Hey guys! It’s been a while since I went at this blog thang. Excited to be back in action! I would like to proudly say that I celebrated a year of marriage this past October 4th. Woohoo! I also would like to say that it hasn’t been easy. Despite what facebook and social media share about all of our lives, I like to believe that those happy moments tend to be the “highlights”. It’s not always like that. I try not to compare or envy because I’ve seen VERY happy couples (per facebook) end in divorce quickly. I have a very real marriage. With ups and downs. With struggles. With fights. With laughs. With sadness. With forgiveness. With sleepless nights. With tears. With adventures. With family conflicts. With…..a lot. One thing that has become quite apparent to me this past year is how much my marriage needs Jesus. There is only one constant in this world, and that is HIM. I struggle every day to follow him and be more like him, serving my husband selflessly, submitting no matter what, and loving harder through the hard times. I AM TERRIBLE at these and I am openly professing it. I want to do better. I want to be a better lover. I want to be a better wife. A cleaner wife. A happier wife. And ultimately, I want my husband to be happier so we can go out and be the powerful couple the I am positive God intended us to be….powerful in Spirit. To go out and serve better. Give more freely. And love like we have never loved before. Together, in union with Him. One thing God has made super apparent to me is my health. Both mind and body. He has challenged me to figure this “depression and anxiety” thing out with him. Depression and anxiety was part of “my junk” that I brought into my marriage. And that’s what I’m here to talk to all of you about!
Those of you who struggle with Depression or Anxiety. Those of you who wake up feeling so fatigued and can’t start the coffee pot fast enough. Those of you who find yourself at work with your head in you hands to catch a 5 minute cat nap before starting your day. Those of you who know you need to work out, but can’t find the energy to get off your butt and do it. Those who feel that depression IS you, and nothing will ever help. Those of you who are on a medication, and have fears of never being able to get off of it. I’m here to tell you different. I’m here to tell you, I HEAR YA!! I’m here to tell you that depression and its symptoms will not consume you or BE you. And life will be lived with tangible joy and happiness! Many people would have a hard time believing that I struggle with depression. I tend to be a very chipper person and smiling all of the time. This truth is, I too, with millions of Americans, struggle with depression. And I too, with millions of other Americans, was put on medication to stop it. I’m here to share my current journey in battling depression and tapering off medication.
Four years ago, I found myself in an extremely anxiety provoking situation from a relationship that turned bad quickly. I was in nursing school and as if that wasn’t stressful enough, add in a relationship that ended with a series of unfortunate events. I quickly found myself in a giant deep, dark, hole with no way out. Fast forward past many counseling sessions, multiple anti-depressants jetting through my bloodstream, and a lot of support from people who loved me, I was able to find some sort of stability in my life.
By the grace of God, I graduated nursing school and started working full-time as a registered nurse. I had one giant issue. I had NO feelings. I couldn’t feel the joys of walking across that stage accepting my diploma. I couldn’t feel the happiness when I got that first nursing employee badge in my hand. I couldn’t feel anything! Two words yall…. SIDE EFFECTS!!!!!! The medications I was on completely numbed me to life! It was the worst feeling in the word. And I was told that I needed to stay on them. That it would be too dangerous and too quick to just stop. I was so upset at this. But despite my frustration, I was too scared to get off them as well because of my previous condition of dysfunction. I just knew deep down something else had to help this, but I did’t have the knowledge or direction to go about this. For 3 years I continued on a medication called Lexapro.
Lexapro is an SSRI ( selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitor.) Serotonin is the neurotransmitter in the brain that takes its place as the “ mood chemical” or “ feel good” hormone. It helps regulate sleep, appetite, and mood. Many medications to treat depression and anxiety target serotonin. The more free floating serotonin that we have in our blood, the better regulated our sleep, appetite, and mood are. When we are depressed or anxious, our brain uses up more serotonin and there is less free floating serotonin in the blood. When there is less serotonin in our blood, we tend to feel more tired, down, and well……depressed. SSRI’s are not exogenous serotonin. They are actually “blockers.” They bind to the receptor sites where the brain would use up the serotonin when we are feeling stressed or down, and block them from being “taken up.” This leaves more serotonin in the brain and allows us to feel more balanced. Sounds great, right?
Sure, they do the job. But the side effects that this medication gives you are just as debilitating as the depression. Sometimes I think that’s why “ drepession” is a side effect of depression medications! Because they are awful! They leave you feeling numb. You know when something is funny, but you can’t “feel” the happiness. You just feel “blah.” I also surprisingly felt tired from taking Lexapro. I haven’t had a good sleep cycle with it, either. Just a lot of other side effects….but the biggest was feeling numb. Can you imagine going through life like this? It just made me not want to do anything even if I knew it was fun or “worth it.”
Listen…..antidepressants have their time and place. And I firmly believe that I needed to be on them initially because I couldn’t even drag myself out of bed to shower. I had a giant self care deficit and did nothing. The medications got me over a hump, but after that I had to help myself big time! And I did! So here I stood. 3 years later. Feeling a LOT better, but still on 20mg of Lexapro, and feeling numb. I WAS OVER IT. So guess what. I’ve done something about it. And YOU can too. We don’t have to remain on these medications like the millions of Americans who never get off of the anti-depressants they were started on years ago.
I made the conscious decision to taper off this medication. An array of emotion came over me as I made this decision. I was excited! Happy! Scared! Empowered! I initially failed at tapering a few months ago, as I started feeling “down and anxious.” But it hit me. I didn’t have a plan. What was I going to do to help naturally boost my serotonin and help my brain and body? And that’s when my research began.
Three months ago, I started looking into supplements. My sister shared with my a multi-vitamin pack that she took every morning and night called , “ Dr. Williams Daily Advantage.” Life Changing!!! These supplements have 8 supplements in a pack . 24/7 protection all over body health!!!! It contains all of your essential vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. It also includes phytonutrients, superfood energizers, and omega 3 fish oil. I started taking 2 packs of these a day and within 10 days my energy level SIGNIFICANTLY changed. I jokingly pass these out at work when my co-workers say they are tired. They are awesome!! And they make your pee a really cool color (nurse humor)!!
I started reading more about nutrition, wellness, and supplements in association with depression. I have learned A LOT about the gut/brain interaction. Many studies have been conducted about our ENS ( Enteric Nervous System). This is basically the connection between our brain and our bowels! 95% of our body’s serotonin have been found in this ENS!!!! We think that the serotonin is produced in the gut and travels up to the brain via vagus nerve and passes over the blood-brain barrier to the brain. That is where our serotonin is used up! THAT IS CRAY CRAY!!!!!! Our gut health is HUGE in our conquering of depression! Taking a probiotic will help restore all of the amazing good flora that lacks in our gut just from not getting enough in our diet. I take a probiotic that has 20 billion CFU’s. Rule of thumb is you want 10 billion CFU’s or more. Probiotics are not only big for our mental health, but it helps keep us regular and our colon healthy. It’s a WIN-WIN. Many people just don’t realize how big our ENS is in our body and that 40 of the SAME neurotransmitters in the brain have been found floating around in here, being brought to the brain! WE NEED TO KEEP OUR GUT HEALTHY!
I have most CERTAINLY seen an impact from taking these multivitamin packs twice a day and my probiotic. I am now down to 7.5 mg of Lexapro, from 20mg and will continue to taper. I am also researching/trying out Zembrin, tryptophan, niacinamide…..all which help in production/up keep of serotonin. Clearly you can see that I am on a mission to NATURALLY conquer depression and help you all do the same!
I know that there are many circumstances in life that will give us ups and downs. That’s life. Our medical world is SO quick to prescribe medication to someone stating they feel down, anxious, or sad. Because of how ridiculously fast pace the medical world has become with it all becoming about quick patient turnover, we now just prescribe a pill for every problem a patient may have. Your back hurts? Okay here’s a Percocet. You’re nauseas? Okay heres some zofran. You’re feeling anxious? Okay, he’s an incredibly addictive benzodiazpene (XANAX)! We don’t care about what’s going on in your life. I don’t care if you’re exercising enough. I don’t care about the food your consuming being toxic to your health that is most likely contributing greatly to you health issues. Just go fill this prescription……NEXT. This is what our world has come to and I do take a stand because I am one of the affected, but I CHOOSE to do differently. So many of these medications give side effects that outweigh the initial benefits of most drugs.
LETS NOT BE NORMAL. I will continue these supplements. I will continue my probiotic. And my next blog in a few weeks will give yall an evaluation of my new supplements that I am using and a break down of how the current ones I take, in depth, help with depression! Remember, I am not a doctor. I have no credentials to give medical advice. This is simply my journey to health and wellness and OUT of depression without medication and its terrible side effects!! I support doctors and not all of them have this outlook of “ here are your meds, have a good day.” We just need to be doing the research on our own AND working along side our medical professionals. If you know anyone who struggles with depression, just please know that it is a serious issue. It’s not something that can just be “fixed” over night. I found this post on facebook and I wanted to share it below. If anyone has questions for me or wants to reach out to me, please email me @ [email protected] STAY TUNED! And if I can do this, SO CAN YOU!
“Many people think that a suicide attempt is a selfish move because the person just does not care about the people left behind. I can tell you that when a person gets to that point, they truly believe that their loved ones will be much better off with them gone.This is mental illness not selfishness. TRUTH: Depression is a terrible disease and seems relentless. A lot of us have been close to that edge, or dealt with family members in a crisis, and some have lost friends and loved ones. Let’s look out for each other and stop sweeping mental illness under the rug. If I don’t see your name, I’ll understand. May I ask my family and friends wherever you might be, to kindly copy and paste this status for one hour to give a moment of support to all those who have family problems, health struggles, job issues, worries of any kind and just need to know that someone cares. Do it for all of us, for nobody is immune. Hope to see this on the walls of all my family and friends just for moral support. I know some will!!! I did it for a friend and you can too.”