Warning: When trying to treat anxiety and depression, doctors and pharmaceutical companies can sometimes lead to anxiety and depression.
Trust me. I’ve been there. And if you’re combating these silent killers, I know exactly how you feel, and I want to help.
As the nation marks Mental Illness Awareness Week this first week of October, I’m reminded of my own battles – both with the diseases that left me feeling paralyzed and a deeply flawed healthcare system that only seemed to make my afflictions worse.
And while I am tempted to devote time and words to the endless failings of a for-profit system that seems to think more drugs is the answer to every problem, I would like to instead tell you about how I got better and how you can too.
For me, it started when I was a student at Arizona State University. The anxiety and the depression seemed to come out of nowhere. For months, I sat in one place, unable to move, paralyzed by diseases that robbed me of seemingly everything.
Like a lot of college kids, I was dealing with new and different causes of stress, but they weren’t anything that would explain just how sick I was.
So, I went looking for help. The doctors took what might be described as the traditional way of treating me, and if you’ve been down this road, then you know as well as I do that this area of treatment desperately needs some new traditions.
The doctors’ answers were simple. First, they gave me drugs. When that didn’t work, they gave me more or different drugs. And then they tweaked the dosages of drugs they were giving me. All along, the doctors said they were going to teach me how to live with and manage these forces that were destroying my life. I was not enthused by the options they gave me: Either live with anxiety and depression, or live a drugged-up life with depression and anxiety always waiting nearby.
And for about 10 months, those were the options I lived with and employed. I did what I was told and followed the doctors’ instructions, but I didn’t feel any better. Life was passing me by, and my mental health problems only got worse.
I knew there had to be a better way.
Knowledge is power, and I set out to become powerful. I knew what these demons were, and I was determined to find a way to conquer them. I dove deep into research, learning first about how mental health is usually treated and then broadening the scope of my research to learn more about the connection between the brain and the body.
I started learning about diet and exercise, and I realized that there was a connection between the two that might be the path to feeling better. I started out simple: Only meats, fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds, 45-minute walks, 45 minutes of weight training, and a supplement regimen that was tailored to my body and brain.
And after months of feeling like a stranger in my own body, I began to feel like myself again after only 10 days – 10 days after more than a year of pain.
It can work for you too.
These are simple steps to help you beat back a terrible disease without involving a pharmacy. And they are steps that work. I know. I’ve walked in your shoes, and I’ve walked to wellness. You can too.
Having successfully treated my illnesses, I sat down to try and help others do the same. I wrote a book, Sick of Suffering, that details my struggles and how I overcame them.
Because here’s what I’ve learned: Most doctors who are trying to treat these illnesses have never suffered from them, pharmaceutical companies care about profits more than people and there is definitely a better way.
After all, in our hour of need, a patient suffering from anxiety and depression doesn’t need more of either.
Your body knows how to heal itself – you just have to give it the right tools to do so.
York, a student at Arizona State University, is author of Sick of Suffering: A Radical New Guide to Healing Your Brain and Getting Your Life Back