Depression? Or Temporary Derail?

Tools for the Many Things that Knock Us Off Our Game


Recently a client had one of those days where she woke up and wanted to stay under the covers. A challenging area of her life was asking for more attention and healing. Great! Growth! Yet it had some history that was triggering, and the initial inner response was critical and derailing her. She called this depression. Maybe, a bit of healing was calling.

I know how that goes. Lately, my book tour has been pushing my buttons. My painfully shy child side was tired of this visibility pageant. Add in world events, neglected life areas (social and fun time), social media tool frustration, my own next-stage healing needs, and on and on. All the things pile up. It can be easy to feel stuck and get off track. When you “uplevel” or choose to grow, healing issues climb a neverending spiral toward mastery.

For my client, the area was money stress. Her first responses to the current challenge – a hopeless feeling. A critical voice that had the coulda/woulda/shoulda spiel. Sure, thoughts like these can have some truth to them, though distortions too. But the glue to the stuckness was some past money history Oh, the tangled webs of growth and healing.

My challenge was many-layered too. It’s been busy. Book tours go on for years. It’s been a lot. Some important life areas have been on the back burner. My inner voice, which I thought had been successfully shifted away from a bully tone long ago, blurted out a scathing status report for the dreariness of my life and efforts. My incoming messages were surprising in their intensity. My brain must be nervous about this growth – change is seen as a threat – and it adds to the finger-shaking chorus.


April had a bit of Whomping Tree energy – those forceful knocks against what needs clearing and healing in life. Before adding labels like depression, treat it as a temporary derail. The tools from my new book help – and I was using them this week. Step One helped me look at all the many things on the list – the psychological and energetic demands alongside the to-dos. It’s pretty f’in full, yes, it is! Good awareness.

Next, I used Step 2 of the Stress to Strength model to look at my visibility challenges. First, define the problem. “Ongoing promo takes a toll on my sensitive side.” Next, name what’s not in my control with this (who comes to the next talk, lack of promotion from my group therapy practice, history of painful shyness, astrology that’s likely adding pressure, global and national stress, family history, responses from others.)

Every problem has this “not in my control side”. The counterbalance is naming what’s in my control. Also, a lot of things – self-care, stress management, healing, and energy work, making time for friends, getting out of the house for a work cafe time, exercise, pushing through to do the promotion today, pacing myself more as I go, social media help.

The pleasant surprise that comes with Step 2? Hey, there’s a lot in my control here. It doesn’t always feel that way when you sit down with a problem that’s triggering your growth edge.


Step 2 gives a good map for next steps that make up “good fit coping” – matching the best next actions to whether the stress is in your control or not. For the in-control side, I made a few contacts and spoke to other humans. Thank you, Aunt Pat – 88 years old yet she bought my book and wrote a little note saying I should be proud of my accomplishments. It’s nice to be seen! I texted a friend to walk with today – boom, the exercise plan is restored. I called a friend to check back on yard work she needs, another helpful exchange. She’s had recent challenges too – it’s not just me. We laughed together and then made a plan to hang.

Step 3 is logical actions toward the problem – these calls, getting out of the house for cafe time, making a healthy breakfast though my emotions wanted pastries. Just a bit of forward motion and social connection helped me to be kind to myself even with these challenges. That slight shift and lowered stress level meant I could move along with business steps. It didn’t matter that the “temporary derail” meant I was feeling behind. Forward motion – breaking through inertia – shifts that stuck energy.

And let’s not forget Step 4 – Tools for those initially negative thoughts and emotions. RAIN was in the cards for both my client and me – to explore what is asking for healing on a deeper level. RAIN can be creative – I had a basketball in my belly. Well, the national finals are going on around here, LOL. (Go Nuggets!) And intuition showed the relevant history – a picture of that my shy child of yore, hiding. Another reinforcement to take some healing time to reassure and support that youngin’ through these promotion demands.

My client already knew the history that was triggering – but that reality was not relevant to her current challenge. History comes up for healing, yes but it doesn’t have to be coupled with the current challenge. Worry and sad brain connect things and stack them up – but that is usually overdoing things. The “derail train” likes to add drama, and that can be the first sign of a healing need arising. But with tools to navigate the ups and downs of the day-to-day, the courage to lean in and face pain behind the derails gets easier.


Derails can be small and large. They can slow you down from those best-laid plans. Yet, they are cues to take time for deeper truths. My client reframed her self-critical voice (Step 4’s Thought Changing) to note, yes, the money area is a mess right now, AND I’m working on it and have already researched some next steps.

My temporary derail included remembering my sensitive side needs extra self-care for these visibility demands. I can ask for support and did, both with energy work and for time with friends. Now, I’m getting back to the mission and the meaning-making. This model can make a difference. That requires letting others know about it. An AFGO, as a past supervisor called these (Another F’in Growth Opportunity).


Before getting too identified with labels like depression, anxiety, or ADHD – try some tools. These little derails can increase your connection to your inner truth, to your heart’s reality. Adding this inner-world inquiry to your outer-world goals makes them more real and embodied.

Today, I can vouch for the Stress to Strength tools adding productivity and fun to the end of this work week. I had to work with the derail energy for a bit of time. Often my “logical brain” timetable has to be adjusted a bit. But then I step forward with more heart.

Stay tuned for some virtual gatherings to cover these life-changing tools. If you’re a local subscriber, please join our merry meaning-making tribe for a Boulder talk on 5/15 at 9 am.


Stress to Strength: A Therapist’s Guide to Empower Clients
Tools for Therapists, Coaches, Healers, Caregivers and Growth Seekers
Kindle and paperback formats
5/15 In-Person Boulder Talk deets

Recent channel (aka Spiritual Pep Talk)

Dopamine Nation by Anna Lembke – why coping is a mess now – 13-minute TED talk

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