Sunday, October 01, 2006

Tara Would Be Proud

I had a challenging and emotional weekend, but am feeling quite zen about things, which is surprising me. It's been some time since I thought to myself that things happen for a reason and believed it.

It happened this weekend in response to witnessing the difficulties two of my teenage clients are having dealing with the psychological effects of their parents' abuse. They are very depressed, among other things, and were recently placed on anti-depressants as part of their treatment. Because I'm close with them and because they trust me, I found myself in the position of talking with them about their depression and trying to reassure them that what they were experiencing was normal, understandable, and something that was not going to last forever. I tried to counsel them to be honest with their psychiatrists in order to better help their doctors help them feel better.

I've come a long way since the afternoon 14 months ago when I first walked into my therapist's office and told her that I didn't trust therapists, felt weak and like a failure for being there, and doubted that therapy would be able to help me deal with the issues with which I was struggling. At the time, I was aware of the benefits of therapy because I had seen them work on other people close to me, but at the same time felt like a personal failure for not being "strong" enough to deal with my - what I perceived to be miniscule - problems on my own.

Now I get it. I get that I was strong by reaching out for help instead of staying frozen and sad inside my own head. I get that I wasn't having a difficult time because I was "weak" but because I was under enormous stress and was having a rough time. I get that it's ok to go through a rough time and it's ok to ask for help. That's what I'm now trying to convey to my clients, so that they won't add the negative baggage of our society's mental health stigma to the already considerable stress, depression, and pain with which they are dealing.

The zen component came into the picture when I realized this evening that I would not have been able to counsel my clients the way that I did if I had not gone through my own experience with depression this past year. I don't mean to suggest that if you haven't experienced depression, you can't understand the experience of depression. What I mean to say is that if I had not had my own experience with depression, I do not believe I would have been able to understand it as I now do.

Confronting my own feelings of depression, and facing the stigmas around mental health which I had unknowingly internalized, I learned a great deal about myself and came to understand the tremendous potential benefit of therapy. My journey was not fun, by any stretch of the imagination, but it made me stronger, and it gave me knowledge that I now find myself drawing upon to help others.

If my experiences in any way end up indirectly helping these two girls, then everything I went through was worth it. Even working at the firm. Even Dragon Lady! Now I'm really getting zen.


wordnerd said...

This is a pretty cool post Buttercup....cheers to you for taking control!

Gypsy said...

It's great to be able to use our experiences to help others. :) I'm glad these girls have you for support, in this and other areas of their lives.

wood said...

I'm so proud of you.

Buttercup said...

Wordnerd, Gypsy, and Wood - Now I'm all warm and fuzzy inside. Thanks girls. :)

Heather said...

I like the idea of looking at one's depression as a tool for understanding others. Great that you are feeling zen about things - much better than crazed. I am working on that myself.

Buttercup said...

Heather - "As a tool for understanding others"... That is exactly what I was trying to convey. Going through this experience has made me more able to genuinely empathize with people, and that is a powerful tool.