September 9th through 15th is National Suicide Prevention Week.
Many individuals who die by suicide experience years of depression and don't seek help. The Normalize Depression campaign aims to end the stigma of mental health disorders so that more people who are suffering will seek help.
Many people believe that happiness happens in the absence of pain, or that we can only be happy when we no longer experience sadness. This is a false assumption and an irrational belief that sets us up for prolonged grief or chronic suffering.
We put so much time into pushing away disappointment, masking insecurity, and avoiding failure that we drive ourselves crazy or send ourselves into a perpetual state of tired.
As Carl jung said,
"The foundation of all mental illness is the unwillingness to experience legitimate suffering."
Sadness and depression are normal feelings particularly when we experience loss. Our society doesn't help much, when people express that they are sad or depressed it is often met with the question, "Why are you depressed, you have a lot of things to be happy about?"
This response often leaves the person feeling ashamed and alone. Denying the influence of sadness sends the message that the individual's emotional experience is somehow wrong or bad. When you pushing away mental suffering you do not allow yourself to live authentically, or even in the reality that we are people and are meant to feel.
At worst, it minimizes their experience and forces them into less constructive ways of dealing with painful situations. Jung suggested that it is the avoidance of pain and recognition of suffering that lead people to develop unhealthy coping skills, to pretend that they are okay, or deny that there are problems. People will do their best to avoid problems, including the unwillingness to experience suffering to protect their image or reputation.
The Normalize Depression campaign validates authentic human experience and is sensitive to the impact of trauma or loss on the way that we feel, think, act, or behave.
In taking an approach that normalizes depression and by asking, "Tell me a little more about what's hurting you?" we make the experience of sadness more relatable and take away the shame attached to the feeling.
An approach that normalizes depression allows you to identify a logical sequence of events that lead you to how you currently feel and construct a plan for healing by being truthful about the problem.
Mental health isn't about living without sadness or depression, it's accepting and experiencing not so pleasant feelings while reacting in a more healthy way.
If you or someone you love is struggling with depression and would like to learn more was to cope, please visit www.TherapywithRaquel.com.
Raquel Buchanan is a marriage and family therapist associate (MFTA 85262) at Caulfield Counseling & Education. Raquel provides individual counseling to men and women experiencing depression, anxiety, and relationship issues, She is supervised by David Caulfield (MFT 14452).
For more information on counseling services and for a free 25 minute consultation, contact Raquel at (818) 839-2032.
Raquel Buchanan is a mental health profession in southern California who blogs about life and relationships. Raquel is on a mission to spread awareness about the impact of violence, abuse, and trauma.
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