Surviving a Shattered Mind

in Natural Medicine4 months ago (edited)

Depression can be terminal, but you can conquer it and experience life in all its wonder again!

MENTAL HEALTH

Why do we avoid talking about mental illnesses, especially depression, as if it's something to be ashamed of? Yet we will quite freely discuss conditions like diabetes, high blood pressure, cancer and so forth!

Tending one's mental health may be the most important thing we can do for ourselves, and for those around us.

DEPRESSION STRIKES

Once we neglect this part of our being, everything else starts falling apart - blood pressure rises, stomach ailments appear, our immunity is compromised, to name but a few; and of course when depression strikes, the road to recovery is long and hard.

Many will scoff at that and say we all have our bad days, but what I’m talking about here is not merely a mood thing.

You feel life has lost all meaning, day in and day out; you’re tired all the time, cannot cope with even the smallest tasks; you feel physically ill, your mind is racing, you cannot concentrate, you start thinking about death, anxiety levels are high and panic attacks hit you from nowhere, insomnia becomes your daily foe. It feels as if you’re all alone, even though you’re surrounded by supportive friends and family.

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Image by Andrew Neel
Friends are perplexed at this new you, and tell you it's time you snapped out of it…as if you enjoy feeling like that!

SUICIDE IS NOT PAINLESS

I wrote about this some two years ago and it was not easy, but I think it’s necessary to share my story of hope now during these difficult times as I’ve heard of too many suicides lately; one a wonderfully talented daughter of a lovely family we know, another young life lost way too soon.

Suicide leaves scars that are difficult to mend - pain, confusion and anguish, the most difficult road to walk!

A while after I wrote my first blog about how I managed to get out of that deep dark hole, my son lost his closest friend; a sweet and gentle soul who was too fragile to take the knocks of life. He stood by this troubled girl, but life took its toll and her depression spiraled out of control; no cure could be found for this darling girl! He still has not come to terms with her suicide.

Does one ever get over a loss like this?
You never do, but the intense pain does fade and eventually the good memories come back!

I will attempt to condense various blogs I wrote on conquering depression in this one.

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A quote from Dale Carnegie

MY STORY OF HOPE

All my friends and family know that I am the one who always looks at the world with rose-tinted spectacles, the eternal optimist who sees the glass as half full and not half empty; so when I started feeling all the symptoms described above, I was really confused, this simply was not the me I knew!

TRAGEDY STRIKES

Something else I did not like talking about, was that two years prior to my depression setting in, my talented 26 year old brother committed suicide.

Was this perhaps the catalyst for my illness?

I think it played a part; we did not talk about what happened, and that very act of trying to sweep it under the carpet had the opposite effect.

My personal feelings were confusion and even guilt as I thought that perhaps I could have done something to stop this horrific and desperate act.

What I learned from that is that one should never ignore little signs that all is not well with your loved ones and get help before it's too late!

However, and importantly, you cannot blame yourself for a decision made by a loved one when they, in a moment of utter despair and darkness, simply see no way out.

The medical specialist I saw thought a drastic thyroidectomy caused my depression and that it merely was a chemical imbalance, but I do believe my brother’s suicide was the catalyst.

Please remember that I am no medical expert, and the advice I'm giving here is merely taken from personal experience.

Initially, I took…

THE MEDICAL ROUTE:

It is vital to see a psychiatrist as they specialize in finding the correct medication.
I do believe the antidepressants corrected my chemical imbalance and I possibly would not be here today if it wasn't for that, but that was when my condition was really acute. Important to see a good counselor as well as make use of various coping skills, as simply popping a pill is not going to make you better.

I will tell you about my final road to healing a little later.

COPING SKILLS

I learned various coping skills during that period on which I will expand at the end of my post.

  • Walking does wonders to lift one’s mood, as does any form of exercise.

  • Yoga and breathing exercises are super for calming one’s state of mind.

  • Music therapy is excellent – I started listening to music again after not doing so for years!

  • Supplements - I spent copious amounts on supplements, and took great care with my physical health as I believe you cannot cope if that also deteriorates.

  • I learned how to hide my illness from well-meaning people who told me to snap out of it as that is the worst advice anyone could give a person with a mental illness like depression!

MY MEDICATION IS DISCONTINUED

I eventually went down to a low maintenance dose anti-depressant, but when the particular one I had been taking for years was discontinued, and the doctor wanted to put me onto something else, I decided to stop as I felt strong enough to go it alone.

TRAGEDY STRIKES AGAIN

Shortly after this, another tragedy struck.

My dearest uncle who was more like an older brother and confidante and called me daily, was found murdered in his flat. He was the eighth victim in a series of homophobic murders in Gauteng, but that’s a story I will not tell here.

I was absolutely shattered but knew that tablets would not take away that pain!

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THE HOLISTIC ROUTE

I went for a couple of counseling sessions with a wonderful homeopath who gave me homeopathic medication to help me stop the anti-depressants gradually AND diagnosed me with ADHD, the best thing ever as my confused mind now thinks straight.
I never knew I suffered from this condition but looking back it’s as clear as daylight, so I now buy this medication over the counter.

She further advised that I take up…

  • Meditation, Yoga classes and make time for myself again, something I had not done for years!
PATHWAY TO MEDITATION & TOTAL HEALING

My best friend from school-days who I had not seen for years, contacted me out of the blue asking if I would consider joining her in transcendental meditation classes.

Was it a coincidence that Melanie called out of the blue? I think not, and that was the beginning of my healing.

Meditation has many positive benefits:

  • Brain waves become calmer, and as your brain is the control centre of your body, healing starts to take place.
  • Blood pressure normalises, in fact it starts improving after the first meditation session.
  • Helps restoring you back to health if suffering from PTSD and Depression.
  • There's evidence that it can prevent the dreaded Alzheimer's disease, plus tons of other medical conditions.
  • Good things WILL come your way as your new state of mind affects your immediate environment.
  • This is the most natural form of relaxation, costs nothing except 15 minutes minimum out of your day, you can do it in any quiet space; this certainly is the biggest gift you can give yourself!

I urge anyone who is going through any difficulty or illness, to consider taking up meditation.

I met the wonderfully kind poet and author @ericvancewalton early in my blogging days here, and when I responded to one of his challenges he sent me a copy of his book on meditation – The Perfect Pause

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I live in South Africa and was super excited when my parcel arrived all the way from Minnesota.
Inside was this treasure of a book with an inscription from the author, a very special friend with great insight! There is a wonderful section guiding you through meditation and is a wonderful help for someone new to meditating, or even an old hand.

I had been neglecting my meditation as I’d been feeling ok, but really, why be satisfied with feeling ok when I could feel awesome again - no shoulder and neck stiffness, no insomnia, feeling at peace with the world, perfect blood pressure and the bonus, little miracles start to take place every day!

You can join a meditation class near you, check what other methods are available online; but please give yourself this gift of meditation and become the ultimate you!

I will quote one profound paragraph from @ericvancewalton’s book.

Meditation sparks substantial shifts in your perception that opens you up to subtler aspects of life. This process can greatly improve and deepen the quality of your time on this Earth. Once you notice synchronicity and understand how it works, it will show you that our reality isn’t some series of random events but rather meaningful coincidences. After a while, you will come to understand that there’s either a lesson to learn or a lesson to teach others in nearly every moment.

This, to me personally, sums up how meditation has brought about harmony in my life.

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TEN STEPS TO REGAINING & MAINTAINING GOOD MENTAL HEALTH
  • 1 - Balance - it is of paramount importance to keep the balance between work and leisure to keep stress levels down; try to find your own quiet spot and take short breaks when you feel overwhelmed.
    Stop, breathe slowly and deeply throughout the day - remember the saying - stop and smell the roses!

  • 2 - Sanctuary - Make your own little sanctuary at home, whether it's a room in your house, the garden or balcony; wherever that may be. This should be your little haven where you can go when you need a break. The best place would be your bedroom as a good night's rest is beneficial for healing - insomnia being the enemy.

  • 3 - Verbalise your feelings - talk to someone close to you about how you're feeling and make use of all your support systems - be it family, a friend, a work colleague or a spiritual leader ; someone you can trust.
    In fact, we all need to talk openly about mental illness to put an end to the stigmas around it. I find it ludicrous that people are not afraid to talk about their blood pressure or diabetes, yet are almost ashamed of admitting they have depression!

  • 4 - Find a good holistic healer and counselor - do not think simply popping a pill will get you back on the road to recovery - it takes hard work but it is so worth it!
    Always remember to take baby steps and also take things day by day. It is impossible for anyone to think they can solve their whole life's problems in one day!

However, should your condition be more acute, I believe it is vital to see a conventional specialist psychiatrist as you may need to go the chemical route but always bearing in mind that just popping a pill is not the cure-all!

  • 5 - Diet - A healthy well-balanced diet with plenty of fresh vegetables and fruit is vital as we need to take care of our physical well-being to enable us to fight any mental illness.

  • 6 - Supplements - there are many natural supplements on the market that assist in balancing brain chemistry. I took Evening Primrose Oil, Omega 3, Vitamin B and 5-HTP. Ensure you get enough Vitamin D by getting enough sunshine, or take the supplement.
    The herbal anti-depressant St John's Wort also works well.
    But as always, check with your health practitioner before taking anything.

  • 7 - Yoga, Exercise and Breathing Exercises very important - walking or any other form of exercise is great for getting the endorphins going! I know it's hard to motivate yourself, but this is a vital part of your road to recovery.

  • 8 - Hobbies - I know you feel like doing nothing but think of the things you used to enjoy - I love cooking & baking as well as gardening; when I get stuck into these things, I become more focused and forget just how bad I was feeling.

  • 9 - Leisure times - feed your soul!
    Music is my best therapy! Theatre or even going to the movies helps me forget about all my troubles even if it is just for that one evening; short breakaways even if it's just a day at the beach or in the park, really is like recharging one's batteries!

  • 10 - Meditation - Last but not least, in fact the most important tool I discovered and that I spoke about earlier.

To say a last word - even if it feels like you are drowning in that deep dark pit, just remember that you can get out of it by using some of the above tools, but meditation is the most valuable tool of them all and you can become the very best version of yourself once again!

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Original Content by @lizelle
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@lizelle, what an inspiring and important article you have written.
I have seen many friends and loved ones fall into depression after tragedy. Including deaths of children and also suicide. Just heartbreaking. We all have our down days, myself included, but true clinical depression needs to be addressed not ignored.
Your list of healing methods was great. I do many of the things you talk about, excise, good eating habits, lots of supplements, but you have reminded me about meditation, so important to find time to relax the mind.
Thanks for that.
Really my friend, excellent post.
Be well,. stay happy.

It really is heartbreaking seeing friends go through a loss like this but hopefully this will help someone one day! You should take a peek at @ericvancewalton's blog, you'll enjoy his mindful series.
Take care of yourself and @thebigsweed.

    I appreciate this ... I wonder what sorts of holistic people I can find in the city of Boston ... i've been going through a lot of weird stuff myself, as well, and would rather go the natural healing route. I doubt I have depression, or at least not clinical depression, because I have plenty of energy, I'm as happy as a lark, but for whatever reason, I have been having memory issues up the wazoo here lately. 

I'm so sorry that I only saw your response now, thank you for sharing that and I do hope you find help, a good start would be meditation. Have a look at @ericvancewalton's blog, he has been sharing the draft of his new book 'Mindful Moments' with us which I believe would be helpful. This world has become such a strange place with this pandemic and we're all having to learn how to deal with it. Take care and stay well.

 4 months ago 

Gratitude for a courageous and important piece, @lizelle. My lover, Christopher - a handsome American natural doctor - took his own life just months after I left Australia and sold everything to live with him here, in Thailand, at his insistence. It haunts me still, 17 years later. Hugs to you.

Curated for #naturalmedicine by @artemislives.

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Oh no @artemislives, how very very sad, this is such a cruel illness! I think it was possibly more difficult for men back then. I do believe treatment options are better today. We have some excellent private psychiatric hospitals that run specialized programs incorporating many different kinds of support therapies. I'm so sorry that you have to live with this pain!
Thank you for reading my lengthy post and the curation.
Hugs to you as well xxx

 4 months ago 

I also think so much has changed in the last 15 years. When I feel overwhelmed at the loss and waste (still!) I send love to his spirit and ask for forgiveness for not having seen it coming. And try to do something special for someone else.

!ENGAGE 25

You really cannot blame yourself for not seeing the signs, I know from personal experience how easy it is to hide those feelings especially if it's someone close to the depressed person as you don't want to upset or hurt them. I used to have the same feelings about my brother for many many years till my healing started.
Take care of yourself @artemislives!

Thank you for your engagement on this post, you have recieved ENGAGE tokens.

I'm so glad that you found your way out of the darkness, Lizelle. Depression can really sneak up on even the most optimistic of us and there's still such a societal stigma surrounding it that so many people keep it hidden.

I watched some family members battle it most of their lives and, as you know from The Perfect Pause, I dealt with it in my late teens/early 20's. I kept my depression a secret from everyone until I got so bad I could barely leave the house. I never had thoughts of suicide myself but I can see how people do. In the depths of it, it seems impossible to function in day to day life. I had such bad anxiety that I caccooned myself from the world. Thank God, meditation cured me.

I'm glad you found some value in the book! You'll be getting a new shipment this fall. : ) I'm thrilled with how the sequel is coming along and I can't wait to share it with everyone. Take care of yourself. I really appreciate our friendship!

You are a very kind man @ericvancewalton, thank you!
I remember when you spoke of that period of your life and do believe it was and still is much more difficult for men as you're supposed to be the tough ones, thank goodness you discovered meditation and found healing there, and are now helping many many people through your book and here on Hive with your Mindful series!
I will share The Perfect Pause with my friend who has just lost her daughter as both she and her husband are really struggling. I don't think one could ever come to terms with the suicide of a loved one, but meditation will help.
I'm really looking forward to seeing your sequel here as well!
Please take care of yourself over there as well, I'm so very glad I met you here through our friend @sultnpapper, thank you for being such a good friend, it's always lovely seeing you here;)

Thank you Lizelle! There is still a certain stigma surrounding males speaking freely about depression. I kept it to myself and probably shouldn't have. Thankfully I found a way out of it. I was one of the lucky ones.

I very sorry that your friend has to go through this. I'd be happy to send her her own copy if you don't want to give up your own.

I'm so excited to share this next book. So much more work has gone into it than The Perfect Pause.

I'm very thankful to have met you and Sult as well. These online friendships can really be lifelines during times like this! Take care and enjoy your weekend!

Thank you so much for the kind offer Eric, my friend's given the link to both her daughters as they're all shattered after this. I will lend her my copy until she gets her own, she lives two houses away from us.
Thank heavens you discovered meditation early, and are now sharing this with the world, what a gift!
You're so right, when I hear about the difficulties my online friends are going through elsewhere, I realize we're all in the same boat so don't feel so hopeless.
We are getting more bookings now but no one is planning too far ahead. Leisure travel is open again for guests within our province.
Thank you for your kindness and friendship!

Thank you for what had to be a very difficult post for you to write. It took a large measure of trust and courage for this, I am sure.

I'm so very glad you are here-you are one of the shining lights in my life.

Thank you.

I really could not have written this soon after recovering but now it's becoming more distant. It's just so sad that many people are starting to despair after losing their jobs and also the whole covid situation so I really hope this helps someone.
Thank you for the kind words @bigtom13, it's always a pleasure seeing you here!

Promoting Hive on Twitter

I'm depressed cuz everyhwere are fascists and communists.

Just for having a plant they put you for years into jail and fuck up your whole life.

I'm so sorry to hear that, take good care of yourself.