Loss of joy brings a keen despair. Often the thinking goes “everyone else is having a great life full of happiness — just look at all those shiny Face Book pix! — what is wrong with me?” Some days you can barely get out of bed, feeling as though you’re dragging around 100 pounds of stones. The hopelessness about feeling better along with the crushing exhaustion depression brings, can lead to the idea that you are at fault — for being lazy or stupid or ugly or awkward or useless, or some other form of self-blame.

Freud said depression is anger turned inwards. I have never met anyone suffering from depression who wasn’t downright hateful toward themselves. The unrelenting, vicious castigation of blame and shame saturates the inner world, creating ugliness that you then inhabit, day and night.

Can we please begin with kindness? Everyone, including you, does better with kindness and encouragement. Climbing out of a significant depression is an arduous, painstaking process. You begin down at the bottom of the well where no light, love, or hope seems to reach you. For company, you have only your self-hatred, ridicule, and that particular kind of depressed thinking that whispers “no hope, don’t bother, not for you.” Let us help you to recognise depression as something separate from your self. Let us teach you how to skilfully counteract it, starve it, marginalise it, while feeding and promoting the parts of yourself that facilitate growth and positive change.

Depression always has roots in life experiences and relationships. It has meaning, utility, and purpose. Taking the time to understand these things positions you to be able to intervene in your own depression more skilfully. Learning to be respectful and compassionate toward yourself for feeling and thinking as you do is a radical shift that can make it possible to change, and help re-open the door toward a positive connection with yourself and others.

Understanding is important, and necessary, but it isn’t enough. We will also help you take action. Beginning with the most basic lifestyle choices, together, we gradually build a new scaffolding of habits, actions, thoughts, and feelings designed to support and promote you. There are endless tools available for this work, and resources in Madison that can help. You and your therapist will discover what works best for you. With skilful care and patient persistence, you will be able to step back onto the path of your life, reclaiming your own narrative, and meeting life’s adversity with resilience and hope.