Western Body, Eastern Mind: Nutrition, Health, and Antidepressants
Nutrition is not something that has always been inherently spiritual to me, although it always has been something I’ve been fixated on. My family grew up very modestly, and my mother made magick in the kitchen with what we had. I still have yet to meet a better cook. We didn’t grow up with snacks or sweets in the house. I would have people comment on how little food was packed in my lunch at school. But a bag of chips didn’t go far with three kids in school, so I understood. We never went hungry, but it was very rare to eat to excess. We got fast food and pizza on special occasions because it wasn’t cost effective. My mom was also very stressed about her weight my whole life, so not having a lot of desserts and snacks in the house was also for her protection.
Of course, as a young, curvy girl, I picked up on those anxieties (or was warned about the dangers of cavities, acne, as well as getting too fat—jeans were so expensive!). When I was 17, I graduated high school and began working. My favorite thing to spend money on other than clothes and going to the movies was FOOD. I ate pizza, chinese, and fast food almost every day. Multiple times a day. I was stuck at an office all day, so it was easier to have delivery and munch on that for a few days than pack a sandwich. I was also in an extremely abusive relationship with someone who also had an unhealthy relationship with food, and actively wanted me to “get bigger.” His doctor wanted him to lose about 100 to 200 pounds because he was having some severe health issues, but part of his controlling behavior was to push me to become conventionally less attractive so I wouldn’t leave him.
Now, don’t mistake me as someone who fat shames—quite the opposite. I predominately date men who are overweight—I’ve only dated two thin men when I was under the age of 15. Since then, it’s never been my thing. And I don’t think women who are fat are unattractive either. I find all humans beautiful, as long as they are healthy and happy. But I was filling my body with poison, and I felt awful. I was about 145 pounds, which was a lot for me. I gained about 20 pounds in two years just from eating actual garbage, and not moving my body. I was uncomfortable, and all my clothes hurt my skin. My heart hurt, and I was spending so much money on makeup and skincare products battling my acne. I also began suffering from migraines during this time—I began losing vision, having lights and distortions in my vision, and then enduring such excruciating pain that I would vomit, repeatedly for four to six hours. They started escalating to one a week at least. I would get them at work or at school, and cause a lot of problems in my life. I would always have to go straight home. Oh, and I also have endometriosis.
At 22, I developed panic disorder. (Or I began my Kundalini awakening. Jury’s still out on that one.) That developed into agoraphobia.
So, after getting out of my shitty abusive relationship, I went crazy with losing weight. I had one of those “thinspo" blogs on Tumblr that are so problematic. But I was hard into restricting and binging. My lowest point probably came when I was chewing very stale glazed doughnuts in my boyfriend’s bathroom while he slept just so I could spit them out in the toilet and flush it—when I fucking hate doughnuts. (Revolution Donuts are the exception.) I was also addicted to uppers (MDMA, 20mg Adderall XR), and loved the weight I was losing with them. Meanwhile, I was still having migraines, and dealing with constant panic attacks.
The panic attacks were really what changed my life. I wouldn’t wish this on anyone, but they got me clean from everything. Shitty relationships and jobs, but also my issues with food and drugs. I had to quit smoking, drinking, and all recreational drugs. Seeing my little sister, who also suffers along with all the females in my family (more on that Mother Wound later!)—struggle and hurt my family with her addiction to Xanax made me terrified to use any more Western medicines. I desperately sought natural alternatives to my issues since my body rejected so many things, and I was too anxious to try chemicals anymore. (I didn’t even like melatonin anymore. I felt drugged.) I had been avoiding fluoride and aspartame since I was 18, the same year I became vegetarian (and sometimes raw vegan).
I began with bananas. I really hated bananas as a kid. Texture thing. But after reading they were good for helping with depression and anxiety, I started eating them whenever I was feeling bad. I later learned the potassium levels would be better at easing my severe period cramps than ibuprofen ever was, and without all the scary side effects. I also introduced black strap molasses and a LOT of almond milk as well. And I was using ACV, coconut oil and activated charcoal for my teeth, skin, everything. My family and friends thought I was so weird, but it didn’t take long before they were asking me for help with their health, too.
I’m still obsessed with what I eat—but in a healthy way. I love food not for its taste, but for what it does to my body. What it helps with. How it heals. I now eat intuitively, and am incredibly aware of everything I eat and how that effected me mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritual.
Here’s the catch: I was on birth control from 18 til about 25, so I didn’t take Saint John’s Wort for depression, although I had read its amazing benefits many times over, since I had read too many cautionary notes about its supposed interactions with other medications. I used 5HTP to help with my serotonin levels after learning my prescribed migraine medications activated serotonin in the brain. I started taking them once a week with mixed results. They really helped with regulating my moods and impulsivity, but I still had migraines, and still had panic attacks, and my agoraphobia was so bad by 2017, I was nearly housebound, even after I had given in and begun taking (horribly addictive) anti-anxiety medications.
My boyfriend begged me to try an antidepressant. It had been seven years, and all the yoga, meditation, spell work, and clean lifestyle wasn’t helping. I was still suffering. I was truly miserable and merely existing instead of living. At the end of my rope and relationship, I went to a doctor, tried those evil antidepressants, and they worked. They worked. And not only did my panic attacks stop, but so did my migraines. My hypothesis that they were due to a serotonin deficiency was correct.
I include that last part to remind you that your human body has limits and rules that may not be able to be fixed naturally. If your brain doesn’t make a chemical, then it doesn’t make a chemical. It blows. I felt like a hypocrite for the past year. It’s taken me a long time to be okay with taking Western medicine when I got rid of all other medications and firmly believe (still!) that Mother Nature has a cure for everything. I believe in exhausting all your other pathways before falling back on what could potentially be a bandaid medication. I don’t believe that everyone who is on an antidepressant needs it, but I do believe that this has saved my life, and I’m thankful for it, and am more thankful for the life I get to lead—I now have friends, attend events, travel, shop, sing, smile, and worry so much less. I practice yoga and try new foods and I go hiking and have a wonderful relationship with my boss, boyfriend, and family.
I weigh about 135 pounds, but I am in the best shape of my life, and definitely the best shape of my spiritual life. And I couldn’t have done it without yoga, meditation, vegetarianism, and an antidepressant. Please listen to your body. It will tell you exactly what it needs to thrive. No one else on the internet or in a book will be as good of a teacher as your own heartbeat.