But not in the way I expected

I turned thirty and wanted to change. Engaging a therapist who utilized a post-Freudian type of psychoanalysis, seemed to me to ensure a cure for low self-esteem and depression. True, this pragmatic change did occur, over a decade or so, along with something else quite surprising, even shocking to many people. I became a believer.

It was in the seventies and the empathetic young psychologist encouraged me to use journalling since I liked writing. This, combined with her “holistic” Gestalt (à la Fritz Perls) approach, led to early gains in awareness of my problems, and how they were linked to childhood trauma. My brother’s near-death fall from our family pony was an obvious one.

I was also unearthing, in a Freudian way, the many themes and motifs that were applicable to my situation. Frogs, for example, were prolific on the farm where I’d lived, and I analyzed them as sexual symbols. I tried to apply this to my father, who’d been possessive in relation to me, his first daughter.

Things moved too quickly at times. I was teaching and bringing up two small children almost on my own. My husband had just started on his career pathway and Dad, who had always been under a lot of financial strain, died around this time.

At one stage, things seemed to be going too slowly for me. I felt like I was bogged down in the swamp lands of my childhood background. I felt that I had to progress more hastily, before it was too late.

I’m not sure what the connection was, but I changed therapists suddenly, just after the book, Memories, Dreams, Reflections, by Carl Jung, had fallen into my hands. It wasn’t that I’d found the ideal replacement to gentle Sarah. The new male psychologist knew nothing much about me or about Jung. He just seemed, like me, willing to take risks.

It wasn’t long before I was unraveling. After six months with the new psychologist, I experienced a strange sort of transference vis-à-vis this man whom I barely liked. It was embarrassing, to say the least. And I was spiraling downwards. My depression had turned into a clinical-sized one.

I had to take anti-psychotic medication, which were primitive treatments with various side effects. I put on weight. I curled up next to the open fire in a fetal position for three months. My husband had to take care of the family. He blamed the psychologist. I knew that it had all been of my own making.

The years of therapy that I had received, along with self-psychoanalysis, meant that I had gotten to the bottom of my main issues, mostly linked to my brother’s accident. I learnt, after “going deep”, through a sort of active imagination, that I’d blamed myself for my brother’s accident.

After a few months, during which I managed to recover from the worst effects of the nervous breakdown, I realized that my long-term depression had completely left me. I was seeing the glass half full instead of half empty.

And the most surprising aspect of the whole therapeutic event was that, on looking back, I had experienced personal change like “grace descending”. In fact, I’d had a total spiritual transcendence, along with the pragmatic changes in me from low self-esteem to a stronger sense of self.

I’d Thrown Off Depression With Great Effort

And Faith Had Claimed Me as a Buddy Forevermore

An Assured Escape Route

You don’t have to stay in the doldrums

forever, if you choose life over dark and

light over death,

right now.

Life is worth living, though

life is good and bad at times.

If you work at it and find your way out of the dark

you can do what I did and find YOUR way

out of the doldrums.

Life is amazing

if you only know how to

find your lifeline and

your way into the gold

and out of the old

dark times of auld.

Don’t accept it all,

find in the mother lode

the golden streams and linings,

like in Gold Rush times of ore:

Know that there’s plenty for all of you —

those who like abundance

and those who delight in distilled

wines and spirits.

Love of these is a sure sign that you yearn for and that you

seek the real sunshine, not buried deep in the earth here,

where we slip and slide about for sheer joy and in pain,

but is found high above in the skies and hidden from

sight at times of stress, when you are asked to press

just a little bit harder than the rest if you want it and

if you are at last to reach the prize and reward of striving.

To get you out of strife and claim your reward for a life

of eternal love and a neverending story of joy and bliss

found only in oneness and not here on earth at all,

for sure.

This poem had poured out of me suddenly, just as I came to the realization of why people on the Medium site enjoy reading and writing about self help. It’s aimed at all of those suffering from addictions, that often go hand in hand with depression and are so difficult to overcome. If you have something that might help others, then it’s like a duty to share it with others: my realization.

Takeaway: This is a condensation of my two-decades-long therapeutic experiences in the seventies and eighties. Although I set out with no wish to find God or to become enlightened, my healing from depression that had dogged my steps since childhood, was accompanied by a total transformation of SELF. It was as if the personal changes that I had yearned for, could only take place within the paradigm shift from an agnostic to that of a person of faith. Since then, I have carried within myself a deep sense that life is much much more than what we see on the surface. I am a spiritual person in the broad sense of not belonging to any particular faith, but seeing the connections between all religions and appreciating their beliefs.

Feature Photo: Brook Anderson on Unsplash