Today I went to my first ever group therapy. I was the youngest at 22. The rest were in their 40s, 50s, and 60s. Maybe one in their 30s. The way it works is that the person tells the therapist their family story and he draws a genealogical chart. Then, the method of regression is used and the person picks out people from the group to represent members of their family. The people who participate tell their emotions and what they feel as they are standing in the position the person placed them in.

It wasn’t working out at first. It was just boring and uninteresting. But then, something happened. People’s problems started to emerge. These weren’t just problems, these were flat out tragedies. This is when I started to realize that I was in for a rude awakening.

There were people who had lost their mothers, fathers, and even children. Someone was abused by their alcoholic father, while their mother was a manic depressed woman who constantly wanted to kill herself. I have never been so shocked in my entire life.

When my turn came, I broke down. I don’t mind crying in front of people, but I just felt this deep and intense knot in my chest that just needed healing. Although my problem wasn’t 100% resolved, I traced my depression to where it came from. That’s private information, so I won’t say anything. But all I can say is that I am now a changed man. After 6 hours and 30 minutes of session (from 10AM to 4:30PM), I emerged a different person. Funny how I’ve been in individual therapy for 2 years now. And yes, I did learn a lot, but nothing…I repeat, NOTHING could have prepared me for this. 6 hours and 30 minutes with all strangers is what it took to change my perspective on life. In 6 hours and 30 minutes, these people achieved something that in 2 years, 1 psychotherapy and 2 counselors couldn’t.

The things that I heard were so disturbing and dark, that it pales in comparison to my life. True, these people are much older than I. But I remember telling myself: “For someone my age, I have been through hell and back.” I was wrong. Yes, it was tough, but it wasn’t hell. I was never abused, never had alcoholism in the family, no suicides, didn’t lose my parents when I was young, had my mom have miscarriages. Nothing like that. These problems aren’t problems, but tragedies. I keep remembering how I say that my problems are “tragedies” and that my life itself is “tragic.” I am SO sick and ashamed at myself for thinking this way. I am SO sorry. I wanted to apologize to these people for doing this, but instead, I went out with honor and said: “Coming into this…I didn’t know what to expect. This is my first ever group therapy. And I just wanted to thank you all so much for sharing your stories and helping me learn. We are always learning, and we are always growing. I am so moved and thankful for being able to have taken part in this. You are all such good and wonderful people.”
A lady who is very Catholic was the one who started to initiate the applause. She later came up to me, with tears in her eyes, and said: “You are so brave to come out here and share your life. You are bright, intelligent, young man. You are very charismatic and one day, you are going to change the world. I can see you helping people and being a psychologist. You will especially be in my prayers.”
Even though I am not religious, that moment became one of the most important moments in my life. Not because some random person gave me a compliment, but because someone who I would never expect to tell me such thing (a devoted Catholic woman in her 70s…) not only reaffirmed my mission in life, but looked at me with respect, compassion, care, and love. She looked at me not as a gay man who struggles with depression and struggled with suicide years ago, but as a HUMAN. She hugged me and kissed me on the cheek and bid her goodbyes.

I am now convinced more than ever that there are GOOD people out there who are CARING and LOVING and empathetic towards others. I have never felt happier in my entire life. This experience is the beginning of a new me. A person who appreciates life, and even though my situation may not be as favorable as I want it to be, I must remember this: someone out there is going through pure hell.
My faith in humanity was reborn today. I will now devote my life to making people as happy as possible. That has been my goal for a long time, and I will continue to pursue it.

I am so thankful for today. It changed my life. It changed it forever. Whenever I feel depressed, I will remember this day. I will make the most out of life, because that is the purpose of life: make the most out of it.
You only get one life that we know of, so make it WORTH IT.
These series of events, going to Uconn Storrs, meeting the people that I did (both good and bad), spending summer in solitude and with nature, just realizing so many things about people, and going through a break up, have really made 2011 a year of change and maturation.

Nothing in life is certain except for death. There are no guarantees. But I know that it is up to me to continue the fight and continue the struggle. I will be ok. I am going to be ok. No pain, no gain.

It’s a new year, and with it, comes new life and new rules. And with a smile on my face, I say: Onward.