Tuesday, January 17, 2012

[Article Blog] Depression

It feels like nobody understands at the time when you're going through it. And to an extent, they don't understand. Even when you've been through something – you've been through it, and now you're somewhere else.

Sure, we were all three years old, but how many of us really remember what that felt like?

It's similar with depression. Everyone has been there, but it is hard for us to open our hearts to someone going through it because we're so afraid we'll catch the sadness like a disease.

Many people believe that happiness comes from money, family, homes, possessions, friends, etc. But the problem with that is that then we believe that not having these things automatically equals sadness and suffering.

We can not have a continual contentment throughout our lives if our happiness is dependent on the actions of other people. Other people can be coaxed into doing what you like, but only because they're convinced they'd like to do what you'd like them to. But they won't always want to do what you want them to, and that's just that. We have to happy because of our own actions.

Happiness, love, healing – it is all action. It does not just passively sit in the background. Happiness comes from what you do. Love comes from what you do. Healing comes from what you do.

Perhaps you're thinking, "You don't know what it is like."

It's true that I'm no longer there – I am no longer depressed. But let me convey how seriously ill and depressed I was for many years of my life:

I was suicidal starting at the age of ten: no kidding. I was put on medications, went to see therapists, and I was considering such a 'bad influence' that I even got kicked out a school over it when I was in fifth grade.

I had a point in my life (at the age of fourteen) where I was wearing the same clothes every day, sleeping in them, not washing for weeks a time, even months sometimes, and I wouldn't brush my hair or anything. I went through times where I wouldn't eat, and times where I'd eat anything and everything and not care about flavor, texture of health at all. 

I used to get so anti-social (age sixteen and under) that I would make up any excuse to avoid any occasion where I had to be around people. I skipped school, avoided church, refused to go to parties even if I was invited (which was rare), etc, etc, just because I would get so anxious and worried. And I would get so starved for attention, love and compassion that I would act out and say and do stupid things when I was around people. 

I got into drugs (age fifteen) – weed, shrooms, pills, drinking – and I ate chinese food and white rice daily. I felt like crap. I became overweight. Much of my best clothing was stretched out and ruined as my thighs kept expanding. I bleached my hair and half of it fell out (age sixteen). 

My happiness was completely circumstantial. If I got a good grade at school, I felt a little happiness. If I got a bad grade, my spirits plummeted, and sometimes left me depressed for days. I felt it nearly impossible to hang onto a feeling of happiness. It would come, and then as slippery as soap it would leave again.

I felt entirely out of control of my life. Nothing I did seemed to make any improvement. I cried much more than half the nights away for years out of my life. I slit my wrists several times between the ages of thirteen and sixteen. 

Do I believe I was just being an "angsty teen"? Not at all. I've met adults going through the same 'phase' and I've met dozens of teens who have no such problems at all.

This depression wasn't always present with such force that I avoided everybody, cried half the day and slit my wrist at the end of the night. However, even when I wasn't currently 'depressed' I still felt a lack of enthusiasm for life. I might get excited about a project, idea or event, but then within minutes, hours or a couple days it would wear off and I'd be back to video games, TV, and stuffing my face with pasta and french fries.

As my mental problems got worse, so did my physical health. As I cared less about what I did or ate, and as I did more drugs, my body became more and more negatively impacted. As my body became more and more fat, sluggish, and painful to be inside, I became more depressed.

When it got to the point where I woke every morning with acid reflux, burped constantly all day, and hardly ever felt in my right mind for more than an hour... I had to do something. This where all the years of research began.

It started with a google search: "burping disease." That was the best way I could describe it. I spent much of my time high on pot, much of my time sleeping, much of my time crying, and much of my time watching cartoons or movies...  I didn't even know what 'acid reflux' meant, and I certainly had no clue that I had developed a stomach ulcer. I had no idea that it wasn't normal or okay to take two to six asprins a day for a couple weeks at a time... I was, however, aware that taking half a bottle was a bad idea. But I had hoped that all that asprin would put me in the hospital or kill me so that I wouldn't have to deal with life anymore.

In 2005, the search results for "burping disease" were bleak. I found one entry that made me cry. A woman had written, "help! my daughter is twelve and she won't stop burping. she burps all the time with no end and she gets these terrible stomach aches. it's been going on for two years." And then I read another that said something along the lines of, "I've been burping constantly for six years now, and no doctor has yet to give me a real solution."

Of course, I went to doctors, but no good came of it. Just some pills that didn't help and some useless advice.

When happiness is so conditional, you can imagine how miserable I felt. To top it off, I was in an abusive relationship with a boy who threatened me and others, who bent my actions to his will, and who didn't even realize he was abusive. (He figured out how awful he'd been after I left him and actually seemed to turn around. He is married with a child now, and from what I can tell – which isn't much – he seems to be a good man now.)

When I went on my very first diet-altering regime, something amazing happened: I started feeling much more optimistic about life. The healthier I ate, the better my mood was, even before I started getting such incredible bodily results. (My first diet regime was similar to a paleo diet or a macrobiotics diet.)

When I switched to raw veganism my bouts of unhappiness were reduced down to a couple hours of crying/sadness per month. And crazier still, I notice that each time I feel so miserable, each time I can link it up directly with a food choice. For example, the last time I felt all teary-eyed and hopeless I had made a really bad food combination (protein + starch + sweet + fat) and I hadn't eaten much of any leafy greens for several days. (Not eating 'much of any' in my book is eating a handful of leafy greens a day or less.)

I have several raw vegan friends who had the exact same experience.

One of them said to me a few months ago  when describing their transition to raw food, "whoa! Since when did I become optimistic? How come I don't feel cynical?" 

Another friend, more recently  one of the most upbeat people I know, shared this with me and a small group of raw vegans a small dinner potluck: "It was like I woke up one day and I was an entirely different person. I felt completely unlike myself, and it was the best feeling. The only explanation was the food. Nothing else had changed." 

If you want to start feeling excellent about life, I fully believe that diet choices are where to start. It becomes so much easier to do everything else in life when the food is healthy and supporting.

Once you've made a commitment to healthier eating, then there are powerful mental tools we can employ to delve deeper into an abiding joy that lasts minute to minute, day to day and year to year. I have written a few times about that, because "feeling happy" is a something everyone wants, and I especially enjoy learning about the mastery of happiness and the art of love:

Entries of mine on the topic of happiness:

The divine master within me honors the divine master within you.

~ Raederle


  1. "The divine master in me honors the divine master in you"--I love that! It's a translation of "namaste," right?

    I'm so pleased for you that going raw helped with your depression and other issues so much. That's a truly inspiring story.

    I definitely had a feeling of elevation like that when I first went raw, but nowadays, I still struggle with mental/emotional issues. I think the focus on truth-seeking is really great for remembering to find ways to be positive. But I have to admit that sometimes I feel lost...

  2. I feel lost sometimes too Ela. The books "The Art of Happiness" and "The Mastery of Love" have helped me loads though, as well as the documentary The Secret and the book Raw Emotions. I've got a "daily prayer" that I've created for myself based on those books and whenever I read it I just feel all my negative emotions draining away. I should share it, huh?!

  3. Having Trouble STICKING with your Paleo Diet?

    Want to munch on some tasty recipes as soon as TONIGHT?

    Check out this book: Paleohacks Cookbook.


What brings you here? What are you thoughts? Do you consider yourself a raw foodist? Approximately how much of your diet is raw? Do you consider yourself healthy? What would you like to see more of on this blog? Will you be back? Is this too many questions?