Ask the Therapist Ask our resident Psych Central therapists. 2017-01-22T19:45:54Z https://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/feed/atom/ Kristina Randle, Ph.D., LCSW <![CDATA[Relationships: Trust vs Boundaries Respect and Understanding vs Dismissal]]> http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/?p=44431 2017-01-16T22:09:33Z 2017-01-22T19:45:54Z

My girlfriend and I grew into a relationship that is very valued. I found us important and I believe she does as well. We both realized we had past relationships, but she mentioned that she had one that was a friends with benefits relationship. His name came up a few times. I found that she used to work with this guy and they remained friends. Up until right about here, I was not thinking much of anything about it. When I mentioned something about a “named guy” having a past with her and they still being friends, she replied “yeah, and I STILL friends with him…” (maybe red flag?). Anyways as time went on, there were get togethers at first with out me…then I asked if I could come to one where he’d be there. I went, and I really just got an entirely bad vibe. Long drawn out hugs followed by “I miss yous…”. I tried my best to voice my discomfort with the situation, but she was very defensive and dismissive, saying I have nothing to worry about and that it was just sex…(more than a few times). Needless to say, it has not been resolved. I feel resentful now of the entire scenario and worse, it seems like this guy just keep “showing up” places where either we or just her and her friends go. I’m losing patients, I don’t want to control her or somehow erase her past. I would like her to understand that I am uncomfortable with the whole thing and it has taken a life of its own in my head now. I can always break up with her to avoid feeling this way, but I love her. I just don’t feel like she cares. The only reason I can think of her dismissing it is because she is ok with it, there is no reason I shouldn’t be. I’m not sure she realizes that being defensive and dismissive makes it seem like there is something going on, or that she is saving. I try to stay calm, but I get very upset about it sometimes. She says she loves me and wants me, but this all makes it seem contradictory.

A. Overanalyzing something or ruminating about it, is often just a defense mechanism to delay our coming to the truth. You say that you do not want to control her but would just like her to understand that you are uncomfortable with the situation, the one between her and her ex-boyfriend. It appears to me that she already knows how uncomfortable this situation is for you. In all likelihood, she just doesn’t care. If I may quote you, from your last paragraph, “I just don’t feel like she cares.” And neither do I.

You are not the only boyfriend or husband, who would be upset seeing their girlfriend or wife, having frequent, long-lasting hugs with a former sexual partner. Many other men or perhaps even most would be equally upset. They would not be happy and they would find their wife’s or girlfriend’s behavior to be unacceptable. Not everyone of course but many, if not most.

It is important in a relationship for both people to love the other equally or as close to equally as is possible. When one person loves the other more, then they become the underdog. The more loved one in the relationship will quickly come to realize their status and recognize that a breakup would hurt their partner more than it would hurt them. Knowing this, many of the more loved will take advantage of the less loved. That is why it is so important to be loved as much as you do love. Then both parties would suffer equal pain as a result of a breakup. As Bonnie Rait pointed out “you can’t make someone love you if they don’t.” You can’t make your girlfriend love you more than she does. It may be time to move on and find that woman who will love you just as much as you love her. Good luck.

Dr. Kristina Randle

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Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker <![CDATA[I Find It Comfortable to Be Alone But It Gives Me the Blues]]> http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/?p=43931 2017-01-16T22:12:04Z 2017-01-22T12:30:11Z

From Australia: Since I childhood, I find it rather comforting to be all alone. I don’t have many friends, and even with the few I have I feel awkward to be alone with them. I go to extreme lengths to avoid social interactions. Whenever I get a day off I stay in my home all day, and I keep assuring myself that’s what I want even though I know it’s not true.

Anytime I am forced into a social situation, I tend to be quite withdrawn to the point people don’t even know I exist. I find it hard to join in a conversation and I tend not to have any opinion. Once the whole ordeal is over and once I return back to being alone, reflecting back on the events makes me depressed. I am not sure if this is just a social phobia or more complex issue that needs addressing. What are some coping strategies that I can implement to overcome my issues?

Thank you.

A: I’m not sure either. It doesn’t sound like you are by nature an introvert. You miss being comfortable around other people. You do have some friends. The fact that you describe being with others as an “ordeal” suggests an anxiety disorder. The way to find out for sure what you are dealing with is to talk with a therapist who can spend the time with you to explore the issues in detail.

As for coping strategies: Often progressive desensitization helps people with social phobia – if that is what is going on. But I caution you: Treatment should always be driven by a good diagnosis. Wonderful interventions aren’t effective if they aren’t targeting the right thing. That can result in a waste of your time and give the symptoms time to get worse. So please get yourself an evaluation before deciding what to do.

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie

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Daniel J. Tomasulo, PhD, TEP, MFA, MAPP http://www.FormerChild.com <![CDATA[Dissociation or ADD? Where’s the Line?]]> http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/?p=44424 2017-01-16T22:03:43Z 2017-01-21T19:45:13Z

I severely zone out all the time and it’s getting worse. I’m not thinking about anything when I zone out and I don’t always notice it when it starts. It’s also extremely difficult to stop when I do notice. If I fight it, I get headaches. It feels like the blood has regressed from my frontal lobe and continues to recede to my mid brain.

I can walk and “respond” verbally while this is happening but it’s like I am not connected to my body. The stronger it gets, the more a veil comes over my eyes and the whole world goes blurry. I can’t snap out of it, it just gets better eventually.

It happens all the time: standing in line, driving, reading, talking with people, shopping, in class, at work, by myself or with other people. I may be really interested in what’s happening but if I start zoning, I can’t do anything about it.

I do NOT have alters. I do NOT take medicine, alcohol, drugs or unhealthy food (sugary stuff). I have had PTSD in the past, but have worked with a therapist to move through it. I don’t suffer with it anymore.

Is this severe ADD or disassociation? Or, it is the vague catch all, “brain fog”?

A: I think you’ve put forth a great question about your experiences. I would strongly recommend an evaluation by a neuropsychologist or psychiatrist. He or she can give you some tests to help pinpoint what these symptoms mean, why they are happening, and, most importantly what can be done to help.

Wishing you patience and peace,
Dr. Dan
Proof Positive Blog @ PsychCentral

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Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker <![CDATA[What’s Wrong with My Husband?]]> http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/?p=43929 2017-01-20T19:11:04Z 2017-01-21T12:30:48Z

From the U.S.: I am so concerned about my husband & am wondering if maybe he is suffering from something more than a usual bout of depression. its pretty consistent nowadays. Usually, in the mornings he is the happy, optimistic, loving husband I fell in love with almost 30 yrs ago. but then come the late afternoon he does a 180 & gets grumpy, apathetic & is basically a real jerk & hard to be around! then he gets down, he’s sorry & keeps apologizing. And somehow I end up feeling like its all my fault when really I can’t get my head to stop spinning from trying to figure out what in the heck just happened!

Invariably he says things like, “Why do I get like that?” And keeps saying he’s sorry! I love him very much, as do our 2 daughters but we all walk around never knowing from one minute to the next how he will react to any given thing & usually whatever it is that has him upset at the moment is something that he blows out of proportion. Also, he is VERY passive-aggressive! Its like that nearly every day!

Both of our daughters have anxiety issues & take medication along with seeing a therapist, (which I believe is somewhat due to his behavior. He’s been like this to some degree for years now but this past year it seems to have gotten way worse!

Please understand, he really is a kind, loving soul…but something just isn’t right! And he gets so apathetic! I am an optimist, he says I’m the only one who can bring him back to earth with my happy attitude! I’m positive he could benefit from some kind of counseling but I doubt he’d go! This past summer he had a real bad cold & he wouldn’t go to the Dr. Then he started having chest pains & only after he had been having them all throughout the week & then on Friday he was hurting so bad it put him on the floor! I THREATENED TO CALL 911 & FINALLY HE AGREED TO GO!

So you can see how hard it will be to get him to see some kind of therapist for himself! If it was for one of us he would happily go, but not f or himself. is he just depressed or something worse?

A: I’m concerned that this is relatively new behavior. I’m also very concerned that he seems okay in the morning and things fall apart in the afternoon. That suggests that it is exhausting for him to hold it together for the whole day. It also suggests to me that this is a medical problem, not a psychological one.

I think you should start by insisting that he see his medical doctor. Go with him. Explain the changes in his behavior over the course of the day to the doctor. Your husband probably cannot report the changes in his behaviors and mood accurately. It’s possible that you are seeing a vitamin deficiency, thyroid imbalance or even the beginning of one of the dementias. Please don’t let the possibilities scare you into not seeking medical advice. It is better to find out early. It’s just true that early intervention often matters — a lot.

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie

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Kristina Randle, Ph.D., LCSW <![CDATA[What to Do for My 19-Year-Old Son Who Lost His Father 6 Years Ago?]]> http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/?p=44427 2017-01-20T19:10:42Z 2017-01-20T23:30:19Z

My 19 year old has random, out of the blue, fits of crying and anger about losing his father six years ago to cancer. My son was seven when we divorced and really was absent from my son’s life, until 10 months before his death. In high school I believe my son used the “but my dad died card” to get out of trouble. I know it affects him but so out of the blue. After his father’s death, my son spoke to someone from hospice only once then no more. Can you give me some insight on this process please? Also his father was an alcoholic and abused drugs. Thank You.

A. You haven’t told me very much about your son. You do mention that he used the “but my dad died card” when he got in trouble. You also mentioned the fact that your son had very little to do with his father, since he was seven years old and now your son is 19.

Your son is having fits of crying and anger. Could these also be a “but my father died card?” I suspect that they might be. Grieving varies from person to person and the extent of the grieving is directly dependent upon the closeness of the individual to the person who died. According to your letter, your son was not very close to his father and thus the loss of his father should not cause much emotional distress. Even if your son was very close to his father I would be concerned by the type of behavior that your son shows; fits of anger and fits of crying.

A 19-year-old can have many problems, many doubts, many pains and many insecurities. Though he may mention his father during these fits of behavior the cause of his distress may be other than the loss of a distant father.

Regardless of the cause, I would strongly recommend counseling. It could very well solve your son’s problems. Good luck.

Dr. Kristina Randle

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Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker <![CDATA[My Friend Is Unhealthy Obsessed with a Celebrity]]> http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/?p=44510 2017-01-20T19:14:51Z 2017-01-20T19:30:08Z

I have a friend who was married 8 months ago. She has recently found out that she may be pregnant which is happy news since they have been trying for about a month. However if she had a discussion with me that greatly concerns me. Her favorite band is playing in Chicago, states away and she immediately bought plane and concert tickets for her and me so she could go see them. However she is obsessed with the leader of the band. She says that he is the exact same guy that she has seen in her dreams as a love interest before she even knew this guy existed in real life. She is taking this trip to Chicago just to meet this guy. She says that according to his personal details she thinks they would have a soul connection and that if they were in a relationship it would be intense and he would understand her more than her current husband. She is convinced her dreams mean she needs to be with this guy and that if she goes to Chicago he will want to be in a relationship with her.

And the past few months she’s also been struggling with a recurrence of anxiety and depression. She spoke with her husband about this today and it looks like they will be taking a break and possibly talking about a divorce. The level of Obsession she has with this band member is concerning seemingly along the lines of celebrity worship. The thing is I don’t know how to help her or approach her about her needing help for this. She is normally a rational person but regarding this she is completely irrational and is convinced that things like her having a love dream about him and then waking up to find that he is like something she posted on his Twitter means that this is Destiny. I don’t really know her all that well and we’re more like really good acquaintances or low-level friends so it’s hard to be honest or Frank with her that she needs help. How can I help her?

A: I can’t make a diagnosis on the basis of only a letter, of course. But what you are describing is consistent with a diagnosis of erotomania. This is a psychotic disorder where a person truly believes that a (usually famous or high status) stranger is a love interest. Since this occurred when your friend got pregnant, I have to wonder if something either medical or psychological was triggered by the pregnancy.

You probably can’t help her with this. Her husband, however, may be able to. Do share this information with him. She needs help, not a “break” from the marriage. I hope he’ll be able to get her to a psychiatrist for an evaluation. Her health, the marriage, and the baby’s health depend on it.

I wish you well,
Dr. Marie

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Daniel J. Tomasulo, PhD, TEP, MFA, MAPP http://www.FormerChild.com <![CDATA[I Don’t Truly Care About Anything]]> http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/?p=44421 2017-01-13T23:37:35Z 2017-01-20T12:35:17Z

Let me first start by saying, I have not lost anything. I am not in a stage of depression that is causing me to lose interest in things. I am a very motivated individual who works hard, eats healthily and exercises all the time. Thus I do do things and put a lot of effort in to these things. However, i don’t know why i do them, i know it’s the right thing to do and it is important for health etc but i don’t really care about it all. I never have truly “wanted” anything ever. Never had a burning desire or loved anything. I have always had issues with emotional attachment and lack any form of emotional connection with any thing. I have had long term relationships but never loved someone. I don’t care if someone dies. I feel like i am just floating through life not bothered about anything, just living an empty life. Never happy, never sad. Just existing. (From England)

A: What is curious about your email is that it isn’t presented so much as a question as it is a statement. You’re saying you are dissatisfied — particularly in the last sentence — where you say that you are empty. You describe yourself as being motivated, not attached to outcomes, and detached. These are not universally negative things, but I’m assuming there is a question about how to change these experiences because of the emptiness.

The work is to find moments when you are feeling something other than what you describe. A moment of engagement, or receiving someone’s kindness, a loving act toward you, receiving pleasure, accepting a gift, even tasting good food. The idea is to find those moments that are different from what you normally interpret as “empty”. The work is in finding some fragments that are not simply when you are existing. Look for natural times when something different — something better — has happened. Noticing the differences and savoring them will allow them to be highlighted.

It is easier to amplify something that is present than to create a reaction from scratch. The more you are able to notice and amplify the differences the more engagement and connection to your life you will feel.

Wishing you patience and peace,
Dr. Dan
Proof Positive Blog @ PsychCentral

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Kristina Randle, Ph.D., LCSW <![CDATA[Did I Have a Panic Attack?]]> http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/?p=44357 2017-01-16T19:24:56Z 2017-01-19T19:45:53Z

So I’ve had a rough time recently and I have depression and anxiety issues. I went over to a friends house last night and we were just talking in her room. Then we moved out into a little tree-pod thingy. (I don’t really know how to explain it better than that sorry.) After awhile we were talking about the way we were imagining a creature that had the head of a guy from the Russian Sleep Experiment and the body of the creepypasta ‘The Rake’. After that we really started to get freaked out. We closed our eyes so we didn’t look out the windows anymore, and we started to imagine it staring at us. I could almost feel it watching me. We both stopped talking and it continued to stare at me, but eventually it was just gone and I was in my idea of a ‘perfect room’. Someone was sewing my mouth shut, and I could feel the pain in my lips. I kept breaking the thread it was using but it just kept sewing it layer by layer by layer. Finally I couldn’t talk anymore, I couldn’t breathe. My hands felt numb and my arms were shaking. Awhile later I was conscious of my surroundings again and I could feel my mouth, I couldn’t move it open. I ran my hands over it and the thread was gone, and my lips were unharmed. I could still feel the pain and a tingling sensation in my ribs. My friend said she experienced something similar to this. (We both have depression and anxiety problems). We don’t know what to do, it felt so real and we had another one after it. Has anyone had something similar happen? I imagined myself into a panic attack?

A. It sounds like the two of you frightened yourselves with the power of your imaginations. Anecdotally, many young people engage in similar “paranormal” activities. It happens so often that it could be characterized as a “phase.” These sorts of things can happen whenever one discovers the Ouija board or engages in other occult activities. It’s very common but ill-advised.

Sometimes these games go too far. For example, a recent case involved two 12-year-old girls who read about a fictional character named the Slender Man on a horror story website. The two girls convinced themselves that this fictional character was real and that he commanded them to murder a young girl in order to pay him homage. They then stabbed a 12-year-old girl 19 times. Thankfully, their victim survived. The two girls are currently awaiting trial for attempted murder.

The best thing to do is to stop engaging in these types of activities. It wasn’t a pleasant experience for either of you. You also linked it to your mental health problems. Voluntarily and willingly attempting to elicit negative experiences seems like a bad idea. It’s a form of self-destructive behavior.

If you have depression and anxiety, then you should seek treatment from a mental health professional. Highly effective treatments exist for both conditions. Ask your parents to assist you with accessing treatment. There’s no reason to suffer with treatable ailments. Please take care.

Dr. Kristina Randle

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Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker <![CDATA[What Can I Do to Help Myself?]]> http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/?p=43927 2017-01-13T22:43:22Z 2017-01-19T12:39:07Z

From a teen in the U.S.: Thank you so, so much for reading all of this. I’m not at a very good place right now. I get my schoolwork done when I have to, but I waste a lot of time writing poetry because it’s the only place I express my thoughts. I’ve forgotten how to do anything but smile; I feel like I have to act happy and be there for other people all the time. I’m a bit of a hypocrite because I always advise my friends that their own health should come first, but I don’t believe it myself. What I do believe is that I only matter based on what I give to humanity. I just can’t convince myself that that’s not true. I’m so tired, but I sort of like it because it makes me feel like I’m doing enough.

I can think about things like space and nature and feel awed and appreciative that I’m here, but I’m never just happy. Though I don’t want this to happen, but my thoughts keep talking about death and suicide. I have so little emotional response to these thoughts that, if I wasn’t in control of myself all the time, I could see it happening.

My mom can’t handle this right now because my grandma’s terminally ill. I’ve talked to one of my best friends about it, and she’s watching out for me, but she’s started matching my behaviors. I can’t go to my school’s therapist because my family has a history with her from when my dad died and I really need an impartial voice from someone who doesn’t know me and also so I can make sure this won’t get back to my family.That’s part of the reason I’m excited for college next year, so I can go see the therapist there. My question is, in the meantime, what can I do to keep myself safe and as happy as possible?

A: Thank you for writing. Managing your life right now may be more difficult than you are giving yourself credit for. Your grandmother is very ill, which may be bringing up unfinished grieving about your dad. Your mother is overwhelmed so you don’t have her support. You have reasons to be unhappy.

I’m glad you have writing as an outlet and that you have such a supportive friend. I’m sorry you don’t feel you can talk with your school counselor. I only remind you that counselors are usually pretty good at separating out history from the present.

If you find you really can’t use that resource, then I suggest you call the Boys Town hotline and talk to a counselor there (1-800-448-3000). The Hotline is open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year and staffed by specially trained Boys Town counselors. The service is free and confidential. Don’t be put off by the name. The counselors talk to girls, too.

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie

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Daniel J. Tomasulo, PhD, TEP, MFA, MAPP http://www.FormerChild.com <![CDATA[OCD and Self Sexual Problem]]> http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/?p=44407 2017-01-13T22:38:58Z 2017-01-18T19:45:30Z

Hi I am having some trouble. This is very embarrassing and I can’t even talk to my therapist about this face to face because I feel weird about it. I know that this section of the website is for setting up consultations but I really need help. Ok so here I go: I have been diagnosed with OCD when I was young and have had it all. I havent masturbated in over 3 years and the reason is something that bothers me. I always feel like something changes in me when I did it whether I felt unsocial, different, or weird in any certain way. I have avoided it because I am scared that I will feel that way and go back on things that I have worked so hard to conquer. Ik it’s OCD and the correct thing to do is fight it by masturbating to conquer the fear but I just need assurance that that’s what I need to do. Please help me. Thanks so much.

A: I admire your courage in talking about this and trying to rectify the inner struggle. Our beliefs dominate how we perceive our behavior (and for that matter the behavior of others). It seems to me that you have created a double bind for yourself. Double-binds are often associated with OCD style thinking: You are damned if you do and damned if you don’t.

Rather than focus on this specific issue, I would encourage you to bring the issue of double-binding yourself with your thoughts back to your therapist. He or she will understand the core components of this thinking and can help you beyond trying so solve this particular dilemma.

Wishing you patience and peace,
Dr. Dan
Proof Positive Blog @ PsychCentral

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Kristina Randle, Ph.D., LCSW <![CDATA[I Can’t Tell What Is Wrong with Me]]> http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/?p=44354 2017-01-13T22:02:24Z 2017-01-18T12:30:07Z

I’m slowly coming to the realization that there is a greater possibility that I have some mental issues. Most of the time I feel numb – kind of like I’m outside of my own body watching myself do things. This happens a lot when I’m nervous (in any kind of social situation). I’m unhappy and I hate that because I don’t have anything to be unhappy about. I live a blessed life thank God. For that I am eternally grateful, I really am. My life hasn’t even been that hard – the hardest thing I’ve had to go through was just a big move and my crush (,his family) and my own family making fun of me. Its pathetic – extremely pathetic, I’m aware of that. If I could tell you what’s wrong with me I would, believe me, but even I don’t know that. There’s just this extremely unsettling feeling in the pit of my stomach that I just can’t shake. Not to mention this completely hopeless attitude to life that I can’t change. This looming sense that nothing’s going to work out.

My only goals are to get back home to Canada and to someday get a cat. However, I’m starting to back down from even those. I’m scared to go back home after all these years because obviously, things wont be the same. Its already been so long that I now feel like a foreigner to my country. Both of them actually (Canada and Sudan). I’m rethinking getting a cat because – like most things – cats hate me. I’m so hopeless, lonely and lost it hurts. It actually physically hurts. It’s been 3 years. 3 years of no ambition, of no hope. Honestly if it weren’t for my religion, there’s a large chance I would’ve ended it earlier on. I’m trying to be patient, I feel stupid, embarrassed and stuck up for feeling the way I feel and I just want to get to the bottom of this. Is this anything serious or am I just over exaggerating things?

A. To answer your question directly, I don’t think you are exaggerating. Your concern about exaggeration might be tied to your belief that it’s “stupid” or “embarrassing” to admit that you have problems. You should never feel “stupid” or “embarrassed” about having problems. Problems are a part of life. It’s important to refrain from inaccurate self-criticism (i.e. calling yourself “stupid”) because thinking affects behavior. If you believe negative things about yourself, then you might falsely conclude that you’re not worthy of help and thus not seek it. You are worthy and deserving of a happy, satisfying life.

The key to psychological health is having good critical thinking skills. These skills are not innate or instinctual. They are learned skills that can be taught in counseling.

I can’t provide a diagnosis over the internet but many of your symptoms might be consistent with depression and anxiety. People with depression often feel hopeless, have an inability to feel pleasure and lack energy. The thought of having to get out of bed can feel overwhelming, both emotionally and physically.

Feeling anxious in social situations might be indicative of an anxiety disorder. It’s common to feel slightly nervous in social situations, but a disorder might be present if social situations cause overwhelming distress and interfere with various aspects of your life.

The good news is that depression and anxiety are highly treatable disorders. Most people gain relief with a combination of medication and counseling. You should meet with a mental health professional who will evaluate your symptoms and determine what might be wrong. Treatment could provide you with a great deal of relief. Please take care.

Dr. Kristina Randle

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Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker <![CDATA[My Boyfriend Will Ignore All of My Phone Calls]]> http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/?p=43872 2017-01-13T22:02:10Z 2017-01-17T19:45:19Z

From a teen in the U.S.: Lately my boyfriend will ignore all of my phone calls during the day. Then he will wait until the last possible minute to call me at night. I get this feeling that this relationship is a chore to him. He was so loving and caring a few months ago, but now the only way to get his attention is to talk about sex. I feel like I am being manipulated, but I am not sure. We have been friends for as long as I can remember and I am starting to think that now, possibly, we moved into a relationship for all of the wrong reasons. I just hate the way I feel inside lately since he makes me feel like an overall burden. I just want some answers.

A: Trust your intuition. Sometimes turning a friendship into a sexual relationship just doesn’t work. It sounds to me like your boyfriend is a decent guy who doesn’t know how to tell you it was a mistake. I don’t think he’s manipulating. I think he doesn’t want to hurt you but doesn’t know what to say either. So he says nothing.

If you want to keep the friendship, give him a way to end the sexual part of your relationship gracefully. They takes some space and keep things low key for awhile.

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie

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Daniel J. Tomasulo, PhD, TEP, MFA, MAPP http://www.FormerChild.com <![CDATA[Seeing Bullies on the Streets]]> http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/?p=44275 2017-01-13T22:01:53Z 2017-01-17T12:37:01Z

I got bullied in high school for 1 year in 2012. After high school, I was living happily for a year in the same town as usual, everyone went back to normal. Then I moved to China for 3 years and when I came back, if the bullies have seen me on the streets they’ve been commenting things like “oh she’s back”, “here she comes” and they’ve done it in such a loud voice it is clear they want me to hear them. I am now repeatedly going through the bullying and the comments of the bullies and I feel paranoia about going out, sometimes even when I’m inside I imagine them to be commenting on anything I do. Can you help me? (From Sweden)

A: The best way to cope with this is to cultivate other relationships with people who care about you and you feel good with. Sweden has taken a very aggressive stance against bullying at work and online. I’d encourage you to check out these resources to help find others who can help you deal with this.

Wishing you patience and peace,
Dr. Dan
Proof Positive Blog @ PsychCentral

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Kristina Randle, Ph.D., LCSW <![CDATA[I Feel as Though I Have Two Consciousnesses]]> http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/?p=44351 2017-01-13T22:01:37Z 2017-01-16T19:45:45Z

I really am having trouble describing this, but I have two people in my head- yes I know that sounds down right insane, it is myself and it. I know the consciousness doesn’t exist, but the consciousness thinks its alive even though I think its my issues.It gets upset when I say it doesn’t exist, even making a show of crying. I think I’m insane! Its been around since I was a toddler and I have grown up with it, but now I am at a age where I need to question this for my mental health, because I know normal people don’t have voices that can talk or have emotions of their own. Do i have a sort of Schizophrenia? Or is it just some weird hallucinations? I really don’t know what to do.

A. A common question that I receive, mostly from teenagers, involves the idea of having two people in their head or a split brain or some variation thereof. In the vast majority of cases, I believe that they are describing an inner voice or what some researchers call subvocal speech. This phenomenon is experienced by everyone and it basically refers to internal mental dialogue. Virtually everyone hears a running mental dialogue.

People with psychotic disorders, such as schizophrenia, seem to hear an inner dialogue of voices that they don’t recognize. Studies have shown that non-psychotic persons recognize this voice as their own, whereas people with psychotic disorders think it is someone else’s voice or several other people’s voices. Naturally, hearing unrecognizable voices would be frightening.

You mentioned consciousness and I’m not certain if you were describing the experience of hearing voices or something else. I would need to more information to fully understand what you are experiencing.

Generally speaking, if you are in psychological distress, you should consult a mental health professional. He or she can evaluate your symptoms and determine if something is wrong. Most importantly, they will design a treatment plan to address your symptoms. I would highly recommend having an evaluation. Please take care.

Dr. Kristina Randle

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Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker <![CDATA[High on Depression Test But Happy]]> http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/?p=43870 2017-01-13T21:09:53Z 2017-01-16T12:20:08Z

From a teen in New Zealand: So I scored 47 on a depression test and that’s how I feel. But the the thing is I am happy. People still think I am weird and funny person too and happy but I still find myself normal just unique and weird.

A: This is an example of where a little information is not necessarily a good thing. A “depression test” online is intended only to provide a very general screening. It is not a diagnosis. Often such tests give a “false positive”. Your feelings are a much more reliable indicator than an anonymous “test”.

I am curious why you decided to take the test. You say you are weird. Weird can also be wacky and wonderful — not an indicator of abnormal. Since you are happy, I suggest you embrace your weirdness and enjoy life.

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie

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