Where do I begin? Well first of all, I spent about an hour reading hundreds of posts on his forum and it gave a sick feeling in my stomach. It hit so close to home that and itís something I havenít felt in a long time. The things everyone says just sound so familiar that it pains me to read them.
Anyways my depression wasnít from a single event. It was a slow gradual decline that took years to form. It was kind of a slow drip and one day realizing the water was up to my neck. My first memories of depression began in elementary school. Iím sure some of you will understand what I mean when I say there was a strange feeling of comfort when I was depressed. A distorted happiness within that sadness. Anyways, the depression continued to grow as the years went by but it really started to affect me in college. Suddenly I wasnít on the parents schedule anymore and began sleeping in and getting more and more isolated. I was a good student but socially awkward. My life began to consist of studying, video games, and TV.
Things really spiraled down after college and starting work. Was this it? Is my life just about going to work everyday and nothing else? More and more I was becoming unsatisfied with my life. It felt like there was nothing to look forward to in life and this was basically it from here until the end. In order to stop the monotony, I quit my job and traveled around Asia. That was an awesome adventure and it truly felt like a vacation from my real life. I seemed to forget most of my problems and live in the moment. However after coming home 2 years later, reality hit me even harder. All the things I was running away from came rushing at me all at once. Suddenly, I was constantly sick all the time and feeling terrible. Many days were spent in bed and I was gaining weight. I couldn't find a job and looking for one made me feel worse.
After about a year and a half of this, I finally decide to go to the therapist. Honestly, this was one of the hardest phone calls to make in my life. I didnít have money so I just went to the state university therapist. The reason why I decided to go was I tried all the self help stuff. Tony Robbins, Zig Ziglar, Steven Covey, you name it, Iíve read and heard it. All of it didnít help and I thought I wasnít going to live past 35. I planned out how I was going to commit suicide because I really couldnít imagine feeling this slow strangle anymore for the rest of my life. So I decided to just give therapy a tryÖhell, nothing else worked.
At first I was apprehensive about going because it was actually a student therapist and everything was going to be video taped or watch by other therapists. The main problem was it was a studentÖwhat did they know? Shouldnít I go to someone whoís been doing this for years? Monetarily I could not afford anyone else so I had no choice. However this was actually one of the luckiest culmination of factors that has ever happened to me.
Therapy was hardÖemotionally hard. There were days I called in sick because I just couldnít do it. Every time I came out of the therapistís room, my body felt emotionally drained. It felt like Iíd been crying for hours even though I didnít shed a single drop. Feelings started to return and at first it was all the negative ones. At first, Iíd been so depressed and anxious that those were the only things I felt. Suddenly I was feeling things like boredom and anger. There were many days where I was so frustrated about nothing and mad at the world for no reason. Using Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, my therapist and I slowly changed the negative thoughts over the course of a year one by one. In the university system, after a year, you can continue therapy if you want but you have to change therapists. The reason I quit was that I didnít want to reestablish a new relationship with another stranger and explain my problems all over again so I decided to end it.
Looking back, going to therapy was the absolute best decision I've ever made. No doubt, absolute number one. I am so much happier than I was a couple of years ago that it's unbelievable. I thought that being negative about things was normal and everyone thought that way. Now, I'm not sure if that's true or not but I know that I don't have to be negative. There's so much more to look forward to in life and oh yeah, all those illnesses I was getting while depressed, magically disappeared. The mind is truly powerful.
Why my therapy was so good was something I realized later. First of all, yes he was a student without experience but since he was a student he was as current as you can be on all the latest research on clinical psychology. Second, since he was young, he was not jaded and eager to help and full of spirit. Third, since there was a senior therapist watching the sessions, the student therapist could not spin off into his own weird biases(i.e. rebirthing therapy, primal scream, etc.) since there was someone to check him. It was actually like having 2 therapists for the price of one. And talk about the price, it was absolutely reasonable. Since itís state university, they adjust the cost to your income. I wasnít making any money so it was around $30 a session.
I even think quitting after a year was a lucky accident. After a year, I was much happier and positive but I still felt I wasnít ready to take on the world by myself. However, I grew so much because of it. The first year after therapy was tough because a lack of guidance. However if I stayed, therapy might have become a crutch. I continued to apply what I learned and little by little things got better. Now 3 years later, I am happy to say that 90% of my depression is gone. There are some weeks that are still tough but Iíve now added optimism to my arsenal and my results have skyrocketed. I even think I'll go back to therapy someday because just like the gym, there's no such thing as too healthy. There are so many lessons I learned throughout the past years but Iíll share a few.
- Therapy is hard, just like a good workout. You should feel drained after each session.
- Therapy is the easiest way to help yourself because you need to experience that itís safe to trust someone with anything and know that you arenít being judged.
- It's extremely difficult to see your own unhealthy thinking because you don't have perspective. If you think you know what's wrong, you're probably wrong.
- No matter how logical you think you are, most of your thoughts are really emotional.
- All the problems you have come from emotional beliefs.
- You cannot change an emotional belief with logic, only persistence. You have to chip away at it like stone.
- The reason why self help doesnít work is that your perceptions are so distorted you donít have an understanding of whatís really effective or the power to do what's necessary. It's like asking a 10 year old to coach you for the Olympics.
- It's definitely time for a change if you mess up/cheat on a behavior(quitting smoking, going to the gym, diet, etc) 10 times because then it's becoming a habit. If you mess up once or twice, let it go and continue doing the right thing. It really doesn't matter.
- Go to a university with a clinical psychology program. It's cheaper and you get 2 therapists for 1.
- Going to therapy was the best decision of my life and I wish I'd gone earlier. So it's never too early to go.
So let's talk about the benefits of depression over a normal person, if you get better:
- You'll have a better appreciation of life because you've seen the darker side
- You can focus on the positive because you can see the negative a mile away. To you, it's automatic, you won't be surprised by something going wrong
- You'll be able to see depression IMMEDIATELY in other people and know how to get through to them
- If you have children, you'll be able to see it and fix it while they are young
- Only smart people get depressed. It's a thinking disease. Could you imagine someone with an IQ 70 being depressed? Sad, maybe, long term depression, no way. Admit it, you're smart
- You can use all that brain power that's focused on depression to achieve so much more than average people
- You'll have a superior understanding of human psychology and motivation
- You'll be able to help others with your experience and knowledge
The hardest but most important step is to ask for help by going to the therapist. Do the work, tell them things you don't want to tell them, follow their instructions. If you do, it takes time but it only gets better. I'm living proof.