I’ve not written for a while. Like all of us trying to come up with different topics and angles for blog content, I’ve felt like I reached my limits for new ideas.
This week threw me for a loop though. A client who I’ve been working with for only a short time called to let me know how much the work we’ve been doing together has helped her. In my work I have to say that isn’t unusual to hear but I’ve seen a huge change in this particular client.
And this experience has finally inspired me to write again
Let me explain. In the course of my work I consistently research the latest findings to share with my clients and this year, I have discovered many new things that I have always suspected to be true. Finally the research is more readily available and being talked about.
One area I’ve taken a deep dive into is the subject of genetics and its influence on who we are. For months I have been pondering and wondering what role behavioral training has with such a strong genetic push. I know therapeutic intervention is necessary and helpful but I want to know as best as I can know how and what. It is for this reason that I have stopped to think, dig deeper and improve my understanding.
And as I’ve seen with my client, what it tells me is that even though our genetics greatly influence who we are, they don’t necessarily have the final word. If we choose, we can still allow ourselves to be inspired and influenced by others to be the best version of ourselves.
The stigma of anxiety
I am acutely aware in my work that anxiety, depression and other inherited traits I see in my clients are not caused by moral failings. In truth I have never really believed that idea. But I don’t allow my clients to blame themselves either.
In the same way someone born with diabetes or poor eyesight is not responsible for their condition, so is someone wired for anxiety or depression not at fault. The difference is how our society perceives mental and physical health.
If you knew someone with poor eyesight who decided to refuse modern medicine, such as corrective lenses, you might think they are causing themselves unnecessary suffering. When it comes to mental health, we act as if people should do it on their own, figure it out and ‘pull themselves together’.
In some cases people do the best they can and the situation passes. In many cases, intervention is necessary.
This should not be stigmatized.
What helps is to realistically sit down with an individual, and come up with a plan for treatment, without attaching shame or blame.
Now, those tough minded readers among you might be thinking I am letting people off the hook but that isn’t it.
In the same way a type 1 diabetic has to be tough and mindful enough to stop what he is doing, prick his finger to make it bleed in order to check his numbers and then be willing to give himself a shot, a depressed or anxious person must be willing to take responsibility for his or her wiring and act on the interventions available.
This is no easy task. Mental health is one of the biggest hidden issues in our society today.
Making the right choices to heal
Medication is a big part of intervention-especially when someone is in crisis. No one likes to hear this but it is the truth. It doesn’t solve everything. But it does give the person some room to make a choice, for example:
- Do I want to go down the road to negative self talk or can I choose something more neutral to say to myself?
- Can I challenge myself to get out of bed and get some exercise, no matter how small and amount?
- Can I not get angry and instead re-think my response and make it more productive?
I’ve seen over and over again in my work that the ability to make new choices stabilizes a person’s life. Work becomes easier, health becomes a priority and relationships are more positive.
From there a person can start to thrive.
From there it is possible to achieve bigger things because the daily wreckage is no longer the thing bogging a person down.
Some people think treating psychological stressors makes people weaker. If that is the case, you have found the wrong treatment. Treatment should make you stronger and more able. Treatment should not focus on the past except to untangle some issue in the present. It should make you feel more contained and better to handle what is in front of you.
Humans have not gotten to where we are by feeling sorry for ourselves. We have always lived in community though and sought guidance for issues. This guidance is what I seek to provide to each person who comes into my office or is on the other side of my calls.
Don’t needlessly suffer. It is not necessary. Help is out there.
Nicole C Weiss LCSW
- Phone: 619-318-5012
- Email: [email protected]