It was also VERY stressful.
So much so that my over achiever personality type didnât see it coming until it way too late.
I was bursting into tears at the drop of a hat & the smallest change to my schedule would send me spinning off into the stratosphere in a hysterical rage.
I was in the grips of anxiety related panic attacks, daily, before I even had a chance to realise that my body was telling me it was time to slow down, time to pull back.
Things fell apart pretty spectacularly after that & I had what you would call a âbreakdownâ. I didnât end up in hospital but it was pretty damn close. Instead, I was ordered back home to family to recuperate for 12 months dosed up to the gills on an interesting cocktail of medications.
I had requested the cocktail of medications, for myself. You see, life was all to hard to deal with without chemical intervention at that point. Everything & anything except a 'Scotch & Dry' and a pack of smokes was too much.
That way of living is not really conducive to healing oneself.
Later down the track, little did I realise that the medication I was given, touted as the âbest thing since sliced bread for anxiety sufferers!â is now known to be one of the worst drugs on the market in terms of side effects & withdrawal âsyndromeâ.
Yes, its withdrawal effects are so bad they are referred to as a âsyndromeâ.
So how did I get off the drugs once and for all and then go 'au`naturale' with my healing?
Ok. Hereâs how I did it:
Step 1. Body Support, Immune Building & Set up
Vitamin C - I increased my Vitamin C levels to over 5000mg a day, every day, to build up my immune system & support my overworked & misbehaving adrenal glands. Vitamin C is THE vitamin for depression, anxiety, PND and panic attacks. Your adrenal glands regulate the secretion of hormones and if they are in a perpetual state of overwhelm and exhaustion, your hormone levels will be all out of whack.
Chiropractic body support - I saw a Chiropractor 3 times a week for several months to aid "putting my body back into neutral" as they used to say. They DID NOT DO rotary cracking and this is a vital point because a prior practitioner did do that and it would send me into overwhelm for a week. They used gentle techniques including cranial adjustments to support my body and help it relax into a netural position.
Diet change - I am an 0 Blood Type. By nature, I do not have the enzymes to process things like wheat and dairy effectively. It puts strain on my gut and causes inflammation which all contributes to feeling lousy. The gut is the "second brain" in our bodies and it needs to be looked after, supported and fed what works for IT not what we feel like eating.
I switched over to the Blood Type Diet for the 0 Blood Type; no wheat, dairy, corn at all & mostly all green veges and meat, daily. I alkalised my diet; greens greens greens in every meal. My diet was also low on fruit, no tomatoes but had lots and lots of cucumber & broccoli. These are the super alkalising greens. Stress creates acidity in the body. Acidity creates stress in the body. Alkalising means you are supporting your body to return to its neutral position - where it can rest and heal itself most quickly and effectively.
Nature's Multi-Vitamin; Herbal Infusions - I started drinking 1 litre a day of Stinging Nettle infusion, every single day. This recipe was 1 cup of Nettle leaves (dried) to 1 litre of boiling water, steeped for 4 hours. I drank it cold with a little Aloe Juice for flavour in the mornings after steeping it overnight for 8 hours. I had so much more energy, I was on a more even keel and my mood swings came under control almost straight away.
Additional Herbal Support that I would add to my infusions mentioned above included oat straw to promote a grounded feeling of well being, passion-flower (after I came off medication because it is contra-indicated with medications like SSRI's) and horsetail.
I also took high stength, high quality Fish Oil and Probiotic supplements daily - twice per day.
Step 2. Commence Medication Wind Back VERY S-L-O-W-L-Y
After I had been on the above plan for at least 60 days prior, I then commenced winding back my medication; very slowly.
I cut my tablets in half & went to half doses for one week. This was nowhere near long enough and I suffered alot during that week. Looking back, in retrospect, I would take one month at each interval to allow your body to adjust. It is a very difficult process to put your body through and you need to be patient, take your time and do what YOUR BODY needs you to do. Don't rush this process (like I did).
I then went to half doses every second day for one week. Again, looking back, 2 weeks to one month would have been far easier to cope with. At this stage, I should have gone to quarter doses daily BEFORE moving into every other day doses. It would have been easier for my body to cope with the every second day doses that way.
I then went to half doses every 3rd day for 2 weeks. A month here would have been easier as it was a very hard journey doing it too quickly.
Then I stopped.
I donât recommend doing it this way - it was hard core, fast & I was in a hurry. I paid for it. I donât recommend it fast - do it slow. 2 weeks to 4 weeks as a minimum I would do now, for every change in medication.
After I had stopped the medication, I then increased my dosage of Stinging Nettle to 2 litres for a couple of weeks.
Stinging Nettle is a mild chelating herb so helps to detoxify the body.
I continued my Vitamin C intake of 5000mg a day to support my adrenal glands. The high strength Fish Oil (I only use practitioner strength Fish Oil as they are tested and chelated for heavy metals so they are safer and will actually SUPPORT your healing, not toxify your body) was increased to support my brain and allow my DHA levels to settle again.
I did try some things like St Johnâs Wort & Valerian after coming off my medications however I soon learnt that these herbs donât help at all for anxiety. They may be useful for depression in SOME people however they were awful for me. In fact, they made me more edgy and gave me restless legs at night times. So I totally avoid them now for anxiety related issues - they are in some cold and flu herbal medications so be careful! I found that out the hard way.
I then found out about Holy Basil or Tulsi. This herb was my lifesaver & has been ever since.
Holy Basil is a wondeful herb for adapting your body to stress and soothing frayed nerves. It has NO contra-indications for medication so you can take it to supplement your medication and promote a greater sense of calm well being. In fact, family members that are on medications take it for this purpose and have noticed a marked improvement. Without the medication, they are not coping so well on just the herb at this time, but I have every confidence that they will, soon.
I add â cup of Holy Basil / Tulsi to my Nettle Infusion every day now & feel grounded, calm, centred & more at ease.
The crying jags have since stopped *a most unpleasant part of withdrawal âsyndromeâ* and the Holy Basil is my saving grace, keeping panic well abated.
Step 4. Maintenance
From a point of view of daily maintenance, I now know that I have to manage my condition on an ongoing basis. I have suffered depression for 10 years (as a teenager) and then anxiety / panic disorders in my twenties. It is clear to me that I must manage my personality, my work load, my diet and my self talk to ensure that I do not slip back into that space where depression and anxiety can grab a hold of me.
During the day, as I go about my work, I sip on Lemon Balm tea. Lemon Balm is a wonderful "anti-worry" herb which calms the soul and provides nurturing and support to a frazzled mind. It is very therapeutic.
As part of my supplementation regime, I ensure that I drink at least one litre of Holy Basil & Nettle Infusions daily.
I take mega doses of Vitamin C - everyday. This is great for my skin, adrenal glands, immune system and moods all round so I just keep taking it. It is a vitamin that you must take to replenish - humans can not produce or synthesize their own vitamin C levels.
I take Magnesium & Cramp Bark to help keep me relaxed and keep my muscles supple.
During my recovery, my hay fever swung into high gear because of the pressure on my adrenal glands. This was because of stress from winding back medication to quickly and from being on medication in the first place. I found the medications supressed my immunity a great deal. I then started self induced Vitamin C Therapy and you can read more about that in my Vitamin C Files posts.
So thatâs what I did to get myself off meds & stay off. Hereâs why...
Vitamin C - This is THE vitamin for support of overworked, over tired adrenal glands which most sufferers of anxiety and depression do have. It also is great support for a sluggish immune system - often made sluggish my medications.
Sluggish immunity means youâre prone to inappropriate & overactive immune responses (like extreme hay fever or allergies), prone to sickness, viral & bacterial infections & your gut is out of balance. For more information on how this works to support allergic response, read up on it here: http://www.doctoryourself.com/allergies.html
When your gut is out of balance, your body is not creating or giving you access to up to 90% of your feel good hormones, in particular serotonin. The gut is created from the same clump of embryonic tissue as the brain - it is the 'second brain' of our bodies and responsible for more than just digestion. Read more on the gut and its vital role in mental health here: http://www.theecomum.com/1/post/2011/08/why-your-gut-can-make-you-smile.html
In addressing your adrenal glands, helping them to settle back to a more neutral state, supporting them to function healthily and normally is the first & most critical step towards beating anxiety. It is my belief that if you skip this step, you may not fully recover.
Whilst I was unwell, I read a great book on adrenal gland dysfunction is âAdrenal Fatigue: The 21st Century Syndromeâ by J Wilson. I highly recommend that book.
Licorice - Another great way to support adrenal glands for recovery is licorice. I used to eat bags of natural spelt licorice (normal natural licorice is high in wheat flour) a week. Don't buy the sugar laden garbage from the supermarket because that does not contain actual licorice root or extract. Alternatively, sip on licorice teas through the day.
Stinging Nettle - This is THE herb for overworked, overtired & emotional mothers. It has an astounding array of vitamins and minerals, in high doses including but not limited to; -
Zinc, magnesium, manganese, calcium, selenium, potassium, chlorophyll, B group vitamins, Vitamins A, D & C.
Having a litre a day of stinging nettle infusion will help to recharge your body, feeding each individual cell with a lovely green, alkaline infusion of vitamins, minerals & bio-available goodies to help support optimal health.
If you want to recover from anxiety related mental illness, your physical health needs to be at its peak - you need to feed it, regularly with bio-available vitamins & minerals from a nourishing source. Bio-available means easily absorbed from the gut and sadly synthetic vitamin supplements do NOT fall into this category. Herbs and foods are the best source of easily absorbed and easily assimiliated vitamins and minerals - especially if they are liquid!
Stinging Nettle was made for mothers under stress. Make it your newest & favourite beverage - your body will crave it after only a week & youâll feel an instant lift when you drink some.
Holy Basil / Tulsi - this amazing herb is grown in high altitudes in India. It is sacred in Hindu culture & many others around the world for its amazing healing abilities.
Aside from the wonderful vitamins & minerals it also contains, Holy Basil is one of the most gentle yet effective adaptogens you will find, anywhere. Period.
An adaptogen helps the body to adapt - namely to stress. So, it puts the body in a position of being more at ease with what may be happening. Stress levels are usually moderate to high for people with anxiety - we type A personalities always have too much going on, for too long with not enough breaks for rest in between.
Holy Basil is not contra indicated with any other drugs *unlike St Johnâs Wort* & is very gentle, safe & effective.
I add a generous handful to my Stinging Nettle infusion each night, let it brew overnight & drink throughout the following day.
I also keep a bottle on Holy Basil tincture I made in my bag which I use when I am really feeling the pressure though because I have it everyday now, that doesnât happen often.
Lemon Balm - A great recipe I found recently which I am in the process of trying out is a Triple Tincture of Lemon Balm. So, that means, you make your normal tincture (fill a glass jar with dried herb, press down, fill it again then pour over Vodka of 40% or more to the very top. Seal, shake every day for 2 weeks & store for 6 weeks. Strain). The process of triple tincture is to do that process 3 times with the same alcohol. So you strain the lemon balm herb, compost it. Fill another jar with herb and pour over the alcohol from the first tincture jar & macerate (store in dark place) for 6 weeks. Then repeat this step for a 3rd time. Just 1 drop of this under your tongue will ease your mood almost immediately.
So, thatâs how I came off medication & how I have stayed & will continue to stay OFF it.
The interesting thing about my medication and most other anti-depressants is that they play havoc with the gut region... and 90% of the bodyâs serotonin levels are in the gut. Serotonnin is created, stored and mainly used within the gut.
Yet we take medications that upset out stomach region. Go figure!
Doesnât make sense does it? Truth be known, the research scientists stopped well short before they linked serotonin production in the gut to the use of medications like antidepressants.
There is a lot more information on that and how the medications play havoc with our healing in this great article here: http://www.pointofreturn.com/gut_health.html
If youâre on a similar journey or want to make a start, make sure you have support in the form of a reliable and helpful spouse as well as a brilliant, down to earth and EXPERIENCED Naturopath. These drugs are challenging to come off of & can play havoc with you and your body if not done slowly & with consideration.
I wish you well on the journey. You can do it - I did.
With love & smiles,
The Eco Mum xo
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