A therapist tells her personal journey
Depression does not stroll up to you and introduce itself. No, depression can sneak up on you silently, insidiously gaining ground as you walk through life’s experiences.
When I was 28 years old I seemed to have a great life. I had a marketing degree and was working in my field. My husband had a solid career, we owned a home, and we had a beautiful son. Yet I felt depressed and angry and often took that anger out on myself and my family. I developed a cycle of anger, guilt, and sadness, and it affected everyone around me.
It was hard to do, but I finally reached out for help.
I found a therapist who helped me see how my accumulated life experiences contributed to the emotional difficulty I was feeling. As it turns out, the events of my life were fairly common. But although I thought I was handling things in stride, I didn’t realize that depression was sneaking up on me. My parents divorced when I was young, and my mother raised me in a stable single-parent home. In college, I had a few relationship breakups and a couple of family deaths. In my mid-20s, I had a miscarriage, then a premature colicky baby. My husband took a new job and started traveling and I couldn’t find quality childcare. Ultimately, I was faced with the decision to keep my career or stay home with my son – which was a huge identity crisis for me. I couldn’t understand why I wasn’t handling it all better!
As I said, a good therapist helped me to see the bigger picture, and when I looked at all these accumulated life events – Of course, I was struggling!
Asking for help is hard. You think something is wrong with you and, unfortunately in our society, there is a stigma associated with therapy. But I can tell you that seeking help as a young wife and mother was not only a gift to myself but also to my family. I learned to be more forgiving and gentle with myself and my loved ones. I became a better person.
Later, when my husband and I had difficulties in our marriage, we sought couples counseling, and we wouldn’t have the amazing marriage we have today had we not done so. That’s why, at age 40 I became a counselor.
Today I help individuals and couples see the big picture, learn to be gentler with themselves and their loved ones, and to become healthier, happier people.
Valerie Allen is a Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor and owner of Valerie Allen Counseling located in West Chester, OH. For more information, call 513-317-8113 or visit www.valallencounseling.com.