This is often very healthy. One woman with severe eye/nose problems for 10 years located marked sadness related to leaving her alcoholic husband. She was relieved to discover the power of these feelings and to have them named, and her symptoms disappeared. Remember the woman with cancer of the mouth with the deep feelings of shame around believing she had caused her father’ death. Again getting to that awful feeling was the beginning of her healing. But these people were in sessions with me. To this point you might have been ‘traveling alone’ doing Illness Explorer.
If you are starting to feel some things and you are a bit ‘wobbly’, look around you for a friend, a relative, a caring person who you think is wise and trustworthy, a good listener, a person who will understand and not nudge you into fixing the feelings instantly–tell them your story. If that doesn’t work find someone else-your doctor, minister, pastor, or whoever fits these roles in your community and ethnic situation. You may do best of all with a counselor or therapist. Your doctor or friends may recommend one. Don’t be afraid of doing this. Would you go on a difficult journey without a map and sometimes a guide? Illness Explorer is a map, your counselor is a guide hired for a difficult section of the journey.
There is a possibility you might be feeling increasingly depressed or anxious. In our hands this is not common.
But if you are experiencing the following signs of depression GET HELP! See your doctor.
SYMPTOMS OF DEPRESSION
Sleep disturbance, loss of appetite, poor concentration and memory, loss of motivation and enthusiasm, low energy, loss of sexual energy, withdrawal from social interactions, deteriorating function at work, low mood: flat, powerlessness, hopelessness, increased irritability, lack of point to life, feelings of better off dead, suicidal thoughts, plans for suicide.
DEPRESSION IN PERSPECTIVE
You may have had these signs of depression for a long time. You may recall being depressed say 20 years ago, and then again 12 years ago. You might have had counseling and maybe antidepressants then and you thought it was all behind you. Maybe 10 years ago you developed the physical disorder which has brought you to Illness Explorer. You thought the depression was behind you and that the physical thing was entirely different. This is a common story. The two things may well be connected.
Maybe the feelings of depression have been hidden, or you didn’t realize you were depressed. As you have faced your feelings here, and what is behind your problems, your depression has emerged. Don’t be alarmed—get some help. Ask your doctor. Medication can be very helpful at this stage. A counselor can accompany you through the painful feelings. There is evidence that a combination of medication and counseling is the best approach to depression.