Overcome symptoms of depression? Impossible? In all honesty, I don’t remember a single day without major symptoms of depression, overwhelming sadness, anger, and despair before the age of 25.
As a young child, I remember envisioning myself in a spotless white room, wearing spotless white clothes, sitting on a spotless white bed, and eating food from a spotless white plate fed to me under a spotless white door. The vision appealed to me because the room was perfect. I was perfect. And even more importantly, being alone meant I couldn’t hurt anyone. In this condition, I thought, it would be possible to overcome any temptation…because I would have none. I would be perfect forever. Protected. Insulated. At the time of this vision, I had never heard of white room torture , nor did I understand the damage it causes. My perception of this vision, however, shows just how distorted my perception of reality actually was.
Depression, Overwhelming Sadness, Anger, and Despair
When I was an infant, my grandfather – a retired Veteran – called me “sober sides.” Starting at birth and into young adulthood, I lacked any real understanding of what happiness was, because I had never actually felt it. I was depressed. Chronically depressed. My highs were mediocre, at best. My default was “low” (with symptoms of depression, overwhelming anger, sadness, and despair) which, on the other hand, provided substantial stress for everyone involved; especially for me. Losing control was like experiencing a reoccurring, daily, traumatic nightmare, in which an ugly monster would overcome my identity, take complete control of my body, and wreak absolute havoc. Watching in horror, I lacked the strength or power to protect anyone from it….
Connected to myself once again, the reality of my actions would then fall full force, and I hated myself for it. Why did I do that? Why couldn’t I stop? I knew something was terribly wrong. I also knew — with conviction — that God would never create these symptoms of depression, overwhelming sadness, anger, and despair within me without a way out…but I had no idea what that way was. As much as I wanted to believe that I could overcome symptoms of depression, I feared it wasn’t possible.
Though I never gave up completely, I experienced so many failed attempts at relationships over the years that I lost faith in my worth, myself, my strength, and in others, as I pushed loved ones away. I still experienced symptoms of depression, overwhelming sadness, anger, and despair during my teen years, so I spent most of my time outside of work and school alone, or made myself excessively busy to avoid vulnerable relationships in general. It seemed like the most loving thing to do.
Prozac Side-Effects and the Benefits of Fish Oil Supplements
My parents didn’t know how to help me either. They tried counseling, positive affirmations, and a myriad of parenting books. Bless their hearts; they tried! But after years of trial-and-error, my behavioral improvements were minimal, at best. Out of desperation, my mother eventually made an appointment with our family doctor to address the issue. Prozac – a new drug at that time – was prescribed. Apparently, it was the cure-all that would help me overcome symptoms of depression. “It’s not your fault,” my pediatrician said. “It’s genetic. You were born this way. And you’ll probably have to take this for the rest of your life. Prozac side-effects aren’t that bad!”
I didn’t like the sound of that.
For the record, Prozac side-effects can be horrid. While it did mask the anger issue, it also caused me extreme exhaustion and absentmindedness. I also found myself unable to empathize or connect with others, and my libido was virtually nonexistent. During the first week of taking Prozac, I was literally overcome with an insatiable need to yawn every two seconds. That symptom eventually subsided, but I can still yawn on command to this day! (One of my many hidden talents)
Overcome Overwhelming Sadness, Anger, and Despair
Over the next ten years, I tried countless times to wean myself off of Prozac. I’d heard about the ‘benefits of fish oil supplements’ and its ‘positive effects on depression.’ No worky. Did I try Saint John’s Wart? Yup. I also tried positive self-talk, affirmations, self-help books, competitive running, scripture reading/prayer, wholesome recreational activities…you name it, I tried it! While all of these therapies hold value — and they certainly didn’t make my life any worse – they, unfortunately, had very little lasting effect on my mood. Depression, overwhelming sadness, anger, and despair prevailed. Eventually, I resorted to the fact that I was fighting a losing battle. I rationalized that I could learn humility from being a druggie for the rest of my life and deal with Prozac side-effects. I also figured that surely, God would reward my prayers for healing with healing…once I was dead. #enduretotheend
When I look back, my problem wasn’t an unwillingness, nor lack of effort. On the contrary; I spent an excessive amount of energy “doing,” achieving, and striving to overcome my weaknesses. I regularly competed for #1 status in every endeavor. However, whether I was willing to admit it or not, I did not believe God would help me overcome depression. I assumed, rather, that if I wanted any measure of improvement in my life, only I could produce results, and only through concerted efforts on my part.
Over the course of my adolescent and young-adult years, my loving dad consistently encouraged me to “Utilize the Atonement!” He always proclaimed these words with vigor, a smile, and a twinkle in his eye, as if it were the answer to all of life’s problems. Sigh…I love you daddy…but could you have been any more ambiguous? I understood that Christ had already “saved” me though the Atonement, but perhaps His job was done? He’d already paid for my sins…very nice of Him. He understood me completely. Great. But as I understood it, God was still under no obligation to take my depression away. Little did I understand then how right my dad was. The Atonement really is the answer to all of life’s problems. How, you ask?
Prayers for Healing
Everything changed the day I stopped ‘trying’ to heal on my own and started leveraging prayers for healing instead. In other words, I decided that God was going to heal me whether He liked it or not.
I was on a phone call with my mom, who had also been taking Prozac for a number of years. She mentioned to me that she had recently gone to her doctor. Her reason? She had been feeling increasingly lethargic and unmotivated. After explaining her concerns, her doctor listed a myriad of long-term Prozac side effects. Lack of motivation, laziness, and disinterest in life topped the list. In other words, I was headed for the prestigious position of “professional couch potato.” After ending the call, I felt the all-too-familiar overwhelming sadness, anger, and despair building up in my chest. “No, no, no, NO…NOT ME! I can’t let this happen to me…I won’t!” Overcome with frustration, I grasped my head and fell to my knees, the fire in my chest now spreading like a vengeance throughout my entire body. I looked up.
And then it happened…I saw hope. From where I’m not sure, but after pausing for a moment, I literally threw up my hands in surrender and called out in prayer. I’d offered many prayers for healing before, but this prayer was different. It was not a request. There was no “please,” no “maybe could you….” It was a 100% convicted, resolute command. “God!” I shouted. “You made me! You know how to fix me so…fix me! I don’t want to be depressed anymore!” I’d reached my limit, and I was done trying. I needed results, and I needed them now. I also knew full-well that I was asking for a miracle. Then I went about my day, my week, my month…and I kept my eyes and ears and heart open.
Decision to Overcome Symptoms of Depression
A little over a month later, I was a guest at a wedding I almost decided not to attend — and the TV was on. I didn’t normally watch TV, but the day’s program just happened to be featuring a health-expert touting the benefits of omega-3 fatty acids and the topic interested me. (I wish I could remember the program or who the expert was. Unfortunately, it’s long-gone from my memory). After delivering some legitimately good arguments in favor of omega-3 fatty acids, he mentioned, rather off-handedly, “You know, I find it extremely interesting that Greenland is one of the darkest places on earth, and yet they have the lowest incidence of depression in the world. I think it’s because the people of Greenland eat so much fish!”*
That got me thinking. I felt quite sure that eating omega-3 fatty acids and fish wouldn’t help my depression, but the idea sounded healthy…so I figured I’d give it a try. I started eating more omega-3 fatty acids and consumed fish three times a week, maintaining routine consistency for exactly three months. That’s when I forgot to pick up my Prozac prescription.
“I offered a prayer of thanks, and then I cried, which was something I hadn’t been able to do for a very long time.“
Decision to Overcome Prozac
By day three of not taking my Prozac subscription, I should have been a total mess…and it was day five. When I realized how long it had been, I rushed to grab my purse, mumbling to myself, “I can’t believe I forgot….” Stopping mid-sentence, I froze in the middle of the room. I observed. I took a critical self-inventory of the past five days. And then I realized…I was completely and totally ok. Like…better than ok. I felt really good! This was…crazy. And incredible. How…. Sitting on the side of the bed, overcome with emotion, I offered a prayer of thanks. Then I cried, which was something I hadn’t been able to do for a very long time. That felt good too.
It’s been almost twelve years since that day, and I’ve never filled another Prozac or anti-depressant prescription. I haven’t struggled with chronic symptoms of depression either. However, I did have to eat fish 3x/week religiously for several years, and I struggled when I wasn’t consistent about it. I even bought a years’ supply of canned salmon and tuna** …just in “case.” If society collapses, I want to be sane, and fish is a tonic against symptoms of depression (overwhelming sadness, anger, and despair). Shortly after sharing my success story with my mom, she decided to try the fish/drug swap. She didn’t actually believe it would work either, but 2020 now celebrates her 11th year of Prozac sobriety.
You Can Overcome Symptoms of Depression
Several years ago, I discovered an article about the benefits of omega 3’s, fish, and mood that stressed the importance of eating fish consistently for at least three months in order to have a calming effect on the body. (I found a similar article on the benefits of fish oil supplements and omega-3 fatty acids here.) I am now fully convinced that, under any other circumstance, I wouldn’t have “forgotten” to get my prescription. Yet, due to my prayers for healing, something prevented me from remembering my prescription at the precise time I needed to stop taking it.
Had I “forgotten” sooner (before three months), the effects of eating fish would have not yet been apparent. I may have assumed that eating fish doesn’t help depression at all. Had I waited any longer (longer than three months), I may have fallen-off the bandwagon or stopped eating fish as religiously. I may never have overcome depression because I never would have realized it was working.
I may never have overcome depression because I never would have realized it was working.
Once I realized that I could overcome depression and had some control over my mental health, I immersed myself in learning as much as I could about natural healing. I knew I still had a long way to go, but for the first time in my life, I had substantial hope. In comparison, it was as if a seemingly-impenetrable wall had been completely obliterated. With the wall now gone, life required me to simply step forward, and try not to trip too much over the rubble.
More than ever before, I felt loved by a Father in Heaven — who I had always believed in — but who I had also doubted terribly. But God is kind, and forgiving, and good. In His perfect timing, He had simply been waiting for me to be willing and ready to use prayers for healing to ask Him for help. Necessarily, I also had to be willing to accept His healing grace completely. I could almost hear Him saying, “She’s ready! Pull all the stops!” Ready. Set…Go!
My Healing Journey
Thus began my healing journey. In the 12 years following my initial discovery that freed me from symptoms of depression and Prozac side-effects, I experienced a series of major cataclysmic life events. These upheavals manifested as chronic medical conditions, heartbreak, loneliness, challenges to my faith and moral compass, painful realizations, being overcome by stress, fear, and other life-altering opportunities that gave me the ability to heal in ways I never thought possible.
There were times when I was terrified, humiliated, stretched and tested more than I could tolerate…but that’s exactly the point. In these various situations, I recognized that — similar to my fight against symptoms of depression — I could not overcome any of them by any earthly means. As a result, I made the decision to relinquish control and call upon God for deliverance, because in each of these instances — without divine intervention — I knew I was lost. As these life-events manifested, I would have given almost anything to avert these experiences at the time. In hindsight, however, I know now that these decisions — combined with the healing power of The Atonement — were invaluable; a necessary part of my healing journey; and worth far more than a life of ease ever could have provided.
Decide You Will Overcome Symptoms of Depression
My hope and desire for those who have lost all hope is to know that the path to complete recovery (including the ability to overcome symptoms of depression, overwhelming sadness, anger, and despair, or any other mental or physical illness, addiction, or struggle) is not for the faint of heart, but is absolutely and entirely possible for you. You CAN experience true and lasting joy in this life. If you truly believe that ‘with God all things are possible,’ cling to that belief and make the decision to hold on! If you don’t believe in God, now would be a great time to start exploring that relationship. Make the decision that your journey to your true identity and purpose — hidden beneath whatever dysfunction or disorder ails you — starts here. Right now. Today. Make the decision to decide.
Recipe for a Miracle:
100% BELIEVE (Day of decision: I’m ready for change)
100% SURRENDER (I’m dying (physically, spiritually, emotionally, relationship). Save me!)
100% RECEIVE (Forgiveness. I accept whatever comes. Thy will be done.)
*I have since looked up the rate of depression in Greenland and it appears to be astoundingly high. My point in writing his article is not to prove or disprove that a health-expert’s data on Greenland was or was not correct back in 2008. My point is, rather, that his message led me to choices that would eradicate symptoms of depression in my life. It was exactly what God needed me to hear at that time…and that has made all the difference.
**Experts suggest eating certain fish sparingly.
**Eat a variety of different fish.
**Salmon is my personal favorite.
**Sustainably harvested fish and wild caught fish are typically best (rather than farmed).
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