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  • gwendolynshapiro

What I Understand

As a therapist struggling with chronic (yes, decades-long) depression and anxiety, I know what it’s like to wake up and feel like a failure. To wonder why things that seem easy for others feel impossible. To hypothesize about what is wrong with you. To see mistakes as failures and fear repeating them. To avoid feelings with numbing out, self -destruction, and compulsive thoughts and behaviors. To try all the things we’re told to try and find yourself falling short again. To feel like a failure because all the things that are supposed to help left you more hopeless. In addition to the long list of things we're supposed to do make the problems go away, there's the seemingly endless medication trials. Let's try this one again - it worked a few years ago. Maybe we can up the dose of this one, or try this new one that just came out. Sorry, we've tried everything, so this is probably as good as you're going to feel. Have you tried therapy?


Will I ever recover from what’s happened to me and stop repeating these patterns? Maybe I shouldn’t be here. I thought this time, this day, this moment would be different, but here I am again. Am I being punished? Feeling this way can’t be normal. The nights of rumination circle around like a garish carousel. 


From an early age, I  knew I wanted to be a therapist. I felt deeply the importance of using the pain that lived inside of me to contribute to the healing of others. 


While I can’t promise that this treatment or that modality will fix all the problems, I’ve experienced the transformative power of unconditional love and acceptance. I’m grateful to my therapists for holding me with love and without the judgments I impose upon myself. I’m grateful to them for seeing the light in me when I couldn't. 


Although I come to my sessions prepared with tools and evidence-based approaches, clients I’ve helped have consistently told me that, for the first time, they felt understood, seen, and cared for in a way that stayed with them and transformed their relationships with themselves. They realized there was nothing wrong with them, and finally decided to reject the long-standing beliefs that their suffering was a result of their deficiencies.


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