Losing Control?

By Kristina Randle, Ph.D., LCSW

Should I return to the UK to get treatment? In short, I had the typical bad childhood. My father was an abusive alcoholic who beat my mum and brother and was constantly in and out of prison. Both of my parents tried to kill themselves and as a teenager I would binge drink, take hard drugs, self harm and starve myself.

Now I’m 21 and I’ll be honest, I thought I would just grow out of that behavior. But I have great difficulty controlling my moods which bounce around from suicidal, euphoric to violent or anxious every hour or so, sometimes within minutes. I have extreme difficulty in making decisions as my thoughts, feelings, opinions and pretty much my whole personality changes around 2 or 3 times A day. I don’t feel like I can trust my thoughts and honestly I have no idea what kind of person I am. I often make impulsive decisions like sleeping with my boss or quitting my job and moving to China. Decisions that I almost always regret and normally I don’t know why I made that decision. I obsess over people in extreme ways and then despise them as soon as I feel they have disappointed me, which maybe just a bored look they gave me or a flippant comment they made. I have weird thoughts and often feel as if people are watching my every move or have ulterior motives no matter what they do, I feel as though i have a rational and irrational side and they are constantly at battle.

Sometimes I talk to people who really I know don’t exist but knowing this doesn’t make it any less real.

I still self harm,I binge drink and am very promiscuous, often engaging in unprotected sex with violent and abusive men and women. I have been moving all over the world trying to get away from this but I think its time to stop and admit that I can’t do this alone, no amount of meditation or self reflection has helped me. My behavior damages my relationships, careers and has left me scarred and bruised. I’m currently living in China, from the research I have done, mental health services are not exactly common. My Chinese is poor and I don’t have the money to pay for a private English speaking therapist.

My question is,is my behavior just part of my personality or is there really some kind of treatment that could make me better? If I return to England I will have to start again, but I really can’t live like this. Is there anything I can do to fix myself? At times I have random impulses to kill myself and extreme urges to throw myself off of balconies or in front of trains. I’m hit by waves of grief which cripple and make it impossible for me to move.

Is it time to admit that I can’t cure myself and get some help? I assume the first step would be seeing my doctor?

Thanks for your help.

A. You may have had a breakthrough of sorts: “I have been moving all over the world trying to get away from this but I think it’s time to stop and admit that I can’t do this alone…”

You’re right. You can’t do this alone but that’s not to say that you have failed. You’re making the assumption that if only you would’ve tried harder you would’ve succeeded. Mental health professionals spend years in training, earning advanced degrees, learning complicated skills to treat mental health disorders. Without years of training and experience, it is immensely difficult to effectively treat mental health disorders.

You also have a skewed view of your childhood. You described it as “typical” but there’s no such thing as a “typical” bad childhood. No two people, not even siblings who share the same household, have the same experience. What might’ve been traumatic for you may not have been traumatic for a sibling and vice versa. The way in which we are raised, our social class, level of social support, family dynamics, and many other factors, affect our personality, temperament, attitude and shape our worldview.

You could read self-help books. Some of the best include those by M. Scott Peck, David Burns and Abraham Maslow. Maslow’s work is particularly important because he studied psychologically healthy people and described their characteristics. You could benefit by reading about the characteristics of self-actualizing people.

If it’s possible for you to consult a mental health professional, you should. Along with your own self-help research, it could significantly improve your life. Never think that you are beyond help. The people who are the most difficult to help, are those who don’t want help and that’s simply not the case with you. Please take care.

Dr. Kristina Randle
Mental Health & Criminal Justice Blog

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 28 Jun 2013

APA Reference
Randle, K. (2013). Losing Control?. Psych Central. Retrieved on December 19, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2013/06/28/losing-control/