TW: Depression, Suicide
I’ve been meaning to write about “how I changed my life in less than a year” for some time now, but I was reluctant as to where to start, what to mention, and where to end. My journey with depression begins very early in my life, probably in a previous life, with incidents I don’t even remember, but for now, I decided to focus on the “ending”. Not the end of my mental illness or the end of my life, but the end of my suffering.
About over a year ago, I was in the deepest halls of my hell, fighting between life and death. My body was at its wit’s end with continuous pain and my mind couldn’t fight anymore. I knew that going out for a run would shower my brain with endorphins, but how would I run when getting up from the bed and walking to the bathroom was torture? I knew that eating healthy and eventually losing weight would help my pain, but my brain just couldn’t plan that far in the future. On the other hand, nothing I ate, satisfied my taste buds; nothing I drunk satisfied my thirst — I’m not exaggerating to make an impression, this was my reality. Emotional eating to the point of not breathing would come to complete the never-ending loop. Going to sleep was a special kind of torture, scared that I’ll die before I could wake up. I was determined to end my life in my own terms, after preparing my kid to deal with the loss (I have no idea if that’s even possible). Going to a psychiatrist and getting into anti-depressants was out of the question. I didn’t want to lose any more control. If I couldn’t live on my own terms, then I would leave.
With that said, one part of me told me, I have no right to leave my kid with such heavy trauma — but isn’t it an even bigger trauma to have a mentally ill parent? My partner was trying to help me every day, desperately, while all I was doing was pushing him more and more away. I knew I was hurting him, but all I could do was ask him for a divorce, over and over. I wanted to cut all ties with him and my kid before “leaving”. In the end, he never gave up on me; I was so mad at him, I ended up visiting my mom for a few days, with whom I was on bad terms at the time. “Bad terms” as in “not really talking because of a disagreement we had long ago”. When I told her “I’m not well”, we sat down and talked. I opened my heart to her, mainly because I didn’t care. I wholeheartedly can empathize with a mother who can’t help her child. She insisted on visiting a doctor who specializes in alternative methods, and almost begged me to go. She offered to pay for him and called immediately to book an appointment as soon as possible. Even though our relationship wasn’t completely restored, the fact that I was able to talk to her, lifted a heavy weight off my shoulders.
A few days later, a friend was back from her vacation. We met after two months she was away. I could say she was very worried about me. When I told her about how I talked with my mom, her smile stretched to her ears. She straight out told me how she planned on talking with my mom to help restore our relationship, even if that meant ruining our friendship. As a therapist herself, she knew how being on bad terms with my mom was pulling me down even more. Talking with her gave me strength and an itsy bitsy will to live. “I want to be happy, I don’t want to die,” I told her, and I felt it to my core. I just didn’t know how. She suggested a certain vitamin until I see the doctor.
I’m not going to say that vitamin D worked wonders or cured my depression, but it surely gave me a kick on the butt.
When I visited the doctor, he had me in his office for over 3 hours, analyzing me, one cell at a time. I learned a lot about my body and how it functions, but most importantly I learned where my depression comes from: lack of neurotransmitters. There’s a controversial theory in the medical community, that depression and anxiety are caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain.
My suggested diet wasn’t something new to me. Ketogenic Diet was something I’d done in the past for weight loss but this time it was a matter of overall health. In short, I wasn’t going to lose weight to be healthy. I was going to become healthy, and weight loss would eventually come. The quality of food was of utmost importance. Inflammatory foods one by one were eliminated from my plate. Little by little I adopted a clean keto diet and took my vitamins every day as a ritual. Yes, only vitamins. I added swimming in my daily routine — Every morning, I would go to the beach, swim for half an hour or so, and then have a cup of coffee under the sun.
I could finally go out and walk. In two weeks, I could recognize that my brain functions better than ever. The numbing pain I used to have all over my body gradually disappeared and my blood sugar went from 216 to 83 — today, insulin resistance is a thing of the past for me.
As to how my diet affected my brain, I recently came across several articles about how the gut microbiome affects the brain function and how keto diet improves the gut microbiome. I’m fascinated by how following controversial and unorthodox methods made a whole new person, but mostly because I was stubborn enough to prefer death over the conventional route. This is what worked for me. I’m not going to say that I cured my depression, because I know I’m susceptible, but I also know how to keep me from going back there. I’m not going to say that this is my Happy Ending, because my life isn’t over. As a matter of fact, it’s like it just began, again. One more chance for me.
Looking back, I can see I was never alone in this journey. I have beautiful people around me and I’m grateful for that. Sometimes I wonder what would become of me if the circumstances didn’t come like this; Would I commit suicide? Ruin my loved ones’ lives? Both? I’m happy I didn’t find out. Real life has its ups and downs, nothing is out of a fairytale, but I’m happy to be able to appreciate every moment.