Wednesday, January 28, 2009

And Now For Something Completely Different

But, unfortunately, not funny (I do love me some Monty Python, though).
I was just looking through my past blog posts and I have noticed that they are about my adventures in crafting and my etsy shop, which is awesome, but today I want to share a little about what I have learned this past year as a student, a little to tell you something about me, and in hopes that you could glean some information that might help you out a little.
I am in the process of learning all about Marriage and Family Therapy in the end hope of becoming a counselor someday. I wasn't all that sure when I started the program whether or not I would be a good counselor someday. I mean, I have really bad days, I don't have all my stuff together, and I'm still a little mad at various people from my formative years and maybe my ex-boyfriends.
Well, I have learned through this process two things.
1. God has given me the right personality, temperament, and past to be a counselor.
2. There isn't a single counselor in the world who has all their stuff together. After all, they are human too.
Disabling sadness or depression is something that many people deal with on a semi-regular basis, including myself. It can destroy a person's daily life, interrupting their ability to problem solve and even complete normal tasks. It is really the most common problem brought to counselors because it is so invasive and it really affects the person with depression and the people that they regularly interact with.
A few days ago, I was at the start of a slightly stressful day, I had a paper to research, write, and proofread in a tight but manageable time frame when I received a phone call from my university. They were returning my call from the week before about changing campuses when my husband and I are scheduled to move. The news wasn't good. I thought that I had planned out my choice of school well, a nationwide school with campuses everywhere so if and when my husband received orders to another base, my education could move with us with little interruption. I was wrong. The campus near the new base doesn't offer my program and it isn't available online either. There seemed to be very few options open to me, start a new program (no), or look for schools in the area that do offer my program and apply for a transfer.
The phone exchange acted like a domino push. I was already stressed about my tight schedule for the day and blaming myself for poor time management skills when the phone exchange fired off other negative thoughts like "is this worth it, I've wasted a ton of money now, why even try when this path is blocked off to me anyway". I recognized the thoughts and the domino effect spiral into depression, but even knowing everything I do about depression, myself, and thought patterns, I couldn't pull myself out of the funk I went into. I didn't write the paper, I skipped class, and I stayed up way too late fighting every negative thought in my head with a reasonable and true argument. The next day I woke up exhausted and defeated and determined to not fight with myself that day. I still had a crappy day. That night, I picked up a textbook that I needed to finish reading.
I started reading out of habit and duty, but was soon impressed by a passage in the book. The author, a therapist, is relating a story that happened after a year of counseling a family. Most of the family has stopped coming to counseling, but the wife is still coming in. She is doing mostly well, but struggling with depression from time to time. The therapist tells her to stop fighting the depression and let it happen. He recognizes that her intense anger and sadness that she had long repressed was gone, but she was still grieving the wounds of her past and she needed to allow herself to feel that pain.
It struck me then. We all need to allow ourselves to feel pain and grief, even if we don't know the source. Holding the door shut to negative feelings because we don't understand them only causes more negative feeling to pile up behind the door and then one day, we lose our ability to hold the door shut and we are flooded with grief and pain and depression sets in. After reading that, I gave up. I blasted out a short incoherent prayer containing my struggle and I went to sleep. I slept the sleep of a terribly exhausted person, and when I woke up, I was ready. I was ready to live, to pick up the pieces I had dropped and to move on out of the dark and into the day.


Emily of Ella-Bear Bowtique said...

What an awsome outlook! With that attitude I'm positive you can accomplish anything you want. Good luck!

MonsterBug Blankets said...

Wow, I love that idea--to just give in to the pain! I struggled most of last year fighting the pain of losing my grandfather, and then when the anniversary of his death came up this year, it hurt so bad. But I finally gave in to the hurt--and it helped immensely. I need to remember all this for the next time.... To stop fighting and just feel. Thank you!

Kandyce P said...

I'm so glad that was helpful. I think we sometimes "forget" that our emotions are a constant and important part of our lives, negative and positive.
I'm sorry for your loss.

Martha Miller said...


thanks for following my blog!
i used to have debilitating panic attacks and i learned after tons of therapy that they were mostly caused by bottled up sadness and anger. it is SO importrant for us to feel all our feelings! great reminder - thanks!