Depression

Observations by a Mental Health Professional in the Community

So much of the life coach and psychotherapist experience is about confidentiality and what we observe gets held in our hearts and kept there for safety. But some experiences I'm sure you have all had. It's just that some of us (who have dedicated our lives to the human condition) see and hear things on an additional level and get impacted in sometimes unusual ways. You can probably relate!

In this month's saga of "Being a mental health professional out in the community"....

I've experienced two moments to share. One at the hair salon and one at the doctor's office. Simple every day moments. Places most of us experience.

To the hair dresser and her client near me who was getting her hair cut...

I could hug you both! The client - who appeared to be in her early 20's - shared a brave moment expressing anxiety that limits her ability to enjoy life and make certain decisions. Even decisions like getting her hair cut.

The hair dresser - who appeared in her late 20's - responded with, "Well sure. I know how that goes."

And they proceeded to share conversation about anxiety, mental health, self care, life choices and every day moments.

So here I am...holding back all the emotions of pride that I feel for two young women I know nothing about.

Many of us in the field dedicate our life to normalizing the human condition and finding ways to develop community for everyone...with a simple vision to make topics ok to discuss and share and learn from. So here today, I witnessed it roll off their tongues no different than if they were talking about any topic.

To those of you that do it every day, this moment is "no big deal". To those of us that know that (depending on when you were born or where you were born or other factors) those conversations would have never taken place and surely not in public and surely not without heavy weight.

There was no weight. There was just conversation between two self aware people who could hold space for many different realities and perspectives.

Those simple moments of witnessing mental health - that I know from my work not to take for granted - are gold.

Second scene:

On another note, I experienced a conversation with a medical professional who was conducting a routine medical intake before my physical exam (yes clinicians...walk the walk of self care).

She did her job by asking the questions the computer told her to ask but a great moment was missed. One of those questions was "I'm sorry I have to ask. I have to ask everyone. Do you have depression." 

That was the only mental health question or symptom question on the subject asked by the form on the computer.

Here's my issue with this and the information I shared:

While I greatly appreciate that routine medical procedures are now a place to address certain whole-person well-being issues, this was not the way to go about doing it in my opinion. 

First of all, there should be more training provided to normalize all mental health questions. There is no shame in asking these questions unless you feel the shame when you ask it. If you are comfortable asking about bowel movements then, as part of routine health, you can ask...

1. Are you eating more or less than usual?

2. Are you sleeping more or less than usual?

3. Do you find yourself crying more or being more irritable than usual?

Etc, etc.

Most of us don't know what depression or any mental health disorder is...much less what symptoms to look out for. Ask about the symptoms in lay person/regular person/non-professional terms that we can all answer. And while you're at it, check for other safety issues like domestic violence. Hand out resources to read on our own time even if we are not comfortable discussing with you right then and there.

The more aware we become of the golden opportunities, the more we can grab them and make the most of them for everyone's sake.

Humans are complex. And most of us try really hard every day. I walk through life observing and learning. And adjusting my practice to realities of real life interactions like these.

Gratitude to everyone that tries.

You'll Be Surprised What Comes Up If You Fill In The Blanks On This Sentence

Many of us have heard the phrase "If money was no issue, then I'd do ______". It's a great chance to see what comes up if you don't feel that limit.

But interestingly, if you add another "blank" then more fascinating information about you for you might come up. Ask it like this: "If _________ was no issue, then I'd do __________."

I know, I know...who needs more blank spaces?! But this game of self awareness is all about pushing toward the uncomfortable (not the painful...then you've gone too far but that's another blog).

Some things that can come up are:

  • Time

  • Health

  • Energy

  • Support System

  • Unconditional Love

  • Self Confidence

  • Self Compassion

  • Focus

  • Discipline

  • Inner peace

  • [add yours]

While any one of these can tell you what has been weighing on your psychology the most, it also tells you were to begin changing your narrative. Not all things are as they seem and we can do amazing things when we even plant the seed that maybe things can be different ...or better yet that things ARE different.

In a moment you can get perspective. In a moment you can let go of a strong belief that guided you (and kept you safe) all these years. In fact, all the sentences that start with "I don't have enough ______" can appear almost comical. And humor is powerful in healing. 

Wipe your tears. Bring down your shoulders from the hit you are expecting. Unclench your fists. Come out of hiding.

Your new story is, "I have so much [time, health, energy, support, love, money, confidence, compassion, focus, discipline, peace] that I can breathe and I can take a step in that abundance. I can take advantage of all this because it is mine. It is available to me. I seek it out. I swim in it. I accept it. I start today with new eyes."

Start today with new eyes, heart AND mind. Breath it in. Act on all you have. There is more than you ever imagined when you let go of the old stories and see reality. Thank you, stories, for keeping me safe. Thank you, stories, for giving some explanation for all chaos I've felt. Goodbye, stories, because now you are holding me back and keeping me tied to those days.

Welcome to your reality.

On The Other Side Of Stress

We can appear on the surface to ourselves and others that we are "healed" and "over it". Yet, the subconscious reminds us of the work we still need to do. Even after all the work to increase our self awareness and coping skills, those triggers are powerful! And it can feel like we are back to step 1.

It weighs heavy on us. It can send us into weeks of irritability, loss of patience, loss of motivation or much apathy about everything. Life just feels like it requires so much more energy than you remember it needing. 

But you push on.

Sometimes it's not until a particular moment has passed - such as a trauma anniversary or an emotionally challenging event - that we realize the heavy stress we were under. 

When the trigger has passed and the stress is lifted...and we can breath easy again. When we feel light again....when we have clarity again...when we are no longer walking through emotional quicksand. When we can smile that smile that comes from within.

Peace.

Peace is the gold that we treasure on a whole other level only after we get reminders of how we lost it in the past. Honor those reminders. Realize your personal growth (and growth within relationship to others) is still a journey and that you are still in motion. To be in motion is to be alive.

Savor that window of light...the light weight on your being...the light that shines on all you still want...the light that shines on the hope you somehow always hold on to. Savor those moments. Then contain that peace within your soul and carry it with you as you continue your journey.

You are here. You are not where you were. You can get triggered. You can feel like you are shot back in time to that unhealthy expression of you that you detest. But savor the realization that you are not back there. You are here. And you are in motion. Keep growing. Keep loving yourself for all the moments.

I am proud of you.