Hello Sylvia, could you introduce yourself in a few lines?
I am a 53 year old female and I am a Holistic/Beauty Therapist as well as a family support worker for an addictions agency. I am the youngest of 12 and up until recently a full time care giver for my husband, who was physically disabled and suffered with bipolar and Aspergers. I was recently widowed in May 2015.
When were you diagnosed with depression and how did you get the diagnosis?
I was first diagnosed in March 1987 with post-partum depression following the death of my mother, a split from a 7 year relationship, homelessness and giving birth. These events all occurred within a 7 week period. That was my baptism of fire although looking back I can see I had difficulties prior to this.
Was it hard to cope with the condition? Has it changed something in your relationship with your family?
The feelings of intense anxiety, feeling lost, abandoned and totally alone were overwhelming. Were it not for one sister in particular and my faith in Almighty God, I am not sure where I would be. Family relationships have remained unaffected.
You’ve been taking antidepressants for a while, what have been the worst side effect you have had? What has been the best one you’ve taken?
The medication that I am on currently is Citalopram from which I am weaning myself off of. I wouldn't say any of the medications I have been on have been particularly helpful, in fact the opposite is true. The worst side effect I have experienced would be several transient attacks, with the most recent attack being this March last year, fainting and subsequent concussion, brains zaps, difficulties swallowing, post nasal drip, bleeding under the skin (painful), difficulty breathing, aching muscles and joints, the list goes on and on.
As for today, do you think therapy and medication have made you feel better?
I believe very strongly that the first port of call in connection with depression and anxiety ought to be a review of food and liquid intake, after all you wouldn't put a plant in an environment it would not thrive in and expect it to flourish. We tend to eat plastic processed foods which do not provide us with the raw materials to allow our bodies to function. If we want our plant to thrive, we plant it in the type of soil it needs to be healthy and vibrant. Likewise we ought to be doing the same. My mental health has improved as a result of that approach.
You have a special family history, do you think that it has influenced your depression? (for the better or worse)
It is true that birds of a feather flock together. That's important for support and getting through massively difficult times. My sisters and I help each other; however I do also think it is equally important to be part of associations that have individuals that are dealing with a range of conditions, not just those of with depression or anxiety, so that one can benefit from their perspectives and new positives can be learned.
You are a holistic therapist, since when have you been in practice? Have you found it helpful? Would you recommend it for other people with depression?
I have been practising Holistic Therapies for eight years using massage, reflexology, aromatherapy and nutritional therapy for the last eight years. I worked with a number of clients with different needs. I volunteered for four years with the addictions agency, of which I am now employed. My client base was those with addictions and it was because of my own experience with anxiety and the lack of non-medication based treatments that I approached The Matthew Project. The results were amazing. Clients reported reduced anxiety, reduced use of drugs, including prescribed sleeping pills. I have worked with clients with sleeping issues, chronic pain, chronic anxiety etc.
What positive message would you like to share with our readers?
My positive message is..."where there is life there is hope"
"Feel the fear and do it anyway"
Medication is not the only model of care; however, certainly for many it will be the preferred model. There are other alternatives, even if you want to stay on medication. There are professional organizations that can help in other ways that medication may not be as effective. There is much that can be done to help oneself. I am happy to create this post and participate in this interview and I am open to offer what information I have to anyone who wants it. I truly believe in a 360 degree approach. It's not just about nutrition. Cognitive function also needs to be addressed. There are lots of therapies out there including transdermal magnesium therapy (which you can use at home), as long as you don't have any problems with your kidneys. As with anything, always check with your doctor first before beginning a new regimen or treatment
Onwards and Upwards!
Never try to come off medication without support from your doctor. And if you do ever try to come off medication, do it gradually with vitamin and mineral support.