A couple days ago I had a complete meltdown. After a very minor spill, I just broke down and started bawling in the middle of the kitchen.
My husband found me in a puddle on the floor, ranting about how I am a burden to my family, and that I’m worth more dead than alive.
This is something that just happens to me. I don’t always know the cause. I wake up some mornings and just feel like the world is dark and gray, and I don’t really belong in it.
The first question I’m always asked when my episodes are witnessed (usually by family) is, “What’s wrong?”
I really hate that question.
The thing is, if I really knew what was wrong I wouldn’t be so upset because there would be something I could do about it.
The Problem with Doctors and Medication
A lot of people, who may or may not really understand what is going on, but just want to help, will suggest speaking with a doctor, a psychologist or psychiatrist. And I’ve tried. But unfortunately, talking never quite sorts out the situation and I’m almost always prescribed some sort of medication.
Some might say medicating depression makes perfect sense. I don’t want to discount or put down anyone who has felt their medication has helped them. There must be some people it helps or there wouldn’t be so many people taking it, I guess.
I have learned the hard way that medication does the opposite for me. It has always made me feel worse. Medication disconnects me from myself, my own thoughts and feelings, and it doesn’t address or resolve the problem.
Again, I’m sure some “logical” person will say that I just haven’t found the right medication. But since when did we agree to be Guinea pigs?
For years, I tried drug after drug for various ailments, and the only time I ever got relief was when the source of the problem was found and addressed. Additionally, there wasn’t one instance where I didn’t find myself suffering from multiple additional symptoms, including worsened depression, after starting to take a pharmaceutical. Assigning a bunch of chemicals to a situation, because 70% of people who tried it got some relief, is ridiculous.
So I have spent some time exploring how to address my manic depression by discovering the source of what ails me and trying to address it naturally.
Discovering The Cause of Depression
CHRONIC DEPRESSION – If you are suffering from chronic depression – a continuous cloud that just follows you, day after day, and leaves you lifeless and wanting to give up – generally there is some stresser that happened or started just before the depression set in.
Perhaps it’s an ongoing suppressor, someone negative in your life. You would be shocked how many people are chronically depressed and don’t realize that their spouse who is beating them might be the cause.
Often chronic depression kicks in after some sort of loss or big change – the death of a friend or family member, the loss of an important job, even moving and losing groups of friends can trigger a depressing mood that is hard to escape. If you can isolate what happened just before your depression set in then maybe you can address it through talking or therapy.
Sometimes there may be multiple things that happened over time that lead to a deeper and deeper depression. Even noting that you were once happy can lead to finding answers about how to get there again.
If you have “always been” depressed, even with medication, check your medication side effects. A huge side effect of medication for depression IS DEPRESSION.
Some doctors will prescribe a second drug to help the first drug work better. Don’t fall for that. There is no real science behind prescribing things this way, it’s based on the percentages of people who said this worked for them and that’s really it.
I don’t want to say all doctors and prescriptions are pointless. If you have a bacterial infection and treat it with an antibiotic, you have a better chance of healing. Scientists can visually watch infections die with the application of antibiotic treatment. It’s a natural occurrence proven in nature and science. It makes sense.
Many pharmaceutical drugs are just lining the pockets of rich people and government lackeys while the rest of us suffer as Guinea pigs.
If you are taking a medication that you think may be the cause of your depression, don’t just come off of it, especially if you’ve been taking it for some time. Coming off of medications can often be as dangerous as taking them, or more so. Get help.
If your doctor doesn’t agree with you, find another doctor. There are plenty of nutritional doctors out there who can help you safely come off of medication and find an alternative. They unfortunately usually aren’t in your insurance network, but there are some affordable ones. Do your research.
MANIC DEPRESSION – If you tend to exhibit manic depression, ups and downs, like I have with my random meltdowns, there can be a multitude of causes. Mine usually turn out to be hormonal, related to extreme fluctuations caused by my period, ovulation or endometriosis. I learned this when I realized that most of my meltdowns occurred precisely every two weeks. My underlying conditions turned out to be endometriosis and hypothyroidism.
Lack of sleep or poor nutrition can also cause depression. Have you ever eaten an entire birthday cake and a bottle of wine and woken up crying about nothing? Even if you just had a piece of cake and a sidecar, you have a chance of waking up depressed.
Things like eating too much sugar or alcohol can cause false highs and resulting depression when you come down from them. They also deplete you of vitamins and minerals that help you feel good.
If you can discover the cause, it will be easier to overcome depression without medication. Here is a list of common causes or triggers of mood issues and depression:
- LOSS OF ANY KIND (LOVED ONE, JOB, HOME, ANY MAJOR CHANGES)
- STRESS (FAMILY, FINANCIAL)
- LACK OF SLEEP
- POOR NUTRITION (NOT EATING, EATING TOO MUCH, EATING UNHEALTHY FOODS)
- EXCESSIVE REFINED SUGAR
- DRINKING ALCOHOL
- HEALTH ISSUES (DIABETES, AUTO-IMMUNE, CHRONIC PAIN, ETC.)
- VITAMIN DEFICIENCIES
- MINERAL IMBALANCE
- HORMONAL CHANGES (PERIOD, OVULATION, MENOPAUSE, FERTILITY TREATMENT, ENDOMETRIOSIS)
- CHRONIC PAIN
Stress is often a huge part of depression. If you have a job that requires you to deal with negative issues or people, or do things you don’t want to do, that can definitely contribute. There is only so much negativity a person can handle, and some of us have already had to deal with more than our fair share. In other words, we all have our breaking points.
You may feel trapped by bills, keeping you in a job you hate. That’s enough to depress anyone. The unfortunate solution is not always obvious in situations like this. It’s these situations that often lead to drinking or misuse of prescriptions because it’s the only way to escape.
A good exercise to help resolve stress is to organize your life. Make sure you are taking time for yourself while still putting just enough attention on the things you need to.
I like to bullet journal because I can be creative and have fun with it – a little me-time – and it shows me what I’m getting done while making sure I move forward the things I can’t quite get to so nothing is forgotten.
If bills are stressing you out, organize your finances and make sure you know what you are spending compared to what you are bringing in.
Find creative ways to do something you love to make a little extra cash. I recently met a girl who started making hats and selling them on Etsy and was totally surprised at how popular they were.
Me-time can be fun AND make you cash.
Health and Medical Issues – Chronic Pain
Having a health issue that is causing chronic pain, with no immediate solution to that issue other than drugs or painkillers, can definitely trigger depression. Outside of stress, it’s the one I deal with personally, the most.
Chronic pain gives the body little chance to rest and recover. It can lead to lack of sleep, which only makes the pain worse. If you don’t know the source of your pain, it can be easy to succumb to depression because you might feel there is no solution.
It’s important to keep investigating and digging to find your solutions, whether nutritional or medical. There is always a reason for pain, and therefore a solution.
Often, the reason is obscure and some doctors only know to prescribe drugs as the solution. Get a second opinion, get a third. Don’t stop until you have exhausted all possible resources or discovered what the actual cause of your pain is.
Several years ago, I woke up with the most excruciating pain shooting down my left side and complete paralysis on my right side, from the waist down. I went to a chiropractor first, and he adjusted me and told me something was out of place but he had fixed it, and I would heal in a few days.
He was wrong.
Within 24 hours I could no longer walk or stand upright. I hadn’t slept in over 48 hours as no position was comfortable. I was in non-stop, excruciating pain. So I went to the emergency room at the hospital.
The hospital did x-rays and the doctor told me that I had degenerative spine disease. She said that the gel between my discs was degenerating and two discs were pushed together, likely pinching a nerve. She said there was no real solution, but I could try physical therapy and take drugs.
She prescribed me Gabopentin and Vicodin. This was my first experience with both a mood-altering, nerve medication, and a controlled pain killer. It was not good, but I’ll review that another time.
Fortunately, her diagnosis was also wrong.
A year later I was still looking for answers and refusing to believe I have to live like this forever. I ended up seeing my mom’s chiropractor. She had talked to him about my symptoms and he recognized it as something he personally had dealt with.
An MRI was done and we discovered that my gel had not at all degenerated. It had burst out of my spine and was in full contact with the spinal cord on my right side, with partial contact on my left side. I looked at the MRI myself and it was immediately clear to even me, this is why I was only partially paralyzed on the right and in so much pain on the left!
I was able to get a simple surgery to remove the gel and the relief was immediate. My extreme pain was gone and healing could begin. The delay in getting a proper diagnosis unfortunately caused some of my nerves to go numb, contributing to other issues. But I can’t complain after I think of the moment I thought I would have to live with that pain for the rest of my life.
Never stop looking for answers. You don’t have to agree with or accept every diagnosis or treatment, especially if it doesn’t lead to a solution.
There are unfortunately a lot of health issues we haven’t gotten to the bottom of and you may have one of those “invisible illnesses” that can’t be diagnosed and are therefore hard to fix. I definitely have reality with that.
I like to believe that by being as natural as possible, all ailments can be cured. It’s probably not true. There are definitely some things, such as some forms of cancer, that cannot be cured through health. But even in cancer treatment, it helps to be as healthy as possible so your body can have a strong immune system and protect itself naturally. It certainly doesn’t help to fill it with junk or alcohol, or things proven to break down the immune system.
Focus on your health and healing. Find answers to your ailments. Having a “Don’t Give Up” attitude in and of itself can be healing. Be strong and carry on.
Overcoming Depression Without Medication
Aside from addressing the issue that may be causing your depression, there are things you can do to boost your mood naturally and help you overcome those tough times. The following has worked repeatedly for me and others, during my worst moments of self-destruction. I’m sharing them with the hope it might help you through some trying times.
DURING AN EPISODE
1. RECOGNIZE THE SOURCE – Particularly when you are having a meltdown, the first thing you need to recognize is that you are having a meltdown. Let it happen. Get emotional, but recognize that the source of that emotion is NOT YOU. You may not know at the moment what is causing it, but it’s not who you really are and you need to address it as something that is simply affecting you.
I sometimes pretend I’m Harry Potter and Voldemort has taken over my body. I do what Harry did to rid himself of evil and I think back to who I really am. I remember my friends, my family, the good times, and eventually Voldemort can’t stand it and is forced to leave. Call me crazy, but it works for me.
Later, when you are more relaxed, you can take a look at what may have caused the breakdown and see if you can figure out the source and prevent it in the future. For now, do whatever you need to do separate yourself from what it is that is making you think harmful thoughts.
2. DO NOTHING – Again, in the case of an episode, don’t do anything. If you have a thought to self-harm, imagine that someone else is asking THE REAL YOU to do that. What would you do? Would you really hurt yourself just because someone told you to? No. It’s ridiculous to do that. Decide that you are not going to do anything. Just sit there. Cry if you have to, but do nothing.
3. JUST SAY NO – Now that you’ve realized your thoughts of self-harm or bad feelings are not your own, just tell them no. You are not interested.
4. GET CREATIVE OR PRODUCTIVE – Decide instead to put your focus on achieving some sort of physical product. Work with your hands and build or create something. If you like to sew or crochet, just sit down and work on that project you’ve wanted to do.
I like to sing, paint or write. I’ll turn on my singing app and record a song. Or I’ll pick up my guitar and make up a song. I’ll use my depression to inspire some amazingly dark story or painting.
If you can’t find anything creative to do, try cleaning. Another thing I love to do when I can’t stop crying is scrub dishes. I put in my headphones, listen to Drake or Jason Derulo, and I just take my frustrations out on grease and dried crusty things.
Scrubbing a floor is an amazing way to come down from grief. So is vacuuming, dragging that heavy object roughly back and forth across the floor. I always feel better after taking out some aggression and seeing the beautiful result.
Being productive helps you feel better about yourself. The fastest way to feel productive is to make a physical product with your hands where you can see immediate results. Get scrubbing.
5. CALL SOMEONE – If you think at all that you can’t get through this episode, and you going to lose it and do something stupid, call a friend or family member that you trust. If you can, set it up in advance.
Most of us have that one person in our life that we can reach out to without fear of judgment. Someone who will just hold our hand and let us cry, without prying into things. For me, it’s my mom. I can call her and say, “I need to be talked down,” and she’ll just let me cry through whatever. And she doesn’t let me go until I feel better.
If you don’t have someone to call. Call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-8255 or click here: SuicidePreventionLifeline.org They are available 24/7 and it is completely confidential. You don’t have to tell them anything you don’t want to, but they might make suggestions to help. Sometimes it is just nice to be heard.
Remember that someone somewhere does need you and will be hurt if you go. No matter what you believe in a moment to be true, there is more happiness to be had if we can take action and work towards it.
Don’t let the bad guys win by taking you down. Recognize the bright shining star that is in you.
DAY TO DAY HEALING
1. MEDITATION – Meditation has been known to help thousands live calmer and more productive, happier lives. There are a lot of different methods, so you should find what works best for you. The basic idea is to just sit and clear your mind. Just exist for a moment and try not to think about anything. Do it until it becomes easier for you to just simply clear your mind.
Sometimes it can help to put focus on the world around you as a means of meditation. Take a walk or a drive. Go to the beach or lake. If you only have a brief moment, just go outside and breath for a few minutes. Notice the world around you instead of focusing on what’s in your head.
2. NUTRITION – Ever heard, you are what you eat? What you eat makes a big difference in how you feel. If you’ve never eaten a salad, this might not be immediately clear to you because you probably have a lot of lows.
Test out your food. Find out what you react to. If you feel like crap every time you eat fast food, stop eating fast food. I know that sounds obvious, but these habits are hard to break until you realize they may be causing your depression.
Caffeine, sugar, soda…these are things that are addicting and have a huge effect on health and mood. If you are consuming these things daily, it’s no secret why you are moody.
Try a week without typical junk food. Add more vegetables and fruits, in any way you can Some people have to do it at Jamba Juice. Fine. Just make a change and see how you feel. If something makes you feel better, keep doing it!
There are specific foods that are great for lifting mood. You should research them and try adding them in to your diet.
If you do anything, stop eating refined sugar. It is a mood killer. Stopping this will make you feel worse at first, so give it a full week. Your mood patterns will change if you just stop eating refined and processed sugar. Stick to fruit.
If you have any health issues, research how to specifically address those through nutrition and food changes.
I had to find out what foods were contributing to my hormonal issues, and ended up cutting out a lot of meats and cheeses, which made a huge difference. You would be surprised how much of the food we eat has hormones in it that could be drastically effecting your mood.
Do the research or reach out to a nutritionist, and find out what the best diet is for you.
3. VITAMINS AND MINERALS – If you haven’t been eating perfectly, you likely aren’t getting the vitamins and minerals you need for daily nutrition. Most people don’t. Unless you are on the perfect meal plan to get all the nutrition you need, and you are taking plenty of time outdoors in the sun, you should take vitamin and mineral supplements.
4. TREAT YO’ SELF – A large part of staying healthy and positive, is treating yourself. If you have a family you take care of, a job you are addicted to and being overworked by, or anything like this, you are probably neglecting yourself. You need to schedule out a day or two, even just an evening, where you get to do whatever it is that you want to do.
Send the kids to grandma’s. Take a bubble bath. Watch your favorite tearjerker, or one of mine. – JAIME TALKS BEST TEARJERKER MOVIES, SURE TO MAKE YOU CRY
I personally like to play bingo. When I need a treat I take myself to bingo down the street (lucky to live in Vegas where bingo is 24/7), and I play a game of bingo and drink a virgin Mary with extra olives. That’s my me-time.
Share Your Solutions
We aren’t going to be able to find natural solutions to our pain and suffering without sharing. What do you do that helps you overcome your bad times? Please share with me and all readers who might be able to benefit. Comment below.