There is a common paradox for psychological therapy: many times the strategies we have found to provide us relief from our problems are at the same time perpetuating our problems. For example, a man suffering depression may find that staying in bed all day is the only way to get some slight relief from his persistent sadness and guilt. Yet, at the same time, staying in bed is keeping him isolated from social supports that could play an important part in his recovery. It is also feeding back into his guilt when, at the end of the day, he reflects on all the things he “should” have done instead of being in bed.
A woman with a phobia of mice may find running and hiding in another room if she sees a mouse gives her relief from her feelings of terror – yet in doing so she has unintentionally reinforces her automatic fear response to seeing mice.
Therapy generally involves, at some point, changing unhelpful patterns in one way or another. Initially this means stopping use of strategies that have had at least short-term benefits. Consequently, therapy can at times be very uncomfortable: you make a choice to confront difficult feelings and experiences that you have developed a range of strategies for avoiding. Because of this I often caution clients that “it gets worse before it gets better.” It is often necenssary to sit through discomfort, sometimes considerable discomfort, to experience the reward of mastering a problem.
Has your shopping been a problem? Do you buy too much? Are you a keen advocate of retail therapy?
Many of us enjoy the buzz a shopping spree creates now and then. But for some people buying becomes very much like an addiction. There are people who find themselves unable to resist the allure of a sale; those who cannot keep a dollar in their pockets because they will spend it at the first opportunity they have.
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder – OCD – what do you think of when you hear those words?
Do you imagine someone repetitively washing their hands? Do you imagine a person carefully dodging cracks and seams in pavement? Perhaps you picture someone in their home with everything perfectly symmetrically arranged and perfectly tidy.
While all of the above are examples of what a person with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder might experience, there are vastly more, and often subtle, ways the condition can present.
Many times I have heard a phrase something along the lines of this: “I’ve been depressed before. But I just learned to snap out of it.”
It is often said by someone who has never really experienced depression in response to the suffering of someone who has depression. The implication is that the depressed person merely lacks the willpower to “snap out of it.”
Depression is more than just sadness. It is different to grief. Depression is a chronic state of low mood, negative thinking, depleted energy and absence of motivation. It is a self-perpetuating state in which the very actions that might contribute to recovery seem the least possible.