I guess my story begins when I was 6 years old. My father had become very mentally ill. My mother could no longer live with him as he was a danger to himself and to us. He had fallen victim to Schitzophrenia, and severe depression. At that age I had no idea what any of that meant. I just knew that I saw my father sleeping for most of the day, and in tears for many nights. As a young child this was very hard to see, especially when you Father was your best buddy. My Mom had to make a decision and do what was best for her and her daughter, and as I grow int a young adult, I am slowly healing from this event in my life. My mother moved us to bright sunny Orlando Florida. The new life that we had came on so . I was a terrified little girl who missed her father. sudden My amazing Mother did everything in her power to help me cope. She was a single Mom now, and not only did she have to provide for us financially, now she had to be a mother and a father at the same time. At that point I grew a deep resentment towards my Mother. I could not forgive her for leaving my sick Father. I could not understand why she left him, and took me from him. I was so close to him, and all of sudden we were gone. I remember the last night I saw my Father before we moved to Florida. He sat weeping on his front porch with his head in his hands. I had never seen my Father cry. I was so heart broken at that young tender age. As I grew into a young adult I learned about my fathers illness, and why my Mother left. She did not want to continue in a marriage with someone who was not present. He was not mentally capable of being a father or in a marriage. He had made some very poor decisions in their marriage. My mother forgave him for the first few, but it became wearing, and he grew sicker and sicker. She was in her late 30’s and knew that she was strong enough to start all over with just her and I in Orlando Florida. As a teenager I became anxious and resentful about the entire situation. I was mad at the world that my Father was so sick that it was to painful to go visit him any longer. I was to immature and selfish to keep visiting him and not fall apart each time. I took my anger out on the world, and my Mother. At the time I didn’t really understand or realize why I was so angry. I was just upset at the world. Now I look back and I know it was because of the cards that I was dealt. These were my first signs of depression. There were many days in my high school and college years that I would lay in bed for days and feel very sad for no reason. There were days at school that I would get these huge panic attacks out of no where and I would shut down and hide in my car or the bathroom. Fortunately I found a few things to distract myself with and help to keep my panic attacks at bay. First I found a love for music and dance. So I did both in high school and college. I also found a love for learning. I became a very good student and graduated in the top 10%of my class. In college I was introduced to the night life pretty quickly, and became sucked in by that. I started to work as a DJ out of all things!! I had a real passion for music! Drinking was a big part of that scene, and I got sucked right into it. By the end of my stint with DJING I had become a full blown alcohalic, and drank three nights a week. I knew that this had become a total self medicating situation as I was trying to hard to avoid facing this lingering depression that I had felt. The night life distracted me for year.
My Dancing Days!
My Djing Days
My Partying Days!
In 2009 I met someone very special to me (who is now my husband). I saw him walk past me in the club that I was working at. Fortunately it was early enough in the night that the alcohol was still light in my system. Something grabbed ahold of me and I knew that I needed to talk to this guy! So I asked my friends to introduce us and we hit it off immediately. I knew that this guy and I would be best of friends, and eventually I knew that he would be my husband. He was one of the first guys that I knew that treated me so well. Who respected me and admired me. After spending time with him I knew that I wanted to be a better perso for him, so … I stopped self medicating. He also asked me to get a hold of my wild child ways as well! So I did, and I was faced with my issues and no where to turn but to myself. Eventually I fell into a deep dark depression. I had this amazing guy in my life, and depression took a hold of me still. I could not shake this deep sadness that I had. There were days in which I could not leave my bed. I would lay in bed for 2-4 days at a time and wouldn’t eat. I had these giant panic attacks if I tried to get out of bed, so I didn’t want to leave. I broke things off with my then boyfriend now husband. I told him that I needed to figure myself out. I needed to become stronger on my own, so that one day I could be strong enough to be there for him in a relationship. I remember this church things my friends kept talking about. I remembered this whole God person that people kept trying to tell me about. So I decided that is probably a good place to start in improving myself. I went to church that next Sunday with my Mother and within minutes of being there, I broke down into tears for the first time in ages. When you suffer from depression, you usually don’t cry, its to difficult to cry. Something clicked in me, and I decided to keep going back. Something felt safe about being there. Something just made sense. Every week I went and I learned a little bit more about faith. I bought a bible, and I started to read more. Every time I sat down in silence with my bible, I felt a sense of peace that I did not feel before. I started to pray daily, and that peace spilled over into other parts of my day. I eventually decided that I would go on antidepressants to help balance my emotions out. The medication I was put on is called ZOLOFT. As I continued to go to Church and read more of the Bible, I started to really have faith that my life was in good hands with God, and I started a relationship with God and eventually in church I asked to be saved. In 2009 I dedicated my life to Christ and I was baptized in front of my now Husband. I then asked my now Husband to date me again :). Through my relationship new relationship with God I felt stronger and more capable of battling depression. I stayed episode (thats what people who suffer from depression call falling back into depression) free until 2012 when I gave birth to my daughter. We had moved to Grand Rapids Michigan from Orlando Florida. We had left bright and sunny to live in an arctic tundra. I started to experience a little bit of depression with the harsh winter season and moving into my Mother and Father in- Laws Basement for 6 months (thank God for them! I am forever thankful that they gave us a place to stay as we got back on our feet). I was not sure how to handle being in the dark all the time! Luckily I had my faith, my bible and my strength in the lord and I felt like I could really handle anything. I was still on Zoloft, and that had kept me feeling well… pretty numb. I did not cry, I did not laugh a ton, I just did not feel any sort of strong emotion. I also had a wicked appetite and found myself eating way to much to occupy my time. As I got bored sitting in the basement during the winter, I started to feel sad and I missed home. So… I ate more and more and more. This was my stress relief. Low and behold I packed on more and more weight. Eventually we were married and pregnant. I was still in my comfort eating binge and I packed on 60 lbs carrying my daughter. When I delivered her I was 210 lbs. She was 6 lbs. SO… NO I DID NOT GIVE BIRTH TO A 60 LB BABY, I HAD JUST GAINED 60 LBS OF BEN AND JERRY’S CHUNKY MONKEY. I remember delivering my daughter and not feeling that strong rush of love and emotion everyone kept telling me about. I got her in my arms, and I just felt … blah! I was excited yes, but I was searching for that rush of emotion. I even nursed around the clock, and still felt distant and weird. I eventually started to feel intense guilt about this distant and weird feeling, and that turned into postpartum depression. On the outside I looked happy. I was smiling, and enjoying my baby, but I was afraid to be alone with my thoughts. I was sad, and I was very scared and I could not find a reason for this. I started to do a little research and I read that Zoloft actually numbers your ability to feel strong emotions. That made me feel a little bit better about the lack of emotion I was feeling for my baby, but it did not explain the scary thoughts I was having. They weren’t real thoughts… they were just feelings of sheer panic and fear. There was no source. I knew that something had to change. That I could not stay home all day with this baby and feel this scared. I felt even worse as I started to call myself “weak” “not a real woman” “not able to handle what I was created to do” “a bad mother”. So I decided that the answer was in prayer. I prayed and I prayed and I prayed…
I used to dance from the age of 3-19. I remembered how amazing I felt when I let go and moved to the music, and I remembered how great I felt after I danced. I remembered that I always felt elated after a dance rehearsal. So decided that I would start walking. Immediately I felt better. I felt like this could be the answer, that I needed to start exercising and eating better. I was eating junk food ALL DAY and I didn’t even realize it. I knew that I had become someone that I did not recognize. I knew that the change needed to start there. I had watched my friend loose 55 lbs with a fitness program called Chalean Extreme and by using something called Shakeology. So I said to her… sign me up lady! I saw how happy she had seemed, and most importantly how healthy she had seemed. I started my program and Shakeology and immediately felt better. I felt stronger, in a better mood, I felt like I could really do this. It gave me the confidence to start making changes in the kitchen. I started to clean up my eating. I made small changes in the kitchen at first and I saw how great I felt. I started to notice less feelings of sadness and fear. I started to notice that I had more energy. Shakeology had given me a ton of energy. My body felt well fed, yet I was eating a ton less! I was watching how much protein I ate in conjunction with Carbohydrates, and it felt great. Within a month I had lost 10 lbs. Within 2 months I lost another 15. After 3 months I lost 35 lbs and felt incredible. My postpartum depression was at bay. I did feel sadness or fear. I was even starting to feel much more bonded and falling madly in love with my daughter. I decided at that point, I wanted off of Zoloft. I wanted to start to feel real strong emotions like I used to feel. I wanted those strong emotions for my daughter. I wanted to be a loving, affectionate and healthy Mom to her. I decided to taper down by 25 MGs every 30 days (I was on 100 MGs of Zoloft). Trust me, my Doctor who barely knew me was against this. He told me that he thought this was un safe and a bad idea! I thought, he must really just want me on Zoloft?! I can’t see how being on these mind numbing medications can be a healthy way of living. What if the world came to an end and I had to live without them without the ability to taper down. How scary is that!??! So I tapered down on my own. I knew that I had built this new lifestyle and foundation in my life, I knew that my new healthy life and my faith in God would carry me, and help me fight depression. Not medication. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tSJvs9sVxKg&list=UU3Rnh2vt7dqs8fwvPQyJhCA&feature=share&index=1 Here I am diving into yoga as a way to work through some tough times. Instead of growing depressed and crawling into bed, I work my feelings out through fitness. I put a big focus on eating as clean and organic as possible. I used Shakeology daily, and I used the Shakeology clean two times. I also went through a round of Insanity. If you have never tapered down or tried to get off of antidepressants, it can feel like you are having serious drug with drawls. You will have what are called tremors, and severe headaches. I tried to get off of Zoloft in the past, and I could not get through the pain and the withdrawal, so I gave up. This time I stayed the course. I got through the first month with minimal withdrawal. The second month was challenging. I had severe head tremors by the end of the day, but I made it through and I felt energized due to my new lifestyle. I was very scared of the fourth month, because that was when I would drop down to 25 mg’s total. I felt a little off, but I just stayed focused on my new healthy lifestyle and I made it through to 0 mgs! I was completely off of Zoloft, and ready to fight like heck to stay healthy and strong. I never wanted to feel numb, and I never wanted to feel depressed, so I decided that I would never stop working out or eating clean. I am 9 months since tappering off of Zoloft and I have not had 1 episode with depression. I still eating clean, in fact I now focus on eating gluten free/paleo. I have never felt stronger and more in control of my emotions and my mental health! I have never felt more stable. I no longer have issues with panic attacks or anxiety. When I feel a sense of panic come on. I force myself to go for a walk, I force myself to get on my yoga mat and move. Or I press play on one of my amazing Beachbody programs. Yes I have come a very long way. No it did happen over night. And yes I did fall of course a few times. But I am here now, and I have found my strength in fitness. Fitness is my medicine… http://youtu.be/PlUCRn_fpmo If you are suffering from depression, or if you are looking for more information on how changed my diet, and my way of living to become healthier and battle depression please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. You don’t have to go through this alone! You have support, you have help. I thought I was alone. I thought no one else was feeling this way. It turns out, that a lof of people deal with this, they just don’t have the courage to say it out loud. More people need to speak up about depression so that those who are battling it don’t feel so weak and alone. I am starting challenge groups just like that one I found myself in. You are welcome to join!