Giving a Voice to the Silence offers positive angles to the issue that faces those with mental illness. Living with Schizo-Affective Disorder and being able to share my experiences with others, is the best way I know how to pay it forward. Life can be difficult, my goal is to bring a bit of hope to a place where many feel there is none.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

“N” is for Natural Remedies and Nature #atozblogchallenge

In recent years using natural remedies for any sort of illness has become popular and mental illness is no exception.

Side effects are the reason most people turn to natural ways of treating mental illness, I cannot tell  you how many medications I have been on or tried and the horrible side effects I have endured.  I got to the point of telling my psychiatrist that he would have to find another solution to keep my Bipolar Disorder under control because I would not be trying anymore medications.  I am lucky that he agreed, and we have tried, ECT (electro-convulsion therapy) and TMS (trans-cranial magnetic stimulation) as alternatives.  These treatments may seem extreme, but when the alternative is side effects of medication, it is the best option. 

One of the best treatments I have found is simply being outside in the fresh air.  The desire to spend time in the fresh air has become more of a necessity right now, due to our harsh winter here in the North East and now as we move past mid-April and the cold and snow continue to fall; my moods are changing quickly, and I find it hard to stay on a regular cycle. I am anxious for the weather to warm up and the opportunity to go for a walk in the park or local trail and enjoy the sun on my face again.  

Nature is one of the best remedies for depression, stress, anxiety and most importantly for our overall well being.  A short 15-minute walk can change your whole outlook on the day or a certain situation.  I have discovered over time that when I do not have the time outdoors, I become more moody and cycle faster than if I have that time to myself.  I am a simple person; I enjoy the woods most of all, surrounded by the sounds of birds and rustling of the trees; it is soothing.  Distractions of the world are only a memory, and the mind begins to focus on the serenity and peacefulness of the surroundings.  

Many studies have been done on the effects of spending time outdoors.  An article on PsychCentral website, states that “Even if you don’t have hours to spend outside, taking 15 minutes to step outside and take a few deep breaths can greatly help clear your mind and relax your body.  Being in the sunshine, even if only for a few minutes, helps the body absorb vitamin D from the sun, which is known to improve the mind.”   

We have become, over the years, a culture of hermits; living through the computer or phone and forgetting what it is like to be part of the world.  It is for this reason that I decided to talk about nature in this post, because even if you have just five minutes in your day, go outside and breathe, you will be surprised at how you feel.   When we were kids, we wouldn’t have dreamed of staying in the house, why do we do it now? 

I will be the first to admit I do not get out as much as I would like, this illness plays with my brain and there are days where I am lucky to get out of bed and accomplish anything, but when I do manage to be outdoors, it makes all the difference in the world.  I know the sunshine will not cure me; I don’t expect it too; I still need my medication and doctor visits, but it does help and whatever I can do on my own to feel better I will do, and most importantly it’s free. 

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