A goodbye letter to Depression
– Pragya Shrestha
After being involved in different counseling approaches/interventions for clients with depression, I learned, together with them, about depression, difficulties they had to endure and the need of support from family members, friends, counselors/therapists and psychiatrists. This blog is a reference to my experience with them. Here, I represent myself as a client and am writing a letter to depression, who is an unwanted friend.
August 1, 2018
Brain (the mind) and Mann (the heart)
Subject: Goodbye letter
I am writing this letter to tell you that I am leaving you. I have been a good friend to you for many months. But now I want to exempt myself from our friendship and be happy. I’m letting you go to find your own happiness.
I did not recognize you when we first met, but you have followed me ever since. I started to get along with you after you followed me continuously for few weeks. You ruled me and controlled me. I did not realize what was going on, but you were there with me day and night.
You made me feel helpless and suppressed my energy at work. You made me feel heavy, so I always wanted to lie down on bed and do nothing. I was lost in my thoughts and for several nights I could not sleep soundly as I had you to keep me company. I frequently asked God “Why always me?” and cried a lot. I had no idea why I cried so much. I was confused in taking decisions regarding my career, my family and even my daily activities. I felt worthless in front of my family as I could not work. This resulted in financial problems, which I was unable to handle. I kept on blaming myself for everything that happened. I also lost some weight as I was not interested to eat at all. My family and friends asked me to bath and change clothes as I had started to stink. But I still did not care.
Last May, I was taken to a psychiatrist. He wrote your name “Depression” in the OPD ticket. He prescribed me medicines and advised me to meet a counselor/psychologist. He told me that the medicine would help me get rid of you and counseling would provide further support. So, I went to meet her. During the counseling session, my counselor asked me about the things that make me happy. But I could not tell her anything as I forgot what I used to enjoy. Throughout our conversation, I realized that she was fully present and listening to me. In fact, she seemed to be curious to know what I used to do to have fun and yet did not pressurize me to answer. I felt safe and supported. Unlike others, she did not bombard me with questions and this was the moment I liked the most. Then I remembered and told her that long ago I used to hang out with my friends and share everything with them. She encouraged me to start doing it again; to call my friends and even helped me to plan- who, when, where and how to do it. It felt effortless when she helped me to breakdown the plan. I chose an activity that was most enjoyable to me and after returning home, I called my friend after a long time. We talked for 30 minutes and she invited me to her house.
After one week, I visited my counselor again, as agreed in the previous session. At one point she gently raised her voice because I repeated frequently that I had “Depression” and could not visit one of my dear friends. She told me to leave Depression outside the room and be myself. It was really difficult for me to understand back then. But now I have understood that I was carrying you wherever I went. I needed to take some steps to be happy for myself, to express rather than suppress what’s inside me and love this beautiful life (which you had almost brainwashed me to terminate).Over the next couple of sessions, we went through my daily routine and assessed the behavior pattern that led to my mood changes. I was amazed when she showed me the connection between my thoughts, feelings, behavior and my body.
She also helped me solve my financial problem. We evaluated numerous options for my problem, advantages and disadvantages of each option, then chose the best one among those. We explored possible people to help me with my problems, timeline and the possible ways of solving out. I followed our plan as per the session discussions. Things are going well now.
I spent so much of my time with you that I had not thought of allocating some time for my family and friends. Even though they approached me several times I did not listen to them. I got irritated when they came and suggested me to do this and that. I did not realize their efforts to cheer me up. I was lost in my own world and I separated them from myself. But all I want now is my family and friends. So, I finally took a stance to leave you behind.
We will not meet again, friend. Even if you follow me, I will not get in touch with you. I am now exercising regularly, preparing and eating food that I love and engaging myself in activities that I enjoy. I am sharing about whatever I went through to my friends and family, so that there is no place for you in anybody else’s life. I am gradually learning to be happy and letting a new friend in my life: “Expression”, not you “Depression”.
Your old friend
(Ms. Shrestha is currently working at TPO Nepal as Sr. Clinical Supervisor. Her areas of expertise include motivating individuals for their growth and confidence, couple counseling, counseling for children and their parents for behavioral problems and providing therapy for anxiety, depression and alcohol related problems.)