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Thread: Deciding to overcome and defeat anxiety or depression... without meds.

  1. #1

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    Default Deciding to overcome and defeat anxiety or depression... without meds.

    Having had PND in the past, as well as mild anxiety (which I never really took much notice of, all I could focus on was the depression) I was never really aware what anxiety was and that I had it. I assumed it was being nervous or unsettled about things (and I justified it with I was a new mother, who wouldn't feel like that!), until I got a big dose of it this year. I suddenly realised what anxiety sufferers were going through and I didn't like it. Such a shock.

    I chose not to go onto medication, I didn't want to be stuck on a cycle of drugs for so long when I knew I could just end up back on them later, not to mention side effects. Its only a bandaid fix, it doesn't give you the tools or development to overcome it for once and all. Even a psychologist admitted to me (and what I have also read online) is that CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy) which is commonly used for anxiety and depression, often works well while you are in therapy but has a high relapse rate when people stop. It's just not helping the amount of people we believe it is.

    I've helped myself a huge amount by doing something different, taking control and educating myself (as I tend to do lol). As I mentioned above, I strongly didn't want to go on meds even though I was fiercely tempted several times as I couldn't stand the feelings when it was at its worst, but it passed. Here's what I have been doing, and I hope it will help you guys too - because medication is not the answer for permanent change - you are the answer. Some people do need meds if they are in a serious state, but actually being in situations of anxiety give you an opportunity to overcome it by changing the neural pathways in your brain, relating feelings and emotions to certain situations.

    Here's what I did in no particular order, they all helped!

    1. Found a great naturopath. Nicole Tracy (from the BB Centre) put me on some potent and heavy duty herbs and flower essences. Because I wasn't going on meds, she could give me a wider range of herbs, but there are also some if you are on or think you may go on meds. Kava is the strongest herb you can get for anxiety is and probably the best one for it. If you have panic attacks this could help you too. Also I went to my GP (on Nicole's recommendation) about my energy levels and tiredness and after a blood test found out I had chronically low iron again - it was at 7 - when they love you to be around 50. When you're 30, they tell you you're getting low... so I was able to work on this as well which will no doubt be a huge help. If you feel too tired, it's a great idea to check your iron levels too. Many pregnant women have low iron in pregnancy and you can also have issues afterwards.

    2. Learnt about mindfulness. I have posted about this before, but it's been a major part of hugely reducing my anxiety and being a tool to rewire those neural pathways - re-associating those anxious situations into okay ones. It's very effective with treating anxiety, and also depression. I have posted an article here which is a must-read. There is also a great book, 'The Power of Now' by Eckhart Tolle, which is on Oprah's booklist. Mindfulness as a concept came to Byron Katie in her lowest moment of her life (agoraphobic, alcoholic, overweight, depressed). She sees it as her job to teach people how to end their own suffering. Many psychologists and health professionals are now embracing and teaching this a great deal due to its profound success. Check out her site and you can see her stuff on the web and youtube to get some ideas. Hopefully this YouTube link will work!

    3. A good psychologist. My psych does MBCT: Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy. She keeps me accountable and on track learning about this. She challenges me which is hard, but important. I was interested in her approach which different from the CBT everyone else does ... and with little long term success. Even my GP knew about mindfulness. So if you find a professional to help you, see if they know about mindfulness. If anyone in Melbourne would like her info send me an email or message.

    4. Read some great books to further help develop my brain and understanding of what's going on. I read Heal Your Wounds by Lise Bourbeau (to find out where my pain came from, how it effects me and others around me as well as how to move through it), Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus (great stuff about women and the way we work, not just men) and Passionate Marriage by David Snarch (the pioneering book on human intimate relationships which is as much if not more about yourself as it is your partner/close friends). I read affirmations and quotes from inspiring people daily, I have watched the Secret again a few times too as well as What The Bleep. I also have a few books here ready to read which I can't wait to get my teeth into. While its not made my anxiety go away instantly, I have more peace, hope and acceptance with that and my life, and when I read something great I have a real boost for days or even the week. Apparently this book is very good too, and is based on clinically proven ways to prevent depression reoccurrence, but I have not read it yet: The Mindful Way through Depression by Mark Williams, John Teasdale, Zindel Segal and Jon Kabat-Zinn.

    5. Byron Katie's 'The Work'. HUGE, HUGE, HUGE. This woman is incredible, she's been on Oprah and helps people overcome loaded emotions associated with loss, anxiety, cancer, depression, relationship issues, childhood issues - very quickly and easily. All of her worksheets are on her website and there are free YouTube clips everywhere. Her website is http://www.thework.com. Here is her YouTube channel. Also she has released a movie you can download for $9.99 HERE. She makes her money from her workshops and books - so there is no catch to all this - loads of her stuff is on her site already. I recommend studying the heck out of this work and watching the clips to see it in action and even get a book or the movie... it is THAT profound.

    6. Women need other women. I've posted this somewhere before, but one big thing I got out of 'Men are From Mars...' was that women need oxytocin to feel good, to lower stress in their brain. Loaded stress = low oxytocin. We get loaded with oxytocin from nurturing activities, especially talking... with our female friends, even our partner... but ideally women because men don't often know how women need to be heard - they aren't built like us and need to know how to listen and respond. So if you don't have some close girlfriends, step out of your comfort zone and get to know some women. Regularly go out together, if you have kids, take them to playcentres... it's stuff women need. Choose someone who is a good listener and attentive - not so you can blast their ears off but you need to be heard and you need to hear them too to get a good dose of oxytocin.

    7. Exercise. I have been slack over Christmas, but it makes a huge difference to walk everyday. Even if it's just half an hour, ideally an hour... but it helps. iPod up nice and loud with my fave tunes Just to update this, I started at the gym 6-7 weeks ago and its made a massive difference. I feel better, look better, people are commenting, and my moods are great! Energy is much better which I think is a huge thing - tiredness when you're depressed or anxious can make things much worse for me. Meltdowns come much quicker.

    8. Learning About Differentiation (Holding on to yourself). This is a BIG one and is in the books by David Snarch (Passionate Marriage). Everyone needs to learn this skill, and it's especially important if you have anxiety or depression. I posted some basic info on it HERE.

    Remember... you are not your anxiety. It's not who you are. I have days where I get angry that it's not fair I have it and it was caused by a particular situation which came about from someone in my life. But that's just all so what. I need to fix it so I can live a better life, and permanently resolve past issues which trigger this anxiety here and now. Medications can't fix it... but I know I can... I have to! Who wants to live like that or be dependent on medication? Don't just take a 'magic' pill and hope... use this experience to make some life change and a pathway to inner peace, with tools that you can have for the rest of your life.
    Last edited by BellyBelly; May 5th, 2010 at 07:59 AM.
    Kelly xx

    Creator of BellyBelly.com.au, doula, writer and mother of three amazing children
    Author of Want To Be A Doula? Everything You Need To Know
    Follow me in 2015 as I go Around The World + Kids!
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  2. #2

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    Thanks so much for this Kelly. I have been suffering with PNA for 12 months now and have not gone onto meds for the same reasons as you mentioned above. Although I think if I wasn't BF then I would have at some time. I was about to medicate and am glad that I read this post as I do need to do it on my own and what you have written is so true. I am going to work through your post and read the books and really try to do this for myself.

    Thank you!

  3. #3

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    So glad to help It just triggers a memory in my mind, of a woman who saw a psychologist I knew from the mother and baby unit where I was first put on meds with PND 8 years ago. He said she was finally referred to seeing him after 20 years of her GP just writing her a script for more meds... and the psych said that it's no wonder when she had so much horrible stuff she was keeping buried under the meds that weren't being dealt with as a result. There's been stories of this sort of thing on TV too, mums losing years of their lives, numbed up with meds. We can't rely on meds, we can't rely on psych alone... we need to do the hard work ourselves. And I know from the depths of my heart, realising the answer is YOU and that hard work is required... that there is no magic fix, can be heartbreaking. Being able to confront yourself about this evades some people but when you can courageously do it, when your journey is ready to switch paths, it truly is a wonderful one. You just have to remind yourself how much you want inner peace and to be and loving life.

    I don't want to waste 20 years like that woman and I am sure no-one else does too, but it's all we know how to deal with it and how we've been programmed in the media/medical profession. Depression/anxiety = don't be a hero, get meds. And again of course some people actually do need this where safety is involved and the symptoms are severe. I am not condemning the use of meds in these cases at all. But if you are on meds and not experiencing this anxiety, how are you supposed to successfully reprogram your brain? Again when it's safe to do so.

    I want to find my own solution and end it all. Life is way too short, I will only regret it if I don't take charge. I don't want to look back and wish I had done something sooner, especially with young children growing up. You want to remember those years well and wonderfully.

    With the mindfulness stuff - the book 'The Power of Now' explains it, Byron Katie explains how to put it into action - use the two together for the best result. If you get stuck or have questions, please ask away. Maybe I can start a thread for others interested in keeping each other motivated and supported while they try these things I mentioned.
    Kelly xx

    Creator of BellyBelly.com.au, doula, writer and mother of three amazing children
    Author of Want To Be A Doula? Everything You Need To Know
    Follow me in 2015 as I go Around The World + Kids!
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  4. #4

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    I think it really is a decision, and I really like the way you put it that way in the title.

    I used to worry about everything... Shel would say "why are you worrying" and I'd reply "if I don't, who will". I thought you couldn't be prepared without worrying about something. If I didn't worry about the 'what-ifs' then I wouoldn't know what they were and I couldn't prepare for them... little did I realise that my what-ifs were so over the top they were really ridiculous. I had an anxiety disorder. But to me, even though it was seriously over the top and often debilitating anxiety, it was comforting to be anxious, because I felt prepared for things that might happen...
    I really did have to make the decision to want to stop worrying. I had to be ok with not worrying. I think thats a huge thing, you can't overcome anxiety unless you really really want to stop being anxious... I had to be ok with just a little bit of worry. A normal amount of worry, as opposed to an excessive amount of worry.

    That probably makes no sense but I jsut wanted to say yes it is a conscious decision.

    Luckily this time I didn't need medicating, but I have been at that place in the past (pre-Jazz) and it was extremely helpful for the time I was on them, but yes you do need to do a lot of work to ensure that when you come off the medication you don't relapse. You have to be active even if you take medication. The medication isn't the treatment. You can't just take medication and think things are ok, because if you do no work while you're on it, you'll be exactly where you started when you come off them. And you'll relapse, and end up back on them. Like Kelly said, often it is a cycle...

  5. #5

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    Thanks so much for this info Kelly.... I have been sufferring silently for a long time with anxiety to the point a couple of days ago I really thought I might do something awful because I couldn't take it anymore.. I have just come back from the chemist with some herbs and sat down at the computer and here this was.
    Awsome read - thanks.

  6. #6

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    Excellent...thank you Kelly

  7. #7

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    How is everyone going? Anyone been able to make any progress?
    Kelly xx

    Creator of BellyBelly.com.au, doula, writer and mother of three amazing children
    Author of Want To Be A Doula? Everything You Need To Know
    Follow me in 2015 as I go Around The World + Kids!
    Forever grateful to my incredible Mod Team

  8. #8

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    *bumpity bump*
    Kelly xx

    Creator of BellyBelly.com.au, doula, writer and mother of three amazing children
    Author of Want To Be A Doula? Everything You Need To Know
    Follow me in 2015 as I go Around The World + Kids!
    Forever grateful to my incredible Mod Team

  9. #9

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    Thanks for this i will come back and read in more detail, while currently pg i am still on my meds although the dose has dropped, but i dont like knowing that i am taking something, but at the same time to scared to stop incase. I have used natural meds before and found that they did work and will head back down that route after birth.

    Thanks


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