I am part way through Johann Hari's 'Lost Connections' which delves into the various theories and research in the causes of depression. My favourite chapter right now is the writing on the Adverse Children's Experiences. ACE was a research study on the impact of childhood trauma on mental and physical health. The findings in the data that has been produced is incredible and a definite recommendation!
A colleague the other day noticed the book on my desk, picked it up and asked me 'well doesn't this look light and enjoyable, why are you reading this?' I've reflected on this and began to ask myself, why am I really drawn to these concepts? What compels me to research, read and write about the "heavy" things? Why not just shy away and read inspirational short stories and motivational quotes from Instagram all the time?
Like every odd sod, I am absolutely open to a session of feel-goods and media daydreams. However, I have days when I converge into reading articles, books and watching Ted talks about topics like depression, grief, loss and trauma. The harder the subject, the more engrossed I become, and funnily, the more inspired I start to feel.
I came to an answer to their question, why am I reading this? I guess I know on a philosophical level, that in order to understand concepts like joy, gratitude and happiness, I need to know and understand the antitheses. There are about a million cliches that I could rattle off right now about pain being your friend and all that bull shit. It's just simply true. My favourite quote for the month is from an article about the grief of mothers who had to give birth to their still-born babies- "we grieve forever because we love forever". Yeah that is some heavy stuff right there and instinct tells some of us to shy away, deny and ignore. For me, it sparks compassion and curiosity. It taps into a part of us that makes us meet our own pain and grieving.
As a therapist still on training wheels, I am taught things like conveying empathy for someone else's thoughts and feelings. It is strange that this can be the easiest skill but the hardest to get right all the time. So from a professional point of view, studying things like trauma and mental illness gears me up to be more empathetic and informed of the full spectrum of human condition. I do not have the luxury to shy away from these topics, because that would make me a really shitty therapist and a pretty ignorant and naive human being.
We should all be able to celebrate people's triumphs, but also learn not to shut down or deny their pain whenever it presents itself. Those stories are the most important and the ones that can lead to real connection and collective experience.
The Blue Wren
Counsellor | Coach | Rock Climber | Adventure Seeker | Mental Health Advocate