Thursday, August 14, 2014

Hope Beyond Depression...My story

There's a picture of me in my childhood scrapbook, laying on the floor, hand on the telephone, asleep. I was 8 years old, waiting for a friend to call and ask me to play. She never did. When I look at that picture, I keenly remember the feelings of loneliness. Those feelings were a constant companion throughout my childhood. When I was about 13 years old, I developed a deep sense of hatred for myself and turned to anorexia and bulimia as a slow form of suicide. My parents noticed that something was wrong and took me to see a counselor. She was amazing. I felt heard for the first time in my life. She referred me to a psychiatrist who made a diagnosis of chronic depression, and prescribed Prozac. I took the Prozac and continued counseling. After a couple of months, I felt happier but I was still chronically disorganized and couldn't ever remember to write my name on a school assignment.  The psychiatrist diagnosed ADHD and added Ritalin to my treatment plan. I was now more organized and focused, but I was experiencing racing thoughts and sometimes I felt trapped, like I would die if I didn't get out of a situation. I reported this to the psychiatrist, who added Clonozepam to my cocktail, to treat anxiety. And I was fixed. Or so they thought.

The drastic change in personality from taking those drugs really bothered me. I didn't feel like myself. I was afraid that my conscience had disappeared. So periodically, I would stop taking the drugs....Which triggered withdrawal symptoms....and lectures from my mom.... and conflict at home.  I played this game of medicate-the-symptom for the next 15 years, through marriage and 4 pregnancies. I sought treatment form multiple doctors and psychologists throughout the process.My depression, anxiety, and executive function issues remained a constant factor in spite of the medications. I suffered from severe postpartum psychosis after the birth of each child and felt increasingly hopeless. Suicide was always a viable option in my mind. Whenever life became too hard, I would begin to devise a plan for this ultimate escape.  In what felt like a herculean effort in 2003, I finally sought treatment at The Amen Clinic in Fairfield, CA. I felt sure they would offer the ultimate solution. They scanned my brain and diagnosed PTSD, ADHD, and Clinical Depression and prescribed 2 new drugs. At this point, I also began a battery of supplements including 5 HTP, L-Tyrosine, Fish oil and St. John's Wort.  It wasn't the magic bullet I was looking for. I had gained 100 pounds over the course of 8 years as a side effect of the drugs and the depression. On the outside, I was a great mom. We blew bubbles, and baked cookies, and did homeschool, and took field trips. I made quilts, and planned play dates and taught primary. My husband was perhaps the only person who knew what was really going on.

In 2004, I met a woman who had just moved into our area. I met her at a church activity and she intimated to me that she "used to be" Bi-polar II, but she was "cured". I thought she was crazy. Depression cannot be cured. It can be treated with drugs, but never cured. She was adamant. She had used natural medicine to cure herself. We left the area soon after, but I was haunted by her claim. Could I really be cured? Soon after we moved to Boise, Idaho I found an amazing healer named Dr. Charles Wilcher. He is a Homeopath, Naturopath, Accupuncturist, and Chiropractor. He looked at my symptoms through so many lenses. He used accupuncture needles to open some blocked meridians, prescribed Homepoathic Sepia, and recommended a supplement for adrenal support. I started a program of regular exercise and in under 6 months, I was off all my drugs. I wasn't perfect, but I was on my way.

About 5 years later, I was introduced to another healing modality that would change my life. Essential Oils. This time the stakes were higher. It was my child whose mental health was at stake. It felt like a horrible dream. Deja vu, only worse. Having been through the medication game myself, I was determined that she not repeat my experience. The change for her began with a book called Emotions and Essential Oils and a drop of basil. You can read more about her story here. Suffice it to say that that drop of oil was the beginning of a miracle. Essential Oils have allowed me to support not only myself but many of the people I love through the physical and emotional ups and downs of life. We have dealt with everything from normal grumpy days to severe depression and manic episodes. Click here for more information about essential oils for emotional healing

Its been 10 years now since I have taken a drug. I have continued with regular exercise like a religion and educated myself about the powerful effect of diet on mood and focus. I used the sepia Dr. Wilcher recommended for about 3 months, then outgrew the need. I have used the services of talented therapists and holistic healers when I felt the need. I have been supported by essential oils that have become good friends on this journey. I have maintained my mental health through 4 moves, the loss of a business, loss of a house, 4 ADHD kids, a daughter with Traumatic Brain Injury, and a host of things that could have pushed a normal person over the edge, but I survived.  I have not only survived, I have thrived. I have raised 4 children, maintained a strong marriage, created a school, and built a thriving business. I am bruised, but not broken. I am alive.  My message is that there is hope beyond mental illness and prescription drugs. It requires a strong support system, faith in God, faith in yourself, and a willingness to try new things. It is a choice you only have to make once, but a battle you may fight every day of your life in the thoughts and actions you choose.  For me, for my daughter, and for countless other people who want another way, I am grateful that there are powerful tools at our disposal. There is Hope and there is Healing and there is Cure for those who take control of their own Physical and Emotional health so they can have Peace and Joy in the journey.

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