My Experience with Mental Health

Author: Karen Porter, RHN

For almost 30 years Karen battled severe IBS, & anxiety.

Forced to re-evaluate and take her health into her own hands, she started looking into alternative methods to help her heal where the traditional medical approach had failed. 

Karen’s health, and consequently her life, entirely shifted and she felt compelled to help as many women as possible to feel their absolute best!  

October 10th was World Mental Health Day. I look happy in this picture, and I was. And I’m happy now. But years ago, I looked nothing like this. There wasn’t a smile on my face, or a sparkle in my eyes. My affect was altogether different. Sometimes I could hide it, but most knew that something wasn’t right.
I’d spent the better part of 3 decades suffering with Irritable Bowel Syndrome. Dealing with running to the washroom, then later a bowel obstruction.  Living with the pain, and the hospital visits, was not fun.  But what was even worse than IBS was dealing with bouts of severe depression. For some it means sleeping or eating more than usual. For me it was not really wanting to eat, and not being able to sleep. I was tired, but wired. Consistently getting minimal sleep has an effect on the brain. Thinking logically was tough. Daily functioning was difficult.  Anyone who’s been there knows it’s an awful place to be. With help from others, as well as my own work, I was able to slowly (and painfully) crawl my way back. Unfortunately, each time was worse.
What I didn’t know then was about the brain-gut connection, or that 90% of our body’s serotonin (the feel good neurotransmitter) is made in our gut.  It’s no wonder I had issues with anxiety and depression, when I had had stomach issues for so long –> the microbiome of my gut wasn’t good.
Fast-forward to now. I’ve changed my diet and aspects of my lifestyle that have benefited both my gut (IBS) and my brain (anxiety and depression). I researched and then went back to school studying holistic nutrition.  I starting taking mindfulness, and then courses on mindfulness and meditation.  Through all of this, I’ve found my passion.  I’ve always known that I liked working with people.  Now that I’m sharing healthy, delicious eating and mindfulness, I feel that I’m really making a difference for others.  Am I 100% sure that I’ll never have an issue again with my gut or mental health?  No, I’m not.  But I can tell you that I make my health a priority.  It’s within my control, and it’s the best bet that I’ve got at feeling great!

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