They told me I’d need medication the rest of my life.
4 years ago this week, I was weaned off my last medication, 10 milligrams of Celexa. I had vertigo for 3 weeks. Some days I felt like I was riding a roller coaster. After 18 years of being medicated, it wasn’t an easy transition for my body.
My doctor said I was ready. I was eating healthier, working out regularly, and sleeping consistently. I would never have done this without her support. This wasn’t the typical bipolar action of, “Hey, I’m going off all my meds!” It was something that took years in the making. It wasn’t a decision anyone took lightly.
It took time to adjust. I needed to actively monitor my stress levels. I needed to remember to slow down and rest. I took my supplements diligently. I ran. A year and a half later, I found yoga.
Today I feel better than I ever have.
I share about holistic living because it is life-changing. Medication is just one way to address healing.
It isn’t the only way.
They told me it was just the chemicals in my brain.
But I know so much more now.
This isn’t an either/or thing. Medication and holistic living can be a both/and. Medication treated my symptoms, but nutrition, supplementation, exercise and sleep treated the root. Some people, like me, function well on medication. Some people don’t.
Thankfully, there are so many options out there for mental health, like exercise, which is proving again and again to be just as effective as medication for depression, if not more so. Nutritional psychiatry is a booming field of study as well, as we now have MANY studies proving how nutrition can prevent and treat depression. For the first time ever, we have randomized clinical trials to show how a diet rich in plants, healthy fat, and moderate protein can treat depression.
For me personally, vitamin and mineral supplementation restored what years of medication left me deficient in (yes, even life-saving medication can deplete your body of the very things it needs to function). Probiotics and digestive enzymes worked to heal my gut, which is where my neurotransmitters are produced. Prebiotics increased butyrate, an essential short chain fatty acid an unhealthy gut can’t produce, but is so crucial for reducing manic episodes. And omega 3s… man, what can I say about omega 3s and how important they are brain health? It would take many, many blog posts. They are CRUCIAL.
I would NEVER encourage anyone to go off medication without the support of a psychiatrist. Likewise, I would never encourage anyone to go ON medication without being first evaluated by a psychiatrist. Meds are being handed out like candy these days, when for many, it could be an issue of low vitamin d levels, low folate thanks to the MTHFR gene mutation, blood sugar problems, cellular inflammation, or a leaky gut. In fact, some of these issues can actually PREVENT medication from working in the first place.
Mental illness should NEVER be taken lightly, and medication should not be administered to just anyone. The benefits and risks must be weighed and root causes must be addressed. There are many studies that show that medication can increase the chances of relapse later, render the further use of medication ineffective, and put people at risk for bigger health problems down the road.
I am a survivor. I will continue to learn everything I can to further improve the health of my body, mind, and soul. Holistic living isn’t a hobby or a cute fad I’m trying out. It is a matter of life or death – for me, and for so many others.