• Henry Johnstone

Listening not fixing, is the key to freedom.

I've lost count of the times i've been weighed down by a depressive episode and i've had an anxiety attack. That shit is horrible. I experience depression as a complete lack of emotion, an inky black void of nothingness. Nothing to fill it nothing to drain from it, just nothing.


What is sometimes missed in the dialogues around depression is how anxiety plays into an episode.


Back when I kept my depression to myself and didn't tell anyone, I would entertain the thought of letting someone know. When I did I would be filled with anxiety, it was like a cauldron of thick sludgy black impenetrable goo was being poured into the depressed void space of my heart. Why? Because I was anxious of what they might think of me.


Was I being a drama queen?

Is it really that bad?

Will they believe me?

Am I pretending?


These thoughts stopped me from ever opening my mouth.

So I found other ways to fooled myself into thinking I was okay. How? drugs and alcohol. That is an entirely different story, and no they didn't work and approaching self medication through drugs and booze is the worst possible thing to do.


One day I tried to tell someone, a girl friend I think. Her response was flat out

" I don't get it, just get out of bed, stop whining, go for a run thats what I do when i'm feeling bad ". We were both young and i don't think either of us know what depression was to be honest, so she may well have thought I was just being lazy.


Which without communication depressive episodes can be misunderstood as.


Her words pretty much confirmed all of my anxieties and made the following episodes and anxiety attacks about a million times worse. Theres a reason we say don't try and fix, because it doesn't work.


What needed is listening, just listen. Being listened to by another has a magical affect. To be heard we also get to hear ourselves and we can over time accept how we feel. My journey to learn and accept that I was depressed and I wasn't pretending was a life changing one. It all started with a sense of community with someone else who had been through or was going through something that I was.


The act of speaking openly and listening is so powerful that you can see its effectiveness in many areas of therapeutic practice. Group work, AA meetings, therapy. coaching all revolve around speaking and listening.



It creates community and a community where the irrational thoughts we have, can be externalised and normalised.


I invite you to open up and talk to someone who you trust externalise those thoughts that make you feel anxious. Speak them openly and honestly. I invite you who is listening to do just that, listen don't fix. Listening saves lives.


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© HENRY JOHNSTONE

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