Where do your mental health issues come from?
For most of you, the origins of depression or anxiety started in childhood. Let me explain. You, growing up, probably suffered from one (or more) of these three things:
- You suffered some form of abuse, either verbal, emotional, or physical.
- You suffered some neglect, either emotional, verbal, or physical.
- You suffered through some unavoidable relational failure. Maybe mom was ill a lot of the time, or both your parents had to work a lot and weren’t available.
In any of these cases, what happens is that your relational needs and feelings go unmet. And so you develop coping skills to attend to those unmet feelings. The coping skills take you away from relationship and into adaptive ways of soothing yourself, such as distraction, busyness, video games, or substance abuse.
When we soothe ourselves and stop reaching out into relationship for support, we slowly stop communicating our relational needs and feelings. This can lead you to, for example, managing a stressful life all by yourself, which can lead to anxiety; or, it can lead to you holding in so much of what you feel, that it builds up into a depression.
The good news is these issues can be resolved in the context of here-and-now relationships. In fact, that’s what therapy is best at: providing a safe secure relationship where unresolved issues and unresolved hurts – and all the ways you block yourself from being spontaneous and natural – can melt away, and you can be free to be your natural self.