My journey has been a long one and I have found writing this really tough, yet at the same time a breath of fresh air. Daniel Watkins
My journey has been a long one and I have found writing this really tough, yet at the same time a breath of fresh air. Trying to condense 15 years of depression is no small feat but I’ve tried to keep this short.
I’ve suffered with depression for many years, going as far back as early 2005. At first I didn’t know that I was suffering. I had just lost our family home due to a bad investment in a restaurant and had some really dark days. I continued through, working long hours and I was in pretty bad health for a few years.
It wasn’t until the birth of my son Freddy who, shortly after he was born at just a few years old, was diagnosed with autism. This was a life changing moment for me and it took me some time to get my head around. Ultimately, it motivated me to start the battle to get things right for myself. I was constantly under stress, not eating well, and not looking after myself and knew that if I didn’t make the change I wouldn’t be able to offer the support that was needed of me.
After looking into autism we learnt how food can change and help behaviour and wellbeing. We made changes to our family diet, eating habits and routine so we could help Freddy and help ourselves. Keeping to a plant-based, gluten-free diet and staying away from sugars improved things dramatically and for a few years I was on the mend. I also started yoga and meditation, which together with eating well put me in a good place for a couple of years.
I had a good run for about two years, yet life throws some big punches now and again and I started to take some big knocks at work. A couple of bad decisions and I found I wasn’t bouncing back. Around this time, our daughter Macey was also diagnosed with autism, so we were now supporting two children on the spectrum. Really tough going. Though living with autism was and is still stressful at times, I wouldn’t change a thing. When you’re touched by autism you start to look at things differently and become more grounded. My children are amazing and have changed me for the better.
This second wave of depression I decided I couldn’t deal with everything so I sought medical advice and was diagnosed with depression and with that came the medication. Despite my amazing and supportive wife Hayley, I wasn’t happy and still kept everything locked up.
I tried hard to get back on track with a lot of meditation that was working, but I just didn’t feel myself.
It wasn’t until meeting like-minded people and hearing their stories about depression that I started to talk about it and acting on putting things right. But if I were to pinpoint one of the biggest changes and positive effects on my wellbeing, it was going back to eating the right foods.
Eating well plays such a big part. The gut needs to be healthy as it works so hard and contributes to your overall wellbeing as does regular exercise. I now fast, eat a plant-based diet, take daily cold showers and feel like I’m on track. The kids still drive me nuts though!