Depression, Dietary Changes, and Fitness goal

So yes, once again I fell off the radar. For the first time in many years I felt my clinical depression come back and just destroy me. Once I realized that this was what was happening, so much of what I have been complaining about recently started to make sense and what sucks is that I did this to myself. You see, when I was about 18 I was actually diagnosed with clinical depression. I have pretty much been on antidepressants ever since and I have tried so many until I found the one that worked for me which was/is Zoloft. So I feel really dumb because this is the stereotypical bi-polar disorder mentality; I feel bad so I need medication but after a while I feel good so I must not need the medication, not like I feel bad anymore right? I stop the medication and then I feel bad again. So a few months ago I was feeling good. I was no longer waking up feeling depressed for no reason so I decided to stop my Zoloft. I wanted to see how it felt to not be taking a handful of pills every morning that I might not even need. All I was taking was an anti-viral called Acyclovir which I have to take for so long after my last Lemtrada infusion to help make sure I do not get any sort of herpes-related virus.

Now it did feel good to not be taking all these pills. I was happy about it. But there were days that I felt depressed but I would tell myself I was depressed for a reason, it was situational, it was normal. So still, I never even thought to go back on my Zoloft. Now in the last few months I have been complaining about some weird symptoms that I could not explain. Well Because the last few weeks have been terrible, probably the worst my depression has ever been, I though that maybe I should look at the side effects of depression as I have it and am not treating it. It was so obvious that I never even thought about it! So a quick Google search and this is what turned up;

“People may experience:

Mood: anxiety, apathy, general discontent, guilt, hopelessness, loss of interest, loss of interest or pleasure in activities, mood swings, or sadness

Sleep: early awakening, excess sleepiness, insomnia, or restless sleep

Whole body: excessive hunger, fatigue, loss of appetite, or restlessness

Behavioral: agitation, excessive crying, irritability, or social isolation

Cognitive: lack of concentration, slowness in activity, or thoughts of suicide

Weight: weight gain or weight loss

Also common: poor appetite or repeatedly going over thoughts”

Hmmm… are you kidding me? I have been experiencing pretty much all of this and trying to blame it on other medications or health issues! So I saw my primary care and he agreed I should go back on Zoloft. It’s been just over 2 weeks and I suppose I am feeling a little better. One of the worst parts of depression (in my opinion) is this feeling of heaviness. All you want to do is lie down because moving requires so much effort especially when you have zero motivation to do anything but sleep. Now add the crippling MS fatigue and BAM; you don’t hear from me for weeks. That is what seems to be getting better, the heaviness. Now, antidepressants take a long time to kick in and generally people agree that the first 2 weeks are the absolute worst so I have just been trying to take it easy and pass the time. But hopefully the worst is behind me and it will only get better from here on out. I just need to instill it into my mind that I will always need to be on an antidepressant, probably for the rest of my life. That way this does not happen again. There is a chemical imbalance in my brain and this little pill will correct it. Simple.

But as I have slowly been able to get myself up and actually doing stuff I have been thinking a lot about my health, my MS. I am just under 7 years into this disease and already I feel like I have lost so much and find myself miserable more often than not. So what scares me is the thought of where I will be in another 10 years. 20? 30? It really scares me. So once again I want to change my diet and how I take care of my body because I have pretty much lost faith in how much conventional medicine can do for me but this time I am serious about it. The last few times I said this I would take a bite of a vegetable and say, “Oh my god, yeah… just… no…” (I never liked my greens). Then the family would order pizza and I would say, “ok, just one slice… maybe two… everything in moderation right?” and pretty soon the concept of eating well has disappeared. Not this time. This time I am fueled by both a fear of where I seem to be heading in life and a desire to try to get back some of what I have lost. Stuff that made me happy.

So I finally started actually reading about Terry Wahls, this video sums up her story pretty well, and trying to design a new diet plan I can realistically get myself into. I can’t go 100% paleo like her, not because I can’t see myself eating all those vegetables but because I simply can’t afford it. It’s so expensive to eat all fresh produce and grass-fed meat. So I figure if I can reduce the bad stuff by 75% and increase the good stuff by 50% that is a lot better than where I am now. So I am trying to get ahold of whatever fruits and vegetables I can and start juicing/making smoothies because I don’t mind the taste of vegetables but it’s the texture that gets me and whether I am chewing something or drinking it that doesn’t change the nutrients I am getting. I am also cutting a lot out of my diet (a lot of the things that the paleo diet prohibits) and of course no more eating out and I am cutting out as much processed food as possible. I am also avoiding dairy and sugar. So for example, no more coffee. I have been drinking coffee since I was about 17 but I take it with cream (dairy) and sugar. I know they have dairy free cream but I figured I may as well just get in the habit of drinking green tea instead because not only does it not have all that stuff I don’t want in it but it is an antioxidant. Plus any kind of dairy-free cream or artificial sweeteners are probably processed.

I actually like the green tea but the smoothies and juices I have started drinking are a little… rough. I am avoiding ever saying “gross”. So they are rough. I may not like them that much but I like them more than I like feeling like garbage and when you start to feel like your future hangs in the balance it really is not that difficult of a change to make. I want to feel good. I want to be able to do some of the things I could do just a few years ago. I am not saying I think I will actually be able to reverse the damage MS has done to me, I am saying I think that by changing my diet and fitness goals I will be able to get the most use out of this body as I can and make it last longer. That is all I really want. To actually be healthy.  It’s a learning process for sure though. I don’t really know anything about eating healthy but I am reading books and lots of stuff online and I might go see a dietician for some advice. Either way I have been drinking this stuff for a little less than a week and even though the first time was a tad shocking to my taste buds it quickly became no big deal so I really do plan on sticking to it this time. Hopefully my depression issues will balance out soon and make doing all of this much easier.

31 Responses to Depression, Dietary Changes, and Fitness goal

  1. Jilly says:

    Go in gently……and don’t beat yourself up should it not be your thing.

  2. Dimitri says:

    Way to go. Just hang in there.
    We all suffer set backs. But as long as you can realize the problem then you’re still making progress.

    I have the same problem with my family. Sometimes it feels like they’re purposely out to sabotage me. lol. My doctor recommends that I try to get them to eat more health consciously. Yeah right.

    I love your use of the word “rough”. Haha. That’s perfect. As well, I feel you’re pain about giving up coffee. But your body will adapt. I’m a coffee fiend and was able to switch to drinking coffee black whitch surprised the hell out of me.

    Good luck with your new life changes and don’t be hard on yourself and discouraged if you fall off the wagon here and there. As long as you get back up.

    • Matt Allen G says:

      Haha yes, I am REALLY holding on to that word, ROUGH. I would lobe to get another refrigerator to fill mostly with just healthy food so I don’t have to see all the junky stuff. We used to have 2 but the other one just gave out a few months ago, ARG! Oh and honestly? The coffee thing is turning out t not be as hard as I thought it would be. I like the tea, makes me feel more fancy hahaha

  3. Katie says:

    Hello Matt,

    I admire your honesty about your battle with depression these past years. Although I could never truly understand how MS would impact one’s depression, I too was diagnosed with clinical depression shortly after high school. I was very fearful to try medication at first, just due to the stereotype I feel like our society puts on mental illness. The medication turned out to be very beneficial for treating my depression, along with lifestyle changes, and I was happy I decided to try them. I really liked how you described depression, as this “heaviness.” I think that word perfectly sums up how depression can be all consuming and really debilitate one’s ability to get out of bed in the morning. I have read a few of your blog posts and I really value your honesty. I think it provides many people a source of comfort by being able to connect to others who share similar experiences.

    I hope you find the lifestyle changes of the new diet and fitness plan beneficial. I look forward to reading more about it in posts to come.

  4. Marie says:

    Hi Matt!

    Thank you so much for sharing. I do not think you should be ashamed for the bi-polar effect when it comes to taking anti-depressants. I think it is great that once you start to feel better mentally to stop taking it. I feel like the medication is an aide to help you reach a more stable place in which you can start to tackle obstacles. Rather than being dependent on the medication, it can possibly be a tool to help you find techniques that work for you! Life is all about trial and error, so please, stay positive and look at how you can always improve a situation!

    I love this post because I feel that it is so diverse and many people can relate to it. Whether they are not clinically diagnosed with depression, anyone who is going through a stressful week can benefit from the advice you provided. I completely agree that your diet can play a huge factor in how your body is functioning. As many people say “you are what you eat.” So providing yourself with the proper nutritious foods can fuel your body so that way it’s in its best state to take on outside stressors! It is definitely easier said than done to eat healthy, especially the cost. I love how you modified the healthy produce you were buying to fit your budget! I think this is a great tip for anyone because anything will help. And by working within your means is great!

    • Matt Allen G says:

      Thanks, the DIETING is definitely in the trial and error stage right now. Learning process. As for the antidepressants I had hoped I could get off them as I was feeling better but like I said, I have a biological imbalance, it’s not just situational, so though I can learn to better handle it I think I will always need the pill just like a diabetic needs insulin, ther5e is a chemical imbalance. I really don’t care, my goal is simply to feel good in life.

  5. Felicia says:

    Hello Matt,

    This is the first time I am on your blog, and I just want to say that is it really inspiring that you are able to be so open about your situation.
    Depression is always tough. I have been there and it is tough to fight the fatigue and the feeling of always wanting to sleep.

    I think its great that you are paying a closer attention to your diet because what we eat not only effects us physically but also mentally.

    I also don’t like taking pills for anything! I try to be wholesome with my life because I believe that physical, mental, and spiritual are all connected. The acronym NEWSTART has helped me to live a more wholesome life.

    T-Trust in God

    Heres a website and explains it more in detail:

    I hope it can help you like it helped me! Have a great day 🙂

    • Matt Allen G says:

      I think most of being healthy (for some people) depends on a lot of that stuff but at the same time some of us NEED certain medication. Life is all about balance, thanks!

  6. Gennadiy says:

    Hey Matt!

    I admire your resilience to be able to openly talk about your feelings and mental health. Unfortunately, society has negative views towards depression and mental health. However, you are doing to the right thing by going back on Zoloft, this will help balance your brain chemistry, please keep at it. You have such a positive attitude and comforting spirit/mindset that I am sure you are able to inspire people while expressing your emotions.

    Good job on taking another step of changing your health by working towards a paleo diet, and replacing the word gross with rough. These are great steps to make in order to take more charge of your life. I have heard from friends that changed their diet to a paleo one, that they have more energy and mentally feel better. Keep up with the great work, Matt, and thank you for posting!

  7. Karlie says:

    Hi Matt!
    This is the first time I have visited your blog before and I really love how much time you put into describing what it is like to walk in your shoes. Although I do not have MS and cannot begin to understand what it is like to go through that, I feel as though your depiction of your experience gives great insight and understanding.
    It can be really tough to make a life change with eating and fitness habits. I really admire your determination to live a healthy and balanced lifestyle. Sometimes making changes with one’s own lifestyle can be as you put it “rough” but everyday is a new day to choose to change and make progress. Celebrate the little accomplishments because those will add up. I think it is really great you relate everything in this post of balancing health to mental and physical since they are connected and can work together. Your post is very inspiring and honest. Good Luck to your future changes!

  8. Debbie says:

    Hey Matt,

    Thank you for sharing your personal struggle with clinical depression. I really appreciate your ability to be highly attuned with the emotions you’re feeling. Taking the time to do further research and realizing the reality of needing to remain on antidepressants to avoid the yo-yo effect of going on and off medication is commendable. It’s important to realize that healthy living plays a profound role in one’s overall well-being. Although you can’t reverse the effects MS to your body, you are able to take positive steps forward in pursuing a healthy lifestyle. I’ve recently made the effort to incorporate more fruits/vegetables into my diet through either juicing and smoothies and found adding vitamin supplements, chia seeds, nuts, etc. help with the taste and have added benefits!

    Keep up the good work! I look forward to following you throughout your journey.

  9. Shara says:

    Hey Matt,

    I appreciate your post! I have Fibromyalgia and have also struggled to be consistent with the healthy diet that I know will have a positive impact. I find I also go through waves of healthy eating and then not so much when life gets hectic. I have found though that the stretches of healthy eating are longer and the not so healthy shorter the longer I travel down this road. It has helped me to take a similar approach as you and implement changes in increments instead of full-on overhauling my entire eating routine. Thank you for sharing your journey 🙂


  10. Scott Chikuami says:

    Thank you for your willingness to be open and share about your depression. I fear that for many, depression in general is not well understood by others and our loved ones around us. As such the responses we receive are less than ideal. No one would think of telling someone with a broken bone or cancer diagnosis to “just get over it” or “just suck it up” but with regards to depression this is more common place. My thoughts are with you as you wait for your medication to take effect. At least you know that Zoloft is effective for you. For individuals still trying to figure out what works best for them, they run the risk of discontinuing a medication regimen due to ineffectiveness in treating their symptoms. However they did not give the medication ample time to work. I am glad that you were able to recognize your symptoms and take steps to address them.
    I applaud your goals to eat healthier! I know that I could improve in this department as well. Often eating habits have been deeply engrained in us, making changing the way we eat and think about food difficult to change. Just take it one day at a time. I think with diets and many other things in life, need to be tailored to the individual. What works for someone may not work for others. But stay persistent and find a diet that you are happy with and does leave you feeling deprived.
    Eating out gets expensive and it’s great to hear you’re curbing that, hopefully with the money you save you can put it toward your paleo diet or whatever diet you decide on which caters to what your body needs the most.

  11. Nick says:

    Hi Matt,

    This is my first time on your blog and I felt like I have learned so much already. Thank you so much for sharing and giving someone who knows very little about MS a more in depth and real-world understanding. I have a friend struggling with depression and I know he frequently jumps from medication to medication not being able to find one that suits him so it is great to hear that you found an effective one for yourself. Your decision to begin to eat healthier and change your diet is inspiring and motivating to me and I look forward to reading your next post related to diet. Thank you again for sharing your journey!

  12. Jaclyn Nemzek says:

    Hi Matt,

    Thanks for sharing your experience about your depression, fitness, and dietary goals! I commend you for working on including more fruits and vegetables into your diet, as this is very difficult for all of us to consume the recommended amount, let alone exceed the “expected” amount by doctors. I feel that taking care of your body in any way (fitness or dietary) will definitely benefit the symptoms of your MS and even help with depression. Oftentimes when we make a small change to our bodies, we are able to recognize some possible new-found energy or mental clarity after committing for a few weeks/months! Good luck on your journey and keep fighting! 🙂


  13. Tiffany says:

    Hey Matt,

    First, I’d like to commend you for your ability to be so open and honest about what you’re going through. I find it very courageous and inspiring, especially when we live in a time where social media is often used to showcase only the “best” of what a person is going through. Depression is very common and not easy to overcome. You’re right when saying that it is a learning process and it is often a process that is overlooked by others as something “normal” or “situational.” With every learning process, you may try something that works out in a way you didn’t anticipate. However, it is important to highlight your ability to re-evaluate and find other solutions. I love how you’re reading books and finding ways to live a healthier lifestyle. You’re constantly working on being a better version of you and I love everything you are representing! Healthy may not taste great in the beginning, but it’s funny how you can get accustomed to it (I had the same experience with kale). Keep up the good work and I look forward to reading more about your journey! (:

  14. Dillon says:


    Depression is tough, and I can only imagine how much worse it is paired with your MS! You must remember you will always have good and bad days, and the worse days will soon bring on a happier better day! Make sure never to simply stop medication because you feel better! It is important to contact your doctor before making any changes regarding your medication dosage. When dieting, try not to go all out by making huge changes. That way you’re more likely to stick to it. Also, read up on sugar. It will definitely hold you back from your diet and fitness goals. If your interested, check out “The case against sugar” by Gary Taubes. Just subtracting that from your diet is simple and easy to keep track of, and will create tons of benefits for you. Keep up your hard work!


  15. Fabi says:

    Hey Matt,

    Positive thoughts produce positive outcomes and it looks like you’re already moving in that direction. I think it’s great that you are making the conscious decision to change your diet and fitness regimen in reaching your goal to live a healthier lifestyle. Although it may not be instant, working from the inside out will definitely make a difference. I can’t imagine trying to manage your depression along with MS. I appreciate you letting people like me take a peek into your life so I can understand a different perspective.

    In terms of your new diet, I agree, green smoothies are definitely ROUGH. I’ll be really involved for a week or two then get over because honestly, I just don’t like them. If you’re looking for a complete lifestyle change, try to find food or drinks you like and just go from there. Over time, you’ll start to crave good things and it’ll get easier. I’m not sure if your diet allows raw honey or agave, but if you can try it! It’ll help drown out some of the bitterness. Good luck on your new journey!


  16. Delilah says:

    Hi Matt,

    Thank you so much for sharing. Many people hide away from their feelings and may shy away from acknowledging that they may have depression. Many people are afraid to seek help or share with others due to stigma or other personal reasons, however depression is a real thing and should not be looked down upon. I hope others who are experiencing these effects can find encouragement and the strength to share as you did.

    Lastly, you noted something that caught my attention. You mentioned how you were aware that your depression was for a reason, situational, and normal. Just as you, I agree in your approach on the importance of self-educating on symptoms that one may experience, such as the list you made for depression. It really makes a person think and become more aware of themselves and what their body may be going through.

    By the way, nutrition is absolutely fascinating to me as well! A professor in my nutrition class during my undergraduate work shared a textbook with me. You may find it interesting to read. Here is the link:

    All the best and good luck with your diet plan. Please keep us in the loop with how it goes,

  17. Jen says:

    Hello Matt!

    Thank you so much for sharing your story, it truly connects with each and every person that reads it. By sharing your story, you inspire others to also make changes in their own lives. I admire your perseverance through the emotional roller coaster that you are going through. Battling symptoms of depression is very difficult, but know there are many methods and people that can help with symptoms. Your determination and open-mindedness to try new methods out is great! I do believe changing one’s diet can alter one’s mood everyday. It won’t change entirely, but it in small increments that you will begin to notice. Good luck with your new diet, and thank you again for sharing this!

  18. Brandi says:

    Hi Matt,

    Thank you for openly sharing so much about your situation. Although others who are not facing the same struggles will never be able to know exactly how you feel, your descriptions help use to deeper connect and understand your perspective. To me it seems that changing dieting habits is one of the most difficult parts when trying to be healthier and is definitely rough. I admire your motivation to changing your diet for a healthier life and wish you luck in this endeavor.

  19. Katie says:

    Hi Matt,

    I’ve been reading through your story and am truly inspired by your tenacity to not only confront this disease, but your honesty and openness about the darkness that comes with it. Though I do not have MS, I did struggle with a period of depression. I can empathize with the feeling of heaviness, the constant desire to just sleep, and the array of other symptoms. I found that making healthy changes to my diet did have some impact. I hope that you, too, experience some positive changes. Keep at the diet and the blogging! I have no doubt your blogs are reaching people who are sharing a similar journey, and drawing strength from the reminder that they are not alone.

  20. Fel says:

    Hey Matt!

    You have a wonderful blog. Thank you for all that you are willing to share, it truly helps others understand the condition and connect to you. It was interesting to me to read how you stopped Zoloft to see how you would do without it. It shows strength and resilience to not want to depend on medication and you still continued to fight through the symptoms for awhile before retuning to Zoloft. Don’t feel let down for needing Zoloft, it’s just to balance out the chemistry just as you mentioned! A friend of mine who has depression has also expressed the “heaviness” that you mentioned. It can deplete ones motivation and drive to be productive and she also would spend days in bed. However, reading that your heaviness is beginning to go away is so awesome. Eating healthy will also only make it better for you. Keep up that positive attitude and trust that things will only get better. You’re awesome.

  21. Karla says:


    Thanks for sharing your story. This is my first time on your blog and I admire your resilience of living life with MS and depression. I find it truly inspiring. I hope that getting back on depression medication will be of great help to you. I like your perspective regarding living a healthy lifestyle. I agree with you, it is crucial to take care of our bodies by maintaining a healthy diet and being active. Living a healthy lifestyle is very important to me and I really like how motivated you are to start making changes to be healthy.
    You mentioned you started making smoothies. Smoothies are one of my favorite ways to start the day. I really enjoy antioxidant smoothies. I use strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, acai, banana, Greek yogurt, and 2 tablespoons of honey or agave nectar and a few ice cubes. You mentioned your smoothies are sometimes rough to drink. I would recommend adding 2 tablespoons of honey or agave nectar to sweeten your smoothies. It will make it taste better. You can also add a banana to sweeten green smoothies. For meals I eat a lot salads, and baked chicken or salmon with veggies. I know it can get expensive buying fresh produce, but there are many choices of veggies to choose from. I usually purchase vegetable items that are on sale. That tends to help financially and I get to consume a variety of vegetables weekly. I hope that you find my tips helpful.
    I think you are off to a great start. Your positive outlook and motivation will help you reach your goal of living healthy. I look forward to reading more about your journey.

    – Karla

  22. Mari says:

    Dear Matt,

    I have recently been reading your blogs to further understand MS, and I just wanted to express my appreciation for what you have written. Although I personally don’t have MS, I have struggled with anxiety and periods of depression. Even if MS may make you feel weak, helpless, and hopeless at times, you are as strong or even stronger and more courageous than most people out there. It takes lots of strength and perseverance to share your story to the public, and by doing so you are making a huge difference to the MS community and the community at large. I notice how even in describing your most challenging moments, your posts include ways in which you have been trying to improve your health and make the most out of what you have been given…especially in this post. That in itself takes a strong mindset. I cannot fathom the hardships that you face on a daily basis. I just know that in my personal struggles, I am battling to try and keep myself from being immobilized and just give up. Everyone goes through their own issues, whether small or large, and you have definitely influenced how I am going to go about my life. On another note, I hope that this new diet works out for you and that you will be able to feel healthier and do some of the things that you wish to do again. Thank you once again for sharing your thoughts to us. You truly are an inspiration!

    – Mari

  23. Bo says:

    Hi Matt! My name is Bo and I am currently an occupational therapy student. Although I can not relate to all your struggles, I can relate to your struggles in health. I am such a foodie and really struggle with health and fast food. I recently heard a talk show on diet and it helped me a lot. What has really helped me is the way I look at my behavior and the words I chose. Studies have shown that using the words “I can’t” and “I don’t” make a difference. The study offered a group of subjects a healthy and unhealthy food item and the group that stated “I don’t”was almost twice as likely to give up the unhealthy option and choose the wiser selection. After hearing this, I tried it with my love for fast food and sugar. Although I am not perfect, it has really helped me, and I suggest you give it a try some time because it provides psychological empowerment. I have never eaten pork, and so when offered pork, I always reply “I dont eat pork” and it is easy to stay away from. It was easy to stay away from because it is part of my identity. I used to attempt to stay away from Mcdonalds and would set a goal of a 1 week abstinence, and when offered, I would reply “I cant” have Mcdonalds this week, and then proceed to go anyways. Hope this will help you Matt, and I am praying and rooting for your success! Good luck my friend!

    • Nick C. says:

      Hi Matt
      Thank you so much for your blog post and sharing. I am very glad that you are willing to share your stories with everyone. I can already see how awesome of a person you are from reading your post!
      I truly believe that its the little increments of improvements that make us great in life. April 29th was the day you decided to start a healthy diet. Think about how healthy you will be by the end of the year if you add 5 percent more of the healthy stuff in your diet and reduce 5% of the unhealthy stuff each week! Knowing how determined you are, I know its only a matter of time before this will happen 🙂 Hopefully this diet plan can help you balance out your off weeks and start fresh weeks that are beautiful!!

  24. Nick C. says:

    Hi Matt
    Thank you so much for your blog post and sharing. I am very glad that you are willing to share your stories with everyone. I can already see how awesome of a person you are from reading your post!
    I truly believe that its the little increments of improvements that make us great in life. April 29th was the day you decided to start a healthy diet. Think about how healthy you will be by the end of the year if you add 5 percent more of the healthy stuff in your diet and reduce 5% of the unhealthy stuff each week! Knowing how determined you are, I know its only a matter of time before this will happen 🙂 Hopefully this diet plan can help you balance out your off weeks and start fresh weeks that are beautiful!!

  25. Jessica Han says:

    Hey Matt. One of my best friends has been diagnosed with MS a year ago. I shared your page with her and hope that you guys can connect. Even you venting to her about your thoughts or sharing your experience, I think, would be extremely influential. You don’t only help others with MS, but you help people like me who have other diseases and disorders. Thank you for that. I appreciate your blog and I don’t know if you believe in God, but I do and I think God has a purpose for all this.

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