Charlie’s Angel?

By Daniel J. Tomasulo, PhD, TEP, MFA, MAPP

I fidget all the time. I don’t have to be nervous. I do it while I walk, when I talk to people, when I stand or if I’m in line for something. I fidget in my sleep because I feel some sense of relaxation after I’ve done it for a while, but that’s very rare.

I obsess about friendships and I can’t keep them very well. I obsess over having a perfect friend that will never leave me. I feel like every time I meet someone, they will end up leaving me and they won’t ever want to talk to me again.

I also obsess about my weight. I am overweight and it doesn’t matter what I eat or how often I exercise. I can’t ever lose the weight. Whenever I work out, my mind is filled with images of skinny girls on TV or in magazines. Then I’m upset because I try so hard to look like then but it never happens.

I talk to my pillow every night. I have been doing it for more than five years. The pillow plays the role of Charlie, who is my imaginary friend. He has always been there, in fact, I can’t remember when he wasn’t there. But I feel like ether are words in my mind that aren’t mine, so when I speak for Charlie, it’s really his words. Like, I have to say them out loud, and then I respond to me saying his words. I have to have that pillow with me every single night. It is a body pillow, long enough to be another person. Charlie just always has the right things to say, and whenever I’m sad, he comes to me and we talk…or I talk.

I’m a smart girl. I’m seventeen, a high school senior, and also in Community college. I want to someday be a psychologist and I have planned out my life accordingly. I know that my obsession with friendships and relationships hurt me and everyone around me. I have wicked mood swings and my family has to pay the price for that.

If you could just tell me what’s wrong with me…I used to go to a therapist, but my mum couldn’t pay for it after a while. I take meds for anxiety. To be specific, it is Zoloft, 25 mg every morning. I have also experienced insomnia. It started in 7th grade and lasted for three years.

A: The most terrifying thing is to accept oneself completely.
~Carl Jung

Before we begin with say what is wrong with you, let’s start with what is right. This will take me some time because you have many positive talents.

First, you have a strong drive for self-correction. This is a very important dynamic. You are drawn to taking care of yourself and investing in self-care is both priceless and necessary for change. It is a good indication of your strength and seems present in each thing you mentioned.

Second, you are showing deep concern about wanting to make and keep friendships. This deep desire is, in itself, another testimony to your desire to improve. The fact that you keep working to make the friendships better and reflect on why they aren’t working sets you apart from those who simply blame others or don’t try to understand what goes wrong in a friendship. Many people simply write others off and are not that interested in improving the quality of their relationships.

You also work hard on having a healthy body. Perhaps you have not found the right combination of exercise and diet, but you are focused on your mental and physical health. This is a good thing because if you are planning to be a psychologist these are two important traits you will want to continue to develop.

You know that you are smart and obviously work hard at your education if you are already enrolled in college classes. You are clearly not afraid of hard work to achieve what you want.

And then there is Charlie. A wise higher self, perhaps, that you have used to self-soothe and balance yourself. In psychodrama we often have to help people generate a part of themselves that they can use for this purpose. Sometimes this is called an observing ego; other times, people use this technique as an effort to help them develop their conscience and compassion for themselves and others. It sounds to me like Charlie has been giving you positive feedback about yourself and wants you to feel accepted.

There are three things that I think are important for you to consider as you continue your growth:

  1. I would talk to the person prescribing your medicine because he or she should know that you are still feeling fidgety and anxious and that sleeping and mood swings are an ongoing problem. You need your sleep to function well, and you want to have more stable moods. Perhaps a reevaluation of your medicine would be a good idea.

  2. Since you are both in high school and college I would definitely make use of the counseling resources in one or both of these places. This is typically available at little or no cost, and they may even have a group you can join. Individual or group counseling would be an excellent way for you to get feedback as you develop.
  3. I would recommend some radical self-acceptance. In all that you are doing one theme I hear is you are very self-critical and strive hard to get acceptance from others. This can be part of the problem: We often do too much to get others to like us when we must first find a way to simply acknowledge our strengths and limits. This often opens the door in bringing us to relationships that are fulfilling.

I hope this helps. Thank you for writing us.

Wishing you patience and peace,
Dr. Dan

Photo

 

 

Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 6 Jun 2010

APA Reference
Tomasulo, D. (2010). Charlie’s Angel?. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 2, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2010/06/06/charlies-angel/

Want a more immediate answer from others like you?
Use your Psych Central account in our self-help support community.

Subscribe to Our Weekly Newsletter


Find a Therapist
Enter ZIP or postal code