Embodied Healing for Depression

Opal | 4:22

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"No one has ever paid that much attention to me."

Depression Therapy Embodiment Breathwork Trauma

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Dear cozy person looking for therapy. So I began going to therapy because I felt like over the course of a year, I was becoming more and more disconnected from my body. And I think, even though depression and sadness, they live inside your body, it's very easy to kind of leave your physical self and exist only in your mind. So, you're just going through all the different “what ifs,” the different ways that you feel sad. You just kind of become, at least in my case, I felt like a weird zombie person. Usually, I've been able to talk myself out of those moments or wait until it was summer and then I felt better. But it wasn't happening this time. And I talked to one of my good friends, and she just kept saying over the course of the year, in very kind but firm ways, go the therapy really, really go to therapy. And she recommended her therapist, Alexa J. Stern, Pittsburgh. Hey girl. And in our first session, I remember, I was very nervous. I was also 25 minutes late. So you know that gives you a hint of where I was emotionally and mentally at the time. And she was like, it was fine. I walk in and she's just doing this thing where she's just deep breathing. We're sitting across from each other and I'm out of breath because I’m late. I'm also full of shame because I'm late and she was just breathing right and seemingly very much not judging me at all. And I just began to pour myself out to her. And that has been going on, this pouring for, I guess, two years now. And I think what I find so magical about these experiences with Alexa is that she foregrounds going slowly and staying in your body in a way that no one has ever paid that much attention to me in a weird way, to be honest. And I also have never paid that much attention to myself.

So, when you're in the mind cave of depression, for me, at least my thoughts go very, very quickly, and even though I can't necessarily feel it, I think that I traffic through a lot of emotions very quickly. Sadness, rage, terror, anxiety, whatever. I don't really investigate them because they all just suck. And then therapy for, you know, an hour a week, we're just kind of very slowly working through, What does that terror mean? Why were you anxious? What did it feel like when you're anxious? In a way that allows me I think to just kind of deep breathe. And I put all of the emotions, it's like you have a big board and you're just putting all of the things on the board, and you can just kind of take your time, pick it up and look at, you know, in a way that I think, helps organize your feelings. But also, it does a really good job of, like, foregrounding your lived experience, your embodies experience throughout depression, anxiety, etc, trauma healing. And what I appreciate is that when you're, at least in my experience, when I have been trying to heal from various traumas, the first thing I do is freeze up and get very tense. My shoulders are high. My stomach is clenched, my toes are weird. It's all very tight and then in therapy, Alexa calls attention to those things, and I feel like it's been a long, it’s been a two-year process now, but I feel like every session every week, a muscle gets loosened a little bit. And that's not to say that it doesn't retense. But it's just like that kind of attention to my body has helped really carve out or think through some of the ways that I have been carrying trauma just within how I react bodily to things in a way that I never conceived as a thing to look at like I just assumed, This is how people stand, and how my body is doesn't actually impact how I feel. But that's not true. Yeah, so it's been a very, I think, beautiful, long, but good journey.