Be Here! Living with Bouts of Clinical Depression

4 Mental Health Professionals Dead from Suicide

In recent months, my local therapist community lost 4 mental health professionals to suicide.  Clearly as professionals in the field, we know all too well the high degree of suffering that people with depression endure.  We know that for those who are chronically depressed it is sometimes a daily battle to be here.

We Take Some Things for Granted…

There are some things that are so fundamental that we take them for granted.  We take for granted that we and others with whom we share our lives intimately or otherwise will be here when needed, wanted or desired.  We will see them when we get home from work, or see them next week at the conference, or even next week in session.

Be Here!?

In many ways this is healthy because it keeps us from being overly anxious and fearful.  The truth is we don’t know if we will “be here,”  but –

  • we can intend to be here ;
  • we can try to be here ;
  • we can fight back the forces that interfere with us being here :
    • physically present;
    • emotionally present;
    • and present in our consciousness.  There are other ways to die besides physical death; other things and states of being that cause us to be lost to others and them to be lost to us.

Taking Care of Ourselves and Others

As therapists, we know that despite our best efforts, the people we serve and treat for mental illnesses may not be able to endure their “intra-psychic pain.”

We know that clinical depression and anxiety have very real neuro-chemical components and that often medication is not enough.

We know that a major aspect of healing involves the heart.  It involves the development of healthy attachments to self and others.  At its worst, depression can feel like a loss of self.

We are trained to “take care of ourselves,”  to “seek our own therapy,”  to “be in consultation and supervision,”  and to by all outer appearances “pull it together!”

The Secret Keepers…

The problem is that no one knows how to keep a secret like a therapist.  We are masterful at being present while withholding aspects of ourselves or withholding our own needs in service to others.

A depressed or anxious therapist, or a therapist struggling with relational dysfunction can be or behave very healthily in session with a client.  In fact, the therapeutic space can be their refuge.  The problem is that we can carry this behavior and skill over into our non-therapeutic relationships.

Real refuge for ourselves should be with trusted others with whom we can release our own “stuff,”  with people who can be supportive of us…this should not be our clients’ burden, nor should we be total paragons of mysterious virtue or perfection to our clients.

Humanity heals and it is our humanness that allows for very real connections with our clients and with others.

The truth is that we are not immune.  We are not super human and many of us work in settings or organizations that can exacerbate our own underlying vulnerabilities.

  • I don’t know the stories of my colleagues.
  • I don’t know what happened?
  • If they sought help? How long they suffered?
  • If anyone tried to intervene?

These are the very real “post death”  type questions that the living engage in to try to come to terms with and accept such tragic losses within our very own ranks.

The Truth is We are Better Because You are Here!

I have loved ones who struggle with depression and I have clients who struggle with it.

I’ve seen people through and sat with them in the midst of horrible pain and loved and nurtured them to their potential wholeness.

If you struggle with depression, remember that you are not your pain.  The pain is something you are enduring.  You are not a bad person; you are not unworthy; you are not at fault.

  • Get into therapy;
  • look at holistic methods;
  • learn about exercise and nutritional supports;
  • talk to a good safe friend or loved one;
  • see a psychiatrist;
  • resist the urge to isolate and push others away.

You Have a Right to Choose How You Live and Die

Please be kind to yourself.  I recognize that there are various ways to view death and dying.  That people have a right to choose how they live and how they die.

I just take issue with the depression deciding...yes being here can be painful but there is something more.  There is life beyond depressive episodes.  Sometimes people do get tired of trying to push through it.

My heart breaks for their loved ones and friends… for the loss is often devastating for those left behind.

Depression will tell you that they (your loved ones) are better off without you.  It may even have you believe that no one cares.  But you have to be here to find out that it is not true.

Copyright © 2016 Ruby Blow. All rights reserved.

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