I’ve been meaning to write about this topic for a long time. For years, I struggled with debilitating health symptoms, such as anxiety and depression. I didn’t realize I was depressed, because I wasn’t sad. I just felt…paralyzed and numb. Depression comes in many ways. My hopes in writing this blog post is to encourage you (or someone you know) to get medical help if you feel that you are struggling with depression. I also want to share some home remedies that can help, as well.
(Disclaimer: This is just my experience and perspective on depression with some factual information. If you or someone you know is possibly dealing with depression, please call your doctor. There is professional help out there!)
Life has a way of distracting us. Sometimes, we go through the motions completely unaware that something is wrong. Or off. If you’re married. A homeowner. A parent. Working full time. Chances are you can go through the storm of depression and maintain status quo. I know, because in hindsight, I’ve struggled with depression for a pretty long time. Reflecting on my behaviors and choices in the past, it makes sense, now.
I was a happy child. Super happy. I will never forget the time that I first got my period. My mom left for work early that morning. So, my dad had to go to the grocery store to get me maxi pads! (How can I forget that?! lol) But, what really stands out to me is how my mood changed.
For a week or two of each month, I was uninterested in things. Actually, I was uninterested in every-single-thing. I feel badly for those few high school boyfriends. Because one day, out of the clear blue, I’d be like, “Eh. I’m sorry I’m not interested, anymore.”
I wouldn’t “feel” much at all. I was just like blah. The only thing I wanted to do was stay home. Wear sweats. Eat pizza and chocolate. And, get lost in TV or video games.
I’m ashamed to admit that I still wrestle with this. But, at least now, I am aware of it. And, on top of it! It took years of mess-ups to learn how to handle this. I’m still learning.
By the way, I have PMDD (Premenstrual Dysphoric Syndrome). I wrote a post on my experience with this, along with Stage 4 Endometriosis. Both include symptoms such as depression and anxiety. So, for a week or two out of every month, I can feel “off”. Until I get my period. Then, I feel like myself again.
Some months can be really bad. Others can be absolutely fine. A lot depends on factors such as overall physical health, lifestyle, and relationships.
When you’re depressed, your brain is not functioning the same. I know now that I need my space. Where nobody will judge me, misunderstand me, or make me feel pressured to pretend I’m fine. As soon as the cloud lifts, it kinda feels like groundhog day. I have to catch up on whatever it is I fell behind on.
This is the first winter I have not dealt with a lot of depression. But, every so often, it hits hard. I feel like there is a thirty-pound weight wrapped around me. I can do things. It just takes so much more effort. I feel tired. I learned that it’s possible to be depressed even if you don’t feel sad. Depression is also losing interest in things and having a hard time doing things.
There are many remedies that work well, and I’ve tried them all. But, if you’re feeling depressed your doctor can point you in the right direction. (I can’t stress that enough here. Depression can be serious. You need to have a good doctor. And, if you’re not sure where to find one, start with your family doctor.)
Here are some things that can help if and when you’re feeling depressed.
1.) Absorb natural sunlight! Yes, especially in the winter months. SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) happens to some people, every year around the same time. Did you know that some people have SAD during the summer months?
Some scientists think that certain hormones made deep in the brain trigger attitude-related changes at certain times of year. Experts believe that SAD may be related to these hormonal changes. One theory is that less sunlight during fall and winter leads to the brain making less serotonin, a chemical linked to brain pathways that regulate mood. When nerve cell pathways in the brain that regulate mood don’t function normally, the result can be feelings of depression, along with symptoms of fatigue and weight gain.
Many doctors recommend that people with SAD get outside early in the morning to get more natural light. If this is impossible because of the dark winter months, antidepressant medications or light therapy (phototherapy) may help. (Source)
As long as it’s a very bright and sunny day, I’ll sit outside for a good 15 minutes, in direct sunlight. It feels wonderful! I have a friend who swears by light therapy. I haven’t tried that yet. But, that may be a good alternative if you can’t get outdoors, in natural sunlight.
I never did any kind of detox until just a few years ago! I recently learned that I have the MTHFR Gene Mutation. This was a huge game-changer for me. Not only did I learn that my body’s ability to detox, naturally, was compromised. I learned that I have two copies of it (inherited by both mom and dad). I also realized that this may be the cause of all of my autoimmune issues (along with infertility)! Of course, I had to learn this on my own. (Which is why it’s good to have a doctor AND do your homework, as well.)
Many health issues (such as cancer, fibromyalgia, clinical depression, infertility, etc.) have the MTHFR mutation in common. I highly recommend checking out this website to read about it. Dr. Ben Lynch is one of the TOP Experts in this area.
Anyway, detox is critical for the human body! There are things we can do (even if you don’t have the MTHFR mutation) to help the detox process.
For starters, a detox bath! Simply add some epsom salt, baking soda, and a few drops of an essential oil (such as lavender) to a warm bubble bath. Soak until the water turns cool. Also, drink a LOT of water.
3.) Do things that are RELAXING.
I love to read. I love to do puzzles. I also love to write. Any of these three things help so much, when I’m feeling depressed.
I also schedule a massage if I really feel the need. It definitely helps! Sometimes, I’ll even just ask Scott. If you have an older daughter, ask her to brush your hair! I own a body brush and use it for my arms and legs. It’s another great way to release toxins.
As much as I don’t want to exercise, when I’m feeling depressed, I know I need it! Exercise boosts endorphins. I feel better immediately after I do some sort of exercise. And, it doesn’t have to be intense. If you can do something outdoors, go for it! A brisk walk. A bike ride. A hike. If you can’t get out of the house, go on youtube and follow an exercise or stretching routine you like. You can do yoga, pilates, or just stretch and meditate!
5.) Drink a LOT of water
Water is good for you, on any given day. You already know that! But, drinking a lot of water when you’re depressed can help remove toxins. Be creative and add fruit, cucumber, a few essential oil drops, or flower petals to make it more aesthetically pleasing. My favorite water drink has cucumber and lemon.
6.) Give yourself GRACE!
For so many years, I pushed myself, even when I felt awful. I wasn’t in touch with what was really going on. I had little support (because I wasn’t being properly diagnosed). I was afraid to say, “No”. Especially when I just needed my space! I ended up feeling more frustrated on top of depressed. (Not fun.)
I guess you can say that I learned the hard way. God’s word teaches us that God’s will brings peace. And, rest. I meditate on this verse when I feel tempted to push too much.
Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light. Matthew 11:28-30
I’ve learned to be kinder to myself. When I’m not feeling well, I sometimes need to silent my phone. Cancel obligations. Let the dishes go. Thankfully, I find joy in caring for and being around children. So, that’s one thing I can still do, naturally and joyfully! (I spent 12 years teaching elementary school. Even when I felt depressed! Being around children was therapeutic for me.) But, this may not be the case for everyone. If you need help, ASK! Don’t be afraid to admit that you may need help in taking care of your children. You’re actually doing more good than harm.
There are more ways to find relief. Ultimately, you need to understand what you’re dealing with and do whatever you can to be kind to yourself. I’m fortunate that I don’t spend most of my days feeling depressed. I’m also glad to know that I can do some of these things when I need to. I hope some of these ideas were helpful!