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May 29, 2019

Why Traditional Drug Therapies can’t be the only Answer for Mental Health.

 

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When I was 13 years old, my world collapsed.

I unexpectedly came crashing down when school became an everyday agony.

Severely anxious, depressed, and ridden with fears and phobias, I faced countless other symptoms, including excessive stomachaches and headaches.

Unable to get out the door, I felt like I couldn’t go on anymore, and my weakened brain forced me to withdraw from the public school system that I had been enrolled in for nine years. With no explanation for family, friends, teachers, doctors, and even myself, I was faced with countless appointments with doctors and therapists and 14 different psych medications in 11 months.

Patience and time against me, I was growing worse.

Many highly educated doctors who were put on my case only had answers that involved more psych medication and increasing counseling sessions. I was almost convinced I had to live with anxiety and learn to manage it for the rest of my life, as numerous people told me.

But my body and brain were failing me and there was something more to the puzzle.

Months later, with me at rock bottom, my mom finally lost faith in our conventional medical system, desperately picked up the phone, and dialed the number of a naturopathic facility.

We were directed to a place I now refer to as the community that saved my life.

I’ve always tried to keep an open mind and accept ways that people live their lives. I’ve never judged or thought negatively of holistic medicine or practices. I have always admired people who strived for a green life, and struggled to think why humans would have issues with naturality.

But over time, America seems to have gotten drunk on the seemingly instant results of medications. TV commercials make it sound as though drugs are the only solution to your problems.

For the most part, in my world, when holistic or natural healthcare is mentioned, minds conjure up immediate labels, even if lightly taken—witchcraft, crazy, voodoo, fake, non-evidence based diagnosis, and not “real” medicine.

I say otherwise.

After a long and taxing period of extensive, intricate lab testing with a brilliant naturopathic doctor who analyzed it all, there was finally an answer.

Bitten by a tick at three years old, and now almost 15 at that point, my body had been a haven for numerous infections, viruses, and parasites.

Lyme disease had wreaked havoc on my body and lifestyle for nearly 12 grievous years—unbeknownst to me, my family, and countless doctors. Add to that, my body was fighting chronic Strep, also undiagnosed for eight years, which led to an additional diagnosis of PANDAS (Pediatric Autoimmune Neuropsychiatric Disorders Associated with Strep).

No wonder why my brain was producing the symptom of anxiety. My poor immune system could barely keep pace with all the infection it was dealing with, and was stressed to the max.

My treatment was long, extensive, and included a combination of holistic practices. I could write in-depth articles about each element: Lyme Magnetic Protocol Therapy, a strict diet (gluten, dairy, and sugar free), regular lab work to monitor vitamins and other markers, clinical hypnosis, and more. The point here is that, I believe, in many cases, there is an actual medical reason for various mental health symptoms.

The truth is, there can be lots of ways to alleviate the symptoms of anxiety, including five-minute yoga breathing techniques, meditation, diet, and much more. It’s complicated, and can take time to figure out, but with patience, and the right healthcare providers–generally reputable holistic practitioners in my experience—it may be possible.

And if you do figure it out, it’s worth it.

I was remarkably lucky to find a cure, but it hurts me knowing others are out there still suffering who have a chance at recovery.

I do believe that traditional doctors tried their best to help me by addressing each specific symptom, whereas my holistic team dug for the overall root of the problem and looked at the whole picture, which I found incredibly logical and effective. I no longer hold onto anger toward western MDs and mental health practitioners. They are good people, devoting their lives to helping others.

Regrettably, I believe, most were just never given the training able to recognize the cause of my illness, which is unfortunate because mental illness is so prevalent today. And certainly in the case of Lyme disease and Strep, they are common conditions afflicting many.

Tick-borne and Strep infections took so much away from me, yet they gave so much to me in return.

Instead of having typical teenage years, I was educated in a different way, beyond imagination, beyond what any school system offers. Through my experience, I have become driven for success with a new outlook on life. Healing is like breathing in a fresh, crisp breath after years of being trapped in my own despair.

To this day, my healing team remains determined to guide me to my fullest potential, a lifelong endeavor, I know. But considering countless doctors told me mental illness was something I’d have to cope with for the rest of my life, I will be forever grateful for alternative medicine.

If you or a loved one struggles with mental illness, there could be an answer other than prescription drugs. Tap into your intuition and seek out what feels right for you. It’s your body, and not somebody else’s to tamper with.

Personally, I encourage you to advocate for yourself, and dig for answers other than counseling and traditional drug therapies. You never know where it might take you. I know healing from anxiety, not just managing it, is possible.

 

author: Caroline Snyder

Image: Author's Own

Image: @Ecofolks

Editor: Catherine Monkman

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Caroline Snyder

Caroline Snyder is a 16-year-old high school student who developed a passion for holistic medicine when she experienced successful healing from severe Lyme Disease. Read about her holistic health journey at her website.