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Renewal after Depression.

Depression — admin @ 8:35 pm

Here at Counselling Connections this week we have been continuing our discussion about aspects of depression. In particular we have been focusing on the processes involved in coming out of depression. We don’t subscribe to a quick fix solution to depression. Nor do we believe in a ‘one size fits all’ approach because we see depression as being personal to each individual who endures it. Whereas there is an understandable demand for solutions or tips for recovery our view is that we must begin by reflecting in a deep way on our life and influences in order to begin a process of change. Often, a lasting recovery from depression begins with this period of deep personal reflection; a looking back in order to begin to look forward.

Even the very concept of recovery is the subject of discussion within our group. To recover means to get something back or to get back to a previous position. In that regard the purpose of therapy for a person with depression is not to recover but to change. The task is one of transformation of the self rather than of going back to the way things used to be. If the first task is to figure out how we got to the point of depression the latter is to map out a view of how we would like things to be in the future. This process is very personal to each one of us.

It is not a simple task to unlock the secrets of depression. We have described previously how self reproach plays a part in this. Continuing the process of working through the reasons why we become trapped in this cycle involves looking at the ideas we might have about the way we would like to be. We do have an idea within us somewhere of what kind of person we would like to be. Comparing our current life with how we imagine things ought to be undoubtedly contributes to depression. We may not be able to live up to our internal ideas of an ideal version of our own self. This can become a punitive sort of comparison.

Our image of a potential self is likely to be influenced by our idealising significant figures from our earlier years. We may identify with certain traits or characteristics which we find admirable in family, friends or teachers. We may secretly strive to attain some similar virtues in our own lives. This can become a personal project which we dedicate our lives to; but meet with frustration when we come up short of our ideal. Personal change following a period of depression involves trying to recognise these identifications in our self. We can then become conscious of their appropriateness and of what prevents us from achieving them. We can decide if we want to renew our efforts in a particular direction or tear up the plan and draw up a new one.

In examining our past we may discover impediments which caused us to deviate from or abandon earlier ideas of our own potential. Some of these may relate to unrealistic early ideas of where our life may take us. But we may also discover that family or other external influences caused us to hesitate before considering possible ways of being. We may realise that we turned away from a kind of life that actually accords well with our real self. The transformation involved in a sustained renewal following a period of depression will involve our working out how to proceed towards our own personal view of how we would like to be. Once we have become aware of how to do this we can change again and continue to adapt to life in a way of our own choosing.

Counselling Connections.

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