I have over my lifetime experienced the affects to people that suffer severe depression, anxiety and substance abuse / addiction. Not only the affects of the person suffering but on the people that love them. These conditions are not choices, though some will say that dependence on substance or alcohol is a choice. The person that is not an addict will never understand the despair of addiction. The person that has never suffered severe depression will never get it.
Most people’s perception and understanding of depression is their own experience of loss or a negative situation. The death of a family member, losing a job, breaking up with a girlfriend or boyfriend, divorce etc. In other words, external factors. Clinical depression is altogether a different thing and can be chronic and to the extreme leading to long term suffering, inefficacy in life and sometimes suicide. Robin Williams brought home how even people that are extremely funny and would be perceived as happy can be fighting inner deamons. This form of depression can often not be put down to a specific cause or life situation, though it can be increased by these sorts of outside influences.
Friends and family will say things like “It’s just an excuse to not do anything or seek attention”, “Snap out of it, life’s not all bad”, “You have nothing to be depressed about you have abundance in your life, people who love you”. In the case of substance abuse, anyone that is not an addict will never understand why one uses narcotics or drinks alcohol to an extreme and abuses it. “Just stop” they may say or “Get yourself under control” or “do you realise how much money you are wasting” or a whole lot of other things that, despite the best intention, are a lot easier said than done.
Quite often these suffering people are fortunate to get into a ‘mental wellness centre’, institution or rehab. The centre will offer workshops and group sessions with other people with similar challenges. These centres and their programmes can be hugely effective. But not everyone that comes out has had the same benefit as others. These environments are also safe. Safe from outside stimuli that may increase anxiety, depression or the constant temptation and supply of substances and alcohol. But most of all, the person suffering is surrounded by people who understand what they are going through, people that themselves are suffering. But what happens when they are discharged from the centre?
There are usually follow on support groups for the sufferer, there are amazingly effective groups like Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, Gamblers Anonymous and recovery groups for all types of addiction and obsessive behaviours.
But what about the families, friends of the recovering addict or person suffering with depression and anxiety? Who helps the addict re-integrate into society and their homes? Who helps the family of the person understand and deal with life after receiving treatment? Often parents or loved ones of the sufferer think ‘well you’ve been to hospital / rehab you are cured now’. Or they think that ‘everything will be fine now’, ‘I have my child or partner back to where they were before suffering from this condition’. This is so far from the truth. In the rare cases where people suffer from these conditions return to their families, counselling is given to the parents or partners in how to adjust to the person, but who helps the person accommodate to the fears, expectations and needs of their partners or family?
Life coaching is more than setting goals and helping people achieve greatness, it is also assisting people in understanding their behaviour, their past programmes, their take on their situation. It is also about helping people deal with the stresses of ‘their’ world. About assisting with relationships and communication, expectations and limitations.
It is very important to understand that Life Coaching is NOT a substitute for psychotherapy or psychiatry and a coach is not a qualified mental health practioner, there are exceptions of course, but it can’t be presumed that the two practices are one in the same and they are not. It is also an important consideration in appointing a coach, to first discuss this with the psychiatrist or psychologist prior to the appointment.