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How to Handle Depression by ‘Looking Through a New Lens’

The mind is everything. What you think you become - Buddha

Jill was a writer. She wrote poetry and fictional short stories. She had had M.E. for two years and, when she found her way to me, had panic attacks so severe they would throw her to the floor.

The final straw had been when a well meaning bereavement counsellor had told her she was undergoing a grieving process for the loss of her health and was likely to experience all the emotions attached to that, such as denial, anger, sadness and depression.

Jill was now focusing on everything she had lost and could not do as a result of her condition and creating a terrifying picture of her future.

She was looking at life through a very negative lens. When she thought about her future, she only saw dark and frightening images. With a creative, visual mind, she was now badly misusing her wonderful imaginative powers and frightening herself, raising all her stress hormones and robbing her body of the energy it needed to recover from the M.E.

‘M.E. took my life away’

I asked her if her ME was better or worse than when it originally struck two years ago. She said that, at first, she was unable to get out of bed or do anything for herself.

She had been like this for several months before getting to the stage where she could do small tasks and start to drive again. Although she was still unable to return to college, she agreed that, compared to then, things had improved.

‘All the evidence suggests that your health is in fact returning and not further deteriorating, so the bereavement counsellor was wrong.’ I told her.

‘Grieving is about death and loss and, in fact, it appears that your health is being restored.’

Your body and mind ‘know’ how to heal

I gave Jill an example to prove the point.

‘Your body know instinctively how to heal itself and all you have to do is provide the right conditions for that to happen.

So, you might cut your finger and, over a period of days, watch as new skin grows over the old wound.

Antiseptic or a plaster might help, but it is not the antiseptic or the plaster that makes the skin grow. Your body has innate knowledge and wisdom.

In other words, it is healing all by itself!’

This new lens through which to view her current situation was enough to lift Jill’s mood, providing that much needed restoration of hope about the future.

We then concentrated on regaining control of the panic attacks by using relaxed breathing and advanced visualisation techniques to reconnect her with a positive image of what her life would be like when her health had returned.

Jill started to look forward again, making plans for the future. She felt she was reclaiming her life at last.

One quick tip on how to handle depression by changing your world view:

‘The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes but in seeing with new eyes.’ – Marcel Proust.

Have you ever been to the optician and had to read the letters on the board while they slide in different lenses and ask the question:

‘better with….or without?’

Life is easier and everything improves when we choose to tell ourselves a positive story about our life. You can ask yourself the same question about your negative thinking pattern.

‘Would my life be better with or without that thought?’

It’s your life and your thoughts.

Choose them wisely!

Let me know your thoughts about Jill’s story in the comments below…

Frances Masters

Frances Masters is a BACP accredited psychotherapist with over 30,000 client hours of experience. Follow her @fusioncoachuk, or visit The Integrated Coaching Academy for details about up coming training.