I keep a book in my office and if I had a coffee table, it would be on it.
It’s red, with a coffee spill down the front that’s dried into a Rorschach-kind of thing. Nifty for it to be in a therapist’s office.
Inside, dozens of clients have written their “should’s”.
It’s not instructive to describe what they said; more than likely, their self-flagellations are the same as yours. What catches the new subscribers is how similar their self-flagellations are. Put another way, there’s nothing special in their dysfunctional thinking.
Back when I was exploring how should’s get perpetuated, I was stunned and amazed to find myself described in the exact words I’d always used in describing my neuroses (notice I used the plural). Admittedly, there was disappointment in seeing myself laid out like some common Rorschach wench. I suspect that others, too, hold their depression, anxiety, mania, whatever, as a sort of badge of differentiation from others.
For others, as it was for me, depression is powerful; it was the coin of my realm and the way I bought into the realm I inhabited growing up. Depression can get attention, especially when nothing else seems to. That can be true in a marriage where one partner exists with an invisible disability. And just like for the kid who acts out, it’s attention of some kind, even if it bears a high price.
Being a therapist, consequently, has been double-edged: one edge cuts through the dysfunctional thinking, the should’s, the irrespective unfairnesses; while the other is sad to see those defenses so cut down. What I do in my office forces me to be embarrassed at my own mental laziness. Being depressed is hard; so is being anxious or manic.
But hey, it’s hard even when you’re not.
Kathe Skinner is a Marriage & Family Therapist and Relationship Coach in Colorado Springs, Colorado. She comes by depression naturally as well as artificially and has recently added anxiety, for which she can thank multiple sclerosis. Petey and Lucy, the two hooligan cats Kathe and David share their lives with, are too annoying to let depression settle too quietly in their home. Kathe and David get out of the house by teaching partners the communication skills their relationships need.