when people ask me, “how do i get through this depression?”, one of the concerns behind this question is often:
“i’m overwhelmed by and afraid of the pain, effort and time that goes into dealing with this depression”
they usually already know that there are few quick-fix solutions. the way they phrase the question, “how do i get through this depression” shows that they see this as something that needs to be walked/worked/lived through. it also shows that they have hope – the idea of getting through something implies that there is an end to it.
it’s often a question of resources, then. the person who is depressed needs support and intelligent reassurance (not platitudes).
questions that can be asked are
“what would help you feel less overwhelmed?”
“what would you need to be able to withstand the pain?”
“what might help you get more energy?”
“is there something that you can take off your plate so that you can spend more getting strong and healthy again?”
it’s important to listen patiently for the answers, and to listen to them if and when they come. the answers may be very simple and straightforward, and may often be embedded in a negative statement, for example, “having to go see dr. smith every second day sure doesn’t help.”
a gentle and genuine offer to assist with that will not get the person out of the depression, but it may take a bit of a load off – what’s more, the person knows that they’re cared for.
i also often let my clients with depression know that generally, people do get through it. i don’t give them platitudes like, “don’t worry, you’ll be fine” or “jane miller did it and so can you.” but when the time feels right, i do tell them stories of people who’ve struggled with depression and somehow muddled through, coming out at the other end changed but still a whole person.
(this article has been included in the carnival of healing #99)
counselling in vancouver