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How I Went From Anti-Depressants To Nutrition & A Natural Supplement

  • Published on: 22 March, 2014
  • Last update: 10 August, 2017

I truly don’t know how to start this post. I’ve been sitting here staring at the screen and I just keep coming up blank. When did my depression even begin? That’s a really tough question, and is what’s so difficult about depression in general. You don’t know when it started, you don’t know how it happened, and most of the time you don’t even know what it is. I guess I would describe it as a feeling of emptiness that nothing could fill: friends, food, meds, etc.

I was always sensitive growing up. I was emotional and very worrisome – I would stay up all night when I was in Pre-K worrying that I’d get in trouble the next day or I’d hear my name on the PA system and have to go to the office (even though I was the most well-behaved child EVER!) I think it’s because I was very smart and almost hyper-aware of everything going on around me. I’m an only child and always had to think of creative ways to keep myself entertained, so needless to say my mind easily wandered and sometimes came up with crazy situations that could never happen but gave me endless nights of anxiety. I even saw a childhood therapist for that anxiety to teach me how to relax each muscle in my body and avoid panic attacks.

“Happiness in intelligent people is the rarest thing I know.” -Ernest Hemingway
Here’s the thing. I was always “DIFFERENT.” I felt it and was sure reminded of it! I was bullied a lot and made better friends with my teachers than with most other kids. I was called fat, four eyes, chubby, buck teeth, anything you could think of. I sang Italian opera and wasn’t exactly “popular,” but adults sure appreciated me!

As an “old soul,” I would rather talk about real things with the grown-ups than play pretend with other kids, and was very easily bored with things that were supposed to be normal or make me sit still. I was intelligent, and I was aware of what was going on in the world. As I got older this really isolated me.

I’ll never forget the year I stopped being who I was meant to be and started focusing on being accepted. For the first three months of sixth grade, I wore whatever I wanted. And what I wanted was knee-high neon pink and green spiral converse, bright orange skirts, and polka dot tops. Ask anyone who I grew up with and they will vouch for this. I would be late for school because I was twisting every single 1 inch section of my hair into butterfly clips looking like Jada from The Matrix or making my ponytail stand up like Cindy Lou Whoo from the Grinch. This was normal to me; it was who I was and it made life FUN! But the kids in the cafeteria didn’t feel the same. I made my mom go with me to buy t-shirts and jeans like the other kids. My teachers actually pulled me aside to ask if everything was OK… “Why are you wearing jeans?”

Fast forward to my teenage years. The bright clothing and crazy hairstyles were behind me and I was doing a great job at blending in with people my age. I still suffered from the severe anxiety I had as a kid, which eventually turned into social anxiety, but I had a great group of friends in high school. During my junior year, I went through a lot of changes and was experiencing normal teenage problems (arguments with parents or friends, feeling “misunderstood”) but for some reason things started to spiral out of control.

I began to put on a lot of weight and ate junk to cover my feelings. I sat in my room in the dark all the time just doing nothing on the computer. I tried to go out and hang with friends but it all felt empty and forced and I just wanted to go right back home to be alone in my comfort zone. One day I was folding clothes and while staring at a shirt I just started bawling. I told my mom I had been thinking that life wasn’t worth it and it would be easier if I wasn’t here.

My mother has actually had depression all her life. She had a really rough childhood that left a mark on her and has never been able to function without anti-depressants or anxiety medications. She understood exactly how hopeless I felt and took me to my first psychiatrist… an experience I had to go through to be where I am today.

Once in the psych’s office, I let it all out. I felt bored. sad. angry. helpless. stuck. tearful. no energy. Instead of my psychiatrist asking what I was doing in life (or NOT doing) to make myself feel this way, she told me that drugs would fix everything. In a mere 30 minutes I was handed a script for Lexapro to cover what she told me was “major depressive disorder” and “generalized anxiety disorder.” I had…. disorders? I was broken? At least this pill could fix me… right?

Right!… for 3 weeks. At first it was bliss. The pills started kicking in the first week and the darkness lifted. I had motivation to get out bed for the first time in months. I actually wanted to exercise and look good. But by the third week, the momentum came to a crawling halt. I went back to my psychiatrist and told her what was happening. She said I was only on the “minimum therapeutic dose” and definitely needed more. We went up to 15 mg for almost a year. I still felt better than I did and was able to lose 40 lbs during that time, but I developed a tolerance once again and lost momentum. So we went up to 20.

After being on 20 mg for another 6 months, I became a zombie. I wasn’t exactly sad but I wasn’t…anything. I had no sex drive and was tired constantly. My weight loss that I was so proud of started to reverse, no matter how hard I worked out or how healthy I ate. I became “depressed” ONCE AGAIN and decided it was time to get off of these drugs that I once thought were the answer. At this point I was dating Nick and we were beginning to learn about nutrition and alternative medicine. He saw me through some of my worst times when I quit that drug.

This post is already way too long so I’ll say this: I would not wish Lexapro withdrawal on anyone. I tapered off and everything but still went through hell. I was crying all the time, convinced no one loved me, I had severe episodes of mania and mood swings. I was panicked thinking people were going to “leave me” I felt “brain zaps” every 5 minutes that kept me up at night. I wanted to die.

I had no idea what to do! Even though I had lost 40 lbs a year or so before, I did it by calorie counting and portion control. I was NOT eating actual real food, and was making a lot of my snacks Nutrigrain bars and things of that nature because they were 130 calories. After some intense googling, I read that diet alone can alleviate depression symptoms.

So what did I do? First and foremost, I went gluten free. This helped a LOT because the wheat we have today in the U.S. is hybridized and different from the varieties people have been eating without issues for years, see video here. But most importantly, it helped because it made me stop eating packaged foods since they all had gluten. Nick and I began shopping at Trader Joes and working out. We made a lot of meals from scratch and REALLY tried, although we were beginners and still had tons of GMOs on those plates thinking back. This was right around the time I started the health instagram I have today.

Within the first week of eating gluten-free home-cooked food, I felt better. Definitely not 100% or even 50%, but better and that’s all that mattered. Through more googling, I discovered that other countries don’t prescribe antidepressant drugs the way America does.

I found out that Europe actually gives people an over the counter supplement! It’s kind of like a vitamin. It’s called SAM-e (S-adenosylmethionine), and it’s a compound formed naturally in the body from the essential amino acid methionine and adenosine triphosphate (ATP), the energy-producing compound found in all cells in the body. It was first discovered in 1953.

It turns out that a lot of the time, depression is caused by the brain simply not creating enough
S-adenosylmethionine naturally. With additional help from vitamin B-12 and folic acid, SAM-e relinquishes a methyl group from its composition to surrounding tissues and organs. Through this action, SAM-e helps with the maintenance of cell membranes, removal of toxic substances from the body, and the production of mood-enhancing neurotransmitters.

Why would my brain not have enough methionine to produce SAM-e? Because my diet SUCKED and I was eating GMOs and drinking fluoride! My brain was clogged with toxins that a natural supply of SAM-e should have been removing, and my body was not being filled with the proper foods that would provide it with the methionine to make SAM-e.

Let me tell you something. I have never felt so lucky and grateful as I did the first week I took SAM-e. I felt NORMAL. I felt GOOD. I felt FUNCTIONING. I stopped crying. Everything did a 180 turn in my life and my brain kick-started into overdrive. I began researching nutrition and natural supplements/alternative medicine like SAM-e and realized that the pharmaceutical industry and pills just cover up the problem! Pretty soon your brain gets used to the drug and needs more – or worse it stops working altogether! My mom has been on 6 different antidepressants because she keeps getting used to them and needs to change them up. My antidepressants were a band-aid to the real problem, and getting off of them almost made me take my own life. If something as simple as a supplement like SAM-e could heal my horrible thoughts, what other simple things was I missing?

I kept researching the symptoms I had felt all my life and found out about “MTHFR.” In 2003, a genetic study called the Human Genome Project was completed. Through that study, scientists discovered that an important gene towards health and well-being called the methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase (MTHFR) was defective in 50% of the population!!!

What does that mean? Well, the MTHFR enzyme works with the folate vitamins (B9, folic acid), breaking them down. Once broken down, THOSE vitamins help convert the amino acid homocysteine down to another essential amino acid, methionine, which we just talked about. Methionine helps with depression and even inflammation. Methionine is converted in your liver into SAM-e (s-adenosylmethionine). When you have a defective MTHFR gene, you DON’T break down folate/B vitamins and DON’t break down homocysteine into methionine which = SAM-e.

I went to the doctor to get tested and it turns out I have the MTHFR defect, which once again he confirmed to me was extremely common: 40-50% of the population.

So NOW WE KNOW why SAM-e was so freaking effective. Even if you don’t have the defect, SAM-estill helps with depression because it is anti-inflammatory, supports your immune system, helps produce then breakdown of your brain chemicals serotonin, dopamine and melatonin, and is involved in the growth, repair and maintenance of your cells. I was in an even worse boat because I do have MTHFR and therefore had almost no SAM-e naturally occurring in my brain.

If this information is known and available, why are we still giving out toxic meds instead of using SAM-e the way Europe does? They PRESCRIBE it. Here it’s just a supplement on a shelf that gets no attention. I want everyone to know that SAM-e can naturally help them and is not toxic whatsoever.

What about all the stuff you made us read up there about your childhood?
Oh yes… we’re getting to that. Through my discovery of nutrition, natural healing, SAM-e, my MTHFR gene, and the toxic poisonous food in America, I regained the “differentness” I had as a kid. This time it wasn’t with pink knee-high converse (which certainly was my passion at the time) but was with my new-found passion and mission, nutrition. I was now different because I was choosing to stay home on the weekends and read instead of going out to parties. I stopped trying to conform and spent my time doing what I wanted to do: blogging, writing, researching, sharing, helping. It’s still hard because I’m in college and society tells me I should be “enjoying my golden years” by binge drinking in basements and making bad decisions.

But I had to accept it. I’m not an average college kid. Drinking and hooking up with guys does not make me happy. Do I still get jealous when I see pictures of girls my age going out every night in a brand new outfit having what looks to be a blast? Sometimes. But I remember how upset I was in 6th grade when I started wearing jeans. I’m not going to make that mistake again, and I’m not going to do something everyone else is doing because I feel like I’ll miss out or stick out. 

This is me, this is what I was sent here to do, and this is what I love. 
A big reason I became depressed in the first place is because I STOPPED doing what I love… I STOPPED doing things that made me have fun and feel passionate, even if it was twisting my hair up and designing crazy outfits. I had always been the “little adult” and “old soul” that needed intellectual stimulation and learning to feel satisfied in life. And I completely ignored that when I started to get really depressed.

I stopped dancing and singing when I tried to be like everyone else in cruel old middle/high school. I stopped being enchanted by stories when I forgot there was so much to learn. I stopped finding comfort in the territory of silence because I hated the silence… it made me look inside myself to who I really was, and I knew I was ignoring that girl.

In Conclusion:
1) Ask your doctor if SAM-e is right for you.
In a 1999 Newsweek article, “What is SAMe” authors Geoffrey Cowley and Anne Underwood state that: “SAMe doesn’t seem to cause adverse effects, even at high doses” I wrote my own Amazon review a year back but here are some great ones to look at:

2) EAT REAL FOOD (with balance of course): consume more vegetables, give your body vitamins and minerals.
When you clear your colon and intestinal tract, you free your mind. 90% of your serotonin is made in your gut. Give your brain the nutrients it needs to help YOU! Eat tons of avocados, which contain glutathione and will detox heavy metals from the brain.
3) TAKE A PROBIOTIC!
To see the importance of a probiotic, read my article here. I take Dr.Ohhira’s Probiotics Original Formula. Like I said, 90% of your serotonin is made in your gut and if you don’t have the proper GOOD bacteria there, your body can’t make it!
4) STOP forgetting what you love, START doing the things that make you feel alive. Whatever you do while you procrastinate is what you should turn into your “job” because that’s where your heart is. You don’t need to work somewhere that you hate.
Mold your career around your passion. Take whatever it is you LOVE, and throw yourself in it. My friend loves makeup, made a blog about it, and is forming it into a career. Another person I know is selling soaps and handmade cosmetics on Etsy. I made this blog and it’s turning into…something? A career? Who knows. It has shown me WHAT I want to do and has given my life purpose.
5) Exercise. Every. Day.
Food is the most widely used anti-anxiety “drug,” why is exercise the most underutilized anti-depressant? In studies, exercising daily for 45 minutes was shown JUST AS EFFECTIVE as taking a pill. Go out there and get those endorphins.
6) Dance. Sing. Laugh. Read Books.
Don’t get too busy and forget to do those things. Start every day with stretching, meditation, and laughing. Write a journal. Write songs. Do something to let your creative spirit shine.

I truly hope this helped someone. If you read this far, thank you.

 

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21 Comments

dana

Reply
We love you Penelope <3 Thank you for reading and growing with us.

Zoltan

Reply
I am currently on a candida diet, since this yeast infection gave me CFS for more than 6 years, as well as anxiety for 2 years. Can I also start taking SAM-e now, as my body is eliminating toxins due to the candida die-off?

Maikayla

Reply
<3 I can't tell you how much love and appreciation I have for you! You're such a strong woman Olivia, I remember reading your posts since before you created the parasite cleanse! I've loved watching your amazing transformation. I never had to venture into this area of your blog, but due to a recent traumatic event it was necessary. I didn't come across this blog post before because it didn't pertain to my life at the time. But i'm so happy I thought to search here for some answers. I've felt so much despair, and I've had no motivation, no passion, no desires. My counselor made it seem like the only hope was going on medication, because I wasn't getting any better, and each time I hit the "dark place" of the depression it was getting deeper and deeper. The same way you felt, as if people were going to leave you, as if it would be easier to just not be such a burden or a downer all the time. I've always been against taking medication though.. I dream of healing people through nutrition also and I felt defeated almost, like how could I heal other people if I couldn't figure out how to heal myself. I found out about the herbs Rhodolia an adaptogen to help balance my hormones and Mucuna which has the only natural sources known of L.dopa (dopamine), I take them two weeks on and one week off. This is a reminder to stay on top of the healthy habits, the probiotics. I've been eating black beans for the folic acid, two handfuls of cashews for the serotonin, leafy greens, and one of your favorites, yams since they also contain magnesium and Epsom salt baths 😉 Ginger tea with turmeric, cinnamon, and Makuna Honey. Hydrilla Verticillata powder is something else other people may want to look into! It is a SUPERFOOD containing many of the B-vitamins. Flaxseed oil for Omega-3's. I also am including more exercise and Vibrational Medicine to help the subtle energy bodies. A couple of books that are helping me are, Natural Cures they don't want you to know about, and The UltraMind Solution. Dr. Mark Hyman really stresses the importance of removing gluten. Your blog isn't a coincidence, it's a sign that it's another step I have to take. I'm going to try the SAM-e for sometime. Thanks again!! I feel better doing what I'm doing already. It's just creating those healthy habits and incorporating them everyday.

Amira

Reply
Wow, this is very similar to my own story. I am still struggling from this depression monster! and am going to try the Sam-E asap. Thanks for sharing your story and tips 🙂 Much love, one “old soul” to another, xoxo.

Gisele

Reply
Very awesome post, I’m studying psychology because of the fact that I want to change the industry of these “band aids” they prescribe to people. They aren’t trying to help anyone and I want to help because we shouldn’t have to go through hell in our own minds, its not supposed to be like that. Keep spreading the love and light sister 🙂

Savannah

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I’m literally almost crying as I’m reading your post. I feel like this is me who wrote this. I’ve been searching for something like this EVERYWHERE. I’ve been suffering from depression, anxiety, panic attacks severely for the past 2 years and refuse to go on medication. I will most definitely try this. I love your blog it helps me with so many different things. Thank you so much!

nina

Reply
you are SUCH an inspiration, Olivia! I am 25 and seriously learning from your wisdom. Thanks for being a fighter for freedom, health, and truth! It&#39;s so appreciated–keep bringing magic to the world! &lt;3 xx

Anonymous

Reply
Hi Olivia! Did you know that Dr. Ohhira&#39;s probiotics contain carrageenan?

Anonymous

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It helped more than you could ever believe. Your blog changes lives.<br />Its changing mine. I relate so well to your story, I&#39;m living it now.<br />Thank you for what you do and share with people. Thank you from the very bottom of my heart. You have sparked my fire and fueled my journey to healthy natural living.<br />-Beth

Libs

Reply
Thank you for this post Olivia, my SAM-e are on the way. How do you take them when you do parasite cleanse? Do you wait and take them with probiotics (I found those you use) and food? And for how long can you take SAM-e? Also, I wanted to ask you what kind of water do you drink? You filter the tap water or buy in plastic bottles? If you made a post about this, just link me there please. Thank you

Anonymous

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Hi Olivia,<br /><br />Thanks for this blog! I have question. I have claustrofobia almost whole my life and I am just wondering if Sam-e will also work for me or do you have another advise for me? I am thanking you for your good work and also that you inform people that there is also a

Anonymous

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Sam-E is the best thing that ever happened to me. I struggled with anxiety and depression my whole life until this summer. Another great thing, I always had very bad pms symptoms, very emotional and my depression would get drastically worse. Those are completely gone. It was seriously a life-saver.

Cuero&Mør

Reply
Hi Olivia!! First of all tell you I love your blog, I appreciate your effort of teach people about health alternative and how effective they are!! I´ve a medical degree and was really disappointed about the truth of the western medicine…but I´m happy that everyday people like you share the knowledge that we forgot years ago about the real medicine!! <br /><br />Pepe and I (Mariu) are running a

Mariah Mackenzie

Reply
How do I post this to my Facebook so that this exact article pops up, not just your entire blog? I have many friends and family who suffer from extreme/severe depression and/or anxiety. I would love to share this with them in hopes they would give it a shot..

Olivia A.

Reply

Mariah, thank you so much for wanting to share this! I believe you can either click the Facebook &quot;Like&quot; button at the end of the post OR past the article URL (https://www.organicolivia.com/2014/03/how-i-went-from-dangerous-anti.html) into the box where you create a post. I hope this helps someone!

Hannah van der Horst

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Thank you so much for this post. I can relate to your story so much, great to know about sam-E. Keep up the awesome work 🙂

Olivia A.

Reply

Thank you for reading! SAM-e is a lifesaver and I&#39;m so glad to be able to get the information out there. Wish you all the best! xoxo

Kate Law

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Olivia! This is a GREAT post!<br /><br />I think depression is SO common. I&#39;ve had issues with it, I&#39;ve taken the RX&#39;s in the past. They did not work for me. I smoked pot DAILY for YEARS, because it was literally the only thing that mellowed me out.<br /><br />I have A LOT of friends who currently take RX&#39;S and still struggle with depression. I&#39;m posting this on my

Olivia A.

Reply

Thank you Kate! It is so common – you are right! And THAT is why it&#39;s so important to talk about it openly. So many people are suffering because of the chemicals in the food and lack of nutrition. I&#39;m so glad a whole food plant based diet has made such a difference for you and I completely agree. Thank you for the continuous support and love!

Lady Daydream

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THANK YOU for posting this Olivia! I&#39;m close to tears and feel as though I just read my own biography. I&#39;m so happy to have just discovered your blog only yesterday and feel I&#39;ve found a kindred spirit. I can relate to ALL of this. I spent so much time on anti depressants and even some time in a hospital after feeling suicidal. I felt like a guinea pig in a doctor&#39;s grand science

Olivia A.

Reply

Wow, your comment means the world to me! I&#39;m SO happy you can connect with this and I&#39;m even happier that today you are feeling so much better like I am. I completely understand the guinea pig thing and am so proud that you took control of your nutrition like that. Congratulations on your studies and future ND plans. People like us will definitely be changing this world! Good luck with

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