As a young child, “Jane” had been the victim of sexual abuse and trauma for years. The abuse involved a family member and had been repeatedly dismissed by Jane’s parents, who often neglected Jane throughout her childhood.
Now in her middle age years and estranged from her family, Jane came to Nutley Family Service Bureau (NFSB) seeking therapy because she was experiencing symptoms of depression and anxiety. Severe isolation triggered significant negative thinking, sadness, and hopelessness. Jane was also having difficulty with socialization at work and became concerned about her work performance.
Strained relationships with two grown children from a previous marriage made Jane realize that she needed to speak with someone who could help her process her feelings and experiences in a safe space. Jane soon learned that her own childhood had negatively impacted her parenting.
“Sexual abuse and trauma may bring unhealthy behavioral patterns and questionable decisions,” Jane’s therapist said. “Jane wasn’t abusive, but communication was sometimes aggressive, and she wasn’t as emotionally available for her children as she could have been. By processing her own trauma, she has reached a more stable state in terms of making better decisions, being more financially responsible, and trying to communicate with her children.”
Since the beginning of treatment, Jane has actively engaged in self-care by exercising regularly and improving her diet. She has taken steps to break free from isolation by working in her garden, going for walks, and dating. With the support and encouragement of her therapist, Jane also learned healthy coping skills while receiving constructive, nonjudgmental feedback.
“She started a feelings journal,” her therapist said. “Journaling allows you to express and process your thoughts and feelings in a private space without sharing them with someone else. She also learned mindfulness activities like meditation, deep breathing, and progressive muscle relaxation to deal with symptoms and regain a sense of balance.”
Jane’s depressive symptoms have decreased significantly. Her emotional regulation has improved and she is able to socially interact with others. She is working on her distress tolerance, which prevents negative emotions from spiraling into severe isolation and sadness. Instead, Jane can have productive conversations to process her thoughts and feelings. No longer feeling isolated, Jane has stopped neglecting her responsibilities at home and at work.
Overall, Jane is in a happier state and her emotions are not weighing her down. Even if she experiences frustration or sadness, she is able to work through these feelings through journaling and mindfulness and recognize that, overall, she still had a good day. Jane wants to continue building relationships with her children and has expressed that she is ready and willing when they are ready.
Jane has learned to stop depression and isolation from taking over her life. Through counseling, she knows how to process negativity and move forward with a greater sense of optimism and hope.
If you know someone who is struggling with depression and anxiety, we’re here to help. Call the NFSB mental health program at 973-667-1884 to schedule an appointment. Immediate appointments are available, and we’ll always respect your privacy.
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