A holistic approach to mental health
It’s been a while since my last post, and rightfully so as you will find out during this post on why that is the case. A few years ago, I suffered a substantial set back with my mental health and was diagnosed with depression and anxiety … and with one in four people in the UK likely to encounter a mental health problem each year, in reflection it didn’t come as a surprise to me. Mental health has since been on the forefront of my mind each and every day, for both my own personal development and understanding; and as its subsequent motive of offering valuable insight to people on the approach I took, and how that different perspective can lead to a new awakening.
With only one in eight people who suffer from mental health disorders in the UK is currently receiving treatment, which instantly sounded alarm bells in my mind. Clearly demonstrating the country’s inability to provide the high-quality expertise required of such critical care, for the fastest growing health condition worldwide. It’s now clearer than ever to see why these conditions are such a growing concern in western culture, as recently I have been exposed to a more traditional eastern culture over these past seven months to compare against it. In order to understand my recent awakening with mental health, I feel it is important to share with you my own experiences. From the symptoms of the conditions that I was once diagnosed with; to present day where my understanding and knowledge allows me to live a medicative free lifestyle.
It was November 2015, where I really started to question why I was feeling the way that I was. At the time, I was quick to neglect the internal monologue inside my head, and put it down to work-related stress. My graduate scheme (like most these days), came with a standard contract of fifty working hours per week, which on reflection to most is an obvious contributing factor to any post-graduate student. Here is it from a more common perspective you might resonate with … you have just finished the best four of your life; living away from home with no parents; abusing alcohol on a daily basis to support your social status; poor attention to diet because come on, who wants to stand cook chicken and vegetables hungover. When instead you can nurse your pounding headache from the evening before by putting a pizza in the oven? Since understanding the importance of these factors individually, there is no doubt I was going to be susceptible to a breaking point so early into my corporate world experience.
Of note, I would like to mention that none of the above, along with many other factors I will share was ever discussed within my ten minute consultation with a doctor. And again on reflection, rightfully so. Considering the pressure on the NHS in our country currently, doctors aren’t able to take the time and attention to truly understand route causes to these illnesses within ten minute time slot. What they are able to do however, is prescribe you with some tablets that will help level the lack of serotonin your body is not creating at the time of the stress - and hope for you in a few months everything will feel fine again. I think it is important to highlight that the tablets in question here are produced by pharmaceutical companies such as GlaxoSmithKlien; who spent over $3b on advertisement in America alone during 2015 on promoting anti-depressants to youngsters. You begin to question why ludicrous amounts of capital like this are invested into marketing these curative care products, oppose to the research in preventative methods. Given this type of literature is now only starting to evolve over the past ten years, we can only just start to begin to understand how holistic approaches are an option. This due to the fear of forever growing shadows in these pharmaceutical companies profit margins.
Now I consider myself to of been quite lucky to have found business studies such an interesting subject from a young age. So much so, that I have studied the subject from GCSE to degree level, and when combined with my strong corporate knowledge and experience with companies who are leaders in their industry; see this as a huge advantage to understand ulterior motives. Just because the budgets mentioned were subject to America, when you take it contextually and apply to the UK. The same pharmaceutical business model exists, and so this triggered another thought of mine. How can we as a society be so dependable on services like the NHS (a service so heavily under funded to maintain the care required for it’s patients), and yet persistently trust the motives of the pharmaceutical industry (one of the biggest contributing corporate giants to our economy - who if did not exist, would further overload the existing underfunded NHS). This amongst others was then my primary motive to start exploring the research further, so I ventured out into the wonderful word of the internet and made starts to understanding it further. Anyone who knows me well will tell you my devoted love for podcasts, because one day a podcast literally (not even figuratively), changed my life!
I was on my daily gruelling commute to work when I came across a new episode of the Joe Rogan Experience with Kelly Brogan (podcast these days are even streamed via YouTube, so no excuses everyone! Click here for that episode). I remember reading the description and instantly hitting download; “Kelly Brogan, M.D. is a holistic women’s health psychiatrist and author of the NY Times Bestselling book, A Mind of Your Own”. This was where my ‘gruelling commute to work’ used to come with it’s positives. With what should of taken me a twelve minute journey, regularly taking me over an hour. It always gave me the opportunity to get my daily dosage of podcasts, which had already played such a pivotal role in shaping my thoughts and opinions around mental health. I must emphasise now that at the time I came across the podcast, I had already been on antidepressants for over eighteen months. I was also now six months into a new, and stable job from when the depression was first triggered. Everything in between those dates, well that’s a whole new blog post for another time! I suppose in order oto offer context to the situation, I should give you a quick descriptive of what those days involved. Endlessness of fogginess to my thoughts; no desire to leave your bed as the only time you felt normal, was when you finally fell asleep after being so tired after countless evenings of insomnia; not wanting to interact with the public or friends longer than you have to. So when hearing this podcast, my mind had already made huge positive steps forward and was in a much better frame of perspective. So I thought I owed it to myself to at least consider these types of other approaches where my mind was beginning to wonder.
Immediately after listening to the first hour of the podcast, and against my own will (because ear phones were banned in my office? Take that as you please audience!) listened to the rest of the podcast at my desk before my lunch. By my lunchtime I had already bought Kelly’s book, and found myself wondering down the what can sometimes be, a positive black hole of YouTube gawping. It was refreshing to start educating myself on how the body and mind in today's western societies are seen as separate entities; subsequently, whilst appreciating the vast and rapid increase of development in the world in such relatively short time compared to its existence. It became perceptible that we as humans are not designed to be exposed to the wealth of detrimental products and services which are so easily affordable for the majority of the population in the west; it just doesn’t conform with the same timeline as the evolution of us as a species. This recent rapid expansion in technology and food choices are at the top of the list in my mind here. Believe me from living with a ninety-one year old Grandmother his whole life, I am quietly confident during her second World War years. That no additive sugars or saturated fats were labelled on their rations in the bomb shelters; because breakfast cereals then would of been ‘Cornflakes or lump it’ as she would of said (no Lucky Charms or Frosties for a start!).
So once the penny had dropped, it started to become more apparent of the so many other aspects that were having such a detrimental effect to my health; both physically and mentally. That change in perception combined with Kelly’s book and literature sharing, I knew it was time for a change. I had been in my new job for six months, eighteen months post diagnosis with depression and anxiety, when I really began to question why I still needed the tablet to make myself feel better? I had the work-life balance I wanted from a job, the comfort in salary, career progression. So why was I still taking the tablet? Well on reflection it was just out of habit, just like all the other bad habits we know we have, but never truly recognise because we feel it is too difficult for us to fix - so we ignore them. Take alcohol abuse for example; we drink it because it makes us feel at ease with who we are when intoxicated. We know it does that, but we don’t necessarily address the issue of why we do it for that reason. Very much like my medication, it was at this time I began to ask those questions, with the intent of finally finding an answer!
I’m now twelve months medicative free, and with no intentions of requiring it again in the future. As an autodidact on mental health through the guidance of Kelly and other self-taught research, I can appreciate how the mind and body work as a joint entity. Additionally, by first further understanding my body’s requirements on a nutritional and physical level. Whilst simultaneously recognising the importance of my minds psychological requirements, with mindset playing the pivotal role. In unison, the biggest outcome from this process was the way in which my new perspective gave clarity on the things I valued most. Friends, family, work were amongst those that you would presume to be obvious values to re-evaluate. But the most important aspects for me were values like time, money and emotions. Time because I had been persistently giving so many hours to others (in both work and friendship environments), and on reflection I questioned how I could of been best positioned to offer my advice when I did not have control of my own. Money, because I soon realised that in order to live the lifestyle with my newly found happiness, I was no longer required to concede endless hours to another corporation attached to an attractive salary. And finally, emotions. By being able to recognise and understand the reasons to why I am an emotive and empathic person. By learning to embrace these transformative qualities, and use them to continue my own personal development in this newly found creative awakening.
As I have taken this blog from thoughts to words, so many more subjects have sprung up in the process. I intend to use my website as a platform for educational purposes, and to create an awareness for attitude towards mental health. So in which people can speak open and truthfully in whatever they like, whenever, and wherever possible. Don’t just take my word for it though! Click here to watch my recent interview with said Kelly Brogan discussing my successes with her Vital Mind Reset program; which you can learn more about here.
If you’ve read this far, and you know anyone who is currently suffering with any kind of mental illness, and could find my story of help. Please do hit the share buttons on whatever platform you use most!
I'll leave you with one final recommendation as the podcast promoter I'm known as. I still on a daily basis am finding useful moments of brilliance like in this recent Jordan Peterson interview with Theo Von here: “the darkness is dark, really dark. But it means the light is that much brighter”.
Tara for now,