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This is Part 2 of a story that outlines an alternative health mental illness treatment plan. Please read Part 1 about my friend Stacy’s experience in a mental illness treatment facility and her quest to treat her bipolar and anxiety disorders with alternative health treatments.
Stacy’s Alternative Health Mental Illness Treatment
Below is the routine I developed for Stacy based on what I do to keep a balanced mind and from researching alternative health treatments for mental illness. She wanted to immediately start a routine while looking for a naturopathic doctor (ND) or integrative medical doctor (IMD) to help her. In Part 3 of this story, I tell you about her experience with a ND and describe the supplements that were prescribed for her.
Note: Stacy’s psychiatrist has her on a prescription of Lithium that she’s weaning off of slowly. She’s feeling much better!
Studies show that rigorous exercise helps ease symptoms of mental illness. The exercise needs to be vigorous, not walking at a slow pace. Good examples: Interval walking/jogging, bike riding in a hilly area to really work your muscles, playing basketball, martial arts. Anything that includes good cardio will get the blood pumping and flowing to the brain. This will stabilize your mood. It clears the cobwebs, makes your thinking clearer, and keeps depressing thoughts at bay.
My Exercise Routine
I exercise 3-4 days a week. Twice a week with a trainer, (45 min.–1 hr.) of interval/circuit training. This includes a little bit of free weights and machines, but I perform more body weight exercises. Between each set of arm or leg exercises, (triceps/biceps or lunges or squats, depending on which day), I do 50 jump rope skips, totaling 300-500 jump rope skips. This is a VERY intense workout. You will need to slowly build up to this exercise level.
Or try this:
On days I don’t add the jump rope to my exercise routine I put the treadmill on 7.5 incline and fast walk/jog at 3.8 or higher for 3 min., then do intervals slowed down to 3.4 incline for 3 min. I do this for 20 min. and then workout my legs or arms. (These are days I’m not working out with a trainer).
If either of these routines is too much to do, then interval jog/fast walk outside for 1.5 miles. I do this routine once a week just to change up and not get bored with my normal exercise regimen and to be outside with nature. Running near trees, flowers, and water is so peaceful. I also do Yoga stretches after each exercise session.
Mediation and Prayer
Three or four days a week I go outside( if it’s not too cold), and do several deep knee bends and breathe in deeply extending my arms up into the sky, saying thanks to God, nature, and the Universe. I face the sun and look deeply into the sky saying my prayer of thanks. I say thanks for all the blessings and good things in my life. Then I sit on a towel in the grass under a tree and close my eyes and meditate.
1. First part of my prayer/meditation—I release negative energy: I ask for help with my problems and pray for other people.
2. Second part—I release positive energy: I give thanks for life, say positive things about myself. I chant things like: I AM LOVE, I AM PEACE, I AM HEALED.
3. Third part–I get up and in bare feet go touch the trees feeling their strength and energy, and feel earth’s energy through my feet in the dirt. My cat will often be there to share in this and that helps me to go even deeper in connecting with God. It’s important to be in bare feet since this is the best way to connect directly with the natural earth, feeling the heartbeat of the world and God. There is so much concrete everywhere that we forget we are a piece of the world, connected directly to nature. Let the energy of nature connect with your spirit. During this time I listen to the birds chirping, the wind blowing against my face, the insects flying and crawling. I just pause and listen, absorbing the energy.
In addition to this, I go to a church that incorporates meditation in their service. I encourage everyone, no matter your religious or spiritual beliefs to try meditation to calm the mind.
Kick Negative People Out of Your Life!
The stress of negative people affects your physical and mental health. “Negative people” doesn’t mean “bad people”, it just means that these people can’t be there for you in the way that’s beneficial. Get rid of people that don’t nurture your spirit. Get rid of people that don’t say positive things to you. Get rid of “energy vampires” that suck your energy dry and don’t give energy back. Stop yelling at your kids, spouse, and co-workers. Be kind and gentle in your ways to attract that good energy from others. Don’t be scared to say to loved ones, “I need to focus on myself.” This can very hard to do especially if the negative people in your life are parents or a spouse. But say it and then distance yourself. If they tell you that you’re abandoning them, then say, “I can’t be there for you if I kill myself. I have to take care of myself.” This may seem extreme, but it’s not, since not taking care of your mental health can lead to suicide.
Naturally Fermented Foods. Eating naturally fermented foods like **kefir and sauerkraut or taking probiotic pills, build up vitamins B6 and B12. These vitamins help the brain function properly. People suffering from depression typically have low amounts of these vitamins. **Kefir: The word is derived from the Turkish word “keif”, which means “good feeling.” It’s an ancient fermented food made from the milk of a cow, sheep, or goat. Vegans eat a version of traditional kefir made with coconut milk instead of milk.
Also avoid caffeine and alcohol.
Stop Taking Birth Control Pills
Depressed people tend to be low in B vitamins and folate. More women suffer from depression than any other group of people. And many women take birth control pills. Birth control pills deplete the body of B6, and folate. This may be a big reason why more women suffer from depression. Read this woman’s story about being depressed while taking birth control pills here. There are some medical studies stating birth control pills don’t cause depression. But I’ve talked to and read accounts from hundreds of women that say the opposite.
Side note: Birth control pills have other bad side effects and many women can’t tolerate taking them. I stopped taking birth control pills shortly after my child was born due to constantly getting yeast infections. The problem disappeared as soon as I stopped taking them. I take Wild Yam Root, a natural birth control that is very effective and with no side effects.
It’s very, VERY important to get proper sleep. Sleep is when the body heals and regenerates itself. Anxiety gets worse if you don’t get a proper amount of sleep. Your hormones get out of whack very easily with lack of sleep plus improper eating, which is a big no-no for people with mental illness. Chamomile tea at night before bed helps. Pop in a meditation CD with soothing nature sounds to help go to sleep.
Check out Part 3 of Stacy’s story: Mental Illness Alternative Health Treatment Plan From the Naturopathic Doctor