I stared down at my empty shot glasses.
The night was as silent as a graveyard.
I stumbled to the edge of the mall rooftop and peered off at the city lights in Chiang Mai, Thailand. I was a 20-year-old college student at the time and I had taken the semester off from college to backpack Thailand. It was my first time traveling internationally and I was out drinking alone. I did not want to do anything, see anything—or just be anything at all.
I had nothing to look forward to and my thoughts held me hostage. I had been feeling bad for so long—silence had become a luxury to me. I did not contemplate suicide…
…but my body and mind felt so damn heavy…
I wondered if it would just be easier not to exist.
After I returned from traveling, I knew I needed help. I had been feeling this way for so long. I contacted my college’s psychology clinic and I began to see a therapist every week.
I was so embarrassed, I did not tell anybody.
One Year Later
After a year of being in therapy, my therapist told me I did not need therapy anymore. She said I had learned the skill to challenge my own thoughts and was equipped with the tools to maintain good emotional health. That was pretty satisfying to hear.
I want to pass along some of the things I learned in therapy to help others who are in a similar situation and are struggling. Here are some things I learned from overcoming my depression.
- Get Help
If you are struggling with depression, I would advise you to seek professional help. Therapists and psychologists are experts on the human mind and can provide assistance in your recovery. I struggled for so long trying to fix my unhappiness on my own, I wish I would have sought help sooner. I sped up my healing when I finally reached out for help from a professional.
There is honestly no shame in wanting to improve your life. I did not tell people for quite some time but when I finally did tell some of my friends, they were supportive of me.
I know therapy can be quite expensive but there are some cheaper resources available to you. Universities offer programs with therapists in training where you can receive cheap or free therapy sessions. The government even offers programs to citizens that cannot afford mental health services. The programs differ from state to state so be sure to check your states availability.
Here is a list of free and affordable mental health resources.
- Quiet Down and Listen
Here is a simple fact of life: Sometimes, you are going to be wrong.
Sometimes, you are going to be wrong throughout your life—and that is okay.
Being wrong is a part of life. I struggled with this for a long time. As I mentioned earlier, I held on so tightly to my beliefs, I could not see how any other views could be right. Whenever my therapist would give me a suggestion, I would retort all the reasons why she was wrong and I was right.
It wasn’t until I stopped arguing with my therapist and admitted that I could be wrong that I made the most progress in therapy.
In therapy, the therapist will spend 80-90% of the time listening to you and diagnosing your problems. When she finally opens her mouth and gives you suggestions—listen to her. Remember, you are seeing her for her expertise.
Realize that occasionally you could be wrong and listen to different point of views. Open your mind and be okay with being wrong.
- Try On New Perspectives
A paradigm is a model or roadmap for how we view the world. If our paradigms are causing us to be depressed all of the time, we probably have an ineffective roadmap. We would need a paradigm shift to treat our unhappiness.
A paradigm shift is defined as “a fundamental change in approach or underlying assumptions.”
In other words, if paradigms are our glasses for how we view the world, sometimes we need to try on new glasses (i.e. a paradigm shift) if our current ones are not serving us emotionally.
My therapy clinic specialized in using cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). CBT is a type of psychotherapy that treats problems and boosts happiness by changing dysfunctional emotions, behaviors, and thoughts.
During my time in therapy, I had some dysfunctional beliefs that brought me a lot of unhappiness. CBT required that I catch my thoughts, question the validity of them and then try on new perspectives. I had to catch my thoughts and ask myself: what if I am wrong? Is that really true? What if the opposite were to be true?
My advice: Try on new perspectives to see how they can serve you.
Therapy has improved my life tremendously. Now, I am in a way better place in my life.
Therapy helped me break out from this dark time in my life. My therapist listened to my problems, diagnosed me, and then offered different perspectives to try on.
There is honestly no shame in seeking mental health services and wanting to improve your life.
If you are struggling with depression—get help.
Realize no matter how bleak or glum you may feel, if you stay positive, stick with it, and keep pushing forward—you will get through it.
I am absolutely sure of it 🙂
Author Bio: Brandon Leuangpaseuth is a writer from San Diego, CA. Brandon Leuangpaseuth is a writer from San Diego, CA, who helps various law firms like McGilberry & Shirer LLP with their public relations. You can connect with him on Linkedin @ bleuangpaseuth.
Photo by Pablo Heimplatz on Unsplash
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