As a therapist that is a wounded healer, my own experience of healing through therapy has been a journey. I struggled with an eating disorder in high school that I was undiagnosable for by the time I reached college (i.e. not acting out behaviorally anymore). Things seem to be going great for a while, but then the inevitable bouts of depression I struggled with since childhood hit me again. I went to therapy which helped me be less afraid and put life into perspective during these times, but physically — I was still off, and struggling to get out of bed because I couldn’t challenge my thoughts out of not feeling achey, immobile, and lacking energy for days. Around the age of 20, I started having major digestive issues. So bad in fact, that I was starting to miss work (something I didn’t even do during my major bouts of depression) and as a financially independent college kid, not working was not an option for me. My older sister was diagnosed with Celiac disease 3-4 years prior, so after months of digestive issues I decided to ask my onsite college medical center about my options for testing. I can’t remember the exact amount but, I was quoted around $400-500 for the official test (an endoscopy), and as a broke college student that was not going to fit into my “I’m barely making rent” kind of budget. I asked about other options and the doctor said, “You could try the elimination diet…”. I hesitated. As a former person that struggled with an eating disorder, trying any sort of rigid diet from a doctor is handled with care and caution. With the help of my doctor, google, and my commitment to myself it wouldn’t send me regressing (which it didn’t, not at all in fact), I did the elimination diet. In 6 weeks time, I had discovered that gluten was the main offender and removed it from my diet. My energy, bathroom breaks, and ability to focus in school and work took a 180. It felt like a miracle. I was so grateful. After realizing how much gluten impacted me, I decided to take the plunge and eliminate diet soda from my life (which was embarassingly a staple in my diet). This is when I began to be curious about how food impacted our wellbeing and our mental health. It was no longer about calories, weight, or macros like it had been in my eating disorder, but I couldn’t help but be more curious as to what I was putting into my body that was making me sick (both mentally and physically). I didn’t change my diet too much after eliminating diet soda and gluten until I came to Colorado and had another horrible bout of depression at 24. It was then that I decided to make whole foods a priority, increase nutrients in my life via a good multi-vitamin, and make exercise a part of my weekly routine. I am grateful to say that since incorporating these small changes (and trust me, I still enjoy gf pizza, fries, and ice cream when going out with friends or when I’m craving it), my mental health and physical health have improved drastically and I have not had a bout of depression since.
I wish therapy alone worked for everyone. For some of us (like myself) it’s like we have a leaking roof. The biggest leak may be what needs to be healed in therapy, while the other leaks are more minor and flood our house slowly. For some, all the leaks may be overflowing so they patch up one leak (doing therapy) and think, gosh! this doesn’t work for me. I implore you that most of us need to address ALL of our leaks before we can feel at ease in our home. These leaks include things like moving our bodies daily, yoga, eating a mostly whole foods or nutrient-dense-enough diet (while eliminating intolerances, allergies, etc.), releasing what’s stored in our bodies through body work, having a supportive, emotionally safe friend group. You’ve gotta find your leaks and plug them (mostly). This journey isn’t perfect, but once I found my own combination, I’ve lived the highest quality of life I ever have without my own struggles with depression plaguing me. It’s worth figuring out what works for you, and I implore you to keep searching if therapy alone doesn’t do the trick. This is also part of why I am so passionate about providing Soma Recovery, Wichita’s only mind-body integrated mental health facility with a dietitian, yoga practitioners, physical therapists, and therapists. If you or a loved one are looking for more help in patching up your leaks, please call us today at 316-201-6047 or email me at [email protected]