Highlights from Jonathan Otto's interview with Nathan Hyde, for the Depression & Anxiety Series. Nathan discusses how he overcame his crippling depression and anxiety through lifestyle and diet protocols. Nathan outlines his exact daily schedule and example meal plan.
Nathan: Okay. Physically, what we want to do is get back to a place where, “My thoughts are gonna be better.” That’s what we do when we build our body back up. Nutritionally, I make sure that I stick to a plant based diet, that’s all I eat now. I make sure that I get the specific nutrients that are very important for mental health. I get my omega-3’s, I get tryptophan, I get my vitamin B-6, and calcium, all those things that I know are important for the formation of the right neurotransmitters that are gonna keep me happy so to speak. So that’s where I start. And that’s right with breakfast. The early part of my day is where I pack kind of my anti depression lifestyle, you know. I get up in the morning. I pray right away. And then, I drink 20 ounces of water. And then, I go out and I exercise for an hour. And then, I come back and then I eat my nice complex carbohydrate breakfast, which is usually oatmeal with a couple of fruits. Maybe strawberries and bananas. Or depending on what time of the year, it might be some other nice fruit. I’ll put some pumpkin seeds on there that are rich in tryptophan. Maybe some soy milk and sprinkle a little flax on there. And, then maybe I might include a nice smoothie that has some tofu thrown into it. Maybe some flaxseed in there also. Frozen fruit and make a nice big nutrient packed smoothie. And then after that, after I eat the breakfast, and I would dress and spend a little more time in the word if I can.
Nathan: That’s really a new priority for me. I’ve been doing it, but I want to do more now. Actually, this year I just made the goal myself to read through the bible and the associated spirit of prophecy books in this one year. So I’m spending even more time in the morning doing that. But normally, yeah, that would be it. That’s kind of my day. And then, I would start work. So that’s how I front load my day with things that I know that are good for me in terms of staving off depression and anxiety.
Jonathan: Great. And so some of these healthy things that you’re doing, you’re doing a plant based diet. Correct?
Nathan: Yes. Yeah. Exclusively.
Jonathan: Yeah? And then, are you trying to eat organic? Or are you kind of when you can?
Nathan: Yeah. You know, I think it’s good to eat organic, but if I see some apples there that I really like that aren’t organic, I still get them. But I believe organic is better because there’s no pesticides in there. Well, there are some. There are still pesticides in organic to some degree. But I’ve looked enough, done enough in my own study to see that, yeah, organic is going to have less pesticides. But sometimes I can’t do that. But I’ll still grab that nice apple. It’s still better than the alternative of a pastry or a pop tart. So I’ll have that apple. I’ll wash it real good, and I’ll cut off the ends to the places that I know the pesticide might pool in so to speak when they spray it. So I cut those ends off, I know that going to reduce pesticides. But I would say, yeah, do organic if you can. But if you can’t, don’t let that stop you from doing a plant based diet. You’re still going to get a big boost from a plant based diet.
Jonathan: There’s the dirty dozen and the clean fifteen.
Jonathan: And that’s a really good thing. For example, I go and get avocados, and I don’t bother getting the organic because it’s very comparable.
Nathan: I do the same thing with avocados.
Jonathan: Yeah. See.
Nathan: So I know that they’re okay. Now, strawberries, I’m going to get the organic strawberries.
Jonathan: Exactly. I prefer not to eat strawberries than to eat not organic.
Jonathan: I remember seeing a natural path that was telling me about a patient he had just previously. She had food poisoning because she had three pints of strawberries and it was just from the pesticides. And so there’s certain things.
Nathan: Sure. Yeah.
Jonathan: But back over to you, let’s have a look at what you did. Did you do hydrotherapy or anything like that?
Nathan: I do hydrotherapy daily. Yeah.
Jonathan: Why do you do that?
Nathan: Contrast shower in the morning. Actually, I usually just finish with cold now. If I felt I was starting to get a little depressed, I would go back to a full hydrotherapy in the morning. But number one, when I do the hydrotherapy, I just feel like I have a mental edge. I just feel alright. Ready. You know?
Jonathan: Like Superman.
Nathan: Not quite like Superman but better. And I know what it does for me. I see what happens over here with guys who do hydrotherapy. And it’s a boost for my immune system as well.
Jonathan: So you do that from home, yeah?
Nathan: Yeah. I just do it in the shower.
Jonathan: And so how? Tell me.
Nathan: Well, now I just turn on the cold for a minute at the end of my shower. When I was going through the depression recovery program, I would do the full three cycles. Hot. Cold. Hot. Cold. Three minutes of hot, and one minute of cold.
Jonathan: Three times?
Nathan: Three times.
Jonathan: Ending on cold?
Nathan: Always ending on cold. And then, twice a day depending on where you’re at in terms of your depression is better. Once you get to a certain level, and if I took a PHQ-9 right now, if I took my depression test, I’d probably score a zero. So I feel safe to say just ending in cold is probably enough for me right now.
Jonathan: Got it.
Nathan: But doing the contrast is going to help me in other ways. It comes down to a time thing now. And also, I don’t want to rob other people in the house of the hot water. So that’s a consideration.
Jonathan: Yeah. But probably not one for a lot of people that are watching this.
Nathan: Sure. Yeah.
Jonathan: But I think about how does someone get through the mental hurdle? It’s a little uncomfortable at first. Do you hate doing the hydrotherapy?
Nathan: No. Not now. Now, I just take the attitude it’s what I do. And it’s part of my medicine. Yeah. So, in fact, that’s the words I use when I turn on cold every morning. I just say, this is what I do. This is what I do.
Jonathan: You say it out loud?
Nathan: Sometimes I do. Usually, I just think it, but sometimes I just stand there and go, this is what I do.
Nathan: Yeah. I mean-
Jonathan: Did it help?
Nathan: Yes. It does. I mean, let’s face it. That cold when it first hits your body is kind of shocking. That’s what’s supposed to happen. But it’s uncomfortable. But I don’t hate it.
Jonathan: You can retrain your mind to understand it’s invigorating.
Jonathan: You doesn’t like going under like a gorgeous waterfall. And yeah, it shut the cold. But it’s just beautiful. And so it’s a mindset thing.
Nathan: Exactly. Yeah.
Jonathan: Just like fasting. So and now, okay, so exercise. Tell me how you did exercise to help remedy your depression?
Nathan: Well, what remedied my depression in the first...and this is a little side, but I need to tell the story because it’s a big part of my recovery. After I went through the depression recovery program, I put a lot of things in place with my life. All of the stuff really. But I was still not sleeping very well. So the only thing I could say is that God got me a job that was so physical that he cured my insomnia just through during a lot of exercise during the day. And that was a job with the US Fish and Wildlife Service, which was a field tech job basically. We went out on the rivers and walked around all day, and then we snorkeled at night. It was just an extremely intense job. And then, on top of that, I had a 60 minute commute home. So by the time I got home to bed, I was out. I was tired. And that took care of my insomnia. So that’s how exercise was used to kind of get me over the hump initially, which was a huge deal because we had to take care of that insomnia thing. And God had the perfect plan for that. Nowadays, I still exercise everyday, which like I said, I do it in the morning. As soon as I get up and drink my water, then I’m outside to exercise. If it’s too nasty outside, then I’ll do it inside. But it will be in a few different forms. I might just straight run. I might do my interval training or I might do circuit training. Those are my three forms of exercise that I do the most.
Jonathan: How long for?
Nathan: I’ll run maybe three miles.
Jonathan: A day?
Nathan: Yeah. I’ve done that. It just depends on kind of where I’m at. Sometimes I just like to mix it up. So I run about three miles in the morning. I’ll do interval training for maybe about 24 minutes. Depends on which ... interval training would be where you elevate your heart rate through running for a short distance.
Jonathan: Like Peak 8? It’s like Peak 8. Sprinting. Walking.
Nathan: Yeah. You sprint for a little while then you walk for 30 seconds. Or you run for a minute. Walk for 30 seconds. That’s what I call IT. Maybe it might even be longer now. Maybe I might do two minutes and walk for a minute or walk for 30 seconds. You know, as I get more fit, then I’ll extend the intense exercise time. And then, I might do circuit training, which I could just do in my room. Which would just be a series of like calisthenics like jumping jacks and some ab work, squats, tricep dips, doing something with my biceps, some shoulder stuff, plank. And I just do a circuit like that. And then, I do like three of those circuits, and I usually warm up with like a mild walk before I do that. So that’ on a daily basis.
Jonathan: What would be the one thing that was most contributive to overcoming your insomnia?
Nathan: It was that job. It was just getting myself so tired that I overcame my anxiety. Because my anxiety was so high that my level of fatigue wasn’t able to overcome it. So I was physically tired. But when I got that job, it put it over the top of the anxiety. Plus the job I had to pay attention to my work. There were details I had to write down. I had to do all of that stuff. So I wasn’t able to just think about my life and all the bad things, which was helping my anxiety also. But then, I was just so physically tired from going up and down on the stream all day and doing all that stuff that that just took care of the insomnia.
Jonathan: How can somebody do that if they didn’t necessarily have the opportunity of having a job quite like that?
Nathan: Yeah. You would have to have some time. I’m not sure why because I was actually in decent shape at times. But for some reason, for me, I had to have that level of exercise. For most people, it would probably be less. And you would be able to overcome the insomnia with a lesser level. And that might look like exercising two or three times a day instead of just once to get over it initially. After that, obviously, I don’t do that now. I just have my regular exercise and that’s enough for me.
Jonathan: Why is that? Why is it that that exercise helps with sleep and with depression to that level? And why you have to increase to something that would to some people seem like, oh, that’s excessive. But you have to do more. And I’m not talking about people like that are pushing insane amounts and taking lots of protein shakes, and creating different things to try to help gain muscle in innocence abnormal ways. I’m talking about things like you were doing where you’re sort of this kind of sprinting. But then, you weren’t overtaxing your body. But you’re doing plenty of it at over an hour a day or sometimes two or more hours a day. Why is it that that helps so much?
Nathan: Why does it help anxiety?
Jonathan: Yeah. Like anxiety and insomnia?
Nathan: Well, for me, it was the overcoming of anxiety because my anxiety was quite high. So I had to get to a level of physical tiredness so to speak where it would overcome it. But exercise itself as an acute relief for depression and anxiety this is well known to work. Just what is happening in the mechanism in the body, I couldn’t tell you off hand.
Jonathan: Yeah. That’s cool. Anything else you’d like to share in regards to what you used to help you get better. Any supplements?
Nathan: Well, I took Vitamin D. Living where I am in Washington state, you need Vitamin D basically because we don’t produce enough up there. The sunshine is just not there a lot of the year, so I had to have Vitamin D. And even when it’s there, a lot of people are still short on it. So Vitamin D, I took that. And I still take that. That is really the only supplement I take right. And back in the day when I was overcoming depression, I think it’s the only one I took back then as well. I didn’t really take any supplements.
Jonathan: But that was an important one. And perhaps, without it, some people still wouldn’t recover. Vitamin D is essential. If you’re low on Vitamin D it doesn’t matter what you do, you’ll still feel bad.
Nathan: Yeah. And as part of that pathway I talked about for a generation of proper neurotransmitters. So I think it’s part of the melatonin loop. So you’re going to need that.
Jonathan: Yeah. Okay. You had the spiritual component. Did you[inaudible ] any behavioral therapy?
Nathan: I did. And I certainly wouldn’t want to diminish or understate the importance of that. That’s what we get down to because what we think really controls our lives. So an understanding of being able to examine my thoughts, and understand that they are hurting me, and change those is really what we’re trying to get out here with a lot of these other things. With all the physical stuff we do, we wanted to get our mind strong enough to where we can actually do that. So we can say, wait a minute, I’m thinking this now. Is that true and helpful? It might be true. You can tell [inaudible ] stuff a lot of true stuff. That isn’t going to help you. We’ve all done a lot of bad things, or experienced bad things. But is it true and helpful? What I’m telling myself right now, this thing is hurting me, that’s not true and helpful. So I need to tell myself something true and helpful like that I can overcome this. A lot of other people have overcome this. There’s thousands of people who have gone through this program and living very productive lives. That’s the kind of thing I want to tell myself. CBT is exceptionally important.
There’s one other thing that I want to mention is that, and I mentioned this before, is that the importance of the people that are around you taking a genuine interest in your life, that’s important. Because when they saw me starting to slip, they would ask me what’s going on. I don’t know what would’ve happened if they weren’t there. You know? So maybe I’m starting to not do my stuff. They can see me starting to slip to the side. It’s like okay, what’s going on? What are you doing? What are you not doing? You know, they would say come on over, we’re going to hash this out. Very patient. Very loving. They could see I was on my way up. They could see me slipping a little bit. But they still have that genuine interest in my life. And they were willing to take the time to do it. God bless them. You know? A lot of patience.
Jonathan: It’s even more advanced than accountability. That’s camaraderie.
Jonathan: I mean, everyone needs it. Women need it. Men need it. Men, I think being a man, need it for particular reasons. Camaraderie is part of that pack kind of mentality being with the boys. Having somebody have your back. Having somebody else’s back. For me, that been really meaningful to have guys I can talk to about this kind of stuff, and just be like yeah, here’s what’s up. And then, be able to do that to them. And have some of my most meaningful relationships. We both have a whole long list of things to say about each other and how we’ve been there for each other.
Nathan: Yeah. Praise God. Yeah. That’s great. That’s a beautiful thing. Yeah.
Jonathan: What’s your message of encouragement for the person watching?
Nathan: Oh. I would say, don’t give up hope. It may seem like you’ve gone through everything, and that there is nothing left for you to do, but that is actually deception. That’s a lie. There are things that you can do. I’ve experienced myself. And I’ve seen a lot of other people overcome through these same principles. So don’t fall for it. Don’t fall for that lie that this is the end. I’m going to be like this forever. That’s just a lie straight from the pit. Don’t give up. And hope is probably closer than what you believe. And God is working. He’s watching you all the time. And he knows the people to put in place in your life to lead you to a place that will give you the help you need. And I’m confident that when you find that place, that your life is going to be like mine is, two lives. It will be what I was before, and what I am now. So hang in there. And he will bring you to that spot.