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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 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 great about things does not necessarily mean we are depressed and in need of medication. We often take medication when we don’t need to. In some instances, we would be better off taking a closer look at our life, which is where therapy can 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 need medical help and in the few weeks that anti-depressants take to kick in, therapy can also play an important part.

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 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. 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 that 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, and loss of employment, are all terrible things to experience, but they are always going to happen. It is when we try and shield ourselves from the 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 become less human.

The mystic writer Kahlil 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 is natural to apportion blame and very difficult not to. But for the therapist, shedding the light on 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. Is the mother happy? Baby happy. Mother depressed? The Baby is 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 as 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. Only when we break out of this can we begin to experience real freedom. It’s like learning how to escape from a 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 the depression. Medication can treat symptoms of depression, but not the root cause. There can be no simple path like any treatment – life is not like that. But as with so much, understanding must be the first step we take.




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