The Road to Recovery

Oct 10, 2023

The sole reason I became a naturopathic doctor was that when I was struggling with my illness, there weren’t many natural mental health experts in practice. Now, many years later, I have made it my life’s work to help those who are struggling with their mental health using natural therapies. Beyond the Label is a book that guides you along the road to recovery. Naturopathic medicine is about health promotion and prevention as well as correcting imbalances in the body. For me, taking a balanced approach to health is the best form of medicine.

Many patients want to attain 10 out of 10 health immediately. Most expect the road to recovery to be a straight line from points A to Z that happens in a time frame of “yesterday”. We all know this is not realistic, but it is truly how many people feel and what they expect. In reality, the road to recovery is not a straight line, there is some back and forth, and it can look more like something below.

Understand that just as Rome wasn’t built in a day, your journey to mental health may take some time. There may be bumps along the way—it might be four steps forward, one step back, two steps forward, two steps back—as you “peel the onion” and your emotions come to the surface to heal.

At times, it may feel like you aren’t making progress—but overall, the trajectory is forward, and we end up in a healthier place as we learn to manage our thoughts and emotions over time. It requires patience, figuring out what the lessons are, learning or getting the lessons, and making mistakes to test whether we have truly learned. But at any point in time, you can see you are making forward progress even if it feels like you aren’t.

It has been said that first you get the lesson like a tiny pebble hitting you on the side of the head, then a bigger rock, then a large boulder. In some cases, perhaps the entire mountain has to come crumbling down for you to understand the lesson. Hopefully, you learn the lesson after two or three knocks to the head, versus a major life catastrophe. Sadly, many people have to hit rock bottom (addictions are one example) before they are ready to make the changes they need.

I find it is important to meet people where they are at on the road to recovery. If you are reading this and would say you are 10/10 depressed, then your judgment and perceptions may be clouded or distorted. It is important to understand that this is not you.  This is what depression does TO you.

You can change your thoughts. You don’t have to believe every thought you have. You must learn to become objective about your subjective reality. When you are stuck in it, it is difficult to see the cloud of depression in front of your eyes; it’s so thick that you may become the cloud.

It is important to understand that on a soul level, you are still there. You are behind the cloud. And that cloud will lift and the sun will appear again in your life.


Taking the First Step

The first step on a new path is always the hardest to take. Make it a small one, and you will be surprised that, in time, you will be running down the road of recovery. Remember that there may be potholes and it may feel like the journey is long and slow at times. Trust in the healing process, be patient, and you will get “there.”

There is no quick-fix solution to multifactorial conditions. Everyone needs to find his or her own balance point in life. Don’t compare yourself with others. Trust in your own intuitive self and the inherent healing powers you have at your fingertips, while working with experienced health care professionals.

Most people have addictions, issues, and things to get over, learn or adjust to. Life is about how we navigate the waves of our lives. It really is about the journey, not the destination.


The Journey to the Root Cause

For most of my life, I lived for the destination while ignoring the journey. Now, I am learning to enjoy the journey as much as I appreciate the destination. I was recently asked to explain in a few words what I do. My response was: “I help people make peace with the present moment—piece by piece.”

I was on and off antidepressant, anti-anxiolytic and mood stabilizing medications for 15 years. Every time I went off them, I ended up depressed and anxious, and every time I was prescribed them, things would get moderately better.

But the fact that I would get unwell again upon stopping them forced me to realize that I wasn’t dealing with the root cause; I was just masking the symptoms. You have probably heard a similar analogy involving a car: when the engine isn’t working properly, a light will come on, but if you ignore the light by cutting the wire (which is analogous to taking medication), pretty soon the car may stop running altogether because you never looked under the hood for the source of the problem.

To give another analogy: if you continually throw garbage outside your kitchen window, there will eventually be flies to contend with. You can deal with the flies by spraying poison on them, and even spray the garbage pile itself. This is like using antibiotics or antidepressants. Or, you can clean up the garbage and stop throwing more on the pile. Not only will the flies go away, but the kitchen will smell better.

This is the naturopathic approach: clean up the garbage. If you do, the flies won’t come back when the poisons wear off. Nor will they build up a resistance to the poisons.


The First Step

The first step to regaining your mental health is to recognize that the physical building blocks for forming neurotransmitters come from foods and nutraceuticals. Most people come to me because they want an alternative to pharmaceuticals. Some of my patients have been on medication for more than 20 years. Others may not be on any medication, but feel anxious or depressed and want to know if there is something they can do to avoid starting an antidepressant or anti-anxiolytic.

People know how they feel, but what they don’t always have perspective on how good they can feel. They may think they are at a 10 out of 10 in health, but in reality, they may have lived their whole lives at a 5, and just never had anything better to compare to.


Moving Beyond

No matter how you are feeling, I know that if you follow the steps outlined Beyond the Label, you will feel better than you do today.

Remember that health is a journey, not a destination. Ultimately, we all want to be at the destination of optimal health, yesterday. However, the road to recovery may be full of potholes—or perhaps trees need to chopped down and the ground levelled before the road can be paved. Regardless, it is important that you take the first step. Doing nothing is not the best option if you are suffering.

If you have been recently diagnosed, or are struggling in any way, please accept my helping hand offered in the steps outlined in Beyond the Label. Let these steps be your guide to optimum health. Have faith that you can get well. I believe you can, and I wish you all the joy there is to be found on the healing journey.

Let love for yourself and others always be your guide.

If you are ready to dive deeper into the concepts outlined in Beyond the Label, please get on the wait list for the next Moving Beyond Group coaching program starting in the Fall 2023.