Hi, I’m Anna Marie, the poster child for mental illness. I have been diagnosed with depression, anxiety, ADD, ADHD and postpartum depression at various stages in my life and put on medications. All these meds made me worse.
Am I a mess? Nope! Looking back, I realize that these diagnoses were all simply side effects of the fact that I was not taking care of myself and that caused brain fog, brain imbalances and negative emotions all stemming from a lack of overall good health. So over a decade ago, I took matters into my own hands, deciding to take better care of myself. The result? I have completely rewired my brain and biology. Knowing what I know now, I am amazed that doctors put me on mind-altering medications without ever asking me any of the following questions:
1. Are you eating a balanced diet of healthy fats and high-quality proteins without a lot of sugars and carbohydrates?
2. Do you follow a daily exercise program geared to your brain health? For example, a person with depression can benefit from high-intensity interval training, whereas a person with ADHD may benefit more from 30-minute continuous cardio workouts.
3. How much sleep are you getting?
4. Are you drinking enough water?
5. What are you watching and listening to?
6. What are you filling your mind with?
7. What type of people are you surrounding yourself with?
8. Are you willing to make changes in your life to get better?
9. Do you currently have goals you have set for yourself?
10. Do you take time for your hobbies?
11. How is your financial condition and how do you spend your money (on what)?
12. Do you have a coach or a mentor?
I believe these 12 questions are extremely significant when it comes to our brain — and overall — health. If I had been taking care of my whole self, I would not have experienced either the depression or the anxiety that triggered ADD symptoms, to the extream that I did.
When I began to take care of my whole self, became a brain warrior, everything changed — brain fog lifted, depression faded away, anxiety disappeared, and I could focus. This outcome may not be the same for you, but isn’t it worth a try? Wouldn’t you agree that mental health improves with good nutrition, daily movement, positive relationships, mindful spending — in short, taking care of all aspects of one’s life?
According to www.hopkinsmedicine.org and the American Heart Association: “An estimated 26% of Americans ages 18 and older — about 1 in 4 adults — suffer from a diagnosable mental disorder in a given year. … Mental disorders are health conditions that are characterized by alterations in thinking, mood and/or behavior that are associated with distress and/or impaired functioning.” If that’s true, wouldn’t it be obvious that for your brain to function at its best, it needs to have all the elements of wellness to do so? It would be hard to argue against the fact that how we take care of ourselves impacts our mental health.
I do want to make clear that I understand there are some individuals who benefit greatly from medication. However, I don't believe medication should not be the only intervention. Remember the questions above. Please seek professional help if you are struggling and also look at the areas you could improve. We all have a mental health state. The quality of your mental health is up to you!
Anna Marie Frank is a brain health and wellness expert, author, lecturer and human-potential coach. You can find her @HappyWholeYou on social media. Photo Credit @Simplee.Focused www.simpleefocused.com