Jessica, thank you for the added information. It helps a lot. I believe I can now be of help with this issue.
First, let me say I can imagine how distressing and worrisome this situation is for you. Jessica, I know you are sad that just writing all these things makes you depressed. But it is important to get through this. I don't' think the depression is the root problem. I think there are deeper emotional hurts that need to be worked on. And I think psychotherapy is the way to work on them. If you just say "depression", your doctor will throw an antidepressant at it because it's cheap for Medicare. But it won't answer the very legitimate contradictions in your life. Like your being a public speaker but having a "look" that sends people away. These are contradictions that need to be explored, not medicated.
I also want you to know that at the end of the posting I'll paste in for you a technique you can use to help when you are in that dark hole of depression and anxiety. When you are feeling depressed and in a dark hole, this is something you can use to help with some relief and you can use it over and over.
YOu have had these symptoms throughout most of your life. And so I want you to get over the old fashioned view of psychotherapy as being a weirdo, a sicko, someone with mental health problems. It means that you have unresolved problems you want to explore and work on with a trained professional.
So I need you to reorient your view of what's happening to you so that your emotions, which ARE after all, what is being talked about here with depression are treated with human respect and value and given a chance to help you grow and gain as a human being. We have emotions because they are part of how we grow and learn and become more fulfilled. But if we keep just medicating them and trying to get them just to go away without ever exploring what's going on, we NEVER get that chance to get anything from them.
You need to find a psychologist or psychotherapist to help you with the underlying CAUSES of these symptoms, who can help with the depression itself. You need to feel comfortable with the psychologist and I don't want you to accept just any psychologist. You have the right to interview them until you find one who you feel comfortable with and that you feel will understand your experience!
Here is an online therapist finder for Australia that I like because you can see a picture of the person and read about them a bit. So put in for the therapist either psychologist or a psychotherapist and psychodynamic for the technique.
The Australian Psychological Society has a search. Scroll down and put in self-esteem in the search window.
I am recommending psychodynamic therapy for you because it is based on gaining insight into yourself. And that seems like something you would gain tremendously from. Because your functioning is okay. It's that you need to see these problems and yourself from a perspective of deeper insight.
I wish you the very best!
Now for the technique: here are instructions on a therapeutic protocol called Progressive Muscle Relaxation (PMR). It's really quite easy to do almost anywhere. My patients, when I teach them PMR at first are amazed how simple it is and that it is a psychological protocol. It was first used in the 1920s! Since then, of course, it has been refined and many studies have been done showing its effectiveness. I want you to practice the PMR at least 5-6 times before an attack or feeling acute anxiety. Why? Because when you're in the throes of anxiety, you will only remember to do something you are very familiar with it. So practicing 5-6 times is really a minimum.
I want to stress the importance of breathing as well. Part of the physiology of what is happening to you when the anxiety of depression is present is that your breathing is getting shallower. This reduces the oxygen in your blood to your brain. That increases the anxiety and depression, which strengthens the emotion and you are in a vicious cycle! Not good. So breathing is the primary tool. I have found in my practice that learning breathing techniques can be helpful. But some of my patients are not interested in learning more than one thing at the beginning, so I have found that just reminding you to BREATHE deeply at the same time you are doing PMR is almost as good. If you are willing to take a yoga class and learn breathing techniques, that's the best. But, breathing deeply with your PMR will help.
So, we're ready for learning PMR. I want you to print my instructions below my signature and have a copy in each of the rooms of your home where you may be when you have an attack. And again, you need to practice this easy technique at least 5-6 times as soon as you can. It needs to become as natural to you as breathing. Ah, remember breathing?
- After finding a quiet place and several free minutes to practice progressive muscle relaxation, sit or lie down and make yourself comfortable.
- Begin by tensing all the muscles in your face. Make a tight grimace, close your eyes as tightly as possible, clench your teeth, even move your ears up if you can. Hold this for the count of eight as you inhale.
- Now exhale and relax completely. Let your face go completely lax, as though you were sleeping. Feel the tension seep from your facial muscles, and enjoy the feeling.
- Next, completely tense your neck and shoulders, again inhaling and counting to eight. Then exhale and relax.
- Continue down your body, repeating the procedure with the following muscle groups:
- entire right arm
- right forearm and hand (making a fist)
- right hand
- entire left arm
- left forearm and hand (again, making a fist)
- left hand
- entire right leg
- lower right leg and foot
- right foot
- entire left leg
- lower left leg and foot
- left foot
- for the shortened version, which includes just four main muscle groups:
- neck, shoulders and arms
- abdomen and chest
- buttocks, legs and feet
Quickly focusing on each group one after the other, with practice you can relax your body like ‘liquid relaxation’ poured on your head and it flowed down and completely covered you. You can use progressive muscle relaxation to quickly de-stress any time.
What You Need:
- A comfortable place.
- Some privacy.
- A few minutes.