How does one describe one’s experience of depression? It seems so long ago, so distant that remembering what it was like is proving difficult.
I do remember the constant anger. I thought that was a normal state for humans. I remember the anxiety, the constant ruminations and the negative reflections about particular relationships with those close and dear to me.
When my wife said that I was suffering from depression, I became angry and denied that I could possibly be suffering from depression. My wife, who valiantly stuck with me, perhaps suffered the most as a result of me being in a state of depression for many years. I did agree to go to the family physician with her and, on being asked by the physician, I denied that I was depressed. We left his office.
Several weeks later, sitting despondently in front of my computer after having thought very seriously about suicide and having developed a plan that fortunately did not work, I did some research on the web. After completing several web exercises, I understood that I was depressed. I called and met with my physician that day (I have being seeing him for years, so I was able to get an appointment quickly) and told him I needed help. He immediately called a psychiatrist and an introductory appointment was arranged fairly quickly.
On meeting my psychiatrist, Dr. Abbass, it became abundantly clear that I had been through some years of major depression. I told him my range of symptoms, including physical pain, anxiety and such a level of misery that life became unbearable. I was struggling to operate in my work and my relationships. I told him of my heart attack at the age of 60 and of my open-heart surgery, which may have amplified the depression.
What I was excited about was that Dr. Abbass refrained from suggesting medication for me. Whenever I mentioned my state of anxiety, many people were always suggesting I get a prescription for medication. This type of cure had no interest for me.
The first time I met Dr. Abbass, I was quite surprised that the focus went quickly to what he felt to be emotional detachment and disconnection. He was asking about emotions and how they felt in my body. I had always felt myself to be an emotional person, but I wasn’t clear what he was asking about. Indeed, it wasn’t until later in that meeting that I realized what I thought were emotions were intellectual ideas or anxiety. I saw myself become more detached as he reached to my true feelings about what had been happening in my life. When this happened, I realized with some sadness that I had also been emotionally detached from my wife and children, without ever intending to be. I also saw that all the anger that was being triggered those years was turning in toward myself. It was as if I was punishing myself for feeling angry toward people who had hurt me and let me down in the past.
These realizations brought both a lot of painful feelings and strong motivations to change the patterns and improve my close bonds with my family. What emerged was a lot of old painful feelings, anger and guilt related to hurts with my own family from early in my life. The old anger was so full of guilt, there was no way I could have faced or recognized it on my own. My own persistence (I did check myself out from treatment twice, because I felt I was “cured”), coupled with Dr. Abbass’s help, allowed me to make major changes.
These changes have persisted for the past 10 years. I am a happier person, more relaxed, caring and looking towards the future with great anticipation. In that time I’ve been enjoying great productivity in my business. I have been able to pass on the notions of emotional awareness and self-care to my clients and others. Most importantly, I’ve been able to enjoy the closest relationship with my wife that I’ve had for many, many years.
The process that Dr. Abbass put me through was hard and emotional, but the hard work has paid dividends. It took that hard work on my part and the help of this treatment approach to derive these benefits. It’s unbelievable the many ways blocked emotions can affect a person.