I once read that the strongest thing a person can do is ask for help. The writer wasn’t talking about the kind of help that we get when we need to lift something heavy or when we ask someone to hold the door for us. Instead, they were talking about the help we ask for when we are at the end of our rope and we know that asking for help is an admission that we can’t do it alone.
Well, guess what, we were never meant to do it alone. Humans’ very existence as the most dominant creature on our planet is at its root, 100% the result of our helping each other out, and yet, we are often too uncomfortable, ashamed, or embarrassed to ask.
This can be especially true when it comes to depression. We may feel we are being weak or a nuisance. Maybe we are uncomfortable talking to a stranger or maybe something else is holding us back but, know this, depression is as real of a health issue like diabetes or high blood pressure and you are not expected to tackle those issues on your own.
In a recent article in People.com, they report that data collected from the census bureau indicates that one third of all Americans are experiencing clinical anxiety or depression in the wake of the Coronavirus. These numbers are pretty staggering but you are probably asking, “How is a therapist going to help? Can they make the Coronavirus disappear?”
Well, no… we, unfortunately, can’t do that but the truth is that COVID-19 is not what is actually causing 1 out of 3 Americans (and probably the rest of the world) to experience increased anxiety and depression. Instead, people’s anxiety and depression is caused by their beliefs about Coronavirus and its fallout.
For example, one person may be concerned by COVID-19 and their best friend could be terrified by COVID-19. In this scenario, it’s easy to imagine that the second individual is likely to be more anxious than the first. In another example, one person may be inconvenienced and bored by the isolation while another person may find isolation unbearable. Our jobs as therapist is not to make everything great (there is nothing great about COVID-19) but instead our job is to make things better.
Perception is 99% of “our” reality and each of us has a unique perception. If our perception is causing us too much distress however than therapists can help us tweak our perception. By doing this therapists can help us find hope where there was once only hopelessness and hope is an amazing thing.
Larry Blackwell, LCSW, AADC