When Anxiety or Depression Gatecrash the Day

Stop fighting it; it’ll only get stronger. How am I any different from some of you? Acceptance is key, but how? 

The Therapist Must Never Emote

I’ve noticed over the years that for those of us who work in therapeutic settings, we may suffer the judgement of those who believe ‘we’ shouldn’t get emotional.

Previously, when I was working as a paramedic, I told patients (who asked) and the public, perhaps family too, that I couldn’t get emotional, or I wouldn’t be able to do the job! Now, as a counsellor in private practice, I hear and read similar comments. An online forum contributor wrote just last week:

Surely, as a counsellor, you shouldn’t be getting depressed or anxious. You’ve got the tools! Are you not failing if you can't avoid emotional pain, as a therapist or carer? Click To Tweet

To Empathise

Many counsellors have a background walking much the same fires as many of those we choose to work with; it is often the very reason we become counsellors because we have experienced ourselves the challenges associated with life and learned so much from them. (Of course, that learning never ends!) We have learned to feel, acknowledge, accept, and let go of emotions once they have served a purpose. 

The ability to actually empathise arises from the position of having either previously having had the same experience, similar, or can truly ‘see’ through the eyes of the individual, feeling their pain.

More Enlightened TodayPerson feeling anxious or depressed on knees

So, these days, for the greater part, I no longer suffer prolonged bouts of depression or anxiety, but that doesn’t mean they can’t visit. Today was one of those days!

I feel ya!

A horrible, very lucid dream was the trigger! Despite feeling relief when I woke that ‘it’ WAS just a dream, the emotions were substantial, present and very real.

Acceptance

Acceptance was first on the list of things to do with this acute onset of almost paralysing low mood; but necessary as this acceptance is, and was, it wasn’t enough right then! I reminded myself this feeling would pass, but not just yet!

I allowed myself to consider and acknowledge the dream and “What, if it had been real?”, what would the dream have meant? The fact is, it would have felt just as it did – painful. So now there was a level of acceptance and acknowledgement.

Relaxation and ‘Being’

I needed to make time to be with the perceived threat to my wellbeing – and to relax, ground myself, and gently try to find a level of centeredness.

Meditation – to Be with the Breathing

I lay with my emotional turbulence and began to ‘be’ with my breathing …slowing the mind it becomes possible to calm the emotions. In raising awareness of my breathing, I can slow my thoughts – then, I can gently, non-judgmentally consider the ideas that are delivering a less optimal emotional response.

Emotions are our Friends

Whatever they feel like, emotions are our friends. Of course, emotions are vital to our wellbeing and safety, but when these arise as a result of perception – a non-reality – then we may benefit from intervening with more skillful, compassionate processes, where these are available.

Man stretching out and contentAn hour after waking, I had the beginnings of a more grounded and natural emotional state. Two hours on, and although a little fragile, I had enough new belief and understanding to continue through my day without being at greater risk of reacting to an external stimulus. I found myself in a position to respond to whatever needed my attention, appropriately.

Could THIS method work for you?

This post is referring to just one episode of uninvited emotional turbulence. Clearly, it is unrealistic to expect such actions to manage all emotions, all of the time, but the process, once built and embedded into daily emotional practice, CAN!

Contact me if you, or someone you know, could use some personal guidance on this topic or any other triggering emotion and thoughts interfering with optimal living.

Images courtesy of Master isolated images at FreeDigitalPhotos.net, and markuso at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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