I have been fortunate, these past three weeks, to be walking alongside someone who has been dealing with depression. For privacy reasons, I will not reveal her name. However, I can tell you that she is a young (21 years old), beautiful, creative, brave, vibrant woman who lives with major depression.
The reason I share this journey with you is not to tell her story – that is for her to tell – but to empower others who live with depression that there is always help. You just need to know how to ask for help and where to look. I write this story from a life coach’s perspective. In our training, right in the beginning, we are taught that it is not our job to fix people. Everyone already has the resources available within them – they just need to know how to tap into this powerful source. We are also taught that every prospective client that approaches us for life coaching need to be informed that we are life coaches, not counsellors or psychologists. If we suspect or are told that our client is dealing with depression, it is our responsibility to recommend that person seeks the right help with those who are equipped with the relevant skills and knowledge.
Having said that, I have worked with many clients who do have depression, but are on medication, have had the necessary assistance from trained mental health practitioners and now feel that they are in control of their depression and ready to tackle some new changes in their lives.
Getting back to the young woman and her journey, let me share now why this woman’s particular journey has been so meaningful for me. At the end of last year, she got desperate after having yet another “emotional meltdown”. Many people around her didn’t know how to deal with it, telling her to “snap out of it” and “stop being so dramatic”. Fortunately, she remembered someone who had a similar breakdown and had booked himself into a local mental health clinic. She took the plunge and three weeks ago took the big, brave step (despite the naysayers around her) and booked herself into this clinic. Now, most of us have the conventional image of a rehab – a place where looneys go, are strapped into strait jackets and then walk around mumbling crazy thoughts while jittering from electric shock treatments (I am being a bit extreme here but be honest – who doesn’t initially think this when someone says they are going into rehab? And, guess what? When I visited this young woman one evening I even asked her what she and the other “inmates” do for entertainment in the evenings! Cringe moment).
From the start, she was only met with love and a genuine desire from every staff member in the clinic to get her back on track. This is the part where I really get so excited. As she told me about the tools they were being taught, so many of them resonated with the tools we use in life coaching – exploring your values, understanding how your beliefs serve or don’t serve you, discovering your purpose, mindfulness. Wow! Those who know me know how strongly I feel about everyone being equipped with such valuable life skills. If only every young adult was exposed to these tools/skills early on in life – I even say every new parent should do a life coaching programme so they are equipped with better parenting skills. It is apparent from the approach of the mental health professionals in this clinic, that their intention is not only focused on what went wrong in the past but to empower their patients with practical solutions to living with depression in the “real” world. They go as far as helping those close to the patients with valuable tools while explaining that depression is a disease and that no-one chooses to have it.
As this young woman prepares to leave the clinic in a few days, she feels that she is equipped with tools and understanding to help her cope with living with depression. Naturally, she is frightened about returning to the "real" world. It is, by no means, going to be an easy journey for her and I am sure there are going to be days when she despairs but if she can remember to tap into the practical knowledge she has been made aware of and apply it, then she has all the power and resources in the world available to herself. She also knows now that she is not alone on this journey and there is help out there if she needs it. Like life coaching, I wish more people could be made aware of the valuable tools and resources that are out there to assist us on this precarious journey called Life.
Note: If you would like to know more about these clinics, kindly contact me on firstname.lastname@example.org.