What would you say if I said that feelings of anxiety or depression are not your enemy? Both of these symptoms often come together and a lot of times are allies in disguise. Anxiety can be intuition about our lives that we have long been ignoring. That lack of energy? From a psychodynamic perspective, depression is energy towards inward. You no longer have access to it for action in the world. It is a call to turn inward, to reduce action, and do some self-reflection. It is asking you to stop business as usual and it forces you to look at things from another perspective.
Many of my clients say to me, “but Maggi! I feel like depression (or anxiety as the case may be) is an outside force that comes over me and I’m powerless to it!” Depression and anxiety can be symptoms of several things: trauma, unresolved complexes, or the psyche trying to get you to move away from a pattern in your life that is not serving you. These three things are not mutually exclusive.
With regard to trauma, anxiety and depression ask for healing. These symptoms ask for compassion, acceptance, and support, while you review your memories and change your relationship to your past. Healing is possible.
As to unresolved complexes, like trauma, complexes can be like energetic knots, wounds, or scar tissue. It can be like that trick knee that acts up whenever it’s about to rain. Similarly, when psychic “storms” or mental or emotional upheaval occurs, such events can trigger complexes.
Ever said something as a knee-jerk reaction and then wondered what in God’s name possessed you to say something so vicious, cruel, defensive, or just uncalled for? That’s a complexed reaction. Because of the knot of energy, the event triggers an automatic response and instinctually you respond. You might be enraged, embarrassed, or outright offended.
It may be justified to be offended in the situation. However, the emotionally driven stress response can ruin your peace of mind.
Psychotherapy can help you understand the nature of these complexes and help you figure out what the anxiety is trying to teach you. Are you ready for the future to be different?
Diagnoses are Descriptions of Symptoms
Psychiatric diagnoses are not diseases like COVID-19, pneumonia, or athlete’s foot. There isn’t a virus or bacteria invading your body causing the illness. These diagnoses are groups of symptoms that aid doctors on how to treat the symptoms with medication, or for therapists to treat with therapy methods. Jung stated that the therapy had to be designed for each case, that it needed to be individual for each patient.
Anxiety can be a misdirected, high frequency of energy; depression can be a lack of energy. Anxiety can be directed toward the future or past, instead of flowing at a usable rate in the present. Depression asks us to stop and dig deep. Either set of symptoms asks you to spend time with yourself, your thoughts, your desires. On the other side of this self-inquiry process can be a new, more fulfilling life path.
Is it time to make some major changes?
Pitfalls of the Medical Model
Along with the medical model comes stigma, unfortunately. Society holds a misconception that there are “healthy/normal” people and there are “mentally ill” people. The truth is, we can all be healthier and mental health is a matter of reaching toward well-being. This stigma occurs because the idea that any of us are vulnerable is scary. The flip side of stigma is that people then become afraid to ask for help. They don’t want to be labeled by society, their insurance carrier, or their community as “sick”. Furthermore, describing symptoms such as anxiety or depression do not make you that label. They are a description of how you feel and what you have the growing awareness to work on in your life.
It is work but it is also absolutely worth it.
Listening to Yourself
Jungian therapy keys into your unconscious communication through the symbolism in your stories about your life and in your dreams. Jungian art therapy likewise does the same process using your artwork. Complexes are like blinders, that keep you from seeing a broader perspective. I work with my clients to take the blinders off. The language Jung used for this idea was “until you make the unconscious conscious, it controls you and you call it fate.”
Making Your Unconscious an Ally
Well as you are able to untie the knots of the complexes, soothe the scars, and heal the trauma, fate has less control over you. You are able to hear the voice of psyche, the deep voice within you. Then, you are able to move away from the pattern of your past and unlock the energy that you experience as depression or anxiety. Finally, you can use this energy to work toward the life story you want to be living, in essence, your destiny.
The Path Forward
My clients come to me when they are ready to make a change. They are ready to break the chains of the old, worn-out, painful story. They are ready to do the work, dive deep, and make some choices to take control of their life story.
Depression and anxiety seemed to come out of nowhere and can be uncomfortable, confusing, and can seem endless. However, through the therapeutic process, these symptoms can become allies. They can guide you away from missteps help you move toward a future you actually want.
Your destiny is calling! I’d love to help you make that happen. Get in touch if you’d like to chat and see if online art therapy and/or dream interpretation might be just what the doctored ordered.