Since the Outbreak of covid-19 many of us have had our lives completely turned upside down and we are all struggling in our own ways. It has affected people in different ways. For some just having some space to talk through things can make a huge difference to how they cope.
For others, the lockdown has meant that they have spent a lot of time reflecting on what's important in their lives and what's not, and they may as a result want to make some big changes but without knowing where to start. Sometimes it takes a conversation with somebody skilled who can listen to what it is that you're saying and give you the space to explore it in your own way and help you to actually make a pathway forward for yourself.
I think if there is a silver lining in all of this, it's that we are being given the gift of time and the gift of space to think more clearly.
If you'd like to explore any of this stuff and you'd like some extra support then why don't you make contact with me online today and we can hook up by video link and together we can explore everything that you're struggling with and look at all your ideas and aspirations for the future together.
You will find my contact details on the website.
Depression as defined by mind.org.uk is “a low mood that lasts for a long time, and affects your everyday life”. Depression can be classed as mild, moderate or severe. Depression is widely acknowledged as a cumulative condition. That means that it isn’t something which is usually the result of one factor, but a response to longer term exposure to a multitude of factors. There are many possible triggers and the greater the number of these that you are exposed to the greater your risk of experiencing episodes of depression at some point in your life.
Our brain regulates our moods, releasing chemicals in response to physical, mental and emotional stimulus. There are a number of factors that can effect this finely tuned chemical balance, and lead to an imbalance that often results in depression:
Some aspects of people’s personalities can predispose them to greater risks of experiencing depression and other mental health conditions, these are things such as being overly self-critical, or being a perfectionist, having low self esteem or being particularly sensitive to personal criticism. Individuals who worry excessively or feel overly anxious are also more at risk of experiencing depressive episodes.
Social pressure has been proved to have a huge impact on depression especially within adolescents, as does long term poor quality or seriously reduced sleep, and some studies are beginning to show a correlation between screen time and depressive symptoms within the youth community; though more long term studies are required to corroborate this.
Individuals whose emotional resilience is lowered due to trauma, historic abuse, bullying or due to lack of emotional nourishment or support during childhood years, will also find themselves in the ‘at risk’ group of those who are likely to manifest symptoms associated with depression and anxiety.
It is also likely that people who have a genetic predisposition i.e. they have a close relative who has suffered with depression, are also more likely to exhibit symptoms of a mental health condition at some point in their life.
Depression can also come on as a result of physical illness such as long term or life limiting health conditions, post stroke, managing chronic pain, underachieve thyroid, limited or reduced mobility, and in more rarer cases head injuries.
Hormonal changes such as those found during or after pregnancy as well as during menopause also have the potential to impact our chances of being debilitated by depression.
Individuals who have abused drugs or alcohol may also develop depression, and conversely depression often results in people self medicating with substance misuse.
Those who have gambling or other addictions that threaten their stability and relationships will also be at a higher risk of experiencing depressive episodes.
Work stresses or big life changing stressors such as loosing a loved one or the breakdown of a marriage are also believed to contribute to the onset of depression in certain individuals.
All these factors and how we respond to them will impact our brain chemistry, and may determine how we manage additional challenges in life and how we interact with others.
When supported by a professional it is possible to explore where we have come from; our experiences of trauma or pain. Having an opportunity to explore our thoughts and feelings is often the catalyst for change. With skilful support we are able to observe what beliefs about ourselves, and the world we have internalised. These beliefs are often based on our negative experiences of life, as well as what others have said or intimated that they know about us. For example a parent who continuously looks at a child as though they disgust them, will eventually illicit the response within the child, “I’m disgusting there is something wrong with me”. Often these messages or similar ones are imposed upon us early in our lives. These negative messages, which are accepted as truths by the young child, are always damaging, we refer to them as ‘limiting beliefs’ because they tell us that we are ‘not good enough’, ‘not worth anything’, ‘not capable’, ‘not loveable’! As a result they set up limitations within us; “I’m not worth loving” for example often results in individuals remaining in damaging or abusive relationships. In other words Limiting beliefs damage our self perception and our interactions with the world around us, often preventing us from achieving our full potential.
When an individual maintains negative feelings about themselves for a prolonged period of time the feelings take on a sort of reality for them. An individual will invest in this belief about themselves, and in turn the belief will ‘eat away’ at their positive sense of ‘self’, and their well being will be compromised. The result is often that an individual’s confidence and self esteem will be seriously damaged. Often to avoid sharing this negative feeling about themselves individuals will hide behind masks, projecting aspects of personalities that are not congruent with how they really feel in the present. Feelings of disgust and or self hate may arise, and these will gnaw away at the individual until they struggle to be around other people and need to withdraw, either because they believe they are subjecting those around them to something undesirable, or because maintaining a mask for the outside world is overwhelming and exhausting. It is difficult to exist like this for any length of time without it impacting an individual’s mental health. Often the result of living long term under these conditions is the onset of depression and, or, anxiety.
In my experience as a therapist depression largely occurs as a result of negative childhood experiences, or historic pain and the investment of the individual in the limiting beliefs these set up. The pain of these events is often still an active torment for the subject but operating ‘under the radar’ so to speak; operating at a subconscious level. As children we don’t have the resources to process trauma, we can only experience the world through our child’s eyes and make sense of it with the little knowledge that we have. Children reference everything to themselves meaning that when something bad happens or they feel unsafe they believe it must be down to them, they are doing something wrong or there is something inherently wrong with them that is causing this to happen. When children experience pain or anxiety, fearing a repeat of an event that causes such discomfort they have to create coping mechanisms to keep themselves safe. Sometimes these might be little rituals but often these are substantial changes in behaviour. For example a child who fears being hit may decide the only way to stay safe is to keep hidden, to become invisible to the world. This might initially mean staying in their room for long periods of time but may manifest as they grow up into keeping a low profile around any adults, not speaking out, and becoming subservient to those around them. For many people these copying mechanisms are hugely effective at the time, but if they persist into adulthood these behaviours no longer serve them, and in fact can often keep individuals at arms length from joy, and from fully engaging in life. The behaviours adopted as children to maintain a sense of safety often limit the positivity an individual can experience as an adult. Living a repressed life deeply effects an individual who often reports experiencing a sense of misery and lifelessness within themselves.
Therapy enables an individual to become aware of the behaviours that are limiting them, it enables them to better understand themselves and how they operate. Through therapy an individual suffering with depression can understand what lies beneath their low self assessment; the underpinning limiting beliefs they hold about themselves, and the behaviours they adopted to keep themselves safe.
Limiting beliefs might be considered as a statement that an individual makes in response to how they are feeling about what’s happening to them. For example a bully might illicit feelings of weakness and uselessness because an individual can’t stand up to them, or because they choose not to fight back, and instead the individual just takes the abuse. In this instance an individual might decide that what this says about them is that they are ‘useless’, ‘pathetic’, or ‘not worth bothering with’.
What I often find as a therapist is that there is often a huge amount of unexpressed or unspent emotion around the experience of bullying, because the victim carries a sense of shame with them, so it’s a painful area for them to explore with others.
A child who is bullied commonly feels hurt and rejected and learns to believe they are “not good enough”, “stupid or useless”, or even an “ugly” or “unlovable” person. The experience of feeling these hugely uncomfortable emotions, and wanting to move away from them is what triggers the individual to create the limiting belief inside themselves. So a child who experiences bullying might decide that they are “not good enough”, this belief stops them from trying to achieve, which prevents them from standing out in class, and thus keeps them (to a child’s mind) safe from drawing additional attention towards themselves and ultimately a repeat of the bullying. This limiting belief enables an individual to become ‘invisible’, simply by retaining this belief and living as though it were true they can remain safe from bullies. Limiting beliefs maintain an individual’s protection, but such beliefs are also hugely powerful in their ability to control lives and create misery.
EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique / Tapping) helps to release the trapped emotions that are attached to limiting beliefs; they can still remain active even after many years away from the original source.
Tapping on certain energy points around the upper body (EFT) calms the alarm system in the brain that is hot-wired to alert us to any threat to our well-being. This centre (the amygdala) will observe changes to our belief system, especially changes to limiting beliefs as dangerous because these were devised to keep us safe. With the amygdala calmed we are able to explore at depth negative programming and where that originated without causing panic or re traumatising the individual. Once the subconscious programming (from past traumas or upsets) has been made conscious to the individual, they are able to examine, evaluate and understand these messages for what they are. Often these are simply a survival tool, the only one available to their younger selves. After this work Individuals are then free to discard limiting beliefs and any behaviours that have grown up around these and make more favourable choices for themselves.
Ingrained limiting beliefs impact all aspects of an individual’s life, and the result is often underachievement, limited joy, struggling relationships and unstable mental well-being.
The aim of talking therapies is usually to unearth the stories and experiences that have caused disfunction in our lives, and then to re programme ourselves with more positive, sensitive and gentle affirmations. This is where real change begins, life opens up and options present themselves that were not possible before.
Hypnotherapy bypasses the alarm centre of our brains and allows us to speak directly to an individual’s subconscious, here new beliefs can be implanted without alerting the amygdala to danger, which reduces any resistance to these new beliefs. In hypnotherapy we do this through the medium of trance, a deeply focused state that temporarily closes off all external stimuli. It is an incredibly restful state and many clients report the benefits it has upon their sleeping patterns.
My role as a therapist is to support my client in exploring the negative messages learnt in childhood that have created dysfunctional beliefs or behaviours. I support clients in re-evaluating now with their adult knowledge and understanding of the world, the truth behind any limiting beliefs they formed as a bid to keep themselves safe. I work to enable individuals to recognise how successful they have been at keeping themselves protected by creating their limiting beliefs, but to also appreciate how their belief system has kept them small or reduced their ability to experience success, joy and a fulfilling life. We work together to identify how the individual is impacted today by their beliefs and behaviours, and I work to support clients in starting to make choices for themselves about how they want to ‘be’ in the world as they move forward.
Together we explore what other ways there might be to maintain a client’s feeling of safety that doesn’t reduce or deny aspects of themselves, but instead accepts and even celebrates the person they are under all the layers of protection and pain.
I have as a therapist found that some therapies take much longer than others to create shifts in behaviours or beliefs. I personally find that EFT is the most effective way, of rapidly creating positive lasting change for clients struggling with depression. I often combine all three of my therapeutic skills to provide the most appropriate and desirable outcomes for people, but EFT is consistently the transformative element in my work.
If you’re struggling with your mental health, trying to find some answers and would like to begin working with me please give me a call today, or just send me an email or text message.
I will work hard to ensure that your experience of therapy is a positive and uplifting one, even if your story is filled with sadness and trauma.
Therapy should never add to the distress you have experienced or continue to experience!