Monthly Archives: August 2021

Counseling 101: What I Did After Knowing My Depressive Disorder

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.”

Final 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.

Counseling 101: How I Got Depressed

Whenever I would tell people that I got depressed at 16, their reactions were almost always the same. Someone some would say, “Oh, I am sorry for what happened to you. You must have had a rough childhood to get diagnosed with that. If not that, I would hear something like, “I hope you have gotten away from your mom and dad.”

Whenever I heard all those things, I would tell those people to stop blaming everything on my parents as calmly as possible. It is unfair for my parents to be accused as the cause of my depression. Granted, it happened when I was young – when I was living under their roof – but I went through some circumstances in life that they did not know of until the crap practically hit the fan.

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What Brought On My Depression

You see, I had always been a lonely person. I did not have many friends growing up; I was mainly happy to stay in my room, read a book, or watch TV with the family. Sometimes, my parents would feel the need to pay my cousins so that they would drag me out of the house and hang out with me.

This worked for the most part, and I learned to like my cousins’ friends. However, when I turned 15 years old, we played spin the bottle. The basic idea was that whoever the bottle’s mouth would land on, they would choose who to kiss.

When it landed on a girl named Trisha, the boys oohed because they were eager to get chosen by a cute girl. But everyone went quiet when she pointed at me.

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Back in those days, girls kissing other girls was hardly a thing. And if there were ever a lesbian in the midst, you would know immediately because they wore boy clothes. However, Trisha was as girly as you could get with her skirts, long hair, and poise. Because of that, no one knew that she was batting for the same field until that moment.

What did I do, you might ask? I would be a wuss if I ran away, so I let Trisha kiss me. Her lips were so soft and tasted like strawberry due to her flavored Chapstick. I would not have known that we were kissing for a couple of minutes if my cousins did not pull her away from me.

I did not tell anyone about it, but that was the day I realized that I was a lesbian.

Why I Got Depressed

Before going home, I made my cousin’s promise to keep what happened a secret – especially to my parents. While they often told me that I should not have a boyfriend my age, I did not think they would appreciate it if I came to the house with a girlfriend. Luckily, my cousins were fantastic, so they vowed not to tell anyone about my gender discovery.

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The thing was, Trisha and I began to date soon after that. I guess it was a blessing in disguise that she could not come out to her parents as well, considering she was extra careful not to get caught when we’re out. We could only be ourselves whenever we were behind closed doors, pretending to have slumber parties.

I was too naïve to think that my relationship with Trisha could go on forever. One day, she merely called to say that she was moving to another state with her parents. I said we could still make it work, but she did not even want to think about it.

The breakup technically made me feel blue, but what got me depressed was that I could not cry to my parents about it. They would get upset about me breaking their #1 rule. Then, their feelings might worsen if they learned that I was into girls.

Only when I started having suicidal thoughts that I felt the need to ask for mental help.

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How Did My Parents Take It?

My parents were both shell-shocked, of course. I got so good at hiding my gender preference and my depression from them that they did not see anything amiss in the last few months. We even celebrated my 16th birthday in the Bahamas, and they never saw a smile leave my face.

If I was honest, my mother took the news a little worse than my father. As a traditional woman, it was challenging for her to accept that her only daughter might someday get married to another woman instead of a man. However, I begged her not to worry about that for now because I was still young, and anything could happen.

My parents took me to the only psychiatrist at the city proper for a diagnosis. When the doctor confirmed my assumption, I felt more relieved than scared. Finally, I had a name for all the loneliness, emptiness, and darkness I had been going through: depression.

But what’s the next step after that?

 

Note: This is one-half of a two-part blog. Stay tuned for the next one.