Coping with Depression
When you are locked in a deep well of despair depression is an inadequate word to describe this state of existence. Separated from the outside world, thoughts, feelings and motivation can be starved of hope. This is a crushingly debilitating experience both emotionally and physically.
Experiencing depression does not mean you are weak, or lacking or worthless. Rather you are in a place that many other people have, are or will be in. Depression informs you that something in your life is not as it should be and that change is required. Rather than thinking of depression as the enemy you might think of it as a way to draw your attention to a conflict that needs to be resolved.
In a relationship it can feel you are living with three elements you, your partner and the depression. There is the additional pressure of trying to understand and accommodate what is happening. Depression will impact on you and your partner. It can put a strain on a relationship.
Get Help and Support
Fortunately talking therapies can help with this. There is support and there is hope. The dark cloud can be lifted and it is possible for you to climb out of that black hole back into the world.
You may find at times you can put on a good show, a brave face. A front to those around you maintaining a sham of coping be it at work, as a parent, a partner, a friend etc. However it is a joyless place. In many instances to maintain the pretence requires more emotional and physical energy than you have available. Ultimately it becomes exhausting and reinforces the current feeling of helplessness and of being caught up in a never ending cycle of feeling bad.
In the first instance it is advisable to visit your GP. A GP may recommend medication that can lead to an improvement and stabilisation of symptoms. Although ultimately you have the final say if you do or don’t take anti-depressants. You may feel that you should tackle your depression on your own. Whilst many people are reluctant to do so it is vitally important to ask for and accept help.
Explore Your Inner World
Engaging with me in counselling at New Direction Solutions enables you to start to make sense of what you are experiencing. By sharing and naming the fears, the loss and the despair, it starts to give shape to your depression. The narrative builds a picture of what you are experiencing and you can then start to feel the edges. As thoughts and feelings arise into awareness they can be spoken of, explored and put into context.
As a result of the emerging awareness the disconnect between the inner experience and the outside world can be questioned. On occasion what we have lived through does not match the way we expected life to be or intended it to be. This can be so isolating and confusing. Exploring the gap between how your life is and what you hoped for can shed light on how the depression emerged.
Giving Depression a Form
Identifying the nature of your depression and re-connecting with yourself enables the emotional and physical energies to start moving again. The self-view that underlies and feeds the depression is typically a a distorted perspective. Frequently you experience one or more negative self views. This may include helplessness ,self blame, self-doubt, self-loathing, anger, guilt, fear and despair. It is these feelings and thoughts that disempower you and crushingly hold you down.
With depression your inner Parent often sets impossible standards for you to attain. Then when you can not meet your own unobtainable expectations you go on to judge and condemn your inability to do so. Unable to please your inner Parent, this evokes feelings of guilt and shame in your inner Child.
Driven by the inner Childs’ feelings of helplessness the inner critic becomes more hurtful; chastising and punishing even further. So the circle of self-condemnation and recrimination goes round and round. Spiralling down into depression this robs us of the power to combat misplaced ideals, rules and beliefs.
Confront and Challenge
Often you will find that what initially protected you from difficult situations such as avoiding, not voicing your opinion, staying in a toxic job, not processing past trauma etc created a wall between you and the outside world.
Eventually the wall collapses in on itself and you find yourself unable to support the emotional weight of pain and despair. The emotional resilience gives way and you fall into a well of depression feeling trapped and out of control.
A frequent question asked by clients is how long will I experience the pain for before the depression lifts. In part the answer is until you address the cause of your depression. As you become aware of the causes and beliefs around your depression this enables you to be curious and to challenge what you have been and are experiencing.
The collapsed wall of prior coping has to be examined brick by brick. The fears, hurts, emotional traumas, feeling of hopelessness and self-worth etc. all those things are considered and where appropriate challenged.
Find Yourself Again
It is important to face and experience what you fear and also to accept what you cannot change. You have to combine this with showing yourself understanding and compassion as often clients with depression experience a sense of shame.
Accepting that your depression cannot be ignored and that it was a unconscious strategy to protect yourself from external threats is an important step. As the threads of individual issues are followed to their source new ways of relating and responding are formed.
Slowly the emotional weight reduces; energy and optimism return. Frequently it is two steps forward and one step back. This can be frustrating but over time the depression typically reduces and lifts.
It is then important to look after your mental well being on an ongoing basis. Paying attention to stress levels, exercising, getting adequate rest, engaging in social activities and generally valuing self is all part of a healthy emotional lifestyle.