That expression, “depression hurts,” doesn’t quite do it justice.
It doesn’t hurt.
It feels excruciating. Like you’ve been punched in the gut repeatedly. Like you’re suffocating under water but a heavy boulder around your heart just keeps pulling you down. Like you want to scream but are gagged, like you wake up from the same nightmare. Over, and over, and over again, with the same sleep paralysis, only it doesn’t go away.
Looking up. Looking down. Socializing. Showering. Brushing your teeth. Feeding your cat or your dog. Hurts.
It feels like there’s no hope and you’re just one emotional injury away from suicide.
They tell you to breathe but the breath won’t come. They tell you to try but it feels like you can’t. They tell you that it’s all in your head and you just need to look “on the bright side” and be grateful for all that you have.
They’ve never had it. They say they’ve felt “sad” before but they just don’t understand.
You feel alone.
And even more alone around others who simply don’t get it. It might feel like it’s just you in the world.
If you can relate to any of this, then you are not alone. It’s strange how depression and overwhelming anxiety can create a sense of loneliness and isolation – the most brilliant form of torture ever imagined, the one you cannot get away from. Just like the monsters in the image of this post, the more we close our eyes and ears, the more we run from them, the more monstrous and excruciating they become.
But. What if we didn’t? What if in an act of pure defiance we stood up and faced them, felt them, as if to say, “Oh yeah? Is that the best you’ve got?” What if we used their own weapons against them? Depression and anxiety make you feel alone? What better way to fight them than with a trusted ally who’s been there too? Your emotions tell you to hide and run away? Then let’s stand up and look them in the eyes.
Like Harry Potter facing his Dementors, like Luke Slywalker facing his biggest fears on Dagobah, like Wonder Woman fighting for what she believes in despite any obstacles she might face, you are the hero of your own story.
Your struggles are your origin story, your jumping off point from which you leap to new heights. Because YOU are destined to change the world for the better and provide the message of hope to others who need to hear it.
Will you join me on this mental health quest?
Janina Scarlet, Ph.D. is a Licensed Clinical Psychologist, a scientist, and a full-time geek. A Ukrainian-born refugee, she survived Chernobyl radiation and persecution. She immigrated to the United States at the age of 12 with her family and later, inspired by the X-Men, developed Superhero Therapy to help patients with anxiety, depression, and PTSD. She has written multiple publications on this topic and has given talks domestically and internationally. She authored Superhero Therapy, Harry Potter Therapy, Therapy Quest, and has contributed to a number of pop culture psychology books, such as Star Wars Psychology, Wonder Woman Psychology, Game of Thrones Psychology, and many others. Scarlet currently works as a clinical psychologist at the Center for Stress and Anxiety Management in San Diego, CA.
If you would like to learn more about Superhero Therapy, contact Dr. Janina Scarlet Twitter @shadowquill, Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Shadow.Scarletl, website at www.superhero-therapy.com, or Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/superherotherapy