How I became a vegetarian and how my mental health made me stop

49514622-vegetarian-rubber-stamp.jpg

Hey. Let me tell you a story of why and how I become a vegetarian and why I had to stop because of my mental health problems.

Since I was a little kid I was never really big fan of a meat. My parents had to force me to eat it and I still eat only chicken meat. I am very grateful they did this as i got usual portion of nutrients a kid needs. I’m strongly against vegetarian or vegans parents pushing their believes on their children. Of course you can argue that it is the same what all of the other non-vegetarian parens do – pushing their meat-eating habits onto their children – but c’mon. As a parent you shouldn’t deprive your kid of anything there is that food industry offers. Is everyone’s own business but let them choose when they are old enough to understand the decision they’re  making.

As I was growing up I was more and more aware of the meat taste and how I don’t like how it makes me feel. I always described is as a “I’m not in a  mood for meat”. There was a day I would eat chicken without a blink and then there was a day when i would stare at the piece of chicken and dissect it in small particles until i would find some vein, blood or tendon and i would refuse to eat it altogether. Pork, beef or any other type of meat was never an option for me – not unless i was aware of it. Sometimes my parents would tell me that the meat is chicken so i would at least give it a shot. Tricky but this tactic would not end successfully most of the times.

My parents would always get upset with how picky I am but after some time they got used to it and didn’t try to fight it anymore.

In my 15 I started highschool far away from home and I lived in girls dormitory. There was no vegetarian food option in the dorms canteen – well to be fair there was no option at all we got one food and you eat it or you’re hungry. It was easy for me to ask them not to serve meat to my plate and instead they would aways give me more potatoes,rice or vegetable instead.

What was the biggest struggle for me was the reactions I received. It was aways always the same. If someone noticed I don’t eat meat they would ask “are you a vegetarian?” in such obnoxious way I immediately felt small and felt the need to defend myself like I was doing something wrong. I would answer “no i just don’t like meat” in small voice. Response would be well-known phases I’m sure all of you who practise some sort of diet such as ” i can’t imagine that” “wow i can’t imagine my life without meat” “really? not even a chicken?” and many other bullshits. After such pleasant conversation I aways ended up questioning myself as why i can’t force myself to eat that piece of meat and what the hell was wrong with me.

I didn’t like talking about my meal habits at all as I aways came across the same negative reaction. Vegetarian was like a dirty word, something I shouldn’t want to be associated with.

Until my breaking point. Again I was always leaning to vegetarianism but I was never really pushed by the line to actually call myself that until one day.

I always helped out in kitchen. One day I was making chicken soup and as I was holding the small body, chicken ribs in the palm of my hand and all I could think of was how it feels exactly the same when I’m hold my dog in my hands. I have Maltese dog – very small and cutest ever and size of his ribs are the same as the ribs of the dead chicken i was about to boil in hot wather and eat. I suddenly become very nauseous and i knew i won’t eat the soup. I couldn’t even taste it for seasoning. I was sick even thinking about it. From that moment i just couldn’t put any piece of meat in my mouth.

I accepted the fact that I don’t like the meat and I shouldn’t feel bad about my preferences. I was finally 100% confident in calling myself vegetarian and answering the silly questions with higher confidence than ever. I didn’t like the taste, I didn’t like the preparation of death animal parts in my hands – so what?

I made this decision of skipping meat completely at my 17- almost 18 years. It got much easier when I moved to Czech republic and start living at new university dormitory. Part of our dorm is canteen and they always offer 6+ meals to choose from and aways 1-2 meals are vegetarian. I suddenly didn’t feel like such outsider anymore. I got to meet many other people who were vegetarians or vegans and it made me feel more ” normal” than when I was at highschool. People at uni didn’t find it as strange and were more understanding.

I practised my vegetarianism for 3-4 years until I was 21 . My crucial moment was one horrible night that changed everything for me.

I’ll try to explain what went on with me and my health problems as shortest a possible but there are still few thing I just need to say and are important to my story as a vegetarian. I want you to understand why I chose to eat meat once again and that vegetarianism is not for me anymore. There is also very personal subject of my mental health described in next paragraphs.

Contains many trigger warnings and it’s probably the most personal segment I ever wrote.

null-2.jpg

I woke up one night feeling strong chest pain, I couldn’t breathe, I was all alone in my room and I was petrified with fear I’ll die at that moment. It was seriously the worst night of my life and i kept reliving it every day after that. Few minutes passed by and i was finally able to breathe but the chest pain didn’t go away. Actually it didn’t go away for next 6 months. I was in pain ever since, my chest hurt with every breathe i took, i couldn’t lie down, i couldn’t sleep as this pain attacks kept repeating every night. I was strongly sleep deprived as i spend most of my nights wild awake focusing on my breathing. I kept trying to fall sleep sitting straight as i couldn’t lie down because the pain would increase. I visited several emergencies, doctors, i took many strong painkillers, took lot of medical tests but all of the results were the same – I’m healthy. There was nothing wrong with me except i was not ok. I stopped eating, communicating, i couldn’t visit school anymore as i was hyperventilating most of the time of day and couldn’t breath at all during the night, i kept crying like literally all the time as a way to release at least of the pain and frustration from situation i was stuck in, i keep fainting randomly and no one knew how to help me. Worst part was that almost no one from my close friends or family believed my problems. I felt so guilty for asking for help so many times. I felt like I’m bothering everyone with my crying but i just couldn’t stop it. I tried not to talk about any of it – no one believed me anyway. I was all alone and I was loosing my mind. I was going crazy.

I took 2 rehabilitation as they assumed my problem was called Tietze syndrome – meaning basically that my ribs was damaged and were causing me pain when breathing or moving. I took messages, radio therapy, laser therapy, electro therapy but none of this helped so I tried many other alternative forms of treatment. I visited several therapists, I tried healing through chakras, meditation, swimming, yoga, creams and herbs, sleeping  tea, hugging trees – unfortunately with no positive result. With every failed treatment I felt even worse and friends and family gave up on me completely. I swear to god every “get over it” “its all in your head” “don’t think about it” “you just have to fight it” “some people have it worse than you” crap shorten my life in half.

I was very weak –  this went on from end of january till august when I finally got help I so desperately needed. 7 months without proper sleep, food, on painkillers and in constant misery. This was the worst time of my life and  it was the time i decided to eat meat again. I was very weak – most movement i was able to do was move to bathroom and even this made me so tired i needed to lie down.

I was at home one day as I was having my first rehabilitation at my hometown and my dad brought home this very good smelling sausage. This was my first meat I ate after 4 years. From then I tried to slowly add meat into my daily meals. I wasn’t eating much but i tried my best to get as many nutrients i could take. I was expecting to have digestion problems from such sudden meat consumption but nothing happened. I wasn’t cured thought. I was still in pain but i felt stronger, i could walk 2 steps without feeling like fainting again.

After several more breakdowns I finally decided to visit specialist I needed – psychiatrist. To sum it all up – all this time I was suffering from panic disorder and severe depression but not one of the hundred doctors i visited could figure that out. I started taking antidepressants and i never felt better. So don’t worry I’m ok now but it blows my mind away how simple it was to get better once you overcome the mental illness stigma.

I refused to go to psychiatrist, I was convinced I don’t need that kind of help, I’m not crazy and I could never bring such shame on my family. Even though family member committed suicide before but mental health is not something you talk about at family dinner. Or at all.

I remember this day when I almost visited psychiatrist after few very bad nights. I was standing in front of psychiatrist door when this woman came by and she was talking to herself, looking straight down and shivering her hands. I turned around immediately and went home. I’m not that bad as this woman and we simply can’t be needing the same help. I was “strong” and “I’ll deal with it myself”. I was full of crap. If only i could go in that door back then i would be getting better like 2 months earlier. 2 more months of being normal and healthy human being.

Thank god I visited my psychiatrist. If you’ll think less of me now – well you should seriously rethink your life values. I hit rock bottom, felt guilt, shame and you have no idea how proud I am of myself for not killing myself even though it seamed as the only solution of how to ease the pain most of the nights. Unless you were at the same hell you have no right to judge me and if you were then I am so sorry this happened to you.

I’m still eating meat. Even thought there is still part of me that hates the fact that I’m eating animals, and all their muscles and veins. But – there is much bigger part of me that wants to be healthy and never ever go back to the nightmare I lived. If my body requires meat I’m gonna give it to it. I understand there might be strong vegetarian/vegans reading this article who would disagree with me and consider me traitor to  whole vegetarian/vegan believe, but unless you go to sleep fearing you won’t wake up, your daily accomplishment is that you took shower, ate food and simply stayed alive you just don’t know what it’s like. If you do understand what I’m talking about then again i’m so sorry.

It’s still very hard for me to talk about it but I find it easier to type it down than to actually speak up about it but it’s so so so important to talk about mental health and to destroy mental health stigma. I would love to hear your story of how you fought depression and other mental illness.

Let’s talk about it

I put myself first now with everything I have, with everything it takes.

If you don’t eat meat – good for you. If you do eat meat – good for you. Do whatever suits you. Don’t take anyones crap. In the end you’re all you got.

Take care of yourself

Thank you so much for your attention

xo Natalia

 

Advertisements

47 comments

Add Yours
  1. Đ₳Ɽ₭🖤₭₳₮

    Thank you for your like on my post. Drew me here to read a little about you. thank you for writting down your MH issues and depression. Please accept some Care Hugs, thoughts and Love. My head is all over the place lately so I will come back soon to digest all you have written. Im glad you survived and can write down your own thoughts. It will help others like us with MH issues. Mine are different because I am different. But Mental health is the same and causes the same issues whatever the reason. Fairy Blessings and Light to keep you safe this night xxxooxx

    Liked by 2 people

  2. gabrieleveggiefood

    Very nice story. Indeed I also passed bad times and crisis in my youth and was also forced to eat meat because of my school and my surrounding. I’m not a strict protagonist of 100% vegetarian nutrition for everyone. I prefer everybody to eat according to his personal needs.
    Dear Regards

    Liked by 3 people

  3. oliviamdwhite

    Really enjoyed reading this, you seem like such a strong and lovely person!! I followed your blog and I can’t wait to read more of your posts in the future!! Xxx

    Would you mind taking a bit of time checking out my blog? X

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Heather Tasker

    That sounds horrible. I’m sorry you went through it.

    You may want to look into b-12 supplements, despite consuming small amounts of meat. Even with a regular serum level, you can be deficient in your cells and tissues. Actually, if you’ve got a relatively common gene defect (MTHFR), you can have a high lab value with very little bioavailability.

    I think my anxiety is better with b-12 than before I started taking it but my levels wouldn’t likely be as low as yours could have gotten on a vegetarian diet.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Kiera(n) Fortasse

    I’m very vegetarian- was raised that way for religious reasons, but even if I hadn’t been, I would still be vegetarian for various other reasons. Regardless, I admire your strength and ability to make the right choice for yourself. Glad the anti-depressants are helping, and I hope you continue to keep feeling better!

    Liked by 2 people

  6. zekesway

    It’s too bad it took you so long to get help, and I’m so glad you finally found it in antidepressants and good psychiatric care. I hope you are doing much better. Eating meat or not should still be a choice for you and has nothing to do with your illness.

    My son is bi-polar and suffers anxiety I have severe depression for 40 years. Medication and talk therapy are the only way we survived.

    I send you hugs.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. funreligions

    I haven’t been able to find the connection between your mental health and meat eating. Other commentators said that you were taking antidepressants. Did you go back to vegetarianism after taking them? Did your doctor recommend meat eating?

    Eating meat does seem to be insane. By eating meat you are making a decision that affects lives of other beings. I see that the people who posted their comments before me take meat eating quite frivolously, as if this decision affected only yourself.

    Seeing that you are okay now, why do you still eat meat?

    Liked by 1 person

    • nat7x

      thank you for your coment
      As i said i got stronger after i start eating meat – that’s the connection.
      yes i am taking antidepressants.
      I am still taking them it’s been 8 months since i start taking them and mental illness is not something you can cure with one pill – it takes long term medication.
      I did not go back to vegaterianism as i’m still on medications.
      Yes several doctors recommended meat eating.
      I am not OK now – i’m recovering
      I am still eatin meat because i feel stronger and it is part of my therapy suggested by several profesionals.

      I hope i ansvered all of your questions. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  8. da-AL

    I’ve been vegetarian for many years with no prob — but we each need to listen to our own bodies. if one is going to eat meat, make sure the animals were treated well & that people don’t throw it away

    Liked by 1 person

    • kelvinbranurs

      Good da-Al, you’ve said it all. If they are clean they are good for consumption, but if not. The question is how will you see if it is totally clean because the outside can be clean and the inside can cause problem. Example is pork, you know that when lemon juice it poured on a pork it will generate some worms which are usually found in toilet.
      Check to see..

      Liked by 1 person

  9. gabrieleveggiefood

    I read more about the MTHFR and noted, mostly folic acids show good influence to the well being of concerned persons. They seem to lower the risk of vascular diseases or lower the risk of Alzheimer later as well it is recommended to supply food during pregnancy. Only really proven relations to depression I could hardly find. Some cases described anxiety or depression. .but sure that this comes from the genetic disfunction? Maybe you also search for other reasons in daily life, causing you depressions. Very private and you needn’t answer of cause : what kind of Med’s did they recommend?
    Yours Gaby

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Kayleigh's Book Shelf 💌

    I understand completely how you felt!
    I also have an invisible illness and a lot of people dismiss it as me being dramatic or wanting to get out of work or something 😦 which if furthest from the truth.
    I also totally related to you when you said ‘I’m not as bad as this woman, therefore we simply don’t need the same help’ (I’m paraphrasing so sorry if it’s not word for word.
    I find myself comparing myself to others a lot, and then I come to the conclusion that I don’t have it as bad as them, and then I practically torture myself for being so whiny when I’m in pain (mentally and physically)
    I’m glad you got help.
    And as for people judging your life choices on whether your veggie or not – jeeezz! If eating meat makes you better, go for it. If not eating meat makes you better, go for it. You do you girl 💖
    Mental Health is still such a taboo issue to talk about these days so I admire you for speaking out. You must be a very strong person.
    Xxx

    Liked by 2 people

  11. shraa1

    Iam from India and I have never tasted meat in my life and am doing perfectly well..but I appreciate your efforts of being what you wanted to be. Moreover when we ignore things we like we tend to question ourselves and that effects mental health.

    Liked by 2 people

  12. collectingcoffee

    Hi I’m of the belief of trying to keep balance, which can be hard. I became vegetarian all the way to Macrobiotic then I noticed it was just too strict with my diet. Also being full time student and full time work I wasn’t able to keep it up. The Right Way. So now I try to eat GF, filler free (mostly unprocessed foods.) with a very small amount of meat. And about psychiatrists go with the belief they will help you.I think talking out things helps. Find the person that clicks with you -really important. Someone said B vitamins ..it’s true . Also Vitamin D is important often overlooked.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Dr Bob Rich

    Thank you for your courage and honesty in sharing this story, Natalia.
    Some people’s bodies simply need meat. Other have a genetic structure that allows them to be vegetarian. Maybe you are of the first kind.
    It is true that it is necessary to kill in order to have meat, but out planet’s entire life cycle depends on one species eating another. There is research evidence that plants have feelings. And your immune system kills billions of little beings every day to stop infections.
    Death and life are an endless cycle, and it is OK to be part of it.
    The old hunter-gatherers killed to eat, but did so with love, respect and caring for other life forms. We can do the same.
    As for mental health: you don’t need to be crazy to need those services. They are useful when you are stuck in a problem, because the solutions you impose keep it going.
    As soon as you mentioned chest pains, I thought: “panic attack!” If you’d contacted me then, I could have put you on the path of getting rid of the problem.
    Email me privately, and I’ll send you a copy of my book on anxiety.
    With love,
    Your grandfather,
    Bob

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Buddhistronin

    I became a vegitarian for six years. I got very sick and had to go back to eating meat. It was hard to eat at first but then I started feeling much better and went back to normal. Dont feel bad about it, it is just the way our bodies are made. 😊

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Amir

    Have you tried to open yourself to a possibility of falling in love in addition to all those meds? This idea may sound crazy, but hey, arent’ we all crazy in our own unique ways? 🙂

    Like

  16. Akilah

    I’m so glad you were able to find out what was wrong and to do what was necessary to take care of yourself.

    I knew a vegetarian who got burned really bad in a fire, and, when she was in the hospital, the doctors added meat to her diet. She said she ate it all because she wanted to get better, but I don’t think she ate it after she left the hospital. We often talk about food as medicine, so it’s not surprising to me that food helped you better.

    Thank you so much for sharing this story. I hope it helps others.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Jane Sturgeon

    Lovely Natalie, yes, there is no right or wrong…no labelling needed. You found what balances for you. It takes great courage to write and share like this. Wrapping you in ❤ Xx

    Like

  18. photosociology

    Wonderful and brave post Natalia. Everyone is affected by mental illness. If they don’t have one then one of their family or friends will do. No one has a right to judge, but many people are in denial about their own or their loved ones illness.

    I too stopped being a vegetarian for health reasons. As a vegetarian my health started to decline and I developed intolerances to all kinds of foods. The foods I could eat became less and less. I never had these issues before and as I started to eat meat again the intolerances slowly decreased.

    Freedom comes from choice.

    Best wishes.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. Nicculent

    “don’t take anyones crap” couldn’t relate more.I’ve dealt with similar struggles,except I’m vegan now.Lots of love,keep fighting and blogging<3

    Like

  20. samnouska

    What a great story! My husband is vegetarian but myself and my daughter aren’t. However, we all agree that if an animal has died for you, then at least eat it all so it won’t have died in vain.

    Like

  21. ravenwing72

    OK first of all, I feel it is important for me to say that I believe you. I have mental health problems and having that first person actually say that to me lifted a huge weight off my shoulders.
    I am vegan and am adamant the this has nothing to do with either my physical or my mental health, but hey, that is just me and we are all different.
    I would also never ever force my kids (I have two, 18 & 17) to eat my diet. I always buy meat for them. Although I won’t lie, I am happy as my youngest says he wants to cut meat from his diet. I will support him in that.
    I think that we have to respect and understand eachother’s choices and also never ever be ashamed of someone who has mental illness. Reading that part of your piece made me very sad. There is no shame in being mentally ill. The more we talk about it, the less stigma and shame surround it.
    Thank you for sharing your story.c

    Liked by 1 person

  22. NanaGSmith

    Hey Natalia,
    I absolutely understand your post. I was no-fat vegan for one year. I stopped sleeping and I had diarrhea for one year. Everything I would eat be out in 5 minutes after last piece was swallowed. I was constantly hungry, I could not sleep at night…my brain wanted to be vegan, but my body was resisting it. The brake through point for me was one Friday when I had to go in restroom 18 times in one day. I stopped in a week, started eating some fish and a little meat. Deep inside I think I may want to give veganism another try, but how horrible I felt is still too fresh. I am glad you found strength and solution for yourself. Meat has melatonin and probably this is what you were missing being vegan.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

w

Connecting to %s