Ever since I had my first child, everyday worries and hardships were progressively getting harder to handle. After my second, things got a little bit more intense. It seemed like each new year, it was getting harder and harder to look on the brighter side of life. The school year of 2013-2014 was the icing on the cake. After a strange ER visit with an overnight hospital stay, my husband being gone most of August and September on wildland fires, going back to work, an ulcerative colitis flare up in November (with a lovely colonoscopy and going back on medications), and my husband being diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes in February…I hit ROCK bottom in March and had to figure out a way to pull myself out of the dark hole I was now trying to function in on a day-to-day basis.
My husband finally convinced me to go see a doctor, who automatically wanted to put me on prescription medications. I respectfully declined with the reasoning that I would much rather find a more NATURAL solution to overcome my depression. I wanted to find coping strategies that would help me find healing for the rest of my life. I didn’t want to mask my symptoms because I was worried that I wouldn’t be healing the root problem. So…my doctor referred me to a clinical therapist…who was AMAZING!! I wouldn’t have been able to pull myself out of the black hole I was living in had it not been for this patient, caring woman. We spent some of our time talking about my past and how certain things made me feel. She diagnosed me with situational depression with some chemical imbalances.
Now almost two years later, I feel like I have a handle on my depression (most of the time). I’m not going to say that it’s a thing of the past because it’s not…I still have days and sometimes weeks where I have to work a little harder to pull myself out of the mud, BUT I have so many more good days than bad. AND I’ve made the journey without prescription medications; which, in hindsight makes me so proud of myself.
So…you may be wondering what I did to put this disease on the back-burner of my life. I would love to share.
#1: Please go see your doctor…if you are wanting to stay off of prescription medications and are able to, a good doctor should be able to support you in this. My doctor recommended St. John’s Wort; which is an herb that helps you stay in a more positive frame of mind. You can learn more about this amazing herb here. I still take it most every day. ***If you do end up having to take prescription medications, don’t be hard on yourself…consider it a short term means to your long term goals.
#2: Find a good therapist that will support you and your desire to heal your depression naturally. If you don’t like the person whose treating you, find someone else. Always remember…YOU are in charge of YOUR healthcare!! Find people who can help support you and guide you on your journey.
#3: Exercise at least 3-4 times a week or everyday if you can manage it. When you exercise it creates happy hormones in your body called Serotonin…these hormones are vital in keeping a happy, positive outlook on life. This has been the hardest one for me to be consistent with. I do really well in the spring, but, by the end of summer, I get out of my routines.
#4: Meditation is a great way to stay grounded in the moment and help train your brain towards self-acceptance. For me, this is a big deal!! Even just stopping in the middle of my day and saying: “I AM ENOUGH!!” makes a big difference for me. I’m currently working/reading a book called A Course in Miracles. It recommends short 1-2 minute meditations throughout the day. I’m loving it!!
#5: If you are a religious person, I recommend finding a daily devotional that you can read. I’m Catholic, so I read “The Living Faith” daily and then spend some time reading and studying my Bible. I have found that spending time with God first thing in the morning is the best way to start my day.
#6: Start a “gratitude journal.” This is a huge one for me. I write in it everyday and can see a difference in my attitudes when I don’t. In this journal I write down 3 things that I’m grateful for and then a detailed description of one thing good that has happened in the past 24 hours.
#7: Supplements…I take doTERRA’s Life Long Vitality vitamins and they play a huge role in keeping my chemical imbalances in check. And of course my St. John’s Wort on days where I need a little added boost of positive.
#8: Essential oils…We use pure essential oils in our home. For my depression I use Grounding Blend at least 2x a day to keep my thoughts and emotions centered on the present, orange or citrus blend to keep my thoughts happy and positive, ylang-ylang for calming when my anxiety kicks in, bergamot for self-confidence, and peppermint and Calming Blend for stress headaches. These oils are great for helping me quickly calm down and stay positive. The Grounding Blend is my favorite oil of all time. I just dab a little on my wrists and breath it in…calming and grounding at the same time!! If you’d like to know more about what essential oils I use and would like a few tips, please send us an email or Facebook message.
#9: My newest goal to keep myself on the path to healing is to read at least 10 pages of a good self help book every day. There are so many authors out there that have amazing advice for people. Find a book that fits your needs. The book I’m reading right now is called A Return to Love by Marianne Williamson. If you don’t know who Marianne Williamson is, you need to check her out…SHE IS AmAzInG. If you’d like to know what other books I’ve read that have been helpful, leave a comment below or send us an email.
#10: If you’re a religious person, prayer can be a great way to communicate your gratitude and concerns. I’m constantly praying for guidance, but at least once a week I focus on all the things I have to be grateful for; which is SOOOO much! Letting go of my depression and allowing God to lead me has made a big difference over the past year.
#11: When negative, depressing thoughts try to overtake you…center yourself by taking 5-10 deep breaths and remind yourself to stay focused on the present moment. Tell yourself that you are enough over and over. For me I try and center myself on the immediate moment because I tend to get lost in my future and the “what ifs” in life. If you revert to the past, pull yourself back to the present by reminding yourself that the past is the past and there is no way to change it.
#12: Take AT LEAST 20 minutes a day to do something for you…something you enjoy! For me it’s playing with my kids or taking a bath. The house work can wait. Try and not be too focused on all the things you feel you “need to” get done. For me, it made a huge difference when I came to the conclusion that my house didn’t always need to be clean. Sometimes it can wait…especially if it means keeping you happy.
#13: Learn how to say “NO” (politely of course). Feelings of overwhelm can be a big contributor to depression. Getting burnt out can drain your energy…energy that mommies don’t have to spare in the first place!! It’s important that you prioritize things and tell people no if you can’t take on any more in your day.
#14: Sleep at least 7-8 hours a day…I’m still working on this one. We’re night owls in my house and so getting to bed at 10 can be a challenge, but since I started waking up earlier I have been really trying harder to be more strict on my own bed time.
#15: NO EXCUSES!! The only person that will take care of you is you. Our hubbies do a pretty good job most of the time, but they can’t do it all…You have to take control of your thoughts, your attitudes, and be in charge of making time for yourself. If you need some time to yourself, your husband won’t know unless you tell him. No one can make you exercise, but you. Listen to your body and mind!! It is a wonderful tool to help on a path to healing.
It’s been a long journey for me. I’ve learned SO much about myself as a mommy and wife. I’m able to support my kids and husband in the ways they need to be supported because I’m happy with myself and content in my present day life. Not every day is peaches and cream, but I do my best and THAT is all that matters to me. I’m so proud of myself for what I’ve accomplished and hope this post can help others find natural ways to cope with depression.