How I Healed my Clinical Depression Naturally

Ever since I was 12 years old, I’ve struggled with my mental health.

Growing up with explosive anger around me for a significant part of my early childhood, I learned at a young age to internalize my emotions.

I would hold anger in different areas of my body, never letting out a single peep. This was, in my opinion, what lead to my depression later on.

I’ll write a separate post on the whole story soon, because there are a lot of details that I feel could be helpful to some, especially to parents of teenagers and young people going through similar situations as I did… or just for anyone who’s curious!

This post is going to be mainly about how I dealt with my depression, and what I would and wouldn’t recommend from my journey to healing.

I want to start off my saying that I’m by no means cured.

I still struggle with my mental health on a weekly basis. Healing is a process, not a final destination!

However, my clinical depression no longer weighs me down, and it’s safe for me to say that I no longer consider myself a depressed person.

It became apparent that I had some sort of emotional imbalance while I was in high school. I had just switched from mainstream high school to a smaller, partially homeschool program where the students had all known each other for years.

After I turned about 15, my desire for social interaction had been steadily declining until I was only seeing friends when I was at school.

So, when I switched to a much less structured situation where I didn’t know anyone, I completely isolated myself from other people.

I had hours upon hours of free time to myself, with no real passions or goals.

My mental health quickly spiraled downhill.

I spent most of my time binge-watching movies and TV shows. (I just wrote a post all about my Netflix addiction, which you can read here if you’d like. In it, I delve a bit more into the psychology of watching TV and how it affected me personally.)

My parents instantly became very concerned.

Unsure of what to do, and knowing I have a family history of clinical depression, they quickly sent me to my doctor.

After explaining my symptoms, she nodded:

“Yep, sounds like depression. Do you want to look at the options for medication?”

My parents and I were head-set on getting me the help I needed through natural means, so we made the decision to see a naturopathic doctor.

She asked me some questions, gave me some advice (such as to “exercise more”) and told me to take a turmeric supplement.

I left feeling… disheartened.

It felt like no one on Earth had ever experienced what I was going through, and no one had a single clue how to help me – not even doctors.

I’d been given some advice that any average Joe could provide, and thrown two different pills after less than thirty minutes of reviewing my symptoms.

My dad took me to the store, and bought me a bottle of turmeric capsules.

Long story short, I didn’t notice any significant improvements. I still felt like I was carrying a hundred pound weight on my shoulders.

When I started my first post-school job, I started interacting with others, and had less time to wallow and lay in my dark room alone.

This brings me to remedy #1 that helped me overcome my depression:

Vitamin D

Not once in my journey through meeting with health care professionals did I hear mention of nutrient, vitamin or mineral deficiencies.

When I was depressed, I hardly ever saw the sun.

If I didn’t have to set foot outside, I wouldn’t.

About a week after I started exposing my skin to the summer sun on the way to work and on my lunch breaks, I noticed an improvement in my motivation, and just getting out the door in the morning became easier for me.

I wasn’t aware of this back then, but looking back now, the times when I remember being most content were summers when I would spend my days laying in the warm sun.

For this reason, I still cope with seasonal depression – I tend to become more susceptible to emotional imbalances during the winter months when it’s cold and rainy.

Studies have linked vitamin D deficiency to depression, schizophrenia and other mental disorders.

Over three million cases of vitamin D deficiency in the US are recorded annually, and this obviously doesn’t count the amount of people who aren’t tested.

The most amazing thing about vitamin D is that it’s free! Your body produces vitamin D on its own when exposed to sunlight, which means that all you really need to do is lay in the sun for 15 to 20 minutes.

There are also some great vitamin D supplements out there – I use this one.

This is especially helpful during the winter months or when I’ve been spending a lot of time indoors.

Vitamin B-12

Vitamin B-12 is one of the most researched factors in treating depression.

One study states: “We review the findings in major depression of … low vitamin B12 status. Both low folate and low vitamin B12 status have been found in studies of depressive patients, and an association between depression and low levels of the two vitamins is found in studies of the general population.”

If I could accredit one supplement to the improvement of my overall mental health, it would definitely be B-12.

B-12 is especially important for vegetarians, vegans and those who don’t consume a large amount of animal products.

While it’s relatively easy to find a B-12 supplement, many of them aren’t high quality and your body won’t actually absorb what it needs.

I highly recommend investing in a high quality B-12 spray, such as this one or this one.

Magnesium

This one is especially helpful if you suffer from stress and anxiety.

I have an entire blog post on magnesium that you can read here, but I definitely needed to add it to this post as well.

Magnesium has helped me so much with my mental health, and my ability to calm down when I’m seriously stressed out.

An article published in the US National Library of Medicine states that “An impoverished Mg (magnesium) diet is associated with depression in humans”, and “Low serum and cerebrospinal fluid Mg levels have also been associated with depressive symptomology and suicidality”.

Yoga

While I was less than motivated to go for a walk or a run – let alone go to the gym – rolling out my yoga mat and practicing some gentle stretching was always doable.

I would pull up a short yoga video on YouTube and practice along.

There has never been a time when I didn’t feel at least a little bit better after twenty minutes of yoga.

There have been a significant amount of individuals who claim to have overcome serious mental disorders through yoga and meditation, and Harvard Health Publishing states that: “Indeed, the scientific study of yoga demonstrates that mental and physical health are not just closely allied, but are essentially equivalent. The evidence is growing that yoga practice is a relatively low-risk, high-yield approach to improving overall health.”

Not only is moving your body and getting blood circulating immensely supportive of overall brain health and function, but the calming, meditative aspects of yoga can really help to soothe the mind.

Diet

This was the most important part of my healing.

It was when I changed my diet and eating habits that I noticed the most radical changes in my mood.

Diet is acknowledged by the medical community to play a huge role in mental health… there’s even a field of medicine called nutritional psychiatry!

Harvard Health Publishing states that: “Researchers found that a healthy diet (the Mediterranean diet as an example) was associated with a significantly lower risk of developing depressive symptoms.”

To me, the line between an unhealthy diet and depressive disorders is clear….

When I felt emotionally the worst, I was eating mainly foods lacking in living energy such as processed vegan meat alternatives, processed non-dairy milks, sugary products, noodles – loads of noodles – and soy-based products.

When I started eating primarily raw leafy greens, nuts, seeds, fruits and vegetables, and I incorporated supplements like spirulina and the aforementioned B-12 into my life, I noticed huge improvements.

I consumed nutrient-dense, high life-force foods like sprouts, green juices, chia puddings, green soups and smoothies.

I cut out all forms of processed sugars and grains, and replaced them with whole plant foods.

For the most part, I was following a high-raw diet with loads of healthy fats like avocado and olive oil.

This is the same diet I’m following currently, and I always notice big changes in my mind and body when I switch onto raw foods!

Meditation

While I wasn’t exactly sitting cross-legged with my eyes closed and focusing on my breath during the depths of my depression, I spent a lot of time working on my thought processes.

When my mind wanted to show me thoughts about how alone I was or how much of a loser I was, I actively trained myself to not take them seriously or see them as truth.

I tried my best to imagine what I wanted my life to look like, how I wanted to contribute to making the world a better place and how I could get there.

Focusing on a positive future helped me immensely when I was feeling down on my reality, and it drove me forward.

While it can be extremely difficult to gain control of your mind, it can be done.

Knowing what I know now about how beneficial meditation can be, I would highly recommend it to anyone, no matter their state of mind or situation.

This can be guided meditation, mindful breath practice, yoga or just simply sitting outside and listening to the birds chirping.

Almost any quiet, relaxing activity can be used as a vehicle to practice meditation.

Knitting, painting, stretching, going for a walk, taking a hot bath or shower or even making a cup of tea can all be meditative and calming to the mind. You don’t need to force yourself to sit quietly and try not to think… it’s not about that!

Whatever gets you into a quiet, calm and reflective state is a great place to start.

As always, please speak to your health care professional if you feel like you could be depressed. Reaching out to close friends and family can also be super helpful.

These are all things that I did to help me overcome my depression, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that’s what everyone should do.

My inbox is always open, and I would be more than happy to listen or help in any way I can.

One mantra I’ve learned to tell myself during my darkest times is that I’m supposed to be here, going through whatever I’m going through right now.

I’ll share a quote that came to me when I needed it most:

“Be gentle with yourself. You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here. And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should. Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be, and whatever your labors or aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul. With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.” – Max Ehrmann

Peace & Healing,

xoxo – Mackenna

Magnesium, the Miracle Mineral

Magnesium Salt

In all my years of stressing over one thing or another, nothing has helped me quite like magnesium – specifically, magnesium chloride.

When we’re stressed, our bodies dump magnesium through waste processes. This is one reason why it’s so important to include magnesium in your health routine, especially if you suffer from anxiety or stress frequently.

Magnesium is a very crucial mineral that most people are severely lacking in their diets. It’s extremely important for maintaining mental health and stability, aids immensely in the relaxation of joints and muscle tissue, and helps to prevent calcification in the body.

I often notice immediate relief from muscle cramping and joint pain when I apply magnesium chloride topically.

Magnesium regulates the “HPA Axis”, or the hypothalamic pituitary adrenal axis, which in turn regulates our stress response.

“Supplementing Mg levels in mice has been demonstrated to reduce the expression of anxiety-related behavior” – Neil Bernard Boyle, Clare Lawton, and Louise Dye.

While many people see improvements in their stress response after using a bio-available source of magnesium, it’s also been shown to improve symptoms of depression.

The same article written by the individuals mentioned above – published in the US National Library of Medicine – states that “An impoverished Mg (magnesium) diet is associated with depression in humans”, and “Low serum and cerebrospinal fluid Mg levels have also been associated with depressive symptomology and suicidality”.

There are several different types of magnesium including magnesium sulfate and magnesium citrate, however there is some controversy on their bioavailability, as well as concerns that they may be dehydrating due to their hydrophilic properties.

Both of these types of magnesium are commonly used to relieve both stress and occasional constipation, and are generally more inexpensive than magnesium chloride.

My absolute favorite ways to use magnesium are in sprays and soaks.

There are several different brands of magnesium spray. Some tend to have a strange oily feeling that doesn’t go away, while others absorb right into the skin and leave very little residue on the skin’s surface. The brand I like to use is this one. I’m not at all sponsored by this company, it’s just much less oily than others I’ve tried.

When first starting to use magnesium spray, start off slowly to acclimate your body to its new magnesium levels. 10-15 sprays per day is a good place to start!

What I Use Magnesium For….

For sore muscles after hiking or working out, I will use 5-10 sprays of magnesium chloride solution on the area and massage it in. I tend to notice effects immediately with this method.

Magnesium spray is also wonderful for headache relief – I am a common headache-haver, and nothing works quite like magnesium spray. For headaches, I massage 4-6 sprays onto the back of my neck, shoulders, temples and hairline, and then repeat several times after the first coat has dried.

For menstrual cramps, I will rub 5-10 sprays on my abdomen, and then repeat multiple times after each coat dries. For those with minor menstrual pain, I could see magnesium working especially well.

For stress & anxiety, I will dissolve half a tub of magnesium chloride flakes into a bucket of very warm water and use as a foot soak for 15-25 minutes. This method works best for me as a mental relaxant, and is also a soothing, comforting experience all the way around.

I’ll usually add 3-4 drops of lavender or eucalyptus essential oil to the water to make it an even more relaxing experience!

If you have a bathtub, I highly recommend adding magnesium chloride flakes to a full bath. If you’re like me and don’t have a bathtub (we’ll get through this together) magnesium foot soaks work almost just as well.

For restful sleep, I will basically just apply magnesium chloride spray to my entire body, focusing on my abdominal area, calves, feet, neck and shoulders.

I also use magnesium chloride spray whenever I think about it, just for magnesium maintenance!

Make Your Own Magnesium Spray…

If you’d like a more economical option or just don’t feel like going out and searching for a pre-made solution, you can totally make your own magnesium spray!

Just dissolve magnesium chloride flakes in hot distilled water in a 1:1 ratio!

It’s that easy.

You can add a drop or two of your favorite essential oil if you like, as well.

The Bottom Line…

Overall, magnesium is one of my top go-to’s in uncomfortable situations, from stress to headaches. In my opinion, it’s a must-have wellness tool for everyone, especially those dealing with sleep issues, anxiety, depression or aches and pains.

If you want to do your own research on magnesium, here is the article I referenced towards the beginning of this post. It’s filled with more cool studies, information and science about this amazing mineral!

What are your experiences with magnesium? I want to know!

Peace & Healing,

xoxo – Mackenna

How I Cope With “Ailment Anxiety”

This is a huge topic for me.

Ever since I was a wee seventh grader, I’ve had self-esteem and social anxiety issues.

Now, I know almost every human age twelve and older has – or still does – struggled with the topic of self-love at some point.

When I was younger, my anxieties and embarrassments generally stemmed from my outward appearance: acne, weight gain, facial features, hair color (teen angst has no boundaries), clothes, status etc.

Towards the end of my high school career, my self-esteem woes graduated to feeling uncertain about my personality, mental health, intelligence, and my ability to make connections with others.

I’m happy to say that I’ve come a long way since those days. I now choose to put my energy towards working creatively, taking care of my mind and body and helping others… though some sour thoughts definitely still creep up on me now and then.

The vast majority of my negative self talk now stems from my physical and emotional ailments. As ironic as it is, a lot of my stress and anxiety actually comes from… well… stress and anxiety!

For example, something will arise in my surroundings that will trigger a wave of anxiety in my body. Not only am I anxious about this thing that’s happening, but I’m also anxious about the fact that I’m anxious!

“What’s this doing to my adrenals?”

“Why can’t I get rid of these feelings?”

“Is this what’s causing my stomach issues?”

“If I can’t stop feeling stressed I’ll NEVER heal….”

These are all thoughts I often experience when I’m feeling any sort of emotion one might describe as “negative” or “painful”.

Aside from emotional ailments, my physical dis-eases also stress me the heck out on a consistent basis. If I have a stomach ache, I’ll start worrying about what I might have done to cause this discomfort, how I can get rid of it and why I was cursed with gut issues.

And what do you know? We’re back at square one, and the cycle continues.

Pain leads to stress, which leads to more stress, which leads to more pain, which leads to even more stress!

I call these my “ailment anxieties”.

I know more people than I could ever imagine also go through similar processes.

While I’m still cradled in the depths of my self-healing and self-loving journey, I’ve found a few helpful tools to cope with the physical and emotional insecurities I go through.

Hopefully they’ll help you too!

Self care is key.

One thing that can seriously help when you’re feeling down about the state of your mind and/or body is to pamper yourself. If you’re at home, put on some of your favorite positive music, brew yourself a hot cup of decaf tea or ask a loved one to make one for you, put on a soothing face mask and inhale some essential oils.

If food is a comfort factor for you (it most certainly is for me), you could even make a healthy version of your favorite treat. This could be a mug of hot cocoa, a home-made muffin (or two), a quick bowl of blender banana nice cream or my personal super easy favorite, a chunk of raw vegan chocolate. I will always recommend staying low-to-no added sugar with any recipe, especially if you struggle with anxiety, and ideally grain or at least gluten-free!

Feelin’ clean is a dream!

Sometimes I just feel uncomfortable in my body. This could be at the end of a rough day, after an attack of some sort of dis-ease related pain, or just when I’m feeling down about myself for some reason or another.

One guaranteed way to feel at least a little bit better is to get squeaky clean! For me, there’s nothing quite as lovely as the feeling of putting on some clean, comfy clothes after a cleansing shower or bath. I’ve never once stepped out of a hot, steamy, essential oil enhanced shower and said to myself, “I feel way worse now”.

Watch something that makes you laugh.

This may seem counter-productive or like an escape of sorts, but it works extremely well for me – especially when I’m really going through it. For example, I suffer from dysmenorrhea, or debilitating menstrual cramps, as well as PMS symptoms created by the devil himself. Watching some of my favorite YouTube comedians and laughing for a while really helps me to lift the blues.

While I try not to make this a habit, it’s a wonderful tool and I’m so grateful for it. If YouTube isn’t your thing, maybe reading an uplifting book, re-watching a favorite childhood movie or diving back into your favorite Netflix series might hit the spot.

Write down 10 (or more) things you love about yourself.

This tool is great regardless of if you’re feeling not-so-hot… or not! Reminding yourself why you’re awesome can help reset your subconscious mind to having positive feelings around you and your body. It was difficult for me at first… but after I found three things I loved – or even just liked – about myself, they started flowing easier. Just grab a pen and paper and write away! I like to include at least a couple of notes about my physical body and how much I appreciate that it’s working so hard to keep me alive, even though I may not be feeling my best at that moment.

Practice some gentle yoga or meditation.

Even just fifteen to thirty minutes of gentle yoga or meditation can really help remove one from ones anxieties and worries.

My favorite way to soothe my mind quickly is to lay flat on my bed, a yoga mat or couch, close my eyes, and count from one to a hundred. As I do so, I visualize that with every twenty seconds I count, one part of my body is just becoming empty space. I start from my feet and work up to my shoulders, all the way to the top of my head.

This really helps me calm down and relaxes my entire body. I usually notice a lot of tension release in the form of twitches and tingles when I practice this meditation!

Absorb some magnesium.

If you aren’t already familiar with magnesium, it’s a magical mineral that can seriously promote a sense of tranquility and well-being. It helps to calm the nervous system, release tension in the muscles and ease anxiety.

My favorite ways to use magnesium is in the form of topical magnesium chloride spray, as well as magnesium chloride bath flakes. If you feel like you need a particularly large dose of calm, add 1/3 to 1/2 a container of magnesium chloride flakes into a bath, or in a bucket to soak your feet. There are also magnesium drink mixes and capsules, but I find topical application works much quicker.

So there you have it!

Those are a few of the things that I practice to help me cope with my “ailment anxiety”.

If you have any questions or just need someone to talk to, feel free to reach out to me on Instagram!

Peace & Healing,

xoxo – Mackenna