10/02/2014 09:11 GMT | Updated 10/04/2014 06:59 BST

Emotional Weeding to Help You Overcome Feeling Depressed

Have you ever felt like you are losing touch with yourself? Or have you ever felt like you do not know yourself anymore? Losing connection to one's inner drive and motivation is common and often brings people to counselling or therapy. Do you recognize any of the following?

I can't remember the last time I laughed.

Everything is dark and gloomy.

Nothing excites me.

I feel empty and tired.

I feel helpless.

I can't sleep.

My muscles are tense.

I feel lonely.

I can't motivate myself.

I don't care anymore.

I'm frightened.

I feel like a failure.

I don't know why I feel this way; nothing bad has happened.

I am not sure whether this is serious enough to need help.

Is this normal?

These are signs of depression, which can occur at different levels of severity and for different lengths of time. All of us will probably experience it in our lives, when positive energy has been 'de-pressed' from deep inside of us. Why?

Challenging situations; busy and unhealthy lifestyles; not enough time or opportunity to talk about how we feel; too many distractions; not enough breaks or activities to refuel mind and body - all that can contribute to a gradual built up of unprocessed feelings like fear, anger and grief. Before we know it, we have started carrying a heavy weight, which takes energy. And life will go on making further demands on our emotional, mental and physical resilience.

Neglecting our emotional health is a bit like neglecting a garden (or window box). Weeds will grow, and with time, not enough room or light is left for other plants to develop. Soon we can no longer harvest or enjoy, what we had originally planted. Nutrients are missing, weeds get out of control and we are embarrassed to admit, that this is our plot. The land will become unrecognisable.

The longer we leave it, the more time consuming and hard clearing it will become. We ignore it and find other activities to take our mind of the job. Or we laugh it off, pretending it does not matter, that we have it all under control. We try to reassure neighbours, whose gardens are now being encroached by the weed, that we will see to it. We ask for time. But deep down, we are unsure what to do. What tools are needed; can our backs take the hard work? Can we pay someone else to do the job for us?

This is where the analogy ends. With depression we cannot ask someone else to sort it out for us. We can ask for help and encouragement. But we have to do job ourselves.

Counselling and therapy is one way of taking charge and dealing with the situation. Whatever may have accumulated over time can be explored; connections made between past events and how we feel; ghosts put to rest; sadness, fear, resentment finally expressed; tears of sadness or anger shed and a relief felt as the load gets lighter.

Through this process we gradually start to understand, why we feel the way we do and start reconnecting with ourselves again. With time, we can put events and feelings into perspective. With increasing clarity and transparency, fears and anxiety may reduce. We free up mental and emotional space to consider the possibility of choices we have for dealing with difficult situations or changes we want to make in our lives.

The process of 'emotional weeding' can restore a plot of land (or a window box) to a canvas with new opportunities.

Karin Sieger

MA (Couns.Psych.), Reg. MBACP (Accred)