Many Problems, No Diagnosis: Any Suggestions?

By Kristina Randle, Ph.D., LCSW

Q. I have several diagnosis and symptoms. I never really got an exact diagnosis. I tried killing myself twice. Once when I was 17 and again at the age of 30. I have been seeing a therapist since 1999, and am on mental medications. They are cymbalta, welbutrin and neurontin for mood swings. I also take a sleeping aid to relax me. I don’t get enough sleep. I am diabetic and take Metformin twice a day. I have high colesterol and take lipator. I take prosolec for chronic heartburn, and have a underactive thyroid, I take Levoxyl for that.

My childhood was not the best. Dad drank too much and mom didnt stop him from tormenting us kids. She worked at night and he often woke us up to do chores for him, or to yell at us. Many times I was made to sit while he told me things such as I would amount to nothing, and we were what made mom and dad fight so much. It was horrible, and I see images of things that happened as clear as if it were yesterday.

I’v e been hurt a lot. I married at 19, and now have 3 teenagers. I smoked but quit. I used to cut, but quit that too. It seems that through these years I have always had really bad coping skills. Now I eat way too much. I eat in secret, and very large amounts. I don’t tell anyone. I eat so much I feel sick. I don’t throw it up though.

I told my therapist I needed help. She doesn’t really know how bad its making me feel. I get more and more depressed. I know I am binge eating. I don’t have the willpower to stop, nor do I care for myself that much. I really do hate most aspects of myself. My therapist once said I had ptsd. major depression, boarderline personality disorder, suicidal tendancies, and mood disorder. I really feel like a freak. I never know where to turn. Iv’e been in the hospital mental ward 3 times in my life. I never want to go back to that.

Right now my main concern is caring enough to stick to a diet. My sugar has beene high, mostly around 170. I don’t even prick my finger like I should. I just feel like there is not much hope for me at this point. I am almost at the point of giving up. What do you suggest? I do appreciate your input.

A. I am sorry you’re dealing with so much. You do have many issues and stressors in your life but with help and support, you can work through these. There are many people who have similar issues who have successfully changed their lives for the better. Please do not give up hope. There is hope for you.

It sounds like, as you mentioned, you never really developed good coping skills. It’s likely that because you were never taught these skills by your parents, you developed you own set of skills that were maladaptive. This is not at all uncommon. If no one ever taught you these skills and your parents never modeled them for you then how were you to learn them? It would be very difficult for you to just magically “know” how to make correct life choices, how to handle stress, or your emotions, and so forth. You need someone to show you. You need someone to point out your errors in thinking or to correct your errors in logic. It would be helpful if you had someone to show you how to make better choices, to show you healthy ways to deal with stress, anxiety, depression or the desire to overeat. A good therapist can help you develop these and other coping skills you never had the opportunity to learn. It would be incorrect for you to think that you can never learn these skills, you absolutely can. This is why there is hope for you.

Depression, eating disorders, cutting, and so forth, are external reactions to internal struggles. Eating disorders and cutting in particular are to some degree coping skills but clearly are unhealthy and harmful. Your binge eating is your latest expression of your unresolved emotional issues and lack of coping skills. Your unresolved psychological issues are likely the driving force behind your lifelong unhealthy ways of coping. With regard to going on a diet, dieting is not going to help you. In fact, it may make you feel even worse because diets by themselves rarely work.

At this point, I would suggest that you go to your therapist and tell her exactly how you are feeling. You mentioned that she may not know how you are feeling and I am wondering if you have been forthcoming with her about how bad you have been feeling. Tell her the truth and don’t hold back. It would be difficult for her to help you if you are concealing important information. You need her support. Open up to your therapist, be honest and realize that there is a way out of your lifelong struggles. Take care.

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 18 Jan 2008

APA Reference
Randle, K. (2008). Many Problems, No Diagnosis: Any Suggestions?. Psych Central. Retrieved on September 21, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2008/01/18/many-problems-no-diagnosis-any-suggestions/