I can see clearly now the rain is gone. I can see all obstacles in my way. Gone are the dark clouds that had me blind. It’s gonna be a bright, bright, bright, bright sun shiny day.” – Johnny Nash
A previous therapist of mine said that recovering from depression is a lot like climbing a mountain. And I have found that to be true. Though your general direction is up to the top, there are times that the trail takes you down. Three steps forward, two steps back. But after several ups and downs, twists and turns, the summit comes into view, and you rise above the fog. Lungs open and breathe in fresh, cool mountain air. You feel alive. You feel good. You feel like you can fly!
My first climb out of depression was with the help of medication. After faithfully taking the medication for two years at the advice of my doctor, I decided to see if I could wean off the medication and maintain good health. Unfortunately, I quickly descended back into depression.
Instead of returning to medication, I decided to see if there were natural ways that might alleviate my symptoms. Some of this, I admit, was out of a stubborn pride and desire to not need the medication. So I embarked on a journey of trying to recover naturally. I eliminated the birth control pills that listed depression as a possible side effect. I began an intensive therapy called life integration therapy. I took St. John’s wort religiously. And finally at the end of my rope as a last-ditch effort, I made an appointment with a naturopathic doctor. Her philosophy began with diet, incorporated natural supplements, and remained open to include medication as a last resort.
A Healthy Diet Supports Recovery
What I’m learning, and what more and more research supports, see here and here, is that diet plays a significant role in many of our modern ailments, including depression. Now, I have to insert a caveat: Every individual’s journey will be different, so my story is not meant to be prescriptive. Still, I do believe that if you are struggling with depression you should explore the factors of your physical health that could be contributing to the depression.
But, to be clear: I am not here to advocate a no medication stance. I took medication for two years and it helped tremendously. I had a plan to return to medication if the natural supplements alone could not provide sufficient support. Luckily, the changes in my diet and the natural supplements have helped me. But new moms, if you are struggling, don’t wait to get help. Take the medication until you’re not in survival mode anymore. You can work on your physical health while you are on medication and it may help you transition off the medication more easily because you will have healthy habits in place to support healthy hormone and neurotransmitter functioning.
I’m learning that whether you are on medication or not, there are things you can do to help your body support healthy emotional functioning. In particular, I have found that establishing healthy eating habits and coping strategies can help your whole body recover and function optimally. In the next post, I will share with you exactly how I changed my diet and used natural supplements to recover naturally from depression.