Do you have depression in your life? This video seems to be meant to talk about depression, but it could be seen as speaking to the suffering of a number of other mental health issues like anxiety, and trauma. Sometimes when a person suffers from anxiety or depression, it can be hard to separate the symptoms from the person and it can feel like you are the depression or anxiety.

This is often times a primary goal in therapy; to separate the person from the symptoms. You are not anxiety or depression, you are a person who has symptoms of anxiety and depression. When you are able to make this shift in perspective, it can be liberating because it allows for an existence where the depression and/or anxiety does not define or alter your experiences and the ways you interact with the world.

There is a particular therapeutic approach called Acceptance Commitment Therapy, or ACT. Therapists who practice ACT believe that anxiety and depression caused by trauma or damaging experiences will never truly “go away”. They will always be around in some way, because it is a part of your history, similar to the way the death of a loved one gets easier with time, but the sadness never truly goes away. ACT says that the goal in these cases, is to be able to acknowledge the depression or anxiety’s presence, but to take away its power.

In therapy I often use guided imagery to explain this. Imagine a big, deep, dark lake. The lake is your depression, anxiety, or trauma. In the past you have drowned in that lake. You have swam into it over and over again, sank, and then felt like you could die. The goal of therapy is to be able to come to a place where you can sit on the shore of the lake, acknowledge that it is there, and know that it is a separate thing from you, and you don’t have to drown in it. Maybe sometimes you might dip your toe into it, or wade in it, but it will no longer consume you. I’ve also heard other therapists use the image of a cactus. Cacti can be beautiful….from a distance. If your anxiety, depression, or trauma is the cactus, the goal is to keep it on the windowsill where it can do its own thing, rather than keeping it right in front of you where you can poke yourself.

Do you have a big black dog? A spiky cactus? A deep dark lake? Maybe it is time to consider seeking help.

Joe Borders, MFT
Counseling and Therapy in Roseville and Sacramento
(530) 448-6602

1722 Professional Drive,
Sacramento, CA 95825
775 Sunrise Ave., suite 110
Roseville, Ca 95661
More about counseling and therapy with me

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