I had recently become aggravated with a client with whom I had been working for months…
She complained that she wasn’t making progress, that she wanted to make friends, become more confident and get out of the house. So I suggested that my young adult group would be the perfect, no-risk opportunity. We went over that it’s ok to be anxious and that everyone is very welcoming and all in the same boat. After months, she got up the nerve to commit to coming. Her boyfriend was going to drive her. Ten minutes beforehand she said she couldn’t make it because she had a breakout on her face and was embarrassed. This girl also would not commit to starting a kick-boxing class if she had to go alone. I really checked myself that I wasn’t misunderstanding whether her depression was crippling and paralyzing her. I tried to slow down and give her step by step exposure to social situations, and build up to it. I was upset. I thought, you have to meet me half way. You can’t complain you’re not making progress if you don’t try. But I have learned from readers’ feedback that lack of motivation is part and parcel of depression. Indeed, it is the hallmark of depression. (Add smoking weed every day and you have the perfect storm).
Another young adult said she needed help with her relationship. We had gone over a list of things she was going to try at home, to carry over from the therapy. Week after week she said things were bad with her partner. I said, did you try the things we spoke about? She said no. So how can you expect it to change if you do nothing? She looked at me hopeless and helpless and said, I don’t know. This pattern of helplessness is another hallmark of depression. Throwing your hands up and blaming others doesn’t work anymore but you don’t know what to do instead. Here are some more things to try. I am not saying these things are a guarantee of anything. I’m not saying that I am always perfectly motivated.
But it’s worth a try, no?
1. get out of bed
2. get a regular sleep schedule
4. if you can’t drive and you’re in the burbs, learn the bus schedule so you can get out
5. go to a therapy group
6. follow therapist’s recommendations
7. don’t lie to your therapist; you are lying to yourself
8. lose the excuses
9. read a book
10. start a creative or spiritual practice
This is what one young teen said about trying out mindfulness,
- “Before learning about mindfulness and practicing it, I had not realized how much of my life I was living outside of the present moment. I am a very anxious person, and I’m often worrying about the future or the past. Mindfulness has allowed me to live more in the now. I feel a sense of self-awareness that I didn’t have before, and it has been incredibly useful for managing my anxiety.
As youth we get so caught up in trying to do as much as we can, as well as we can, to please as many people as we can, that we don’t take time to enjoy anything. We don’t take enough time to love ourselves or really listen to ourselves. Mindfulness helps you do that.
One of the best things about mindfulness is that…[t]here are so many ways to live a more mindful life. Mindfulness is beyond just sitting meditations or yoga practices.
I think that mindfulness can benefit everyone. In the beginning, you may feel silly or find it hard, but it will get easier. You just have to approach it with an open mind and no expectations. Don’t be afraid to have fun with your mindfulness practice or to be creative. Don’t be afraid to tell people about it or encourage others to do it with you.
The hardest part is getting yourself to do it. The next hardest part is getting yourself to stick with it. Everything else is much easier.”
– Nicole R.
(Excerpted from The Mindful Teen by Dzung Vo, MD)
If this makes sense to you then it’s yours for free. Just sit with it. Don’t judge or be judged. Be you. I told this to my patient. She said she would try. But first, she said, I’m going day-drinking with my friends…