Like Cleaning a Wound
Well that title has some lovely imaging, doesn't it?:) That's how I describe therapy sometimes. It is like cleaning a wound. It can be painful at first but it is needed in order to heal. The first few sessions are sometimes the most difficult. In fact, I often tell clients how brave they are for being able to come to a stranger and share their struggles, their hopes, their fears. . .
Think about a cut that is never washed. It is very likely to start becoming red, then oozing, and then a fever may set in. If you didn't seek medical attention, you could end up losing a limb or worse. I hope you wouldn't do that to your physical body, so don't do it mentally/emotionally either!
Often it is hard to make a therapy appointment. Maybe we think we will get better by ourselves. Maybe we are afraid what people will think. Maybe we don't know what to expect. Maybe we had a bad experience in therapy before. Maybe all of those things! I encourage you, though, if you have been thinking about it to give a therapist a call and chat for a few minutes and ask questions. Most therapists will talk for a few minutes for free and you can get a feel of how things will go. Also, it is okay after the first session to seek a different therapist if you don't feel like you guys are a good fit. BUT, don't stop if the session was hard because what you are working on is hard. Again, it is like cleaning a wound at times. If you are working through something painful, it will be painful. That doesn't mean it is not worth it.
Also, let your therapist know if you are having an really hard time after sessions. Your therapist should be able to help you learn some techniques to regulate better and calm down. He/she can practice them with you at the end of the session too. It also can be fun to end the session on a lighter note in order to leave the session in a more uplifting state.
I often have clients tell me people think they can “snap out of it” and feel better. That they have total power over how they are feeling and can control all of their symptoms. The report that they are viewed as weak since they feel depressed. This is like telling someone with cancer to just think differently and it will go away. While it is true that not everyone who is depressed needs medication, it is not as simple as just deciding to think differently. Challenging one’s own thinking is a powerful tool in treating depression but it is just one tool. And it can be hard. Depression can make one feel like nothing will work and one will never feel better. It can make one feel like happiness is unattainable.
If someone in your life is depressed, here are some ways to help:
JENNIFER EULBERG, MA, LPC
Welcome Jennifer, our new blogger!
Jennifer is a counselor at Sandhill who specializes in depression, self-esteem, and grief & loss. Get to know Jennifer as she shares her perspectives on life, contemplates value themes, and offers gentle encouragement.
THANK YOU to Stefanie Pisarkiewicz, LPC for her blog contributions from November 2014 - February 2019!