"There is a vast difference between feeling persecuted by loss or trauma and incorporating it into your life as processed and bearable"by Anna Blundy / November 17, 2016 / Leave a comment
Published in December 2016 issue of Prospect Magazine
“I’m depressed,” my patient said, settling into her chair with a big sigh and schlomping her bag down on the floor. Strange, because she smiled and said this in a social way, as though her favourite contestant had been voted off Strictly, rather than in any way that suggested chronic anxiety or immobile despair. “No, not depressed,” she corrected herself. “Sad.”
Ah, sad. Sad is great. Sad is a huge achievement. In Mourning and Melancholia, Freud talks about turning depression (melancholia) into ordinary sadness, and he outlines the differences (at some length). It can be a long and tortuous process (the transformation, not reading Freud) and at the end of it we’re still sad. This is a source of enormous disappointment to many, if not all, patients.
We go into therapy in the hope of ending up happy and content, our relationships sorted (please), finances in order (ha!), future rosy (yuh…). It can be fantastically irritating when, after years of working through, all the loss and thwarted desire is still there. There, but at last understood.