“It’s Not Magic, It’s Science:” Eric’s Story

by | Dec 20, 2023 | The Brain Energy Movement - Advocacy

Medical Review by Chris Palmer, MD

Eric Rodgers

When I was in my 40s and 50s, everything was going well. I had a happy life with my wife and son. My optometry business was successful.

But I wanted to die.

I would ask my psychiatrist again and again: if everything is great, why can’t I appreciate it?

I never got a good answer to that question from my doctor. But luckily, I discovered the work of Dr. Chris Palmer, and I began to understand the connection between mental and metabolic health. That’s when my life started to change for the better. 

My story of poor metabolic health began in childhood. By third grade, I was overweight and concerned about my appearance. I ate processed food and snacked on junk food. By junior high, kids were teasing me about being fat. In 12th grade, I reached 215 pounds and had an epiphany of sorts. I didn’t want to go to college overweight. I cut out all snacking, lost a lot of weight, and felt better.

The signs that poor metabolic health was affecting my mood also appeared early in my life. I was a worrier. I remember having insomnia as early as 8th grade. I would go days in a row with poor sleep and felt extremely stressed. Though, overall, I had a happy childhood with a great home life and good friends, my underlying anxiety was building. 

In my early 20’s I was prescribed medication for high blood pressure. Today, we know that’s a good indicator of metabolic syndrome, but at the time, I was young and a runner. I didn’t suspect my metabolism was impaired.

By the time I was 30, the stress of running an optometry practice contributed to my first bout of depression, which was coupled with severe insomnia. Sleeping pills did provide some relief and I got past that bout of depression mostly unscathed. Ten years later, I wasn’t as fortunate. I changed my practice location and became the sole owner of a small practice. My anxiety increased. I began training for marathons. The exercise helped with my anxiety. The depression, however, reappeared, and it was worse than ever.

That’s when I started seeing a psychiatrist.

I took Paxil which made me much worse, then switched to Lexapro, which did provide relief, but only masked symptoms and did nothing helpful for the underlying cause of my depression. I remained on SSRIs from the ages 40-55 with some degree of success, but significant underlying anxiety. 

In 2015, a job change triggered a third episode of severe depression. I thought about suicide all the time. I was on a number of psychiatric medications, and was getting worse, not better. I stopped running due to poor mood and sleep. I gained some weight.

My doctor diagnosed me with prediabetes.

Next, she said to me eat less fat and exercise more… 

That wrong advice, it turns out, was helpful because it led me to learn about metabolic health. And I started to learn about the role of diet in metabolic disease. 

It wasn’t long before I found out about Dr. Palmer’s work with ketogenic diets. I decided to try it and quickly began to lose weight. My mood improved. I was still taking an antidepressant, but I began to feel better and better.

In 2017, a fully ketogenic diet was treating my decades-long severe depression. 

I have now been medication-free and depression-free for about 7 years.* I’m in a better mood than I was for most of my adult life.

I know someone hearing my story might not believe a diet cured my depression. But it did. And it’s not magic or good luck, it’s science, which is clearly explained in the book, Brain Energy. 

I also know I’m not alone in my recovery. There’s a growing movement of people who have repaired severe mental disorders with dietary and other metabolic strategies. And I’m sharing my story to tell you that there is hope for healing.

Dr. Palmer and the Brain Energy Movement are a catalyst for change. We’re a community where people from all walks of life come together to prioritize and enhance our metabolic health, which leads to positive transformations in our mental health. 

*Disclaimer: Although Eric was able to adjust his medications and start a ketogenic diet safely on his own, not all people can. There are serious risks with both. We strongly recommend that people work with their healthcare providers to adjust medications and/or start therapeutic/ketogenic diets as a treatment for mental health conditions. The Brain Energy movement is working to educate more healthcare professionals to be able to offer these treatments.

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