Counselling and Psychotherapy for
Body, Mind and Spirit

Ina Stockhausen, MTC

Ina Stockhausen R.P.C. offers spiritual counselling and body psychotherapy or somatic counseling in Burnaby and North Vancouver.

If you have ever struggled with depression you can probably relate to feeling stuck and/or overwhelmed. When I am counselling clients for depression, most often in our sessions we address a combination of three mind states:

  1. Grief and loss:
    – trying to come to terms with change and grieving what once was or could have been
  2. Low self-esteem:
    – being caught up in not feeling good enough
    –  self-blame / inability to love and accept yourself where you’re at
  3. Lack of hope:
    – an inability to formulate or connect with a new inspiring vision for the future
    – feeling overwhelmed trying to imagine the energy needed to surface from the layers
    of depression

As I was sitting down the other day to write a condolence card for a dear friend who has lost her partner of 40 years, I pondered the cycle of life. The term cycle reminded me of movement.

I thought about the delight and happiness we experience when a child is born. Usually there is lots of excitement connected to witnessing every new step of development and growth.

Watching someone we love grow old and slowly lose more and more of their vitality tends not to be a joyful process. Having to say good bye to a loved one is painful.

 Joy and happiness, grief and loss these are two sides of a coin.

Only seeing one side of the coin means the coin has stopped spinning. When you stop moving thru emotions, the you can get stuck in between “spin cycles.”

We live in a society where we tend to focus on the “bright side of life.” Little time is afforded to not feeling good. Great efforts are made and products are offered to make you feel better quickly.

I believe that in this process we have lost our ability to  dig deep and connect with our inner strength.

We have internalized a message that we need external means to help us move thru “negative” emotions as quickly as possible. If we don’t get over our grief and loss there is something wrong with us. Our environment is uncomfortable witnessing despair for extended periods of time.

As a collective we have lost touch with our place of trust and hope and acceptance. Acceptance of the cyclical nature of life.

There is a difference between acceptance and resignation. There is a difference between supporting and holding space for someone who is grieving and seeing their grief and trying to hurry them along to be happy again. In order to appreciate and be able to see the bright side of life, we have to be willing to dwell in the darkness.

When you suppress how you really feel and put on a bright face for the world to see, when you abandon yourself by neglecting to get your needs met at the benefit of making sure the needs of others are met, you pay a price.

This price can come in the form of depression, which is really a place of shutting down.

 Sometimes, you need a helping hand to dig deep when you’re depressed, sad and unhappy.
You need someone who is willing to keep you company in the dark places.

When you open the door to a dark room, some light enters. With the light, comes an awareness of other things that have gotten lost in the darkness and thus temporarily invisible.

When you’re depressed it’s only too easy to move from low self-esteem and despair to a place of shame. Sharing how you really feel and being seen and heard can be a very vulnerable place.

Finding the courage to allow yourself to be seen however is also an empowering place and the first step towards getting the coin to spin again.

If you’re struggling with depression, I invite you to give yourself permission to love and accept yourself exactly where you’re at.

Dig deep within yourself to connect to your place of faith; trust that this too shall pass.

Carefully select someone who you can trust  to help you stay in touch with your own courage and hope. Choose someone you can trust to see and hear you without having to fix and change you.

 This is what you don’t want to have happen:

  • Rather than expressing empathy, your friend feels sorry for you thus reinforcing your shame and feelings of hopelessness
  • Your friend gets triggered and takes on your problems and you end up having to take care of him or her
  • Your friend has a need to fix and rushes in with solutions rather than just hearing you
  • Your friend has a habit of one-upmanship and proceeds to tell you how her problems are much worse than yours

Consider getting professional counselling support for depression if you don’t have someone in your life who has sufficiently strong boundaries and the emotional resilience to come and join you in the darkness when you need company.

Finally, continue to engage in movement. Continue to breathe. It literally takes energy to keep the coin spinning. Get help  to keep yourself moving physically.

It is difficult to remain stuck mentally when your body is in movement. If activities like swimming, dancing or walking seem overwhelming, start small. Connect to the rise and fall of your chest as you breathe.

Take several moments each day to breathe with awareness. Taking in air and life force, letting go of tension.

As always I welcome your comments and feedback.



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