My Journey From Depression/Anxiety to Today
This story is important for people to read, because while you may be going through something totally other than depression/anxiety, this is what the journey from severe chronic disease to health looks like. Especially those who don't believe it is possible, because at one point in my life, that was me.
Like many Americans growing up in the 80's and 90's, I ate and lived in the standard American way. Frozen dinners, pop tarts, stressed about school, worrying about how I was going to make money when I grew older. I was pumped with a certain messaging from TV and movies that did little to inspire creativity and more to condition me to accept the harsh realities and inevitabilities of the adult world.
But I wasn't aware of any of this as it was happening. Most of us are not aware. We think because everyone else is basically accepting similar social standards, that this is all just normal. Many of us even come to enjoy being well adjusted to this way of life, and that's perfectly fine. But for me, I was one of the sensitive ones. At every step of my childhood, something was not quite right.
And so one day, a difficult life circumstance instantly triggered a serious suicidal depressive episode. My parents and doctors didn't know what to think. I was immediately put on medication. And thus began my 17 year battle with what doctors call depression and anxiety.
That difficult life circumstance was the loss of my first girlfriend. I had met her in my Junior year of high school.. a late bloomer. And we were only together for maybe 5 months. But in that time, I had experienced more love, joy and real connection to another person than I ever had before. To my little world, it was pure magic. None of my friends were like her at all.. quite the opposite. And I didn't want to go back to living in a world where everyone is a jerk to each other.
So that was the trigger. But what followed was a very serious and persistent depression and anxiety that would not go away. After a year or two it had nothing to do with that original trauma. I had fully moved on and even had numerous other partners in my 20's and 30's. But during that 17 year time, I had gone through so many severe swings between feeling completely fine and normal, to being this close to the end of my life.
To be honest, most of the time I was on medications, I felt okay enough. It was only when I tried to stop the medication that I would crash harder than I could possibly explain to anyone through this blog. It was hell on Earth. To give an example, imagine waking up every single morning to an unbearable, existential panic that had you vomiting bile until the pain stopped.. every morning! This was my life. And it would take me about 6 months to fully recover from one of those episodes.. 6 months of no job (because I had to quit each time), therapy, group therapies, new 2nd and 3rd medications, etc. Somehow I'd find myself back on my feet again, back in the real world without any indication I had this going on in my life, and swearing to myself I'd never try this again.
But sure enough I would try, again and again. Around the age of 28, about a decade after this all first started, I started making more intentional efforts to really look at myself and try to improve in anyway I could. Up until this point, I had perfected a massive victimhood mentality. If I was ever feeling down, on the one hand yes I was super negative towards myself, but on the other hand everything and everyone was to blame. I judged everything, so much. I couldn't connect with anybody in any meaningful way, because all I could see were perpetrators.
So what changed was I reached the point of feeling sick and tired of feeling sick and tired. I was done with it. Finally the pain of remaining the same outweighed the pain of change. And so I would read books, listen to self-improvement podcasts, walk around NYC alone during the day for hours, go to therapy twice a week, take breathwork classes, etc. And all of this was massively helpful. I hated going to therapy with a passion up until that point. You think I didn't try in those 10-11 years since it started? But nobody ever told me, as it turns out, all therapists aren't equal! It actually matters that you find one that you vibe with and can actually open up to. Who would've thought! So therapy was a huge step for me because I realized I could actually question my automatic thought patterns and ask the question, is this belief really true?
And so what I found was one thing always led to another. It was as if the Universe were saying to me "If you take one step towards me, I'll take care of the rest." The next major step for me was learning the truth about how the world is. Up until this point, I had generally ignored the news and what was going on in the world. But now I had made so much progress with my personal health, I actually had the capacity to care again about issues that were bigger than me. This was now 2013 when Edward Snowden revealed to the world all the details of how US government agencies openly spy on everyday citizens. It was worse than anyone ever could've imagined. And we still don't understand it to this day.
Something about learning all that triggered something in me. I immediately asked the question.. so what else are they doing? And I dove deep. I spent what would be the next 3-4 years reading books, watching documentaries, and uncovering all the little known truths about our government, mainstream media, our corporations, the pharmaceutical industrial agriculture, factory farming, Hollywood, our education system, why we're constantly at war, and why things never seem to change regardless of who's in office. These details are all out there in plain sight, but few bother to look, and now I understand why.
As it relates to my ongoing struggle with depression and anxiety, this was a huge leap forward. One would think learning about all this dark stuff would only send me further into the pits of depression. But it did the opposite. I was hugely empowered by learning these Truths. Why? There's a quote by the Indian mystic Jiddu Krishnamurti:
"It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society."
It suddenly all made perfect sense why I felt the way I did. What society has become over the decades is profoundly sick. There is no other way to say it. It makes perfect sense why there is so much mental illness. So much anxiety. School shootings. Suicides. Drug addictions. Cancer. Heart Disease. Obesity. Diabetes. Infertility. Hormonal issues. Our shit healthcare system. Shitty politicians. Greedy corporations. The environmental crisis. Perpetual war. Perpetual homelessness. Poverty. Hunger. I mean, the list goes on and on. If you cannot see this for yourself, you're not looking hard enough. You need to read more. Or you've been told a different story by the people you personally follow which you've accepted as reality. Or, you're being ignore-ant to these facts out of fear so you can maintain some sense of sanity through a falsely positive mindset. I know that's harsh, but that's usually what's going on with the people who cannot see how bad things have become. Not always though, because as I'm about to explain, there is an even higher truth that awaits.
So now I was really on a mission to pull myself out of this depression/anxiety situation once and for all. I took time off and traveled by myself in Europe. I spent time at Thich Nhat Hanh's Plum Village in France, I learned the importance of meditation, I quit alcohol and weed completely, I quit my job and started doing my own businesses, I discovered the world of spirituality, I had some profound experiences with psychedelics, I ended a few toxic relationships that no longer served me, and I started improving my diet. My world was really opening up, and at this point, I had amassed numerous direct experiences that what we call the "spirit world" is actually real. More on that in another post as well. Still I have to say, in the years that followed 2012 when I first started helping myself get better, I had more and more attempts to get off the medications. And more and more epic failures. It was around the 6th or 7th failure that I said to myself, that's it. Forget it, no more. This is a physical impossibility that goes beyond anything I could directly control. I'm just going to have to be on medication for the rest of my life, and that's okay.
Well now we're in the beginning of 2017, when I was in between jobs and decided to go to a spiritual community in Brazil for 2 weeks for a friend's wedding. I ended up staying 3 months for reasons you wouldn't believe. More on that in another post. But what I found there was the love of my life, Carol, who reflected back at me who I truly was deep inside.. someone much more than the depressed person on medication I had identified with most of my life. In that time in Brazil, I had more profound spiritual experiences that further stretched my belief of who we are and what we're capable of. I was told that the spirits would help me get off this medication once and for all, and I believed it with all my heart.
When I returned back home, we took an epic 3 months road trip around the US that ended with a 10 week stay at Hippocrates Health Institute in Florida for their Health Educator Program. Here my mind opened up even further to the world of nutrition, detox and natural healing. During that time, my body went through a physical transformation that I had never experienced before. And after I came back home, I continued all the things I learned and went further and further in the cleansing of my body, mind and spirit. At this point, I was ready to try to ween myself off my medication one... more... time.
Despite having failed so many times in the past and having so much evidence to support this being another colossal failure, I was ready. I knew in every cell of my body that it was going to work. And this time, I got even more clever. Rather than playing the game of splitting pills and alternating dosages like all the therapists and psychiatrists would tell me, I discovered that they actually make a liquid version of the SSRI I was taking. And so I used a professional laboratory pipette to slowly reduce the dosage each day over the course of the next 12 months. I was in no hurry.
Well exactly a year after I had returned from my education at Hippocrates, I'm very proud to say I went to zero medication. What was once a total impossibility in my mind was now a reality. Nearly 5 years later, I no longer struggle with depression or anxiety. I don't get sick. I feel alive and healthy. Every day I learn something new about health or my spiritual journey, and I'm encouraged to go even deeper in my healing.
So I share this story with you because I want everyone to know that this is your journey, no one else's. If you let people tell you how impossible something is, that is going to become your reality. You've been told this before, but maybe you still don't believe or realize just how powerful your mind is. What I ultimately did was allowed the old parts of me to die so that a greater self could emerge. All the other times before I was merely trying to put the cart before the horse.. expecting to heal without having done any real deep work. And look how long it took me. About 7 years total. About the same amount of time it takes for every cell in your body to completely die and be made a new. You are no longer the same person you were than created and inhabited the disease.
Know this. It is possible to heal. And it starts with asking why disease forms in the first place. Everybody is out there looking for the answers, but it's the question that really drives the revelations and insights you're looking for. Whatever you're going through, there is a reason. What the planet and society is going through, there is a reason. And you may think you already know the reason. Even so, open yourself up. Don't close. Don't be so opinionated and judgmental of new ideas. And don't be so attached to the outcomes of your efforts. They will come in their own time. This is your life's work. The disease or whatever you're going through is just a symptom.. a red flag signal that your body is making to try and motivate you to grow beyond your old ways. Even the smartest, most enlightened person on the planet only has a fraction of understanding of what this reality is. Really get with that concept the next time you think you've tried everything and know what's what.
I'll leave you with this. Whatever you're going through, remember that there is a reason. And everything passes. Nothing is permanent. None of us get out of here alive. We've become very afraid of death but that is a massive delusion. The truth of the matter is, we are spiritual beings having a temporary human experience. And as spiritual beings, we are infinite. And if you want to have a direct experience with this someday rather than just take other people's word for it, all you have to do is ask the question and the Universe will show you.