Mary’s Battle with Anxiety and Depression
Before coming to see me, Mary had been suffering from anxiety and depression for five years. Her symptoms would worsen at night right after dinner. She would try to endure her anxiety as best as she could but when she was not able to control herself she became irritable and start to shout at her husband. She would then take refuge in front of the family computer to watch sad videos on youtube and cry.
Mary was taking a pill for depression and another for her anxiety. She had undergone psychotherapy for a long time but it yielded no positive results. The message she received from her psychotherapist was that she had to say ‘No’ to things and be assertive in life.
After listening to her describe her challenges and her life, I asked her to write her emotions and thoughts down on a daily basis. I explained to Mary that we all have an emotional well. In order to feel emotions without any negative consequences, we ought to keep this well clean. However, once in a while our emotional well needs a good cleaning. The exercise of writing down all her private thoughts, fears, anxieties and worries was a good way to cleanse her ’emotional well’.
A week later after our session she reported that she still had anxiety but that it was much less intense. She also felt more courageous and willing to speak up and tell others what she thinks. I asked her to continue writing down her emotions for another two weeks and gave her additional tasks to do until our next session.
Gradually Mary got better. She learned to be more assertive as her anxiety and depression diminished. Two months later, in our last session, she said she was feeling happy. She had stopped watching sad online videos. Naturally, others had also have noticed the positive change in her.
“I have forgotten I had anxiety!”, she told me excitedly, “Even my psychiatrist noticed that I was feeling better and reduced my medication.”
Not all cases of anxiety and depression are solved in such a short time but it is possible as Mary’s case demonstrates. The first step is to realize that seemingly intractable long-term issues do not necessarily need equally long-term and complex solutions.