Yesterday was World Mental Health Day. A day that brings to light an often taboo topic of conditions such as depression, anxiety, etc. Since I believe that true health goes beyond what you put on your plate, or what you do in the gym, I thought I would share my experience in this topic. I am not a licensed counselor or therapist, but I am a health coach… and this is a topic I have first hand experience with.
For most of my life I struggled with depression… never suicidal, or anything like that, but long bouts of sadness, unease, feeling worthless, etc. I didn’t sit around crying, but I just really didn’t experience much emotion at all… I kinda felt numb. I would spend my time chasing happiness in relationships, my physical appearance, booze, etc… but, it always seemed to elude me, or if I did find it, it was very temporary, and I was back to being numb.
I’m happy to say that this is something I no longer struggle with. Yes, I will be sad or feel a little down temporarily when something “bad” or hurtful happens in my life… that’s a normal experience – life isn’t always sunshine and rainbows. 😉 But, I no longer have weeks, months, or even years of hopelessness. Now I feel joy on a pretty continuous basis. My soul is happy.
Here are some things that helped me to overcome this struggle:
1) Removing myself from abuse: if you’ve heard the saying “Before you diagnose yourself with depression or low self-esteem, first make sure you’re not surrounded by assholes” 💯 on point 👌🏻 When you’re suffering from mental and emotional abuse, your inner dialogue will reflect what your abuser says… it is not true.
2) I found God: I’ve always been a Christian, but it wasn’t until I really understood God’s love for me that I found my worth. When those negative thoughts tell me I’m not enough, I remind myself that God says I am fearfully and wonderfully made in His image. If I believe anything less, then I am in turn saying I am more powerful or all knowing than God… I have proven over and over that I am not. 😉 If God says I am worthy, valuable, enough – I am. Period.
3) I sought therapy: I believe we should all be in therapy… the world would be a better place for it. You can’t hide from your past, and you shouldn’t live there either… you can’t bury emotions and be healthy. Trust me, I’ve tried. 😉 By talking about all the crazy sh*t in your head it takes the power of shame about those thoughts away. We ALL think terrible, crazy thoughts at times… this does not make US terrible people. We are human. There’s about 7 billion of us f*cking up on a daily basis… this doesn’t mean that WE are f*ck ups. We just try better tomorrow.
4) I stopped people pleasing: this is the thing that still temporarily causes me anxiety and to be down, as these habits are hard to break- it was hardwired into me to not rock the boat, to try to please everyone, and to try to earn love by sacrificing myself and my wellbeing, but today I am able to recognize when I am doing this, and I put on the brakes and set the appropriate boundaries. It brings me back to a state of peace and joy.
5) I find gratitude in everything: It has been shown that you can instantly raise your mood by shifting your focus from what is wrong in your life, to something that is good in your life. We all have shitty things that happen to us or around us on a daily basis, BUT I can guarantee that even on your worst day ever, SOMETHING good happened that day… even if it was just one second- it was still good. I have been abused, I have had everything taken from me, I have seen horrible things throughout my lifetime, but I can find something good about each and every situation- this doesn’t mean I sugar coat the situations – no, they sucked! BIG TIME! But, I learned something each time, and those lessons and experiences brought me to where I am today… I am grateful for that, because I love who I am today, and I love my life today… where you focus your energy is what will multiply- focus on the good, and watch it grow.
6) I got my biology healthy: this was the final piece in the puzzle for me… finding a diet and lifestyle that are optimal for me. Depression and anxiety can be caused by imbalances in hormones, it can be caused by inflammation in your brain and body, it can be caused by physical trauma. If you are putting things in your body that are harmful to you, you may not produce the “feel good” hormones you need to be happy. If you are inflamed, the receptors in your brain may not receive those hormones and use them properly… even if you are producing enough. If you have an undiagnosed head injury (it’s estimated that up to 90% of people do) it can cause alterations in mood. By removing the food and substances that were causing inflammation in my body and brain, I naturally had a happier mood. Stop consuming the things that are harmful to you (sugar, alcohol, food sensitivities, etc) and see how much your mood improves in just a few short days/weeks… you may be amazed.
Truly thriving health goes beyond food or fitness- it encompasses mental and emotional health as well.
If you struggle with depression or anxiety please realize you are not alone, and it in no way makes you a lesser person. Seek help – it is not a sign of weakness… in fact, I can’t think of anything else that exhibits how strong you really are… because you are strong. 💪🏻 😘
Let me know what you think.