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Part One: A Diagnosis Is Not A Life Sentence

Part One: A Diagnosis is Not a Life Sentence

A few weeks ago in class I was asked if I would share about my health coaching in one of my newsletters. 
I’ve hesitated to do so as I truly just want to share food for thoughts and inspirations. And I would like to honor that request.

I think the best way to describe what I do is to actually share my personal stories as to why I chose this path. (Or how this path chose me) Life throws challenges at us all the time and I have always believed they have something to teach us and inside each of those challenges is a gem or gift.  Today I am sharing with you my start in alternative health options and it is about my diagnosis of depression.

When I was about 6 years old my parents divorced.  I don’t remember that much except my older and younger sister and I were with our mom full time for a bit.  We moved several times as she figured out what she was going to do.  She had been a stay at home mom for 18 years.

This was back in 1970.  Divorce wasn’t as common as it is today.  I don’t know much about my parent’s marriage other than it was very unhealthy. I also know how much courage it took for my mom to make this decision at that time.  The marriage must have been pretty bad.

About 6 months later she met Joe, my now step-father.  When they met, he didn’t want kids and so she gave us up to our dad full time.  I know how scared she was and I am sure that to her this made the most sense.  My sisters and I were living together with our father when he took his own life. Unbeknownst to us he had been depressed for quite some time and in those days, it just wasn’t discussed.  Instead, shove your feelings under the rug and continue on.  He just couldn’t continue on any more.  Life itself just became too much for him. 

At this time, my mom had to make a decision.

Joe decided to marry my mom and adopt us and for that I am forever grateful.  I honestly don’t know where we would be without him today.  We were living together in a small house when my oldest sister decided to marry at the age of 19. I was 9 at the time. She was only a year into her marriage when she too took her own life.  She had been struggling with depression and life became too much for her as well.  I may not have physically lost my mom but I did lose her emotionally. She blamed herself and was never truly able to get past it.  She shut down to protect herself and I never did see the happy loving mom I knew ever again.

I was young when all this happened and I didn’t really understand it until about the age of 32, after having two kids.  I realized that I too had become depressed.  Every day was a huge struggle to get up and take care of the family.  My husband at the time traveled and I felt truly alone trying to deal with it all.  I can remember feeling absolutely exhausted to just make a phone call for the repair man to come and fix the dishwasher.  I cried all the time and didn’t know what to do. I was lonely.  I finally got myself to a doctor who diagnosed the depression and put me on some meds.  Due to my family history, she told me I would be looking at a lifetime of fiddling with the doses and even changing drugs when one became ineffective.

When I got home, I played over and over again in my head the conversation the doctor shared with me.  This was my life sentence.  For a bit, I took the anti-depressants and without a doubt I felt so much better.  Once I had my motivation back I was able to see things more clearly.  Something deep inside told me to research what I had been told, so I did.  The more I read, the more I realized that I could take charge of this situation with a little effort and consistency.

I started to make gradual changes in my diet to begin with. First, I cut out sugar and sodas.  Then I began looking at ingredients and began to cook whole food again.  It was amazing how much better I felt.  My brain was firing on all cylinders.  My energy came back.  I wasn’t so sad and I was enjoying being a mom again.  I made the choice to wean myself off the anti-depressants.  (Please check with your doctor before you make this choice for yourself) That was not advised by my doctor, but I really felt that with diet alone I could manage this.  I was right.  I felt so empowered to know that food alone could eliminate my depression.

 For twenty years now I have been feeling great.  I’ve not experienced another bout of depression.  I am forever grateful for the voice inside me that said to question it.  

I thought I was good to go but about 2 years later I had another challenge and I will share this in Part Two next week!

Thank you for reading my story.


This Post Has 5 Comments
  1. Thanks, Sara, for being so courageous, honest and vulnerable. There is hope in your story for so many of us.

  2. Dear Sara, thank you for sharing this — so much intense pain for all involved.  It has been quite awhile since I have attended your classes, but what you shared surprised me, because every time I was in your class, you always had warm and pleasant smiles for everyone and it gave me the impression that you were one of the lucky ones in life who has been able to escape a lot of hurt and difficulties — how else could you so easily express so much joy and kindness?  But I realize now that your ability to have come through this painful history shows me that you have incredible strength and courage and it instilled in you an empathy and great desire to help others.  It seems you chose to come through these tragedies with so much grace. You are a great example of one of my favorite quotes:

    “Your deepest struggle can, if you’re willing and open, produce your greatest strength.”


    1. Thank you so much Patti for your kind words. It is my honor to help others through their challenges and to help them see that there is light at the end of the tunnel. I’m glad this post is affecting so many. It’s not always easy to be vulnerable but is so needed in the world today. I hope to see you again some day. Blessings, Sara

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