This is more than briefly feeling sad.
Sadness envelops you and weighs you down as a heavy, dark cloak draped over your shoulders. It drains you of energy and takes away the joy and satisfaction you used to get from the things you enjoyed.
It makes you want to isolate from the people you value the most.
The guilt and sadness you feel are having an impact on eating and sleeping, and sometimes you even wonder what it is that makes life worth living. You know you’re hurting and want some relief.
Sometimes, sadness has no reason.
Sadness can indeed be the consequence of circumstances, such as the end of a relationship, loss of a job, “empty nest” syndrome, a physical challenge, loss of functioning, and so forth.
However, sometimes sadness occurs for no apparent reason. It just seems to come out of nowhere.
Others may have asked, “What have you got to be depressed about?” Lacking an answer, you might find yourself feeling even worse.
Alex’s* life changed for the worse.
Alex was a successful freelance writer with a good marriage and two 20-something children. Over the past two years, he complained of being frequently fatigued. His writing decreased. Although he was an avid cyclist, he was on his bike much less often.
Previously quite social, he was at times withdrawn and had begun a habit of napping in the afternoon and having a glass or two of wine before he went to sleep.
A recent physical exam was normal, and his family became increasingly concerned.
He struggled to understand what was happening.
“It makes no sense to me. I seem to be less interested in doing almost anything. It’s like my get-up-and-go has gotten up and left.”
“Sleep has become a friend to me because it means there’s less time for me to worry about what’s going on with me and less time to feel guilty about the deterioration in the relationships with my family and friends.”
“I feel like there’s not a lot of purpose in life. And then comes a time when I notice a beautiful sunset, or I hear laughter and break into a half-smile, or my wife takes my hand, and I briefly feel a sense of hope. I believe that I can get better, but I know I can’t do it alone.”
Then came Alex’s therapy.
In therapy, Alex learned that it is more productive to identify and implement thoughts and actions to feel better than to try to figure out why he was feeling so down.
He was able to identify small, realistic steps that he could take to improve his mood and quality of life. His first steps were brushing his teeth when he first woke up every day and riding his bike for 10 minutes each morning, weather permitting.
After a while, on many days his rides would get longer. Although there were some days when Alex “blew off” riding, he noticed that he did not feel as good and sharp on days that he rode.
He experimented with writing at a local park, where there were nice woods and a stream, and finished a project that he’d previously dreaded.
He followed the suggestion that he become more aware of his internal dialog to identify thoughts that were adding to his sad mood and trying to modify those thoughts. In the process, he discovered that he had more control over his mood than he realized.
With this improvement in mood and a newfound sense of empowerment, his social life improved, and he became more positive about his future.
Be like Alex and seek help.
When sadness starts to interfere with your life to the point of impairment, you are probably dealing with depression.
Alex sought help, and so should you. We can work together to help you gain a sense of empowerment, so you can live the life that you deserve and want.
I would be honored to help you make the journey to become your best self. Complete the contact form below or call me at (908) 393-6300.
*Name changed to protect client confidentiality.