Mental ill-health is either bigger now than ever or it’s just being reported more – or both. Certainly, there’s a stigma but the more aware we are of our mental health, the more we’ll feel its bite. Awareness works both for and against us. For instance, noticing the early warning signs of depression helps us respond quicker and more effectively so we recover better. But, equally, the more we think about depression, the more we may be prone to it.
When depression hits there is vulnerability everywhere. At a time when we least wish to be exposed, we find we are, and feeling especially self-conscious, without having the ability to protect ourselves appropriately, we’re easily crushed under the weight of a life that is far too big, at that moment, to manage. It’s like we’re in a chess game and every piece that could protect our king has been taken.
The trouble with this scenario is, because we feel so fragile, we’re likely to isolate and shut out important people in our lives – people who could help – just at a time when we need them most.
Finding safe expression of our vulnerabilities is the way out of depression; the way into healing. We need to problem solve for strategies. And that’s possible only as we speak with caring, compassionate others, who listen and place no time pressure on us to ‘get over it’.
When we’re feeling vulnerable we need a form of safe expression. Such expression must be safe, because when our defences are down we’re most given to self-loathing. Anyone we share with must cherish our openness respectfully. What needs to be appreciated is a person’s bravery to expose their vulnerability, especially when they least wish to be exposed.
In exposing their vulnerability in order to process their pain, a person afflicted with depression needs to find safe, respectful people to help them.
Steve Wickham holds Degrees in Science, Divinity, and Counselling.
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