Dealing with depression
Feeling down, sad, lost and heartbroken?
Before resorting to anti-depressants, take a few minutes to read on:
What’s the usual thing we do when we perceive something to be wrong with us emotionally? We look to get rid of the symptoms with medication, as though there is something wrong with us. But often these symptoms are normal, simply a reaction to normal life experiences. Because, for all of us, life is about highs and lows, part of life’s rich, (and sometimes very painful) tapestry.
Depression? Or just feeling down?
Going through emotional trauma is not the same thing as clinical depression. However intensely we feel the pain, feeling down and not terribly great about things does not necessarily mean we are depressed and in need of medication. In actual fact, we often take medication when we don’t really need to. In some instances, we would actually be better off taking a closer look at our life, which is where therapy can really help.
If on the other hand, we are clinically depressed, we really should seek professional medical help. A therapist can also help in determining whether a person does actually need medical help and in the few weeks that anti-depressants take to kick in, therapy can also play an important part.
Here is a useful link if you feel you are clinically depressed: http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Depression/Pages/Symptoms.aspx
Everything is logical, so own the pain
When we are feeling down, there can be a strong tendency to believe that what we are experiencing is somehow not natural. But believe me, this is never the case. Any reaction to the hardships of life is actually logical, it is just that in our comfortable modern lives we can be conditioned into thinking that we should never have to go through pain.
But we need to see low moods and emotional pain as being normal, in a very real sense. This is the essence of my work in this area – helping to ‘normalise the abnormal’. In awful situations, it is normal to want to cry and to exhibit reactions which we might feel we should not be exhibiting, but we may tell ourselves that this is wrong and we shouldn’t be expressing ourselves in this way. Therapy helps dissolve such internal conflicts and enables us to grow through pain by responding and reacting as we should.
Strange as it may seem, low moods, bordering on depression, are a normal part of life. Bereavement, broken relationships, loss of employment, these are all terrible things to experience, but they are always going to happen. It is when we try and shield ourselves from pain that we tend to do the most damage to ourselves. This is so well encapsulated in that classic song ‘I am a rock’: “I am a rock, I am an island, and a rock feels no pain, and an island never cries.” When we close off our emotions, we actually become less human.
The mystic writer Kahli Gibran put it another way: “The deeper that sorrow carves into your being, the more joy it can contain.” Our pain can seem completely wrong and a complete tangle that we should not be experiencing, but in fact, it can always be understood, it is logical and things can be traced back to a root cause.
Getting to the source – the first, important step
Sometimes, things reverberate down through generations, as in the case of people whose parents lived through the holocaust. And even further back, to so many families who were shattered by the anti-social and difficult to understand behaviours of shell-shocked survivors of World War 1. When you are suffering in a family in this way, it natural to apportion blame and very difficult not to. But for the therapist, shedding the light of understanding is the key.
Which person is the primordial prime mover of emotion in all of us? Our mother. When we were carried inside our mothers, we felt what she felt. We went through the birth experience together. Mother happy? Baby happy. Mother depressed? Baby also depressed. As a child our emotional happiness depended on that of our main carers, so we looked to please them as often as we could.
And it’s the same when we were growing up. We wanted to please our mentors and our peers and so we adapted our behaviour accordingly. We didn’t know who we were, we only knew who we should be. It is only when we break out of this that we can begin to experience real freedom. It’s like learning how to escape from a box – the box of others’ expectations – and experience the true happiness of being allowed to evolve and grow.
Conversely, closing ourselves off to negative experiences directs our feelings of anger and frustration inward. This is often the beginning of depression. Medication can treat symptoms of depression, but not the root cause. Like any treatment, there can be no simple path – life is not like that. But as with so much, understanding must be the first step we take.
So if you are struggling to cope day-to-day, very tearful, avoiding interaction with family and friends and wishing you could sleep the day away, talk to your doctor. But if you feel you have the energy to change the way things are then call me – 01438 832957 – let’s talk!