Contributed by Paul Loosemore, MA, PLPC, writer for Addiction Hope.
When you are looking to upgrade your career skills, or even to figure out how to play the piano, you are best served to find a coach or teacher to illuminate the path forward. This includes discovering avenues you had never considered before: the hidden jobs market, or the vital difference in tempo and style between classical and contemporary music.
The same is true with addiction and depression recovery: A trained therapist can help show you a new pathway to recovery. For example, have you considered depression as a trap and disease? Are you fascinated to hear that James Gordon, M.D., has written a book that expounds depression as a journey of growth and change? (The book is Unstuck: Your Guide to the Seven-Stage Journey Out of Depression.) Therapy is a rich journey that can be very difficult. It can also be profoundly life-changing.
So, what are the key tasks in working with a therapist for addiction and depression?
Change Of Perspective
Both depression and addiction affect our outlook on life. Depression leads us to see all “grey” and feel the “moody blues” of the inner life. Everything takes on a weighty, impending struggle. Addiction can lead to depression, but it also commonly leads to denial – an outlook that suggests we have it covered or nothing is really wrong with our behaviors.
Therapy is helpful to reorganize these perspectives toward a more realistic engagement with life. While validating the struggle and confusion of these co-occurring conditions, therapy can combat self-defeating outlooks that keep us locked into ineffective ways of living.
By challenging our perspective on our current state, therapy helps us begin to own the current situation, our part in creating it, and our necessary movement to change things. Depression and addiction may have caused you to neglect many important things, undermine your own progress, hurt yourself and a range of other drawbacks.
When we can own that addiction has gripped our life and undermined our ability to be in control, then the “moody blues” make more sense. Furthermore, as we look to redirect our efforts and attention, depression can be owned as the precursor or symptom (or both) of addiction.
Once ownership of the situation occurs, you are ready to break through denial and suffering. This is all part of acknowledging your autonomy and ability to influence the world – despite others and how they too may be involved in your situation.
Seeing The Chance For Change
With ownership, therapy can help you rewrite your interpretation of life. Often, we grow up mislabeling experiences or can’t step outside of rigid interpretations to assess things accurately. Hopelessness and helplessness are eroded as addiction is named, and depression is described as symptomatic of becoming stuck, frustrated, overlooked, abused or whatever other truth your story holds.
Change is only afforded to those who acknowledge its possibility. Therapy can provide the vehicle for change in addictions that may need intensive support, accountability and expert knowledge.
Learning And Reworking The Patterns Of The Past
Once we have named the perspectives and patterns of the past, change becomes and option that we can work on. Relationship-wise and emotionally, we build ways to cope with the world. These are usually very effective in our formative years and learned for good reason.
However, as we grow and develop, these strategies do not fit our widening experience. We find ourselves with limited, rigid tools in a vast world. Therapy can help us learn new ways of engaging emotions and relationships that are flexible while maintaining your self-respect.
As new coping methods are built, life becomes more manageable, longings can be fulfilled in healthy ways, and depression and addiction can become distant memories.
Activity: Both Mental And Physical
Exercising our brains and bodies brings health, emotional control and increased awareness. A therapist will be able to help you navigate a plan for resting, restoring and caring for your body and mind. This could include at least two episodes of aerobic physical activity a week and a mindful or meditative practice that you engage in daily.
However, as you consider these elements in your therapy, keep in mind it has been thoroughly established that our minds and bodies work together and must be cared for together.
We are by nature relational creatures. Our health depends on thriving in relationships. Therapy itself provides a strong relational foundation that can be healing for many. The shame and isolation of addiction and depression are flummoxed by the caring attunement of a therapist.
Week after week as you work with a therapist for addiction and depression, you will erode the lies of being unworthy or unfit to be with another person. Furthermore, this natural healing process is designed to include our sharing of experience in a committed relationship. Therapy can help you build relational skills and seek out further relationships.
Obstacles To Tackle
There are many obstacles to recovery from addiction and depression. A trained therapist can help you navigate them, be prepared for them and build skills to deal with them. Depression can make any engagement hard, yet you can find motivation and build a sustainable action plan.
Addiction recovery often involves going through withdrawals, urges and intense emotions that you can learn to cope with. Other obstacles include:
- Lifestyle changes
- Relational loss
- And more
Ultimately, a therapist is a guide to help you walk a healing path. Engage the process with wonder and fascination as you grow and change for the better.
Community Discussion: Share Your Thoughts Below!
Which types of support are you utilizing in your addiction recovery? Do you take advantage of local support groups? Why or why not? Which ones? Please comment below.
About the author: Written by Paul Loosemore, MA, PLPC. Paul works as a mental health counselor and consults with those who wish to recover from Sexual Addiction. He is the founder of www.stopsexualaddiction.com.
The opinions and views of our guest contributors are shared to provide a broad perspective of addictions. These are not necessarily the views of Addiction Hope, but an effort to offer discussion of various issues by different concerned individuals.
We at Addiction Hope understand that addiction results from a combination of environmental and genetic factors. If you or a loved one is suffering from addiction, please know that there is hope for you, and seek immediate professional help.