My story began at age 19. It sounds bizarre even to me as to how my struggle with anxiety and depression started but yet, it’s my story. It all started one day when I made the decision to lose weight. I started making small changes in my diet at first but before I knew it I had become obsessed with dieting and exercise. Every trending fad diet out there I was dying to try. You see, I had gained a few pounds of “love chub” as they call it after a year of marital bliss and then I woke up one day and decided that I just had to lose it. I realized that I wasn’t happy with myself anymore which is sad to me now thinking back. I let my happiness depend on something that shouldn’t have mattered as it did. The number on the scale did not change who I was but to me at the time, it did. My relationship with the scale got unhealthy. It actually got scary. I would weigh myself at least twice a day.
If I am being honest, I can look back and now say that I was extremely close to developing an eating disorder. I ended up losing way too much weight without even realizing it at the time. As a result, my hormones became wrecked. I lost my mensural cycle for 6 months. My short term memory went out the door. I became flat and numb and I could no longer enjoy what I used to enjoy. My hormone imbalance had triggered a severe chemical imbalance in my brain. I then tried a cocktail of herbal supplements in an attempt to try and rebalance my hormones without being under a doctor's supervision and ended up even worse off than I had started. I then suffered 5 miscarriages in a period of 4 years. I was then later diagnosed with a blood clotting disorder known as MTHFR 677t. Come to find out, not only was I susceptible to pregnancy complications but I was also more at risk for mental health disorders. Go figure.
Little did I know (nearly twelve years ago now) that when I was eating the bare minimum and working out excessively, I was actually affecting my mental health for years to come. After years of nourishing my body back to health by feeding it well and only doing exercise that I loved in moderation, I finally became pregnant with my daughter and with the blessed gift of an amazing fertility doctor and a blood thinner vaccine called "Lovenox" I was able to finally carry a pregnancy to term! But then, sadly postpartum depression distorted the beautiful image I had of motherhood in those first precious few months. I felt numb, sad, anxious and overwhelmed all over again! Just when I thought I was on track to getting back to my old self, I found myself back to where I started six years prior.
Within those years of suffering with anxiety and depression, I became a great actress. I hid how I felt from most everyone out of shame. “Who has such a beautiful life and walks around THIS miserable?" I thought. After a feeling of desperation I finally sought out help. I started on a natural progesterone cream under my doctors guidance and felt better than I had in years. I was desperate to be the best mom I could be for my daughter so I fought and I fought hard. The story doesn’t stop there though. About a year ago I started to experience frightening panic attacks. Out of seemingly no where, my heart would palpitate, my limbs would go numb, I would be unable to catch a full breath and I would find myself pulled over in a parking lot just trying to calm myself down. I honestly don’t know if I was more overwhelmed juggling two kids in different stages versus one, trying to work and blog at the same time or if it was the pressure I put on myself to be a good homemaker and a loving wife and mother. All I do know is that my body was letting me know that something wasn’t right.
After multiple panic attacks last year, I then knew that I needed more than progesterone cream and magnesium oil because I just couldn't keep living that way. I still continue with my regimen and I have no plans to ever stop. However, I just knew I needed further help. I very humbly saw my doctor and he heard me out and with the encouragement of so many I began taking an SSRI called "Lexapro" and I finally started to heal and feel like my old self again. Today I tell you this without any shame or guilt that I had to resort to taking further measures to better my mental health. I know that I will personally always first and foremost take the natural, holistic route before trying medication but I also know that Western medicine can have an amazing, healing power in our lives too if we need it in the end. Can medication come with side effects? Yes, they sure can. But so can any herb or plant you find out in nature. It all boiled down to the fact that I felt God telling me to try this medication out. I felt a peace about it. So, I filled my prescription and began taking it a few months ago and I am SO grateful that I did.
I want to make it clear again that I still believe that most of the natural remedies I first chose to try in the beginning helped me tremendously. They allowed me to at least function and get through the day. I will say though, that we are truly so blessed to live in the time we do where modern medicine is so easily available to us. I believe that sometimes the holistic route is all it takes to heal and then sometimes we need to branch out and try something else along side it. For so long, I was fearful of ever trying anything that was not considered holistic because that just "wasn't me". Call it pride or call it fear, but for so long I wouldn't even think about the possibility of taking an antidepressant or SSRI of any sort. It was just out of the question. Yet I knew God was telling me "Laura, you have suffered enough. It is OKAY to get help! You don't have to live this way." So I heard what God was telling me , I let go of control and I took a leap of faith and I listened. Because I stopped trying to do everything MY way I now can say I have my life back. I am no longer spiraling, reading every news article unable to sleep. I am no longer pulling over unable to breathe with my kids in the back seat. I am no longer too depressed to get out of bed.
In many ways as dark as these times during this pandemic have been, I have been able to find so much light amongst it all. I have been able to be there even more so for those I love. I have been able to throw my heart into an exciting project (stay tuned for an excite LHWL announcement soon!) and I have been able to thoroughly enjoy my life again. Though I have been "okay" for some time and able to cope, I am grateful I humbled myself enough to give Western medicine a chance so I could fully live life again. By giving up my control over my mental health to God and allowing Him to lead me, I am no longer just "okay". I am living free and joyfully once again! Do I plan on relying on this tiny little pill every day the rest of my life to keep me cool, calm and collected? I really hope not but if it is necessary then so be it. I know the alternative of an anxious and depressed life and it is not one I ever want to experience again.
I am sharing my story with you today because I want you to know that if you are suffering as I was for years, it is okay and actually essential that you seek help. You may (like me) have tried everything holistic available, but if you are still feeling shaken by this world and overwhelmed by every day life, depressed, hopeless and unmotivated I want to tell you that you don't have to stay that way. Sometimes we can't just "pray away depression and anxiety" as many told me I just needed to do. Sometimes herbs and magnesium and natural hormone replacement is all it takes and then sometimes it is just not enough. Chemical imbalances are REAL. They are a disease and they can be debilitating. I really believe that if we tune into our bodies, God will give us the intuition on how to help our brains heal but we have to humble ourselves first to really listen. It took me years to finally get relief and I don't want you to suffer as long as I did.
So, if you are feeling afraid or ashamed by your anxiety or depression then I want you to know that I felt the exact same way. But friend, you can't stay in this pit. God wants you to live your best life to the fullest. Today is the day I pray that you make the decision to no longer live in darkness. If you search earnestly, I promise you God will help you find freedom. It may not be in the same way that I found mine and that is okay. Our stories don't have to line up. But regardless of how your healing is supposed to take place, my message to you is this: Keep fighting and never, EVER give up no matter how much the devil tries to knock you down. I really believe that you are about to turn the corner if you will just hold on my friend. I promise that healing is on the way and you have such a beautiful life ahead! Believe it in your heart, say it out loud and then sit back and watch it unfold!
"Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you."