***This piece was shared with us by Danielle Sims. Follow her wellness journey on Instagram @d.simsfit***
Depression and anxiety: two things you can’t physically feel, but are extremely debilitating. On the outside, no one can tell the hell you’re going through; on the inside, you don’t know why you’re feeling this way.
And even if you know that anti-depressants will help, you want nothing more than to battle this demon head on and naturally. But how?
Rewind to 2002. I’m 12 years old and my hormones are all over the place (who even knows if I was really depressed). I went on Zoloft and stayed on it for 12 years. Fast forward to age 24 and I am at a place in my life where I am happy. I’ve found fitness and clean eating so I decide to wean myself off. I meet my future husband and we move across the country… just like that I am suddenly not okay. I decide not to admit it to anyone – including myself – that I needed help and I live like that for 2 years.
By the end of that period I am severely depressed and hit my rock bottom. I begin to calorie restrict and push myself in the gym causing many injuries. My weak bones can’t handle the stress I am putting on them; my mind is a mess. From the outside looking in, my life is perfect. I had a wonderful boyfriend, great job with awesome benefits (that I hated), great friends and a great house. But deep down, I hate my life. I want nothing more than to run far away from it and start over.
Until finally I caved and went back on anti-depressants. This was the best decision that I have ever made.
Suddenly I had the strength to climb out of the hole I was in. I quit the job that I hated and began to take my life back. As my mind began to heal, my relationship with food started getting better. I found a summer job where I got paid to camp and work with one of my best friends. I decided to go back to school for exercise science and my fitness journey began.
But then anxiety started to creep in. I had never really experienced a panic attack until my first anatomy exam. Heart racing, heavy chest…. I couldn’t breathe. I did not understand what was happening. Suddenly it became a chore to try to fall asleep. I was obsessed with studying or doing homework and began to cut myself off from my friends because school was all that mattered. Once summer rolled around and I was out in the sun a lot, that I began feeling amazing again. I changed my diet drastically and went off my meds for good this time (hopefully). But the minute school started back up I was back in the pit of doom and gloom. It became a pattern where no matter what, the anxiety never fully went away.
I began to wonder, “why can’t I be happy? Am I destined to rely on drugs for the rest of my life? I meditate, eat healthy and exercise. Why am I not “normal”?”
It was New Years Eve when it finally clicked. As my co-worker danced and laughed, I stood with tears in my eyes. She kept apologizing for being happy because I was in such a crappy mood. I told her to keep dancing because I needed to be around happiness, even if I am not happy myself. Later that night when I got home, I realized that it had been a very long time since I had taken Vitamin D. I decided to try taking some* and a few hours later met up with my coworker for a party…. I ended up dancing my heart out all night.
The next day I took a higher dose of Vitamin D, realizing that I felt a lot better*. Maybe I don’t need to feel like I am always going to cry – is this it!?
A while back when I had decided to go back on anti-depressants, my doctor suggested that I go get tested for deficiencies. Did I listen? Nope. For me, adding in this supplement has helped me feel like I am “normal” again*. I don’t stress out about every little thing and I no longer feel sadness all the time. And even when it is slightly there, I am able to acknowledge it (thanks to meditation), focus on my breathing and move on.