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Speak Up: My Experience with Talking Therapy

When I was a teenager I didn’t see myself as having an illness; I was in complete denial. For years my parents attempted to take me to counselling but I refused because I felt like no one understood how I felt. My moods were like a rollercoaster and I was so unpredictable I pushed my friends and family away, yet I refused to speak with anyone.

Finally, when I was 18 my Mum convinced to go see a counsellor. He was the manifestation of everything I hated about counsellors. He was arrogant; he thought he knew exactly how I felt, which, of course, he didn’t. I found him putting words into my mouth and ideas into my mind; telling me how I felt instead of asking how I felt. Needless to say, after two sessions, I never returned. I was back to square one feeling like there was no one out there that could help me. I continued along a destructive path of ‘self-medication’ for three more years.

When I was 21 I decided I couldn’t cope on my own anymore. I went to see my doctor and she set up an appointment with one of the free mental health counsellors on campus. What really helped me get to this stage in my life was that I wanted help, and I wanted to do it for myself; there was no outside pressure from friends or family, I just knew that it was time.

During my first appointment with Dr. Dobson* I filled out a survey so that she could better understand exactly why I was there. Once that was done we focused on exercises that would help me if I found my depression overwhelming, this included breathing exercises and visual imagery. From then we scheduled weekly appointments where we would just talk. I would talk about everything from my feelings to my relationships and in turn she would offer advice. She suggested I keep a journal so that I could reflect on what I was doing each day that might affect my mind set. Seeing my own thoughts in a coherent sequence made it easier for me to understand my own train of thought.

Dr. Dobson spoke from a completely objective view point and I never felt any judgement from her so I knew I could be honest with her. Everything she said made so much sense to me. I loved to listen to what she had to say. I remember having eureka moments thinking, ‘Why didn’t I think of that?’ What I learned most through Dr. Dobson was how to communicate effectively. I learned that it’s ok to be sad and it’s ok to be angry just as long as you communicate how you’re feeling to those around you. During my conversations with Dr. Dobson I was able to organize my thoughts and even answer some of my own questions. This helped me be proactive, I would breathe before I spoke allowing myself to see a more rational perspective and try not to let my emotions get the best of me.

The message that I’m trying to get across is that finding someone to talk to offers an objective outlet and can help you gain a deeper understanding of your own emotions as well as your illness. When it comes to counselling don’t be afraid to shop around. If you don’t feel comfortable or it just doesn’t feel right, chances are it isn’t. Talking with Dr. Dobson gave me the confidence I needed to be able to communicate my feelings with family and friends. So I did just that. I was so open and honest that those around me began to feel more comfortable speaking about their own struggles with depression. All of a sudden some of those around me were able to see this light at the end of tunnel, and all they had to do was talk about it. Depression affects so many people, you’re definitely not the only one and you shouldn’t feel like you need to hide it. Talking therapy is not a cure, but sometimes discussing your experience with depression openly can ease the weight on yours shoulders.

*Names have been changed for privacy reasons.

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