Life can be extremely difficult at times. Sooner or later, everyone learns this. What is sometimes missing from this life lesson, however, is that we have a choice of accepting this phase of our life, and fighting, or giving in to despair. People with a serious and heavy diagnosis like cancer get this. Military men and women coming back from war sometimes learn this. In fact, the words “fight” and “battle” have even crept into our language about how we talk about an illness like cancer. We hear things like,“he fought the good fight with cancer until the end,” or the more hoped for outcome, “her heroic battle with cancer helped it go into remission.”
To pick up the sword or not? We don’t ever want to see life get so hard or make us confront such a decision and especially in our culture of quick and easy fixes. We see advertisements on television, and on the web about the new anti-depressant medication with a happy looking person flying a kite on a hilltop on a sunny day, and think, “that looks good.” It’s more difficult to give people a pleasant image of the sword, and of the benefits of psychotherapy in helping someone navigate through a depression. Psychotherapy can be a harder choice and path compared to the anti-depressant, but it can produce just as beneficial of an outcome but with the addded benefits of coming out on the other side with a more meaningful life and vision, and maybe just as important, hard earned insight. Meaning, vision, and insight are things that you can’t find in a pill alone.
A skilled psychotherapist can help clients navigate their own battles, whether it be in helping them to cope and find meaning with a serious diagnosis like cancer, or with a dark depression. There may be times when medication is one of the right choices for treating a depression, but an equally important choice is the inner attitude that a person takes toward their predicament and phase of life. Will you pick up the sword and fight? Or will you die on the battlefield of life? Life can sometimes confront us with that choice. We don’t like it, but we can accept this about life and choose to fight the battles that come to us.
Life can be extremely difficult. To pick up the sword or not? That is a question that awaits all of us eventually. Will you pick it up? The lesson that life wants to teach during these times is to never give up.
© 2011 – 2012, Dr. Jeff Howlin. All rights reserved.