Creating Hope: It’s life or death. Therapy for depression
Here’s how it can go when we need help with depression: You haven’t landed that full-time job yet, you’re living back with your parents after graduation, you’re feeling isolated from those you went to school with and are scared to talk to them. They have their lives SO together. This has been going on for over 6 months. You broke up with your girlfriend, and you don’t know what you want to do with your life.
Creating hope in this situation is Life or Death. Because we have to create out of feeling boxed in, shamed, unsureness, frustrated, and isolated. Without hope it’s a dead end. You remain still until you feel smaller and smaller. Hope helps you feel sturdier, bigger, capable.
And then there’s the anxiety…
You have anxiety about everything. Calling your friend, calling a therapist, leaving the house, getting dressed, riding the train, going to work, getting on the plane for your work trip. You are starting to have panic attacks not just at 4am but every time of the day. You feel out of control.
Hope allows you to acknowledge that your effort is incredibly painful. You are trying to work through managing life that at every turn feels unmanageable. The anxiety needs to be slowed down. The anxiety needs to be re-worked and acknowledged as something that was created not as something you are. Our work finding and building with hope? Realizing that you have power within all this anxiety and panic.
Hope in hard times: Post-partum depression
You just had a baby. Life is supposed to be good, but you feel alone, tired, disorganized. Your hormones are out of whack. You’re isolated, unsupported, feeling uncreative. What does your life mean now? Where are your family and friends. Finding hope means rethinking parenthood, co-parenting, couplehood, family life, working through your thoughts and not judging them but giving them a voice instead of sinking into self criticism. We need to get to know the pain, wrestle with it, acknowledge the feelings and the adjustment, and find ways to be more creative. That is the seed of hope.
Finding hope in therapy
To have hope is to acknowledge that anger, sadness, despair are part of hoping. Hope is not simply a warm and fuzzy feeling we feel on bright sunny days. In life and in therapy we need to recognize that hope, in the darker moments, looks differently.
Often times I say to therapy patients “I hold hope in our work so we can work towards holding hope together.” I offer my hope a stop-gap until you can find and build yours.