How can I cope?

By Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker

I don’t really know how to explain the situation, but I deal with a lot of family drama, my parents have kind of high expectations, with the stress of school on top of that I became extremely unhappy and kept all of my emotions in and I wore that fake smile everyday until I finally reached my breaking point. I started self harming for about six months until my mom found out and suggested an inpatient program at a hospital. I refused to go because I didn’t know if it was going to go on my record which could possibly affect my dreams of becoming a psychiatrist. So, instead she sent me to a councelor who I’ve been seeing for about a year now. She sent me to a psychiatrist when I first started going to her and I was diagnosed with depression and put on medication but I stopped taking it a month after it was perscribed. I have a major fear of choking and drowning As well and can’t swallow pills. I’m still having major problems with the depression And My anxiety has been very bad, I’ve been considering talking to my parents about finishing the year by taking online classes. Because I need to get away. But what I really want to know is, how can I deal with depression and dig myself out of this hole? It seems like everytime I get so close of beating in, I get nocked right back down to the bottom. I’m still seeing my therapist but it’s not enough, my mom is still pushing me to go back on medication but doesn’t understand my fears. Is it even possible to beat this without medication? I also apologize if a lot of this doesn’t make sense.

A: Thank you for writing. Of course, you’re making sense. You’re asking good questions and you’re trying to take care of yourself.

Finishing the year online might help you temporarily “get away” but your problems are going to stay right there with you. Whether you stick it out at school or do the work online, you’ll still have to deal with the depression and anxiety.

Yes, it’s possible to get out of depression and to calm anxiety without medication. It takes eating right, getting some exercise every day (enough to get those endorphins going), getting at least 8 1/2 – 9 hours sleep every night, and really collaborating with your therapist to learn new ways to cope. These are all things you should be doing with or without meds but it’s even more important if you’re trying to be med-free. It’s certainly worth a try.

But here’s another thing to think about: You say you want to be a psychiatrist. If you are going to be prescribing medications to others, it’s probably important for you to learn as much as you can about how to help someone like yourself feel comfortable about trying medicine as an assist. You’ll have more empathy for your patients and you’ll be able to do your work with integrity.

Do have a serious talk with your therapist about your goals for therapy and your sense that things aren’t moving along as you’d like. You could bring this letter and response to your next session if you are hesitant to talk about it. I wonder if she knows about your fears of drowning and choking.

Please don’t give up on your treatment. Be as honest with your therapist as you can possibly be. She only has what you tell her to go on. And don’t give up on your dreams of being a psychiatrist. Some of the best doctors I know are those who have been through their own troubles. They can relate to their patients because they know what it’s like to feel discouraged and they know what it takes to gain a sense of balance again.

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 20 Apr 2011

APA Reference
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2011). How can I cope?. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 21, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2011/04/20/how-can-i-cope/