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A peek into depression - by Guest Blogger Jo-Anne Woods

I grew up in an extremely dysfunctional family with lots of physical and emotional abuse. I realized quite young that I was having difficulty coping and that I was quite prone to depression.

While in university I availed myself of the available free counseling. After several months of counseling, I had an amazing breakthrough during these sessions and I was sure I was now “cured” and would lead the rest of my life depression-free.

Several years later after I was married, we adopted my son. The moment he was placed in my arms I fell in love with this little guy and this set off a trigger that sent me spiralling. “If I could love this little guy so much and I had nothing to do with creating him, then how come my mother couldn’t love me when she did create me?”

These thoughts invaded my mind and I soon realized I’d best get myself back in therapy, which I did. I found an amazing psychologist and after many months of intense work I had a breakthrough and finished my therapy once again feeling I was “cured.”

You guessed it that didn’t last as I was faced with another trigger a few years later, back to therapy I went and dug a little deeper, again completed therapy, and felt great.

Then my husband died after an extremely long illness and I was trying to cope with 2 little kids and soon was back in therapy. This time I felt like I was a complete failure. I remember discussing this with my therapist and asking him when was I going to be “cured” as I kept coming back time and time again.

He explained that when we experience trauma and we are trying to recover our brain will only let us do it in manageable pieces otherwise it would be far too overwhelming. That made so much sense to me and I realized that getting rid of your demons isn’t a quick fix.

It’s a lot of hard work as you never know when another trigger is going to come and smack you on the head. However, I now realize it’s a learning process and that it is best when done in overtime. You need to discover, learn, change and adapt.

I’ve learned so much about me and how the mind works and how it protects us. I’ve also learned that any growth is not something that happens overnight and if it does happen quickly, we rarely learn from it.

Depression is oftentimes anger turned inward according to Freud and that makes sense to me. I was angry that my mother didn’t love me, I was angry that she abused me and made my life miserable, I was angry that my husband took over from where my mother left off, I was angry that I always had so much responsibility and on and on. What did I do with all this anger, I kept it deep inside, never letting it out, never letting it surface and allowing it to slowly eat me up to the point I was unable to cope with my life and I truly hated myself.

I was so scared to let the anger out, I felt that if I started letting it out, I would never be able to control it and that it would take over my life. I can honestly say once I learned I could let it out and it would no longer consume me was the most liberating feeling. Anger is such a destructive emotion; however, learning how to control it is very empowering.

While recently reading a novel the main character who experienced severe trauma when she was younger was told by a therapist that there is a difference between “Overcoming and getting over trauma. You can strive to survive, have a life, be happy, and to be productive. But you are not required to get over the trauma.” This was truly a moment of redemption. All those years I spent in therapy and hearing people say to me “Aren’t you done yet?”. “You really need to put this behind your and move on.” I used to tell them I was putting a jigsaw puzzle together and that I had only completed a small portion and I needed to finish the whole puzzle before I could move on. Some never understood and they would tell me I needed to “stop living in the past.” Or the best one was “Your mom really did love you.” No matter what they said I didn’t let it deter me from reaching my goal of “overcoming” my trauma and moving forward fully realizing that nothing will ever fill the hole I have about not feeling loved by my mother, but instead of being angry and getting depressed by it I can move forward and place flowers around that hole.

I now treasure that hole as it has taught me so much about love. It can be destructive, but it can also be a place of peace and true joy.

Don’t ever let anyone tell you “you should move on and get over this.” Facing your demons will be the hardest thing you will ever do; however, once you realize you are in the one in control so many wonderful doors open giving you the opportunity for true peace and growth.

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