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A journey of healing

The Saigon Times

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Henrike Doornbos, who has lived in and out of Vietnam, has been battling depression most of her life. After reading about it and seeking help, she overcame her mental problems and began a career as a life coach in Vietnam. She speaks to The Saigon Times about her journey with depression, why awareness is important and how to overcome grief.

The Saigon Times: When did you first realize the importance of mental health?

Henrike Doornbos: When I left Vietnam in 2016, I learned about the stages of my mental health. I had lived in Vietnam for two years and was very unhappy, suffering from panic attacks and depression. I thought moving to another country would solve my mental problems, so I moved to Spain. But the unhappiness did not go away. I still felt lost and depressed and slowly realized it was an internal problem. The first step for me was to accept the situation, and that it was okay to feel terrible. Then I started to read about depression and apply the guidance to my own life. With help from people who knew how to deal with it, I overcame it and later became a life coach who could use my experience to help others.

What made you decide to return to Vietnam as a life coach?

I love Vietnamese people. During the Covid pandemic, I was welcomed by the community. At that time, I was in an area where my neighbors could easily access food and vegetable sources. When I could not go to the supermarket anymore, the neighbors invited me to share their food and vegetables. That is why I felt very safe during the pandemic. Besides, the country is incredibly free and nature is breathtaking. I keep going on trips and holidays to see nature. I have seen most highlights from the North to the South.

What is your opinion on mental health in Vietnam?

I must say that most of my clients are foreigners and they are very comfortable talking about their emotions. Conversations about going to therapy or getting coached are common among expats. Some clients tell me how they discuss their thoughts and feelings with a family member and some friends, while many Vietnamese women have told me I was the first person they discussed these emotions with. I hope that changes soon.

Do you think the young generation is aware of mental health?

I think every generation has its unique issues to care for, for example, war or religion. I am glad that they are aware of mental health and its impacts. Whether you are aware of it or not, mental health runs your life. It’s only that when you are aware of it, you can control it better and make life easier.

When did you first establish your career as a life coach in Vietnam?

I started in 2019; I did online and offline workshops until the pandemic hit and everything shifted online. Recently, I held a workshop again. Right now, clients can find me at https://www.facebook.com/Henrythelifecoach/ and https://www.eventbrite.com/o/henry-the-lifecoach-32126469029. I work in HCMC both online and in person.

What is your advice for the readers of The Saigon Times with regard to protecting their mental health?

It starts with the small things. You can help yourself with a pen and a piece of paper. Write down an issue on the paper, and when you read it back later, you will realize the issue has changed. When you read your own issue again, there is a different story or issue. So, everything that you write down today will help you tomorrow.

Reported by The Ky

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