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Discovering the Root of Depression

Aisling FitzGibbon

Photo credit: Pawel Nowak

Photo credit: Pawel Nowak

It is difficult to heal from depression naturally without the correct guidance and support. As a result of my own experience and training I have a profound understanding of how the body heals and the process involved in each stage of healing. It’s not a linear path of course as there are ups and downs that need careful monitoring. Prioritising your own health above all else is also necessary and it takes mentoring to embody this new way of thinking and being.

I would like to share with you my own story of how I ended up with depression and my healing journey. It is a story of a time when I should have been happy and carefree. What had seemed like a reasonable solution to a health condition resulted in a cascade of symptoms that caused me to lose my health and become severely depressed.

When I was a teenager I had spots and like any teenager this spelled disaster. At a time when I had discovered boys, my skin flared up, leaving me with spots on my chin, neck and back. I tried every potion and lotion on the market that promised clear skin but nothing worked. I tried to camouflage any flare-ups with heavy makeup and concealer but at night when I cleansed my face, the reality would hit me. I felt doomed.

An aunt of mine who had suffered a similar fate in her teenage years told me to go to the doctor for a prescription of antibiotics for acne to clear up my skin.  My mum who is a strong advocate for looking at what causes symptoms and followed natural healing was against my decision.  However at the age of 16 I felt invincible and I reasoned that a course of Tetracycline would do me no harm. After all it is a regularly prescribed medication for cases of acne and spots.

I took the medication and my skin cleared up. However once my 3 month prescription was up and I stopped taking the antibiotics the spots returned with a vengeance. Without thinking I took a prescription for another 3 months. My skin cleared yet again and all was well in my world. Or so I believed.

For my summer holiday that year we went to Lake Garda in Italy. While I was there I ate pasta and although in the past I never had problems with it, this time I felt different. I became bloated after every meal and had a lot of abdominal pain. When I returned from holiday the pain was so severe that I ended up in casualty and was told by the doctor that I had irritable bowel syndrome. I was advised to take peppermint capsules after each meal but this afforded little relief.

I also noticed that my energy levels were considerably lowered. I tried to counteract this by going to the gym and spending time pounding on the treadmill and doing weights. I was doing a split shift waitressing job that summer and no matter what I did I could feel my life force diminishing and with it my mood.

There was no talking to me at that stage about diet and supplements. I felt profoundly unwell and wanted a quick solution.  I went to my GP who, after listening to my symptoms, prescribed a drug for epilepsy. Seemingly this is prescribed for people with bipolar disease. I was not then and am not bipolar so I threw away the prescription. 

I went on a holiday with some friends in the autumn but despite spending time in the sun and relaxing by the pool I felt on edge and anxious. When I returned home I felt exhausted and unable to get on with my life. I felt horribly depressed and wanted an answer. I went to a psychiatrist at this point who agreed I had depression and was prescribed an antidepressant. Although I took this for four years I still remained low in energy. I was coping but not really living at a time in my life when I should have been having a carefree existence.   

When the student is ready the teacher really does appear. In the summer of 2010, once I had finished my degree in Occupational Therapy I went to see Nutritionist and author Barbara Wren who encouraged me to see the connections between the medication I had taken prior to getting ill and how they had caused me to become depressed.   

I had used antibiotics for my skin which in turn had affected my gut flora to such an extent that I developed IBS. I experienced a gradual lowering of my energy as antibiotics like tetracycline cause mitochondrial dysfunction. They can damage the way the cells produce energy. The end result was that my energy plummeted and I became depressed.

“Tetracyclines have a particular toxic effect on the gut wall by altering protein structures in the mucus membranes. This in turn does two things. First it makes the gut wall anatomically vulnerable to invasion by pathogenic microbes; second, it alerts the immune system to attack these changed proteins, starting an auto- immune reaction in the body against its own gut. In parallel, tetracyclines stimulate grown of disease- causing Candida fungus, Staphylococci and Clostridia in the digestive tract.”

(Extract from Gut and Psychology Syndrome by Dr Natasha Campbell Mcbride)  

The good news was that I recovered from changing my diet, drinking non-fluoridated water and from taking supplements that restored my biochemistry. I also made lifestyle changes and fully engaged in my journey back to full health. Healing was like peeling layers from an onion. When my energy came up and my mood improved I knew I was on the right track. As my body began to throw off toxicity at one point my skin erupted and then it healed. It followed Hering's Law of Cure which states that all cure starts from within out, from the head down and in reverse order as the symptoms have appeared or been suppressed.

No doctor had ever mentioned that the antibiotics I had taken for my skin could damage my gut flora or that they could reduce my energy. Suppression in my case had led to depression. When I recovered I knew that I wanted to train in a profession that looked at what caused illness and supported the body to heal naturally. I know now and knew even back then that this had happened to me for a reason. The reason was that once I recovered that I was to help others to regain their health.

Many of my clients who suffer from low energy and mood disorders have a history of suppression. They have used medications such as antibiotics for what were minor illnesses, not realising what the antibiotics were doing. The antibiotics arrested their bodies’ attempts to cleanse and in doing so pushed the toxicity deeper. Toxins in the cells impede the body’s ability to cleanse and to absorb nutrients. Instead of having a spring clean, the rubbish is pushed under the carpet, giving the appearance that the person has recovered from symptoms and is so- called well.

A particular client of mine had been given antibiotics for a yearly chest infection for over 25 years. After so much suppression the toxicity had gone to the deepest level of the mind and he ended up taking drugs for depression and chronic social anxiety. When the presenting illness is at the mind level, it is at the deepest level of all, blocking the cell from the light which arrests further growth and development.  

Peeling away the layers of suppression is an art form and needs a lot of guidance and support. The process of healing does not just consist of diet, supplements and techniques, it also involves cultivating the right mind-set for healing on this journey of trust. It also involves learning to interpret symptoms and respond in the right way.

During the process of healing, the body will begin to eliminate stored toxins and residues of medications. This can feel uncomfortable at times as the organs of elimination are now being forced to work overtime. Huge emotional support is needed at this point to provide an understanding as to what is happening and how best to deal with it. I provide the education and the rationale behind each stage to ensure my clients feel safe and secure undergoing their healing journey. By scaffolding the healing experience I help reduce the stress response so that the healing can go into the body where it is needed rather than into the mind that is stuck in a loop of trying to figure things out with constant googling. A vital part of my treatment is to get people to identify with the well part of themselves that may not be initially apparent when the energy is too low.  

The gems for me are found in each client’s journey of discovery when they begin to join their own dots as their awareness and perception reach new heights. Physical healing goes hand in hand with raised perception. I feel honoured to be part of people’s own reconnection to themselves and to their personal transformation.

My experience taught me that for every action we take in life there is an equal reaction and that we cannot tamper with our health without consequences. I could have stayed stuck at that juncture in my life being labelled as someone with depression who was dependent on medication. But I knew that in the future I wanted to be a mother and for that I needed to be able to regain my health. I knew that I didn’t want to pass my deficiencies onto the next generation.

Looking back I believe that it was my inner knowing and my overriding desire to get better that prompted me to take the leap into the unknown. I landed quite comfortably on the other side. I, who had known nothing about coming off medication was willing to learn how to do it and I did, one careful step at a time. I may have lost some of my younger years to depression but my experience led me to understand how the body and mind works and how it heals. It led me onto my life’s path as a Nutritional Therapist and an Energy Transformation Coach.

If you want help with your health challenge please get in touch over a private message on facebook or by email alchemywithaisling@gmail.com