What are some of the experiences you went through to reach depression
My name's Amy, I'm 22 years old and I'm currently recovering from an 9 year battle with depression, complex PTSD and anxiety. It all began when I was 3 and my father passed away unexpectedly due to a heart attack... I don't think that my mother ever truly recovered, and her pain allowed her to easily fall victim to the years of physical, sexual, mental and spiritual abuse that were to follow. I was 7 when she introduced me to the man that would become my step-father. I will spare you of the details, but it was a painfully traumatic experience that occurred ongingly over a period of 7 years. I was 14 years old when I made the difficult decision to leave my mum and sister, and move out of home.
During those 7 years, my psyche was damaged almost irreparably. Judging by the aforementioned forms of abuse, you can probably assume a great deal of what was endured. However, most of the mental disorders I experienced were more so correlated to the spiritual and psychological abuse. For example, from as young as eight years old, I was told that I was a slut, a tease, a disappointment, not good enough, a bitch (you get the idea) and these lies forged a core part of my identity and beliefs about myself. This resulted in a low-self image and lack of self-respect. The choices I made in the years to follow were a clear reflection of my feelings about myself.
I started drinking and using drugs regularly as a defense mechanism and means of escaping the pain; including the guilt for abandoning my mother and sister. I neglected my own basic needs from a nutritional standpoint, refusing to learn to cook despite being on my own from age 14. I lived off soda and fast food, didn't exercise, and acted with total disregard for my body and mindset. Daily meltdowns soon followed until I attempted to take my own life at 17 by overdosing on 30+ arrhythmia pills.
How long were you battling with depression?
Here's the thing about overcoming trauma... there's really no such thing as getting over it. Major life disruption can only leave you with a new version of "normal." I was 18 when I began to consciously pick up the broken pieces of my life and experiment with different techniques to deal with my daily anxiety attacks and meltdowns. It wasn't until much later that I actually mastered them. In total, I would say I experienced the symptoms of depression for nearly half of my lifetime (9 years).
What/how did you do to seek help?
A friend of mine gave me a book while I was in hospital on suicide watch called 'The Power of Now' which started me on my journey of self-discovery. I began studying of the interworking's of the human mind/psyche, and quickly realized that with every passing day I was feeding my depression. First and foremost, I was extremely malnourished, which lead to deficiencies in my ability to think rightly and make make assertions about myself and the world around me. I also learned that people's suggestibility is powerfully influenced by the environments in which they find themselves; I was associating with people, listening to music and exposing myself to stimuli that resonated with the level of sadness I felt inside.
What was one of your biggest life lessons?
One of my biggest life lessons occurred when I realized that it's not what happens to us that determines our life's future, it's what we do about what happens. I started researching people who'd been through forms of abuse that were similar and even worse than my own; many of whom were living happy, purpose-driven lives. In fact, many of these people went on to achieve great things not only despite their depression, but because of it. Rather than neglect their feelings, they used them as inspiration to become the best versions of themselves possible, as well as a beacon of hope for others who were facing similar demons.
How did you “find yourself”
I began to consciously design my environment and grow my awareness of the factors that were influencing me on a conscious and subconscious level. I surrounded myself with positive people, places, and stimuli that would reprogram my mindset and the ingrained beliefs that were holding me back from healing. I listened to success driven books and audios night and day, I attended events motivational events and put myself in situations that would force me to grow mentally. For example, I started doing promotional work and taking on roles that involved public speaking and sales abilities... when just six months earlier, I couldn't even make eye contact with the person who was serving my food at a restaurant.
I took control of my health by learning to cook and consuming foods that nourished my body and mind. After trial and error, I discovered that a 70% alkaline diet worked best for me. These are foods that are raw, natural and found in nature. In addition, I began consuming about a gallon of ionized, living water per day. Our bodies are made up of 75% water and our brains are 80% water. 1% lack of proper hydration can cause a 5% loss of cognitive function in the brain. Water is one of the most vital and underrated beverages; it's impossible to have a successful day without drinking the appropriate amount and type of water. I only recommend consuming ionized living water as this specific type of water contains healing properties that are not found in tap or bottled water.
What do you do to help prevent yourself from sinking into depression?
There were days I didn't want to get out bed. There were days where I would go to work with a cloudy sadness looming above my shoulders. I experienced meltdowns that physically shook me. On occasion, my feelings of distress would wipe me out for days, to the point where I had to pray for the strength to get up and feed myself, or take a shower. There were days I relinquished all my control to the depression and c-PTSD/anxiety attacks. As easy as it was to put on the labels and wear them like a coat during these times, I realized the importance of reminding myself that my mental disorders did not define me.
Nowadays, I only experience episodes of this nature maybe once or two per year. When I feel them coming on, I practice journalling, meditation and mindfulness to recenter myself. Dancing, working out and physically exerting myself also helps because it interrupts my mood and forces me into "gear shift." Exercise also stimulates the body's release of endorphins; chemicals that have a naturally relaxing and calming effect on the body.
What inspires you?
Nothing inspires me more than seeing people succeed when the odds are against them. Next to that, it's community. When a group of people come together because they like something, believe in something, support something or want to create positive changes.
Do you have inspiring advice you could give someone who is still trying to find “themselves”
Foster an attitude of gratitude. Studies show that we can deliberately cultivate gratitude, and can increase our happiness and well-being by doing so. Trials and suffering can actually refine and deepen gratitude if we allow them to show us not to take things for granted. I'm not suggesting that gratitude will come easily or naturally when you're in crisis. But it's vital to make a distinction between feeling grateful and being grateful. We don't have total control of our emotions; we cannot easily will ourselves to feel grateful, less depressed, or happy. Feelings are a result of the way we look at the world, and gratitude provides a perspective from which we can view life in its entirety and not be overwhelmed by temporary circumstances. This perspective is hard to achieve, but trust me, it's worth the effort.