Wednesday, 21 March 2012

How I broke free from depression and anxiety without the help of doctors, therapists or medication:

I thought that it would probably be helpful if I told you guys the steps I took to break free from my vicious cycles of depression and how I got my terrible anxiety under control without ever seeking professional help or taking medication.

photo by harper smith

Why I didn't seek professional/medical help?
I grew up in a family where we very rarely went to our family doctor, only for the occasional check up and what not. I probably saw my doctor once from the time I was thirteen up until I graduated high school. No one in my family found running to the doctor for every little problem necessary. Western medicine isn't my cup of tea, I'm actually very opposed to it and I would never trust it or it's doctors. When I began developing depression and anxiety I guess it didn't even occur to me to seek help, for the first few years I didn't even think that what I was going through was a condition/disorder, I just thought everyone felt that way as a teenager and that I would grow out of it. When I realized that I was getting worse rather than getting better I took matters into my own hands, only then did the idea of seeing a therapist pop into my head. I didn't end up seeing one because it was way too expensive and I believed that I had enough power to help myself. When things got really bad I gave in and begged to see a therapist and decided that I wanted to take medication, but my parents wouldn't let me, and I'm so thankful for that. My dad grew up in the countryside where they grew their own food, milked their own cow and spent everyday out in nature, he has never taken medication in his life and sees it as a poison instead of a "cure". I only ever gave in that one time, haven't since, and I learned to fully trust nature and my own body's and mind's ability to heal itself!

Here's what I did instead:
1. Did as much research about the disorders as I could, it was really important finding out what was happening inside my mind and my body and why it was happening, it made the conditions concrete, almost predictable and not so complex and abstruse.

2. Changed my diet! I began eliminating different foods for a set period of time and seeing how my body responded. I found that eliminating gluten and yeast helped me the most, I felt lighter, had more energy, craved food less, experienced less anxiety, felt happier. I also stopped eating junk food and fast food, I was quite the fan of In N Out and the Carls Jr dollar menu when I was living in California, thinking about setting foot in either now makes me a little nauseous. On top of that I stopped drinking sodas, anything that looked artificial, replaced sugar with natural sweeteners. Began eating organic food, began incorporating things like hemp seed oil and hemp seed hearts into my diet, but more on my diet changes in later posts!

3. Began moving more! I found that once I forced myself to move: walk, run, jog, jump, even just get up and clean my room or go grab some tea from the kitchen, it got my blood circulating a little better and lifted whatever gloom I might of been feeling. I now make sure I take breaks every twenty minutes or so if I'm working on the computer or sitting down for extended periods of time. It also helps my creativity, and after a good exercise I feel on top of the world, no matter how awful or lethargic I was feeling beforehand. Once I built up enough courage, I even joined a gym!

4. Began repeating positive affirmations in my head, as well as using other thought techniques. If I had to choose the one thing that has helped me take control of my life the most, it has been positive thinking and affirmations. I'm a strong believer in the power of our thoughts, I had a pretty incredible experience with the law of attraction when I was fifteen and ever since haven't questioned it's power. I have since evolved my understanding and knowledge of it and have moved passed The Secret (what opened my mind to thought power in the first place) and have been studying and researching it extensively. My thoughts are now my greatest tools.

5. Figured out how to balance my time. I had two major problems: I would get REALLY excited about a project or idea and spend every hour of the day, for several days, putting all my time into developing the idea or working on the project. Then, out of nowhere I would drop it, unfinished, I NEVER finished anything I started. I thought I was doomed for life, that I was forever going to be the girl who didn't finish what she started. It made me feel terrible about myself, like I was incompetent. I later realized this was happening because I would get excited about something entirely new and project all my energy onto it, and give none of that energy or attention to the previous project/idea. At the same time, I would forget to exercise or eat healthy or do homework. Giving ALL of your attention to one thing is a recipe for failure. I now make sure that I dedicate time to everything that is important to me. I've always known that this was the way to live, but my passion for that one thing always took over my day and I didn't know how to just drop it and move on to something else, I felt like I was always forcing myself to do other things instead of wanting to do them. I learned ways of finding that passion for every task. Now I can easily put a project aside and go to the gym, or focus on a lecture in class instead of daydreaming, or even find motivation for three different project in the course of a single day. It makes me feel so good about myself and for the first time in my life I'm actually putting my goals and ideas into action and not dropping them halfway through.

6. Quit smoking and stopped drinking coffee before/during social interactions. I started smoking when I was fifteen, smoked half a pack a day until just recently. People say that cigarettes relax them, I never understood what they were talking about, cigarettes always made me more anxious, but I was so dependent on them that I didn't care. I can only imagine what all those toxins and carcinogens were doing to my body and mind, they definitely weren't helping my depression or anxiety. I love coffee, but I am extremely sensitive to it, I can feel it's effects after just three sips. When I knew I was meeting with someone or hanging out with someone I needed to have something in my hand, to feel like I was busy, for something I could hide behind or use as a crutch, I felt naked without a cigarette and a cup of coffee. Both over stimulated me, my social anxiety was amplified and I'd spend a lot of time beating myself up for it afterwards. I now replace coffee with herbal tea, unless I'm at home, I love the rush of inspiration coffee gives me when I'm writing.

7. Began leading a more spiritual existence. I don't associate myself with a single religion, western religions make up very uncomfortable, organized religions in general make me very uncomfortable although I'm profoundly drawn to eastern practices and teachings. I meditate, practice yoga when I can, get in tune with the energy field of my body and the earth, emanate love for all things, practice mindfulness, practice ways of reaching a higher consciousness, expand my understanding and knowledge of the universe, of life. Leading life this way has brought peace to me, I don't feel as lost as I used to, and it's no longer just a "belief" either, it just is, it's truth, I don't doubt my any of it for a second.

photo by harper smith

And voila! A year later I'm depression and anxiety free and have my life under control for the very first time. It shouldn't take you a year to rid yourself of these burdens, it only took me that long because I was experimenting and gaining new information as the months went on. I had spent six years trying to change myself and failed miserably every time. It was only when I took control of my mind that everything else came with ease. I have so much more I want to say about all the steps above and all the things I did in between. I think I'm going to write a step-by-step, detailed guide that everyone can follow and that everyone can relate to. I'm going to separate it into three parts: 1. For the mind. 2. For the body. 3. For the spirit. I strongly believe that achieving true health and happiness is only possible when you tend to and nourish all three.

Can't wait to get started!

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