Dolores sat down, and as soon as I inquired about her problem, she burst into tears. In between her bouts of crying and with tears streaming down her cheeks, she told me her tragic story. She had suffered many injustices in her native country during a past dictatorial regime there. She was now safe and living in a new country, but sad memories didn’t let her enjoy her current life. She had been battling depression and anxiety for the last 15 years.
Aside from feeling anxious and depressed, she had a fear of the dark. Her anxiety and depression peaked at night. She dreaded sunset so much that she had developed a phobia of darkness. With the help of sleeping pills, she tried to sleep early at 7 PM and to wake up at around 6 AM. She was forcing herself to sleep 12 hours, and of course she couldn’t. She woke up repeatedly at night. But since she was afraid of the dark, she slept with the lights on. This way when she woke up in the middle of the night, she felt at ease because she could see her illumined bedroom and this calm her.
She had also a degenerative ailment that caused her chronic pain all over her body. Although she was smoking two packs a day as a way to sooth her anxiety, depression and pain, she very much wanted to quit.
Beside medication and smoking, she would try to distract herself from her sad and anxiety provoking thoughts by leaving her home and talking to people in bars and cafes.
After talking to her, I found out that Dolores was a fervent Catholic. She said that every day she cried for 4 to 5 hours because she was “stuck with depression and anxiety.”