Living in Northern Michigan, the winter season is long and at times harsh. The effects on one’s outlook can become distorted, skewed, and create a depressed viewpoint toward life without even realizing it, especially when seeing the sun makes you want to run outside no matter the temperature.
It is that moment when you find yourself watching infomercials and eating cheese puffs when you begin to wonder, “Why is life passing me by?” It is during these times that we react to life negatively instead of creating options to center ourselves and involving ourselves with what in life brings us joy, peace, and simple tranquility.
When the Therapist Is Depressed
In a depressed state, events in your life become magnified. Among some that I have recently dealt with are (1) loss of a relationship; (2) empty nesting over my oldest son going to college; (3) health issues arising while I enter my mid 50s; (4) doubt creeping in about going out on my own in business; and (5) tired of being alone and isolating.
Words I say to my clients about not fixating and the need to change behaviors to get different outcomes have become just words to me, and if I am not careful, have little meaning to my own actions.
Now, I could blame the winter season, but in reality it stems more from my outlook toward life in general. It has become flat, stale, and change seems an impossible task.
How about you? Do you identify with the following list?
- You can’t sleep or you sleep too much?
- You can’t concentrate or find that previously easy tasks are now difficult?
- You feel hopeless and helpless?
- You can’t control your negative thoughts, no matter how much you try?
- You have lost your appetite or you can’t stop eating?
- You are much more irritable, short-tempered, or aggressive than usual?
- You’re consuming more alcohol than normal or engaging in other reckless behavior?
- You have thoughts that life is not worth living?
In a depressed state, residue of the soul over time can be just as toxic as residue of smoke collecting in a smokers lungs. We do not see within ourselves the effects and harm it does for oneself and the damage it can have on ourselves and those around us.
Therapist, Heal Thyself
Recently I begin to realize that the residue of the last five years has made me vulnerable to emotional attack, and mechanisms I have used in the past to uplift myself have become an effort rather than a joy.
Why don’t I get my camera out or put my head phones on for relief of the constant pounding in my head of how insignificant I feel I am without realizing how negative I have become?
I have forgotten my own advice to clients: force yourself to do something you love and remind yourself what aspect of that brings you joy.
The following are areas in my life that need reconnecting:
- Music; it takes me to places that not only uplift my spirit but gives me a sense of relief and allows the doubts of life become melodies of hope.
- Communication; I have forgotten how much better I feel when I express my feelings to another.
- Exercise; it is critical to physical and emotional positive health. It is our bodies’ natural tool of being able to create energy by expending it.
How Experiencing Depression Can Help a Therapist Connect With Clients
“Life isn’t all perpetual bliss, nor is it one woeful weeping session. But you can concentrate so hard on noticing moments of one or the other that either a bright outlook or dim expectations becomes your regular illusion.” Richelle E. Goodrich, Smile Anyway: Quotes, Verse, & Grumblings for Every Day of the Year
I have recently began to come to grips with my own depression. Becoming aware of what I have been combating is a start. I am the one who can control my destiny and quality of my life. I may never regain the lost relationship; I have to learn to let my son go; and in some way I need to realize the importance of avoiding isolation in my own demons.
I share with my clients that depression can feel like we are drowning. What we may need is a life preserver, such as antidepressant medication and/or behavioral changes, to stabilize ourselves to be open to learning how to swim again.
We may be predisposed genetically for depression, but how we perceive our environmental stimulus in life plays a large part in our outlook. We must realize for ourselves that we can be in better place.
Photo courtesy of Casey Muir-Taylor on flickr