Therapist: “I’ve been a little depressed lately…Wait…did I say that out loud?”
Doesn’t matter. It’s true either way. That’s right. Therapists get depressed too.
Here are three things we’ve learned in dealing with depression in our own lives:
- Befriend Your Pain: Once upon a time we might have tried to fight off our feelings or pretend they don’t exist, mostly for fear that it would consume us as most children and adolescents feel when faced with the reality of their own emotional lives. Indeed, the origin of most of our struggles is precisely that – feeling overwhelmed by pain and desiring to get rid of it. These days, however, we see our pain as a friend – the kind of friend who isn’t always easy to hear from, but who always has something worthwhile to say. We’re not being morbid or saying that we like to wallow – just that this part of us that is wounded is worth taking the effort to sit with, and isn’t something we should compulsively avoid. It is, after all, part of us, and it often has valuable things to say, even if it shows up at inopportune times.
- Look for Support: Invariably, we pass seasons of depression now and again and out the other side. It does not swallow us up and we do not fold or lose my mind. Though we think this would be true anyhow, the pain is so much easier to tolerate with the support of others. We have friends, colleagues, mentees, mentors, and more. But we can’t go crashing into a depressive period and then expect ourselves to be able to forge all of this support right then and there. It has greatly helped us to actively pursue supportive relationships when we are not depressed (i.e., the rest of the tome).
- It Gets Easier: As a result of befriending our pain and building in support, we can honestly say that our depressive streaks (or other emotional struggles) are often shorter and more tolerable with each passing year. I was on anti-depressants in my mid-twenties for depressive streaks that lasted for months at a time, and now, we are able to withstand depression when it comes simply by talking with my therapist, my friends, and engaging in worthwhile spiritual and meditative practice. We don’t know if it is ever “easy,” but it can…get…easier.
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