How Therapy Changed My Life
Photo by Joshua Rawson-Harris

My family is no stranger to psychiatrists or therapists; from a young age, I have suffered from ADHD and Tourette syndrome and, because my parents wanted nothing more than a normal, healthy and peaceful life for me, I would have regular appointments with child psychiatrists, in order to figure out the answer to one question: why me?

As I grew up, and began engaging in social events, at school and whatnot, it became almost impossible to pretend that my mental/neurological illnesses were not an obstacle. From the constant bad grades that were a result of not being able to pay attention in class, to the unbearable tics in my freshman year of high school, that once even forced me to storm out of an exam. I would be put on medication that would make super sleepy, others that weren’t effective, and other ones that were inhumanely expensive. My own mind seemed to be against me.

And, just as it seemed that things couldn’t get any worse, they did. Of course.

Living it

With an era that I call “the great depression”, a major depressive episode that I went through, which was triggered by an undiagnosed auto-immune disease that made the inside my mouth hurt so bad I couldn’t eat, drink or even talk. Add to that some family drama as well, and a lot of medication mix-ups, and it led to the complete and utter defeat of my wellbeing.

Anyone who has/had clinical depression can relate to and understand how it felt to have an indescribable emptiness in your chest weighing you down, feeling as though you’re going to leave this world exactly how you found it, like nothing in this world has meaning or purpose. 

2 years into this intensely depressive state of mind, after feeling like I’m falling a little further from any sort of happiness every day, whilst having terrifying (but undeniable) thoughts about how death couldn’t possibly be any worse than what I was going through, the awful feeling of contemplating suicide came knocking on my door, after months and months of fighting it off.

It hurts my heart to remember how this lovely and bright mind, body and soul thought about murdering her own being.

But I get it; she saw no end for it in sight, no light at the end of the tunnel. Death simply seemed like the only way to get out on her own terms, before that hole in her chest consumed her entirely.

“But then, something happened one magical night,” to quote a beautiful song. I finally asked for help. As simple as that. I got up from bed, went to my parents, and said, “I need a therapist and fast.”

And that was that.

I did it..

I think the depression knew it had to peak at some point, but, if I’m being honest, I certainly didn’t.

I admit, it took a while to find a psychologist I was comfortable enough with and, when I did, we discussed my options to find the best fit for me, after clinically diagnosing me with major depression and anxiety. And we decided on anti-depressants.

A few weeks after being put on my meds, something shifted in me: my heart started feeling lighter, my jokes stopped being dark and twisted, it was easier to eat, smile, shower and get out of bed.

All the joys that depression had stolen from me were being reclaimed as my own. I started feeling stronger, more motivated than ever, and determined to make sure these feelings were here to stay.

After what felt like forever, I wanted to make my own choices, to tell any dark thoughts in my brain that they do not define me, that, although they’ve overpowered me at one point, they can go find another entity to possess now; because I realized that I loved loving me.

No amount of stigma or myths about therapy will ever debunk the fact that my heart is full and my brain is relaxed at last.

The key was weekly follow-ups, and taking the pills on time, of course, and, as time went on, it felt like my new normal was happy and healthy. And if my brain still isn’t able to produce its own endorphins, dopamine and serotonin (AKA the happiness hormones), store-bought is acceptable as well.

Make sure to join our conversation around mental health on the EMPWR Facebook Community Group: “EMPOWERING YOU”

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