The Raphael Remedy

Don’t Let the Winds of Change Blow You into a Depression

by | Nov 10, 2021 | Counseling

Change.  It’s clearly the one thing that is constant.  It’s easy to get blown away by the winds of change, especially when they come at us fast and furious as they have lately.
Clearly the changes we’ve been through these past couple of years have been unprecedented and no one could have been adequately prepared for them.  Many are still struggling to regain a sense of balance and “normal”- however you define that term.
Whether you’re dealing with changes that have happened over which you had no control, or even those good changes that you may have eagerly anticipated, you don’t have to let the winds of change blow you into a depression. There are things you can do to gain a sense of order and regain your equilibrium.
If it’s a change that you had no control over, then the first step is to accept the change. You may not like it. You may find yourself railing against it. But the sooner you accept it, the sooner you can start to formulate a plan to deal effectively with it.
Perhaps you’re facing a change like retirement, a move, a new marriage or a child on the way. All good things but also things that are not uncommon triggers for depression and anxiety.
With change comes letting go of some things to make room for others. Things may feel awkward and unfamiliar for a time, which can be unsettling. There may be frustrations. There may be anger, guilt and regret. And with change associated with loss, there’s grief.
Change can be challenging but by accepting a new reality that’s been foisted upon you, or in the case of those changes you may want to make, thoughtful planning is key to triumphing over change and flourishing.

Dealing with Changes that You Didn’t Want

First assess the situation.
What are the pros and cons? Are these changes permanent or temporary? What do you have control over and what is outside of your control? Put it on paper.
Get a handle on your emotions.
Sometimes your emotional reaction may be worse than the actual reality. There can be several reasons for this. A sudden or unwanted change can be a trigger of past traumatic events in which you were out of control. Sometimes the injustice of the event that caused the change can spark a righteous anger and indignation. That can work for or against you. Anger can be a powerful force for good, if it’s kept within bounds and used toward a positive goal. Blow off some steam and then get to focusing your anger toward effecting positive change, whether that be personally, professionally or politically.
Talk it out.
Talking to a trusted friend, priest or therapist can do wonders when you’re trying to deal with change. Sometimes all you may need to do is vent. Getting different perspectives can also be very helpful. If the change has led to depression or unmanageable anxiety, seeking out a Catholic therapist is a wise move that can save you a lot of unnecessary heartache.
Find the opportunities.
With all adversity comes opportunity, if you’re willing to look for it. Even those terrible things that happen, do not happen apart from God’s permissive will. It may be inherently bad or even sinful, but God brings good out of everything. Take time in prayer and ask God to give you the wisdom and openness to profit from this challenge. Maybe this change is the impetus you need to make changes you would not have otherwise made, but that deep down you’ve known you need to make. Like polishing precious stones, sometimes the grit of change and adversity is what God uses to shine you into a saint. Pray for the virtue of detachment. By aligning your will with God’s, you can shorten the stress of change and move forward more quickly.

Dealing with Positive Changes

It’s sometimes mystifying to see how many people become depressed after retirement, a move, a promotion or even after positive life events like marriage or having a child. What you may anticipate and what actually happens can be very different and disappointed expectations can bring you down.
The tips above all apply here too, but here’s where smart planning can make a huge difference for you. Working with a Catholic life coach can pay huge dividends as you reinvent your life after unwanted changes or before you make those changes you want, like marrying, moving or retiring.
Take time to think about what your hopes, dreams and expectations are.
Are they realistic or are they fantasy? For instance, picturing married life as a romantic dream of roses and champagne each night, never having to say you’re sorry (eye roll), and endless banter and bliss may be fun to think about, but reality will burst that bubble rather quickly. Having a plan for who is taking out the trash, who handles the finances, how you’ll settle disagreements and where you’ll be spending the holidays can save you from disillusionment and set you up better for success and lasting happiness.
Are you getting ready to retire?
A lot of people fight depression after retirement. The joy of your retirement dinner can fade quickly as you find your days unstructured with nothing meaningful to fill them.
Before you retire, or if you are already retired and finding it difficult, talking with a life coach to set goals and an action plan for this next phase of life is a great idea. You may no longer be working for a paycheck, but you’ll want to find something meaningful to fill your days, but without it feeling like work, of course. This may be the first time since you were a child that you get to do what you want to do instead of what you have to do. And after 30 or 40 years or more of working, you may have no idea what that is.
Make the most of this opportunity. A life coach can help you discern where God may be calling you, help you get in touch with your unique gifts and how they can make these years truly golden. Retirement is not the end…but a new beginning.
By accepting change, and through smart planning that deals with what is now, as you work toward making things the way you want them to be, you can do a lot to avoid depression and truly thrive. Remember, God is with you through it all and has a perfect plan for you. Trust and watch what can happen.
Allison Ricciardi, LMHC
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