If you believe that the ”destroying angel” mentioned in D&C 89:21 is symbolic, ask someone who is suffering with Clinical Depression. Ask how it destroys days and years. How it devours individuals along with their families, often into the next generation. For them the “destroying angel” is not symbolic. It is a real disease that destroys both the length and quality of life, one painful day at a time, no matter how many times others may tell them to just “get out of bed and think positive!”
Last week I attended a special evening seminar on “depression” for the Relief Society Sisters in our Ward. An LDS Health professional, who deals with anxiety and depression herself, presented both facts and tools for coping with it. (We started with the understanding that we all have bad days, called “Situational Depression.” It’s when the negative symptoms last longer than two weeks and become physically debilitating that “Clinical Depression” may be considered.) Listing both the symptoms and options for professional/medical help, she spent an equal amount of time on teaching techniques for improving relationships (proactive listening and empathy), stressing that making the most of an “up” time builds a network of support for period” “down” times.
It was an important evening, but I left saddened with what so many of my ward sisters are struggling with. For the next several days the somber spirit and their touching comments followed me like a shadow. Though it occurred to me that diet and exercise were not mentioned that night, I decided it was probably just due to lack of time and the common-sense, obvious importance of both. Or was it?
Several days later I was surprised to receive a business-related phone call from Mandy-Marie Eldredge, a writer and a member of the Church in Highland Utah who has suffered with clinical depression and all that goes with it for 12 long and horrible years. For the past five years, however she has been balanced and whole without drugs and has made telling her story a top priority at both her website and blog. (They are listed at the bottom of the article: www.Deliveredfromdepression.com and www.deliveredfromdepression.blogspot.com) She reported that though her blog was launched less than three months ago, her readership is now several thousand strong and growing rapidly. As she relays the story of her journey in her blog, she is passionate about letting others know they are not alone, either in the suffering or the support and non-drug related resources available.
A recent post from October reads:
“Somewhere in my early belief system I gathered the idea that in order to be strong, I should carry whatever challenges I would have and keep them to myself. I subconsciously believed that I could work out whatever those challenges would be by myself. Somehow I thought that if I just persevered enough, endured enough, and was good enough that I would be okay…I would make it through. After all, isn’t this life about being tested? Subconsciously I believed that I didn’t need anyone else. I had it figured out–by myself. How wrong I was. This early belief said that if I just worked hard enough or just acted a certain way, I would not feel the pain, the loneliness, and the deep dark ugly days of depression. It literally put me on an island in a world filled with people but I was practically by myself. Few knew the struggles I was having. My husband knew and a couple of close friends. For years, that is all who knew.
What started her journey to the light? After sharing with me that she had been on Prozac for 10 years, through prayer she had an inner prompting that she must find the “root cause” of the depression. “I needed to find out if there was something I could do on my own without drugs to address it. If there was even a breath hope for such an answer and healing, I would do whatever was necessary. If not, then I would somehow find a way to accept the fact that I would be Prozac-dependent for the rest of my life.
When I told my doctor, he was open and supportive. He had just finished reading “The Ultra Mind Solution — Fix Your Broken Brain by Healing Your Body First – The Simple Way to Defeat Depression, Overcome Anxiety, and Sharpen Your Mind by Mark Hyman, M.D. and so, of course, I got a copy.
(Note from Carolyn: A quick perusal of this book at Amazon shows 285 5 star reviews and many lengthy health recovery stories of from readers It was published in 2008.)
She and her doctor started with some blood work and determined that although she was not severely allergic to any foods, it would be excellent to follow the eating plan in the book. Mandy-Marie was ready to cut way back on dairy, gluten and sugar. “Not 100%, but 80-85% as it was so overwhelming at first. It made a huge difference. People just don’t understand that what you literally ARE what you eat!”
Dr. Hyman covers optimizing nutrition, balancing hormones, reducing inflammation throughout the body, fixing digestive tract problems, enhancing the body’s detoxification, boosting energy metabolism, and calming the mind itself. Mandy-Marie followed it carefully, including a regimen of vitamins that she faithfully followed for the next 12-18 months. She says:
“I soon noticed that my stomach was starting to feel calm. I hadn’t even realized how distressed it had been for so long. I lost some weight. Far more important, I began to feel and function at a very different place than I had experienced in many years.”
Not surprisingly, the Ultra-Mind Solution counsel on diet parallels all the articles here at Meridian by Jane Birch. Once again, as I discovered when researching my own Osteoperosis through the book “Building Bone Vitality”, it’s the dairy, meats and processed foods that we Americans consider to be acceptable and real “food”, that are at the root of many common American diseases, and now we are including emotional and mental illnesses in the list! Jane Birch says that “Eating a whole-food plant based diet is the best place to start with any illness. It won’t fix everything, but you’ll know within a month or two if the health problem is beyond diet alone.”
For Mandy-Marie, this book that helped her address the needs of her digestive tract and gut health was the beginning to finding the essential pieces to the puzzle. Another important piece for her became the book, “Feelings Buried Alive Never Die”, by LDS author Karol Truman. This book presents life-changing self-communication strategies that are centered in acknowledging the Savior’s omniscient power to heal.
It is interesting to compare Matthew 4:23 with the Joseph Smith Translation:
KJV: And Jesus went about all Galilee teaching in their synagogues and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, healing all manner of sickness and all manner of disease among the people, with the Joseph Smith Translation that reads:
JST: And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all manner of sickness and all manner of disease among the people which believed on his name.
I truly believe that for the Savior, with his divine tenderness and bowels filled with compassion, there was no difference between the need for mental and emotional healings as for diseases that were physically manifest, and I’m quite sure that Mandie-Marie would agree.
At the top of her website is a quote from Elder Holland: “The real growth periods, the real celestial, defining, atoning moments in our lives will…be when we handle the pitch that was thrown to us that wasn’t the pitch we expected or dreamed about…then we get to see the seeds of divinity within us.”
Mandy-Marie continues the thought with not just her response: “God is revealing the divinity within my soul. I am a lot stronger than I thought I was”, but two rich websites filled with comfort, wisdom, and practical resources.
Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, “Like a Broken Vessel”
Feelings Buried Alive Never Die by LDS author Karol Truman
The UltraMind Solution, Mark Hyman, MD
Carolyn Allen is the Author of 60 Seconds to Weight Loss Success, One Minute Inspirations to Change Your Thinking, Your Weight and Your Life, available at her website.
She has been providing mental and spiritual approaches for weight loss success both online and in the Washington, DC community since 1999 presenting for Weight Watchers, First Class, Fairfax County Adult Education and other community groups.
She and her husband Bob are the parents of five children and grandparents of eight. They live in the Washington D.C. area where she is the Primary chorister and they team-teach Missionary Preparation for the Annandale Stake CES Institute program.
Learn more about them and the herbal detox product they share at Meridian!