Diary of a Psychologist
Today's thoughts as a practicing Psychologist
Today was day one back from holidays and it was a busy start. With 8 clients scheduled in and a phone that rang or received frequent texts for new appointment requests. I have been a Psychologist for nearly 20 years now and everyday my practice gets busier. Humans are struggling and the demand is growing.
One of the main known factors that helps people is receiving social support. But it seems that we are becoming so internally focused, that we are no longer offering support to others. Everyone speaks of being so constantly busy maintaining the daily tasks of life, that they are having less and less time to socialise. People are speaking of the struggle to make friends or create new relationships and feeling at a loss of where to even start to facilitate this. Ironically our technological advances in the online world that is meant to create better communication, seems to be causing a greater sense of social isolation and loss of social skills.
People seem to be suffering more and more frequently from psychological difficulties. Whilst we are becoming more educated about the importance and relevance of seeking emotional support in a proactive way. It still seems to barely keep up. The statistics state that one in five Australians will suffer from a mental illness in a year. This is equivalent to 1.6 million individuals in Australia alone.
Today’s therapy sessions consisted of sexual assault, physical assault, alcohol problems, grief, PTSD, marriage separation, stress from family issues, workplace bullying, Conversion Disorder, Bipolar Disorder, Anxiety and dealing with MS. Human life can and does create heartache and distress in a myriad of ways.
These issues present constant challenges and makes life be very far from an easy journey at times. Yet most people put a brave face on for the world and privately carry these problems around inside. We continue to work or maintain relationships, care for others or do the daily requirements of life. We create facades of living life well and posting our happy pictures online. We feel pressure to live life to social conformity and not place our needs on others.
Society creates the constant desire to achieve our own personal utopia. To be the happy, fulfilled, successful, talented, beautiful person on social media. Yet so many suffer quietly in so many ways that is a complete contrast to illusions portrayed. Then inevitably ask the questions of why me? Why is my life so hard? What have I done wrong not to be living that picture?
Amazingly, however every single one of those people today gave me a real and genuine heartfelt smile. Despite the difficulties their lives present them right now, there were moments of laughter and pleasure shared. We can be truly adaptive and resilient beings, that somehow find the will to persist despite adversity.
I will never forget a man who I consulted a number of years ago. He was suffering from numerous chronic health conditions. He had lost most of his sight and his health was such that it was quite likely that he would pass away in the not too distant future. Yet he was also one of the happiest people I have spoken to throughout my career. He was laughing and telling jokes. I could feel he took great pleasure in the simple joy of a conversation. He was content and explained to me that he intended to take all the enjoyment he could from every moment he had left.
I could only be left to draw my own conclusions from this that happiness does truly come from within. It is not from living the perfect life or ticking the social markers of success or finding our one true love. It is about finding contentment in our own circumstances even though they may be awfully hard. It is persisting despite adversity and knowing that eventually everything changes in some way. It is reaching in with two hands and finding your way to create your own meaning in life. It is being present and drawing what you may from each moment irrespective of what emotion is attached. Life is wonderful and dreadful, beautiful and heartbreaking, inspiring and lonely. But humans are also complex, brilliant, caring, adaptive and resilient creatures that are capable of unimaginable depths. Perhaps a start would be to stop chasing utopia, apply a little more self-love and find our way to live to our fullest in the here and now.