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"Ten years ago, I sat in another psychiatrist’s office somewhat startled by the decision he put before me. We had tried several different medications including the gold standard for my diagnosis, and none seemed to stabilize me in a way that was livable over the long term. This was not a new experience. I had been through similar situations with many other doctors over nearly a decade.
Growing up, I had always been the friend with the kind, sympathetic ear who would listen to others and help them work through whatever difficulty they were going through. My identity was firmly rooted in always being the helpful and compassionate one. Following a crisis period in my own life, I struggled to cope with difficulties arising from several bad decisions, and I started to become alternately anxious and despondent. I was so filled with anxiety that I did not sleep for weeks at a time. Logically, I understood and accepted that I needed to sleep, but my brain kept circling back to the same traumatic events, alternately reliving them and waiting for the other shoe to drop. Sleep-deprived, I started to hear voices that condemned and shamed me. I also started to suffer from hallucinations. As the mental anguish persisted, suicidal ideations became a too-frequent reality. This was not anything I had ever experienced before. I was in my mid-thirties then, and I remember curling up in a ball in a dark corner of my bedroom, fearful for my life.
My official diagnosis was made when the anti-depressants prescribed by a general practitioner to help me during this difficult season pushed me into a manic episode. It was a terrifying experience and not one I ever want to repeat. During my first hospitalization, I was put on multiple psychiatric meds which finally helped me to sleep and numbed the pain. They didn’t take away the pain; they simply helped me to care less about it.
In the years following, I would stabilize for a time, then a triggering event would occur, and I would become symptomatic and be hospitalized. Meds would be changed up in hopes of stabilizing my condition, but then another triggering event would send me back to the hospital. I lost hope that I would ever get well, and I lost confidence in the medical professionals who were treating me. One of my brothers had a counselor’s perspective of helping those with mental illness, and he encouraged me to continue to trust my care team which I did. He also told me I was not defined by my mental illness.
I want to stress that I am not anti-medication. Meds did help me through some of the worst of the emotional pain and trauma until I could start to process it all through cognitive behavioral therapy. I have met many others who have been stable for decades on meds. My own recent experience has proven to me that there are, however, viable, clinically proven, alternative treatments for my condition. This brings me back to where I began this story.
That day, the psychiatrist spoke to me about a micronutrient treatment plan. He had been very impressed with their clinical studies on the positive impact of micronutrients on mental health. He had also seen some of his other patients come off medications entirely and successfully stabilize on the micronutrients. When he suggested this approach, I was super nervous. I suspected that I had somehow downplayed how bad my symptoms once were and told him so. I am in awe of this doctor’s courage and conviction and his willingness to guide me to a plan that was not considered conventional at the time.
My doctor explained to me that the transition might be difficult at first because of my body’s dependence on medication therapy, and it was. He also explained that some lifestyle changes would be necessary. I would need to learn healthy ways to respond to stress and anxiety and to be more disciplined and healthful in what I consumed in the nourishment of mind, body, and soul. I would need to incorporate regular exercise, meditation, and be vigilant about good sleep hygiene. I would also need to set firm boundaries in unhealthy relationships.
Through the company’s discussion boards, I learned about others with similar experiences to mine which made me feel less lonely in the battle for my mental health. The call center team at Hardy Nutritionals are very knowledgeable and were so helpful and supportive throughout the transition, especially in the early years as I was learning new self-care practices. Even more recently, I contacted the team about some difficulties I was having with sleep and anxiety (I am post-menopausal), and they provided me with a workable solution.
It has been a long journey to better mental health, and I am grateful because I know I did not walk it alone. The many medical care practitioners whom I have met over the years as well as the team at Hardy Nutritionals have been invaluable in helping me to learn to thrive in the face of a chronic, formerly debilitating illness. My faith also plays a huge role in my health and success. I know that God led me through this journey and helps me every day. With my body’s nutritional needs being supplemented through micronutrients, I am now able to respond to those not-so-great days with hope, and I enjoy a fullness of life that I once feared would no longer be possible. Emotions, both “good” and “bad”, come and go, but they do not define me, and they no longer send me into crisis.
My thanks to the team at Hardy Nutritionals and to the mental health professionals who partner with them in their mission to bring awareness to the benefits of micronutrients in fostering better mental health. Their work has brought relief to many like me who struggled for years before finding a viable, effective treatment plan that works over the long term." -A.O., Hardy Nutritionals customer since 2013