My work by it's very nature involves receiving secrets. It's sacred information from the hidden spaces within my clients. The teenagers I see are beautiful, young and free. But those qualities are the last things that they themselves see if they are battling depression and anxiety. As they slowly approach me, with their intelligent caution they begin to share secrets. At times, I find some of those secrets heartbreaking. They speak of self hatred and isolation. Behind the shy smiles, there are beliefs of being ugly, dumb. There's something wrong with me.
Such is the truly monstrous nature of depression and anxiety. The turnaround is what we work towards. Sometimes it involves medication. But no amount of pharmaceutical support will ever be as good as the power of genuine self regard that is continuously nurtured. Refusal to believe any of these Black Dog* thoughts, a stubbornness, a determination not to be defined by this condition...These are the things to be inspired.
The great blessing for the young is that they are young. With their whole lives ahead of them, they can learn to take this Black Dog, tame it and keep it in it's rightful kennel. It can actually be a stunning opportunity - the meeting of depression and/or anxiety can be the whole reason for the growing of strength and true self esteem that can be taken into adulthood.
I am always greatly moved and honoured when I am allowed into these secret places, these shadowy spaces. Once that door is opened I can sit down with my teenage pal and we can nut out the best ways of being kind and compassionate to the self first. Then we get to work out how he or she can start to have some fun again and to grow who they are, in all their rebellious and wonderful youth.
*Winston Churchill's Black Dog was the name he gave his depressive periods.