I do not know myself anymore
The feeling of having lost touch with oneself is common and often brings people to counselling.
I cannot remember the last time I laughed.
Everything is so dark and gloomy.
I used to be fun to be with. Now, nothing excites me.
I have not had sex in ages and I am not bothered.
My skin is sagging.
I have noticed worry lines on my forehead.
My family and friends are worried about me.
I cannot talk to those close to me, because they do not understand, and I do not want to worry them.
What is going to happen to me?
I have put on weight / I have lost weight.
Is this it? Is this what my life has come to?
I have got nothing going for me, no future.
I feel empty and tired.
I feel helpless.
I cannot sleep.
I do not know why I feel this way; nothing bad has happened.
I am not sure whether this is serious enough to need counselling.
I feel so self-indulging, telling you this.
I feel so lonely.
I cannot motivate myself.
I do not care anymore.
I am frightened.
I am exhausted.
I feel like a failure.
These are signs of depression, which can occur at different levels of depth and severity and for different lengths of time. All of us will probably experience it in our lives, when positive energy has been de-pressed from deep inside of us.
Busy lifestyles; not enough time or opportunity to talk about how we feel when difficult things happen; too many distractions; not enough breaks or activities, which help us refuel mind and body – all that can contribute to a gradual built up of unprocessed feelings like fear, anger and grief. Before we know it, we have started carrying a heavy weight, which takes energy, while ongoing challenges of life make further demands on our emotional, mental and physical resilience.
Even if you are not a gardener you will know that after leaving even a little plot of land (or a window box) unattended, weeds will grow and, with time, not enough room or light is left for other plants to develop. The land will become unrecognisable, and the longer we leave it, the more time consuming and hard clearing it will become.
We ignore it and find other activities to take our mind off the job. As we can no longer harvest what we had originally planted, we get our food from elsewhere at a higher cost. The weeds get out of control and we are embarrassed to admit, that this is our plot. We laugh it off, pretend it doesn't matter, that we have it all under control. We try to reassure neighbours, whose gardens are now being encroached by the weed, that we will see to it, we ask for time. But deep down, we are unsure what to do. What tools are needed; can our backs take the hard work? Can we pay someone else to do the job for us?
This is where the analogy ends. With depression we cannot ask someone else to sort it out for us. We can ask for help and encouragement. But we have to do job ourselves.
Counselling is one way of taking charge and dealing with the situation. With the support of a counsellor or therapist whatever may have accumulated over time can be explored, connections made between past events and how we feel, ghosts put to rest, sadness finally expressed, tears of grief or anger shed and a relief felt as the load gets lighter.
Through this process we gradually start to feel a sense of ownership of our lives. We start to understand ourselves better - why we feel the way we do. In time, we can put events and feelings into perspective. With increasing clarity and transparency, fears and anxiety may reduce. We free up mental and emotional space to consider the possibility of options and choices we have for dealing with difficult situations or changes we want to make in our lives.
The process of ‘emotional weeding’ can restore a plot of land to a canvas with new opportunities.
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