Year: 2017

Nutritional Deficiencies & Mood Disorders: Do Supplements Work?

Last year, during my major depressive episode, I figured that depression was such a recurring problem for me that it could not be merely psychological. I was noticing that certain foods would give me stomach aches or have me fall asleep, only to wake up super hungry after my nap! My body was often tired, even after having adopted a regular fitness routine from the age of 18. I thought that maybe my body was lacking nutrients, because, despite my exercising, I still had very poor eating habits and never saw food as my friend, but rather more like an enemy that mostly hindered my fitness goals. One day, I remembered that as a child my father would always tell me to eat fish because it made me smarter, and that would get me excited about eating it every time. So with that in mind, my excitement found me again as I went to work doing intensive research on the effects of food and nutrition on the brain. Countless–maybe some, needless–clinical appointments were booked in an …

A Good Book for People with Low-Functioning Depression

In a low-functioning state, we are severely depressed, and the issue feels like it is much bigger than ourselves. Of course, we need to seek professional help. But as I like to emphasize, the other half of healing is the help we give ourselves. While self-help material mostly targets high-functioning individuals (people who can go about their day despite being depressed), there may be one or more books we encounter that will change our outlook on life even in a low-functioning state. Perhaps Brave Enough by Cheryl Strayed is that special book for you. Brave Enough is a book of quotes from Cheryl Strayed’s previous texts and speeches. Cheryl Strayed is an award-winning essayist with beautiful prose, even as she speaks. I like to listen to Cheryl and her co-host Steve Almond on Dear Sugars, my favorite podcast. In Brave Enough, she talks about choosing a career, shitty life circumstances, friends, family, trust, falling in & out of love, and the necessity to change your life. The book is a short read with large text, making it …

When You’re too Depressed to Stay in School

I spent five years kind of confused in university. I could easily say they were wasted, but the last five years have witnessed the biggest personal growth of my life thus far. When this blog first started, I wrote that I was frozen with fear about dropping out of school. I nearly finished the program but I was struggling to get certain credits. And last winter, there I lay, stiff in bed, curled under layers of sheets protecting a body of glass. I wondered, “would I disappoint my father and myself by taking a break from school? Would I be a fool if I decided never to go back?” I was also very embarrassed for taking too long to finish school. These were all mind-traps created by me, inspired by expectations of my environment. I gave myself an entire summer to think it over. Didn’t take long to decide; I was mostly building up the courage to tell my family I’d be putting my education on pause. When I’d find the strength to get out of bed, …

How to Make The Best Out of Therapy

If we attend therapy, how can we help ourselves get the best out of it? Here are some methods: Listening with an open heart. Take it in. Take it ALL in! Silencing our thoughts; not thinking about a reply until we’ve (briefly) considered what the therapist has just said. Thinking about a detailed answer before responding. For example, if asked, “how long have you felt this way?” it wouldn’t be helpful to reply with a vague answer that beats around the bush, such as, “Well, I’ve been this way for a very long time.” This answer provides a shield, keeping us from opening up to someone. Personally, I feel my chest tightening and my back curling when I’m asked a personal question like this.  But being as specific as possible, like thinking about approximately what age our symptoms started to appear, after which incident or phase, and how frequent our symptoms have been since then. So, a better answer is: “I remember feeling upset very often as a child, probably around 10 years old. I just …

Searching for Meaning and Aiming for Progress

It’s hard to keep my eyes open on the bus every morning. I work the night shift and it’s taxing. I crave sleep and the comfort of my room, sometimes food as well. Today, I got up from my seat on the bus in an effort to stay awake. I settled between two people in front of the back doors, and with every stop, the bus got more crowded, people moved closer to me, and claustrophobia kicked in: “Look at all these people,” I thought. “They have germs. We’re all breathing the same air. Is it just me or is it getting warmer in here because we’re all breathing the same air?  I think I can smell everybody’s B.O….”  I exited the bus before I had to. Saved from rush hour, I thought about the day I will reclaim the privilege of sleeping at night. It’s not the worst thing ever, but this job sure is difficult. I’m trying to rebuild financial stability after five years of not having any ground, you know? Trying to figure out …

4 Simple Methods To Manage Anxiety Attacks

At the moment of an anxiety attack, your reasoning goes out the window. Thoughts race, and any attempt to catch up to them is as good as none. If you’re like me, you may experience shortness of breath as you watch the world tumble before you. Negative thoughts are hard to control during anxiety/panic attacks, but over time I’ve learned to incorporate certain techniques to lessen their impact. There’s no quick fix to get rid of frequent, intense levels of anxiety, but I believe in holistic practices that help us manage them so they become less frequent. (I have high levels of anxiety less frequently now, but it is easily triggered by financial worries, huge crowds, self-consciousness, and other triggers that get me worried about my future.) These tricks work by slowing down the whole process of an attack: Deep Abdominal Breathing Taking deep breaths helps reduce anxiety attacks by allowing you to be more present with your thoughts. For me, it’s as if I’m giving myself time to think about why I’m feeling this …