3 Ways Veganism Has Helped Me Manage Bipolar Disorder
Editor’s note: If you live with an eating disorder, the following post could be potentially triggering. You can contact the Crisis Text Line by texting “NEDA” to 741-741.
I am vegan. It still sounds weird when I say it because I had a strong love for ice cream and cheese. Some days I get frustrated because all I want is some chocolate and frozen yogurt. Although going vegan was to help reduce my persistent allergies, I have also noticed it has helped me deal with my bipolar disorder.
How has it helped me, you ask? In the following ways:
1. I have become more patient.
Namibia is a country where fresh fruits and vegetables are hard to find and are often pricey. Being a vegan in Namibia has limited my food options. Most of my weekends are now spent driving around from shop to stall looking for reasonably-priced food items that will last me the week. I am not the most patient person in the world. I get frustrated when people don’t show up on time and get angry when I don’t get my way. This anger and frustration has often led to episodes I am not prepared for. In the past, I would give up after five minutes but I now spend hours seeking out food, thus making me more tolerant to things that would usually set off my anger and impatience.
2. I gained more courage.
I had convinced myself I was allergic to tomatoes and aubergines were not sent from heaven. I restricted my diet because I didn’t want to try anything new. Yes, I was a coward. I noticed I had closed myself off to many things because I wanted to “control” or “manage” my bipolar. Only recently have I noticed how I have distanced myself from family and friends. My reasoning was I wanted to protect them from who I become when I experience an episode. However, my diet change has shown me I was afraid to face my fears. Afraid being open would mean I could get hurt. Many things are not “vegan friendly” so I had to start eating vegetables I disliked like tomatoes, aubergines and baby cabbage.
3. I am more loving to my body.
My periods of depression often start when I start bashing myself. I am the first to comment on my weight, my clothing and my abilities. I find it hard to compliment myself as I see myself as unworthy. Being vegan means I have to plan my meals in advance and has forced me to acknowledge I am worth the effort. The transformation in my body has shown me I am beautiful no matter how I look externally.
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Thinkstock photo via jacoblund