Depressed or Anxious and Not Sure Why?

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Photo by Naomi August on Unsplash

If you have been battling some depression or anxiety lately and don’t know why–unless you are suicidal, before you jump on the “I must have a chemical imbalance” bandwagon and ask your doctor for a prescription of Prozac, check yourself in the this area. It could be a possible cause that you can address right away. 

How’s Your Nutrition?

There are a wealth of resources, scientifically backed that shows the mind and body connection and the significant role nutrition plays. Food is our medicine. It is. If you are not eating right, and especially if you have not eaten right in years, the accumulative effects can wreak havoc on your gut, your immune system, your hormones, your brain (including your neurotransmitters), and organs….the list is endless.

If we were to look at the health issues that are plaguing this country, depression and anxiety is one of them. How is it that in a country where wealth is abundant, where most people can live the American dream if they put in the effort, that we are the most depressed and anxious people in the world? This is a complex issue with many layers, but one of the most common among people I have met is nutrition. I go into this in more depth and also cover other layers in another blog. 

The American diet is filled with food that causes inflammation. Studies now show that inflammation is the root cause of DISEASE. It is your bodies natural reaction to damage in its attempt to heal itself. But when we are inflamed day after day for years….the consequences pile up so high it can be difficult for many to pinpoint the cause. It wasn’t until I reduced intake of inflammatory foods that I started seeing symptoms I assumed were unrelated or just normal because I had them so long now for the first time, disappear.

Here’s the Gyst:

  • If you eat inflammatory foods like white flour and cow dairy among others, you need to detox from this. inflammation prevents our gut from making serotonin. Serotonin is used in our brain to feel happy and calm. Less serotonin causes anxiety and depression.
  • If you eat empty calories–snacky foods you buy in the dry sections of the grocery store and not around the perimeter (fruits, vegetables, herbs, meat, and whole grains) you are depriving your body of essential minerals and vitamins it needs to make your body function as God intended.
  • If you have taken antibiotics in your life and have not gone on a long-term recovery and maintenance plan of multi-strain flora to replenish your gut with healthy bacteria, you are only exasperating the problems that the first two cause. We digest the food in our intestines through the help of healthy bacteria that live in our gut. This helps us break it down into usable parts for our body to function, it helps reduce any inflammation caused by the bad food, and helps our body eliminate toxins and used hormones.

The research and explanation about how all of this works is abundant. If you are a reader or want to learn more, I highly suggest any one of these books. 

There are also a variety of supplements to jump-start your healing and supplement your healthy nutritional intake as you transition into a life of well-being and healthy eating. Check out my blog where I go into much more depth on diet and supplements here.

I have battled clinical depression and anxiety most of my life. I tried counseling. I tried prescription anti-depressants, but as soon as I was off, it was back again. It was not until the last 10 years have I been able to finally uncover the role my diet and nutrition played in these feelings. When I eat right and take the supplements I need to fill in those gaps, I don’t struggle with it. When I start cheating again and getting out of my good habits, those feelings come back. Some people are just more susceptible to these things. It can run in families too. My dad’s side of the family is filled with anxiety and gut issues. And the more people I talk to, the more I see it everywhere. Test my theory out. Give it 8 weeks.  And I’d recommend this while on meds as well if you are on them with the intention to one day be free from those drugs and be healed. 

Then please comment below and let me know what you discover. It takes 6 weeks for meds to start working. With diet and supplements you should start seeing changes within 2 weeks. 

If you are already taking meds, try this while staying on the meds and then talk with your doctor about trying to wean slowly off to see what happens. Only do this if your trusted doctor approves. Or get a second opinion. There are some levels of depression that you need to really be careful with. Meds may be necessary for some as you work on complete healing through diet and other possible factors. 
I’ll be writing a future blog on those other factors like environment and stress. Until then, happy eating.

 

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How I Improved My Vision and Eye-Dryness Naturally.

brown eyesI have always struggled with dryness in my eyes. I remember in high school, struggling to pull my purple contact lenses off my brown, spider-veined eyeballs at the end of the day, hoping I wouldn’t pull a layer of skin off my iris along with the lens itself.

Eventually I gave up on contact lenses as they hurt more than they were worth and I wasn’t about to be that person putting drops in her eyes multiple times a day. I don’t even bother or remember to reapply my lip-gloss, let alone my eye drops. Glasses became something I used only when I drove or wanted to read the board in my college classes. But the dryness continued, despite my iris skin still in tact.

punctal plugsSo at the at the age of 26, when my optometrist found multiple dry patches on my eye along with calluses forming, I decided to try her suggestion of getting punctal plugs. My vision had also diminished to 20/40 in my good eye and 20/80 in my bad eye, so I had to do something if I wanted to wear contacts again.  I was ecstatic to discover there was something that could help. So I let her get super close with this huge magnifying glass and some special tweezer-looking instruments while she stuck these tiny, pinpoint sized “punctal” plugs into my lower tear ducts. It was supposed to prevent them from sucking up the tears in my eyes and allow more to stay on my eyeball. That worked….for like 2 months. Until the plugs fell out.

So I went back and had them replugged. And then they fell out again.

After the second time, she refused to put in more plugs and said that I just was not a candidate. Instead, she would prescribe me prescription eye drops called Restasis. She said I had too many dry patches to just go with regular drops. So I tried them. Supposedly it takes a few months before they start working because they are essentially an antihistamine that works at calming the swelling in your inner eye that could be preventing it from making tears. Well I didn’t make it long enough to discover if it would work because I got pregnant with my daughter Scotland. And so off I went.

My eyes like being pregnant, so I didn’t need anything during that time. But as soon as Scotland was born, my tears dried up like an Arizona desert. It hurt to blink, to see, its awful. And I didn’t want to wait another 6 months for the Restasis to possibly kick in.

cod liver oilSo I called my optometrist. She recommended I try fish oils, 2-3000 mg a day minimum. She said this would work if my tears were low because they were evaporating more easily due to less oil/water ratio in the tear consistency. Somehow, fish oils would help in that area.

So I tried them. Within 2 days I noticed a huge difference. Redness gone. Less pain. I was ecstatic! And I’ve been taking them for two years since. When I forget, I can tell I forgot. Within 2 days of forgetting, my eyes begin to feel dry again. So it certainly isn’t a cure but it definitely is my daily remedy.

And now the bonus– I went in to the optometrist last brown eyesweek to get an updated prescription for my eye glasses and just do the usual check up we are supposed to get every couple of years. And they found no more dry patches! And my vision even improved. I’m 20/20 in my good eye and 20/30 in my bad eye. When I asked the optometrist how that could happen, she said that part of our vision depends on the amount of tears in our eyes. Improving tear consistency heals the eye of the callouses and damaging effects on vision.

If you struggle with eye dryness I highly recommend fish oils. They not only should help, but they also help with general inflammation and depression. I alternate between regular fish oil and cod liver oil. When I do take cod liver oil, I get the fermented kind so that the vitamin A and D are naturally occurring and not synthetically added back in after being cooked out of the oil. I also find that with cod liver oil, I don’t need to take as much fish oil as I do with regular fish oil in order to receive the same benefits to my dry eyes.

These are the fish oils I love and use depending which one is the better deal at the time.
AMRAP Nutrition Fermented Norwegian Cod Liver Oil

Green Pasture’s BLUE ICE Fermented Cod Liver Oil -Non-Gelatin 120 Capsules

Bioscience Nutritions’s HIGH EPA 1200MG + DHA 900MG Triple Strength Burpless Capsules

Purity Lab’s OMEGA 3 FISH OIL Gelcaps 180 Softgel Pills

12 Ways to Reduce Depression and Anxiety through Diet and Supplements (No MEDS).

Most people who struggle with anxiety also struggle with bouts of depression as well. And if you ask people who struggle with anxiety or depression if they have digestive issues, they will say often yes. Interesting correlation, but does it mean anything?

Most people think that the receptors for the neurotransmitters responsible for our emotions (serotonin, neuroepinephrine, and dopamine) are primarily in our brain. The big one seen to really affect anxiety levels is serotonin. Sure they are in our brain, but where else are they? And where are they made? The answer is– IN THE GUT.

Ever wonder why you get that “gut feeling”? Your stomach and intestines are lined with serotonin receptors and serotonin is made there. So if you have digestive issues, do you see how that could possibly lead to problems making enough serotonin and receiving enough serotonin to maintain your stress and happiness levels?

OUR GUT IS ESSENTIAL TO OUR EMOTIONAL AND PHYSICAL WELL-BEING. Eighty percent of our immune system is produced in our stomach. For those of us who are susceptible to anxiety and depression, taking care of our stomachs and intestines can help strengthen our “emotional immune system” as well so we can better face stress and trials in our lives, and reduce our inclinations toward depression and anxiety.

THE DAMAGING EFFECTS OF OUR DIET ON OUR EMOTIONAL IMMUNE SYSTEM

One big issue that can directly affect our bodies from making and effectively using serotonin is inflammation and toxins.

So much is still left to learn about the amazing design of the body and how many multiple functions can be made by the nutrients we take in, including their role in hormones and neurotransmitters. The more doctors research, the more connections they find.

In the end—there are dietary changes, supplements, herbs, and remedies you can take to reduce inflammation, detoxify, and saturate your body with deprived vitamins, minerals, and fatty acids needed for healthy mood regulation.

Here they are—

1. Get back to the NOAH DIET .  God gave us plants, animals, and herbs to eat for a reason. Eat plenty of fish, grass-fed beef, veggies, fruits, nuts and legumes, and drink plenty of pure, clean water. A lot of these foods have essential amino acids that help your body make serotonin. Buy organic as often as you can. God did not give us pesticides when we got off the boat. The amount of veggies we actually need to eat is way more than we do. If you are too busy or don’t know how, make green juice each day or a couple of days a week to help increase your veggie intake (fruit is normally not an issue for us).  Also—bone broth is another excellent way to pack in those nutrients from animals sources, including the bones, which we don’t often eat, but are filled with nutrients and amino acids.

2. STAY AWAY from foods that cause inflammation, are toxic, and/or increase stress levels. These include sugar, salt, gluten, lactose, caffeine, nicotine, alcohol, and non- Noah foods like processed or GMO.

You might be thinking, how???? Gluten and lactose? Bread and Milk are my life! Try one at a time and see how you feel. Some people don’t have milk issues. Others do. Some don’t have gluten issues. Others do. Or cut them down significantly. For me I find that cow’s milk really irritates my stomach, but wheat bothers it only a little. But after a few days of eating wheat, I’m in full-on anxiety and depression mode. I can now only handle wheat once a week. Anymore and I regress.  Check out sites on the Paleo Diet. That can give you great and delicious ideas on how to eat gluten free with little to no dairy. Another option is to try out alternatives to cow’s milk. I personally found that raw goat’s milk does not hurt my belly the way cow’s milk does. So now I cut out cow’s milk, limit my cheese, and drink either almond milk or raw goat’s milk when I need something creamy. Made a huge difference!

3. Take a WHOLE FOOD MULTIVITAMIN to fill in the gaps you might lose in the day. Whole-food is key here. Most multivitamins are synthetic and our bodies know the difference. Needless to say, about 70 percent of our multivitamin ends up in the toilet. But whole-food vitamins increase the chances of our bodies absorbing it because the vitamins are taken from actual food. So our bodies recognize it. And guess what? Your gut will absorb more of those vitamins, if it is not enflamed. So treat it well too!

4. VITAMIN B, especially B6 and B12 have been highly correlated to mood levels and emotions. Taking supplements to increase your vitamin B levels can make a huge difference. If you are vegan, and do not plan on changing for philosophical, dietary, or moral reasons, I highly suggest getting a vitamin B12 shot. Vitamin B12 is not easily absorbed in supplement form and so the only way you can get the amount your body needs without eating it is to have directly injected into your blood. If you want to minimize supplements and get it straight from food, eat lots of canned clams, beef liver, turkey giblets  and oysters for your B12. They are also in other more common meats and dairy but not as high as the ones I mentioned here. (God gave us animals to eat after the flood I believe partially because he knew we needed B12. For some reason, plants do not produce vitamin B12. Perhaps before the flood they did, but due to the environmental changes that took place because of the flood, everything changed). For Vitamin B6, eat lots of chickpeas, baked potatoes with skin, prune juice, cooked Brussels sprouts, cooked spinach or raw red pepper.

5. VITAMIN C can help you reduce inflammation and detoxify your body, better aiding your body to produce and absorb serotonin in your gut. Again, good food sources would include citrus and peppers. Or take a supplement. As an added bonus, it helps your skin look younger! Hey that’s something that can help us feel better!

6. Low VITAMIN D3 levels are highly correlated to anxiety and depression. Vitamin D3 levels in Americans are more often than not significantly lower than necessary for healthy mood. Is it no wonder so many people are on Prozac and Zoloft here? Meanwhile the FDA keeps telling us to stay away from the sun, slather on tons of sunscreen, and keep buying their pharmaceuticals. Vitamin D3 is called the sunshine vitamin for a reason—our bodies naturally produce it when we are exposed to the sun. But if we are slathering sunscreen on every day, avoiding the outdoors, or stuck inside all day—we are not getting enough. And many drugs affect our body’s ability to produce vitamin D3.  If you are too afraid to head outside and get some natural sunshine then you’ve got to supplement. And we need much more than the typical multivitamin provides—just to maintain healthy levels, most women need around 1000 IU—some conservative sites will tell you a minimum of 400 IU’s, but that is just to prevent rickets,. You need a lot more to increase your immune system, and if you are deficient, significantly  more—sometimes as much as 10-30k IU a day to get your levels up. You can’t know for sure your levels, without getting lab work done. It’s relatively inexpensive even if you don’t have insurance, and highly worth it, especially if you suffer from anxiety or depression. I strongly recommend you get your labs done and check your vitamin D3 levels before determining the amount you need. If you don’t know—start with 400-1000 until you find out. Too much vitamin D3 can be toxic—although I will clarify, it is very rare that this happens because most people are significantly low. If your doctor says you are low (less than 20 or 30 hydroxy) than start supplementing with more than the 1000-IU and get your levels checked every few months to determine if you need to increase your dosage or decrease it. Dr. Mercola has done some great research on the proper amounts. I’ve posted a link to an informative article at the end of this blog.

7.OMEGA-3’S is an essential fatty acid used by your body for so much, including hormone production and emotional transmitter production.They also improve your immune system, making your body deal with less stress, and therefore less susceptibility toward anxiety and depression. The best way to get your Omega 3’s is through natural sources. Cod Liver Oil and Krill Oil are great options. The added bonus when taking Cod Liver Oil is that you also get vitamin D and A this supplement. Chia Seeds are also high in Omega 3’s. I sprinkle them in my pasta salads, cereal, yogurt, and make puddings with them.

8.PROBIOTICS and DIGESTIVE ENZYMES are something most people don’t appreciate as much as they should. While probiotics are important for all people to take in order to maintain healthy flora in their gut, and therefore maintaining their immune system, people with digestive issues or who are prone toward anxiety and depression should especially take them and even add digestive enzymes as well. Remember, a healthy gut strengthens your emotional immune system, making you better able to fight off depression and anxiety as well as viruses and bacteria. I take probiotics daily and digestive enzymes when I know I will be eating dairy. Enzymes help my stomach and intestines not hurt as badly after I eat it and prevent it from becoming enflamed because it helps break the proteins and sugars down to a more tolerable level for my sensitive gut. There are many kinds of enzymes out there and each work a bit differently. I prefer ones that help break down protein as they seem to be more effective for me. Now ironically, probiotics are most often grown in dairy. They are in yogurts. And even in supplement form, are mixed with casein or other dairy. But you can find probiotics grown in coconut or other bases at health food stores. They cost a little more but are well worth it. If you don’t have a dairy intolerance, just buy regular probiotics. I take Dr. Mercola’s  multi-strain probiotic blend and LOVE it! I did some research and found the top 10 probiotics found through studies of how much flora actually existed in the capsules at the time of consumption versus the amount claimed when the flora was bottled. Mercola’s scored a 9 out of 10 for quality and integrity.  I definitely feel the difference on days I don’t take it. Because of my antibiotic use as a kid, my gut flora has extremely low variety and amounts of flora, so I will need to take flora daily probably indefinitely to maintain a healthy gut and immune system.

9.God also gave us HERBS to use as our medicine. Now we do have to approach this one according to our own conscience as I do know some people are more sensitive to taking anything that might alter how they feel. But there are four herbs that are legal, safe, and effective at regulating mood and helping us distress. Chamomile, Kava, Ashwagandha, Rhodiola, Valerian Root, and St John’s Wort. They all work a little differently physiologically and their effects vary.

Chamomile is a very mild de-stresser. Most people drink them in teas. There is no real strong effect, but many people do find that it helps calm them down. Over the course of my 20’s I’d get anxiety that would literally make my esophagus have muscle spasms, causing me bad chest pain. I found that drinking chamomile tea really calmed those chest pains down as it relaxed the muscles lining my esophagus.

Kava is a little bit stronger in its effect. You can drink it in tea form most often. Although there are stronger doses in supplement and sublingual forms. I found that taking Kava helped the tension in my forehead melt away, like someone injected lotion into my head.

Ashwagandha and Rhodiola are both adaptogens which means they help the body adapt better to stressful situations. For me, ashwagandha has been extremely helpful with my anxiety. One reason is because it helps your body slow down its cortisol production, which is what you produce when feeling stressed. When you struggle with anxiety–your cortisol is on overdrive even when it shouldn’t be. So you have panic attacks at the grocery store and or are breaking down in the kitchen because you are trying to cook dinner but your daughter is crying for a snack. Rhodiola is also an adaptogen and helps your bodies serotonin to work more effectively. So this one is a better choice if you are more prone to depression rather than anxiety. If you have both, taking both can be really helpful.

Valerian root also mildly acts as a de-stresser and tension reliever. A lot of people take it before bed to help them distress and fall asleep better. I’ve never seen it in tea form but do see it in supplements and sublingual forms.

Here’s one that includes a lot of the vitamins and herbs I’ve mentioned above, including  St. John’s Wort. St. John’s Wort has been used for generations as a mood enhancer and stabilizer. Named after the apostle John, the herb actually acts as a very mild selective serotonin reuptake inhibiter (basically a natural and very mild anti-depressant). Therefore, while it is effective in this way, given it does actually help increase the amount of serotonin in your synapses by not allowing your body to recycle it as quickly, it can also have some side effects and should still be approached prayerfully, and in my opinion, as a last resort. Look those up and talk with a Naturopath and pray about whether or not this is a right choice for you. I say see a Naturopath, because regular MD’s and Psychologists have been trained, educated, and endorsed by the pharmaceutical companies. They will automatically not support it strictly because it is an herb and therefore, not approved by the FDA. Naturopath’s are well researched in herbs and can give you an intelligent, well-educated and researched assessment, by trustworthy resources even though they are not the FDA.  Given the mild effect, I have read that it is not addictive like pharmaceutical anti-depressant, but still should be reduced slowly before getting off to avoid any mood changes.

10.Last but not least, HOMEOPATHIC REMEDIES are another great option for helping our bodies heal and strengthen to fight off our disposition to be anxious or depressed. I won’t get into the entire science behind homeopathy, but basically it is a well-studied, age-old alternative form of healing that uses like to cure like. Over the course of history, certain researchers have found that when our body encounters a very mild amount of an element that causes a certain negative effect, if the person already had that ailment, the element actually helped the body heal itself of the symptom instead. This phenomenon has been tested and repeated through the scientific process. Homeopathic remedies that work for anxiety and depression as well as for people with digestive issues would include Arsenicum Album, Natrium Carbonicum, and Pulsatilla nigricans. In order to determine which one is right for you, you do need to consider other symptoms you might have as homeopathic remedies work with a number of issues. Finding one that really fits you will make it more effective. Seeing a Homoeopath can help you determine this—they will interview you, evaluate all of your issues, and determine the remedy and dosage that would best help your body heal. Once you are healed, you no longer need to take the remedy. For those of you who want to study up yourselves, there are plenty of books and websites out there including descriptions of the range of symptoms each one works at healing. You can go to the health food store and find a remedy that you think might work. Of course health food stores have a more limited selection so may not have the one you need, but a Homeopath can give you access to much more. It may take trial and error to find the right one. Seeing a Homoeopath though can reduce the amount of trial and error as they are experts and even doctors in the field.

#11: Magnesium L. Theonate is also incredibly helpful. It is the only magnesium that passes the blood brain barrier, is not a laxative, and works directly in the brain to help depression and anxiety. 🙂 Take before bed as some complain it makes them a little tired. I don’t have that, but some do. And for the last few months, I haven’t even needed it because I am on my way to complete healing. 🙂 

#12: Motil Pro has helped me and my brother along with numerous others whose anecdotal reviews online show its benefit. Many people with depression or anxiety also have a sluggish gut and resulting occasional or chronic constipation. This supplement does 2 things– it helps your bowels flow they way they are supposed to, gets those muscles in the lining moving. And it is packed with 5-HTP, the precursor to serotonin to help your gut make more (makes sense since inflammation and constipation prevent your body from making this essential neurotransmitter responsible for both happiness and feelings of peace and well-being). I suggest taking it morning when you wake up and another before bed as your start off on your lifestyle changes. Once you have been consistent and feeling better, switch to just one before bed. That is where I am at now. Saves money and makes more sense…they are meant to help you get back to well-being, not become an alternative dependancy. Eventually, I hope to no longer need it. But healing the gut takes time.

My Story:

I have found significant freedom through prayer, binding demonic oppression in my life, renewing my mind with the truth of the scripture and using to strengthen my self-control when my thoughts and feelings begin to control me. I also have made changes to my diet, have taken more time to rest and exercise. One of the last but very powerful steps I have taken has been to forgive myself and the many others who have hurt me over the course of my life. I had no idea how much of my anxiety and depression was rooted in worthlessness and unforgiveness. Personally, cutting out dairy and wheat made huge differences. Especially wheat, which after cutting out and then bringing back in made me recognize a significant correlation with my anxiety and depression. Dairy I’m allergic to, so it just adds to inflammation which didn’t help me produce serotonin. Ashwagandha has worked really well for me and now I don’t even take it everyday like I used to. 🙂

So many factors play a role in depression and anxiety. And for those who are predisposed toward the two conditions might find that in one bout of depression or anxiety, the cause is different than in another bout. When we are susceptible, then numbers of different issues can push us into it. There is no one-way method to solving the issue. It take intense self-analysis (through biblical truth), prayer, and time to get to the bottom of each episode—to find the patterns and to start making the changes to find solutions. While I have overcome my issues, I know now I have to continue the lifestyle I have made to maintain it. And when I feel an episode coming on, to dig into my toolbox and nip it in the bud. How’s my prayer life this week? How’s my diet this week? These questions help find the solutions.

Depression and Anxiety–5 Theoretical Solutions to this Modern Day Epidemic

sad-womanAs a rather emotional person from birth and now a working mother of four children, I have struggled with anxiety and sometimes, bouts of depression for most of my life. But as I meet more mothers, both working and stay-at-home, I’m discovering that I am not the only one.  It seems that anxiety and depression is a common issue with moms. But why do we have this issue so often? And what are ways to cure it? In my research and experience, I have come across 5 different theories.

The Theories:

  1. Take pharmaceutical drugs to cure the “chemical imbalance” that supposedly is causing the anxiety or depression.
  2. Find the external cause of the anxiety and depression and get rid of it.
  3. Cope with it through exercise, rest, prayer, meditation, and change in attitude.
  4. Deal with the spiritual problem causing it, requiring major prayer and often, repentance.
  5. Approach the anxiety biologically as well, but through diet and supplements rather than pharmaceutical drugs.

All of these schools of thought depend on what one believes is the cause of the anxiety or depression. Is it a chemical imbalance? Is it a spiritual problem? Is it a natural and normal reaction to an environmental trigger or problem? Is it some other biological cause? If it is a chemical imbalance, what is the cause of that? In today’s blog I seek to explore each theory, and its strengths and weaknesses, through a Christian World View.

Pharmaceutical Drugs: As a Christian woman, I personally feel very convicted about pillstaking pharmaceutical drugs. I find the pharmaceutical industry to be corrupted and money hungry, out to make millions off our suffering and causing more suffering to us in the end. I also believe the bible when in Revelation it talks about people not willing to give up their “pharmakia” in their pain and suffering for God in the last days. Given the statistic that 48 percent of Americans are taking at least one pharmaceutical drug and the pharmaceutical industry is making 234.1 billion dollars a year off our suffering, and less people are believing in God than ever, I can’t help but see a correlation. Now I want to clarify, that I believe there are many good, God-loving Christians out there who are taking pharmaceutical drugs for one reason or another. I don’t say the above correlation to discredit your faith. I’m just making an overall correlation to Americans in general in light of the scripture.

But none-the-less, I do urge Christians out there who struggle with anxiety or depression or any other ailment for that matter, to seek other ways and practices that have been known to resolve health issues first before resorting to these drugs. God did not offer Noah and his offspring pharmaceutical drugs to help them on their journey. He offered them himself, as well as work, and of course the plants, fruit, meat, and herbs. And eventually, he gave the law and the Sabbath, and always showing us his forgiveness to those who repented.

Therefore, I personally believe that pharmaceutical drugs should be a last measure, if at all, when all else has failed and only if the safety of the person or others are in danger. But I have certainly have had anxiety episodes in my past where I have thought about taking something to fix me. And I understand deeply why so many women resort to them as they can be a fix for some. Unfortunately, however, often times the anti-anxiety pills don’t work, or only work a little, or become such a big crutch that women find it very difficult to get off of them (often times getting off makes the anxiety episodes even more extreme), and worse yet—can give a number of other effects that are no fun, including heart palpitations. I know this personally because my father suffered from anxiety after his father died. He ended up taking anti-anxiety pills for 10 years, which lead to all of the above and eventually lead to heart palpitations, which I believe caused him to drown when he was 57 years old (the same day he told my stepmother over breakfast, that he wanted to work harder at getting off of the drug when they returned from their vacation). Even so, if there is such thing as a chemical imbalance, what is causing that? Drugs don’t heal us. They only cover up the problem.

weedsRidding ourselves of External Causes:   If you can find an external cause, and after prayer have confirmed it would safe, and biblical to get rid of the trigger, then by all means do it. This is very helpful and often an easy solution to anxiety. For example—a stressful job, a poor choice in friends, or perfume sensitivity could all be perfectly fine and beneficial to get rid of, depending on the circumstance.  But the problem with this second option is that often time, there is no external cause for the anxiety. For example, within the first year after my daughter was born, I had three anxiety attacks in the middle of the grocery store. I love the grocery store! But sure enough, I’d be walking through and the chest pains would come, the heart would start racing, the sweat would break out on my forehead and meanwhile my mind would be perfectly calm and wondering what the heck was happening with my body. So what am I supposed to do, get rid of my wifely and motherly duties? If my husband is willing, great.  But what about my other bouts of anxiety? Or what if he is not willing to take the grocery shopping duties? Am I to get rid of him? Is that really the effective answer?  If our loved ones are the source of our anxiety, then we should work on some problem-solving and communication methods to help that relationship out.  Otherwise, other options might be necessary.

bible-readingLiving Life Abundant:   There are strategies to help us build strength and endurance when facing difficult situations–especially prayer, rest, and exercise. God gave us himself; he gave us work; and he gave us the Sabbath. This means these are important. God knows best! I have certainly found much relief from attacks when I have sought God, gone to bed early, or hit the gym. But sometimes the problem can be deeper….

God did give us his Word which is filled with tips on how find more joy, as he has intended for his children. If we don’t read the bible—we won’t recognize the lies we believe which could be causing our anxiety and depression and we won’t know the ways we can eliminate this from our lives. Because these are so often tied to our relationship with God, I will discuss these in the next section—Relationship with God.

Often times, people learn about “coping mechanisms” in order to deal with the struggles of life. I have an issue with a lot of the psychology behind these mechanisms because they often lead to some really dangerous ways of thinking designed to pull us away from God and our purpose here on Earth.

For example—meditation is a form of escapism and is rooted in Eastern thinking that we are to disassociate ourselves from all emotion and from this world even.  Frequent meditation can lead people to disassociate often and prevent them from connecting with other people. God gave us emotions for a reason.  While we need to learn how to use them effectively and control them, rather than let them control us, they certainly should not be shut off. Another issue with meditation is that it opens our minds to be influenced by demonic lies. If we don’t keep our mind focused on Christ (as commanded by the bible, requiring prayer or focus on scripture) then we are at risk of filling our open minds up with unbiblical lies and misunderstanding. If we are to meditate, it should be meditating on a bible verse or a truth of God, not in opening our minds and releasing all thoughts. Focusing on one thought–a truth of God, is much safer and healthy for Christians.

Other psychological coping mechanisms require us to change our attitude in harmful ways. I knew a woman once who went through a bout of depression in her early 20’s as she was feeling worthless and guilty over her promiscuity. She went to a psychologist for help. He told her to cope with the depression by changing her attitude about her actions—no longer believe that promiscuity was bad or immoral and then naturally her mind wouldn’t feel depressed about it. This harmful strategy sent her further down a road of promiscuity that left her scarred emotionally and could have potentially lead her unplanned pregnancies and STD’s had she not been so lucky.

prayerRelationship with God:  If the problem is spiritual, and through prayer and reading the bible you identify the lies that the dark side has whispered in your ears that have caused your anxiety and have bound them, hallelujah. Satan and his demons want to kill and destroy us and prevent us from living a life that glorifies God. If they can stop you by whispering lies that cause you anxiety and depression, they will. Condemnation is one common lie he can use. Remember God’s grace. If you are a follower of Jesus Christ, you are forgiven for your past sins. You are a new creation!

These lies can lead us to sin and to think and feel in a certain way that destroys our lives and our purpose. Our anxiety or depression can be due to our conscience struggling with sin in our lives that can be forgiven, but still needs to be addressed first. God gave us the law for a reason.  And as Christians, our spirits know when we are sinning. Adultery, alcoholism, unforgiveness…the list can go on and have deep-seeded connections to causing anxiety. Addressing those sins is essential to healing ourselves of the damage it can take on our bodies. Sin hurts everyone!  God doesn’t want us to sin, not just because he wants us to be dressed for heaven, but because sin destroys our current lives and the lives of those around us. I have experienced this myself and it has made a huge difference. More often than not, anxiety and depression really is a spiritual issue.

There are some sins or spiritual issues we could be struggling with that are the cause of our anxiety and depression, but are not easily noticed by ourselves. They can be revealed to us though when we read God’s word or when we get honest answers from our friends and family who see us everyday—these issues include fear, unthankfulness, covetousness, lack of faith in Jesus as Lord and Savior, and feelings of worthlessness. First we need to understand what God says about these things so that we can then take our thoughts captive when we find ourselves thinking and feeling in these ways and plain and simple—stop it!

  1.  2 Timothy 1:7–For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.
  2. Ephesians 5:20–Giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
  3. Philippians 4:6–Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.
  4. Romans 10: 9-10–That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved
  5. Luke 12:7—Fear not; you are of more value than many sparrows.

So sometimes the answer is as simple as—stop having yourself a pity party and count your blessings. Or recognize that if your anxiety is coming from fear—it is not from God. If it’s not from God, it’s not true. It is a lie. Pray and bind that lie. Stop it when you find yourself being afraid. God says to be anxious for nothing, but to be thankful and come to him with your requests. Are you giving your anxiety to God? Are you asking him for help in the areas that are causing your stress? Do you trust that he will take care of it? Do you even believe that Jesus is your Lord and Savior? He died so that we might be free. Free from what? Free from hell sure, but also free from our sin; free from the lies we have believed; and free from our slavery to our emotions and to our past. If we are not freed from these things, we cannot live a life full of the purpose he has intended for us. Be free! Trust in Jesus as your Lord and Savior.

I recommend two books that are biblical and while they shouldn’t replace the bible, can be used alongside the bible to really nail down any spiritual issues and lies you may believe that could be leading to your anxiety and depression. The Lies Women Believe, and Restored, both linked in these images.

dietDiet: I go back to the bible and am reminded—God gave us himself, the law, his word—but also plants, meat, work, and herbs. So what else can moms do? The more I read up on the diet and lifestyle of American people today, the more I wonder how much our diet plays a role in some of our issues. So I did some research the biological causes and correlations with anxiety and depression. And believe it or not, there is a lot! And as you know from the growing knowledge out there about the problems with the American diet and lifestyle, God may very well have already given us the tools and help to prevent our ailments like anxiety and even depression. And the problem is, we are not using them!

Stay tuned for my next blog—where I will share 10 ways you can make changes in your diet and nutrient intake to strengthen your body and mind– reducing your proneness to anxiety and depression.

As you wait for the next post, if you struggle with anxiety or depression, I strongly recommend you go through the above options and make a checklist for yourself. What areas have you tried? What have you not tried? What can you start doing today? Sometimes, not one approach alone works, but a combination. God wants you focused on him, but he also wants you to live a healthy life. Remember the things God gave his children: himself, the law, grace, work, rest, and the earth.  Starting and ending your day in prayer, and going to God when you feel a bout of emotions coming on, are a good place to start. Then look at your exercise habits, your rest habits, lies you may be believing, and possible sin in your life. Finally, look at your plate as you eat. Is this something Noah and his offspring would have eaten?

There is a great App called “Symple—Symptom tracker and health diary” that can help you track your anxiety and depression bouts and begin to look for correlations with circumstances, thoughts, and diet.

Its only For apple– https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/symple-symptom-tracker-health/id479818115?mt=8

I’m sure there are similar ones out there for Android although I cannot endorse them  without using them.

5 Things You Should Know Before Going Gluten and Dairy Free

  1. Corn, Rice, Cauliflower, Cashews, Almond milk, Lettuce, and Nutritional Yeast are Your New Best Friends.

bread-cautionAnyone who lives a dairy and wheat-free lifestyle has learned to love these 7 ingredients, and no–not necessarily together, although that could be cool too. Corn and Rice are the grains that now replace wheat. There are corn and rice pastas, corn tortillas, rice crackers, you name it. Although honestly, don’t bother with the rice bread and other “gluten free” bread types. They are all terribly bland. They are only tolerable toasted with some butter on it. But at 6 bucks a loaf, that may not be worth it. Instead, try lettuce.  Lettuce, on the other hand, can turn into an excellent replacement for tortillas and hamburger buns or sandwich bread. Because of this delightful green leaf, I can still enjoy In & Out. Thank God for “protein style” lettuce-wrapped burgers. I’d be one depressed mama without lettuce. As for dairy replacements–cashews can be soaked and blended to a very creamy consistency and when sprinkled with Nutritional Yeast and some spices can substitute as a base for a variety of “cream” based sauces like Alfredo or sour cream that are actually pretty decent when used lightly. And almond milk is that glorious drink you can use in your cereal, coffee or tea, and shakes. Hallelujah. Life can actually continue.

  1. Plan Ahead If You Want to Be Successful.

lactose-intoleranceThis means meal-prepping and meal-planning is key. I like to use Sundays to get all my meat cooked and veggies diced up for salads and lunches. Having ready-made snacks available are also essential. Failure comes when you don’t plan. These unplanned “I’m so hungry I could eat an elephant” sort of days will inevitably lead you to wheat or dairy, guaranteed. That’s what quick food is all about–well, unless you are okay with living off hot dogs the rest of your life with no bun. As a matter of fact, you might want to buy those just in case you do have a no-plan day. All beef and kosher could help you feel a little less guilty about it when you choose that over a string cheese or a microwavable burrito as you run out the door. Failure also comes when you are going to a friend’s house and didn’t share your food sensitivities with them, or didn’t bring your own dish or snack to hold you over. When this happens, you will have to resort to eating their food, which will include wheat or dairy in it 99% of the time. I’m telling you–once you cut dairy and wheat you will realize that America is addicted to dairy and wheat. It is in everything. No wonder we are all getting so sick.

  1. Don’t Even Bother Trying Those Vegan “Cheeses” in the Vegan Section of the Grocery Store.

daiya-mac-and-cheeseI’ve tried them all and they are nasty—no matter how delicious those pictures on the cover of those Dairy Free Mac and Cheese boxes or vegan shredded cheese bags. It might be orange and gooey looking, but it tastes like melted cardboard. Blech! Just embrace marinara sauce over your pasta or better yet–garlic and olive oil sauces with a little bit of nutritional yeast flakes or mizithra (sheep cheese) sprinkled over the top. It is so much closer to the real thing, and absolutely delicious. Of course, that is if you are really more of a cow-dairy free person like myself. I suppose cardboard cheese might be necessary as you transition out of cheese on tacos, cheese on burritos, cheese on burgers and sandwiches type of lifestyle. But you will learn quickly, that your taco, burger, and burrito just taste better without it completely. I have moved past my belief that I need cheese on my nachos and taco salads to be happy by finding pleasure in other flavors like guacamole or salsa or mayonnaise and ketchup.

  1. It Will Be Hard At First, But It Gets Easier With Time

gluten-free-dairy-free-pizzaThe hard part is not really the lack of options because if you plan or jump on the Paleo bandwagon, there is a wealth of delicious recipes out there and grocery stores are catering more and more to the dairy-free, wheat-free movement. Almond milk is now even in Starbucks so you can still enjoy your lattes. The hard part is really the habit-breaking and the emotional addiction. You don’t realize how much you eat dairy and wheat until you cut out dairy and wheat. You have to rethink food completely. And if you love wheat and dairy as much as I do, you will have to mourn the loss like a death in the family. You might stop dancing for your food at first. But I promise, if you stick to it, your taste buds will change, your habits will change, and then it will be easier. There are scores of testimonies from numerous people who have taken the plunge and refused this American diet all over the web.

  1. You Will Look and Feel Amazing! 

happy-womanSay good bye to bloating, acne, belly aches, digestive problems. Say good bye to fog brain, mid-day fatigue, and even about 10 pounds of extra fat. I don’t know how I lived so long feeling miserable for food when there are so many other great foods out there that don’t leave people feeling so sick. This ultimately is what motivates me to keep on going with my lifestyle. Those days where I get lazy or give into temptation almost always leaves me hunched over in pain, passed out tired, or even depressed the day after. I regret it every time and get right back to the dairy free, wheat free lifestyle. I can’t tell you how much more energy I feel, how much lighter I feel inside, and how much better my skin looks, not to mention just not having to live every day with a belly ache. I think you will agree too.

Wheat and Dairy: my untitled saga with the foods I love and hate all at the same time.

file_000From the time I was a small child, I have fond memories of wheat and dairy.  My mom has a picture of me at the age of 2 digging into a white cannister of sour cream with my bare hands while wearing a sour cream filled grin. I have flashes of running into the kitchen at my grandma Barbara’s house at the age of 6 and eagerly jumping up down as she sliced a sliver of cheese from a ball of mozzarella she kept in the fridge. As I grew older I discovered the amazing dream of cream cheese smeared over toasted everything bagels, of American cheese melted and gooey in a grilled sourdough sandwich with tomato soup on the side, of mexican cheese melted in between flour tortillas on a flat-iron skillet, and the surprise leftover cheese on the paper that wrapped my animal style burgers at In and Out. For years, I’d come home in the evening from a long day at work or school, and pour myself a tall glass of ice-cold milk. When I was pregnant with my first and second sons, I’d down the entire glass in my left hand while still holding the gallon jug in my right and then pour one more before finally resting the jug back on the refrigerator shelf. And don’t forget Kraft Mac and Cheese. I was just excited about Mac and Cheese night as my own children, and enjoyed once a year making my own homemade version with nutmeg and exotic cheeses.

To me, dairy and wheat were the essential two main food groups. They were the center piece of every great soul food. They were what made food worth eating. Wheat and Dairy were worth singing and dancing for.

Dairy and I had a love affair that lasted 31 glorious years and then slowly crumbled into a final once-and for all break up around January of 2016 before I kicked wheat out as well.  So imagine my despair as I struggled through our slow 5 year break up before finally being ready to call it quits for good that cold, winter day.

At some point in my life, I started having stomach pains. I don’t even remember when they started. I could have had them my whole life, I don’t really know. The sort of pain I struggled with slowly just creeped up on me and annoyed with me with a constant dull aching in my belly. Always present. But never strong enough to bring to me to tears or send me rushing off to the doctor.

But I began to recognize that I did always have a belly ache. And I neither liked it nor understood what could be the cause. When I decided to switch doctors back in Fall of 2011, I started to find answers. My doctor was big into finding the sources of illness. So when I went in for an annual checkup and she had me fill out a questionnaire, my belly aches came up. From that and a few other red flags that sparked her interest, she sent me to a lab to get a large amount of blood work done. When it came back she sat me down and shared the good, the bad, and the ugly. And one of the ugliest findings was that I was allergic to cow dairy along with some minor allergies in wheat, shellfish, dust mites, cats, dogs, and cockroaches.  She suggested I cut down the dairy, at the very least milk, and see if my symptoms improved. That and get rid of our cat. But that’s another story.

41 weeks pregnant

I decided I would give up just the milk and see, but there was no way I’d give up cheese or sour cream. I mean that would be like food suicide. But even with that, sure enough, my stomach felt much better, especially in the evenings.  It took just a few months before I began enjoying my almond milk alternative. Now I crave it like I craved milk. And when I was pregnant with my third and fourth child, guzzled almond milk the same way I did cow’s.

But the pain didn’t go away, go away. It lurked. And over the next few years, the ever-present dull-ache seemed eventually to become just as strong as it had been in my milk days. My allergy was getting worse. I learned the hard way overtime, that I could not eat ice cream anymore or else I’d be hunched in a fetal position crying on the floor in pain. But even when I was good, I just couldn’t escape the pain completely.

And then one day in December, I imagined what my body would feel like if I didn’t ever feel the belly pain again, and the idea of it was so relieving that I actually cried. It was then that I realized, I’d have to make the decision to cut out dairy completely once and for all. No more quesadillas. No more Mac and Cheese. No more alfredo sauce over my spaghetti. I cried again. It’s funny to think about how emotionally attached we can be to certain foods, but it is true.

So I did it. In January of this year, I started a 30-day detox program and not only cut out dairy, but cut out wheat and soy and sugar among all sorts of processed chemicals. I never felt so good in my life. I was sold. Never would I go back to a life of dairy again. But an interesting thing happened to me after the detox. I tried wheat again, thinking I would just stick to a dairy free life. But then I noticed the anxiety I often felt in my chest returned and my belly swelled up. I remembered that blood test a couple of years back. This is what my wheat allergy was doing to me? All those years of anxiety? All those stressful tears? All those years of thinking sit ups were pointless? When I think of all the pain I could have escaped, all the chest pains I could have relieved….no amount of cheese or wheat seemed worth it anymore. I was over it.

But like any break up, there is a transition period. And there are weak points. There are times where you have to stare at yourself in the mirror and remind yourself why you broke up in the first place. I had to start thinking creatively about my foods and begin to find beauty in other flavors. Honestly, the first couple of months, I found little joy in eating. Food became merely something I had to eat to nourish my body.

10398558_85822439745_3701725_n

singing for celery

It has been 10 months since and it has gotten easier. I have stumbled a couple of times when I haven’t planned and had to resort to eating something with wheat or dairy in it, then reaping the consequence. And yet my belly has healed enough that from time to time, I can enjoy one meal with a small amount of it in it without suffering too much, but nothing more. And I’m okay with it now. I may even start singing for my food again.

Protons, Heart Issues, and Other Woes

Trying to be "Anxious for Nothing."

Trying to be “Anxious for Nothing.”

I’m feeling pretty down today. So much going on it seems, but hoping for some perspective and hope as I know I can get this way, and God always sees me through.

Owen discovered yesterday that the hopeful outcome of radiation therapy as the final step in ridding him of his cancer, now seems rather grim. The radiologist looked at his scans and determined that the location of Owen’s tumor is in such a delicate place in Owen’s heart, especially after the heart itself has been so ravaged by the surgery and the chemotherapy, that he feels radiation would only damage it further. It is his professional opinion that the positive benefits on the cancer do not outweigh the negative effects it would have on Owen’s heart.

“You only get one heart, Owen,” he said.

So he is recommending Proton therapy instead, a newer form of treatment similar to radiation but using some sort of protons instead (hence the name) and supposedly much more gentle. So while that doesn’t sound bad, here is the stressful part. There is a good chance our insurance won’t cover it. And without insurance, my research shows it will cost roughly $30,000. This is money we do not have.

Furthermore, given the scans look good on the CT (We havent’ had a more accurate PET scan yet), it makes me wonder if it is even worth it. Yet, all the research I’ve done, which has included looking at medical journals written within the last year on Thymoma shows that for stage 3 B2 Thymoma, radiation combined with chemotherapy yielded much more success when preventing reoccurrence. Without that double treatment, likelihood of reoccurrence for Owen’s type and stage was very high. But in the end, does it even matter if it’s Proton therapy instead? Where’s the research on proton therapy for Owen? In other words, if the proven radiation therapy is not realistic for Owen, is it worth $30,000 of money we don’t have to pay for another treatment where there is no record or research done on its effectiveness for Owen’s type of cancer and stage in the first place?

So what to do?

Owen is most frustrated by the location of the Proton therapy location. It is in La Jolla, which is a good 40 minutes from our home with typical traffic. He is expected to go every. single. day. For 6 weeks. That is 40 minutes there, about an hour while there, and then 40 minutes back. That is basically 3 hours everyday that cuts out of his work time. And we’d have to find a sitter every morning to take the kids to school in order to get him there on time. At this point, chemotherapy was easier on his work schedule. So he is not happy. Neither am I.

My prayer is that God be guiding all of this. I don’t want Owen to beat cancer only to die of a heart attack. So if radiation is too dangerous than I don’t want it either. Chemotherapy has already ravaged his heart. He is getting palpitations everyday and has been enduring pain in his heart ever since his last chemotherapy treatment 3-4 weeks ago. He is still dealing with other negative effects on his body including tinitus in his ears, tingling and numbness in his fingertips and limbs, and general weakness.

I don’t want his heart issues to worsen. But I don’t want him to get a likely reoccurance of thymoma either. The survival rate for that is much worse. Over the last year, Owen and I have grown so much closer. I am more in love with him than ever and so the fear of losing him, is all the more heart-breaking to me. I want my husband to be with me for the rest of my life. And I want the time we have together to be healthy. Anything that disrupts that or threatens that fills me with anxiety.

If God does not allow proton therapy to be something the insurance pays for, I sure hope he is allowing that because he is telling us he’s got this and that Owen will not be getting a reoccurrence and so we don’t need more treatment. Please pray we have ears to hear God’s voice in this and not our own fears or itching ears.

Finally, after all of this–I am having health issues. And right now, all of our health/medical money is going toward helping Owen. And my issues just seem to be blown off by the traditional Medical establishment. As I seek alternative treatments, I recognize my dire need for a Naturopath, but that will come out of pocket since my insurance won’t cover a Naturopath. Until we get Owen settled though, I am trying to treat myself for my health issues with diet changes, supplements, etc. And I’m just praying that God bring me relief. I don’t want to get too into it until I know for sure if I am right. But I’ve struggled with a sensitive gut for years and finally found some relief when I cut down my dairy significantly. But now it seems that I’m developing more food sensitivities and my hearing issues aren’t improving that much. And on top of that, I had a tubal ligation a year ago when my daughter was born (4th c-section) and I’m starting to develop some issues that I believe may be complications and side effects to that. I’m just praying that God be guiding me through my journey through this process, show grace to me as I seek to treat myself and help provide me the answers needed to heal. I am going to be 36 years old and want the second half of my life to be healthy as well, not burdened by pain and aching all the time in my belly. I’m crying right now just thinking about it.

Lord, please bring me and my husband relief!

In the end, despite the outcome, I am reminded of a song  Alanis Morisette wrote years ago that made such an impact on me. I will post the lyrics down below.

That I would be good, by Alanis Morisette

That I would be good even if I did nothing
That I would be good even if I got the thumbs down
That I would be good if I got and stayed sick
That I would be good even if I gained ten pounds
That I would be fine even if I went bankrupt
That I would be good if I lost my hair and my youth
That I would be great if I was no longer queen
That I would be grand if I was not all knowing
That I would be loved even when I numb myself
That I would be good even when I am overwhelmed
That I would be loved even when I was fuming
That I would be good even if I was clingy
That I would be good even if I lost sanity
That I would be good whether with or without you
So please pray that God guide is in the direction he will have us go, heal us on his own or lead us toward the doctors and treatments that can heal us, and that if he does, or if he doesn’t–that we both be good regardless. I want to be joyous and kind and encouraging and inspiring and giving always. I want to emanate God’s love no matter the ailment or suffering I have in my own life.