Gloria* was lonely and slipping into a deep depression when we met for therapy. She had recently lost her husband; her children were grown and lived in different states with their families. All the things to which Gloria felt connected were gone.
When she was not crying, she felt empty inside, like nothing in her life could ever be pleasurable again. The things she once valued – like meeting with friends, gardening, and going to church – were of no interest now.
She missed her husband terribly and could not get past the thought that she had lost the love of her life. She constantly lacked energy and felt like her feet were stuck in concrete, keeping her from getting off the couch most days.
Gloria started gaining weight and was concerned about her health. Her husband had died from a sudden heart attack, and she knew she needed to take better care of herself. Gloria just needed to get out of this crushing sadness.
Therapy helped Gloria manage depression
Gloria and I worked together online to slowly start building some ways that she could gently nurture herself when she felt down and depressed.
She decided that instead of sitting on the couch and dwelling on the loss of her husband, she would connect with her daughter in New York. Gloria also had several friends who wanted to reach out to her.
Though it was hard to do this at first, she realized the love and connection she had with others who deeply cared about her. She began to feel her heart open, and some light come in.
Health became a priority
Gloria and I also focused on her health concerns and discussed her sleep patterns, exercise/movement, and diet. She was struggling in all of these areas.
We made a plan to help her body move in ways that felt good and supported her nervous system. We devised ways to help her transition into sleep a little easier. She decided to meet with a nutritionist to help support a healthy diet.
Dealing with anger came next
Gloria and I discussed the importance of allowing emotions in her life.
Gloria began to realize that under all the sadness was anger. Growing up in America as a black woman, she got many messages about anger not being okay to express. She had swallowed anger her entire life, putting on a happy face in its place.
During our sessions, Gloria experienced a safe place to feel and express anger with validation. She gained strength in affirming her life with the beneficial emotion of anger. Anger gave her the power to start moving again.
Processing the Loss
Gloria and I processed the death of her husband. Losing her husband was challenging, but it did not mean her life was over. As she reconnected with friends and family and processed difficult emotions, she found herself again.
Gloria found a sense of self beyond being a mother and wife. She began exploring her hobbies and interests again, joined a community garden, and loved socializing with Edith, whose plot was next to hers. She joined an art class to build a different relationship with her emotions. This class allowed her to feel safe expressing her emotions through painting.
Taking a trip came next. Gloria and a friend took a trip to Cabo, where they soaked up some sun and learned to be in the spirit of exploration and play again.
Sadness Never Leaves Completely
Gloria was sometimes sad about her husband’s death and missed him dearly! But the sadness did not take over any longer. She was building a life outside of her marriage, and it was okay.
Gloria was looking forward to her future and built new dreams of giving back through community service with her church.
When I last met with Gloria, she considered putting herself out there and dating again.
You don’t have to Live this Way
Depression is not the end of all things. It can also be the beginning of a new self.
With help, you can transition out of this night of the soul. Just as the Phoenix rises from the ashes, you can, too.
I can help. We will explore whatever feeds your depression, greet it kindly, allow all emotions to emerge, and find energy in life again!
Disclaimer: Name and story are composite narratives and do not reflect an actual client.
THE GUEST HOUSE
This being human is a guest house
Every morning a new arrival. A joy, a depression, a meanness,
Some momentary awareness comes
As an unexpected visitor. Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they’re a crowd of sorrows,
Who violently sweet your house
Empty of its furniture,
Still treat each guest honorably
He may be clearing you out
For some new delight. The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
Meet them at the door laughing,
Because each has been sent
As a guide from beyond.