Once my depression diagnosis came out, the psychiatrist gave me two options. The first one was medication. She said, “I could give you antidepressants. You could take them once every day for an entire month, and then we could do another checkup and see how it affected you.”
Since no one in my family ever had a condition that required them to take antidepressants, my parents were extra inquisitive about what we could expect from the drug. I was thankful for that because it turned out that antidepressants did not have a lot of positive feedback from my psychiatrist’s other clients. They apparently reported feeling sluggish, tired, and sleepy all the time – as if they were always sedated. Still, since there was technically no cure for depression – or for most mental disorders for that matter – mental health professionals feel obliged to prescribe them.
Of course, I did not want to do anything with the drug that might or might not be good to me. I was a teenager and a lesbian; I already had enough to deal with at that moment. When my parents asked about the second option, the psychiatrist started talking about counseling.
If you had not heard of counseling in the past, it referred to the treatment where you would talk to a counselor about your issues. The counselor would not resolve your problems for you. Instead, they would listen and help you reinterpret what you were talking about so that you could see another way out of your issues.
Nevertheless, as I mentioned in the first half of this blog, counseling was not a popular method of dealing with mental disorders at the time. Mom and dad were not worried about being seen coming in or out of the councilor’s office. What they were more concerned about was that it might be a waste of money. They could not fathom how talking and doing nothing else could make my depression go away.
The thing was, I was pretty desperate at that point. I had not felt like myself for months, and I was tired of pretending to be happy in front of everyone. I eventually coaxed my parents to see that counseling was the lesser evil than taking antidepressants.
Through the psychiatrist, I signed up for my first counseling session.
What I Learned To Do During Counseling
Counseling was not awful, but it was not for the faint of heart. I had only been it’s been there for only one hour during the first session, but I had already found myself sobbing.
The primary reason was that the counselor would make you recall everything that happened in the past that might have contributed to the depression. For example, I might have set myself up for it when I refused to make friends with others when I was much younger. My condition might have just gotten full-blown because of the breakup and my inability to come out to my parents.
Still, I would like to share a few ideas I learned – and did – during counseling.
Accept Who I Was
I realized that it felt impossible for me to get accepted by my parents because I had not entirely accepted myself. I was a lesbian – I knew that – but a part of me might still not want to believe it. Hence, I was quick to assume that mom and dad would disown me if they found out.
But the fact that I was still very much loved at home proved that my worries were baseless. I worked on changing how I viewed myself so that I could finally accept who I was.
Cope With Negativities
When I became single again, I finally considered the consequences of coming out. I did not think of that before because I had Trisha – I felt we could resolve any issues together. However, once she’s gone, I stressed the possibilities of getting bullied or not getting accepted by society because of my gender preference.
Luckily, I had a counselor to help me cope with my negativities. She taught me that other’s opinions did not matter. As long as I was happy and not walking all over everybody, haters could hate anytime, and I should not be bothered.
Decide On What I Want To Become In Life
Towards the end of my counseling journey, the counselor said, “Every improvement that you have made so far is appreciable, yes. But have you decided on what kind of person you want to be?”
The question caught me off-guard since no one had asked me that before. I was only 16 years old; I had not thought of that ever. After a few minutes of thinking, though, I replied, “I want to be an honest person. I know how it feels to lie to my loved one, and it’s not great. I will do my best to stay true to myself and stay away from my negative thoughts.”
Nine years later, I am now a certified gastroenterologist. I have fully embraced who I am and never needed to go back to counseling. Despite that, the lessons I learned from my counselor will always stay in my heart and mind.