You may have been journeying through life, ‘coping’ and ‘just getting on with it’, when you wake up one morning and think, ‘I just can’t face the day’. You don’t want to get out of bed, you have no energy, no interest in your surroundings or the people in it – it is as if you are shutting down against the world. Sometimes others may say, ‘cheer up’ because they do not know how to help you and you may not know how to help yourself because you do not understand why you feel this way. A major life event may have triggered your depression or it may seem apparent that there is no specific cause.
Depression can be understood in terms of internal, conflicting emotions such as anger and sadness of which you may not be aware. Since early childhood, we learn to suppress emotions and feelings. Therefore, by the time we have grown and developed in to adulthood we have often become masters of suppression by learning ways of defending against feelings and emotions – we may call this ‘coping’ and ‘just getting on with it’, for example.
Depression is often linked to loss: loss of a loved one or loss of a part of our selves; sometimes the two go hand in hand. The loss of a part of our selves may relate to childhood, if we have had to replace it with being in survival mode, when trying to cope in a difficult family situation. We may grieve for the loss of a childhood and most likely have many conflicting emotions such as sadness and anger as we might when we lose someone close.
Naturally, there are many more causes of depression but the outcome is usually similar; we have lost touch with our own feelings, needs and hopes. We become lost, hopeless and with a sense of powerlessness for change.
Psychotherapy can be a way of helping you get to know yourself by learning to gently get in touch with those hidden parts of yourself, which have been out of your awareness for so long. A trusting, safe relationship with your psychotherapist provides an environment where you can put your needs first and begin to feel compassion towards yourself and your needs. This is part of a process which can lead you to begin to feel motivated and hopeful for your future.