Getting Help Online?

By Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker

I need to find a way to talk to a therapist, but I don’t want my family to find out about it. I live with my mom, brothers, and sister. My mom knows I’m in a bad place in terms of mental health and has said that she would support me seeing someone, but she makes fun of people we know for seeking treatment. She thinks that depression is something you can choose to have or not have. I have been suffering for 3 years and I don’t think anyone would choose this. She has told me I don’t have a right to be upset because at my age (24) I have nothing to be down about. I could go on and on about why it’s not a good idea that they know, but I think you can see what I mean. The problem is that since I have a disability she wants to know where I am all the time. I think the only way for me to get treatment would be online when she’s away, but I don’t have any money because I’m still trying to get a job. What choices do I have? I live in Illinois

A: It’s a shame that your mother has such old-fashioned ideas about therapy. People go for therapy for many reasons. Sometimes they are dealing with a mental illness. Sometimes they want support to cope with a challenging situation. Sometimes they don’t want to burden or burn out family and friends so they talk to a therapist instead. And sometimes people go to a therapist for personal growth. Talking with someone who can provide perspective and experience can often be useful.

Depression isn’t something you can talk yourself out of. But you can take some steps to help yourself.

First: Make sure you are taking good care of yourself. Often what looks like depression is a result of poor sleep habits, lack of enough physical exercise or poor food choices. To some extent, our moods are a reflection or how we care for our body.

2) You can use a book to coach you. Two books that some of my clients have found particularly useful are:
“The Depression Workbook: A Guide for Living with Depression and Manic Depression,” by Mary Ellen Copeland and Matthew McKay and “Feeling Good: The New Mood Therapy” by David D. Burns, M.D.

3) You could join the depression support group on PsychCentral. People like yourself share what is working for them and offer each other support.

4) The Depression and Bipolar Alliance website has a support group locator on it. Try this link: http://www.dbsalliance.org/site/PageServer?pagename=peer_landing

Those are a few places to start. But I also hope you can stand up for yourself with your mother. At 24, you have a right to make your own decisions about what is good for you. Since you are disabled, I’m guessing that you have some health insurance to help you pay for therapy. I hope you will also eventually see a therapist if you continue to suffer in spite of your efforts to take care of yourself.

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 8 Dec 2013

APA Reference
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2013). Getting Help Online?. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 22, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2013/12/08/getting-help-online/