How I Cured My Depression and Anxiety Naturally
I have decided to finally share something I have been avoiding for a very long time- my mental health testimony. May is Mental Health Awareness Month so I figured what better time to finally share my story. I think I have put this off for so long for the fear that maybe no one would care or that it would bring up old feelings that I have worked so hard to move past. But I truly believe God did not give me this battle to fight without being able to use it for good. This chapter in my life is a part of me, but it is not all of me. I'm sharing this in case there is someone, even if it is just one person, that needs to know today that there is hope, and there is freedom to be found.
I have gotten countless questions over the years about how I got started on my journey to simple and natural living. And this is it. This is how. What I thought was the worst thing to ever happen to me has lead me to my purpose and my calling. From darkness, to light.
I suppose I will start at the beginning.
Around the 7th grade, while my classmates were going through normal middle school things—such as bodily changes, the ebbs and flows of friendships, and well, boys—I was juggling those same things meanwhile trying to figure out if everyone else had this lingering cloud of sadness and anger too. I soon found out that those feelings were not a part of the "middle school experience." I knew there was something wrong, although I didn't know what it was. I had a friend who was in the grade above me who struggled with the same feelings, and I think that was how I learned that what I was experiencing had a name—depression.
By the time I entered high school, depression had completely taken over my life and my sophomore year was when anxiety and panic attacks decided to join it.
An excerpt from my journal- November 19, 2013
"I cannot even find a reason to live anymore."
For all of middle school and high school, I felt like I was walking around dead. I wasn't just tired, I was exhausted. I was famished for energy. It hurt to breathe. My eyes were so heavy and when I touched my chest and felt my heart beating, I'd be surprised. I walked around like this for 6 years when all I wanted to feel was alive. I wanted to breathe without it aching. I didn't want to fall asleep at night praying I wouldn't wake up. Life was hard.
Getting out of bed was hard.
Sending a text was hard.
Opening my mouth to speak was hard.
Wanting to stay alive was hard.
Depression feels like screaming under water. You can hear yourself, but it's muffled. It reminds you of how you can't breathe. You're struggling to get to the surface but no one is helping you because they can't hear you.
Everyone just assumes that you know how to swim.
This battle that I faced was one fought with a mask on. Although my depression and anxiety took a toll on almost all of my relationships and friendships, I never openly told anyone about the struggle I was going through. At the time, I don't feel that there was the awareness and huge mental health movement that is going on now. I just thought it was something you don't speak about. But I have learned that silence only fuels darkness. Sharing our struggles and our story- that's what heals.
At the beginning of 2015, while everyone was making their New Year's Resolutions to go to the gym every day, I sat down and thought really hard about what I wanted. Within the first few months of 2015 I finally reached out and started therapy. After a few months, I was making improvements. But although I was coping better, I wasn't feeling better. In late August 2015 I decided to try medication. I was on Zoloft for 2 months and Paxil for about 2 months as well. Within that 4 month span I had lost 15 pounds from loss of appetite, insomnia, and night sweats. I'm pretty sure I ate and slept close to nothing during those entire 4 months. Mentally, I was doing okay. I wasn't exactly happy, but I wasn't in my usual fog of depression either. I just felt numb. Like I was just pushing things down, tucking them away for later. Like I was trying to put a cap back on a bottle of soda that was shaken and exploding.
An excerpt from my journal- November 30, 2015
"I'm realizing that tip-toeing around depression is becoming more exhausting than actually being in the midst of it"
Physically, on the other hand, my body was being destroyed. I could feel it from the inside out. At this time I was still a naive teenager and no where near in-tune with my body and health as I am now, so it took a while for it to click that the medication I was consuming was making me feel terrible. After finally admitting to myself how sick I felt from this stuff,
I decided that "happiness" induced by a pill was not worth destroying my body for.
I remember the night I was sitting in bed, about to swallow my pill with a big gulp of water, and I paused, realizing that the reason I haven't slept well or felt well in a while was because of this pill. So I rushed to my computer and did a little google search to see if anyone else had experienced the same thing. I read the truth about what the medication was doing to my body and I felt repulsed.
An excerpt from my journal- December 16, 2015
"There's no way I'm putting this shit in my body anymore. I flushed all the pills down the toilet. I'm never taking drugs again."
Obviously it is never recommended to quit cold turkey but after knowing what I now knew, I could not put another pill in my mouth. I just couldn't do it and I felt like it was the Holy Spirit that led me to throw them out. Although I was only on medication for about 4 months, I still had terrible withdrawal symptoms- similar to those of a heroin addict. The rough part only lasted a few days, but I suffered from brain zaps for weeks after. Literally zapping sensations in my brain from withdrawals. I couldn't believe what I had done to my body, and I was so thankful that God woke me up before it was too late, the repercussions could have been so much worse. I knew I had to find some other way to help myself.
An excerpt from my journal- December 17th 2015
"My new years resolution for 2016 is to switch to everything organic/natural whether it's food-wise or lotions or candles. Just anything that's being put into my body. I want to overcome depression naturally with oils and vitamins, etc."
My mom had always been into natural living, organic eating, and homeopathic medicine. I on the other hand, did not actively practice those things. I was in high school, loved late night McDonalds and scarfing down chicken tacos from Applebee's. And don't even get me started on Flavor Blasted Goldfish. I didn't pay attention to health or ingredients, I ate what I wanted, when I wanted. This applied to the beauty aspect of my life too. I used chemical-filled lotions, perfumes, makeups, soaps, etc without any concern for the affects these toxins were having on my body. I rolled my eyes for years whenever my mom would warn me.
I think being raised around natural health beliefs is the cause for my desire to change. Without my mom raising me in that kind of environment, the thoughts never would have been in the back of my mind. I probably would still be on medication. So thank you, mom :)
January 2016 (the month I began my blog) was when I finally became interested in natural living and how I could use that to heal my depression naturally. This definitely didn't happen overnight, and I don't mean to portray it as if it did. I spent the next year and a half completely changing my lifestyle. I removed chemicals from my diet and started eating organic. I stopped using chemical filled beauty products and home products. I started using essential oils and taking vitamins and supplements. It took me a very long time to get to the point where I kicked my processed food addiction and was eating completely non-gmo or organic foods. But the more and more I chased after this healthy lifestyle, the healthier I could feel myself becoming, physically and mentally.
This was not a perfect process. There were days where I got bad again and wanted to give up. But there were also good days. Days where I was working hard and I felt good and those were the days that kept me going.
Fast forward about a year and a half later after the start of my natural living journey, I had worked hard to make this huge change in my lifestyle and was no longer dealing with the intense darkness that I had been for the past 6 years. It felt great, but there was still a subtler depression that came back to visit once and a blue moon. And I sort of just accepted that. I think there's this stigma that mental illness is and has to be, a lifelong battle. I was sort of thinking to myself like, "okay, I'm doing everything I can, this is just going to be my life. At least it's not as bad as before." Looking back, I now realize that it's in no way my place to limit God and His ability to heal.
I made the choice to go vegan on July 5, 2017 and it was a few months after that I realized I hadn't had any bouts of depression in a very long time. I am now a few months away from my 1 year anniversary and I can say with full confidence that becoming vegan and aligning with my beliefs is the one thing that healed me. Completely.
Who would have thought that my choosing to no longer contribute to the suffering of others would ultimately free me of my own?
When we consume animals and their by-products, we are consuming every ounce of suffering, fear, stress, anxiety, depression, grief, and pain that those animals experienced in their very short life. There's no way to cleanse those things from a body, and we consume that flesh. We feed ourselves with death. And then we wonder why we're so stressed out and why we feel like shit and why half the freaking world is on antidepressants that don't work. The food that we eat can either give us life or make us sick. When we choose to feed ourselves darkness, depression is most definitely going to be a side effect of that.
Please know that this isn't propaganda to make you go vegan. This is simply my story, my truth. I believe modern medicine has it's place, but not in my story. I now know that food is medicine, plants are healing, and compassion, love and mercy brings freedom. It's really quite simple actually, finding healing where it all began. In God's creation, in our relationship with Him, in His true intentions for us and our bodies. In sunlight, in being active, in our relationship and walk with Him. Getting back to our roots, turning from the worldly ways of a fast-paced, stressed-out, screen-addicted, pharmaceutical-crazed life that we were never meant to live.
My depression was not a chemical imbalance in my brain, but a symptom of something much deeper. When I took those pills, I was only covering up a symptom, I wasn't getting to the source. And because of that, I couldn't find joy. I was no longer drowning but more so lingering at the shore, just waiting for high tide to reel me back in. I don't know about you but that's not life to me. That's not living.
I share my story not to shame anyone in how they have chosen to treat their mental illness, but to bring awareness to a beautiful and natural path of life that can bring freedom from darkness in a nourishing and wholesome way. I share this for the person who fears that they'll have to be a slave to a pill for the rest of their life. Because you don't. Darling, you don't.
So this is a step towards sharing my darkness, and leaving a little piece of it behind each time I do. I used to say that light is coming and I am chasing it, but I think it's safe to say I've found it. And I pray you find yours, too.