This article was written by Abbie Belliston, SHAPE’s Creative Director. Here she shares her story about depression and trauma — and how MOOD Balance was the key she’d been missing.
Hey SHAPE Warriors. This is probably the most vulnerable thing I’ve done in a while, but I had something pierce my heart while working this week, and I felt like this was just too important not to share.
I suppose my story starts when I was diagnosed with depression in 2014, about six months after my son was born. I’d probably had depression for many years prior, but with a new baby, I wasn’t able to use my usual coping technique, which was to not talk to anyone or do anything for 48 straight hours once a month.
My dad is SHAPE ReClaimed founder, Dr. Todd Frisch, and I worked at a health food store at the time, so I tried literally everything that existed to naturally treat my symptoms. I spent hundreds of dollars on herbs and supplements, all of which barely took the edge off my lethargy, apathy, anxiety, anger and sadness.
I am very fortunate that suicidal thoughts and tendencies were never part of my symptomatology, but I still needed help. So, I found a doctor and started taking a prescription antidepressant. I also started on the SHAPE Program and began working with a life coach (SELF ReClaimed wasn’t available yet). I believe the trio of treatments (medication, SHAPE and life coaching) was the key to my physical and emotional success. (As a bonus, I released all the baby weight and then some!)
The bummer with depression for many is that medications don’t work 100% of the time. So, while the next few years were filled with many highs, I also experienced many lows, or depressive episodes. For me, being happy takes effort. I have to really commit and dedicate brain space to be content, calm, peaceful and happy. It just doesn’t come naturally. That’s what makes the next part of this story particularly difficult.
At the beginning of 2017, I had emergency surgery to remove my right ovary after 48 hours of excruciating pain due to undiagnosed ovarian torsion. To put the pain into context, I gave birth unmedicated, which was a 7 on the pain scale compared to this. Also, I was 10 weeks pregnant.
A month after the surgery, I found out I was miscarrying. Because I had already racked up thousands of dollars in medical bills, I opted to not have the D&C procedure. This was absolutely the wrong choice, and I ended up in the emergency room for a third time in two months only to have yet another surgery. (This is the short version of the story. You can read the long version on my personal blog.)
I was already struggling to be happy on a good day, when all my organs were present and functioning and no one had died. Now, after two surgeries and a miscarriage, I had a reason not to be happy. I spent the next nine months in a deep, deep depression. My medication made it possible for me to exist, but not much more than that. I was so angry at my body for not working that I punished it by eating whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted. This certainly didn’t help.
At the beginning of 2018, I was starting to feel some life and light come back. I was still taking the antidepressant and I began working on a project I was super passionate about that eventually turned into my job here at SHAPE Central. I got to move back home (I was living in southeast Idaho previously) to be close to my family and do a job I feel like I’ve been preparing for my whole life. Sounds like a recipe for happiness, right? Well, yes and no. On the outside, everything was perfect, but on the inside, the cloud of depression was still hanging around.
SHAPE ReClaimed released a new product in February 2018 called MOOD Balance (formerly MOOD ReClaimed), which was designed to support emotional balance. You’d think I would have started taking it immediately, but I’d been so jaded by supplements in the past that I just assumed MOOD Balance wasn’t for me. During the worst of the depression, I pretty much stopped taking everything except the antidepressant. I’d take a couple of capsules of MOOD Balance here and there, but I was not very consistent.
When I found myself living my dream life but still feeling “off,” I figured, why not give it a real shot? I’d heard some good feedback about MOOD Balance from some coworkers and other practitioners, so I started taking three capsules of MOOD Balance per day, every single day. The changes were subtle at first, but after just a month, I realized how much more relaxed I’d been. I was less persnickety with my family. I was able to compartmentalize my stuff while I was at work. I was quicker to laugh. I wanted to play with my son, be outside and clean my house.
Just last weekend, I spent three whole days being happy with little to no effort! This hasn’t been my reality in more than a year, and it feels amazing. Here’s a picture of me and my family on a hike during the first happy weekend in way too long.
For the first time in my entire adult life, I’ve found a supplement that actually works, that actually improves my mood and helps me feel more like myself. Since I started taking MOOD Balance, I feel like I have the ability and power to handle my emotions, and even when I do get down, I remember that it’s only temporary. Do I feel perfect all the time? No. I still get overwhelmed, and I still overthink everything, but my life has improved dramatically.
If you struggle with a condition that affects your emotional well-being, then you probably know how much it can affect you physically. The two go hand-in-hand. If you want to feel more like yourself, lighter and happier, consider giving MOOD Balance a try. Like me, it could be the solution you’ve been searching for all along.