How Assumptions can Affect Your Relationship?


Assumptions about your partner’s thoughts, words and actions can have a tremendous impact on your romantic relationship and other areas of your life. If left unchecked, they will prevent you from living a happy life.

Assumptions can arise if you never take the time to openly discuss your thoughts and feelings with your partner. They may originate from your very own ideas and experiences or from outside sources, such as hearsay, which are typically taken out of context or blown out of proportion. If your thoughts and actions are dictated by assumptions, you’ll find it almost impossible to stay levelheaded and maintaining a positive attitude in the face of obstacles. If you let yourself become convinced that mere ideas are harsh facts, you and your partner will face trying times, and you could end up coping with relationship anxiety.

What are the types of assumptions?

Assumptions can be direct or indirect. A direct assumption is basically a thought that someone believes something despite its questionable validity. It does not necessarily originate from real life situations, but it is nonetheless taken as fact and usually  results in an emotional response. On the other hand, indirect assumptions are those that don’t originate from within, but from secondhand information that’s believed to be true, despite the absence of any real evidence.

Who is prone to making assumptions?

It’s not unusual for any person in a committed relationship to assume that their partner will see the world the way they do. In the idealistic or honeymoon phase, lovers have the feeling that they are on the same page and see the world similarly. It takes a while for each member of a couple to start to find out that the ‘other’ might not share their views about life or relationships. We all bring assumptions about behaviour and ways of doing things from our upbringing. How can we not? We have no choice growing up but to take in the social environment in which we found ourselves.

However, people who have experienced something unpleasant in their past relationships and family environment tend to have a bigger tendency to assume the worst once the honeymoon phase is over.  When facing trying times, they could unwittingly convince themselves that for example, their partner is being unfaithful; they are not being thought about but instead being taken for granted; or that they are being manipulated.

The inherent problem with assumptions is that most people tend not to find out whether they are true or not and then become suspicious and falsely accuse the ‘other’ creating problems that might not have emerged.  People who assume that others are going to behave one way or another are inevitably going to be disappointed. This is particularly so if these assumptions are derived from their own fears and inhibitions arising from previous experience; they therefore experience the other person ‘as if’ they are likely to think and behave as others close to them behaved in the past.

Such people are likely to look for the smallest signs that will help affirm their beliefs, thus making their assumptions more difficult to overcome. This is not deliberate. We follow our neural pathways and seek that which is familiar even if familiar doesn’t mean pleasant; for example it might look as though they are reinforcing the emotions they want to experience, because this is what they are used to. It is called ‘the compulsion to repeat’.

People who are fragile and perhaps experience deep and overpowering emotional needs might unconsciously be more attached to their assumptions than they are to actual reality. This is because sometimes internal reality is at odds with external reality.  Internal reality feels real and thus it is real to that person. It can be a surprise that it doesn’t mirror external reality in the form of someone else’s reality.

It is possible to be pleasantly surprised if what you are suspicious of doesn’t eventuate. If so this can be a real lesson that people won’t always behave in a way that you expect them to, that they think differently, that they are used to different kinds of relationships.

How do you overcome assumptions?

If you see assumptions as facts, what can you do to recognise what they truly are? The best answer is to listen. Listen to yourself and to your partner. Strive to be self-knowing; identify and understand your genuine emotions. If you’re feeling hurt, manipulated, neglected or rejected, take a step back and make sure that you are not just making assumptions. Be honest with your partner and be open to discussing your actions, thoughts and feelings. Don’t let assumptions sabotage your life together – build a relationship that fosters trust.

Posted in Relationship difficulties, Relationships | Comments Off on How Assumptions can Affect Your Relationship?

Developing a Healthy Relationship with Yourself

self knowing

When your head is full of self-limiting thoughts, it can be almost impossible to derive happiness and satisfaction from your relationships, successes and other things that would normally make you feel fulfilled. So it goes without saying that you must make sure negativity will never have a firm hold on you. Prevent self-doubt and self-loathing by building a strong, happy and healthy relationship with yourself.

You must strive to be comfortable and complete in your own skin, overcome limiting beliefs, and become self-knowing. Develop self-confidence and self-assurance, and let go of everything that’s keeping you from achieving true contentment.

How do you develop a positive relationship with yourself?

Be kind.

Kindness is key to self-acceptance. When you’re kind and compassionate to yourself, you are able to stay levelheaded in the face of obstacles. Never make room for judgmental thoughts – accept that there’s beauty in imperfection. You don’t have to be a harsh critic to yourself just to realise that something needs to change. Instead of being too self-critical, accept the uniqueness that make you who you are.

Be aware.

When you’re in the process of building a healthier relationship with yourself, you have to recognise what it is about your present situation that must change. Recognise and acknowledge the issues that are keeping you from living a contented life. Take time to listen to your thoughts and feelings each day, and be mindful of everything you say and do.

Be imaginative.

It helps to imagine and visualise what you want to achieve. Keep self-doubt and limiting beliefs at bay by being imaginative and letting your creativity flow freely. Instead of thinking about the worst case scenario for any given situation, envision the best events, and let those guide you on your way to becoming more self-aware.

Be there for others.

It can be easy to overlook our relationships with others when we’re so focused on our own problems. However, a mindset like this doesn’t benefit anyone as it only pushes us to create a barrier between ourselves and the people we care about. It can even lead to more stressful bouts of self-doubt and anxiety.

To build a good relationship with yourself, you must also be thoughtful to those around you. Don’t hesitate to lend an ear to those who are in need. Surround yourself with people who shower you with positive reinforcement – friends and family who encourage you to be the best that you can be.

Building a strong, healthy and happy relationship with yourself is an unending process that requires commitment, communication, honesty, trust and respect, among other things. Once you’ve found the need for change, get individual counselling so you can take the right steps to improve your outlook and your present situation. Ultimately, you need to have a peaceful mind to become truly happy not just in your own company, but also in various aspects of your life.

Posted in Relationship difficulties, Relationships | Comments Off on Developing a Healthy Relationship with Yourself

5 Ways to Deal with Relationship Anxiety


Being in an intimate relationship can make you feel emotionally vulnerable, especially if you’ve had unpleasant experiences in past relationships. At any given moment, you could find yourself questioning your partner’s feelings for you, your self-worth, and the integrity of the life you’ve been building together. Insecure thoughts could arise and become the building blocks of relationship anxiety.

It’s fortunate that, despite its tenacity, relationship anxiety is not impossible to overcome. Identifying its cause, getting relationship advice, and heeding these tips can help you deal with anxious thoughts.

  1. Focus on the positive

Rather than worrying about every obstacle you’re facing, try to focus on the good things about your relationship. Don’t let challenges convince you that your happiness must end; they exist to test your commitment and strengthen your relationship. Don’t dwell on negative thoughts but rather  celebrate the benefits of your relationship ; relax and do your best to enjoy all the times you spend together with your partner.

  1. Don’t compare your relationship to past ones

Anxiety can thrive if you allow unpleasant memories from past relationships to affect your life with your current partner. Just because your relationship now shares a few similarities with one that didn’t end well, doesn’t mean that they will turn out the same way.

  1. Make time for yourself

Feelings of anxiety may diminish if you give yourself some alone time. This will give you a chance to try new activities and evaluate your life decisions. It will also create breathing room for you and your partner and may enable you to look at the relationship from a different perspective. Feel free to seek relationship counselling if you need advice on how to make time.

  1. Don’t let assumptions misguide you

Whenever you find yourself attempting to read your partner’s mind, stop. Making assumptions about what your partner is thinking or how they’re feeling can brew negative thoughts and contribute to relationship anxiety. Talking and listening to your partner is always the best way to find out what’s really on their mind.

  1. Seek self-assurance

Don’t let your partner’s actions and words dictate your self-worth. You must be able to seek assurance from within. When you strive to become self-soothing and comfortable with yourself,  you can minimise the fears and inhibitions that are responsible for your anxious feelings. Ultimately, self-assurance will make you more comfortable and happier about yourself and your relationship.

Remember that you don’t have to feel guilty or apologetic about your behaviour, feelings and thoughts. Overcome the gnawing feeling of anxiety by accepting that your emotions and personality are all part of who you are. Rather be curious about how you feel and then strive to let go of the habits that invite anxiety.

However, if relationship anxiety already has a firm hold on you, don’t think twice about seeking relationship advice in an environment that’s supportive, respectful and professional. If you are also experiencing depression as a result of relationship anxiety, you may also look into doing therapy. A professional therapist can help you cope with your emotions and address the cause of your anxiety and depressive episodes.

Posted in Anxiety and worry, Relationship difficulties | Comments Off on 5 Ways to Deal with Relationship Anxiety

What are the 5 Common Causes of Relationship Anxiety?


Building a happy relationship is an unending process; relationships require constant nurturing. You and your partner will experience all sorts of lifestyle changes as you become more comfortable in each other’s company. These adjustments will put your commitment to the test and strengthen your love. Unfortunately, they may also lead to relationship anxiety.

Anxiety can arise at any stage of your relationship and affect different spheres of your life. If you allow it to linger and affect your thoughts, words and actions, it will stop you from building and maintaining a fulfilling life with your partner. To overcome relationship anxiety, you must understand and address what’s causing it.

Here are five of its most common causes.

  1. Long-term stress

If problems within and outside your relationship always make you feel stressed for extended periods, you could be susceptible to anxiety.

In fact, there’s a biological connection between stress, anxiety and depression. If you’re under chronic stress and anxiety, you may also be at risk of experiencing depressive episodes. You could become unable to maintain a healthy line of communication or deal with your own emotions, in which case you will need the guidance of an interpersonal therapist.

  1. Loss of trust

A relationship cannot grow without trust; it will simply be a breeding ground of dishonesty, doubt and anxiety.

The loss of a partner’s trust – either as a result of infidelity or a less serious issue – always creates a domino effect that not only leads to relationship anxiety, but can also have a tremendous negative impact on different spheres of both partners’ lives.

  1. Financial difficulties

Money woes can put a quite a strain on relationships. Anxiety can develop whether you’re blaming yourself for failing to keep your finances under control, or putting the blame on your partner for inconsiderate spending. You may have a hard time seeing eye to eye when you’re both going through a financially trying time, regardless of who’s at fault.

  1. Arguments

It’s common for anxiety to loom over relationships where disagreements are a regular occurrence.  If you spend most of your time arguing over trivial issues instead of loving and supporting each other, your anger is not the only thing that will take a toll on your relationship – you might also end up worried that more fights are just around the corner.

No matter who wins in your arguments, you will feel as though you’re walking on eggshells. And at a certain point, you could find yourselves anxiously questioning the integrity of your relationship.

  1. Assumptions

If your words and actions are dictated by assumptions about what your partner is thinking, you may end up coping with relationship anxiety. Instead of keeping your feelings and beliefs a secret, try to be as transparent with each other as possible and let honesty guide your decisions. Instead of assuming, ask questions and listen with interest to your partner.

Being in a relationship can be a fulfilling experience if partners are able to prevent or stop anxious feelings, strive to let go of inhibitions, and take the time to discuss what’s on their mind.

If you’re feeling anxious and your relationship is no longer comfortable, do not hesitate to get relationship advice from a professional. Relationship counselling can help pinpoint and address the underlying sources of anxiety, and help you build and maintain a happy life with your partner.

Posted in Relationship difficulties, Relationships | Comments Off on What are the 5 Common Causes of Relationship Anxiety?

How Does Depression Affect Your Relationship?


Depression can be the cause and effect of an unhappy relationship, affecting both the person who suffers from it and their partner.

The manifestations of depression differ from person to person. Some people tend to snap and lash out at their partner, while others simply withdraw from society, and develop a negative outlook as well as an inability to enjoy the things they normally do.

If you’re facing this illness, you may turn to depression counselling. Working with a professional will help you identify and address the causes and effects of depression so you can foster a healthy and happy relationship.

You must also be prepared to overcome the challenges depression can create.

It can make expectations unrealistic

Each of us has an internal narrative, an unspoken presumption that’s responsible for the expectations we have for ourselves. Such presumptions or sometimes assumptions also dictate how we think our partner should behave and say.

When you’re depressed, you might experience pangs of disappointment and dissatisfaction more strongly than usual whenever your partner deviates from your expectations.

You may even feel as if your relationship is failing.

It’s important to remember that no one in relationships can read minds. You can’t possibly tell exactly what your partner is thinking, and vice versa. To prevent depression from creating unrealistic expectations that will damage your relationship, you must try to be as honest and transparent as is possible with your partner; you have to talk.

Identify the script that’s responsible for your expectations, and understand that it is highly likely that your partner will have different assumptions about relationships that you might have. Furthermore, your partner’s strengths and weaknesses are different from your own, and things won’t always go according to plan.

Your relationship must nurture open-mindedness. Don’t keep your inner narrative rigid, but rather try to be flexible and explore the expectations you have of a relationship.

If you are not clear about what you want from a relationship it can create self-doubt

If your inner reality is at odds with external reality your low mood is likely to breed negative thoughts that can ultimately lead to self-doubt. If you’re depressed and feel bad about yourself, you may find yourself questioning your self-worth and in some cases question your partner’s worth instead, or as well. This will make it harder to create a satisfying relationship.

The first step to feeling secure with your partner is to be compassionate towards yourself. Don’t brood and allow negative thoughts that make you feel undeserving, to stay unchallenged. It’s okay to have setbacks every now and then – it’s part of what makes us human – but to stay in a negative, self-critical frame of mind is not productive.

Remember that you are in control of your life. Strive to draw inspiration and encouragement from your past and from the times you and your partner faced challenges together and overcame obstacles. That will make it easier to do so again.

It can stir up criticism

Depression can overshadow the positive things about your relationship and amplify the negative. When your partner does something you don’t like, you might automatically convince yourself that they no longer care about your needs or are not the person you want to be with. If depression lingers, you could find yourself focusing on your partner’s least likeable qualities, and level destructive criticism.

When you’re depressed, it may seem impossible to take problems in your stride; harder to look beyond the times your partner does something you don’t like. But this is something you have to do. Your best recourse is to focus on the positive things about your relationship. What your partner does or doesn’t do is not a reflection of you. You need to take responsibility for your own behaviour not your partner’s.

Don’t lose sight of the qualities and quirks you love about your partner, and you’ll realise that their least likeable traits pale in comparison to the positivity they continue to bring into your life.

It’s quite unfortunate that depression and its symptoms can’t simply be willed away. However, therapy for depression does exist and does a good job of helping people cope with this illness. Partners who are going through a trying time may also turn to relationship counselling to identify and address what’s causing the depressive episodes.

Posted in Relationship difficulties, Relationships | Comments Off on How Does Depression Affect Your Relationship?

What are the Telling Signs That You’re in an Unhappy Relationship?


It’s not always easy to pinpoint exactly what it is that leads to an unhappy relationship. This is a challenge shared by many couples: their strong feelings for each other tend to blur the lines between expectations and the truth.

Of course, for some relationships, problems can be dealt with by keeping a healthy line of communication open. Most couples who are honest with each other are able to identify underlying problems and ease tough situations. But for others, getting relationship counselling is the effective course of action.

We’ve assembled some of the telling signs of an unhappy relationship. If you experience any of these and can’t remember what it’s like to be in a happy relationship, something needs to change.

You’re not happy about the time you spend together.

If you are not keen on the idea of spending time with your partner, your relationship is obviously going through a rough patch. It’s healthy to have some time to yourself every now and then, but avoiding your partner whenever you get the chance is a telltale sign of an unhappy relationship. At this point, you need to be honest with yourself and determine where you both stand. What could be causing this aversion?

There are recurring arguments you just can’t settle.

Conflict is a normal part of relationships. We’ve seen plenty of couples build a stronger bond once they’ve reconciled after a major disagreement. But for some relationships, even the most minor conflicts can be an abundant source of emotional problems. We see this in couples who have a hard time overcoming their differences of opinion, beliefs or values.

When you share your life with another person, it’s reasonable to have a disagreement every now and then. You must be levelheaded and fair to keep any type of conflict from escalating and damaging your relationship; there is a big difference between constructive and destructive conflict. The happiest couples are those who are able to set their differences aside and overcome challenges together.

Someone always has to get the upper hand.

It can be terribly destructive for a relationship when one partner always feels the need to be dominant In fact there are people who end up coping with depression as a result of an excessively controlling relationship. Partners need to nurture each other rather than entertain the urge to dominate. Your relationship can’t be healthy and happy if you seldom find yourselves on equal footing.

You can’t find comfort in being yourself.

It is important to feel comfortable with your partner without having to change who you are as a person. It’s not healthy to be in a relationship with someone who goes out of their way to dictate your self-worth, inundate you with unconstructive criticism, and believes that they’re always right. If you’re in this tough situation and can’t figure out how to get out, it’s best to get some relationship advice from an expert.

You imagine a happier life without the relationship.

It’s perfectly fine to reminisce about fond memories or dream of a happy future. However, if you do these things as a means to escape from your relationship, something must be wrong. You need to identify what it is about your relationship that makes the past and future happier than the present. Talk to your partner and be honest about your feelings.

While these signs don’t necessarily mean that your relationship must end, they are a good indicator that changes must be made. And for many couples, getting relationship counselling is the best solution; having a third mind – that is another person who is not biased – to think about what is going on between the two of you is an effective way to try a different way of being together. If you’re having a hard time identifying, communicating, and resolving conflict, seeking professional guidance is a wise decision. Work with a professional to identify issues and find ways to get your relationship back on track.

Posted in Relationship difficulties | Comments Off on What are the Telling Signs That You’re in an Unhappy Relationship?

Understanding and Coping With Post Traumatic Stress Disorder


Remember what it felt like the first time you fell off a bicycle?

Or that time when you stumbled in school, feeling that raw inflamed sensation of exposed skin ingrained in asphalt?

Not a pleasant memory anyone would like to re-examine for sure. But it does a good job of giving us an introductory context to pain.

As humans, we have this affinity towards pleasure.

So much so that when faced with the possibility of pain, our insides churn.

Our palms sweat.

That part of our brain that registers every experience we have had doles out signals of distress to different parts of our bodies telling it to run away from the pain source as far as physically possible.

It is entirely different when you have the scars to show for the pain.

The thought or memory behind it is imprinted on something that you can actually touch.

But what about the kind of pain that is not visible? How do you uncover something that is not physically obvious?

What needs to be done in order to heal an invisible injury?

Who Are At Risk?

To start with, PTSD is a widely known anxiety disorder that develops after being exposed to a distressing experience. It can be the result of several traumatic incidents, inflicted physically or emotionally, that pile up over time or of one particular incident. This particular disorder takes weeks or sometimes even years to manifest.

It is especially common among those who have spent prolonged time in the combat zone. According to a recent report supported by the Australian Government, 1 million Australians experience PTSD on an annual basis.

This goes to show that roughly 12 per cent of Australians will experience PTSD.

In a related report by The Telegraph, since the invasion of Iraq in 2003, the rate of PTSD cases among British troops has “significantly increased”. At least 10,000 veterans are believed to be living with mental conditions.

While military servicemen and servicewomen are vulnerable to PTSD due to their extended proximity to trauma, those who have undergone life-threatening events or any form of abuse also run at risk of developing this mental disorder. Victims of crimes like robbery or assault or those who have witnessed violent acts are also likely candidates.

Identifying Early Signs of PTSD

Symptoms of PTSD are mostly similar to other related mental problems.

The difference would be the relation of a past event to the present as though the latter is thrusting the former to existence.

For example, you may hear a tire burst in the street and suddenly you are transported back to same battle field you were in 10 years ago, bringing back all the horrors you had to endure in order to survive.

Or you maybe you see news clipping on a sexual assault case and right there and then be utterly consumed by memories of your own assault.

Behavioural changes like irrational irritability, recurring insomnia, uninterest in things and activities you once enjoyed and emotional outbursts over trivial matters, among others are signs you may have PTSD.

Coping and recovering from PTSD

The right mindset to adopt when understanding PTSD is two-fold.

Firstly, remember that this is a past event that’s making a comeback and hampering your capacity to be functional in the present. This has probably happened because something similar occurred which activated the anxiety and caused you to revisit repressed wounds.

No matter how we try to avoid it, the past will always catch up on us.

Secondly, once you acknowledge that there is something not quite right with the way you deal with things, don’t be afraid to share it with your loved ones and hear what they have to say on the matter.

Relationships should play a pivotal role in your coping process.

The people that we surround ourselves with are the same people who will notice the changes in our behaviour. When signs of PTSD begin to surface, which could vary depending on the depth of the suppressed memory, your mind may become too clouded to really make sense of what is happening.

You will not be able to concentrate as it goes back and forth tuning out and in from the now. Trauma has the power to produce disordered thinking.

You need a solid support system to hold on to once you take what could be the longest ride of your life.

Other than the existing relationships you already have, it’s never too late to establish new ones.

When dealing with PTSD, most people who have been through the same predicament find it liberating to share experiences with those who have undergone it themselves. The perspective you gain from somebody who has first-hand experience will be valuable along the way as you go through the motions of your own recovery.

Find a safe place to vent and try talking to others. Although you might find it daunting in the beginning to trust a stranger with something so delicate and personal, given enough time you will realise that your situation is not so unique.

If after going through these suggested methods you still feel like you have not healed completely, that something is still amiss despite the efforts you and your loved ones have put in, the most courageous decision at this point is to seek support from a health care professional.

There is no shame in accepting you have been hurt. Neither is there shame in finding ways to be released from it.

Living with the invisible pain of PTSD is never easy. But dealing with it and not letting the wound deepen any more than it need are bold choices you would have to consciously make to find your own way to recovery. Everybody deserves a fresh start. That may not be clear to you now, but you will find relief when you face rather than avoid the difficult feelings.

Posted in Stress | Comments Off on Understanding and Coping With Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

Dealing With Depression: Effective Ways to Cope


Most of us experience sadness every now and then as part of the ebb and flow of our feelings and emotions.

But there are those who struggle with the ups and downs of life on a different level.

When the occasional mood swings become an unhealthy pile of thoughts stringing together that last and reocurr for months, when those short temporary torments that play out in your head take a more permanent form eating up a large part of your daily activities, then you may not be having just an off period.

You may be depressed.

Depression comes in varying degrees.

It’s important to recognise the distinction.

Statistics from the National Survey of Mental Council of Australia shows that one in five or nearly 20% of the Australian population experienced mental problems in the previous 12 months. That is equivalent to more than 3 million Australians.

Only one third of those (34.9%) used health services or sought help while two thirds did not report using services to address the problem.

This goes to show that almost half the total Australian population experiences mental problems at some point in their lives. It’s important to understand that you are never alone in this struggle; that it is more common than you think.

In fact, depression has been predicted to become among one of the world’s biggest health problems by 2020. It affects people from different parts of the world regardless of age and race.

What to watch out for

Warning signs of depression manifest themselves in different forms.

One of the red flags to watch out for is the sudden preference for isolation.

Things that you would normally look forward to doing like spending time with friends no longer appeal to you. Often you will choose to stay in bed rather than socialise, even if you have had enough hours of sleep. Then there’s the sudden uninterest in things you normally take pleasure from like food, humour and sex.

When that natural need to connect abates, it’s time to take action.

Allowing yourself to linger in that nearly depressed state for too long will only do more harm than good. This also goes out to those who have someone they care about suffering from the same affliction. Before they start slipping away further to the deep dark path of depression, reel them back in towards the light. You can start simply by letting them know you are with them in this fight.

Other than these troublesome expressions of isolation, high irritability over insignificant matters, drastic changes in sleeping patterns, difficulty in concentrating and carrying out simple tasks are also some of the signs you need to watch out for.

Dealing with Depression

When depression reaches clinical level, it can lead to serious problems.

Early detection can help you try bring in possible restorative measures.

While you still have the power to initiate change, do it. Depression is known to have claimed one too many lives and it’s not something that should be taken lightly.

One certain  way of defusing early signs of depression is through activity. Exercising is a popular method to alleviate a negative mood. Engage in sports and try to be active again.

You can also choose to express negative vibes in creative ways.

It’s high time to revisit some of the things you may have been interested in in the past like painting or writing. Though you may not enjoy them as much as you used to, but experts suggest that just by doing them can be enough to activate parts of the brain that has become deactivated while you are under the spell of depression.

More than anything else, when you are at your lowest point, having people (friends and loved ones) to help you cope will definitely go a long way.  Any bad situation could easily turn to worse when you don’t have a support system to rely on.

Try to refrain from keeping those dialogues or scenarios that play in your head all to yourself. Talk them out with someone you know you can trust. Take charge of your ability to respond to life even with its unfair treatment at times. Breathe into the reality of possibility again. It’s the kindest thing you can do not just for you but for the people who care about you as well.

If you don’t find your situation getting any better after doing any of the suggested remedies, then the next step would be to see a depression therapist. Remember that everybody experiences being sad or down at some point in their lives and you are no exception. Finding the will to do what is necessary in order to remove yourself from that downward spiral is the first step to finding your strength and becoming whole again.

Posted in Depression | Tagged , | Comments Off on Dealing With Depression: Effective Ways to Cope

When psychic pain is felt in the body as physical pain

When psychic pain is felt as physical pain in the body

Unbearable feelings
Some feelings are too powerful to bear alone. If this is so, they remain not only unexpressed but unacknowledged. However they have to go somewhere or be dealt with in some way, so human beings employ defences like denial, repression, displacement being the most familiar, or they get split off and attributed to someone or something else.

One of the ways of admitting to psychic pain is to admit to undiagnosed physical symptoms and pain. It would appear that somehow it seems acceptable to ask for help with physical illness and yet not seek relief from psychological pain or discomfort.

Psychosomatic pain
Karen Hitchcock, in The Monthly in June 2014, writes of the patients attending the hospital at which she practices as a physician. Many of these patients present with physical ailments but don’t really have an organic illness that can be identified. ‘Approximately 30 to 50% of patients attending specialist clinics have symptoms that have no organic cause. That is, they are psychosomatic in origin, “all in their head”.’ (P 17) Hitchcock recognises that these patients, or these people, need attention and connection; they need to talk to someone and be acknowledged and thought about. So they go to hospital to get relief for what feels like physical pain. And somatic pain doesn’t mean it isn’t painful; it certainly is. It is just often pain that cannot be held in the mind, so it is held in the body (with gratitude to Wilfred Bion). If we recognise how linked knowing and pain are, how the fear or anticipation of a painful realization can lead one to avoid learning from experiences, we can entertain the prospect of people experiencing their pain in a physical way. Karen Hitchcock goes on to say ‘A lot of terrible disability, sickness and waste remains untreated or maltreated because everyone – except that ever-dwindling enclave of psychoanalysts – has abandoned an understanding of the human being as more than robotic, more than animal, more than genes plus protein and water’. (P 17).

Separation of brain and mind

Far too many practitioners of all hues think we can treat the brain as though it is a separate entity from the mind. Thus there appears to be almost some pleasure, some importance, to having something wrong with your body or your brain – as though you then had nothing to do with it and it is just bad luck – because your mind or psyche has been dismissed; it is not a weakness then. It is certainly not a weakness to be sad, but our society has evolved in such a way that it is easier to treat it as depression. Give the body and brain a pill, a quick fix, and then one will ‘get better’ is a modern mantra. Well it doesn’t really. The sadness, feelings of abandonment and unfairness, the anger, resentment, and the disappointment with life is suppressed certainly but it doesn’t go away and it isn’t fixed. Medication (especially for serious depresssion) and medical procedures are helpful and at times and essential at others but they don’t get at the underlying psychological presenting issues. Hitchcock continues with the following statement : “ Modern psychiatry has reduced the wonders of our mental life to the mush of the brain. For treating the brain, the organ, is prestigious. Having something wrong with your body is prestigious, because the psyche has been relegated to the bin. We have lost – in medicine and everywhere else – the understanding of the human as a complex, language-bound mix of consciousness and unconsciousness whose bodily suffering may well have meanings and functions we cannot interpret via a blood test”

Individual experiences

Human beings are constantly struggling to make sense of life and the puzzle of existence and every single human being is different. So one form or medication or treatment might suit one person and not another. In our contemporary society humans need to be treated as individuals to have their concerns and doubts taken seriously. Often a diagnosis of a particular illness or condition fails to take into account how each particular individual experiences their illness or condition.

Lack of awareness of the value of talking

Unfortunately not everyone has the disposable income to go and get relief from talking about their not clearly perceptible discontent to someone who will give them undivided attention. Instead they block or deny the feelings because either they are too uncomfortable or they are inconsistent with the image they have of others and themselves. So often discomforting feelings fail to penetrate consciousness and many people land up in hospital desperate for attention for something that can be identified as tangible or concrete. The feelings that are giving rise to such psychic pain are actually split off from their consciousness; they are not aware of these as problems. That doesn’t mean there is some sort of storage place for unused thoughts, rather as Freud explained, the unconscious can be conceptualised as a space of dynamic activity. That is ideas may be hidden from consciousness but they are still actively and constantly pushing for release. In this sense they never go away. An unhappy person often requires the presence of another mind to think clearly about themselves. Not everyone has access to a sympathetic mind. So for some what option remains except to go to a hospital where perhaps your symptoms will be taken seriously and you might get some relief. It is known now that we all need another mind to accept, absorb, and transform experiences into meaning. This is not going to happen in the emergency ward at a hospital – it is not a problem that can be treated by modern medicine.

Posted in Ways of Coping | Comments Off on When psychic pain is felt in the body as physical pain


Step away from your device

In an article published in the Sydney Morning Herald earlier in the year, Andrew Denton talked about the importance of stepping away from your numerous devices, stressing that it is okay to be alone with your thoughts. I agree with him completely. It concerns me to see the people I care about being captive to the vast array of screens we humans have at our disposal; they seem to occupy almost all waking hours, even interrupting time with friends and families. It seems that life is not sufficiently interesting unless one is fully occupied with what everyone else is doing. What a sad state of affairs that we should find our own company so lacking.

External Stimuli
It means in reality that our lives are subject to constant external stimuli, an ongoing stream of connections with other people. When we direct so little energy into our own internal worlds, we never have the opportunity to explore or develop our inner selves. This is a lost pleasure, the reclaiming of own private time.

Boredom can be desirable
Why is it that what everyone else says and does is so interesting? What about your own mind? Your ability to critically interpret what you are hearing and seeing? What is it that is so addictive and exciting about ‘social networking’? This continues my theme of boredom being a desirable state at times (My Blog on Boredom published 29 April 2014) except that this time I’m dwelling on how it is to delve into one’s own mind rather than being preoccupied with the minds of others. This requires silence: the magic of silence as it opens up a world of drifting feelings, thoughts and memories, allowing them to rise to the surface. The bliss of being alone and not disturbed by others and their wants and needs.

Upon waking each morning, what happens when you are so busy rushing for a screen to see who has contacted you with a problem or a thought overnight? You are prevented from coming slowly to consciousness, focusing fully on your own agenda. Immediate distraction makes it impossible to just be alive, full of anticipation for the day, or maybe down or flat, noting discomfort or even dread. These states all tell us something about ourselves. Diving straight into the external world gets in the way of the deep satisfaction of understanding ourselves. Thus we miss out on our own living in our haste to be involved with everyone else’s experiences.

Determining your own course

This also ramps up the envy, the pity and the Schadenfreude, meaning that your own life is measured only in comparison with the lives of others. Do you see some sort of measuring stick in your mind that enables you to decide whether you are more or less fortunate than these others? Whether or not you measure up? What if you just concentrate on how you feel, think, and want to act? Surely it is more satisfying to determine your own course?

The more frenetic and fraught the external world becomes, we see an ever increasing number of courses, articles and videos promoting mindfulness. There appears to be a direct correlation between being over stimulated and needing a new kind of calm, the calm of paying attention and being curious about our own experiences.

None of this is to suggest that we shouldn’t remain interested in the people around us. After all, communication and connection is the stuff of life. It is rather that this shouldn’t take central place, preventing us from connecting with our own inner world. It is a question of balance and moderation. It means making time, when it is in short supply, to indulge in the satisfaction and fascination of our own growth and development.

Posted in Ways of Coping | Comments Off on Devices