As most of you can imagine, being a therapist is not always an easy job because each person carries so many quirks and greatness and struggles that are unique. We are all unique individuals with different genetic makeups, different temperament, different experiences growing up, and different reactions to events and people. Therefore, it is not always easy to categorize each one of us into a diagnostic box, granted we come as close to the box as possible. Neither is it fair to categorize each one of us into a diagnosis, granted we do it because it can be validating. It can also help inform us about which track of treatment to embark on and it becomes the starting point of our conversation on what is it that you are struggling with.
Depression is real, it affects 1 out of 20 individuals ages 12 years and above (CDC, 2005 - 2006) and according to National Institute of Mental Health, 6.7% of adults in the U.S. suffers from Major Depressive Disorder. Symptoms of depression includes low mood consistently, but sometimes with short periods of high energetic moments, difficulty sleeping, lost of appetite, lost of interest in activities that you used to be excited over, thoughts of wanting to hurt yourself, attempts of hurting yourself, low self-esteem, irritability, no energy to do much or difficulty concentrating. You might struggle with one or two, six or seven, or even all of them. When you walk in to talk to us about your emotional struggles, you might think we don't understand. However we make a conscientious effort to understand and relate to what you are saying.
What I want to stress in this blog is that when a person comes in to talk about feeling depressed, I try to ask you to describe what depression feels like. Many people don't understand the meaning of that question, and I completely get it. What does it mean to describe how your sadness feels? Is it a heavy feeling, like a weight on you? Does it feel like a bottomless pit, or a dark hole? The idea of no energy might be easy to describe; my whole body feels heavy and I can't seem to move. That it takes tremendous effort to do anything. The sadness I feel is overwhelming where it spreads throughout my body, sometimes I feel a certain sense of tightness, sometimes I feel this visceral pain that is hard to explain. When I imagine the tremendous pain you are in, it does make sense to me why you think about not wanting to live as a way to rid this pain.
Feeling depressed and suffering from depression is unbelievably hard. As therapist, we don't understand until you start talking and sharing it with us. Our first task is to free you of the burden of loneliness and isolation. Only then, our training and experience allows us to help you make meaning and get to the root of your depression. When you feel that someone understands you and you feel validated and accepted; it makes it slightly easier to learn to cope with depression and move pass it. It also makes the effort easier to tolerate.
Getting better is a process that can be a long road with a lot of hard work. Let one of us guide you through this and help you feel less isolated. Empower yourself to learn compassion and forgiveness. Please feel free to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org to keep you company on this long road with hard work.