To be perfectly honest, I always saw myself as some sort sort of a superhero whenever it came to dealing with stress: I always knew how to shake it off by switching my attention to different activities, or (being my usual outgoing self) always had somebody to share my concerns with, in the toughest times I’d learn to schedule things smartly to earn myself some time for an extra workout to let my thoughts cool down, I’d handle altercations peacefully, and so on. Basically, I would always consider my personal set of stress factors as a darker side of the active lifestyle that I just had to handle gracefully. That was until I decided to make a grand move from Europe to Canada and due to certain legal and financial reasons was forced to live with my father’s family for some time. The detailed explanation would spread through dozens of pages, so I’m just going to say that my father and his wife have a very questionable moral views, a history of substance abuse and a very specific approach towards people that: A) I have never before been exposed to; and B) is pretty much a textbook definition of psychological abuse. I am fully aware that however it makes me feel is just a temporary condition that will soon be over, so I convinced myself that it’s perfectly fine to be a little down about it. However, I have recently realized that my “a little bit down” was much more of me being completely in denial of my state: in reality I have developed a very unfortunate pattern of compulsive behaviour, an eating disorder and in addition became quite anxious socially (which is the complete opposite of my entire entity and even more – ruined my relationship with quite a couple of incredible people). This realization came to me yesterday and I feel much better already, since I now know I have things to work on, but the problem is that I’m currently isolated from my father’s family, they are on a vacation, coming back this weekend, – and when they do, as much as I want to believe that things are going to be better, it is very unlikely. I will still have to spend some indefinite amount of time in their house afterwards and would really appreciate an advice on how to prevent myself from going back to.. you know, being the scary non-charming kind of a person I’m not. Thank You.
A: This sounds very difficult but the fact that you recognize it and are looking to make alternate plans is very good. I think two primary approaches may help. First, I would draw on as many of the resources as you have to stay out of the house as often as possible with friends or simply investing your time away from home. The idea is to cut down on the amount of time you are in this toxic environment.
Second, I would have a very concrete plan for getting out. The kind of depression you’re talking about comes from feeling helpless in the situation. The more control you can bring into your life at any level, the better. Even when we are in situations that seem stuck, we can make ourselves feel better by finding ways to become empowered.
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 25 Jul 2013
Tomasulo, D. (2013). Ways to Cope with Depression. Psych Central. Retrieved on January 26, 2015, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2013/07/25/ways-to-cope-with-depression/