"I don't know what people mean when they say they feel happy."
"I've been afraid my whole life."
"I can't imagine what it's like to not be depressed."
These statements have been made to me by people who have never known a moment of peace or joy in their lives. They survive each day knowing it will be another day of misery, and yet they persevere. The people who uttered the statements above are not without hope, though, or they would never have walked through my door. Their emotional responses, their thoughts, and their behaviors have become entrenched, and they see themselves not as whole human beings, but as wounded, barely functioning ones. The first thing I can offer them is hope of feeling better through changes in what they do and how they think. Hope for change is itself a powerful weapon.
Our brains are physical organs, complicated and still in the process of being understood, but physical parts of our physical bodies. When one part of the body is in trouble, the whole of our system responds. A broken bone, for example, elevates our heart rate and blood pressure. All of our attention is focused on the pain it causes. Our words may be extremely terse, or they may be profane and very loud. Everything in our system directs attention to the problem, the broken bone. If it goes untreated by professionals, the pain does not go away, but becomes worse and causes even more misery, and more problems.
When the trouble is anxiety or depression, our bodies respond similarly, focusing all our attention on the pain they cause in our lives. If you suffer with either depression or anxiety, you know how life-consuming they can become. It may seem that they have lives of their own designed to torture you.
Both these disorders are highly treatable. Both respond well to changes you can make in what you do and how you think. But they require that you become an active participant in the force of change. Find a strong, respected psychotherapist who knows how to help you make the changes necessary to help you enjoy this sojourn through life. They may include medication, but they absolutely must include changes in your diet, sleep, level of activity, and mindfulness to help your brain function properly. Changes you make must also include techniques to calm and soothe, to think rationally instead of through the lens of the disorder.
Change while you feel vulnerable may seem frightening. How do you give up your self-perception of a depressed person or an anxious person if you've lived with that your whole life? It's time to sacrifice that unhappy person to become the whole and well person you were meant to be. Change happens when you are ready to find someone who can show you how to make those changes.
Marilyn Miller, MS, LPC ~ Psychotherapist
...Delighting every day in helping people find peace in their lives, relieving anxiety, depression, and promoting self-care.