Alexis Ornellas, MA, LPC, LAC. Somatic psychotherapist and resiliency trainer in Boulder, Colorado.

Anxiety and Depression

 Depression

Your experience of depression can feel like a state of frozen suspension.  It can be hard to get out of bed, find the energy or motivation to engage in daily life, and things that may have once been pleasurable feel empty.  Experiencing sadness and despair is familiar because you ruminate on negative thinking and the past, but in fact, it can be hard to feel anything at all.  It’s hard to get excited about things when most everything feels pointless and meaningless.  A lot of your time may be spent alone and isolated in your depression, which often makes it worse.  At its worse, you may have even contemplated suicide, or attempted to, out of the desire to end your suffering.

Anxiety

Your experience of anxiety can be overwhelming.  The heart and mind races and you worry about the future.  It takes a lot of effort to breath and focus.  Not being able to sleep because you can’t stop your mind from worrying or having an upset stomach or digestive issues is not uncommon for you.  You may feel so anxious at times that you become paralyzed with fear and have to avoid people, places, or activities that cause panic.

Finding a Healthy Balance by “Learning to Drive”

Whether you experience anxiety or depression or a combination of both, the path to health is about finding your equilibrium.  Think of a car, and how we have to use both the gas and the break to drive the car.  Depression is much like pressing on the break too much – we feel stuck without being able to move forward.  Anxiety is much like too much gas –  we can’t seem to slow down and we are in danger of wrecking.  Think of recovering from depression and anxiety  like driver’s ed, where we will teach you how to drive your car well so that you use the gas (to push yourself and meet challenges head on despite fear) and the break (to slow things down and take breaks when needed) together in a way that keeps you smoothly moving through life.

What Does “Therapy Driver’s Ed” Entail?

In recovering from depression and anxiety, there is some training and education necessary before you jump behind the wheel, so to speak.  We often spend so much time being ruled by our anxiety and depression that we try to cope by trying not to feel it, or just living in it day today without really being aware of our experience. Unfortunately, avoiding or being unaware of it can make it worse.  It is important to learn to become a witness by turning towards and being curious about your depression and anxiety so that you can learn about it and understand how it works in order to understand how to heal it.  And just the act of witnessing our depression or anxiety in this way allows us to create some space from it, recognize that it doesn’t have to consume us, and we begin to find peace because we are living in the present moment, rather than focusing on the future or the past.

Mindfulness  is the practice of being with whatever is happening in the present moment with a curious and non-judgmental attention.  We will train you in becoming more mindful, which will not only help you learn about and understand your depression and anxiety more, but the act of mindfulness alone, over time, allows us to develop a higher tolerance for uncomfortable emotions so that they no longer have so much power over us.  When emotions feel too overwhelming or uncomfortable and we get into the habit of numbing them, the process of numbing does not discern between pleasant and unpleasant – when we numb, we numb everything.  Once we have a higher tolerance for unpleasant emotions, Mindfulness allows us to experience the full range of both pleasant and unpleasant emotions without having to numb, thus allowing us to feel alive and happy. With the foundation of mindfulness training we can begin to explore where you need more “gas” or “breaks” in your life.

Examples of “more gas” may be:

  • Learning how to engage more with others and in life despite feeling uncomfortable
  • Learning how to stand up for yourself despite conflict
  • Trying new things

Examples of “more break” may be:

  • Learning visualization and breathing techniques to help you calm down and relax
  • Learning how to set physical and energetic boundaries to protect your time and energy
  • Learning how to prioritize and structure your time so that you don’t overwhelm yourself

Along with the mindfulness training and development of your “driving” skills, we can also explore your depression and anxiety through parts workin order to help relieve trauma or pain you might be holding onto from the past.

What you Can Expect 

I have much experience in my own life in working with these difficult states, and I bring my personal experience and extensive training in my work with you.  You will find me to be patient, non-judgmental, calm, and confident in your ability to heal.  Through working with me, you can expect to feel strong, resilient, and the agent of your own life and emotions.  You will be able to feel the range of emotions, but will know what to do when you are having a bad day.  You will be able to face the ups and downs of life with ease and trust yourself!

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” Alexis has been a phenomenal resource in my road to recovery. She provides a positive and honest perspective that cultivates both inner strength and emotional growth.  The support that I have received from her has been invaluable; as well, I have gained an immeasurable wealth of knowledge and have finally began to fully appreciate life in a simple, yet sincere manner. “