Taking Yours Fears, Anxiety, Depression And Grief Along With You

By | October 17, 2017

Your fears, anxiety, depression and grief are not going away magically even if you are in treatment! Waiting for them to disappear before you start “living” again is like waiting for pigs to break into a chorus of songs!

There is no magic bullet in psychiatric treatment, the treacherous road to recovery has many pot holes and setbacks.  Perseverance and patience has to be your flotilla to cling to.

I know this truth, not only as a therapist, but living with my own depression and most currently intense grief.

In some ways, I have had to be my own psychiatric nurse in dealing with my own afflictions.  Just because I know what to do, does not make it any easier for me to follow through.

Perhaps that is one of the reasons I have a lot of compassion for my patients, trying to climb out of deep caverns of despair, that can be paralysing.

I can look at myself and see my treatment plan in front of me as easily as for a patient.

Acceptance, Diagnosis, Treatment, Treatment Goals, Reintegration and Maintenance.

Reintegration back into “living” when you still have symptoms is difficult to start, but it is an essential part of the treatment process.

Life does not wait for us to recover.  It goes on without us.   We may feel crippled by our suffering, but limping back into life is how we get back into the swing of life.

I am writing this post not only for someone who is suffering from mental illness and or grief but also for the family members who suffer along with  their love ones going through the slow and tedious path of recovery.

What is does take for anyone, especially  me is the discipline, because I cannot depend on having the energy or motivation to initiate getting out or taking on a chore.

Waiting for when you want to or have the needed energy  is counterproductive, because waiting for life to change without you making some effort to help the process alone is rather futile.

I have never had the personality of nurse Ratched, thank God, but with myself, I have to be cajoling firm but kind.  My ailing self is generally trying to bargain with me out of doing this and that.

That is just part and parcel of the suffering.  Expect and accept it with gentleness, but with non compromise to the treatment goals.

The bottom line is that despite whatever emotional suffering you are having right now, that is keeping you on the sideline, it cannot be used as an exclusive excuse to not at least try to get back into living.

Basically it comes to the stark recognition that your emotional and psychiatric suffering is a real affliction, as much  as any physical disease.  Some illnesses are totally curable, and some conditions are not; but you must learn to live with it and despite it.

Just as the stroke victim, and post cardiac infarct patient have to slowly reintegrate doing things they use to do, the psychiatric patient has to do the same.

A major problem is that with the psychiatric patient, the motivation is either non existent  or so low, or so fear provoking, that even getting started seems impossible.

Coupled with the severe symptom of total loss of energy, any attempt to do anything becomes a major undertaking requiring herculean efforts!

This low motivation, plus loss of energy is one of the reasons that psych patients are a real challenge to the therapist, their families and obviously to themselves.

Even during the rough early stages of treatment, measures of rehabilitation have to be initiated.  This is not that much different that getting a post surgical patient out of the bed walking the first day.

Getting a severely depressed person out of the bed is like pulling teeth.  Getting them to do basic self care is likewise difficult.

This is much easier accomplished in a hospital setting as making family members responsible for doing this puts them in a tough situation of being the mean rule master.

Getting an anxious, fearful person to commit to try to do whatever they are fearful of doing is likewise a monumental effort for the therapist as well as the patient.

Exposure therapy for panic or OCD patients should never be started though, until some of the “fire” of anxiety is turned down by medication, or you will risk building up even more resistance.

Besides medication, psychotherapy, nutrition, and sometimes meditation, the treatment regime must always include reinserting the patient back into his/her life as soon as possible.

A lot of times, especially with panic and anxiety patients, they are also fearful of how they appear to others.  Many are convinced that others can “see” their anxiety.

This is ludicrous as the vast majority of people are too wrapped up in the own thoughts  and concerns to be able to discern someone else.

Depressed people might be easier to be noticed only because of their vacant facial expression and down trodden way of carrying themselves if in a small group by observant trained others, but generally they too go unnoticed.

People with fractures sporting casts or on crutches are certainly going gain more notice, but because they are physical afflictions a patient sees no embarrassment in plodding forth.

If you are a family member of a depressed or anxiety ridden person in treatment, you need the patience of Job in dealing with them.

Always encourage them to come along with you and remind them that getting out in part of the treatment needed for them to get better.

Sometimes, you have to let them know that a “no” is not an option, any more than it would be in a hospital setting.

One thing that I can guarantee to anybody, including myself, is that taking a walk outside regardless of the weather, will never make you feel worse, but will give you the opportunity to feel better.

The truth is the vast majority of time, you will come back feeling a notch better and even with a tad more energy.  

Over time these outings, however tiring and difficult to initiate will become imprinted in your brain as something good and beneficial to feeling better.

It is not any different that retraining the brain after a stroke.  The brain does indeed have neuroplasticity, thank goodness, but it just takes time and going through the motions.

Energy begets energy and effort leads to increasing effort on your part.  Can you remember not wanting to start some household chore and then when you finish accomplishing it, find yourself beginning another before you even notice it?

It is the same principle.  Not much different that priming the pump and launching the pendulum in swing.   Eventually  some sort of momentum will start to occur will greater ease of tackling it.

The bottom line is that by taking your anxiety, fears, depression and grief along with you is a way to pave the road to recovery.  Just do it, has to be  the motto.


8 thoughts on “Taking Yours Fears, Anxiety, Depression And Grief Along With You

  1. David Stone

    “Life does not wait for us to recover” seems to be the essence of it all . . . . and everyone has to do things in their own way and time. If one cannot handle the issues, then they are doomed to suffer the consequences. As my wife likes to say “It takes as long to fill a hole as it did to dig it”. The longer that these issues are allowed to fester and develop negatively, the more difficult it is to recover from them. Having and developing the discipline to handle the issues seems to be the key element in it all. As we get older, it seems that there is a sufficient compilation f things that take their toll on lives. Is that a major part of the grouchiness, irrascablness, moodiness and/or idiosyncrocies that some people develop as they get older? It seems that keeping a good perspective on life takes perpetual efforts.

    Everyone dies eventually, and may suffer the mental decline of getting older, dementia, or even Alzheimer’s disease. Meanwhile everyone chooses the quality of life that they desire. My 48 y/o nephew, who has been a quadraplegic in his wheel chair for over 20 years, has lost a half dozen friends during the last couple of years . . . some to drug OD, some to cancer or other diseases. The deaths “leave a hole in the fabric of his life”; it stresses him out emotionally; but he manages to carry on quite well with his life. I remember my 92 y/o mother making the comment that virtually all of her family (siblings) and her friends had died. We just have to find ways to patch all of those holes in the fabric of our lives. Death is a certainly for us all; and it impacts those who are a part of our lives. I think that it takes a lot of effort and discipline to handle that aspect of life., esp. as we get older.

    1. Cherry Post author

      Thank you David for sharing some of your familial stories that certainly demonstrate very well the theme of my post. Each of them has garnered a badge of courage for following through with the discipline needed to make a life from that which is their reality, not which they had hoped life to be.
      This is of course is the ideal, and to be encouraged whenever possible. Not an easy thing to do at all, and not everyone can do this without a lot of support, patience and encouragement. Compassionate therapy is called for those who are feeling paralyzed and unable to even contemplate how to rebuild their lives.
      I liked your analogy about patching up the holes in our fabric of life. It does take tremendous energy to do this, and as we get older, this motivation and energy may indeed dissipate. Sometimes the best we can do is do limp through life as best we can!

  2. Isham Smith

    Thanks Cherry for another blog that hits the nail on the head.
    I don’t understand depression but I know it can rob you of your motivation and energy and sleeping becomes your best thing to do .nothing else matters just sleep as if that will solve your problems.
    I don’t understand but I know that if you can get outside close to trees and plants something magical that Mother Nature does to your way of thinking.
    A almost instantaneously mood change happens.even if you’re not depressed
    I get a uplifting feeling just by being close to plants.
    I just got back from a vacation trip out west to see the Grand canyon very beautiful but no trees a few plants and later went to visit my sister who lives in the desert great for my asthma but terrible for your mental health as there is no grass ,tress, just cactus (not my favorite plant)while out walking you can feel the loneliness.I could never lived there even though it would be good for my physical health but not my mental health .
    Hugs to you

    1. Cherry Post author

      Thank you Isham for sharing some significant insight about your experiences in the desert. The lack of green plants, lush vegetations and green trees would bother me too. I wonder if someone who grew up in this climate would feel “deprived” in a vastly green setting.
      As you know, I too am a big believer in seeing plants, trees and flowers as therapy. It does seem almost magical, as least for the moment. Perhaps if the desert was bordered by the ocean, it would be more tolerable?
      Happy you were able to get away on vacation to the Grand Canyon and got a little reprieve from you asmathic condition.
      There are always tradeoffs in life, it seems. HUgs

  3. Anne

    Great article, Cherry. About to try and email it to Henry so he will share with Ann. We think of you often … Ann just asked last week if we had been in touch.
    I had no news of recent. Love reading your blog and having confirmation that
    you are still working diligently to remain on the path of recovery and forging forward. Have witnessed the monumental efforts it takes . Wish I was there to walk with you more . Hugs and love to you and Aimee.

    1. Cherry Post author

      Thank you sweet Anne for your comment and thinking of me. Forging and plodding along is about it and sometimes not able to accomplish my goals for the day. It does seem as snail pace, but snails do get where they want to go. Fortunately there is always something that interests and tempts me to go to, even if it is just the park. Love and Hugs

Comments are closed.