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Struggling Through Depression as a Therapist

Reema is a counselling psychologist with experience in supporting clients with panic attacks, hopelessness, worthlessness, and anxiety.

Last Updated on June 17, 2024 by It’s Complicated

In the year 2015, I came face to face with depression. Before that, I had read the term only in textbooks. Certain life circumstances became the contributing factors to my journey of understanding and dealing with depression.

How it all felt

Physically and Mentally – I lost my appetite, and along with that, all my wishes and hopes too. My body went through inflammation, dehydration, and lack of sleep, causing low blood pressure. I was malnourished, and my body ached throughout the day. Years went by, and my fight with depression remained. It felt and seemed like I was far away from being saved.

Emotionally – Unquestionably, it felt like ‘the end of the world’. I knew only one emotion at this point: numbness. Every individual going through this phase might define their feelings differently. If I had to explain it, I would say that I observed things, people, and situations and knew the appropriate and expected response, but it was too tiring to put any of those into effect. Most of the time, I wore a blank expression, maybe because my emotions were not strong enough to perform any reaction. I neither felt anger nor frustration.

I often questioned myself. Is my depression saving me from feeling overwhelmed? I felt like it was saying, “Take a break, don’t do anything, and look after yourself first.” I would never say people didn’t help me. They did. In my mind, I wanted to take some time to work it out on my own rather than be forced to accept help.

When did I seek help?

It took me years to be ready to seek help. The number of days, months, and years needed to take the necessary steps varies from person to person. In my practice, I have had clients ready in a few months or days. When I started practicing as a psychologist and talked to people who underwent similar experiences, I was assured that it could be better. I was not sure how to cure it, but managing depression and its symptoms was my primary goal in therapy.

In 2019, I sought my first therapy session, and over time I have felt better. It was in-person at first, but then I shifted to online. Online therapy makes me more comfortable; I am in the comfort of my home and can speak freely.

How did therapy help me?

I was under the guidance of a psychologist for a long time. I thought I knew how to solve my problems, but it was difficult to do alone. She was skilled in Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and could decode my problem smoothly. I was often pessimistic with my thinking. When I used to tell her a thought or a feeling, the way she assured me and rephrased the same thoughts and feelings more optimistically was helpful.

My therapist never focused on solutions; rather, she gave me a space to come in close contact with my feelings: to understand them in depth, where they were coming from, and where they would lead me. It felt assuring when I realised that I was not the only one suffering and that many people via therapy were able to feel better over time.

The therapeutic space provided me with a path to be in continuous dialogue with myself and describe my emotions better. I chose not to take medication, as I felt that therapy alone would heal me progressively. The requirements are different for others who are suffering from depression. Sometimes you might have to visit a psychiatrist while going through psychotherapy sessions.

My takeaway from therapy

I have learned a lot of emotion management skills. One thing that has become my motto in life is not to focus on my behaviour first but rather to assign priority to my emotions and feelings. In other words, if I am overwhelmed by any situation in the present moment, I do not focus on solving the behaviour at first. Instead, I try to tag those emotions that caused that behaviour.

I acquired the knowledge to be more present in the moment with the help of mindfulness training. When I panic, I have my bag of tricks to calm me down. I feel confident and secure now, knowing that I can help myself while being aware of not critically characterizing my emotional outlet. Understanding that all emotions are natural and to be cared for is the biggest learning of my life.

Struggling through depression has taught me many lessons within my practice: to focus on simply being a great listener and not providing immediate solutions, and to help my clients explore the deepest questions about themselves and the nature of emotions. I seek to educate my clients to nurture their emotions in every session.

When you decide to seek therapy and come face to face with your vulnerabilities, the future looks difficult at first. But by consciously seeking to educate oneself about the value of self-love and showing gratitude, one can change their present and future. We all choose life over mere survival, trying to look at the bigger meaning of life, finding happiness in small things, and naturally feeling all emotions. Therapy could act as a catalyst in achieving all of that.

We are all on the same journey called life. Aim not to win but rather to live it.


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