For the past few years, dealing with low-functioning depression meant I avoided the New Age community like the plague.
Quite frankly, being around these wellness warriors often aggravated my condition.
To many in our community, health and wellness are narrow and black-and-white concepts, conjuring up a select few images: the beautiful smiling woman doing yoga before taking a sip of green juice, “follow your heart” emblazoned on her tank. That toned man eating only gluten-free meals, spending hours meditating his depression away.
Here’s what doesn’t come to mind: me gobbling down french fries while binge-watching TV shows on Netflix after finishing up a day of mundane work.
But maybe that’s a problem.
For me, those were the kinds of things I needed to build myself up during one of the hardest times in my life. Low-functioning depression meant I lost all motivation and rarely enjoyed anything. Unable to leave the house, my counselor and I had to find coping mechanisms that would help me, step-by-step, get on with some semblance of my old routine. Having lost interest in old hobbies and passions, my only source of pleasure was eating and watching utter junk.
Of course, I’m not proud of it. But thanks to all those fries and mindless soap operas, I experienced a domino effect of sorts.
Knowing I had my beloved junk food to look forward to helped me feel slightly more motivated, allowing me to maintain a routine. As I got better at that, I built up confidence and felt a little better, enabling me to perform more healthy activities until I gradually recovered. Fries and Netflix eventually lost much of their appeal once the old me came back.
Unfortunately, not everybody approved of my coping mechanisms. Too often, well-meaning people in the New Age community frowned upon my behaviors. I was told, in different ways, that I was blindly numbing myself down, essentially behaving as just another pawn of the pharmaceutical and corporate worlds.
“Ditch the Prozac for meditation,” they’d often say, causing me to enter yet another downward spiral of self-doubt and shame. At one point, I even stopped taking medication for a while—and ended up drowning in misery as a result.
The problem is, I had already tried meditation and other such spiritual prescriptions, beating myself up mercilessly for not responding well to any of them. While meditation has been proven again and to help those suffering from depression, at that stage in my journey it just wasn’t working for me.
The voices in my head were too loud for me to simply observe or push away, and I often finished in tears. Ironically, once I started taking medication, those voices grew quieter helping me reap meditation’s benefits.
Looking back, I realize that had I listened to the prevalent wisdom in New Age circles, I may never have gotten better. Who knows, I may not even be here writing this today.
And that is why such judgments worry me. More often than not, I see many in our community impose their opinions on others, unintentionally causing harm. They’re not just judging anti-depressants, but other treatments that do not conform to the spiritual stereotype.
Alternative therapies—and even medication—failed army veteran Vivian Cooke, who suffered from debilitating depression. So she turned to a certain controversial needle. Described by the Beverly Hills Rejuvenation Center as an “injectable dermal filler which uses a form of botulinum toxin,” botox hardly qualifies as natural or spiritual.
But guess what? It worked.
Now I am not saying you should give up meditation and embrace the delicious miracle that is the french fry or run off and get some botox done. I am just trying to point out there are multiple paths toward health and wellness. It is not a linear or black-and-white journey—one size certainly does not fit all.
And it’s totally okay and valid for us to use the most “unspiritual” thing out there if it works. The rest of us need to be enlightened and humble enough to truly respect that choice, lest we—in all our judgmental spiritual goodness—become a part of the problem.
Author: Sheena Vasani
Editor: Nicole Cameron
Copy Editor: Catherine Monkman