Wednesday, February 05, 2014

Finding Hope in (depression, self-harm, eating disorders, and almost everything else)

a few things:

I'm working a lot on what philosophical/psychological theory or theories or interventions or whatevers I most identify with/think I would utilize as a practitioner.  It's not really something you can "decide" in class or even really learn enough about in class to really be sure.  And even though I'm sort being forced into deciding for the moment, I also feel these are things that you sort of have to develop over the long run as well.  Sometimes I literally think I can't possibly cram one more book/theory/thought about it in my head.  But I persist. 

I'm mostly drawn to existentialism - and to be honest, I always have been - even when I was studying more from a philosophical viewpoint way back in undergrad (and I do mean way back, cause it was like 1987 when existentialism and I first crossed paths).  I always liked Sartre and Kierkegaard and even though I didn't always agree with him, found Nietzsche pretty interesting too.  In fact I love the idea that in a way, psychology is sort of this applied philosophy, and in a way (though it's just part of the process) it's like helping people understand a simplified version of philosophy and being able to apply it to their lives along with some skills, coping techniques and maybe some insight.  It is a little more complicated than that - but that's still roughly it.  When someone really wants to apply themselves to the process, some pretty amazing things can happen.  The existential psychologists and theorists are kind of endlessly fascinating to me and I've been spending a lot of time with Yalom, May, Bugental, and Van Durzen (among others).

Or if all of that was a little boring you could sum it up this way:


My point here really is to once again, put in a plug for therapy.  If you tried it before and you didn't think it worked, maybe your therapist wasn't the best fit for you.  Or maybe you weren't ready to make the changes yet.  Maybe there were too many other distractions in your life at the time to really make a lot of progress.  It's really never too late to try again. 

Sometimes I see meme's like this on the internet and it kind of  bugs me a little:

On the one hand, I can see that the message behind this is suppose to be positive - don't bully people who have these issues and assume that it's some kind of choice for them to be the way they are.  Nothing is that simple and no one wakes up in the morning and thinks it might be cool to be depressed today. 

But at the same time, I don't like the implication here that because these things aren't a choice -  there isn't really anything that can be done (it doesn't say that - but it feels like it's kind of implied). 

No, it's not really a choice.  But recovery is a choice.  Going to therapy is a choice.  Working on the things that are difficult is a choice. 

I am in no way saying this is easy.  It's not.  It isn't easy to recover from drug addiction, or eating disorders or self-harm.  And there are some things you literally cannot ever completely eradicate from your life  - such as schizophrenia, to name just one.  Recovery is a forever process for most people - you're never really "finished".  So we should always be compassionate.

But I do want people to know that a much happier healthy life is possible.  And you are not your "issue".  You're not a "cutter", you're not a "bulimic" and you're not "a depressive". You're not "a schizophrenic" either.  There is literally hope for all people in almost any difficult situation who have gone through hard things and who have all kinds of diagnosed disorders and symptoms. 

I guess my point is - don't give up hope on other people who struggle with some of these things - and don't give up hope on yourself either. 

There are truly miraculous things that can happen and I see them all the time.  People are amazingly resilient.  And even sometimes when it doesn't look they are - they can surprise you and they can surprise themselves. 

To summarize:

1.  When hard things are happening there is help
2.  Be kind to people who struggle with mental health issues
3.  You are not your diagnosis
4.  You have some power and choice to heal
5.  Be patient with yourself and others
6.  Have hope
7.  Hope doesn't mean ignoring problems or "hoping" they will go away on their own - hope comes    when we actively seek for healing.


Lindsey Williams said...

The last sentence is so important!

James Soafs said...

Very nice and informative post.
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Suzanne Barker said...

Love it Lezlee.


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