I was sitting opposite the therapist a few months after my divorce. She seemed to think she had made a break-through in getting me to see her so many months later but she also seemed to be getting quite frustrated with me being so factual about things. I was telling her some random story and in me trying to describe my emotions on this topic, she was providing words for me to use. Then she used the word, “depressed.” Now, at the time, sitting in a therapist’s office, a few months after getting a divorce, that word should not have been a shock to the system. And yet it was. I looked at her annoyed that she would even suggest such. I mean, me depressed? Nah. I mean seriously, come on. My work standard wasn’t dropping; my physical fitness was the best it had ever been, I was busy and well I wasn’t necessarily sad all the time.
Looking back though, it may not have been depression in the scientific meaning of the word but it was probably close enough. I might not have needed medication or a full diagnosis report to prove that this was a low point for me but with the lack of feeling and reinforced use of logic it definitely was. And that’s just it about the low points in life, isn’t it? It’s not something that hits you and knocks you down and you stop functioning completely or something that only happens to a select few. In fact it happens to everyone at different times in their lives.
It can happen at any time, over any life-altering situation and can last anything from a day or two to months or years. Anything can be a cause – a divorce, a job loss, an accident, an illness, a break-up or a death. But because these life events are a part of life and common, people do not believe they have a right to ask for support or help. Everyone experiences one of these or other events at some point in their life that affects them in fundamental ways that are a shock to the system. And because it’s so common, it comes across that they should just be able to cope with it.
I believe these events are when we can learn to ask for help and when we can learn to build our resilience. These are the times we can learn that we’re not alone and that yes, family and friends can support us or we can find or use external support structures provided. It helps having support because then we do not get stuck in our own default patterns of coping (in my case an over-use of logic), but to others it might be trying to isolate themselves (which only makes them feel lonelier with even less support) or it might be exertion (over exercising is a thing) or it might be over-eating (it’s called emotional eating for a reason) or it might be overworking (because this is the best distraction), or it might be avoidance of any kind in thinking or feeling about the cause of your low point (in my case it was running but whatever you’re too focused on – that’s the tool you’re using to avoid dealing with your low point). And here’s the thing; none of this is bad if it’s for a short period of time. We all need to be kind to ourselves. But when this pattern outlasts its need, it becomes a problem.
“You’re not stuck. You’re just committed to certain patterns of behaviour because they helped you in the past. Now those behaviours have become more harmful than helpful. The reason why you can’t move forward is because you keep applying an old formula to a new level in your life. Change the formula to get different results.” – Emily Maroutian
This is nothing to be embarrassed about because this is what makes us human. This is what makes life so beautiful and ugly all at once. There will always be highs and lows in life. Some of the lows we may never “get over” but we can learn to cope with it and learn from it. If we build our self-awareness muscle we’ll learn to heal through the difficult times and we’ll always know we’re never alone.
Those of you lucky enough to have family and friends as support – please do not isolate them in your time of need.
Those of you lucky enough to be ready for help and cannot turn to family or friends, spending time and money with a counselor, therapist, coach, mentor, whatever you want to call it, is priceless in the long-run in terms of your mental, emotional and physical well-being. Sometimes we cannot do these things alone, no matter how much we want to.
Sometimes we need help to change the formula to get different results.
Accept the help.
Ask for the help.