Ariya Lohavanichbutr: Escaping the Dark Cave of Depression
By Sujany Baleswaran
With every step of her life planned out by her father, Ariya Lohavanichbutr spent the early years of her life following strict schedules, immersed in her education and living up to her parents’ high expectations. Pursuing her higher education in the US finally gave Ariya a taste of freedom, and when her MBA came to end, she knew she wasn’t ready to part ways with this newfound freedom.
From the turbulent relationship with her father to leaving a deceitful marriage, Ariya found herself falling into the black hole of depression. Struggling with depression for over 20 years, the sought-after certified processor, coach and international trainer took the courageous step to turn her life around to live a meaningful life. It is Ariya’s ultimate mission to be the light for people to find their way to success, prosperity and happiness, and her dream to create a ripple effect that would light this world.
How was your childhood, and how has it shaped who you are today?
My childhood was uneventful and boring – my parents planned everything for me, and I spent my life following their plan. By uneventful, I mean my childhood was full of restrictions and strict schedules. I was not allowed to go out with friends. I was not allowed to go to places on my own. My days were filled with school followed by extra tutorials and then coming back home with no detours. Life was all about education. It has had a big impact on how I lead my life today. Growing up with endless restrictions led me to seek freedom, and I fell in love with the feeling of liberty that came with travelling.
You spent years battling depression, but you changed your life around in three weeks. Can you tell us more about your journey with depression?
Living with depression was like hiding in a dark cave. Or in my own head. Only that it was dark, and there was only negativity. I looked at things or situations, and I would expect the worst results. For me, there was always hollowness inside, and I was constantly feeling small and unworthy. In a way, hiding is another way to explain this feeling – I was hiding it from work and other people, masking my emotions.
When I saw a clip about the neuron network in our brain, it was as if a light had been switched on for the first time. It explained why there was only darkness inside of me. When the negative cells connect only with other negative cells, it is extremely difficult to break that network. At that moment, all I wanted was a new network in my brain. I wanted only the light and the positive cells. I changed my thoughts and my moods. I changed the way I see myself and the world around me. And that’s how I got out of depression.
From living with your father to living with your ex-husband, you went through an extremely challenging time. What did you learn about yourself when you finally had some independence and started learning about yourself in your year of separation from your ex-husband?
I am strong. I am the owner of my life. I am the leader of my life. I am the only one who is responsible for my own life and my own happiness.
It’s simple – If you don’t control your life, someone or something else does.
You are a sought-after processor, coach and international trainer for entrepreneurs. How did your coaching journey begin? Was there a moment when you realized this is the career for you?
My purpose first became clear to me on my trip with my friends to Hong Kong and Macau. It was a sort of pilgrimage trip and we visited numerous temples. On that day, we visited the goddess Guan Yin. Her statue was outdoors, and it was drizzling. As I was standing in the rain in front of her, it dawned on me that I need to help other people. I was not the only person suffering from depression. If I could do this, others could too. It was almost like the goddess was talking to me. I quit my job a few months after that trip, and a couple of weeks after I quit my job, I saw a Millionaire Mind Intensive ad. That was the start of my personal development journey. From there, I learned how important it is to keep learning and evolving. I joined Blair Singer’s team and learnt how to teach and lead. Then I had an opportunity to learn a technology from the Advanced Coaching and Leadership Center. It’s the technology that made me realize that I’ve found a tool to really help change people’s lives. It was the same technology I use to move myself up the level of mastering my life. I help others to be the master of their own lives and reach the goal they want.
What advice would give to your younger self, whether that’s to do with living with depression, relationships or career?
Be yourself. Embrace who you are. Nobody can change you, only you can.
Follow your instinct.
Be responsible for your own life.
What inspired you to participate in this book project, and how has the book project experience been for you?
It was and is my dream and goal to be the light for others to find their way out of this dark cave. It can be anything, depression, being stuck somewhere in life, relationships, career, etc. As I started my journey of helping and teaching, I realised that many people think they cannot change their lives, or it was too hard to even attempt. It was the fear in their own mind. I had felt fearful too when I was thinking about getting a divorce or living alone in a foreign country. It is all unknown ideas we make up in our minds. It could be based on our past experience, that is not necessarily true now.
For me, the book project allows me to share my story. I want people to realise that we cannot let fear control our lives. There is always light at the end of the tunnel. You only need to walk to find help. Inside that darkness, you are not alone. If you reach out, you’ll find someone who will be there to help you.