“I try so hard. What’s the use. I have no energy for anything. I hate to face another day.” Depression is more common than the common cold.

Jennifer’s doctor told her she would have to increase the amount of anti-depressant she had been taking in an attempt to maintain her sense of equilibrium. Frightened of becoming dependent on medication, she decided to explore therapy.

She discovered she was still trying hard to be the good child in her family, automatically complying with other people’s expectations without considering her own needs, wants, and feelings.

When she learned to pay attention to her own feelings she discovered she was angry about doing so much for so little reward. Afraid of expressing her anger, and sad about all of the good things she was missing out on because of her commitment to being responsible, she was also physically exhausted.

All of these other feelings were masked by her ever-present feelings of depression. The medications sometimes helped her feel better but did nothing about the underlying problems, which were getting worse and worse.

Like many of us, Jennifer needed to learn to pay attention to what she wanted, and to consider it to be as important as (not more important than) what other people want and need.

If you have forgotten how to know what you want, a good way to find out is to take some quiet time and think about it. A simple relaxation exercise can help a lot.

Either sit or lie down in a quiet place where you can spend 5 to 15 minutes. Close your eyes and breathe slowly and regularly. As you inhale, say to yourself, “I Am.” As you exhale say, “Relaxed.” Repeat this exercise for at least 5 minutes. If you think of other things, gently bring yourself back to the statement, “I am… relaxed.” Then take a few minutes to think about what you want or need and how you might get it.

Another way to avoid depression is to practice saying no to the things you don’t want to do. If it’s impractical to not do those things, still let yourself know that you don’t want to. It’s O.K. not to want to. You can choose to do something even if you don’t want to do it.

A wonderful temporary cure for depression is to get meaningful attention from other people. Remember everyone needs 7 hugs a day just for maintenance (Virginia Satir).

As Jennifer practiced these activities her physician cooperated by reducing her medication. After several months of treating herself as an important person, she felt fine without any medication at all.

Excerpted from I Don’t Need Therapy, but Where Do I Turn for Answers?

[tags]Personal Growth, Emotional Problems, Self Help, Self-Improvement, Inner Child, CoDependency,Psychotherapy[/tags]