This holiday season has been especially hard for me, beginning with the crazy contentious election on November 8, a bad reaction to the prednisone shot my doctor gave me for an injured shoulder on November 9, and then, on November 12, a dear friend of ours died suddenly. He was my age and had seemed to be in excellent health.
December is also when two of my worst traumas happened, so it has always been a challenging time for me. But this year, I almost could not stand living inside my own head! I was wishing I could buy a bottle of wine and drown my sorrows that way. But January 15 will be my 27th anniversary since my last drink of alcohol, and there is no way I want to revisit that insanity. I am one of those people who cannot safely drink. For me, drinking alcohol to make myself feel better, has the same effect as pouring gasoline on a fire to put it out!
Also, because I have had adverse reactions to several different psychotropic medications in the past, I have no desire to go that route again, either. So I did an online search for natural ways to relieve my depression and anxiety, by increasing my brain’s serotonin level.
Walnuts – a Natural Help for Depression and Anxiety?
It may sound nutty, but I discovered that walnuts can naturally increase one’s serotonin. I started eating raw, unsalted walnuts the Tuesday before Christmas, and WOW… the difference inside my head is like night and day! I am now eating one ounce of shelled walnuts, at least twice per day, and my depression and unbearable anxiety are GONE. (I hope I don’t gain any weight, though. One ounce of walnuts contains 200 calories, so I am cutting back on other foods. But even a weight gain would be preferable to the way I was feeling.)
DISCLAIMER: I am not a medical doctor, and this is all anecdotal and subjective. I do not want anyone to read this and decide to go off their meds cold turkey, and eat walnuts, instead!!! When I went off my prescribed antidepressant and anti-anxiety medications several years ago, it almost killed me. I had to do an ultra slow taper, one drug at a time, tapering off just one tiny “flea bite” less of a pill for a couple of weeks to a month, then taking two flea bites off the pill for another 2-4 weeks, and so on. When I felt bad, I would bump my dose back up a flea bite for a week or two. It took me over a year to taper off of everything at that rate. Today, the only prescribed medication I take every day is a thyroid replacement.
In any case, no one should ever go off their prescription medications without close medical supervision! People have lost their minds and ended up in a hospital, in jail, or even dead, from going off their prescribed meds against medical advice.
Bibliotherapy: I’m reading a great psychology book!
In addition to eating walnuts, I am getting a lot of helpful insight from a book written by Harvard psychiatrist Bessel van der Kolk, MD: The Body Keeps The Score. This is by far the most enlightening book I have ever read about the way trauma affects a person’s body and brain — and I have read a library’s worth of psychology and self help books!
Dr. van der Kolk explains the science behind PTSD with photographic images of brain scans, and the details of various scientific studies. His book is helping me to understand, on a visceral level, that my limitations caused by PTSD are truly Not My Fault.
Post-traumatic Stress Disorder isn’t something that we can get under our control with sheer willpower, alone! Although I am only about 1/3 of the way through Dr. van der Kolk’s book, I am already letting go of a great deal of SHAME for not being 100% “over it, already!”
The only thing I do not like about this book is the story of a particular Vietnam veteran Dr. van der Kolk treated years ago. I could have done without those images in my head. My husband is also a combat veteran from the Vietnam war, and he also has PTSD. But my husband is nothing like the man Dr. van der Kolk describes.
So…. eating walnuts, and reading an enlightening, liberating book, have helped me through a very tough Christmas season. How about you? Please share your thoughts in the comments.
Thank you for reading, and God bless. ❤