Counselling to get through the fog of depression to improve well being

Living with Depression

Experiencing depression does not mean you are weak, or lacking or worthless. Rather you are in a place that a great many other people have, are or will be in.

Your depression could be informing 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 an inner conflict that needs to be resolved.

You may find at times you can put on a good show, a brave face. A front to those around you maintaining the outward appearance of coping be it at work, as a parent, a partner, a friend etc.

However it can be an exhausting process. In many instances to maintain the pretence requires more emotional and physical energy than you have available. Ultimately you become fatigued which reinforces the current feeling of helplessness and of being caught up in a never ending cycle of feeling bad.

Causes of Depression

These are many and varied including:

  • Isolation, not being part of a family, social group or relationship
  • An event or situation over which you have no control
  • Lack of stimulus and variety
  • Emotional, physical and sexual trauma during childhood/adulthood
  • Prolonged stress and anxiety
  • Medical conditions
  • Being bought up by caregivers with depression
  • Genetic disposition
  • Neurological chemical and neural imbalances
  • Nutritional deficiencies

Getting Help and Support

 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. 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.

Working with me at New Direction Solutions counselling practice can help with this. There is support and there is hope. The dark cloud can be lifted and it is possible to feel OK again.

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.

Life View and Strategy

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 distorted perspective.

Frequently you experience one or more negative self views. This may include helplessness ,self  blame, self-doubt, self-loathing, anger, guilt, fear or despair. It is these distorted feelings and thoughts that disempower you and crushingly hold you down.

I work with clients to draw up a life strategy of thoughts, feelings and actions based on inner Parent, Adult and Child states. This also has elements of past positions , present reality checking and future intent.

Life Strategy

In this example of a life strategy, the source of depression might be explained by the inner Parent setting limiting and impossible standards to be attained and maintained without compromising autonomy . Unable to please the inner Parent,  this evokes feelings of anxiety and conflict in the inner Child.

Working hard, taking responsibility and putting others first might provide a temporary sense of adaptive OK’ness. This builds a protective wall around against the pain of sacrifice. Yet this is at the expense of not being true to self based on an early fear of the threat of not being liked and subsequently rejected.

Eventually the wall collapses in on itself unable to support the emotional weight of anxiety and conflict. The emotional resilience giving way and falling into a well of depression feeling trapped.

Facing and Questioning

Asking questions about the influences and beliefs around your depression enables you to be curious and to see the depression from a new perspective.

Rather than the enemy, depression becomes the manifestation of the hurt self. Instead of fighting and avoiding depression we listen and learn from it.

Doing this with a therapist can help maintain the here and now Adult sense of self whilst connecting with the past Child anxiety and past Parent directives.

Using the reality checking of here and now by the inner Adult your true qualities and abilities can be recognised. What you want and desire for yourself can be identified and voiced.

Rather than the controlling directives and critical beliefs these can be replaced with nurturing and affirmative qualities. Over time depression and lift as self determination is assumed.

This takes time, patience and self compassion. To challenge outdated life strategies and bring about change takes courage. This is because changing the historical self risks invoking the threat of the past Parent state directives that controlled thoughts, feelings and actions.

Find Yourself Again

A frequent question asked by clients is how long will I experience the pain for before the depression lifts.

In part the unsatisfactory answer is; until you can face the bonds of your depression and release yourself from them to become self determining. We assume compassionate responsibility for who we are and who we want to be.

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.

It is important to face and experience what you fear and also to accept what you can and cannot change. You have to combine this with showing yourself understanding and compassion as often clients with depression experience a sense of shame.

Considering that your depression cannot be ignored and that it might be a strategy out of awareness in response to a potential threat of being yourself is a crucial first 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.

See also: Depression Our Ally