Yesterday I realized lately how happy, calm, and "normal" I've felt for the past few months, despite all of the major changes that have been going on within that timeframe... what a HUGE accomplishment, and I did the majority of it with no assistance, and completely without therapy or prescription drugs.
On the 30th of this month, it will be exactly two years since the majority of my issues with depression and anxiety started. I started out with full days, day after day, of panic that made me sick to my stomach. I had to relearn how to be comfortable with ordinary tasks like eating, sleeping, waking up, being alone or with others... and feelings of dizziness, stomach pain, confusion (really anything that felt out of the ordinary... which, at the time, felt like almost everything). I had to learn to accept that conditions like severe heartburn and constant nausea, lack of appetite, dialated pupils, random smells of ammonia, heart palpitations, numbness, fatigue, insomnia, and sheer hopelessness (among MANY others) were all just symptoms of anxiety and post-traumatic stress. Mostly, I had to learn that hardly anyone else would ever understand what I was going through.... and I had to do all of this while continuing life like everything was normal. Panicking just before bed and not calming down until just after 6 in the morning.... NOT good when working full time, especially if its a daily occurance.
The anxiety became a bit easier to manage once I was able to find things that caused it. The first thing I noticed was that any medicine (presciptions, cold medicines, anti-anxiety, etc.) exacerbated all symptoms, so I cut all of those from my life. Four months in, I ditched refined sugar and caffeine for the same reason. Suddenly, feelings of panic went from constant 24/7 to several seperate times a day. I did a lot of reading on essential minerals and vitamins, herbs, oils... things like that and decided to try fish oil and B vitamins. Fish oil is said to boost serotonin, and B vitamins promote a general sense of well-being and healthy energy. After a few days, the fish oil seemed to make things worse, which makes sense, since too much serotonin was what got me here in the first place. B12 and B6 caused almost an immediate surge of panic, so I set all three aside. I also tried a multi-vitamin and teas like chamomile at night to help me sleep, but no change.
I got busy, went to bed earlier, kept my mind full, ate healthy foods, constantly surrounded myself with happy people, attempted stupid self-cognitive-therapy exercises.....
I must have tried a million different things, but I NEVER resorted to prescription drugs like Xanax or any anti-depressants (those things are poison, but that's for another day). I did, however, use somewhat of a natural replacement for those things.... magnesium! If you get the right kind, (I use Doctor's Best High Absorption 100% Chelated) and the mineral is as close to fully absorbed as possible, you can say GOODBYE to depression and anxiety, and actually start to feel an immediate sense of well-being and maybe even euphoria! If you don't believe me, look it up on Google... tons of people will back this up. Google will also help you find a massive amount of symptoms for magnesium deficiency. The signs I had that gave this away were anxiety/depression, an abnormal-feeling heart beat, head buzzes (almost like getting an electrical shock - in your brain!!), and a general, constant feeling of mental and physical weakness (confusion, shakiness, feeling faint and fatigued, etc.). These return for me when I eat too much calcium (calcium cancels out magnesium, magnesium cancels out calcium... there needs to be a balance). 20 minutes after the first one I took, I had a much more positive outlook. I felt better than I had in over a year.
I started taking magnesium once a day and never missed a dose for a few months. If I did miss a dose, I could definitely feel the difference. One of the biggest problems I had, and the reason magnesium helped so much, was the ability to trigger feelings of panic by just thinking of certain things (this is a characteristic of PTSD or panic disorder). All I had to do was think of one symptom I had when I was panicking, and in a split second every symptom would appear. It became a habit. Instant anxiety all the time. Magnesium significantly lowered the strength of most of the symptoms, and got rid of the rest completely. This made me able to think of whatever I wanted without causing a panic attack, which helped me cope with negative/traumatic memories in a natural way. Eventually, those thoughts were processed normally and pushed to the back like all other normal thoughts are. Flashbacks from over a year ago that felt like they had happened two seconds ago finally became less vivid.
Later on, in the past several months, I began taking magnesium less and less, to the point where I only took it when things like diet would cause panic. Now, compared to where I was two years ago, I haven't had any significant feelings of panic in months, I hardly ever take magnesium (maybe a few times a month), I very rarely have any post-traumatic flashbacks, and I feel like I'm getting my life back together. A couple months ago, I was happy knowing that there were no feelings of panic I couldn't stop within half a second. Now, I'm happy realizing that the anxiety that would just sit in the back of my mind is finally disappearing, too.
...and the best part of all of it?
Since I did this on my own, without any crutches like anti-depressants, whatever anxiety or depression gets thrown my way, I'll have every single tool to prevent it. Go me! :0)