How to get out of depression - part 1
Our decision making in all areas of life comes from unconscious aspects of our minds. If there’s something you are overly anxious or numb about, there may be an underlying emotion that you’ve repressed or are unconscious about. If you’re constantly unhappy, or constantly in toxic relationships with your friends and family members, then perhaps there’s something there as well.
Struggling with Depression
I once completely flunked my examinations and got dumped by my ex girlfriend over a text message in a timeframe of a couple of weeks. I was due for military enlistment in a couple of weeks and needless to say those chain of events lead to a minor depressive period.
I looked to friends and family for advice but mostly they ended up giving me superficial or judgmental advice:
‘Just don’t think too much’ ‘It’ll need to be more spiritual. That’s the problem with you Marcus’ ‘You’re over thinking it’.
I read the research on psychotherapy, I knew the benefits and I jumped straight. I didn’t really cared about what others would think. Stigma? Good. Unconventionality? Even better. I never bought all that unscientific NLP, superficial self help advice, in fact, I hated it. I need something more concrete, something that is based on the scientific method. Okay, psychology isn’t a hard science. I’m aware of that. However, it’s the closest bet.
I checked myself into psychotherapy at the age of 21. However, in hindsight, I didn’t take the benefits of psychotherapy seriously until my third year into it. That was because I went into my sessions with the Mr Know It all attitude:
‘Yeah, I’ve read the research behind it. I know my issues.’
However, intellectualising and/ or verbalising your issues are one thing, but processing them and grieving through them are a different other ball game.
Do You Need Therapy?
Now, if you’re wondering if you need therapy, here is a simple, helpful checklist I stole from Mark Manson’s article.
- You have emotional or sexual impulses you don’t have control over angry outbursts, fear of intimacy, sexual anxiety, bouts of depression, etc.
- You come from a difficult childhood, had absent parents or a poor relationship with your parents.
- You’ve suffered some major traumas in your life (death of loved ones, abuse, major health problems, etc.).
- You have compulsive behaviors which interfere with other areas of your life: i.e., drug/alcohol abuse, etc.
- The majority of your relationships in your life are dysfunctional and/or unhealthy (always fighting, lots of blame/guilt, etc.). This includes friendships, significant others, family members.
- You are overly pre-occupied with one aspect of your life. Common examples include an obsession with being “cool” or popular, obsession with impressing others, a constant need for approval from others, even obsessing about improving yourself (feeling like you’re never good enough), etc.
How to Get out of Depression: The Benefits of Psychotherapy
I’ll argue that many people struggling in different areas of their lives from relationships to personal finance have emotional stories that are out of touch with from their past. They often experienced past traumas, difficult childhoods and negative experiences that they themselves have not confronted and/or are completely unaware of. Yet, they go on years after years of chasing superficial fixes and are oblivious to their own emotional realities.
For example, through the years, I could always be charismatic with girls that I wasn’t emotionally invested in. It didn’t matter if she was hot or not, as long as I wasn’t emotionally invested, I could ‘perform’. However, when it came to a woman I actually felt something for, I would screw it up in the multitude of ways possible.
Through therapy, you’re forced ask better questions:
- Why do you get nervous around that attractive person who is a complete stranger?
- Why are you so invested in what others think of you?
- Why are you avoidant of commitment?
- Why do you feel unworthy of dating someone you’re genuinely attracted to, but feel completely worthy of dating someone you feel so so about?
- Why do you measure yourself and base your self-esteem with certain achievements/ sexual conquests?
There’s also a catch 22: If you’re constantly wanting to better yourself, doesn’t that stem from the belief that you aren’t already good enough?
Psychotherapy can help you:
- Understand how past traumatic events determine your attachment style, that determine the quality of your relationships
- Why you may be overtly critical or judgment of yourself (could it be because you had an overly critical parent?)
- The root of your lack of motivation, your anger or apathy in life
- Help you be aware of your subconscious negative beliefs, the subconscious ways you measure yourself with others, and other unconscious drives
- How you self sabotage yourself (not studying for exams and partying the night before) This might be rooted in a fear of failure from childhood
There are tons of other benefits, however, these are the main ones that helped me in my life.
Through therapy, you start digging into your past, your emotional development, your childhood. Perhaps you always find yourself in toxic romantic relationships in your life or get uncontrollably angry when someone criticises you on something minor, then perhaps there’s an unresolved emotion or belief there that you aren’t conscious about.
Perhaps, you had an absent father, and you’ve been resentful against him for all these years. That unconscious resentment causes you to be lack in sexual confidence with the opposite sex. Maybe, you’ve avoided commitment throughout your life because your ex girlfriend committed suicide. Maybe you lack confidence in your social life because you’ve been teased and bullied growing up.
There are multiple connected reasons and our psyche doesn’t work like an algorithm, but you get the rough idea.
In my experience, I always thought psychotherapy is a process where you cry it all out on a couch. However, I eventually found out that uncovering and working through negative emotions such as disgust, shame, anger, rage, ice cold bitterness, contempt and hatred is part of the therapeutic process as well. Psychotherapy helps you process the anger and the hurt in a safe environment. When you become more aware of those emotions, you are able to exert a great control over your behaviour.
Thursday part 2 will follow! See you!
About the Author
Marcus Neo is an entrepreneur and coach. Enjoys writing about dating, relationship, business, and psychology. Introvert yet extrovert. Likes martial arts and music, but never got around to the latter.