As I have struggled over the last year to find a permanent solution to my depression, I have finally figured something out. I am a "thinker", ie: a fact-finder, skeptic, problem solver etc. so every attempt I have made to get out of depression has been from that "thinking" mode, or a conscious effort to FORCE change. Such as:
- It's been lifelong so it must be a chemical imbalance - just find the right antidepressant.
- Somehow I just let negative thoughts get in there so just retrain my brain with CBT (Cognitive Behaviour Therapy).
- Bury the rage and negative thoughts.
- Fake it til you make it.
- Blank the thoughts out with meditation.
- Rewire my brain with some kind of neuroplasticity exercises (ref - The Brain that Changes Itself - a mind-blowing book!)
- Use more appropriate wording and metaphors
- Ask the right questions and I'll get better answers
- Address the feelings that I cannot verbalize
It's all been useful stuff (except for the drugs, burying it and faking it), but these things only started working when I focused on the last one - the FEELINGS. That's where the real power of Psychotherapy comes in. Fortunately I felt its power in the first week, because the skeptic in me was only prepared to give my therapist a week to convince me it was worth it.
What happened was: I experienced a love that I had never felt before towards another person (my therapist). Feeling understood, heard, visible - without judgement, without feeling threatened, or abandoned, or belittled, or ignored, or blamed, or competed with. That's all it took! I just re-read the last couple of pages of Chisholm's Transference /Countertransference thread. What hit me is that she used the EXACT same word as I have just started to use. The idea of feeling ALIVE for the first time. All because of an intense LOVE towards another. The love ebbs and flows and changes its character but it's always there, and now I have the answer to what has been missing all my life, which neither my parents nor my dysfunctional relationships ever gave me. It's only been a couple of months but it is like the most powerful drug you can imagine.
I'm no longer the walking dead (OK I felt a little like that on the weekend, but now I am AWARE of it and was able to get rid of it today) that buries herself in work and a fake persona. Recently people have confided that I actually intimidated them because I "looked" so together. Now they know, it was all a construct! I tripped upon the term "the False Self" the other day. To me, it’s just another description of “the Walking Dead”. Yup - that was me. I'm glad I am able to use the past tense. I’m not totally out of the woods yet, but I know the direction to go in now. I have hope. I can re-build my life. I can start over and do it right this time.