All the world is nuts about
The Book That Changed My Life
By Owen Harvey Staples
AKA Owen the Botanist/Naturalist
Through the blur of memory that I can recall, sometime before my fateful date arrived, I found a book that was the beginning point for major, positive change. It changed my life. The book was Diet For A New America by John Robbins. It offered a new perspective, and gave me one last thing to try before I gave up. It proved to be the answer.
I began reclaiming my health
The book, The Wellness Diaries, is my tracking of my own progress, as I took a rather unfamiliar path. It accurately observes the experiences and adventures as seen through the lens of a man making the transition from mentally, (and physically) ill to an informed, conscious, enlightened, healthy and happy botanist.
I took the MMPI, a third time in August, 2010 for another opinion. I was still doing so well. It showed no signs of mental illness. I was still excited, but still had a ways to go with medications. I remained strongly vegan during the summer of 2009, and into 2010, holding to my ways. On December 7, 2010, I took my medicine as I had been directed for years. The next day, I went to an appointment with my psychiatrist. We had been discussing a trial period without medications while I had been doing so well. The theme seemed to be the two of us questioning the wisdom in continuing meds if I didn't need them. I had hoped early on after becoming vegan that I would eventually be able to cease them. He sent me on my way that day, (a sort of leap of faith on his part) without any prescription refills. I left excited, with him sort of scratching his head. I thought it was great.
EXTREME "NUTSHELL VERSION"
I had a blog at the time, tracking my progress. It was an exciting post that day. A few days later, SynDee and I were on our way to a Christmas party. A man backed into us with his truck. This totaled her car. Sparing the details, we sold my truck, and we bought a nice car, which we now share. I take it when I need to, although I prefer riding my bike. From there, I began riding the bus, and mostly walking to where I needed to be.
This was about the time I chose to close the blog. Shortly thereafter, I cancelled the internet at my house. I realized that I loved walking, loved being outside, among the birds, grass, sky, clouds, rain, snow, trees, flowers, which were in early March, just getting started, (those that sprout early, hyacinth, tulip, narcissus.) To me, it made little sense, to be "online" so much when I really wanted to be outside.
A few weeks later, I got out my mountain bike for the first time in over two years. I began riding it a lot; nearly everywhere I went, near or far. I found that I could cover much more ground in a more efficient manner, less strenuous on my body than walking great distances. It wasn't as easy to stop and identify flowers here or there while on the bike, but by that time, I knew which ones were sprouting, and had memorized which families they belonged to, how many stamens, and petals there were on each.
I have my health, my home, my wife
In the traditional sense of the word, I am not wealthy, but I feel like the richest man on planet earth, because every day is met with wonder, awe, gratitude for breath, life, for abundant food and nourishing beauty. Since this inner wealth is within my grasp every day as a choice, ripe fruit on a tree is waiting to be picked.
Everyday I must make a choice, to pick it or not. Most days I have chosen to pick it and have been richly rewarded internally. On those days, there is always enough externally for everything that I want/need, because it is everything that I already have, and I have already made the internal choice that it is enough.
Thank you for reading.
Shortly thereafter, things became rather strange. Several events added up to one of "life's major curve balls." While still enrolled in the university, and with a full schedule, I became anxious and stressed, to the point of being fearful and flat out paranoid. My fears ranged from everything to believing I needed to constantly prepare to defend myself in an attack, to an extreme fear of germs, car crashes, unwilling to fly in an airplane, to my belief that I had HIV from a tattoo years prior. (Even upon being tested negative, I was convinced that it was an altered test.)
Upon living in fear for several months, with fears only increasing in severity, and after being fired from several jobs, close family members were able to convince me to seek professional help. I agreed to do so, but rather reluctantly. I was referred to a therapist shortly thereafter.
I found it refreshing to be able to vent my frustrations and fears, and after four months, I was making progress on my obsessive, compulsive behaviors. Still doubting my current diagnosis and treating of the obsessive symptoms, my therapist wanted more information. At the request of my therapist, I took the MMPI, a diagnostic test. The results indicated strongly that I was suffering from a mental illness, or thought disorder known as paranoid schizophrenia.
Medications numbed my fears
After a 5-year period with being on and off of medications, with an up and down mood, a divorce after being married only 4 months, I went through another dark phase. I became extremely negative about my outlook on life. Who wouldn't after all of that? My constantly negative, hateful thoughts were becoming self-destructive.
Being prepared to give up on relationships altogether, upon meeting another woman, (by a sort of serendipitous accident) I tried the "relationship thing" one last time. We realized we had fun times, and were compatible. We were married just over a year later. Eventually we purchased our own first home and life seemed "doable" once again.
At a time when things were going so well, and I seemed set up for success and happiness, (we had our own home, good jobs, each other and a small family of beloved companion animals,) my sadness only worsened. I was not happy. I felt miserable. I felt as though my world was caving in. I felt worse knowing that I had so much going for me, which led to me continuously "beating myself up" with guilt for feeling lousy.
I was planning suicide
The book was Diet For A New America by John Robbins.I loved it. I absorbed every word, like a sun-starved plant. I felt alive again (at least when reading) simply learning of the benefit of a plant-based diet for our health and the planet. It definitely "spoke" to me. After I finished the book, I tried going completely plant-based myself that August. I noticed changes nearly over night. Over the next few months, my mood lifted tremendously. My excess 45 pounds was shedding dramatically. I felt inspired and alive once again. It was great!
That book led to a diet/lifestyle change and a desire for more information. I read books by topic, which I felt drawn to, ranging from a vegan diet, to self help, spirituality, law of attraction and botany. I was addicted to knowledge. I could not get enough! I would be in the break room at lunch while at work, highlighting a book and always so excited about what I was learning. I read 34 books in 14 months, at which point I stopped counting.
I began having thoughts of writing my own book, sharing my own wellness story. I did it, finished, and now here I am--a man with a message. The Wellness Diaries takes the reader through my detailed journey, as seen through my own lens. It begins shortly before diagnosis, into paranoia and illness, journeying into wellness, and into the present.
Diet change is the foundation
The book tracks my progress through a time frame, and shares the tears, laughs, joys, disappointments, and the many adventures along the way. Currently, I am happier and healthier than I have ever been. With my doctor's approval, I was able to cease my medications. I no longer needed treatments. I see my regular family physician yearly for an exam as anyone should. My vital stats are all tested, and they all test excellent.
I have opened my own business, using a unique niche as an indoor plant consultant. It is a beginning point to my message. When asked about the book by a client, I gladly share anything they would like to know.
When I take an occasional glance back on my dark times, it feels like I have awakened from a bad dream. It is part of my past, and I keep it there. Realizing that happiness and health are both a choice, and loving my life, this is a mountain that I only continue to climb.