Most of us, at one point or another in life, have been discouraged and even depressed. Major life changes, such as loss of a job, a difficult relationship or bereavement, can cause depressive feelings. Those feelings have been labeled universal (everyone has them) and impersonal (they don’t care who you are).
When we have no energy, feel sad or irritable, and have no hope, we experience symptoms of depression. I know these things first hand. When I first realized it, I immediately thought – it must be fixable. And indeed, it is! However, for nearly a quarter of a century that I had tried therapy, counseling and different medication regiments, I was remaining depressive.
I had good reasons to feel this way. My father left my Mom and me when I was 7 years old. He did not just leave. He cleared out our place of all things of value when I was at school and Mom was at work. I remember coming home to a nearly empty house and watching my utterly shattered Mother trying to make sense out of it. This was my very first sense of hopelessness.
Fast forward about a decade or so. The cold war was still in full swing at the time. I lived in Warsaw, Poland. The future was bleak and so predictable. Nothing could ever change. Hopelessness reigned.
I did manage to go to Western Europe, living in Belgium and France for several years, but leaving my family behind and never to return.
Eventually, I settled in Canada with the love of my life, whom I met in Paris, France. The initial 10 years of our married life we spent pursuing our education including graduate degrees. And then, we got pregnant. As thirthy-something parents, we were over the moon expecting our first-born son. Max was a preemie. He died during delivery. Hopelessness reigned again.
Two years later, and countless attempts to conceive another child, I was delivering a baby daughter. She was born without any vital signs… but LIVED!. The OB/GYN doc said, and I will never forget it: ‘Do you ever wonder why bad things usually happen to good people? Also, you will never really know how your daughter was affected by not having enough oxygen flow into her brain until she goes to school‘. Hopelessness again!
Add a couple of untimely deaths of close family members; a few disappointments with relationships in life, a sprinkling of career mishaps, the devastating aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, and you have a recipe for depression. I was having frequent panic attacks and anxiety. This was my state of mind. Hopelessness was my state of mind. I tired to “cure” it with medication, therapy and counseling. They did not entirely work for me. Something was missing. I wanted to change things but did not know how.
Eventually, I came to the realization that counseling and/or therapy were focusing on my past, not my future. I was dwelling in my past. I could not see my future.
Yet, future is key because it is made of hope, choices and possibilities. For me, it was quite a revelation and a discovery. That is how I have found coaching and/or how couching found me.
In coaching, we are much more interested in the future than we are in the past.