I want to preface this post with encouraging any of you who are struggling with your mental health to see a therapist or psychiatrist. Medicine (if needed) and CBT make such a positive impact. What I’m going to talk about is to be done alongside therapeutic interventions.
Okay, so anyway, one of the most effective things I have done for combating my depression is to try a variety of different tools. I have had my anxiety and OCD for so long now, I know how to deal with it. I know what will help certain triggers and what will decrease the severity and frequency of attacks. I like to joke that I know them better than I know myself.
My depression, though? Totally knew territory. I’ve had it for as long as I can remember, but I didn’t acknowledge it as depression until about three years ago. I often feel like I have very little control. Depression sneaks up on you and then beats you down. However, I decided during one particularly difficult low that I was going to figure out my terrain. What works for me? What can I do to try to lessen this burden? Is candle shopping really the answer or am I just keeping Yankee Candle in business?
Well, I’ll tell you.
There was a lot of back and forth at first. Some of the stuff I tried, like treating myself to lunch or leaning in to the anhedonia, only seemed to make it worse. I realized that I was focusing too much on the depression itself and less on self care.
I started reading about alternative ways help your brain. I noticed that my depression took a nosedive after eating certain foods, a few of them foods that I ate often. Anything with a lot of grease is bad news for me. Corn is also not great for my brain. I decided to chart what I was eating and how I was feeling afterward.
You guys, this made SUCH a difference. I noticed that the cleaner I ate, the less depressed I was. Let me be clear, though…
I still struggle with depression daily. However, getting the right fuel in me helps me take a step back and acknowledge what is depressive thinking and what is constructive thinking. I have energy now, but I still take every Sunday to lay in bed all day, knowing that I need to set myself up for a good week. Do I eat clean every meal? No, but just finding foods that help is doing so much good.
If you think you need something else on top of therapy or medicine, like I do, I strongly suggest charting food and mood. Find out what foods are inhibiting or helping your brain to function at its best. Maybe I can’t have corn, but you can. Play around! Cook!
Also, there is some really interesting research that links beets with less depression. I hate beets (if I wanted to eat dirt, I’d eat dirt) but I buy those applesauce (baby food?) pouches that have beets in them to get my daily beets in. You barely taste them, and how could getting more beets have a downside?
Knowing the right fuel for you is like knowing the right fuel for your car. If I put diesel into my little Yaris, it would be bad news. It is just as important to know your fuel.
Let me know how it goes for you. I love hearing feedback!