exhausted all options?

By Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker

My childhood was strange. The first born of four boys, as a child I had no friends or playmates or toys. My mother said her brother had been spoiled and vowed that she would not make the same mistake. I was raised with the instructions that I was born to take care of my mother and to wait on her. I was not to cause problems or to tell her my problems and was not to ask for anything. Mom was also a rageaholic and was often mean. I never learned to bond with people and am way too serious even with small problems.

Also, I was rejected because I was gay. An effiminate child, I was “toughened up” by my mother and brothers. I learned to hide myself and lost myself. As an adult, I have few friends and do not enjoy the company of people. I have never been in a relationship. Because of physical injuries and chronic conditions caused by anxiety, I have had to give up all of the things I used to enjoy. My unhappiness affects my ability to work. I have encountered a lot of prejudice at work.

Lately, I have given up with my life. I just don’t know what to do. My last therapist was a disaster. Even volunteer work seems unrewarding. I don’t desire any more therapy because it does not work. Where do I go from here? I feel that I have exhausted all options.

A: How very, very sad. You are in your 50s. You’ve tried therapy. But you still haven’t been able to claim your own life. You sound depressed and ready to throw in the towel. I hope that writing to us is an indication that you’re willing to give it at least one more try.

All therapies are not alike. All therapists are not equally qualified or equally suited to work with a particular client’s personality or problems. It’s a mistake to judge all therapy on the basis of a limited data sample. My suggestion is that you interview at least five different therapists to see what they have to offer. Many therapists offer the first session free of charge or at a reduced fee to encourage people to “shop” for the right therapist fit. Please consider talking with at least one or two cognitive-behavioral therapists. (I’m reaching but I have an intuition that that brand of treatment might be more helpful.) You didn’t indicate if you have tried some medication. If not, consider that a combination of an antidepressant and talk therapy is usually the treatment of choice for depression.

I realize that you are feeling discouraged. I understand that it’s hard to think about putting yourself back into the social world when you are uncomfortable with people. But your letter suggests to me that you have the ability to take charge of meeting your needs so that the second half of your life can be better than the first.

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 28 Nov 2009

APA Reference
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2009). exhausted all options?. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 23, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2009/11/28/exhausted-all-options/