Posts tagged depression
It's All about Perspective.. Ready to Dance in the Rain?
michael-podger-N-5x9gDWjs0-unsplash.jpg

One of my favorite things about being a therapist is that I can change things up, be different, unconventional.  One simple way of doing that is that I love to meet at a park, greenway, wherever and take in the scenery during session.  Who says you need a couch? Or a roof for that matter.


One thing I learned recently though is that you need to check the weather. 


During a recent adventure out of the confines of the office and at a park I heard an interesting noise... like a woosh you only hear on movies.  As my lovely walking partner and I soon realized, there was not just a light rain coming..... it was a monsoon!  The perfect summer storm coming to wash away the heat and refresh the world with its power….. like almost every afternoon in Nashville these days!  It was a surreal moment in time where you could literally watch across the lake as the wall of water was coming toward you.  T minus 5, 4, 3, 2, 1... wham!!! 


Now I am not the most laid back person in the world, and one thing I HATE is having wet hair (and I guess clothes for that matter).


Perspective though friends.  The weather in Nashville is warm, we were hot from walking, it was fun!  Instantly we were 8 years old again running from the rain and laughing, succumbing to the inevitable fate that could not be changed.  I was going to have wet hair, be dripping wet, and apologizing for such an unconventional session. 


When I starting thinking about the significance of this event and ENJOYING the perspective I found in this moment I could think about another time in my life when I had to work much harder to find the same perspective. 


Several years ago in graduate school our class let out  and I got in my car to start my 1 hour commute home.  I pulled out of the parking lot at nearly 9 pm and was making a left hand turn to the road that led me to the interstate.  I had been on campus long enough, and it was a bitter and cold day, and my window had iced.  At the stop sign I rolled my window down to look for oncoming traffic and safely make the turn.  I causally went to roll up the window of the car and IT DID NOT BUDGE.  Much to my dismay no matter what I tried the window would not go up.  And I had an hour left on the interstate in freezing cold, spitting rain and sleet.... with the window down???.  I frantically called my husband (because he is magic and can fix it over the phone... right?) and got the answer I did not want to hear, but was the only logical one…. "Well.... what do you want me to do about it?"


So, I put on my big girl pants, wrapped my scarf around my hands on the steering wheel, turned up the heat and my favorite radio station and made the trek home.   My eyes watered, my hands froze, and all for the sake of perspective, my heart warmed.  During my trip I thought of those who were unable to return to a warm house after a cold night, of those who's troubles were bigger than a broken window. 


I arrived home, to an open garage door, and warm hot chocolate and a terrified husband.  When I simply got out of the car laughing and telling him how thankful I was for my blessings I might have scared him more than if I had had the perspective of anger.  "Are you alright?", he asked, "I was not expecting you to be laughing."


I wish I could say that I always have these giggling, thankful, perspectives, but I don't.  If anything they are much more the minority.  But, hardly any of us do.


We can not control the rain on a walk, a broken window, or the temperature outside any more than we can control the tragedy and disappointments that we encounter in our daily lives.  We can however explore our perspective, our reaction and use that as a gauge.  Are we in a place we can change our perspective? 

Could you use a little extra support? 


Because this is where change can happen.  In the way we view things, in the way we experience things, but only if we allow ourselves to recognize the need for a change in our perspective.

 

I for one am going to work on this.   What about you?

-Mary Ann


We Laugh to Survive
blob

by Mary Ann Sokolowski, LPC-MHSP

Why yes.....if you were an unfortunate fly that just happened upon one of the walls my office you very well might hear, "So, are you thinking about killing yourself?", "How many panic attacks this week?", "Oh, you got laid off?" or "Have you been cutting?" in the very same breath as......laughter.....me laughing.....us laughing.. together. I am not talking an uncomfortable: Oh crap I can't believe I am saying, this what in the world is happening and I hope the answer is "no" because I don't know what to do if it is a "yes" laugh.....but a roaring laugh, shared with the very people answering those very "scary" questions. And I wouldn't have it any other way.

I often feel as I need to apologize to other counselors in our office for the loud, rambunctious laughing that comes from my office spilling into the hallways......and inevitably into other offices.....whoops.....but I don't.....because maybe they won't know its me (until now I guess). So to my colleagues.. sorry... well not sorry... thanks for putting up with me.

This sarcastic, laughing, not truly light heart-ed but wanting things to be more light heart-ed is my authentic self... and I just happen to be a therapist who does a lot of crisis work, and is not generally considered light heart-ed.

I distinctly remember a time in high school when I was laughing. I was laughing hysterically and giving sarcastic answers that were knowingly wrong.....deflecting any semblance of truth. I was not happy, not jovial, not silly.....but I was scared. You see I wasn't cutting up in the lunch room or driving around listening to rap music that I wasn't supposed to with friends-I was laying flat out on the soccer field after a most unfortunate encounter as a goal keeper resulting in a concussion. "How many fingers am I holding up?" asked my coach. "7" I answered, knowing it was 2. I am sarcastic and a bit of a smart ass you may say. I had other coping mechanisms.. but humor kept me present; Sarcasm kept me real; And others kept me safe.

After over 13 years in the mental health field I have developed a firm belief that humor, laughing, and light heart-edness, even in moments of anxiety, even in remembrances of trauma, in the aftermath of rape, in the depths of depression, grief, and stress, is imperative. Just google the benefits of laughter.. I dare you! Numbers have been thrown around that children laugh an average of 300 or more times a day.. while adults... 15-20. Whilst I have not found "true" evidence supporting those numbers I will say that with three toddlers in my home I would say... some days (non whiny days that is)... they absolutely do laugh 300 or more times a day. I laugh more with them in my life. We laugh as a family more, and it is glorious, stress relieving, and fun.

Very often I parent using humor. When my kids are talking and talking and talking and I want a moment of silence... I let them spray whipped cream in their mouths (outside mind you) buying me a moment of silence and them (and in turn us) a great laugh. When my oldest is whiny and "crabby" he is asked to do the crab walk around the house until we are inevitably all laughing... especially if he has on socks on the hardwood floors.

For years I have had a painting/poster hanging up at my house by Mary Anne Radmacher simply saying "We laugh to Survive". Recently that painting has made its way to my office, as I laugh at work... all the time. Any yes I am a therapist, but not your sappy movie therapist. Yes I do trauma work, but, you see, I find no reason to not laugh. There is humor in these moments, even serious moments. Irrational thoughts circle trauma, feed stress, exacerbate depression, and when we isolate and examine those thoughts.. they can be funny. If we can find it, embrace those moments, and allow ourselves to actually breath in the time between the unimaginable conversations... unimaginable healing can occur. Laughter is healing. And that is my purpose.

-Mary Ann