After my serotonin overload event, I struggled every single day to feel normal. And almost nothing would work to make me feel better. I really didn’t know that much about anxiety remedies, so I dived in head first researching as many things as I could.
Lavender essential oil, exercise, anti-stress remedy supplements. Nothing gave me relief from my daily panic attacks. This period of my life was hands down the hardest thing I’ve ever been through.
After almost a year of this, I finally hit a wall and felt like I should try antidepressants again. I needed a few good months out the dark cloud. And I was hoping my body could recalibrate properly after using them. I had been SO against taking them again, but I felt like there was no other option left. Nothing else had worked up to that point.
So I started back on Lexapro, the same drug I had taken the first time around. Two days into taking it, I started getting intense panic attacks and suicidal thoughts. I have never been someone that entertained the idea of suicide. I would never put my loved one through something like that. And yet, I would get these thoughts like “You’ve experienced all that life has to offer. I don’t really see why you need to stick around.” Immediately, I would shake my head and think WTF, where did that come from?! It was as if an evil friend had decided to take up residence in my brain, sprinkling negative thoughts in between my normal thoughts.
I knew that this was so NOT ok. So I immediately stopped the medication. I went back to my doctor and she explained that there are different types of antidepressants. My body chemistry must have changed from the first time I took them, so maybe I needed to try a different kind this time around.
I tried Prozac next. I felt ok for about three days. By the fourth day, I woke up with my heart feeling like it was beating out of my chest. Almost like a had gotten a massive surge of adrenaline that shook me from my sleep. I cannot stand that feeling at all. It is the worst to wake up feeling panicked.
Then I would feel very cloudy all day. Super sedated. It was as if there was this hazy cloud in front of my mind and I was constantly trying to push through it. Then about day five, the negative depressed thoughts came on.
Most doctors will say that it takes about 6 weeks to adjust to the medication. I could barely handle five days. Which re-affirmed to me that I was not meant to take medication.
At first I felt very defeated. I wasn’t sure where to go from there. I had always looked at antidepressants as the life vest for me when I was drowning. It was absolutely the last resort option. It took so much for me to admit that I needed help outside my own capacities. So when it didn’t work, I felt hopeless.
After I accepted this reality, I decided that I was going to have to dive in EVEN deeper to understanding my mental illness.
I started focusing heavily on my nutrition. I wanted to do a round of Whole30, but I decided to wait until I was done with that school semester. So I chose to first cut out bread, dairy, and sugar. I started feeling better but I had no idea what was ahead of me.
One decision was made that changed literally everything for me. I found a new naturopathic doctor who has been my saving light in better understanding my body.
Before my initial appointment with her, I had to fill out the longest intake form ever. I answered so many questions that appeared to be very, very random to me.
When I first met with her, she started asking me questions about my diet and to be frank, my poop patterns. I had no idea where she was going with this. Then she dropped the bomb on me. She believed that I may have Celiac Disease.
This part of my journey somewhat long and drawn out. I want to full explain all of it because it is VERY important. But right now isn’t the right time for that. I promise to share it all very soon.
For now, the short version is that I did a blood panel to test for Celiac Disease and it came back negative.
At that point, I decided to disregard what the test results said and listen to my body instead. I chose to become GF (gluten free) and see how I felt. For weeks, mentally I felt absolutely terrible. Super depressed and anxious.
Then around week 6, I turned a corner and started to feel amazing. My mood improved, and miraculously, no more panic attacks. None. At. All.
I decided to dig deeper to figure what on earth was going on. I learned things about mental illness & nutrtition that suddenly made all these events make sense.
- seretonin and dopamine are produced in the brain, but are primarily absorbed in the stomach
- if you irritated by food you are eating, it can inflame the lining of your stomach. This leads to stomach permeability, or better known as leaky gut
- if you suffer from leaky gut, it is VERY difficult for nutrients and brain hormones to be absorbed by the stomach
Even if my body was making enough happy hormones, there was no way my body was going to be able to absorb it. Once I cut out gluten, my body started being able to absorb more. Just like how my doctor had said that it takes the body about 6 weeks to adjust to different levels of serotonin and dopamine, it took me the same amount of time to naturally get used to higher levels.
As you can see from my experience, food is SO important to mental health. But it is EVEN more important to make sure that you avoid the wrong foods. And that can differ from each person. I am the most reactive to gluten, and then dairy follows closely behind that.
That is me. You could be very different from that.
I have made leaps and bounds of progress with my mental illness. I am WAY better off than I was two years ago. But I am not out of the woods yet. My body chemistry is always changing due to age and external factors. Although food has been a huge part, I have had to incorporate other remedies.
I have compiled a list of Natural Anxiety Remedies that I have either tried, am currently testing, or plan to test in the future. I hope that something I share can help each one of you that are struggling with your mental illness. My main focus has been on anxiety, because that is the beast I battle on a daily basis.
If you feel inclined to share your journey in the comments, I would really appreciate hearing from you. Mental illness can be so isolating at times. You can look fine on the outside. So when you tell people you don’t feel good, many people will minimize your condition. It is time for us to come out of the shadows and share our struggles.
It is the only way we can grow in compassion and understanding of mental illness. Thank you for allowing me to share my journey, and I hope to share more progress in the future.
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