I feel very inspired to write about a miracle that has taken place in my life; because hopefully the information I provide can help someone else. I don't normally talk about this, but I've been suffering with major depression for the last 14 years. I've been to multiple doctors, therapists, and psychiatrists. I'd be put on a new medicine and feel a little better, and then a few months later I'd feel just as bad or worse. I've tried all the different classes of anti-depressants, with combinations thereof, and nothing seemed to truly work. However, I do feel like they helped, and am grateful that I had access to them, so please don't discount their role in the mental health field.
One thing that the medicines were never able to wipe away were the constant thoughts of suicide. I know, I used that word that makes everyone (including myself) grimace. For the most part, those thoughts were like gremlins, locked in a room in a corner of my mind. But I could always hear them banging on the door, or screaming to be let out. Sometimes they gott out, where they grew in size and power to resemble a massive monster of an unconquerable nature.
The only way to keep myself from being harmed from this hideous beast was to lie in my bed for hours on end, hoping and praying for it to go away. There were times when I couldn't lie in my bed. Where I'd be at work and something triggered my mind, unlocking those pesky gremlins. It was all I could do to function, let alone put on a smile and give good customer service. (Please note that I've never attempted suicide, but our judgments concerning those that have should be kept in check).
I tell you these things in depth that you might better understand where I'm coming from and the significance of my miracle. There's so much more I'd love to ramble on about (the tabooness of mental health in our society being one), but I'll try to get to the point.
About 6 or so months ago, a friend who struggles with infertility posted about finding out she has some mutated genes which may be an underlying cause of the infertility. She then linked to an article about this particular mutated gene, which goes by MTHFR (for real, that's the acronym). I was curious more than anything, and the article said that mutated MTHFR genes are linked to not only infertility, but also severe depression and anxiety, as well as other disorders. I started to research more, and found that those particular genes help in the process of folic acid and vitamin B, which then build amino acids and other sciencey stuff. It also plays a part in the making of things like dopamine and serotonin (chemicals that affect your mood).
I didn't really understand the hard science of it, so I won't pretend to be an expert here, but I felt driven to figure out if my MTHFR genes were mutated and if it could be a potential clue to understanding my own treatment-resistant depression. I found out that if these genes are mutated, and you can't process folic acid normally, you need the pure form of folic acid, or folate (please forgive me in advance if my science isn't spot on). Folate is found in leafy greens, like spinach. You can also get a supplement, but, and this is important, you cannot just take folic acid tablets that you get at a vitamin store. It will do nothing for you. You actually have to get a folate prescription from a doctor -- they call a medicinal food. There are a couple of kinds, but the kind I started taking is called L-methylfolate. When I saw my doctor, he had never heard of MTHFR, but he was willing to give me the L-methylfolate because well, why not? It basically is just a vitamin. No side effects.
The second thing I did was to find out if my genes were mutated. Some articles say that you don't have to get tested, that you could start just taking the folate and if that helps then awesome, but I needed to know. There is a company called 23andMe which will map out your genes for $100. They can only give you raw data concerning your genes as it relates to health matters (like if you have genes that mean you are more susceptible to breast cancer, Alzheimer's, etc), but there are sites that help you interpret the data (I'm happy to share all those sites if you're interested). It came back that two of my MTHFR genes were mutated.
I started take l-methylfolate in June, and found out about my genes in July. And here's the miracle of all of it: I am finally feeling happy on an everyday basis, and even more importantly, I no longer think suicidal thoughts on a constant basis. I feel like it took about two months for the L-methylfolate to really take effect. This has been such a huge deal. I realize it can't be measured like the shrinking of a tumor, but I promise you my life has been changed. Just some examples: I keep my room more clean and am more apt to do housework. I laugh more. I'm eating better. **I exercise (which I also give credit to Luna for).
Doing this research has also helped me realize there is so much we don't know, especially when it comes to our genetics. Yes, we still have agency, but who's to say the man with the extreme anger problem, or the child that can't sit still, or the teenager that can never be serious doesn't have some sort of deficiency that makes it twice as hard for them to overcome a particular weakness?
In closing, I don't want to come across as offering a cure all. Because it's not. I still struggle and have down days, but overall it's made a big difference. It's also not a solution for everybody -- to those people I pray that you'll one day find your solution. I share because someone else shared their hardship, and I was led to one of the biggest blessings in my life. I thank those who are supportive of me, but especially for a loving Heavenly Father and the quiet encouragement from the Holy Ghost to keep going. And for a loving older brother, Jesus Christ, who suffered for not only my sins, but my sorrows. And if you take nothing else from this, just please try to be a little kinder to all those you interact with.
If you have any questions, I'd love to help answer them!
*TLDR I've discovered my MTHFR genes are mutated; but by taking L-methylfolate, my sufferings with depression have been significantly reduced. If you are struggling with depression, anxiety, and or infertility, you might want to look into the MTHFR genes.
**A note about depression and exercise. A lot of science has said that exercising can improve your mood, and even cure bouts of depression. While I agree with this, I also believe that there are times when people are so sick with depression that saying they'd be cured if they'd just exercise is a huge detriment to their mental status (read -- massive amounts of unneeded guilt). Or because they choose not to exercise, they obviously don't want to be happy. We don't judge people who are ridden with cancer when they're not pounding the treadmill, so why do we do it with severely depressed people? It takes an incredible amount of energy when your body is in survival mode; the thought of going on a walk would make me weep. Or I'd be starving, but afraid to cook something in the kitchen because there are knives in the kitchen and I didn't feel strong enough to fight that temptation, so I got fast food. Basically, try to be less judgmental of others. You don't know the demons they're fighting. End note.