Sheena’s way to victory over Marital Depression
- JWB Post
- March 28, 2015
Imagine the feeling of invariable annoyance, when you only see and feel blackness and a lack of hope. Imagine how these constant feelings would influence your well-being, your day to day activities and relationship with your family and friends. Sometimes these black thoughts, dreadful energy levels and loss of confidence seem fatal for people struggling with depression.
Such was the battle of Sheena (a pseudonym) who was a 31 year old woman, married for four years and had no children. Sheena’s first visit was accompanied by her mother, her main complaints were “periods of loneliness”, a sense of isolation when she did not have anyone to express her thoughts and feelings when her husband was working long hours. With the tension she was experiencing at home in her marriage, her depressive features increased to a great deal that she thought of ending it all by ending her life, a last straw moment which signaled her that she needed to seek help.
When she consulted with me, Sheena was disturbed about the conflicts she was having in her current relationship, especially in relation to the lack of time they were spending together. Her marriage had been marked by several separations and episodic intense clashes over her husband’s emotional unavailability and mood variations. She most often felt that he was emotionally abusing her and was overly controlling. Nearly all the times when she tried to leave, her husband attempted to prevent her from departing by trying to convince her that no one else loves her more or could put up with someone like her. She was conscious of the malicious cycle in which she was caught but did nothing to come out of it.
After marriage she knew it would be stressful for her as she had to move to a new city and a family of seven people compared to her family of three. Over that, she had to quit her job as her new lifestyle did not give her time for work.
“It was a lot all at once,” she said. “Everything was ok in the beginning, I was trying my best to cope up with the change, but sometimes my husband did not seem the same.”
Negative feelings about the self started to grow in her, she thought that maybe she was not doing things that should to make her husband feel happy. She then started hiding negative thoughts or feelings because she thought it was easier than dealing with his overreactions or because talking about problems simply made them worse.
There seemed a lack of confiding relationship and low intimacy levels among them which can also be considered as few of the susceptibility factors in the development of depression in Sheena. She was always criticized for anything she did which gradually made her dependent on her husband to do any action or to initiate a new task. This dependence on her husband for everything pushed her to hit the rock bottom.
He often minimized her emotional experiences which is also type of emotional abuse, by saying that she was too sensitive or that she was making a mountain out of a molehill. All these experiences consistently channelled her to distort her interpretations of events, which maintained negative views of her, the environment and the future. These distortions represent deviations from the logical processes of thinking normally used by people.
In the process of therapy along with addressing her depressive features it was also important to help her remove herself from the emotionally abusive relationship. Techniques of therapy helped her understand her thoughts better, she had to keep a record of her unpleasant thoughts and emotions to which in the sessions she was motivated to produce more realistic thoughts. She could look at the evidence (both the unpleasant thoughts and the more realistic interpretation) prior to reacting to a situation.
Self-monitoring and self-examination helped her in personal exploration through which she realized that it was hard for her to think of life without him as she had become completely dependent on him which is why she allowed herself to remain in the abusive relationship and fall prey to depression. It was important to change the idea of herself to her as she believed that she was intrinsically flawed than admit that she was being emotionally abused. On and off in the relationship she even realized that she was being abused but remained passive and walked on eggshells.
Psychotherapy sessions facilitated her to understand the importance of making her own self the priority. At this point, a shift in her perception was created from her believing that control comes from repairing an imperfect self to recognizing that true power and revival comes from facing and changing external conditions as well. Her acceptation and validation of being emotionally abused and willingness to explore and understand her pattern of abuse, confidence that she has the power to improve her life and trust that I can help her achieve, were the crucial focus of the therapy. Re-establishing her sense of safety and feeling confident that she will not fall victim to her husband’s emotional abuses and beginning to find stability in everyday life were also the goals to be attained. Through the means of journalling she was allowed to grieve as it is a normal process to feel sad or angry for a while. Sheena had to experience those feelings and to let them out, rather than bottling them up and to focus on her own happiness.
The journey of revival for Sheena from emotional abuse was the journey from denial apprehensions, sadness, self criticism and powerlessness into recovery, forgiveness and belief in herself and the world.
By the terminal phase of the sessions she understood that what she went through was not what she was.
Contact JWB for help if you find yourself in the similar situation.