I am vegan. It still sounds weird when I say it because I had a strong love for ice cream and cheese. Someday I get frustrated because all I want is some chocolate and frozen yogurt, however I know better. Although going vegan was to help reduce my persistent allergies, I have also noticed that is has helped me deal with my bipolar disorder.
How has it helped me you may ask, well in the following ways:
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 reasonable 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 an episode that I was not prepared for. So where in the past I would give up after 5 minutes, I now spend hours seeking out food; thus, making me more tolerant to things that set off my anger and impatience.
I gained more courage
I had convinced myself that I was allergic to tomatoes and that 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 that I had closed myself off too 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 that I wanted to protect them from who I become when I experience an episode. However, my diet change has shown me that I was afraid to face my fears. Afraid that being open would mean I could get hurt. Many things are not vegan friendly and so I had to start eating vegetables that I disliked such as tomatoes, aubergines and baby cabbage.
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 that I have to plan my meals in advance, making sure that each is a balanced meal. Clean eating, which veganism has encouraged, has forced me to acknowledge that I am worth the effort. The transformation in my body has shown me that I am beautiful irrespective of how I look like externally.