Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Mental Wellness Requires Wholistic Wellness


Though I know now I experienced postpartum depression, I was not officially diagnosed with depression until three years later. Shocked and in denial, I begrudgingly tried an anti-depressant. A debilitating panic attack (my first) immediately resulted, so I discontinued the medication only to hear the doctor apologize later for giving me the "wrong" prescription. I chose not to try another. My case was mild, episodic, related to hormonal changes and seasonal affectation. I experienced moderate relief from using a type of birth control which is no longer offered due to its many negative side effects. It helped level the mood swings but didn't solve the fits of rage.

I took many steps one at a time to move from darkness into light and from little self care into personal health management. It included naturopaths, medical doctors, psychologists, a 12-Step Support Group, a personal fitness trainer, Bible Studies, many supportive friends, small groups, lots of prayer and meditation. Now that I'm post-menopausal, I take a naturopathic supplement that increases tryptophan, exercise 3-4 times a week, pursue hobbies I love, watch my nutritional intake (a constant battle) and avoid stressful situations or intense movies, TV shows, music, even news. I still see a psychologist when necessary. Due to many changes in my life, including re-marriage and retirement, I feel like I am flourishing now more than at any time in my life. This was my journey. Your results may vary.

My first husband died by suicide after a long battle with chronic pain, depression, anxiety and OCD. You can read about some of that journey and how I moved out of my own anger and depression in these posts:

A Walk Down Memory Lane
Hold On
The Lie of Despair
January Inventory

Our bodies are so complex, the medical community segments their studies but has yet to combine effectively across disciplines. If I could advocate for anything, it is for more wholistic study of patient care, including the biological, hereditary, physical, mental, emotional, relational, situational and spiritual aspects. There is no one cause, no easy button, no silver bullet solution or spiritual "quick fix" for mental health challenges. We are a whole person and need comprehensive, wholistic care along with compassionate, non-judgmental support from our health care providers and spiritual caregivers.

Hope Prevails. My story "ends" well, but I still encounter triggers so I can never let down my guard. Some stories have ended very badly. If you are in a dark place, remember to breathe. It is a lie that it will always be this way. Nothing is permanent, even if it feels like it. Please tell a trustworthy person what you are experiencing.

Know this: You may have depression or anxiety, but it does not define you. You are not your disease. There is help and there is always hope.


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