Okay, I’m not really happy to be fat and depressed and tired all the time. More like…appreciative. As someone who has struggled with anxiety and depression, I’ve had to learn the power of perspective. After a brief dalliance with various prescription anti-depressants and anti-anxiety medications – and their resultant failure – I realized if I wanted out, I’d need to approach it in a more organic way.
Easier said than done.
A depressed person cannot just “snap out it.” She can’t suddenly wake up and decide she is going to start enjoying her life and then successfully implement changes.
Even so, when I first realized pharmaceutical drugs were not the answer for me, telling myself to buck up and be happy was the next logical, natural solution.
The problem was that this way of thinking was unnatural. For me, anyway.
Feeling depressed and being scared all the time was my body’s natural response to stressors in my life. I didn’t know it at the time, but it was my body’s way of protecting me and alerting me that something was wrong. So when I tried to force my thoughts into the opposite direction, this unnatural thing I was doing to my body actually made the situation worse.
The added failure only added more stress, then deeper depression and a higher frequency of panic attacks.
Through years of yo-yo dieting (because skinny people are happier people, right?) and fighting an addiction to highly-processed foods, I found that I could sometimes tweak my circumstances enough to fool myself into being happy. A new relationship, a move to a new apartment or house, a new job…etc. But the happiness was always temporary and my condition as a whole worsened as time went on.
Three years ago, after a failed engagement with a steroid addict and six months of killing myself at the gym and pumping chemically produced supplements into my body just to make myself worthy of him (and learning that I wasn’t happier as a skinny person, after all), I ended up gaining the weight back, more depressed, sick, tired, and suffering from heart palpitations.
I went to my doctor, then a cardiologist. I wore a heart monitor, had an echocardiogram done, got a ton of blood drawn for testing, and then sat on the sidelines, watching helplessly as the doctors scratched their heads.
Medically speaking, there was nothing wrong with me. Or, to be clearer, there was nothing they could fix with pills or medical procedures. I couldn’t even take a beta blocker, which regulates heart rate, because my blood pressure was already on the low side.
I had heard of homeopathic medicine many times over the years, but it was like voodoo or witch doctor medicine; something that third world countries used because they didn’t have trained doctors like we have in America. If a medical doctor with 8 years of schooling couldn’t fix me, why should a hippy trained in a shack be able to help me?
I went to a homeopath anyway, but only because I had no other option. My palpitations kept me up at night and made my anxiety – and now hypochondria – even worse.
What I learned surprised me. First, he is not a hippy. Second, he is board certified in homeopathic medicine. And third, for the first time ever someone in the medical profession actually listened to me.
When he was done listening, he started talking.
And that was my first lesson on the importance of perspective.
He told me about how smart my body is. How beautifully crafted it is, and how all of the bad things happening to me actually represent something good. It means my body is working as it should. With all the stress of my life, combined with the toxins I take in unintentionally from my environment, and the toxins I willingly ingest through eating processed foods, my system was thrown out of balance. My body was working feverishly to bring it back into balance, but over time it had gotten used to operating this way. The toxins had become normal in a way, and it caused things to short out.
He gave me an herbal remedy to coax my body to heal itself by making it notice all of the unnatural things that had become so natural to it. I started feeling better within a few weeks. It was a start, but more needed to be done.
The long-term cure would require a change in my diet. With my addiction to food and overeating, a change in perspective was absolutely necessary in order for me to even have a hope at making a permanent dietary change.
Unfortunately, perspective cannot be reduced to a pill, or purchased on the operating table. It isn’t found in creams or topical medicines. It has to come from a cellular change, and it takes a long, long time.
Sort of like spiritual maturity, it comes from failure and desperation. From being drawn to my knees with sickness (spiritual, emotional, or physical), looking up for a better solution, and then reaching for it.
Two years after starting my homeopathic treatment and after countless bouts of reverting to my fast food lifestyle, I’m finally starting to get it.
Ben, my homeopath, told me on my first visit that people who don’t get sick aren’t necessarily healthier than those that do. In fact, they may even be less healthy because their bodies have stopped fighting. Sickness is only a symptom of a much bigger issue we can’t see.
Obesity is the same. You know that skinny person who can eat whatever overly-processed, high sugar, low nutrition foods she wants and never gain a pound? We all know at least one like her, and we hate her. But we shouldn’t hate her, and we shouldn’t envy her.
Our bodies, when operating properly, are designed to deal with the toxins we get from our food and environment. And because the body is so smart it is going to do whatever it has to do. When our cells are in poor shape because of poor nutrition, they lose their ability to fight off those toxins. So the body uses fat cells to store the bad stuff away from the vital organs. When you fill your body with nutrient-rich foods, the cells can kill off the bad stuff on their own, no longer needing the storage system.
Skinny people who eat badly are still taking in the toxins.
I’m not saying all skinny people are unhealthy, just that one of the things I’ve had to change about my perspective is that I shouldn’t hate my body for carrying excess fat. I should be grateful that it has the ability to deal with the toxins in this post-modern world of chemically engineered “food”. My body is protecting me in spite of all the terrible ways I’ve treated it.
Just as I shouldn’t hate my body for giving me a runny nose or a fever. These are the symptoms of a body out of balance, and proof of my body’s valiant attempt at fixing the problem.
Our bodies in today’s modern world are like soldiers on the battlefield with inadequate armor. Survival instincts kick in and you do what has to be done to keep on breathing.
But that’s not the life I want. I don’t want to exist inside this shell that’s technically alive, but struggling because it’s so busy just trying to keep going through all the sludge. So I went vegan, and then raw vegan, and now I’m in the middle of my first 7-day juice fast. I’m getting serious about changing my body from the inside out. My days of pumping my body with chemicals and killing myself at the gym are over. Now I eat healthy and I work out because it makes me feel good.
My depression is in remission. I’m losing weight. Naturally. But more importantly, I appreciate my body, and all of the amazing things it has taught me.