Therapy written by: padhia
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Out of my ten years on antidepressants and antianxiety medications, I spent at least 8 in therapy. I thought I was responsible by not just taking medication, but by proactively attempting to help myself. I was proud of myself because it had been lightly suggested that I go for therapy, but never really impressed upon me that I should go. I shopped around online, got recommendations, and did the majority of those 8 years with 2 people. I took a brief break and found someone new when the uncomfortable silences were continually punctuating the session and there seemed to be nothing to talk about for sessions on end. It turns out, though I do have a few neat little mantras to carry around with me from these sessions ( such as “I don’t live there anymore..”) this was a major waste of time and money, and I can truly say that these doctors had no idea what they were dealing with and never tried to figure it out. I was not aware that there are many types of therapy out there, and each therapist has their own orientation. This is a major area where we need more public education & resources. It is a sad thought that even though I was so depressed & dysfunctional I was so willing to help myself, yet I completely fell through the cracks.

I had always believed that I needed to forget about the past and move on, be a grown-up, stay focused, be grateful for things, be optimistic. Ironically, I beat myself up with this until I nearly killed myself. I had searched on and off for years for depression treatment centers and found that there really isn’t that much out there. There are a lot of drug rehab and eating disorder facilities, but I never found a facility or a doctor that specialized in treating depression. I assumed there just wasn’t a need for it; I must have been the only one who was suffering to the point where I couldn’t take care of myself and spent most of my time wanting to die. Talk about feeling alone. There is such a desperate need for life rehabilitation centers, places where people can go to heal in a way that incorporates the whole body and mind. Creating such places is one of my goals with this project.

After I got off the meds, I was desperate to figure out how to create inner peace. I started researching different types of therapy, and found out that there are many types which are suitable for differing situations. It was a horrific realization that took me quite a long time to process, that I could’ve been seeing a different type of doctor and actually been making measurable progress.

On my first meeting with the only doctor out of 10 years that actually helped me, she was floored that I never in all those years of therapy discussed my relationship with my parents. All those years in therapy, I was never asked about that and so I never mentioned more than the fact that I separated myself from my mother almost 12 years ago, because I realized how toxic she is. In my past therapy I had discussed how guilty I felt about the separation, but we never delved into these early relationships or my childhood. In that first visit, the new doctor said that was where we were going to start. We were going to go straight into the depression and anxiety and discover the roots of it. I have never been so terrified of anything in my adult life. I knew I had arrived at the place I was meant to be.

In addition to this, there was one other glaring difference between this doctor and all the others. She referred (often) to “when I finished my treatment”. WHAT?! I had no concept of the end of my suffering and I didn’t even know how to process the fact that another human being was sitting before me referring to it as if it were a thing that was actually going to happen. She told me in no uncertain terms that I would be done in about a year, and would be feeling much better within a few months. It actually took a little longer, but she didn’t yet know the extent of what she was dealing with when she made those estimations. She asked me if I believed I was mentally ill. I told her that I have been told countless times in the last 10 years that I was, but actually in my heart, deep down inside despite the insurmountable evidence to the contrary, I did NOT believe I was mentally ill. She told me that was my truth. Unlike all of the other doctors where I would walk in and spend the first 20 minutes figuring out what to talk about, she had a solid agenda. A methodical plan. We started at the beginning.

It was a rocky first few months, but I kept telling myself that this was something I had never tried before and that gave me hope. I came to think of it as taking a closet that was organized with a youthful mind and ripping everything down off the shelves and examining it and then re-organizing it with an adult mind. After a few sessions, I began to feel much lighter. This terrible force that had defined my existence was changing. The doctor said we were chipping away at the base of my depression, instead of working on recent things that resided near the surface. After 2 months, I felt better than I ever ever had in my life. Not perfect, not where I wanted to be, but amazingly better. Then the holidays rolled around and I began spiraling downward. It was different this time, though. There were reasons that I could actually articulate for the first time in my life. There were helpful actions I could take. I journaled, I spoke with my doctor, I vented, I dealt with it head on. I came out of it. For the first time in my entire life I, MYSELF, lifted my depression. I did not spiral down into that place that no one can reach me and nothing can help me. For the first time in all my years on this planet, I had power over this terrible force that had always controlled me and nearly destoyed me. The sudden dip frightened me. My doctor said as I am learning how to take care of myself emotionally I may experience some bumps in the road and I don’t need to be afraid. I will never feel that bad again, because I have begun resolving the roots of what was causing my depression. Some days were very hard, it is a lot of effort to change your thought patterns and your behavior. But as you start, you become stronger and it becomes natural.

To be honest, therapy was really hard work. It evoked a lot of emotions that were really unpleasant like anger and grief. For a while I doubted my doctor because I thought she was “making me angry”. Then I realized all of these horrible feelings that she was “making me feel” were actually just feelings that were bottled up inside of me all of these years, all muddled up in the thick confused soup of depression. She was helping me to sort them out and release them. It was an amazing turning point in my life when I began to understand why I was so depressed. I began to have great compassion for myself and I found peace in the fact that this mysterious curse of depression actually had some very logical explanations.

I have been out of therapy for while now, although I like to go back from time to time. Everyone needs a good mental tune-up and to let things out every now and then.  But I honestly can’t tell you the last time I thought about killing myself, the last time I felt hopeless or overwhelmed in a way that I couldn’t take control of. I am up early every morning because I want to live my life. I have friends again. I have gotten my personality back. I am peaceful and alive.  I feel joy everyday. I have fun. I laugh and feel light of heart. I have energy. Sometimes I am sad, and that’s ok too. Sadness is not depression, it is part of being human. I have triumphed.

And now the little smiling voice is saying, “I told you so…”.

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  1. Victoria

    I appreciate your open honest writing and discussion of this taboo subject. Thank you, I think your voice is important in the world.
    I have struggled with depression and have done loads of work around it. I became a strong self aware person, but still a lingering cloud kept hanging around and I just found a therapist who is acknowledging things in my upbringing that I can now look at with adult eyes and really see the truth of them and the impact they have had. I feel such relief at growing up finally and acknowledging that child who needs me now that I’m strong enough to parent her.