Sue Westwind, holistic mental health coach, and Cheryl Miller, wellness expert, will offer a free program, “Newly Discovered Roots of Depression and Anxiety,” from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. Jan. 11 at Unity Church of Lawrence, 900 Madeline Lane.
Westwind and Miller, owners of Natural Mind, will provide information about drug-free approaches to treating depression and anxiety. They will share their own personal success stories along with Hilary Brown, owner of Local Burger.
The program will include video clips from Dr. Mark Hyman of the UltraWellness Center in Lenox, Mass., and healthy snacks.
Natural Mind also is offering an eight-week course that will go more in-depth about the approaches.
For more information, visit NaturalMindNaturalBody.com. Westwind can be reached at 785-331-9630 and Miller can be contacted at 785-640-4059.
Sue Westwind, 56, and Cheryl Miller, 60, share a common bond.
They both suffered from depression for many years.
Westwind, of Oskaloosa, said she suffered from depression and anxiety most of her life.
She began having migraines when she reached puberty. When she married, she wanted to have children but couldn’t.
She and her husband adopted two baby girls who were about 11 months apart in age. By age 3, one of the girls was diagnosed with autism.
Meanwhile, Westwind continued to suffer from depression. She had more migraines. She also had symptoms of chronic fatigue syndrome and all-over joint pain.
“I was absolutely stressed out about autism, and my own health was terrible,” Westwind said. “I didn’t know if I was going to be able to take care of my kids.”
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Miller, of Lawrence, said she lacked energy and joy early in life.
She often thought there was nothing fun to do.
“It was melancholy,” she said. “I thought, ‘Why do anything?’ It was just really sad.”
Miller said she carried around about 15 pounds of extra weight and often got cold sores.
At age 30, she visited a doctor who told her she was just feeling the signs of age. But, she didn’t buy that.
“So, I just went on a journey to figure out what in the world was going on,” she said.
Miller had a variety of tests done. She also tried acupuncture, chiropractic services, fasting, detox diets and supplements.
Then, Miller — who hated exercising — signed up for a Slimnastics class at a community center in Lawrence.
“A few weeks into class I thought, ‘Hey I’m already in exercise mode, I might as well do a little walking and jogging,’” she said.
Not only did she lose weight, but her mood improved and she felt better.
“When I started getting fit, things just started popping into place,” she said. “My whole body functioned better.”
She then began to eat healthier. Miller said she used to eat a lot of fast food and drink soda. Now, she consumes foods that are unprocessed and unrefined.
“I do not believe that we should all eat the same thing,” she said. “We shouldn’t all be vegan. We shouldn’t all be carnivores. We should eat according to what our particular body and makeup needs to eat.”
Miller’s experience led to a master’s degree in exercise physiology and community health from Kansas University. She is a trained life coach and manages the state’s health promotion program.
She said her philosophy is: “You can live a wellness lifestyle even if you love pizza and hate Pilates. You don’t have to do what everyone else is doing.”
For Westwind, the key to a better life was in nutrition.
Using vitamins, supplements and a special diet, she was able to help her autistic daughter. So, she decided to try the remedies herself.
At age 48, Westwind eliminated dairy and gluten from her diet.
“Honestly, within two weeks, my life was turning around. I had energy, clarity, optimism — things that I had just never really experienced before.
“I lost 30 pounds and the main thing is just the negative patterns of thought that I had worked on in therapy for decades just really literally went away. It just stopped.”
Westwind also learned that she needed to avoid caffeine; just one cup of green tea can trigger a migraine. Now, she is migraine-free.
Westwind is a holistic mental health coach through the American Association of Drugless Practitioners.
For several years, she operated a private therapy practice using hypnotherapy, bodywork and transpersonal counseling. Westwind also founded the Heartland chapter of Safe Harbor International, the world’s largest clearinghouse for drug-free mental wellness resources.
“For me the real key, even though I had worked in therapy for decades, was nutrition,” she said.
Over the summer, Westwind met Miller and they immediately hit it off. They decided to start a new business — Natural Mind — that would help educate people about drug-free approaches to treating depression.
“We are both real similar in that we are just get-down-to-it-and-make-it-happen kind of people — no foot dragging,” Westwind said. “When we are on a dream, we just go for it.”
They have assembled an 18-member advisory board that includes psychologists and nationally recognized experts in holistic care. Among the members are Stephen Ilardi, author of “The Depression Cure”; Hyla Cass, author of “Supplement Your Prescription: What Your Doctor Doesn’t Know About Nutrition”; and Dan Stradford, founder of Safe Harbor International.
“We haven’t had any obstacles since we started this,” Westwind said. “It’s like it has been blessed. I am not kidding — everyone seems to want this.”
Natural Mind is offering a free program, “Newly Discovered Roots of Depression and Anxiety,” for the community. It will be from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. Jan. 11 at Unity Church of Lawrence, 900 Madeline.
During the program, Westwind and Miller will share their stories in hopes of helping someone else.
“Almost anyone nowadays knows someone who’s got an anxiety disorder or depression,” Westwind said. “We are coaches, so we just want to provide education — not treatment. We want to help people make a plan.”