Having a little time off has given me some time to think and reflect. Almost always when I take time for that, I end up reflecting on this work that we do together in the therapy room. It is often profound work, and I am privileged to participate and challenged by what comes up. So I have been thinking, and reading, about depression and anxiety.
Depression and anxiety are in different categories in the DSM IV, that important diagnostic tome that helps us to decide how to categorize “mental illness.” But if we move away from pathologizing and into humanizing, many of the issues that come through the door of the therapy room have feelings at their core. Either not feeling enough or feeling too much. Depression and anxiety can have aspects of both.
Usually in depression, people can’t feel; they have suppressed or repressed feelings for so long that numbness is a way of being. But that might only be part of the situation. Maybe sometimes, people have told themselves a story about what it is okay to feel, and when it is okay to feel that way.
When we feel differently than our story allows, we might experience anxiety. There is a sense that something is wrong, really wrong. If, for example, I am angry but my story tells me that I don’t get angry, then obviously something is seriously wrong and I get anxious. We can get to a place where every time we feel ANYTHING, what we allow into awareness is only anxiety. So we believe that the world is scary, or that we are scary, or that feeling anything isn’t possible because all we feel is anxious. When there is part of the self that is not allowed to feel, either by depression (I don’t feel anything) or by anxiety (no matter what I feel it is always interpreted by my body as anxiety), then that part becomes stunted, or at least diminished….the voice of that part isn’t heard.
Could that be you? Perhaps a whole part of you hasn’t really had time and space to become whatever it is going to become. Maybe if you only had some time, some space, maybe then you would find this part that has not yet fully developed.
What has been waiting for the” right”time…when the chores are finished, or when the kids are grown,or when you’ve lost weight or whatever your particular obstacle is. What is waiting there inside you? What is the part of you that is whole, perfect,complete just as it is?
When you open up space without judgment, allow just openness and reflection, what comes up? Could that be a sign pointing to the “real you?”