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Want radiant skin, healthy joints, and improved digestion? Glow from the inside-out with paleo recipes featuring collagen.

Reader Interactions

28 Comments

  1. I sure love a happy ending when it comes to psych meds! Thanks for sharing this story. I know it’s hard to write publicly about the most vulnerable parts of ourselves. I have been to hell and back with meds and people NEED to be informed before they decide to put that pill in their mouth. While I advocate personal responsibility, it is blatant malpractice the way I, and many others (I was young and scared), are given these drugs. Thanks for sharing.

    • Hi Cari,

      Thanks for your comment! I’m so sorry you’ve had such a tough personal experience. I can relate. I do agree that when it comes to psych meds, true “informed consent” is rare, and that is tragic.

  2. Wow. Yes. Thank you so much for sharing this story.

    While I’m not anti-medication (it can quite literally be lifesaving for people, and a lot of us get too depressed to eat better or exercise), I’m always encouraging people to try going gluten-free and sugar-free for a couple weeks to see if they feel any different.

    This was also my experience, and I’ve spent the past few years repairing the damage in my body from years of anorexia, veganism, and SSRIs through different variations on the paleo theme.

    I wanted to mention a cutting-edge technology for treatment-resistant depression that I just finished that’s non-invasive and not medicine called TMS, or Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation. 30-40 × 1 hour sessions over 6-9 weeks of a magnetic tapping on the side of my frontal lobe has nearly eliminated my severe depression and significantly improved my anxiety. (I thought it was like shock therapy when I first heard about it, but it’s not at all.) It was a bit expensive but my insurance covered it. I imagine it’ll be a lot more common in the next few years.

    • Hi Alek,

      Congrats on taking charge of your health! I have never heard of TMS, but it sounds fascinating. I know a lot of people have good results with Fisher Wallace Devices, which provide a type of neurostimulation. I’ll keep my eye on TMS and am happy to hear about your success.

    • That TMS sounds really cool! I’m actually a college student in psychology and we just learned about TMS in class last week. My professor mentioned that it hasn’t been studied extensively, but there are many promising results that can come from that type of therapy. It’s really amazing to actually hear from someone who got this therapy and benefited from it!

  3. Lauren, thank you for sharing Holly’s story! Holly, you are a ‘holly warrior of humanity’, thank you! It seems to me that even if you are not on a path of depression, we can all experience negative thoughts that disrupts our lives in varying levels. Your story, Holly, (and Lauren’s) is such an inspiration in finding ways to understand our body and what it’s trying to say rather than just trying to ‘fix’ it (suppress the symptoms)!

    • Christiana, you are too sweet! I have to say that reading other peoples’ health stories (including Lauren’s) was an extremely important part of my healing journey. Seeing THEIR victories made me believe in MYSELF. I don’t know where I would be without blogs like this one. Thanks again for the kind words!

  4. Holly – thanks so much for sharing your story. Depression is so stigmatized and people sort of hide away and try to privately deal with it and I think it makes it even harder to heal – because the only answer that anyone around you is pointing you toward is medication. Medication that doesn’t really work in the long term. It’s so important to keep this conversation going. So happy for your progression and that you’re spreading your message 🙂 Food, exercise, all components of staying well have been so pivotal for my mental health. You can read more about my philosophies at http://www.kaleandtequila.com.

    • Angela, thanks for your kind words! Yes, unfortunately most mental health conditions come with deep stigma and shame, which is one of the main reasons I am compelled to share my story. I’m glad that you’ve also found healing through diet and lifestyle. It’s truly powerful!

  5. If you truly have a chemical imbalance, don’t drop the meds! Nutrition can help, but I take my meds any day over feeling suicidal on a monthly basis due to hormone fluctuations!

  6. Holly thank you for sharing your experience. All I can say is wow…. You are a warrior. Does your faith in God attribute to your success? I know people are reluctant to share that piece of it. Anyway I am glad you are healthy l, vibrant and alive! To God be the glory!

  7. Hi, everyone! Holly here.

    I would like to offer some clarification to my post, because I have received several emails and messages from people asking similar questions, such as:

    “Do you think nutrition is the ONLY way people can heal mood disorders?”
    “Is medication ever appropriate? Isn’t that the only choice for some people?”
    “What about people who have tried to heal mood disorders nutritionally and it doesn’t work for them?”

    These are all great questions! Here are my thoughts:

    I want to emphasize that I do NOT think nutrition is the only component in healing mental illness. It happened to be the missing puzzle piece for me, and it is for so many people. Unfortunately, there aren’t that many people talking about nutritional healing for mood issues, especially in the conventional space.

    I share my story for two reasons: to break down the stigma around mental illness, and to shine a light on the fact that there can be nutritional and body-based components to mood disorders. For many people, this is a huge lightbulb idea, and they have never considered it. The only thing they have been told is that they have a chemical imbalance and it’s “all in their head” (which often isn’t the case).

    I do not think nutrition is a panacea or cure-all for mood disorders. There are also spiritual, emotional, and psychological components. Often, it becomes MUCH easier to deal with these issues when nutrition is supported. It certainly was in my case. Beyond traditional talk therapy, I can recommend several different modalities for spiritual, psychological, and emotional healing. (But talk therapy can be great, too!)

    For more about my stance on psychiatric medication, check out the FAQs on my site, or this post: http://www.pillstopaleo.com/my-stance-on-mental-health-meds/

    I never encourage anyone to “jump” off their meds — tapering has to be a very slow, careful process that is supervised by a medical professional. It is an extremely personal choice.

    I suppressed my story and didn’t share it for a long time because I was afraid of being seen as a medication shamer and afraid of making people feel bad. But that weighed heavy on my soul, because if I had this information when I was struggling, I could have saved myself so much pain. I could have saved my health.

    This approach is not for everyone, and I am totally aware of that. But I have seen it help many, and I am on a mission to make sure that people *know* it’s an option. Many don’t.

    I hope that clarifies things and you understand where I am coming from a little better.

    Wishing the best to all of you,

    Holly Higgins, NTP

    • Well said, Holly, I appreciate you taking the time to address the comments and questions that arose here. I recognize and appreciate how you speak your wisdom from your experience, but you also hold the space for people to have a wide variety of experiences due to additional factors.

  8. Wow, Holly. This was really inspiring and encouraging. While I’ve never had to go through what you struggled with, I know people with similar struggles, and it is so encouraging to have someone like you spreading the word and helping people through good nutrition. Thank you!

  9. Holly and Lauren, thank you for sharing this important story! And so wonderful to hear that the Whole30 was the start of your success. While diet isn’t the whole story, it’s amazing how easy it is to make other changes when our bodies are getting the right nutrition. My story is not as dramatic as Holly’s, but I can still relate. I suffered from severe cystic acne most of my life. Digestive disturbances were a part of my daily life, and eventually I developed severe anxiety. My biggest concern was the acne. I was on every drug imaginable, up to and including accutane. I ate what I thought was a clean vegetarian diet but it contained many items that were inflammatory for me. Finally, in my mid 40’s, I cut out the grains, sugar and dairy, and increased my intake of high quality protein and fat. I even cut down on my fruit intake. The inflammation started to go down overnight! My skin cleared up quickly, and after a few months I realized the digestive issues and anxiety were just gone. It was like a miracle. I’m 50 now and have never felt better. Like Holly, I share my story whenever possible, in the hope that it will help someone else.

  10. Thanks for sharing. I am weaning off Effexor, an SSRI and it is horrible! I have been on it along with various other medications to counter the side affects for 12 years. Beginning in January of this year I began weaning and am only half way through the process. It is brutal! I, like you, have found that my diet makes a huge difference in how I feel. I am currently gluten free. Eliminating gluten helped me lose 15 pounds.

    • Hi Sandra,

      Way to go! I understand that Effexor is one of the most difficult antidepressants to taper off of, so my heart goes out to you. Congrats on your victories without the gluten. Eliminating it can make such a huge difference, as you’ve experienced.

  11. Hi Holly,

    Thank you for bravely sharing your story with us; while I never took medication for depression and anxiety, I have certainly had both, and pretty severely. At that time, (and this continues now, although to a lesser degree) I was not in a financial position to access much help in the way of therapy, doctor visits, or prescriptions, but was nonetheless going through severe physical, emotional, and mental health challenges.

    I “researched” and experimented on my own, reading (much like you did) anything I could find online about what was working for people. Eventually, I discovered that without knowing it was its own actual plan or protocol, I ended up following the autoimmune paleo protocol, and things were getting better all around.

    I have been strictly following this way of eating and its lifestyle (lifestyle is harder, but worth every effort!) for about 18 months at this point, and when I look back, it is clear to me that I have made tremendous progress. There is still much healing to be done, and I recognize now that while the needs I have often make me feel different and “high maintainance” when compared to others, that trying to deny myself the things I need to be healthy and feel good only exacerbates any challenge I face and makes things harder still. (And makes me even more high maintainance!)

    Like Lauren, I prepare and cook all my own food; it has been over two years since I have eaten in a restaurant, and only a handful of times have I eaten at the home of either a friend or family member. (The rules of AIP can be daunting for those who are unfamiliar!) It is absolutely worth it to me to know where my food is coming from, how it is prepared, and how it will make me feel!

    I think one of the toughest things for many people is letting go of the notion of food as “entertainment” or reward; so much of our social interactions involve food, and much of that food is not conducive to maintaining our health. I am sure I am only repeating what many already know, but it feels worth mentioning. It can be hard to still feel a part of things if there is no “safe” food at a gathering. I would encourage people to do what they feel they need to in order to avoid the foods they know are not nourishing to them; bring safe foods with you anytime you can, and know that you can probably do this more often than you would think! The people that love us just want us to be happy and feel good, and the people who don’t, well, it hardly matters what they think! 😉

    I am grateful to people like you, Lauren, and many others who continue to share your storied and knowledge so publicly gracefully. Continue to shine so that we all may do so!

    • Hi Melanie,

      Thanks for your comment! I too have been made to feel “high maintenance” or “fussy” for the way I eat in social situations. Over time, I have learned not to take it personally — it’s usually coming from other peoples’ insecurity, or the fact that they just don’t understand how food impacts you.

      I have had this exact same conversation with friends … it’s unfortunate how much socializing revolves around food, because it can make it difficult for people with sensitivities. The best thing you can do is prepare and bring your own food, if need be. (I’m usually the girl with hardboiled eggs in my purse!) Over time, I came to OWN my so-called “pickiness,” because it is the ultimate act of standing up for myself and my body. If other people want to bully me and make nasty comments (and they still do!), well, their loss … they probably don’t feel good in their bodies.

      Best of luck to you. It gets better, easier, and more rewarding with each passing day!

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Lauren Geertsen, NTP

I’m an author, entrepreneur, and nutritional therapy practitioner (NTP). I began this website at 19, to share the steps that freed my life of chronic disease and medication. Now, Empowered Sustenance has reached 30 million readers with healthy recipes and holistic resources.

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