Growing up, I did some strange things.
When I was a child, I frequently became furious during play fights or sporting events. Sometimes, in the same instance, I would become so emotional that I would break down in tears.
As I grew older I searched for outlets for my undulating emotions. Some healthier than others…
My highs were pretty high, but my lows were very low.
The worst periods of my life, I contemplated suicide (though not very often, thankfully).
While I have never been diagnosed with depression, it’s hard to argue that I was not suffering from the disorder, or AT LEAST something similar.
The point is, from my childhood through my early 20’s I was trapped in my own head and I knew it too. I was so emotional and erratic that it became embarrassing, so I suffered by not telling anyone and continued to unwind.
As I became more desperate for anything good to come my way… along came a girl.
I wish I could say that Anna showing up again solved all my problems, but she ended up being just as sick (something other than depression).
Together though, we have stumbled and clawed our way back to both physical and mental health.
But, in order for me to escape the mental prison that I had been trapped in for so long, I had to overcome the depression, mood swings, and infrequent rage.
So how did I do it?
Shockingly, when I focused on what made my body feel better, the more my mind felt better too. The craziest part is, I have improved so much that I no longer feel trapped at all – without a single drug.
And now I’m jumping out of my seat (in a controlled, not overly emotional way) because I get to tell you how I was able to reshape my mental health naturally! Hopefully you can find some ideas that might work for you too.
So here are my secrets:
I was not raised Christian (or religious). No prayers before bed, or Christmas Mass. I thought Easter was for the Easter bunny, and Christmas was for Santa Claus, literally. Once God entered my world though, I undeniably improved in every facet of my life.
Therefore, He gets the first shout out for how I have been (super)naturally healing my depression. The tactics he uses, and all of the ways he continues to change me are too numerous to note.
Real quick, if you noticed, I used present-tense when I mentioned God’s healing. If I were to change direction from the things I have done to improve my health (including mental), I would definitely regress and my depression would return.
That’s the way things work. We were created to treat our bodies a particular way, and veering from that path leads to some pretty crappy stuff – depression to boot!
But I won’t withhold ALL of God’s help. With flawless timing, he sent me to therapy exactly at the right time.
So… after Anna and I got married, we had a conversation that basically went like this:
She was like: “Dude, you’re kinda crazy.”
And I was like: “Yeah… I know.”
Then she said: “You need to talk to Father Scott about it.”
So I said: “Yeah, you’re right.”
(I’m sure you can imagine how awesome our conversations are based on my descriptive recollection.)
Anyway, I did end up talking to Fr. Scott (our Pastor at the time). He told me that he knew of a Catholic therapist that could help, and I made my first appointment right away!
I was eerily excited to talk to a complete stranger.
I was ready to figure out what was causing some of my triggers.
Just by talking with a counselor about my up-bringing, my relationships, and the stresses in my life, allowed me a significant understanding of how my mind worked. I gained the ability to recognize triggers in my behaviors that eventually gave me some control over my mood.
So basically, I had God in my corner showing me the ropes. He was teaching me how to tackle my toughest problems, namely those in my own head. One of his most helpful tools was a great therapist to be my mental detective.
Combining God, and the new knowledge of my inner-workings, created the ideal combo for reigning in my emotions and better controlling my behavior.
Other Keys to Conquering Depression
I refuse to discount the benefits of true faith and its impact, but I also won’t tell you it is the ONLY part of my healing. The following items have made immense impacts on my mental health and have been critical in my healing process.
3. My Diet!
Did you know that Celiac Disease (which I have) causes the lining of the intestines to erode over time (thanks to evil gluten)?
In case you don’t know, a compromised intestinal tract can cause something called “leaky gut”, Exocrine Pancreatic Insufficiency, and you guessed it – depression.
And yes, I have all three. Jackpot baby!
Obviously focusing on the depression side, Celiac Disease affects the lining of the intestines. How would it even make sense that the two are connected?
For a long time I had no idea. But what I found was…
- By going gluten free, things got better (mood included).
- Then, I removed dairy from my diet and saw even more improvement.
- Removed corn and the trend continued, plus no more eczema!
I continued to alter my diet because my digestive symptoms improved. By focusing on veggie intake/macro-nutrient balancing, food quality (organic and minimally processed), and also introducing some digestive enzymes, my mood almost did a complete 180!
Alas, consistent happiness. But what the heck was the link?
It turns out that the gut (the stomach, and intestinal tract) has as much influence on your behavior as your actual brain. I’m not kidding! People have termed the gut – the second brain, because of this phenomenon.
Having this information at my disposal makes me stay diligent in my eating habits. It also draws greater attention to what I eat, and when! Like I said before, if I let myself slide, I could fall right back into that mental prison from whence I came. So, I’ll just stick with healthy (and delicious) REAL food and…
You know how everybody is like, the sun! OMG it is so dangerous!
So, it turns out that hiding from the sun makes it really difficult to produce this very important hormone called vitamin D. Which I agree is confusing (vitamin being called a hormone and all).
The funny thing is we don’t know a lot about vitamin D’s effect on our body (like many other things in this world). What we do know though, is that vitamin D continues to show tremendous value when it comes to fighting chronic illness and depression!
So, knowing this, I started taking it.
I can’t say that it has an immediate or distinguishable difference on my mood, but over time, I have trended upwards. Thus, based on MY observations, I continue to take, and benefit, from this vitamin/hormone.
By the way, I also have blood results showing that my levels are low too. The reason I made made a point about my observations though, is sometimes we know something works even though it can’t be quantified and that data is important as well.
*Side Note: Please look into co-factors for Vitamin D. One important one is Vitamin K2!
On to the heavy hitter!
For those of you familiar with prescription drugs commonly used to treat depression, you may have thought you caught me on the whole “drug-free” thing. But, think again!
Lithium OROTATE is a low dose form of lithium (arguably the most bio-available). For people with chronic bi-polar and/or schizophrenic conditions, Lithium CARBONATE is prescribed at extremely high doses (usually 100 to 300 times higher than standard lithium orotate dosages).
I take lithium orotate in 5mg capsules, twice a day.
The effect it has on my mental state is the most noticeable thing I have ever done during my entire health adventure.
I liken this to a miracle nutrient, especially since it does more for me than even removing gluten from my diet after I was diagnosed with Celiac Disease.
Lithium balanced my highs and lows (without stealing my personality away), and has reduced my angry bouts single-handedly.
I know this, because it is the latest change in my battle with depression and mental health issues.
5. Changing Habits
Last but certainly not least – habit change.
Don’t be surprised. It’s not like we named our blog Healthy Habits Reset for no reason. Habit change has been one of the most important things I have done to continuously conquer my depression.
For instance, earlier I mentioned how in-tune I was to my triggers after I went to therapy. How I handled my triggers was a direct result of learning and changing my habits.
One habit in particular was my addiction to television.
For real y’all. I grew up watching a lot of TV.
So many things are wrong with constant binge watching, but most of all, I was constantly and totally spaced out. Sometimes spacing out is necessary to let the jets cool down. But, too much and too often forced my brain to crave distance from reality.
Next thing I knew – I was basically brain dead (at least, that’s how it felt). Unless I had constant visual stimulation, I ended up moody or dissatisfied with life. Both of these results are terrible for a person with compromised emotions (or anyone).
Recently, I applied something called the habit loop to this particular addiction and was able to start taking control of my TV watching habit.
By the way, the habit loop is something we teach in our free 5-day Habit eCourse. If you’re looking for the same formula I used, be sure to enroll! Just click here to sign up.
How I Win the Battle on Depression – Naturally
Every battle requires troops and weapons. When battling a debilitating condition like depression, I deploy the following:
- A commander-in-chief – God
- 4-star General – A great therapist and/or practitioner you trust (who has a similar belief system)
- A system of command that creates order and discipline – The habit loop (which we teach you in our free eCourse)
- Heavy artillery – REAL food and the right diet
- Navy Seals (top flight soldiers with top technology to eliminate the toughest road blocks) – Supplements like lithium and vitamin D
Like any chronic condition, something is causing it. Sometimes we don’t have a way out. Much of the time though, we do, and it can be done naturally through the things we all “know” are good for us, but fail to live out.
I have suffered from depression and chronic illness, but saw unbelievable results when I started treating my body the way it deserved to be treated. I didn’t just settle for a pill because it’s easy. I took my health into my own hands and changed it for the better!
Now it’s your turn. How can we help? Leave a comment below!
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Hey there! I’m Frank, co-founder of Healthy Habits Reset. My wife, Anna, and I have battled our respective autoimmune diseases for over a decade. We have fumbled through and eventually learned that REAL mental and physical healing requires you to be your own advocate, to think for yourself, and to determine what information works for YOU.
We created this blog to teach everyone how to use the resources and tools available to make the best personal decision surrounding any health, faith, and lifestyle choice.