When I say ‘front line,’ I don’t mean from the therapist perspective necessarily, but from the client perspective; the sufferer.
When I was a graduate student, the best advice I received was to get a therapist of my own, for the basic purpose of knowing what it feels like in the ‘client chair.’ Now I have two…. a talk therapist and an EMDR therapist. My journey of becoming open and vulnerable to someone else started in class. We were practicing group therapy and I broke down uncontrollably while processing the pain of homesickness and thinking that my God had led me to Florida to fend for myself (this story requires an entirely different post). From here on, I began to realize how depressed and anxious I really was. So I started seeing a therapist.
My therapist Shannon once asked me if I knew what depression really was. I was stumped. I knew how it felt, and the scientific explanation, but I had no way to prepare for what she was about to tell me,
“Depression is anger turned inward.”
This ended with a referral to an EMDR therapist because apparently I needed a specialist to help me handle my anger relating to my trauma. I grew up as a child of emotional neglect and verbal abuse. And it only took me 24 years to own up to this reality.
My trauma and my brain chemistry are the main sources of my depression. Everyone in my immediate family is depressed. I started feeling this way when I was 12 or 13 years old. Finally, I haven’t been able to fully understand it until about a week ago. So, in my hopes to save you some time, here are the three most helpful pieces that have really helped me to put my experience into something that makes sense.
- first is a video that I stumbled upon on Upworthy.com. It a lovely young poet explaining to her mother how she feels:
This is how I would explain my own hurt to someone, other than the insomnia. Insomnia is not my problem, rather hyper-somnia.
2. The next is an info-graphic that I found on Pinterest. It perfectly sums up my attitude and theory on the concept of Lazy:
I absolutely love this because it explains in very simple terms what it’s like to have to try so very hard each and every day to complete the simple tasks that other people can have done in an hour. And this is me to a T. I know everything I need to do, and I do it with minimal complaints, but I’ll be damned if I’m not physically, emotionally, and spiritually exhausted by the time I’m done. It’s like carrying a 40lb. bag on your back always (and yes I have carried an actual 40lb. bag on my back). It’s not just sadness. Its agitation, a bad attitude and a little bit of jealousy that others seem to have it so easy.
3. Finally, I found this video tonight actually on The-Open-Mind.com. This one is not my favorite mainly just because it sounds a bit too “poor me,” but I relate to it and its still very powerful and very, very true:
I like this because it shows how easily affected we can be from other’s words, especially as a child. Like I mentioned, I’ve experienced verbal abuse and neglect, so I know what it feels like to have no mentally tangible proof that I’m worthy as a human being.
So what does this have to do with addiction?
Everything. Its a very rare case that I do not treat someone who does not have at least a mild diagnosis of Major Depressive Disorder. Sadly, a good majority of them don’t believe they have it, don’t understand it well enough to own it, or view it as a weakness. When in reality, people with depression and anxiety are among the strongest people I have ever known.
If you take anything away from this, please take an awareness. An understanding. And a view of compassion for those you know that fight depression every day.