Episode 124 – Surviving a Major Depressive Episode – Jennifer Gerlach

In this episode I speak with Therapist Jennifer Gerlach about getting through a Major Depressive Episode.  We talk about the tools and steps necessary to get through the tough times that come with Divorce.


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Michael 0:00
Hey what's up, gentlemen, this is Rising Phoenix podcast podcast about how to rise up after divorce. I'm your host divorce coach, Michael Rhodes. Let's get into it. Joining me today is Jennifer Gerlach. Jennifer, once told us a little bit about yourself.

Jennifer 0:26
Sure. So my name is Jennifer, I'm a psychotherapist in St. Louis, wrote a book called The recovery and, or the cycle, the Kosis, and mental health recovery workbook, and enjoy helping people.

Michael 0:40
Nice. So I found you, as I do with most of my guests on psychology today.com. And in that, on there, I found an article or a blog that you wrote about major surviving, I think it was called major depressive episode. Yeah, so I always like to define things. So let's start with that, what is a major depressive episode?

Jennifer 1:04
Sir. So you can think of three types of depression, you know, over here, we have regular sadness, which we all go through here. And there, you moving forward a little bit, we have heartbreak, you know, something happens that really messes with you like a situational depression. And that's pretty, that can be pretty bad. And then on the far side, we have a major depressive disorder, where it's the most severe type of depression, a clinical type of depression. And with that, usually will find that we're not enjoying things as much as we used to. And it might be hard to take care of yourself, it might be more difficult to sleep more difficult to eat. And it really impacts every aspect of your life at that point.

Michael 1:44
And is, so a depressive episode, is that, could that be experienced and all? Like it like all of those, each one of those three? Or is that only in a major depressive disorder? Or? Yeah,

Jennifer 1:57
usually a major depressive disorder, you know, with a situational depressive, or heartbreak? Sure, that can be episodic, but the major depression, we're really looking at a clinical level of depression.

Michael 2:09
And is there anything I know, you sort of mentioned it, you know, where you're, you can't, you know, sort of, get I'm paraphrasing here, but you can't really get excited about anything, you know? Is there a were a sadness and or a situational depressive can turn into? And if so, what's the what are you looking for, as a clinician to diagnose someone with with something that's a major depressive episode? Yeah,

Jennifer 2:37
so a situational depression can certainly have a lot of those features. With a major depression we're looking at once the situation changes, you're still feeling down, or the depression is getting to a point where it's affecting your quality of life, and it's affecting your ability to handle the situation that's causing you to feel so down. With a major depression disorder. Typically, there's some genetic component, not always, but it's a little more severe and a little bit more long lasting than a situational depression.

Michael 3:09
You say long lasting, so we're looking at like, if it's two weeks, two months, two years, like what's the sort of guideline?

Jennifer 3:15
Yeah, the tricky thing about a major depressive episode is it can be anywhere from two weeks to several years, you know, the two weeks is the minimum for the diagnosis. But some, you know, folks will have it for a few months, some folks will have it for a few years. Some folks will have it almost for a lifetime. But even if you have a consistent major depressive episode, you can still recover, you can still have a good quality of life, it just can take a lot.

Michael 3:41
Yeah, well, and that's what we're gonna dive into sort of the steps that you can take when you're when you are having this, you know, a major depressive episode. And you cover I think it's nine of them. And so let's dive into those. What so step one is, and I've scribbled this stuff, and probably paraphrase, so if it's not exact, please correct me. Number, the first point was know that it will not always be this way. I mean, that's when you're in the thick of it. That's really hard to sort of wrap your head around, but that is true, right? You can there is there is another side of this. Shitty I'll call it tunnel, right?

Jennifer 4:19
Yeah, absolutely. So when you're in the thick of a major depressive episode eight can feel like you're gonna feel like this forever. And that's one of the tricks depression uses because when it feels like you're gonna feel like this forever can feel very hopeless. But that lowest point that's as low as you can get once you get to that lowest point it's only up from there and so keeping in mind that this is not have to be how it will be forever. That can help you get through.

Michael 4:45
Yeah, that's it. Like I said, it is tough when you're in the thick of it, but it is true. So I'm hopeful that you know, the reason I wanted to do this episode is because for me for many reasons, maybe some selfish wants to but if someone is listening to this podcast, and maybe they're not Have a good day, a good week, a good month good year, but but suddenly things take a turn for the worse. Or if they're starting out, they can come to this episode and listen to this and get these things and tools and steps to help them get through this. And obviously, you know, the first one is to know that, it's, it's gonna be okay, it's not going to be like this forever. So that's an excellent point. So the second one is one that I sort of champion all the time. And that is asked for help. And I want to get a little bit specific. But let's, let's just cover that ask for help. What does that mean? Yeah,

Jennifer 5:34
so there's two types of help type of help you get from your support system, your friends, maybe a pastor or an old mentor. And that's extremely important. The second type is sometimes we need clinical help, sometimes we need to talk with a therapist or a doctor, if it gets to a certain level or, you know, say we've had major depressive episodes in the past and something has helped, you know, there's no shame in reaching out for that.

Michael 5:57
Yeah. And some of that help, I think, is I think it's important to find a professional for sure. I think support groups, like the one I run on Facebook is important to, you know, people that are in it with you, you know, the group I run is for divorced men. So there is strength in numbers in a way there is some comfort in not feeling alone. But one of the also important aspects, as you said, is clinical help. And we're talking about talking about that a little bit. And it sort of bleeds into this next point, which is keep asking, I think it's really important that and you kind of mentioned this in the blog about finding the right therapist, it's just because someone is a therapist doesn't mean that the right therapist, right?

Jennifer 6:43
Absolutely, absolutely. So sometimes we try to check in with somebody, you know, therapists be really nice person, and you might have a really great conversation with them. But if you don't feel a strong connection, or if they don't have the tools to help you with a particular issue, they might not be the right fit. And I think that most of us therapists are well aware of that. And so when somebody's like, hey, like, I don't know, if this is working out, we don't take a pencil that will help you find someone that you do click to with, because ultimately, we want you to get better. We want you guys to thrive.

Michael 7:13
Yeah. And so that's something you've had to deal with, then you've had someone come to you, or maybe you have you ever pointed it out and say, you know, I'm not sure I'm the right fit.

Jennifer 7:21
Yeah, absolutely both. But I do and a lot of therapists actually offer this, as I'll do a consultation, of course, your client, and that first consultation will tell us a lot about whether we're a good fit, but sometimes we don't realize right away, and if it's not a good fit after a month, you know, hey, that's cool, we'll help you find someone else, you know, and hopefully, it's not time lost. Usually someone will gain something from that time. But, you know, I think that we all have the capacity to relate different people to different levels. And fortunately, there's a variety of different therapy approaches and, you know, therapists personalities that people relate to,

Michael 7:55
is that something that's taught in therapy school or college or whatever, when you're going to be a therapist? Like, is that something? I would think that keeping your own mental health in check has got to be an important I mean, it's important part of life, it's got to be a huge part of being a therapist, is that something that's covered? When you when you went to school? Oh,

Jennifer 8:13
absolutely, absolutely. So our professors talk to us a lot about self care, I talk to us a lot about you can only take people where you've been. So a lot of therapists, they might not tell you their whole story. And, you know, that's because it's about you, they're not going to dive into their own divorce or their own depression or whatever. But most therapists have done a lot of healing on their own. And most therapists are also seeing a therapist themselves, or they're doing some other work on themselves are doing journaling, they're exercising, they're taking time to reflect and meditate and to build themselves so that they can be the best for the people. They help. Me

Michael 8:48
sorry, again, like I said, before we jumped on rabbit holes appear, because the attention span of a rabid dog. So the other, you know, mean, like I said, it's keep asking, right, so sometimes, especially when you're depressed, you can you can go to a therapist, and you don't feel like it's the one or it doesn't work out or whatever. And then you can get depressed and not and be like, Oh, it's you know, it's nothing, nobody out there assists in, you just gotta keep that mentality of, you know, I'm going to find the right one, right. And it's not always easy to have that mindset. But it's really important, I think, in life in general, if there's something you really want sometimes, I think as Randy Pausch said, you know, brick walls occur, and, you know, you got to find a way around and we're through them. And I think therapy is just like dating. You can't settle you know, you gotta get one.

Jennifer 9:40
Yeah, you know, I could think of five different excellent therapists in the area, and it might be five very different sessions that they offer. So it's very individualized type thing. You know, five very different approaches five very different personalities, you know, the offices are going to look different and those little things might make a difference. You know, sometimes it might be that the therapist has a dog in the office or If you guys can relate over something small, or it might be the therapy approach, you know, the type of therapy that therapies using, yeah,

Michael 10:05
we're gonna get into some of that a little bit because you mentioned some, I don't want to dive down that rabbit hole yet, but I'm curious all the different modalities and like, you know, that stuff fascinates me. But the next point was seek meaning. Let's really get what what do you mean by that? I mean, I know I know what you mean, but but let's expound on that. What is what does that mean? What is seek meaning me? Yeah.

Jennifer 10:25
So it's very difficult to deal with suffering, when it feels like it's pointless. Seeking meaning can be finding meaning in your suffering, or finding meaning in the small things that might mean just going outside and looking at a multicolor leaf. And, you know, taking in the beauty of that, or having a conversation with somebody you're close to and enjoying that. I know, when we're feeling depressed, a lot of times, things don't feel meaningful, and we tend to withdraw, and to get through the process. So we want to try to do the exact opposite of that. So even if it doesn't feel like it would be meaningful, doing it anyway, try it anyway, saying that this matters to me, so I'm gonna do it.

Michael 11:02
Yeah, I, that's that's a tough one, I think, especially when you're going through a divorce. And if you lose, oh, obviously, you'll lose some, sometimes their children no matter what. But I think I think it's important to look at what meant something to you before the divorce. And I know, obviously, people will say, Well, you know, that my marriage? Well, that, you know, you can't look at that, because that's, that's no longer there. But perhaps it's, you know, the, you know, the connection you had, and you want to find that again, right? You know, there was meaning in that connection. And I do believe that. You know, I don't, I'm not really, I don't have the belief that there's one for one person for everyone. I just think that's nonsense. You know, I think I think people are compatible in different ways. But I think that you can have a connection with with another person, the same that you had with with your ex wife, I really do believe that I and I know it takes time and effort and energy and all that kind of good stuff. But I think you can even because if you go through this process, and you really examine yourself and what went wrong and what you did wrong, and the compatibility issues, maybe that were there, you can then find someone who just kind of fits you better. And and especially if you know yourself better than you, you kind of know what you're looking for, or what would work with you. But I think that it can be important to try and find the meaning. That isn't too far from the meanings that were before. So if it was your kids, and you've seen them half the time, you could focus on the fact that oh, you know, I only see him half the time or whatever it is. Or you could focus on I'm going to enhance and hone in on that relationship as best so I can have to find the meaning there. But it can be really, really difficult to find hope, right? I think that's meaning is sort of similar in a way, right? But find that hope when you're going through something like this, but it is important. For sure. The next point is look for little good things. And Dr. MC McDonald, I don't know if you're familiar with her, she wrote a book called unbroken. She talks about tiny little joys and I think this is kind of what you're talking about. It's these, these small things. And again, you mentioned earlier like the color of a leaf, it's it is hard to find these things, but they are there it is important to try and find the littlest things when everything seems in general and your life seems terrible. It is possible to find these little things can you kind of talk about like what you sort of what how you approach that or what kind of framework or like thought process you use for those for that sort of practice? Yeah.

Jennifer 13:39
So this is literally the very smallest of things that can be standing under porch during a storm and just feeling what that storm is, like, if you enjoy storms. If you don't, that might not be for you. It might be taking a drink of coffee and just enjoying that, you know, just saying, Hey, I'm having this coffee right now. And that's all I need to focus on right now. It could be bigger things too. But we want to start with the small things because when we're feeling depressed a lot of times that capacity to enjoy things gets a little muted and it's almost like practicing and building that habit back up and saying hey, I can still I can still enjoy things even for five seconds drinking his coffee or even for you know, 10 minutes of watching the storm. I can still be here and enjoy life.

Michael 14:25
Yeah, it's it's really tough. But but it is it is possible and I think it certainly is necessary. When everything seems bleak. You really it is about I say this all the time. It's about intention. Like I don't want to be like this. I think some of us sometimes I see this a lot guys sort of get mired in this muck and depression and here's here's a bit of a rabbit hole. How much of getting out of depression is intent and effort. Like isn't that isn't that A huge poll. I mean, I think that's anything like, right if, if you want to stay depressed, if you want to stay feeling like a victim in some in some ways, you're you're, then you're gonna stay there. Right? You have to make the intent you have to and I know that's hard but like it is it is not going to change otherwise. Right?

Jennifer 15:18
Yeah, I think that having that intent and will to come through depression is absolutely essential that hope is essential. It's not always enough. But it's important to take the first step. And sometimes that does mean getting extra help, it does mean reaching out to a therapist or a doctor or, you know, reaching out to your support network again, or, you know, switching up your circumstances. And it might not be just you, but it has to be you initiating those steps. So that has to be you having the hope and will to say, hey, I want to get better. And I'm going to do everything I can to get better. And it might be really difficult right now to do those things. But I believe that it will pay off.

Michael 15:56
Well, and we talked about hope. And at the other point, you talked about look for success stories, I think this is this is if there if I had to boil it down to one reason why I started this podcast is that is to give hope to give success stories, and it's littered throughout these 123 or four episodes like it's there you can see it. I think that's if there's, if there's if I had to boil it down to one, one of these points, I think is maybe the most important is really is that one? Because if you can, my theory is if you can see that someone else did it even one one person one time, then then that means it can be done because we're all human right? When there's no one. Certain people have certain skills and whatnot. And I'm not talking about running a marathon here, I'm talking about getting out of depression, surviving a divorce. It is. It is possible, right? I mean,

Jennifer 16:50
absolutely. And I think that it can be helpful, you know, we have so much at our fingertips these days with the internet, both for good and bad. But you know, I think it can be helpful sometimes to hear stories from other people who gotten through depression, it can also be helpful to think about a close in your life, who maybe have overcome things themselves, most people have been through something. And considering what helps them get through that, you know, considering that, it probably wasn't an easy time for them at first, but they did get through it and taking a little bit of their hope and using that to light up your world. That can mean a lot.

Michael 17:24
Yeah, I think it's so so very important. Another another important part. Another thing that I'd like to stress is your next point, which is refuse to isolate. That's, that's a tough one for men, especially for men. How important is that in sort of a depressive recovery process? How important is it to get around other folks?

Jennifer 17:48
It's extremely important. Depression thrives on isolation. In fact, a lot of mental health disorders, even like schizophrenia, with isolation, loneliness will deteriorate. But depression is especially sensitive to that. So you're right. Like, it makes sense after divorce, or when you're feeling depressed, and especially you're dealing with both, you might not want to be around people at all, you might think I'm not going to be good company. Now, they're not going to be around me anyway. You know, I'm not going to enjoy myself, why would I be around anybody. And it can be very tempting to isolate. And it's so important not to, because if you do isolate, the depression just gets worse. And those thoughts just kind of tend to confirm themselves. And you can feel more like, Oh, I'm bad company, I shouldn't be around people. And it's just a spiral downward. But sometimes on isolating yourself is difficult. Sometimes it's just going to a coffee shop and being around people and not engaging with people at first, or it's just having a five minute conversation with somebody on the phone or, you know, maybe even like an Internet support group, you know, things like that, you know, doesn't have to be, you know, a three hour day with your friend at the amusement park or something like that, you know? Yeah,

Michael 18:57
I think again, it's it's one of those things that yes, it can be difficult, especially for men. But if you want to survive this, I shouldn't say that if you want to recover, maybe it's the right word or move past I'm not sure. Then you got to do some of these things and, and not isolating is one of the one of the bigger ones. The last one, I think it ties into a lot of these is remember your, your reasons for life. And so I think this kind of ties into, you know, searching for meaning and those kinds of things. And I think, you know, if even if, you know, I know, there's a particular gentleman, he's popping in my head, he went through a divorce, and then he lost his mother not too long ago. And I think about, you know, and he was very close with her took care of her at the end of her life. And I think, think about this gentleman and I think about how maybe he could see it as his reason for living has gone right. His marriage has gone I'm not sure about his I don't think he had children. I could be wrong on that. But then his mom passed away. He was very close with I think He could look at that and be like, I don't have a reason to live. But I think I was thinking about this because I lost my father when I was 22. So I know the pain of that. And I was very close to my father, he was my biggest supporter, I wouldn't be in life where I am, it wasn't for him. So I think about not the fact that he's gone. And that does suck. A lot. Sometimes, you know, especially when you're going through something and your biggest supporters and they're but then I think about what would he want me to do what he wants me to give up? But he want me to, to cash it in? I don't think so. And so I think, again, he taught me we talked about looking for researching, searching for meaning searching for the reasons searching for tiny little joys, or, you know, the little things and, and I think if you search hard enough, regardless of the situation, you can find something.

Jennifer 20:45
Yeah, absolutely similar reasons for living change. You know, if your kids aren't in your life, now, they might still very well care if you're going to be on this planet in five years, you know, when that when they may want to be in your life, when they have that opportunity to do it. Sometimes we find meaning and hoping that in time we will find a meaning. So it might not be like, Okay, today feels meaningless. But tomorrow might not. And I'm willing to take steps to move towards something that I want to rebuild the life that I want. Sometimes we take meaning and you know, like you were describing, you know, people who have been close to us who've given us messages, and we carry that on. There's a rainbow of different meanings people can find. And you know, if you lose one, it hurts deeply. It's incredibly difficult. I never want to underestimate that. And there can still be other meanings and hopes for the future.

Michael 21:34
Yeah, I don't. I think there's a danger with like self help and positive psychology and stuff where it sort of minimizes the hurt in the pain. And I never tried to do that. Yeah, and I don't want to sound flippant, and like, Oh, you just got to set the intention. I know how fucking hard it is. It's really, really hard. But what what are your alternatives? Right? stay where you're at? I don't have any interest in that. I don't I don't, I just don't, I don't want to be miserable and lonely and scared and hurt and angry and all the negative things the rest of my life, I just don't, because not only you know, when we're talking in the context of divorce, and not only does it mean that, you know, she did what she did, and not that I didn't have fallen. And clearly I did. But she also then continues to screw up my life in a way, right? Because I let it I let her and her words and her actions and her lifestyle dictate mine. And I just don't have any interest in that it's. And so I understand it's not none of this. None of this is easy. As I say all the time. I don't do episodes on brushing your teeth. That's a pretty simple thing, right? We got that one covered on how to brush my teeth. This is hard stuff, but it's not impossible. So we talked earlier about about therapy and the importance of it finding a good one. One of the things you mentioned in your blog post was acceptance, Commitment Therapy. I don't know what that is. But it sounds cool. What is that?

Jennifer 22:55
Yeah, so acceptance commitment therapy is a more modern type of CBT. It involves really clarifying what is meaningful to you. And moving toward the other parts of acceptance commitment therapy are, you know, considering how you define yourself, and the person behind your eyes, a lot of times we have these labels we attach to ourselves. But those labels aren't us, we're the human behind our eyes. And that's a difficult thing to wrap your mind around. But it'd be really helpful when we have some of those labels change. Part of it is also changing your relationship to thoughts. So when we're feeling down, a lot of times negative thoughts are pretty automatic. And it's kind of difficult to just positive, think yourself out of something, or make the negative thoughts go away. But how you react to the negative thoughts? So do you act on them? Or are you able to say, hey, here's an old story that's coming up, my friends don't want to be around me. I've told myself this story over and over for years, and I'm gonna notice it comes up and I'm not going to act on it, because it's not gonna help me out anyway. It's not gonna move me toward the life I want.

Michael 23:58
That sounds pretty awesome. I've never heard of it, as it's fairly new. It's

Jennifer 24:02
been around for a few decades. But more recently, more people are getting trained in it. And I would say in most areas, there should be some therapists who are trained in acceptance, Commitment Therapy, it's pretty, pretty common, but it's not as common as like cognitive behavioral therapy or a person centered therapy.

Michael 24:21
Yeah, so it's, would you say it's sort of adjacent to just regular psychotherapy? It's very similar.

Jennifer 24:28
Yeah, yeah. It's a type of psychotherapy. So you can think about psychotherapy as this big umbrella. We usually just call it therapy. But really, there's many different types and many different ways of going about it and accepting them in therapy is one particular variety

Michael 24:41
of what have you What do you typically if you don't mind, what do you typically practice? And have you dealt with a divorced client and what did how did you help them? Sure.

Jennifer 24:51
So I do a whole bunch of types of therapies. I like acceptance commitment, therapy, compassion, focus therapy. I do a little A bit of a type of therapy called Eye Movement Desensitization reprocessing, which involves rapid eye movements to help us process traumatic events, kind of mimicking REM sleep is really cool. Yeah.

Michael 25:11
But if I understand that correctly, it takes your traumatic memory and brings it to the present. So you can sort of address it and deal with it. Is that Is that how it works?

Jennifer 25:21
Exactly, exactly. Bring it to the present, and then helping you work through the areas that you've gotten stuck. So that it's still there, but you've processed that you can move forward. And maybe that event had changed how you saw yourself, and now you see yourself in a more healthy way again, or how you see the world in a more healthy way. Again,

Michael 25:39
yes, about, again, Dr. McDonald talks about this about sort of taking these things and putting them in the correct files, a lot of times traumatic stuff, especially you don't know where to file that, because dramatic is not the happy folder file. It's not the, I don't know, accident or whatever, it's, you don't really understand it. So I ordinarily know where to put it, your brain doesn't know where to put it. So I think this stuff sort of allows you to process it. So you can put it somewhere so you don't have to continuously let it bounce around your brain. Is that sort of a good layman's term of, of how to deal with sort of trauma?

Jennifer 26:12
That's excellent that that's perfect description of EMDR. And sorting through trauma. It's, it's complex, and we can also simplify it.

Michael 26:21
Yeah. So then So have you ever you had a divorce patient that someone came to you because they're going through a divorce? Oh,

Jennifer 26:29
absolutely. Yeah. Oh, it's so common these days. And and sometimes it's the parents, sometimes it's the kids. Sometimes it's a whole family. And, you know, I can tell it's an incredibly painful thing for everybody involved. Typically, every story is a little different.

Michael 26:49
Yeah. Yeah. Is there? Well, I mean, I guess because every story is a little bit different there is there. Like if someone comes in just an individual? And they're going through situational depression, because of divorce? Is there a? I guess, it probably depends on the person, but is there like a go to modality that like, I'm going to do this one with this person? Or because of this? Or is it? Do you determine that based on your consultation, all that kind of stuff?

Jennifer 27:15
Yeah, honestly, depends on the person in front of me and where they are. But regardless, I think the first part is just listening to them and giving them a space to tell their story. Because with the divorce, there's usually many, many events. It's not just one event, you know, it's not like somebody just got robbed in a parking lot. You know, there was everything in the marriage that led up to the divorce, you know, that sometimes there's the aspect of introducing the divorce. So maybe they were served papers, or, you know, certain protective order or you know, something significant, then there's the court system that sometimes there's a custody battle, and it can be a lot, it can be a lot. And I think just having a space to tell that story and be heard, is the first step in psychotherapy. And then we can go from there, if they need EMDR, we can do that. They need acceptance, commitment therapy, we can do that. But, you know, first and foremost, it's a human in front of you, you know, and you just want to hear them out.

Michael 28:08
Yeah, I just, I'm just thinking about, you know, how difficult sometimes it must be to to, because I see I have a, like I said, At Facebook group is 7000 men, I see the pain and the suffering. And it's, I know, it's very difficult is that, again, this is sort of a little bit of a rabbit hole a little bit personal. But is that is that how difficult is that as a therapist at times to like, deal with other people's issues? Like it must be? It must wait sometimes. Yeah,

Jennifer 28:37
you know, we are humans, and I care about people, you know, so when I see somebody and they're hurting, it affects me, you know, especially when I see teenagers or kids hurting, you know, I, I love kids, you know, and what I found is, you know, I have my own rituals, you know, somebody leaves, you know, a lot of times I'll think to myself, you know, may they be happy, may they be healthy, may they be peaceful, may they be safe. And that's one way of sort of letting go. But I think every therapist finds their own strategies of, you know, coping, some therapists, swim, some therapists, you know, rage in the vehicle with the heavy metal music off, you know, everybody's got their own thing. And I think that's very much encouraged. I know a lot of therapists love art will do their own either visual art or musical art, but we all have ways of coping because we are, you know, we're compassionate people typically. And, you know, we care about you guys. We do think about you guys between sessions. We might not call you up and be like, Hey, dude, how's it going? You know, that inappropriate? We think about you guys and you know, we have our different ways of dealing.

Michael 29:43
Does it ever feel limiting because you can't do things like that, like, Hey, how are you just checking in?

Jennifer 29:50
You know, I found that within reason. I can typically melt things so I can do what I need to do as long as I'm within My code of ethics, so say there is somebody I'm meeting with. And it's not a point where I'm going to try to get them in a hospital or something. But I know they're going through a really hard time. Maybe I know that say, Wednesday is a significant day for them. They're not going to come in for a session on Wednesday, but we say significant day for them, you know, to say, Hey, can I call you at like, 8pm? Yeah, for my clients, you know, after you're finished with your day, can we check in for like, 15 minutes? And if they say, yes, that's perfectly fine. You know, and we do that. But yeah, I think that there are certain limitations, the therapists role I, I couldn't usually invite, you know, I couldn't obviously invite a client to dinner or, you know, things of that nature. But, you know, at the same time, I think that that's good. Because if my therapist invited me to dinner, I don't know how comfortable I'd be talking to them as, as a therapist anymore. They'd be a friend, you know, so we do have to have some boundaries.

Michael 30:45
Is there is there again, this is definitely rabbit holes, but I love this stuff. Because I feel like I missed my calling in life. But is there ever a time I'm sure there is where you're like, if you know, where you want to be, like, just do this, like just leave this person or whatever, like, quit that job. But you but you can't, right? I mean, isn't there isn't that? I guess it's sort of a two parter. Like, have you ever had that? And then you can't really do that. Right?

Jennifer 31:09
Well, is she complicated? So with the types of therapies I do, I'm much more concerned with my clients values and what they want to move toward, than what I think is a good idea. So yeah, that was that must be so tricky. Yeah. In 90% of the cases, you know, I'll just reflect it back of, you know, hey, what kind of life do you want to live? You know, is this pulling you toward that? You know, I might use trickier questions like, you know, when you turn 100, and you have a birthday party, and it's going to be somebody that's really close to you, who you've lived your life, to that point exactly as you want to live, and they say something about you, what would they say about you? And is this moving you towards that like things of that nature, but very rarely do we get to give instructions, I will sometimes ask for permission to give advice. And I'll say, Hey, I have an idea here. And I don't know, if you want to hear my idea or not, it may be offensive to you. And if it is I'll apologize. But would you like to hear what I have to say? And then that way, if the person says yes, there's sometimes I will give a little advice here or there. But I'm very reticent to do that. Because ultimately, I don't know all things. And I don't know their situation, to the degree that they know it, or their life goals or their values. And so I might think, oh, gosh, I would not want to work that job, I would leave that job, that boss is just taking advantage of you. I might think that in my head. But I always know that. At the end of the day, my knowledge is just based on what they tell me and it's limited. And there might be a very good reason that they're standing up their job that I can't wrap my mind around yet.

Michael 32:41
Is that is it, a part of it? Getting them to think what you think, like, but leading them to it? In a way it sounds? It sounds manipulative, but it's not what I mean, you know what I'm saying? Like, isn't it like, you can see something that's very obvious. And you just want to get them to see that too. And then you sort of, but you can't just say it right? So you have to lead them, right?

Jennifer 33:03
I think in most cases, we're still looking at what the client values, but there are times where I might think, hey, like your friends want you around, you know, your depression telling you they don't, but they do. And in those cases, I might ask, you know, certain open ended questions that could lead to a Guided Discovery if your friends want you around. There are exceptions, you know, say I'm talking to a teenager, and they're wanting to run away from home, or, you know, they're wanting to steal somebody's vehicle or something like that. In those cases. Yes. You know, in those cases, yes, we're gonna be talking about the consequences of that assumption, and, you know, the risk reduction, but most often, it's more questions, it's more Guided Discovery, considering what's valuable to the client, which may be different than what's valuable to me. And it may be different than the conclusion I would have come to if I was in their shoes.

Michael 33:51
So I'm gonna ask you two more questions. One is, again, provide a little hope here. Have you had a let's, let's stick with, you know, the demographic Have you had a male client going through a divorce that you were able to see come to the other side and be okay.

Jennifer 34:09
Yes, I've had several, you know, because of my allegiance to their confidentiality, I can't Yeah, of course, tell their story. But I have seen people who have been at rock bottom and seeing them come back up. You know, it happens every day. You know, it's a challenging thing. And I think every single one of them would have said, Hey, I don't know if I'm gonna get out of this. And they do. They do.

Michael 34:34
The last question I asked everyone is what words of wisdom would you impart to a man just beginning his divorce journey?

Jennifer 34:40
Yeah, so if you're dealing with depression along with this, that makes sense, because this is a heartbreaking type of thing. I don't know exactly the circumstances that led to divorce. You might be feeling all kinds of things I don't know. But whatever you're feeling, it makes sense given your circumstances. And you will get through this you can get through this you know, there are supports out there including Professional supports if you need.

Michael 35:02
Well, thank you so much for doing this, especially on a Sunday morning. I really appreciate it. Yeah, how can people find you to get in touch? If they're in your area? Are you taking clients? What's the best way to sort of have to reach out and get older? Yeah,

Jennifer 35:17
so best way to reach out to me is that true story counseling.com. And I'm on the Illinois side of the St. Louis area, and I am taking new clients. So if someone's interested, feel free to reach out.

Michael 35:30
Awesome. Well, thank you again, so much for doing this. I really, really appreciate it. Gladly. Take care. Thanks. Thank you so much for watching and or listening. Since my separation in July of 2019, I have done an incredible amount of work on myself. I've had many different therapists, life coaches and went through different programs. I've taken all that I've learned and put it in my own program called forged by fire. If you are interested in having me help navigate your divorce, please hit my website Rising Phoenix divorce coach.com. I look forward to working with you

Transcribed by https://otter.ai

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