Introducing When Hope Speaks

introducing-when-hope-speaks

Regular readers of Watersedge will recognise the name Jessica Morris. Aside from contributing to the blog, she also oversees the social media and editorial content on our website. She has been open and honest about her own struggles with mental illness, giving us an insight into her experiences of therapy, teen to adulthood transition, and moving away from home.

Today we are excited to share Jessica’s new book with you all. Titled When Hope Speaks, it is a memoir about her diagnosis with depression and an anxiety disorder. Using essays, letters, blog posts and poems, she unravels the story of her mental illness and how it shaped her from diagnosis as a 13 year old, to her life today as an international journalist.

Available on October 10—World Mental Health Day, this is an inspiring story reminding people who live with mental illness that they never walk the journey alone. Carers and loved ones will be encouraged, and professionals can use it as a tool to educate and support their clients.

You can read an excerpt from When Hope Speaks by visiting Jessica’s website. Available October 10 through Salvo Publishing, order your copy now at jessicamorris.net.

“I’m so proud of my friend Jessica. She continues to impress me, not only with her writing but with how she lives her life. You get to see both in this book—Jessica’s talent for telling stories and for living them as well. She does both with compassion, with honesty, and with grace.”

~ JAMIE TWORKOWSKI,
founder, TO WRITE LOVE ON HER ARMS
New York Times Best-selling Author, If You Feel Too Much

Locals are invited to attend the When Hope Speaks book launch this Saturday October 8. I will be representing WatersedgeCounselling on a mental health panel to follow a reading and Q & A by the author. Starting at 7pm at the Mule Shed Café at 64 Separation Street, North Geelong, entry is by donation to Hope Movement. Click here for more details.

Do struggle with depression or anxiety? Are you concerned about the mental health of a friend or loved one? Here’s what you need to do: contact WatersedgeCounselling on 0434 337 245 for a FREE 10-minute phone consultation on how we can best help you, or press book now to book in our online diary

Boy Meets Depression

World Mental Health Day Banner

Image of Kevin Breel via theoneproject.ca

 

What does it mean to meet depression? What does it look like, to have it take you by the hand and slowly infiltrate your life, until you forget what your existence was like before it was present?

This World Mental Health Day, we want to explore what it means to meet depression. Few people explain it so vividly as 21- year-old comedian Kevin Breel, in his book “Boy Meets Depression.”

Depression Quote

Beyond Blue tells us that Depression is the leading cause of disability, and that it is estimated 1 million Australian’s experience Depression every year. In Australia, 1 in 5 people will be affected by mental illness, yet 65% of people with a mental illness do not seek treatment (Black Dog Institute). Statistically, you know someone with depression, or perhaps you live with it yourself. In any case, it is common. And while we tend to sweep it under the rug, as it’s something we can’t visibly see- like a broken limb- we are incapacitated by it on a daily basis.

In “Boy Meets Depression” we are given a close up account of what this unwelcome and often unexpected guest (or permanent resident) looks like through the eyes of a teenager. We also see the warning signs and the scenarios that pre-empt it.

Family of Origin

Family Quote

Even as a child, Breel knew his family was unhealthy. His parents slept in different bedrooms and showed no love to each other, and his father, being severely depressed, constantly drank alcohol to numb his pain. His older sister was never home in an effort to escape the conflict. But 5-year-old Breel was unable to escape, so he simply came home to an empty house, living inside his own imagination to pass the time.

Every family of origin will look different, but a broken relationship between spouses and with one or both parents sets the stage for depression. This may appear early for children and adolescents, but for some adults it may occur later in life as they confront unresolved issues.

Social Environment

Bully Quote

There are few things harsher than the school environment. Breel found this first hand when he was the victim of perpetual bullying from a young age. There is no rhyme or reason to bullying, but an awareness of it in the schoolyard, work place or home, is key to understanding depression. Breel’s constant torment fed him lies about his lack of value and identity, and ultimately resulted in a misrepresentation of himself as he entered his teens and was diagnosed with severe depression.

Grief

Grief Quote

Grief over a loved one, a past relationship or an experience, can all play an instrumental role as Depression extends it’s hand towards us. After losing his best friend in a car accident at 12, Breel felt even more alone in the world and lived in a perpetual state of grief. He changed schools to escape the questions and concern that followed.

Masks

Mask quote

 When we are experiencing depression, we will often try to cloak this from the people around us. Breel’s insecurities were virtually invisible to the people around him as he threw himself into the role of the class clown and the comedian. His persona protected him from being fully known, while inside he hated himself. It was this mask that followed Breel into his darkest moments, as he penned a suicide note to his mother.

It was in this moment that things began to change for Breel. There is no easy ‘cure’ for Depression, and after deciding to literally stay alive, a long and difficult journey followed for Breel. It took time for him to open up and share his struggles with his mother, and countless therapy session to begin working through the depression that had nearly taken his life.

When we meet Depression, we become a shell of who we are. While it ultimately comes down to the individual to choose recovery, understanding these warning signs gives us the ability to ask the question, “Are you ok?” This opens the door for help, showing the people we care about that there is a way out. There is life beyond depression.

Recovery quote

Kevin Breel’s book ‘Boy Meet’s Depression’ is available on Amazon.

For more information on what it means to meet depression, watch Kevin’s TedX Talk ‘Confessions of a Depressed Comic’ here.

If you are struggling with Depression or thoughts of self harm or suicide, please call Lifeline on 13 11 14.

If you are struggling with feelings of sadness, despair, depression, severe anxiety or thoughts of suicide, it is important that you seek professional health assistance as soon as possible to help you recover. Your G.P. and/or a Professional Counsellor can give you the additional support you need. For a FREE 10 minute consultation as to how we can help you, ring Colleen on 0434 337 245 or Duncan on 0434 331 243 or you can book an appointment with Colleen or Duncan by going to the orange button titled CLICK ONLINE NOW and follow the prompts.

Australia Counsellling mental health blogger

How to Deal with Depression

How-to-Deal-with-Depression

Beyond the statistics that tell us depression is the most common mental illness in the western world, we know it is an illness that inhibits millions of people. It drains you of energy, sapping the light from your life and makes you feel isolated and alone. This week Colleen was asked by Australian Counselling to share some of her advice on how to deal with depression. Joining other therapists, she gives us some simple and effective advice on the steps we can take to recover from depression and feel healthy and motivated again.

Focusing on the more creative methods of working through depression; including colouring in, going for a walk and embracing your inner child, she shares some often looked over tips that can brighten your mood and assist you as you walk through it.

You can see Colleen’s tips on how to deal with depression and the thoughts of seven other counsellors by reading the blog here.

If you are struggling with feelings of sadness, despair, depression, severe anxiety or thoughts of suicide, it is important that you seek professional health assistance as soon as possible to help you recover.

Your G.P. and/or a Professional Counsellor can give you the additional support you need. For a FREE 10 minute consultation as to how we can help you, ring Colleen on 0434 337 245 or Duncan on 0434 331 243 or you can book an appointment with Colleen or Duncan or press Book Now to book in our online diary.

How You Can Recover From Depression

We can never talk too much about depression. One in every five people will experience depression- that could be you, it could be your partner, child or parent, and it could be a colleague at work. 1 in 5 people include doctors, psychologists, lawyers, and celebrities, ministers of religion, teachers and counsellors. Knowledge, social status, a particular culture, success nor even a particular faith or religion safeguards a person from depression. Depression is no respecter of persons.

I have experienced depression. I was diagnosed with severe depression 23 years ago. At the time I was a minister of religion, wife and young mother of twin daughters when, having tried desperately (and frequently failing) to keep up the image of a strong, competent and successful leader, wife and mother, my body gave up on me and I collapsed.

I didn't hear voices or experience hallucination. At the core of my experience I was just sad, perpetually sad, a deep sadness that no amount of positive thinking or encouragement from well meaning, good intentioned people could shift. I could not even muster my facial muscles into the position of a smile, I lost it somewhere.

I retreated inside myself so that I observed life around me but I had checked out. Life really didn’t register anymore. I just went through the routine each day until even that became impossible. I relied upon the understanding and support of my husband, a good G.P. and a supportive counselling professional. There were testing times for my marriage- my husband frequently felt angry and unsupported himself. Ultimately what got me through was the Counselling Professional whose unfailing support, empathy and knowledge guided me in the direction of healing.

Until I understood what depression was, I felt deeply shamed – shamed that I was apparently failing at life, shamed that I couldn't even look after my children let alone carry off a job! Depression crippled my self-belief so that I wanted to simply hide away. And I did for a while – I left behind the profession (minister of religion) I had held so dear, left a community of people who shared my former ideals. It took me many years before I was ready to face them again.

The day I finally collapsed was the worst but ultimately the sweetest of days because I attracted the attention of a doctor who recognised what was happening. I still remember the words of hope that doctor gave me when coming to visit: ‘you are sick and we can treat you and get you well again.' The relief that here at last someone had actually validated my experience and promised effective help!

This was the commencement of a journey that continued over the next decade. You see, depression does not ‘go away' simply by taking a pill. Yes, medication does help and is an important component of treatment however to fully recover and avoid serious relapse you need a treatment plan often referred to as a ‘mental health care plan'. This plan will include counselling, exercise and additional community supports should one need them.

In my personal journey I discovered that the image of an onion with its layers being peeled back slowly and methodically was very apt. Having done an intense period of counselling and feeling more in control and in good health, I would decrease my medication and disengage from counselling only to ‘come a cropper' down the track. This would send me running back to the GP and my Counsellor, where I would review the situation and take the necessary steps to recover my health again. Each relapse became shorter as I continued to learn more about myself and about how to care for myself. My desire to be well, to grow as a person, to thrive and to be a skilled helper to others kept me persevering. The secure, confident, happy and skilled person I am today is the result of much perseverance and the belief that life can get better.

As a counsellor, I observe a similar pattern where a person is initially diagnosed and seeks help. Having made an initial recovery, one is ready to decrease their medication and disengage from counselling. It is not uncommon for a person to have a relapse, having had a period of good health. Rather than seeing this as a weakness I prefer to see it as an invitation to further growth- an opportunity to revisit previous learnings, reinforce them and take in new learnings. It is another layer of the onion.

Many of us fear change. We feel disinclined to put the effort into the disciplines that will ultimately heal us. It is actually easier to stay as you are ‘ comfortable in your discomfit’ than risk the unfamiliar! You might even have tried 1 or 2 sessions of counselling only to disengage, discouraged by the overwhelming emotions that assaulted you as you spoke about things long hidden.

I encourage you to try again- initially it can be very painful as you peel back the layers however there is no short cut to healing. Talk to the Counsellor about your fears and be persistent in seeking the support and help you need.

You are worth it.

If you are struggling with feelings of sadness, despair, depression, severe anxiety or thoughts of suicide, it is important that you seek professional health assistance as soon as possible to help you recover. Your G.P. and/or a Professional Counsellor can give you the additional support you need. For a FREE 10 minute consultation as to how we can help you, ring Colleen on 0434 337 245 or Duncan on 0434 331 243 or you can book an appointment with Colleen or Duncan by going to the orange button titled CLICK ONLINE NOW and follow the prompts.

5 D’s to De-Stress

What_are_you_thinking__by_captivatedimagesMy least favourite time of the day is when I wake up in the morning. I always set my alarm the night before to ensure that I wake up with enough time to prepare for the day ahead. Inevitably, I convince my self that I can ‘crib' another half hour in bed before I finally crawl out and go to the kitchen. I make my breakfast (always tea and 2 pieces of toast), turn the morning news on T.V. and sit in my arm-chair to eat my breakfast and attend to my social media status updates. Next task is to shower and dress, feed the animals, make my lunch, hop in my car, go through a drive-through coffee for my daily take-away, park the car and walk a block to my office in the CBD.

This ‘typical morning in the life of Colleen Morris' is most often enacted automatically and unconsciously, just as your own typical morning is likely to be. Our brain is a highly efficient organ that is capable of  performing  many familiar tasks repeatedly without having to rely on a conscious reminder.  The brain then has the space to take in new information even as we are enacting familiar tasks, so that we can be focused and adaptive.

Recently, with the death of my father, I noticed that my usual normal routine was interrupted. Instead of moving through the motions of my routine quickly and efficiently, I went first to my arm-chair, switched on the T.V. and sat…not thinking anything, not doing anything, just sitting. With the stress that the experience of bereavement brings, my ‘poly-vagal nervous  system' was interrupted so that I was having a ‘freeze' response.  Neural pathways were triggered in my unconscious mind, giving expression to real thoughts and feelings that live in my body and brain that I  don't have words for. The freeze response is a reflexive, adaptive response to feelings of sadness and loss that served to put me into a dissociative state, raising my pain threshold.

Experiences of trauma and heightened stress events can literally ‘derail' your brain in such a way that it becomes stuck and unable to do the task of emotional regulation. When this happens, a person may find themselves reacting to environmental and relational stimuli, often unconsciously, with the same heightened response, that creates ongoing emotional distress.  A person will automatically look for a strategy that they believe, will calm them. Often the strategies that a person applies appear to work in the short-term but have long-term risks: alcohol and drugs, gambling, cutting and pornography are just a few of the ways a person tries to de-stress. These behaviours are also addictive and produce other negative impacts.

If you identify with this, here are 5 D's to De-stress:

1. Drink water.

This is the quickest way to calm down your poly-vagal nervous system  that has been activated by the trigger event.

2. Deep Breathing.

Deep breathing slows down your heart rate which will have a calming effect. If you associate your trauma with the mouth or you have asthma, try humming as an alternative.

3. Delay

Saying to yourself, “I am going to (addictive behaviour) in an hour” may delay long enough for your symptoms to settle, so that you do not need it.

4. Distract

Dancing to some happy music, jogging on the spot, ringing a friend, or cooking are all examples of the distract tactic.

5. Do something Different

Focusing on doing something different immediately turns your mind to focus on this new task or experience.

If you are experiencing trauma or heightened stress and would like further support you can contact Colleen on 0434337245 or go to her online diary at www.watersedgecounselling.com

 

Relationships: How To Respond To a Hurting Friend

Balancing_Act_by_captivatedimagesHave you ever been caught in the dilemma of wanting to:

a. ‘fix' your friend's problem and/or feel the need to ‘rescue' your friend

and

b. know that they need to find their own solution to their pain

I certainly have. Trying to be compassionate and supportive towards you friend, can become dangerously close to ‘rescuing' when you fail to act with self-awareness.

The need to ‘rescue' comes from the place within me that feels uncomfortable and even anxious about witnessing their pain. Yet I also know that they will never learn how to find their own solutions if I constantly intervene.

In this blog article, journalist Jessica Morris explores the question, ‘How Best Can I Respond To My Hurting Friend?'

 

In everyday life each of us often meets sorrow. This is not to say that life is a sad thing, rather if we can learn to brave the hardships in life and eagerly seek the dawn then both the ‘good’ and ‘bad’ can be beneficial to us. Whether it is our own troubled circumstances or the circumstances of those around us, the fact remains that as humans we must react to suffering.

The line between clinical and personal can be hard to distinguish, yet often both sides seem to war with the other for the upper hand in figuring out how to ‘rescue’ someone. As humans, our immediate desire is finding a solution, and to find it fast. We want a quick fix, a way to stop our pain and the pain of those around us. But perhaps this ‘rescue’ is entirely the wrong way of thinking about how we approach the notion of suffering.

Reality and Compassion.  In some ways these are the two extremes of our lives.
To blatantly stare reality in the eyes and admit that we, or our friend, are struggling can be hard. What is even harder is to acknowledge that this admission (often verbally) seems to expect a proactive response to the person it is directed to.

To tell our friend that we are concerned and that the path they are on is hurting them is in essence the sign of healthy community. Yet to tell them this with an absence of compassion, sincerity and love reveals a weakness to humble ourselves and admit that we also struggle and in this we are willing to support them through their recovery. We cause them shame and continue the pattern of stigma that already surrounds many aspects of society, predominantly surrounding mental health.

To err on the side of compassion is all too common for many of us. We choose to ignore signs, symptoms or bad choices because we don’t want to offend someone we care about or feel we don’t have the capacity to ‘fix’ them. Perhaps with ourselves we want to be in denial about the fact that a behaviour, thought process or relationship is unhealthy and therefore justify it.  Just as a lean too far into reality causes harm to people, so does this paradigm of complete compassion. To ignore is to enable, therefore causing more harm to the person we are failing to tell the truth too.

As humans, we must choose to balance ourselves between both reality and compassion.  One cannot be functional and healthy without the other; compassion provoking denial or rescue and reality causing shame and elevation of a person’s struggle. It is only in this medium that we and the people we care about can seek recovery, not so we can be ‘rescued’, but so we are able to live a fulfilled life free of the chains of the suffering that oppress each of us.

Do you lean towards reality or compassion? Perhaps you can give the hard word to yourself but struggle to tell your loved ones your concern for them. Alternatively, maybe you have allowed yourself to develop unhealthy habits that you can justify while being blatantly honest with others. Wherever you sit on the spectrum, consider the other side and how you would like to be approached by a friend when you are struggling. After all, suffering is universal and the only remedy to recovery is this balance between both.

About Jessica Morris

 Jessica Morris is a 22 year-old free-lance journalist living near Melbourne, Australia. Passionate about pop culture and how this intersects with mental health, faith and social justice; she seeks represent this generation within the media. You can view her work at www.jessicamorris.net.

 If you want to grow personally and in your relationships, experience wellness and reach toward your full relational potential then here’s what you need to do contact me on 0434 337 245  for a FREE 10-minute phone consultation on how I can best help you or press book now to book on my online diary.

Mental Health: How Your Spirituality Can Support Recovery by Jessica Morris

Pause_a_moment_by_captivatedimagesI’m the first to admit that the reason I believe I am still alive today is due to my religious beliefs. When I was diagnosed with depression and an anxiety disorder at just 13, I found that family, friends and even life didn’t mean all that much when I was sitting by myself thinking about whether I should remain alive. The religion I had been brought up in, Christianity, became tremendously important to me while I was going through this as I found that my core beliefs gave me the motivation to wake up each morning and go to bed each night. A key moment in this was when I actually made a promise to God, telling him that I would not harm myself until I finished doing his work. I didn’t want to self harm, but I knew that by making a promise to the God who I had grown up believing in would mean that I would have no choice but to follow through. The promise worked, and over the next few years I would fall back on it many a time when I was particularly struggling.

I am of the belief that each person is formed of three parts; the flesh, the soul and the spirit. It is our flesh that we function in. We must care for it, challenge it and accept its weaknesses as we age.

The soul is something unique that resides in each of us and it defines us; how we behave, how we feel and how we perceive the world. It can be broken through trauma and the experiences that scarred us as children.

Finally, the spirit is also unique to each person. It is different from the soul in that it is the aspect of humans that longs for something greater than the natural. In essence, it reaches for an entity or entities that show us our place in the world and our purpose in life. Whether you align yourself with a single religion or perhaps have your own distinctive spirituality, this element of humanity is perhaps more powerful than both the flesh and the soul.

Bodies fall ill and many people are born with mental illness. Our flesh is marked with flaws from our birth and as much as we strive to remain ‘ageless’, the inevitable is that our flesh will fail and we will one day pass away. Our soul can be dependent on our circumstances and must be trained to become strong in order to bare the weight of our physical and emotional pain. Our spirituality is not necessarily dependant on our flesh and soul; it is a belief in something that transcends our understanding and concept of time and enables us to endure and advance in life.

My own spirituality was the single aspect of my life that was unchanging when I was diagnosed. It was the only aspect of my life that told me I was meant for more than my hopelessness and failings. It was due to this that I chose to do everything possible for a full recovery and my faith still motivates me daily to live my life to the full.

When life gets tough; you or a loved one are chronically ill, someone passes away unexpectedly, you have lost your job or your marriage is falling apart; you can fall into the safety net of your spirituality. While some may call this weakness, I would suggest that this is a sign of strength as it shows you are willing to rely on something far greater than yourself when you know you are unable to keep going in your own strength.

Embrace your spirituality and the strength and boldness it gives you to keep moving forward. Doing this can enable you to live a far more fulfilling and satisfying life than what you are experiencing. For me, it is the motivation I need to live a life free of the anxiety that once plagued me.

About Jessica Morris

 Jessica Morris is a 22 year-old free-lance journalist living near Melbourne, Australia. Passionate about pop culture and how this intersects with mental health, faith and social justice; she seeks represent this generation within the media. You can view her work at www.jessicamorris.net.

 

If you need personal support with mental health issues  contact Colleen on 0434 337 245 or go to www.watersedgecounselling.com to book an appointment.

Depression: I think my partner is depressed. How do I get my partner to go and see a therapist?

I_love_purple_flowers____by_captivatedimagesI think my partner is depressed. How do I get my partner to go and see a therapist?

 

This is a question I am frequently asked, be it concern for a spouse, a parent, a son or daughter or even a friend. You can see that they need to talk to a counsellor about what they are experiencing however try as you might, all your attempts to get them there are met with resistance.

Here are some strategies that, used appropriately, may encourage your partner  to see a counsellor:

1. Do not nag or give ultimatums that you have no intention of carrying out. It may sometimes work however generally these tactics build resentment and resistance deeming it unlikely that your partner will be willing to fully participate in counselling.

2. If you haven't already, go to a counsellor yourself. The benefits include

  • getting to know the counsellor and their style.
  •  ‘walking the talk' i.e. your partner will be more open to counselling if they know you have been prepared to ‘try it'.
  •  having a personal opportunity to talk to a counsellor about the concerns you have for your partner. Often we fail to recognise how our own anxiety for the other can exacerbate the problem.
  •  making personal changes is the most powerful testimony that counselling works!

3. If you are linked in with a counsellor, pass on their details to your partner for them to read when they choose to. If the counsellor has a website and/or blog, give your partner the website address and allow them to check it out at their disgression. Often a partner might prefer to go to a different counsellor to yourself. If that is the case, encourage them to do so. You could ask your counsellor for a recommendation.

As a counsellor, in discussion with my own clients, I have actioned some strategies that have been met with success. You may choose to talk to your counsellor about these strategies:

4. The counsellor may write a letter inviting the partner to a shared session suggesting that their knowledge and input would be helpful or alternatively to contact the counsellor for a free 10 minute consultation about what to expect from counselling. This may be hand delivered by you or sent by post.

5. The counsellor might send a ‘thinking of you card' with an appropriate message. In my own experience as a counsellor, this has met with considerable success because it has the effect of reducing the feeling of isolation for your partner and communicates to them the message of care and concern.

Ultimately, it is important to be patient and loving as you encourage your  partner to try counselling. A person's readiness for counselling always plays a significant part in the effectiveness of counselling, so allow your partner to come to their own decision. For yourself, practice patient and kindness as you gently encourage your  partner and be sure to go to a counsellor yourself to deal with the inevitable feelings of anxiety you hold in the meantime. Please let me know on the comments below the effectiveness or otherwise of these strategies. I look forward to hearing from you.

If you would like to know more about how to support someone experiencing depression or need personal support in coping with depression or any other mental health issue contact Colleen on 0434 337 245 or go to www.watersedgecounselling.com to book an appointment.

Anxiety: 4 Strategies to Help Calm You

I am feeling sad today as I am confronted by news of another act of violence and suffering at Sandy Hook in the state of Connecticut, USA. Expressions of grief, tributes, words of outrage and anger and numerous photos saturate social media and as a world community we struggle once again to come to terms with this senseless tragedy. How do you try to make sense of this? How does this tragedy impact you? Are you able to acknowledge the tragedy and at the same time, continue to function throughout the day and the days to  come, without the emotions you feel (perhaps sadness or anger)   having a disabling affect? If your answer is yes, then you can continue to read this blog from the perspective of what to be aware of if you know someone whose emotional reaction to the tragedy has a crippling impact on them. If, on the other hand, you are reading this because you are finding it difficult to contain the emotions you feel, I invite you to read on and use these 4 strategies to help you calm yourself.

1. Avoid media/social media if you are aware that what you are reading and listening to is increasing your emotional distress.

Have a break from your electronic devices and  turn your attention to other activities.

2. Do something that soothes you.

Here are some ideas: calming music, candles, spending time with your pet, taking a long walk at a favourite place (a beach, lake, park or outdoor location that has a particularly calming affect), look at some photos, sit quietly and watch nature, draw or colour in, have a bubble bath. I would love to hear other ideas to add to this list.

3. Write down what you are feeling.

You can write it in a special journal or on a piece of paper. Pretend that you are talking to your closest friend and tell them how you feeling, why you are feeling it and write back the response you would expect to hear from your friend. You can keep it and go back to it whenever you feel the need to write down what you are feeling.

4. Try this mindfulness exercise:

Notice your physical sensations, and  where in your body they are located.

If you are feeling sad or angry for instance, notice where that feeling is in your body; pretend you are an anthropologist observing a new species:

What does the feeling look like?

– colour?                                – shape?                              – size?

– solid and hard or soft and pliable?                             – any other features?

Try drawing the feeling/s

Remember that you don't have to be an artist, have some fun with your creature.

Play with the creature in your imagination

Can you make the creature smaller?

Focus on the image and pretend that you are changing the lens on your camera so that the creature is moving into the distance and getting smaller

Now let it disappear in a puff of smoke

Now deeply inhale

Now exhale (do this more than once if you need to)

Now notice how you are feeling.

If this exercise has been helpful, practice it whenever you are feeling overwhelmed with the emotion you feel.

 

If you continue to struggle with feelings of sadness, despair, severe anxiety or thoughts of suicide, it is important that you seek professional health assistance as soon as possible to help you recover. Talking to your G.P. and/or a counsellor can give you the additional support you need to help you.

If you would like to speak to Colleen for additional support you can contact her on 0434 337 245 or go to www.watersedgecounselling.com to book an appointment.

 

Depression – What I Knew and What I Wished Someone Had Told Me

Depression is one of the most common mental health issues that people experience. As many as one in 5 Australians will have this illness at some stage in their life.Depression  and anxiety frequently emerge at times of transition as a consequence of the stress that life transitions bring with them. In my own experience, the transition from a single woman to couple and then couple to couple with children, was a very stressful time and as I now reflect, it was not surprising that I became depressed – but I didn’t see it like that at the time!

At that stage of my life, my husband and I were committed to and worked for The Salvation Army, having been raised within this cultural context. The Salvation Army had been like a benevolent parent who provided employment, housing, community, identity and support. It was all that we had ever known and I felt secure and happy however I had no idea that a life crisis was heading my way.  The ‘clouds of depression’ had been gathering over a number of years previous to my marriage, however I had continued to function, having no idea what the source of my constant fatigue was. The birth of our twin daughters was a joyful and exhilarating time however I could not shake off my feelings of sadness and isolation. My body constantly ached as I struggled to make it through each day. For 2 years I continued to push myself; good wife, mother, daughter, working professional; I fulfilled the roles assigned to me and the expectations that came by association.

The resources that got me through that time

1. Support

I had the support of 2 friends who listened, encouraged me and did very practical things like helping with the ironing and giving me a hand feeding the babies. These mature women understood the struggle I experienced and accepted me without judgement. I have always felt an unfailingly gratitude towards these women. If you have people in your life who want to help you, accepting their support is not a sign of weakness. It is  the recognition that you are not ‘super-woman’ but a normal human-being under significant stress.

2.Spirituality

I have always had a very strong sense of what is sacred in my life and practiced the discipline of meditation. My personal belief in a loving and compassionate God, nurtured within me a spirit of gratitude and the belief that every life experience has purpose and meaning. Your spirituality can be a rich source of inner calm and groundedness and can be viewed as separate from ‘following a religion. Religion is about following a particular belief system, its rules and rituals. For some people this is very ‘life-giving’ and grounding. I prefer to separate the two because whilst I enjoy meaningful rituals, in my own experience following a religious pattern became ‘life-draining’. This did not mean that I abandoned my faith, only that I needed to let go of religious expectations that had an exhausting and stressful impact upon me.

3. Hope

The hope that things would change for the better. This hope enabled me to hold on to life and not give up, though there were many times when I felt like it.

I survived with these resources for 2 years however they  were not enough to restore my wellbeing. As a consequence, I became seriously unwell, physically collapsing at home whilst caring for my 2 year old twin daughters. This finally drew attention to how seriously unwell I was however if I had known what I know now, I could have received the help I needed well before this and recovered much quicker than the 15 years that my recovery journey actually took. So here are some of the things that I know now that I wished I had known then. I hope they help you.

 

The Resources that I wish I had known about then

 4. Physical Symptoms are your body's warning alert system

Physical symptoms such as panic attacks, headaches, exhaustion, social anxiety, anger, insomnia, aches and pains are your body’s way of drawing attention to the fact that you need to take some time out to care for yourself. When you no longer have the physical, emotional or psychological resources to cope with everyday life, your body calls attention to itself in very physical ways.

 5. Practicing the things that calm you and nurture a sense of well-being will settle your anxiety, lift your spirit and energize you.

What works is unique to your needs; exercise stimulates endorphins in the brain to produce a feeling of well-being, meditation helps you to calm and ground yourself, massage,  a warm bubble bath, a fragrant candle, music, journaling, art,  are all resources that people sometimes find helpful. Avoid ‘self-medicating’; alcohol, unprescribed medication, illicit drugs, and other potentially addictive and risk-taking behaviours.  Initially these things may bring some relief however they are short-lived and have potentially devastating consequences.

 6. You are important. Your needs are important. Feeling guilty that you feel the way you do is unproductive and self-destructive.

Here is a paradox: If you take the time to value and care for yourself, you will gradually recover your own sense of wellbeing and be able to take care of the people you love.   On the other hand, when you fail to take time to care for yourself, ultimately you will be unable to care for the people you love.

7. Counselling

Talking to a counsellor about your experience provides you with a safe space  to explore your experience and provide clarity about what you need to recover your health and wellbeing and to develop strategies for your ongoing wellness.

8. Talk to a doctor about the symptoms you are experiencing.

Medication can assist you in your recovery to wellness. Anti-depressant medication is not addictive and can give you the necessary help to begin to function while you continue the counselling process. Once you begin an anti-depressant, it is important to take it as your doctor prescribes and continue to use them for at least 6 months. This gives your system time to fully recover and absorb the new messages you are learning about yourself in the counselling process.

If you would like to know more about how to navigate your present life transition experience or need support in coping with depression or any other mental health issue contact Colleen on 0434 337 245 or go to www.watersedgecounselling.com to book an appointment.