When a person presents for treatment for various symptoms and conditions such as depression or anxiety, the person probably has waited until the symptoms are pretty severe and there is a desperation for relief. Somewhere in their eyes is a plea: “Please! Help me get rid of this thing!”
Certainly, treating symptoms and presenting issues is the goal (and here are a few ideas for treating such symptoms of depression), but sometimes addressing symptoms without understanding underlying roots just puts a band-aid on a gaping wound. Here is when a clinician has to be careful. A client might start to feel better after the first session or two and with that minimal relief choose not to come back…and the real culprit for the symptoms has never been addressed.
The challenge is to help a client find relief while making room for deeper discovery and long term change.
The deeper discovery and long term change often originates with being able to spend time with the very thing they want to get rid of. To make changes to behavior and experiences of symptoms you sometimes have to understand them a little more….and to understand a symptom a little more you have to spend some time getting to know it…spend time WITH it…being curious about it…kind of like you would with an old friend you haven’t seen in a while…or a new friend you want to know better…or maybe a loved one with whom there is conflict you are trying to resolve. You cannot resolve conflict by ignoring it…i.e. “getting rid of it”.
What is depression trying to teach you? Why does it show up? From what is it trying to protect you?
How does anxiety function in your life? Does it serve a purpose? What triggers it?
It is difficult to grow in understanding and get to know someone better if you are simultaneously desperate to get rid of it.
This also applies to our dark sides. We all have gifts and talents given to us by our Creator. These gifts and talents often have “dark sides”…traits that arise when the gifts are left untended, untrained, not pruned.
Too often we experience the dark side of our gifts and become desperate to be rid of the negative to the point of ignoring our gifts. We hate on ourselves so much that we fail to stop and be curious about these dark sides…to ask ourselves: “What hidden gift left unharnessed is here?”
Even the beautiful moon has a dark side…the side left untended by the light of the sun.
In your desperation to be rid of your dark sides, depression, and other symptoms don’t miss out on the beautiful lessons available to those willing to spend some time being curious about these parts…those willing to spend some time on the dark side of the moon.