Mental Health Awareness Month: Cling to Hope

I didn’t expect this blog post to be so difficult to write. I knew I wanted to write about Mental Health Awareness, but I didn’t know how to approach this article… and not because I feel like I don’t have a voice in this battle. I know I have a voice, a story, and a passion about mental health… but how on earth do I put words to the ache in my heart?

I fought depression on and off from 11 years old to 28 years old. I am only 31 years old. I struggled with anorexia in middle school, late in college, and then briefly after having my second child. Depression has been a part of my life more often than not. Depression is what stole my childhood. Depression is what stole my motherhood for the first 4 years of it. Depression stole my identity for so long. I believed the lies it fed me for far too long. The lies of You’re not good enough. You’re not worthy of (Fill in the blank/literally anything other than pain). You’re not loved.

Y’all I went so long believing these lies were true. It wasn’t until I was about 26 years old and in counseling while I was recounting my thoughts out loud to my counselor. Specific thoughts I had when I debated with the idea of suicide… My counselor was able to help me realize that those thoughts were some dark lies. Many have said suicide is a selfish decision, and I understand that perspective. I also understand the perspective of the one with suicidial ideations… you’ve convinced yourself this is the most selfless thing you can do for your family. You’ve convinced yourself that they are better off without you, that you’re easily replaceable, and that you truly don’t matter. You’ve convinced yourself that the lies are true. **Please note: If you are thinking about suicide, I urge you to stay. Stop listening to the lies in your head. Know that you are LOVED. You matter. You have purpose. Go get professional help.**

This month, and every month, I stand with those of you affected by mental illness: depression, anxiety, eating disorders, bipolar, schizophrenia, you name it. I stand with you, I will fight for you, and I will pray endlessly that you hear God’s truth, and not lies.

Even though I had studied for years about psychology and have a Master’s Degree in Clinical Psychology, it took my husband to convince me to get help. I was in such a dark place after we had our third child… I went to counseling, I took Zoloft for a while, I continued studying and found Dr. Caroline Leaf’s work from my counselor’s suggestion. (If toxic thoughts are running your life, I highly recommend her book Switch on your Brain). Before we got pregnant with Sarah, while working with my doctor, I weaned off of Zoloft. I started using some holistic measures in place of it (and still do), and after having my fourth baby I didn’t struggled with postpartum depression. I don’t know if you can appreciate the magnitude of that sentence… for the first time in YEARS I didn’t have to battle my mind while caring for my children. Sure, I still dealt with those raging hormones the first couple of months, but I felt the JOY of motherhood that I had only heard about from other moms. To this day I don’t have to take Zoloft, and I no longer have to fight the daily fight to chose life and not death. 

I want to provide hope. If you’ve been struggling with mental illness for months, years, or decades… there is hope. I know, please trust me I know, sometimes it feels helpless. I have many memories of crying out to God begging him to just take it away. I am incredibly thankful He provided me with a solution for my body and emotions.  I want to encourage you to continue to seek help and healing. Reach out to your loved ones. Know that you are loved, wanted, valued. Go to counseling. Provide your body with solid nutrition, exercise and supplements. Feed your mind with positive thoughts and emotions. Surround yourself with loving people and influences. Believe in healing. Cling to hope.

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Back to Basics: Foundations for Your Health

Ok, friends, I feel like I should warn you before I dive into this post. It is not going to be the most entertaining post you’ve ever read. It’s not going to be the most enlightening post you’ve ever read. Honestly, it probably won’t be the most memorable post you’ve ever read either. So, why the heck am I even writing about this? Because it’s so foundational that everyone needs to read it. (So please read it! I promise the next post will be more entertaining.)

I’m going to be posting more often on this blog, on social media, and on my podcast about doTERRA essential oils, holistic health remedies, and some natural DIYs. I’m doing this because my heart is truly to show others that we really can take control of our health and wellness naturally. HOWEVER, it is extremely imperative that we get the foundation right. For example, I’ve chatted about how essential oils can help support your immune system, but if you’re filling your body with Twinkies, and not sleeping or exercising 24/7 then you’re going to run into some issues. We’ve got to get the foundation solid… Not perfect, because I love a cupcake every now and then, but solid. So, let’s dive in!

1. Nutrition: We’ve all heard it. “You are what you eat.” It’s so true. My normal routine and habits have gotten thrown off (Let’s be clear, I did the throwing. I’m not blaming circumstances) and I can feel it. It’s been more difficult to get up early in the morning, I’ve been less productive, and just kinda felt blah. I’ve just spent a couple of days getting back to my normal and I’m already feeling better. I’m not going to get into vegan/paleo/keto/gluten free argument. I will say, we all probably need to up our veggies. So start with that, and pound the water. Drink at least half of your body weight in ounces. Flavor it with some doTERRA citrus oils to keep it interesting.

2. Rest: There’s this Daniel the Tiger song that always get stuck in my head… “When you’re sick, rest is best, rest is best.” I wish I could sing it to you, because words on a page doesn’t do it justice, and if you don’t have kids in your house under the age of 5 you probably have no idea who Daniel the Tiger is. That’s okay, you get the point. When we’re sick, when we’re well, and every day we need adequate rest. Maybe if you’re in your twenties you can rock your day on 3 hours of sleep, but trust me, you will perform and feel much better if you get at least 6 hours of sleep in your system. Some people even feel the best when they get 10 hours of sleep, but let’s not get crazy. Find how you function the best.

3. Love Yourself: I know it may not seem like it at the time, but negative self talk doesn’t serve your body or emotions at all. You’re actually physically harming your mind and body when you beat yourself up with negativity. Be gentle and kind to yourself. Treat yourself with the same care you would treat someone else. Give yourself grace. Start speaking love and life over yourself. It sounds cheesy, and it even feels awkward when you start speaking love instead of hate, but get over the awkwardness. Your love for yourself will bleed over to how you love others. It will make the world go round. Ok, not that last part, but you get my point. If you want some science to back this up, then go and check out the book Switch on Your Brain by Dr. Caroline Leaf. It’s very eyeopening.

4. Movement: I used the word “movement” here instead of “exercise” because I feel like we associate exercise with grueling, intensive workouts that are only for the elite athletes. However you want to word it: movement, exercise, working out… you need to do it. Pick a movement you like: going for a walk in the woods, having a dance party with your kids, hard core sweat sesh, running, yoga, whatever. Find what you love and do more of that. Movement releases toxins in your body and pumps you full of endorphins. I can use all the endorphins I can get!

Now, I could go on and chat about supplements, probiotics, meditation, sunshine, and much more, but those will be other posts for later days. This truly was meant to be a very basic and general post. Help me out though: What are some foundational steps you take towards enhancing your health and wellness?