My depression relapsed and got bad again (i.e. suicidal) 6 times in 2 months. Here’s the pattern I saw and how I discovered some really good tips on how to fight it.
*Trigger warning: topics of depression and suicidal thoughts. Disclaimer: depression is a complicated issue with many causes and many ways to get professional help. Please see the bottom of the article for links and helpful guide on how to get help for depression from a mental health and medical professional.*
So, if you are familiar with my depression story, the short version is: I’ve been experiencing depression on and off for about 4 years. It got better when I saw a medical doctor and got diagnosed with hypoglycemia (a pretty common, temporary, blood sugar condition where when your blood sugar drops, your moods could get really low; and in my case: depressed and suicidal.) So I got that resolved and the worst of the suicidal tendencies and depressed thoughts vanished.
Plus, I had seen a mental health therapist and had gotten help with how to have better mental health, so that helped a lot.
But something kept occurring that scared the crap out of me.
At random intervals, (and it seemed with no actual cause), my depression would come back, with a vengeance.
And, until recently, I didn’t know why.
Well, since October 1st, 2017, through mid-December, 2017, it came back and got pretty severe, 6 times.
I started to notice a pattern within the 6 times this happened. And I started doing research and trying things to help it get better, and (after 6 times of trial and error), I figured out a lot of good tips on how to help your brain feel better when you are feeling low.
So here is my story, plus the awesome things I learned about the brain and how to help yourself feel better when things get bad:
1st case study-
-Cause: Excess stress + not eating enough (due to stress/being extremely nervous) for about a week.
I noticed that I had been very stressed out regarding my personal relationships and had hardly been eating for about a week. When the relationships got really stressful due to just a bunch of stuff happening at once, I snapped. My thoughts were: “I’m done. Done. I feel like I just snapped.” I had anxious thoughts, depressed thoughts, and the inability to get out of negative thought pattern.
I noticed it was weird that I hadn’t been eating very much that week, so I wondered if my diet (or lack of calories) had anything to do with it, so I thought that eating more might help, and decided to try it out.
I started to eat balanced meals again, and also added a serving of fat (two tablespoons extra of olive oil) and a serving of carbs (like a serving of fruit or a fruit popsicle), to my balanced meals. Plus I started drinking a lot more water. I thought since the brain is 30% fat (so I ate a source of healthy fat), plus since it runs on glucose/sugars (hence the fruit or fruit popsicle), and it’s 70% water, then consuming a combination of healthy fat/carbs/water would help. My moods got better in about a week.
Okay, interesting. I thought. Is this a pattern?
Stay tuned, it get’s better.
Case Study 2- Late October
Same triggers as Case Study 1: stress/relationships, general life stress, negative thoughts. Plus, I had started exercising– a lot. Running the mile, bulking up, the whole gym-rat routine. But there was one big problem:
I had started exercising more but I didn’t add any extra calories: protein/carbs/fat, and water. (Before I had started exercising mid-October, I was barely eating enough calories to get by as it was. I knew the general amount of calories/protein/carbs/fat I needed per day, but it was a struggle to get those in as it was).
So when I started exercising a lot, it put a lot of stress on my system.
And specifically, it stressed out my brain.
You see, in retrospect, I learned that when you exercise a lot but don’t eat enough calories/protein/carbs/fat, your muscles are eating all of your energy stores, and your brain is now starving. So your brain is becoming malnourished.
Plus, I learned that, if you are under a lot of stress (mental stress, anxiety, anger, fight-or-flight), then the same thing is happening. When you are under any type of stress and trigger fight-or-flight, there are hormones in your system that tells all the energy (glucose) in your body to go and fuel your muscles, and literally, all the fuel that used to go to run your brain is now going to your muscles.
So long story short, if you are exercising more or are under any type of mental or emotional stress, the same thing is happening to your body, and now your brain is starving:
All your body’s fuel is going to your muscles. If you don’t increase your calorie intake when your level of physical exertion or mental stress increases, you are in a caloric imbalance. Basically, under physical exertion or mental stress, your muscles are taking priority and are consuming all the calories in your system, and your brain is literally starving.
Basically, the input of calories that you consume needs to be balanced with the output of calories you are burning (and remember: exercise isn’t the only thing that burns fuel. Stress in any form or anything that triggers fight or flight also causes your muscles to consume the calories that should be going to feeding your brain.)
Let’s call this the input-to-output ratio.
Okay, so if this is the case, you might be asking, did you increase your calorie input and feel better?
Yes, yes, yesssss. Yes. Yes.
But, it wasn’t that simple…at first. Over the past two months, I had to work on how to balance the input-to-output ratio so that I was able to exercise more plus handle all the stress in my life, while still eating enough calories to fuel these activities plus feed my brain.
I’ll save you from the details and just give you a recap of Case Study 2 (the one I’m currently talking about) through Case Study 4.
Basically, as I kept increasing my output (exercising more, plus somehow also feeling more stressed due to life…great), I had to keep working on balancing the amount of calories I was consuming. I did this the same way I had in Case Study 1:
“I started to eat balanced meals again, and also added a serving of fat (two tablespoons extra of olive oil) and a serving of carbs (like a serving of fruit or a fruit popsicle, and sometimes half a can of soda), to my balanced meals. Plus I started drinking a lot more water. I thought since the brain is 30% fat (so I ate a source of healthy fat), plus since it runs on glucose/sugars (hence the fruit or fruit popsicle), and it’s 70% water, then consuming a combination of healthy fat/carbs/water would help.”
In case studies 2-4, my moods got better in about 3 days to a week and a half, depending on how hard I was exercising that week and how long it took to figure out the balance of how many more calories to consume.
But, that isn’t the whole story. I had a relapse in my severely depressed moods two more times. I just couldn’t get the balance right at first. I kept exercising more and experiencing more stress (…yay), but just couldn’t figure out how many calories to eat…yet.
Which lead me to an amazing breakthrough.
I knew I had to eat more but was still working on the details and figuring out how much more to eat.
Which brought me to a super low point in my week. It was last Friday, December 8th. I had been working out extensively and just…experiencing a lot of stress as usual, and I still hadn’t quite figured out the balance of how many calories to eat to keep up with my new workout schedule. That’s okay. But what it caused is for me to reach a really, really low point last Friday, so much so that I thought “I just can’t do this. I feel like my brain just…snapped. I can’t go into work tomorrow…”
And then I thought “Okay, if gradually increasing my input of calories/protein/carbs/fat over a period of a few days helped me gradually feel better, then if I eat a lot of calories in a short amount of time, would I feel better? What if my brain is so starving that I need to consume an excess of calories in one night and sort of ‘replenish the stores’ of glycogen and fat in my system?”
Well, since I felt so broken and stressed, and like I literally could not work another day, I thought “what the heck?” So I went shopping and bought a bunch of food.
I got home and made a balanced meal…with a BUNCH of calories. (So I still made sure to balance it and include a bunch of healthy protein such as salmon- I ate two servings of salmon and one serving of ribs since I was also doubling up on my carbs and I didn’t want to get a blood sugar spike from the extra carbs; protein helps you avoid a blood sugar spike from carbs. I also ate a serving of mixed greens. If I would have remembered, it would have also been good to include a serving of healthy fat, like 2-3 tablespoons of olive oil on my salmon.) And I binged. In addition to the protein and salad, I ate nachos (two servings of those kids Lunchables nachos haha), three cookies, and a fruit pop.
I ate this right before bed and then went to sleep.
And wow. I felt better immediately.
I felt like I had more energy and felt instantly better and like I could go to work tomorrow and actually feel okay. And my blood sugar didn’t crash that night. And the next day, I felt great! And I also made sure to pick up my healthy eating habits the next day and eat balanced meals, and I felt great!
I’m calling this a calorie reset binge.
I’ll go more in-depth on this in the PDF: “The Ultimate Guide to Happiness and Brain Health,” (see the link below to get the free PDF) and how to reset your body’s nutrient stores with a calorie reset binge, and also the science behind this and why it works (also why this isn’t an everyday thing)…I’ll include all the research about this in the PDF (linked below), so stay tuned.
I’d like to give one more example before I explain in the PDF: “The Ultimate Guide to Happiness and Brain Health,” about the importance of food, how to do a reset binge, and how to start eating healthy to prevent such a strong depletion of nutrients (like I did 6 times in the past two months).
Before I do, let me give you one more piece of evidence on the importance of nutrients. Specifically, water.
The 6th and (hopefully last) Case Study:
I got food poisoning on Saturday night, December 9th. I barely ate anything that night afterwards, or all day the next day. And I hardly drank any water either because I felt super sick because of the food poisoning. On Monday, I experienced one of the worst depression episodes that I have felt in a couple months (like very suicidal, as bad as when I used to get suicidal every day a couple years ago.) I woke up on Monday thinking “I wish I had a gun in my mouth right now.” Yeah. I had that Monday off, so thankfully I didn’t have to go to work, so I took a nap to make it go away. It didn’t.
Then, thought I couldn’t stomach any actual food, I drank one serving of Emergen-C vitamin/electrolyte drink to at least get my electrolytes up. Plus, it had 6 grams of sugar, so at least that would help replenish my glucose (blood sugar) stores a bit.
And then I binged…on water. I figured since the brain is 70% water, and since I can’t eat any real food, maybe I’m super dehydrated since I hadn’t had any water the day before. So I drank like two (2) 16 ounce glasses of water then took an hour and a half nap. I’m calling this a water binge.
I woke up feeling great. I woke up feeling great!! (And then I drank yet another 16 ounce glass of water).
Yeah, I still felt a bit weak and not 100% better from fasting for so long and going without actual food, but drinking tons and tons of water and having that little bit of sugar in the Emergen-C drink really helped. So much so that I had enough energy to go out and run errands, and my moods were significantly better. (Like, in the morning, I went from “I want to kill myself” and after the water binge, I thought “wow, this really helped me feel better. My moods seem to be significantly improved. I need to tell everyone about the water and brain health connection.)
And then I felt well enough to start eating again later that night, and have slowly been feeling better as I continue to eat balanced meals and get the right balance of calories in vs. calories out.
I’m writing the “Ultimate Guidebook on Happiness and Brain Health,” and I want you to have it.
These are my best tips on everything you need to know about your daily habits and how to improve your mindset that can increase your happiness tenfold.
4 years of research- amazing results.
Enter your email here and you’ll be the first to get it when the PDF’s done, I’ll email it right to you!~
(This informative guide is completely *free!* Also, your email address is safe with me and is completely anonymous– no one but I will ever see your email address. And I promise I will never spam you!! 😉 )
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*Okay, before I send you the PFD “The Ultimate Guide to Happiness and Brain Health,” which is all about the importance of nutrition and the brain, as well as fat/carb/water binges or balancing diets, I need to announce these disclaimers and give you some resource links. Depression is a multifaceted condition, so it’s important to understand the scope of the condition and also know there are many causes of depression and also many resources on how to get help:
If you are feeling suicidal, please consider calling the suicide hotline or 911 if it is an emergency. I called the suicide hotline when I was feeling down and they really helped me. Here’s a video about my experience with the suicide hotline and how they helped me. For Immediate Help Call 911 or the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: