot up through my skull and eyes that made my entire head feel like it was on fire and being crushed at the same time.

I experienced hypnagogic jerks, false awakening loops, and night sweats which disturbed my sleep. I had nightmares where I would jolt awake to a racing heart and break out in a sweat.

I had chicken skin on my arms and acne covering my butt.

My breath smelled like fermenting garbage no matter how many times I flossed or brushed my teeth.

Leaving the house for any reason brought extreme fear, nausea, and dread.

I would get demonic (and at one time, they occurred daily) panic attacks where crippling symptoms (sensation of a melting chest and limbs, pounding heart, breathlessness, unable to mentally orient to reality) would swallow my body and make me feel like it was near death.


Most of these things greatly improved and/or resolved by changing my diet. Most notably, my panic attacks. I don’t have them anymore…at all. They were arguably one of my worst symptoms, and I endured one at least once per week. Sometimes, every few days.

With the exception of a few events that had a clear cause (likely related to high caffeine/low salt), I have been panic attack-free since January 2020, well over THREE YEARS.

I still remain dumbfounded and awe-struck by this, which is why I put such a huge emphasis on diet, especially salt. It is not the end-all/cure-all, but this fact alone, for me at least, is too significant to ignore.

Ashley Rothstein
Ashley Rothstein

Ashley Rothstein develops tasty, whole food, animal-based recipes that include a moderate amount of “minimally toxic” plant foods. To fix her own health issues, she bounced around between the carnivore, keto, and paleo diets for a few years. After experiencing and studying each diet philosophy, she learned she feels her best by merging the three and following an animal-based diet. As a glut at heart, she likes to channel her creativity and create meals that are healthy but also satisfy her inner gluttonous spirits.



  1. David
    May 5, 2023 / 2:21 am

    Wow. That is an amazing recovery story. Well done! Thanks for making available such accessible and useful content 🙂

  2. Victoria AguirreVictoria Aguirre
    July 7, 2023 / 8:26 pm

    Hi! I have a similar story and my step daughter and her husband started sharing their animal based life with me. I’m so intrigued but curious about how this affects my high cholesterol and triglycerides. Have you had yours checked? Why do doctors think this diet will raise them? Thanks!

    • Ashley Rothstein
      July 9, 2023 / 4:31 pm

      Hello! Yes, I’ve had mine checked. I posted my results in this blog post. My LDL was slightly elevated but all other lipid panel markers were great. I have noticed that this diet does raise LDL for many people. The argument that some health researchers/experts make is that elevated LDL is not a problem in and of itself. Paul Saladino (a large proponent of this WOE), for example, is one of them. He has a bunch of YouTube videos on this exact topic if you’re interested in hearing his perspective.

  3. Mark
    September 12, 2023 / 6:08 pm

    Hello, just wanted to comment that I have had a lot of similar conditions. I had inflammation all over that went away when I started eating keto/Inter Fasting…..foggy brain that kept me from being motivated to do anything. My joints hurt and it was a chore to walk up a flight of stairs or even stand up from the couch. Not to mention tie my shoes. I was Hungry all the time….ate until i was sick and still ate more. Feeling that I could never get out of the spiral that I had put myself in. I’ve done the keto before but always ate the “fake sugar” so that i didn’t feel like I was depriving myself so much. I ate a lot of that stuff and it just upset my stomach daily. Now, I don’t eat anything that has those chemicals in it…meats, some green vegetables, water/coffee/tea and that’s it. I feel 1000 time better. I’m loosing a bunch of weight, I’m energized and motivated and I can tie my shoes without trying to break the world’s record in holding ones breath . I won’t tell you that I don’t still think about a lot of the food that I loved or that I will never eat it again but for now I am feeling great and reading testimonials like yours helps me keep on track. Thank you for sharing!!

    • Ashley Rothstein
      September 18, 2023 / 7:43 pm

      Thank you for sharing! I, too, love hearing testimonials like this. Glad you’re feeling better and experiencing improvements!

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