Life is hell and then you die!
Living with depression and anxiety
If you’ve ever felt like this for a prolonged period then you will have experienced the debilitating dark stuck place of depression and/or anxiety. This is a place where a person cannot either stimulate themselves to an up-beat sense of well-being or self-sooth and dampen down from a heightened over anxious state. Maybe you’ve always struggled to find that optimal place of contentment and well being.
And once in it I simply can’t get out of it
The debilitating emotions felt in depression and anxiety will have a profound impact on your behaviour. You may find yourself withdrawing, avoiding activities and contact with the world and people. You will feel invisible, unimportant and alone. You will have no compassion for yourself and give yourself a very hard time thwarting every attempt at positivity with a harsh anticipation of criticism and rejection, as you believe that you will never be good enough or important enough to anyone for them to hear you or take you seriously. Life has ceased to have meaning, life is difficult and your best option is to avoid it.
This can all feel like being trapped and the desire to escape can manifest itself through rumination or catastrophising and a range of avoidant behaviours including suppression and numbness of positive and negative feelings. Sometimes you may become embittered and pre-occupied with injustices you have experienced that have caused you intense hurt and rage.
What’s it for and why me?
The strong emotional status of depression or anxiety that seems unchanging and entrapping is an internalised experience that separates you from connection with another person and equally disconnects you from your own authentic feelings and knowing what you need and want for peace and contentment.
A person is not born knowing what they feel and therefore what they want. It is through a well-attuned parental relationship that you learn what feelings are and the experience of having your needs met when you express your feelings.
Without consistently good enough attunement you will not learn how to regulate yourself and will struggle as an adult to maintain equilibrium as you face life’s ups and downs. A therapeutic relationship provides you with such attunement; as if your therapist is walking in your shoes.
So….What’s the cure?
Neuroscience has shown that our minds are plastic and thus we have the capacity through a safe non-judgemental therapeutic relationship to experience being heard, understood and attuned to. This in turn will help you to develop new ‘hard wiring’ that will provide self-regulation of your feelings and an increase in your resilience, confidence and self-esteem to guide you as you live out your life fully.
A therapeutic relationship will inevitably on occasions let you down and misattune to your experience. When this occurs the trust already established with your therapist will provide a safe space for you and your therapist to explore your anger and the hurt that lies beneath. It is through the consistent experience of therapeutic attunement and re-attunement that your real and authentic self emerges and depression and anxiety are no longer needed.
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About Fiona Brewin
I'm a qualified and experienced psychotherapist working with adults and couples. I'm accredited and registered member of BACP and a registered member of UKATA, UK Association of Transactional Analysis.
In my work I use and teach the skill of mindfulness through body awareness for stress reduction, relief from depression and emotional regulation.