The Battle Inside: Overcoming Depression

by Susan on April 21, 2014

Overcoming depression

Disclaimer
I am not a doctor nor do I have any professional experience in dealing with overcoming depression.  I am sharing in this article my own personal story and what specifically has helped me.  In no way is this to be used in place of medical advice.  If you are suffering from symptoms of depression, please see a trained professional immediately.

 Depression wasn’t really something I had ever given much thought to.  It’s one of those things that I assumed I’d never have to give any attention to.  And sadly, I didn’t feel much sympathy (or really feel anything at all, actually) for those who were facing depression.  It wasn’t until it hit a little closer to home that I took a different look at it.  After the birth of my 4th child, I began experiencing some symptoms I had never had before.  It started with feelings of confusion, exhaustion, and emotional extremes.  I assumed it would go away as my baby got older and developed more consistent sleep patterns.  But instead, the symptoms got worse.  I felt like I was losing my mind.  I couldn’t remember things, I would get disoriented, and I never could think clearly.  I cried a lot for no apparent reason and really, could barely function.  I know the rest of my family was frustrated, but they said little about it to me.  Finally, I made an appointment with my doctor.  That was when I really started to feel as though I was losing my mind.  She told me it was the same diagnosis she’d given me before ~ postpartum depression.  Before?  I was really confused.  She then told me I’d been there 3 months earlier with the same symptoms.  I honestly did not remember having ever gone before!  I didn’t believe her until she showed me in her charts my records from the previous visit and all my lab work.  She believed the best option for me would be medication, but the medications were not safe while breastfeeding.  So the decision was that I would wean the baby and go on the medication.  That’s when things really began to escalate.  My daughter had no intention whatsoever of weaning!  The more I tried, the more she cried; the more she cried, the more I felt like a terrible mother; the more I felt like a terrible mother, the further I sank into that black hole of depression.  But of course there seemed like no way out of that black hole other than medication ~ which of course couldn’t be taken until the baby weaned.  A vicious cycle with no apparent way out!

I began researching.  There had to be another way, I thought.  I had been into health, fitness, and nutrition for awhile already so I began thinking there must be a natural alternative.  I began trying a LOT of different things.  To be honest, I can’t pinpoint one specific thing that made a difference.  It may very well have been a combination of many things.  So I am sharing what I tried and you can take it or leave it. 😉

  1. I believe a lot of depression, particularly the type I have suffered from, stems from a hormonal imbalance.  I tried a couple different supplements to balance hormones but many just plain made me nauseous.  The supplements I did find to be helpful were from Garden of Life and were RM-10 Ultra, Primal Defense Ultra, and Clear Energy Mind & Body Power.  Altogether they were a bit pricey but I decided to give it an honest try.  In my research, I learned that these types of supplements, being adaptogenic, would not give immediate results but could take 6-8 weeks.  For me specifically, it was more like 8 weeks, but wow, what a difference!
  2. Diet makes a big difference in how you feel.  Just eating immune-boosting foods can make a world of difference.  Avoiding foods containing processed sugar and white flour can keep your mood levels from plummeting with that sugar crash.  Foods high in antioxidants can boost the mood ~ foods such as fresh berries, citrus fruit, and dark chocolate (yes, I’m telling you to eat chocolate!  Just avoid the ones with processed sugars added).
  3. Exercise can play a huge part in overcoming depression, but as with any other activity during a medical condition, should be monitored and controlled.  Most days, I had to literally force myself to get out of bed.  So setting huge goals was not a good idea at this point in my life.  I started slow, just taking a leisure walk each day.  It was months before I was able to move on to anything more strenuous than that, but over time was able to increase my activity levels dramatically.
  4. Getting away from things and taking the time to think things through and plan can get you to slow down, breathe, and focus.  I combined this with my exercise.  I spent about an hour each morning taking a walk down by the ocean. I claimed “my” big rock where I sat every morning and spent some time in meditation, prayer, and planning.  Also, once a week my husband kept the kids so I could go to lunch by myself and just spend some “ME time”!  I also made nap time every afternoon mandatory! 🙂
  5. Get help!  This was a big game changer!  Once my husband realized this was actually a medical condition, he hired someone to help me with the baby so I could get extra sleep and catch up on things I needed to do.  She also helped a good bit with housework and became much more than a “hired hand” but a true member of our family.  To this day Jane is one of my closest friends and has helped me in more ways than she’ll ever realize!  My husband has always been one to help out around the house, but he also became even more involved in helping out.
  6. Take off the pressure.  I know this is easier said than done, but there are some stages of our life where some things just aren’t really that important.  This was not a time that I really NEEDED to have the perfect house and everything in magazine-cover order.  I needed to relax a little and take the pressure off.  I also gave up some responsibilities for the time being that I was involved in at church and other areas.
  7. Find some hobbies.  For me, I took up gardening.  Ok, those of you that know me, know I literally cannot grow anything!  I can kill a plant just by looking at it.  But for me, this was therapy like no other.  My husband bought me pots and potting soil and all kinds of seeds.  I didn’t care if the plans survived or not; I had a blast digging in the dirt and just not caring!  The two things that I managed not to kill, spider plants and marigolds, I had growing all over our porch and yard.  And I actually grew a melon (emphasis on A – only 1 grew but I was so proud of that one melon!).  The hobby can be anything really, but I do recommend getting outside and enjoying the fresh air.  I have to admit, I did not WANT to go outside at all during this time, but I made myself, knowing it would help me feel better; and it really did!
  8. Hesitate to medicate!  While many types of depression are only treatable with medication, there are also just as many that can be treated without medication.  Sometimes medication is prescribed as a quick fix, but that doesn’t treat the cause, just the symptoms.  So my belief is use medication as a last resort, not a first resort!  However, if you feel that you are a danger to yourself or others, seek medical attention immediately
  9. Don’t think too hard when you’re tired!  Ok, let me explain.  I found my symptoms were always worse when I was overtired.  I also found it wasn’t a good idea to think hard on a decision or problem during this time.  I would just get frustrated, stressed, and overwhelmed and those nasty feelings of despair and hopelessness would attack.  I had to train my mind over time to basically shut down and get some sleep.  Often after a good night’s sleep, the problem or situation didn’t appear nearly as bad as it had the night before.  While this is true for anyone actually, for those fighting depression, the problems are extremely magnified!
  10. Think positive thoughts.  This is tough when the feelings of hopelessness creep in.  I had to make certain thoughts completely taboo – thoughts like “I can’t do this.”, “I’m worthless.”, and “I hate my life.”  They did no good whatsoever and basically took over my mind.  Prayer was my biggest weapon against this, along with quoting uplifting Scripture passages and positive thoughts.  I began replacing those thoughts with “I CAN do this!”, and “I LOVE my life!”  And over time, I realized these thoughts were true!

A few facts about depression to consider are this ~ there are MANY different types of depression so what works for one person may not work for another.  This is why it’s extremely important to see a doctor to get a proper diagnosis!  Also, those who suffer from depression at some time during their life will most likely suffer from it off and on throughout their life.  It usually does not just go away and not come back again.  That’s why it’s important to continue “treatment”, whatever that may be.  I do not take all the supplements I took before but the Clear Energy is one that I can’t go very long without.  When I do go without it for awhile, I start to see symptoms creep back in, slowly and subtly.  Also, keep in mind that very few treatments make a difference overnight; often even medication takes time to take effect.  Be patient and keep assuring yourself that this will not last forever; that there IS hope in overcoming depression!

I hope that what I’ve shared can be an encouragement to you. God bless you!

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