Ask the Therapist Ask our resident Psych Central therapists. 2016-10-28T18:45:52Z Daniel J. Tomasulo, PhD, TEP, MFA, MAPP <![CDATA[Boyfriend’s Disproportional Rage]]> 2016-10-14T21:06:29Z 2016-10-28T18:45:52Z

My 18-year marriage ended nearly five years ago. With counseling, I learned that my ex likely has some level of NPD. It is important to me to not repeat this situation, so I evaluate new relationships carefully and proceed slowly.

For eight months, I have dated a 47-year-old man whom I will call Charlie here. We each have two children. For the most part, things have been great. We have much in common and we get along well with recreation and getting things done alike.

Unfortunately, clashes have become frequent and seemingly without a reasonable cause. When Charlie gets upset, he combusts. He gets loud, harsh and relentless. My attempts to stay calm tend to fire him up further.

Later, he apologizes for saying mean things, but sometimes he doesn’t remember what he said. When calm, he can discuss with me what happened, and we strategize for making positive changes. At times, we are able to implement those changes, but not consistently enough to gain trust and confidence. When Charlie is angry, he tends to revert back to his ballistic communications.

Recently, we both had to travel for work. Charlie also has several stressful areas occurring in his life with family, friends, recreational groups and work. I listen and offer support, but I am growing concerned about why so many areas of his life are in conflict.

Recent clashes have mostly stemmed from Charlie being insecure about a normal function of my job — attending events and networking on behalf of my employer.

However, our latest was about a remark I made that Charlie found insensitive. I swapped staying over at his house from Saturday night to Friday night for logistics for plans with my 16-year-old daughter. While attending a sporting event together on Saturday, Charlie expressed his disappointment that I wasn’t staying that night also and began to question my plans with my daughter (the details were still somewhat tentative). I remarked that I felt he was being critical of my spending time with my daughter.

Charlie stewed throughout the event and then blew up, finally explaining that my comment offended him. Despite a lengthy conversation and my apologizing about my wording, he raged throughout the next day via text; he eventually issued an ugly break-up threat last night. He claims that I am responsible for creating a dynamic that causes him to become ballistic.

A:  I admire the cautious approach and the fact that you don’t want to end up with another man with narcissistic traits. However, the anger, jealousy, and verbal abuse create a similar dynamic for you. Your emotional well-being is in orbit around him. Rather than see these problems coming his own insecurities and inability to self-regulate his emotions, he is pointing at your actions as a cause.

The fact that these conflicts are emerging regularly with others is important. It sounds more like a characterlogical issue with him than something you keep doing wrong. Also- the blackouts from his anger would suggest he gets overwhelmed by his emotions. When you put these issues together it sounds clear that he has an anger management issue.

Typically, this isn’t something you’ll want to treat in couple therapy. This is an issue he will have to deal with on his own. I’d recommend a support group for you (there are many in your area) to help you set limits with him. There are a number of anger management groups as well as individuals in your area who specialize in helping men control their abuse.

I’d look for a support group for yourself first — most likely through a woman’s center. Then I would use that support to help you explain to him that his behavior has become unacceptable and that he needs to work on it in therapy if the relationship is going to continue. My concern is that these issues are not likely to get better on their own — and over time may continue to get worse.

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

Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker <![CDATA[Sudden Social Anxiety?]]> 2016-10-14T20:47:30Z 2016-10-28T11:35:01Z

From the U.S.: I’ve noticed that I’m starting to dread going to work because I know I will have to deal with customers that come through self-checkout. I considered myself to be a people person and fairly outgoing for a while now, but recently I’m starting to avoid people and wanting to spend more time alone. Also, I’m starting to second guess myself when I interact with people; often I will find myself wondering if I said too much, too little, offended someone, or bored someone. I’m starting to become agitated when I go into work and often I’m hoping one of my managers will send to break or lunch early, just to get away from all the people coming through self-checkout.

Sometimes when the store starts to get busy, I start to become tense and uncomfortable. When I get off work, I will have times where I don’t anyone touching me or being near me, or I will be so exhausted I want to do nothing more than sleep or be lazy. I’m wondering if by working with people, and having to interact with them on a constant basis, I’m starting to develop social anxiety. Can you develop social anxiety by working with the public when you haven’t had it before?

A: I’m reluctant to call this social anxiety. Not everyone has the energy and emotional strength to deal with the public all day long. A checkout line is hectic, with each person expecting you to be pleasant, accurate and speedy. It can be exhausting. It may just be that the social demands of your job are wearing you out. You therefore have nothing left at the end of the day.

Before deciding there is something wrong with you, please consider that it may be that there is something wrong with the “fit” of the job for your temperament. Look around for a job that is a little less socially demanding (or at least a little less relentless) and see how it goes.

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie

Kristina Randle, Ph.D., LCSW <![CDATA[Sleep Issues after Ecstasy Use over 3 Years Ago]]> 2016-10-14T20:41:25Z 2016-10-27T18:45:34Z

Hi,Rather than answers, I am looking more for a bit of direction. Over 3 years ago I was pressured into trying a single ecstasy tablet. When this pill kicked in all was fine for an hour or two until I started to get heavy panic attacks. After that, life’s been very different. Days later a lot of mental issues that I’ve never had before suddenly appeared: sensitivity to sound, completely inability to fall asleep, or opposite of that sleeping for 16hrs+ per day and constantly being tired, afraid of the light, tickling in stomach sensation, etc etc etc. I feared that I’d be stuck with this forever, and thus my symptoms just kept getting worse as a result.

I seeked help and was placed on Lexapro 10 mg. It gave me reassurance and hope, and from that point on, the issues started to very slowly get better. I got down now to 2.5mg of Lexapro and most the issues have never resurfaced, other than sleep problems. My sleep isn’t bad as it used to be, but most of the time I still cannot sleep well. I wake up many times in middle of the night. I can fall asleep, but can’t stay asleep. The days that I can sleep well, I feel great. But the days I can’t sleep, I just feel tired and irritated, and angry at the entire situation. Also, ever since I done the ecstasy, my eyes couldn’t look at a TV set or a PC monitor very well, and I quickly developed red spider webs. These spider webs developed to a certain extent and have remained identical since.

Here are a few questions I have:

1. If 1 pill got me in this situation, certainly there must be some medication that can get me out of this situation?

2. I’m still on a tiny bit of Lexapro. It has been a great med I must say, but the sleep issue is not fully resolved. Perhaps there is different med that can help achieve better results? Perhaps not even an SSRI but a diff class of medication?

3. Still to this day I am not sure what happened in my brain as a result of taking this 1 pill. What are the possible causes? Do I have perhaps some sort of disorder that never showed up before it? Such as anxiety disorder or bipolar, or something else of that nature?

4. Lastly, if I wanted to find someone knowledgeable in this field that can help me by listening to me and giving me appropriate suggestions (what meds to switch to ,etc etc), then where would I find such a doctor? Would it be a psychotherapist or would it be some other type of field? basically, what type of doc would know most about this and help me most in such a circumstance?

A. Thank you for your very specific questions. I will answer them in the order that you asked them.

Regarding questions one and two, it’s possible that medicine would help but it might take time to find one that’s effective. You tried Lexapro but you might need to try others. Discuss this with your treating physician who can determine what medication or class of medication will work best for you.

Regarding question three, you can research what ecstasy does to the brain. That might provide you with insight about what happened to you. You identified the drug you took as ecstasy. but you really don’t know what was in the pill that you took. Most drugs sold on the streets are not pure; they contain all sorts of other chemicals in order to increase the profit. Consider the epidemic of people dying from heroin overdoses after using what they believed was heroin but was actually heroin laced with elephant tranquilizers and other dangerous drugs. These are just some of the many dangers of using drugs.

Regarding question four, psychotherapy could help you, especially with your sleep problems. You can learn new ways of relaxing and sleeping with psychotherapy. Hypnotherapy could also help. Another idea is to consult a sleep specialist or have a sleep study. I hope this helps. Please take care.

Dr. Kristina Randle

Daniel J. Tomasulo, PhD, TEP, MFA, MAPP <![CDATA[My Mom Is Depressed and I Don’t Know How to Help Her]]> 2016-10-14T20:39:25Z 2016-10-27T11:35:18Z

Hi there,I have a strong feeling that my mom is very depressed. I know she is holding a lot of emotions (negative ones) inside of her.

My mom has been through a lot throughout her life. She went through a nasty divorce when I was a child. She has been hurt a lot by her blood family. Right now, things are horrible with her current husband as they are CONSTANTLY yelling and fighting, saying mean things to each other, getting upset with each other easily, putting each other down when frustrated etc. ( divorce is not an option for either of them right now). Things with her kids (3 younger kids apart from me ages 14, 12, and 10) are very stressful because they all are too much to handle sometimes even for myself, they don’t listen, no respect at all, keep forgetting instructions, fighting with each other all the time etc. Things with money, debt, and expenses are really tight and difficult to manage. She works as a cleaner as a police department, and the employers there treat their employees like dirt. Also we were robbed a few days ago, so the loss of expensive things and insurance paperwork is really stressful too. She also has an obsession with what other people mainly family members and others of the same ethnicity will think about her. These are the main issues that I can think of that she has complained and been stressed out over.

As her first child, she tends to confide in me very very often. I am studying to be a social worker so I suppose I have some counselling skills, not much though as I am not completely qualified. I feel nervous about using the skills I’ve learned in school in fear of making things worse for her emotionally because of my inexperience.

However, I have suggested that she go find somebody to speak to professionally. The problem is she cannot afford an effective psychologist/counsellor. The prices for psychologists are ridiculously expensive. It almost seems as if it’s only for rich people.Sigh.

Tonight my mom said something to me that really really worried me. As we were having dinner, all of a sudden she got really teary eyed and said in Tamil ” I don’t know what it is but I dislike going to work, I dislike coming home, I dislike everything. The only thing that seems appealing right now is to die.” This scared me because my mom has had a history of suicide attempts as a younger woman, so she does have the potential to do something. To be honest the only thing holding her back is the fact that her kids are still kids. I am really worried and scared. I want to help her but there is only so much I can do.

I don’t want to lose my mom. What do I do?

Thank you. (From Canada)

A: I admire how much you want to help your mom. It sounds like your mother is willing to get psychological services. Many regions in Canada have counseling at low or no cost and this one near you may be able to help — or point you in the direction of a facility that can.

Her needs are too great for you to manage alone. I’d begin the search for a nearby facility that has a sliding scale, rather than a private therapist. This way your mom may be able to get the help she needs.

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


Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker <![CDATA[My Parents Think It’s Normal. Are They Right?]]> 2016-10-14T20:36:52Z 2016-10-26T18:45:38Z

From a teen in England: I am really worried about a lot of stuff. I’m afraid if anyone who’s close to me is late (Even 2 minutes late). I try my best to block it out but it takes over most of the time. Also I hate the way I look. I hate the size of my breasts (normally girls would love to have my breasts). I also get really sad for no reason. It just happens spontaneously. I have problems coping with these emotions as well.

I told my mom this and she says that everyone gets worried and I agree. But I don’t think she understands the same way I feel and I love my mom to bits. I really do think there is something wrong with me. I don’t know what. My Sanity score says that I have 5 serious conditions.

I know I should believe in my parents more than a test (Unless its from a doctor). But it’s stuck in my head and I want to start somewhere and I think this is the best place to start and to see if I really do need to see if there is something wrong with me?

Is my mother right? Is it just normal? Or do I have something going on with me?

A: I don’t know who is right. I do know that what you are describing is what I hear from many teens. It’s part of adolescence to be worried about your looks, to have unstable emotions and to be anxious about many things. It’s a stage of life where self-esteem is shaky. You are involved in figuring out life and your place in it — not an easy task.

If you continue to be concerned about your mental health, the first stop is with your doctor. Sometimes extreme emotions are a result of hormone imbalances. Sometimes a person like yourself is over-worried because you have no way to know that what you are feeling is within the range of normal. Your doctor does know and can treat you if necessary or reassure you if things are fine.

I doubt very much that you have 5 serious conditions. The Sanity Score is not a diagnosis. It is intended to help people narrow down their concerns so they can do further research. In your case, your doctor is your best resource.

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie

Kristina Randle, Ph.D., LCSW <![CDATA[Can My Therapist Tell My Grandma…?]]> 2016-10-14T20:34:12Z 2016-10-26T11:35:46Z

If I am 19, what can my therapist tell my grandma? My grandma takes me to appointments. I am a type one diabetic with a history (been in treatment 7 times) of purging, restriction and not taking my insulin to lose weight. Can my therapist tell my grandma that I need to go to the ER for my very dangerous uncontrolled diabetes?

A. Unless you have explicitly signed a legal agreement allowing your therapist to tell your grandmother about your therapy sessions, your therapist cannot reveal information about your case to anyone. Therapy sessions are confidential.

There might come a time, however, when your grandmother learns about your dire health situation. It likely won’t be from your therapist directly, but rather after medical intervention, when necessary, due to your refusal to eat or take life-sustaining insulin. Your therapist is legally bound to initiate involuntary commitment procedures in cases where clients are engaging in behavior that endangers their lives.

You are focused on the wrong issues. You should be less concerned about your grandmother finding out about your secrets and more concerned about saving your life. Eating disorders and diabetes, when left untreated, are deadly. This is a matter of life or death. It’s imperative that you do what’s necessary to save your life. Please take care.

Dr. Kristina Randle

Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker <![CDATA[Social Anxiety Stopping Me from Picking Psychology]]> 2016-10-14T20:28:32Z 2016-10-25T18:45:46Z

From a teen in England: Hello, basically I want to study psychology for sixth form and maybe after that study it for university. However my mum doesn’t want me to and wants me to study accountancy as it can make more money and more boys do it. However I am doing both for sixth form im more interested in psychology. The main thing is that I have social anxiety (im pretty sure but haven’t checked with anyone yet) and im scared that may stop me from doing what I want and apparently it is very to find a job in psychology which is also doing my head in. Can you give me any advice? Thanks in advance

A: Without knowing you, I can’t really give you career advice. What I can tell you is this: Studying psychology is useful for almost every other profession in which you will be dealing with other people. See if there is a way for you to take a psychology course or two while studying accounting. You will learn more about both fields so you can make an informed choice. If you do go into accounting, you will have a little background in psychology that will be helpful in working with your customers.

I don’t know the job prospects for either profession in England. I imagine there are websites that can give you that information.

Most teens are unsure of themselves socially. You are in a time of life when you are figuring out who you are and how you fit in with others. It can be a distressing time until you figure it out. That doesn’t mean you have a disorder. Work on getting more comfortable by participating in group activities and by being generous with others. People appreciate a good listener and a person who contributes in a positive way.

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie

Daniel J. Tomasulo, PhD, TEP, MFA, MAPP <![CDATA[Son in Law’s Odd Behavior with Grand Daughter]]> 2016-10-14T20:28:55Z 2016-10-25T11:30:54Z

I have witnessed my son in law stick his finger up my granddaughter’s nose several times. First time, she was on my lap (age 3) she had her finger in nose, I gently moved her hand away, saying no fingers in your nose, he then reached over and stuck his finger up her nose. He has done this several more times near me, latest time was this weekend (age 4). Last night we were face-timing and she was happy telling me about her day, He reached over and pinched / squeezed her thigh. She jumped and looked at him with a look like why did you just hurt me. She did say ouch daddy that hurts and he did it again, then laughed and said I am a crab. It actually left a mark on her leg. My daughter and son in law are divorcing and I am worried about my granddaughter. I know he loves her but this behavior seems very strange and not sure if I should be worried. Any help or guidance would be appreciated.

A: I can understand why you would be concerned. These are intrusive and abusive behaviors that strike me as indications of (at the very least) very poor parental judgment. As your daughter is in the middle of a divorce I’d recommend she tell her lawyer about this. It is possible that the lawyer may be able to request a psychological evaluation be ordered for dad. Naturally I can’t give legal advice, but I would at least let the lawyer know this has been an ongoing problem. Hopefully, this can allow a psychologist to get involved.

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

Kristina Randle, Ph.D., LCSW <![CDATA[Mother Seems to Act “Crazy”]]> 2016-10-14T20:23:28Z 2016-10-24T18:45:29Z

This has been an on-going thing for almost my whole life since I was born, my family won’t do anything about it so I’m just in need for advice. My mother has been in a mental hospital before for only a week, due to family issues. Every day, she leaves and comes back and something sets her off, during her episodes she thinks people are watching/talking to her on a voice machine and that they screw with her body… or that my grandparents put her on this voice machine… she also tends to blame me for random things and throws sharp knives away because she thinks my young brother is going to stab us in the middle of the night, when he is NOWHERE NEAR VIOLENT AT ALL, he’s only 3. I am just wondering if signing her up to a mental hospital, or maybe therapy will help it mentally abuses me and will do so my brother once he is older.

A. You are right to be concerned about your mother. She engages in unusual behavior. The only way she could be committed to a hospital for treatment is if she is a danger to herself or to others or if she is unable to care for herself (i.e. gravely disabled). Generally, hospitals are for emergencies.

She could benefit from consulting a psychiatrist. Psychiatrists are medical doctors who specialize in treating psychological problems with medicine. The psychiatrist could evaluate her symptoms and prescribe medicine to treat her symptoms.

She would also likely benefit from working with a psychotherapist. Talk therapy could help her to distinguish reality from non-reality. You should encourage her to seek help from the aforementioned types of mental health professionals.

You might also try family therapy. Family therapy could be very beneficial because it involves all members of the family learning new communication and interaction skills.

Generally speaking, no one can be forced into treatment unless they are a danger to themselves or to others. Try your best to encourage your mother to seek help. If she refuses, then you should consider consulting a mental health professional who can teach you the best way to deal with your mother’s untreated symptoms. Please take care.

Dr. Kristina Randle

Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker <![CDATA[I Don’t Know What’s Wrong with Me]]> 2016-10-14T19:43:59Z 2016-10-24T11:35:07Z

From a teen in Hong Kong: Since the beginning of secondary school, I’ve been noticing that I’ve been feeling more down. And I also experienced an increase in anxiety. I’ve always been an anxious kid, but this increased and now it has reached to the point where sometimes I can’t eat in public much. Since I am dealing with overweight issues, i feel like anything everyone will be thinking why I’m eating even though I’m fat already. My family don’t understand this, they keep on eating outside while I just want to go home.

My father was abusive towards my mother. He was a alcoholic and would regularly come home drunk. And he was a big cheater. My mother forgave him for his cheating habits multiple times. He fathered two children with two different women. They are divorced now.

I’ve been lying more frequently. When people ask me if I’ve ever been suicidal, if I’m depressed, if I’ve ever had really bad things happen to me, my answer is always no. I never tell my closest friend anything I’m going through. I don’t think they care.

I hate my life. My main emotion I feel like is anger and loneliness. I always feel angry, most of the time with no reasons. And I feel like I might lash out, and I’m really scared if that happens. Cause I’ve been holding my anger for years. I’ve been thinking about death since 3 years ago, nothing motivates me. I’ve tried reading motivational quotes and articles about why I should not feel depressed or be suicidal, but they don’t help at all. I’ve been to the doctors a lot for stomach issues. They don’t really have answers and the medicines they give me don’t help.

I feel my friends don’t care about me. That they just took me in the group cause they feel bad for me.I feel so lonely sometimes I want to cry. I feel like no one will love me, I’m so serious that no one will love me. I can’t imagine in the future that I will get a partner.

I do want to go see a professional, but they costs a lot here. And I don’t think my mother understands what depression is. I think I’ll be lying to my therapist about how I really feel.

I’m sorry if this is a big mess.

A: Your letter is only a reflection of how you feel. It’s a “mess” because you feel like a “mess”. You are so discouraged about the possibility of making changes that you are giving up on yourself — even more than your friends have. Generally, teenagers don’t hang around with someone just because they feel “bad” for them. It’s more likely they like you but are as discouraged as you are about how to help you.

I agree with you. Some professional help would probably be helpful. But only if you are honest with your feelings. We therapists only have what people tell us to go on. If you do decide to see someone, please take this letter and response with you and share it. Doing so will help the therapist quickly get to your issues and be more helpful.

It might also be a good idea for you to share your letter with your mother as a way to help her understand how seriously discouraged you really are.

If seeing a professional isn’t possible, please look into joining a support group here at PsychCentral. Go to the “Find Help” tab on the home page. Then click on the “forums and support groups”. You will probably find a group of people who can offer you support and practical advice.

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie

Daniel J. Tomasulo, PhD, TEP, MFA, MAPP <![CDATA[Should I Text My Therapist Out of Session? – EMDR]]> 2016-10-12T02:04:06Z 2016-10-23T18:45:03Z

Hi. My therapist from the beginning said if I ever need help or support out of therapy sessions that I should text or call. She gave me her number on a special sticker thing so I wouldn’t loose it!

However, that was a few months ago and I haven’t needed to contact her. But after last fridays meeting, I feel so so bad. I feel like I need to reach out and tell her I’m thinking about not continuing because of how bad it has made me feel and how it is interfering with my day to day life now.

Should I text her? I don’t want to cross the boundary, but I know she originally said I could… I’m just not sure how to proceed? I wouldn’t call because I don’t think I would get any words out! But I have written a long text saying what I truly feel. She’s been saying she needs me to ‘open my emotional door’ because it is so tightly closed! This text is VERY VERY open.

Don’t know if a text is crossing the line? or strange? I don’t want to invade her privacy by texting.

Advice would be amazing, Thank you! (From London)

A:  I believe it takes a great deal of courage to express these types of feeling to your therapist, and I appreciate consideration of the therapist’s boundaries. If she said it was okay to text, then I would text a brief message saying that you had difficulty with the last session and it is still bothering you. Let her know that you would be willing to write it all out, but that it would be lengthy, and that a phone call might be difficult. Be sure to let her know that you are feeling bad enough that you have considered discontinuing therapy. As an EMDR therapist, I am certain she will understand.

By asking her to help you in the communication process you have already done something that has therapeutic value — while not expressing so much that it may feel like a boundary issue.

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


Kristina Randle, Ph.D., LCSW <![CDATA[Is My Partner a Pedophile?]]> 2016-10-12T01:58:43Z 2016-10-23T11:30:55Z

I have been with my partner for four years now. I started to notice him staring at girls aged between 5 to 10 and very young teens. I first noticed this when we were in the car together and a little girl walk by and he was undressing her with his eyes. I didn’t say anything and thought it was I was reading to much in to it.

We went to his son’s concert and he just stared at a little girl the whole way through, then continually asked his son questions about her. We were at a New Year’s Eve party and the same thing happened, he just stared at a little girl all night. This happens all the time when we are together. When his son was a little younger and used to come out of the bath he would stare at him and pinch his bum and refere to him as being pure. I have confronted him and he has denied it but it happens so often he eventually said it’s because he still feels young.

He works away and said he masterbates up to 5 times a day. When he is home he has a very high sex drive and will want sex up to 3 times a day. I’m very accomadating and try my best to fulfill his needs. During oral sex he has held my nose and this makes me feel very uncomfatable. We went camping and there was a young teen doing exercise and he said we will sit here and just sat and stared at her and then later in the evening told me my bum was down by my ankles. And has made other horrible remarks about my genitals. Everywhere we go he just stares at young children and teenagers undressing them with his eyes. His dad just randomly said he likes play parks and when he is away and calls there are always children’s voices in the back ground. he is also very controlling and doesn’t like me to spend time on my own he is also a very jealous person and very controlling. This situation is making me very unhappy and I suffer very bad from anxiety. Please help

A. You said that he stares at young girls and “undresses them with his eyes.” Unless he explicitly states that he is doing so, it is difficult to confirm that he actually is. However, when confronted, he didn’t deny your accusations, but instead offered a rationale to explain his behavior. His offering of a rationale could be considered an admission of his behavior.

His behavior is a problem for many obvious reasons; chief among them is that it likely makes the girls at whom he stares feel very uncomfortable. His interest in them is likely sexual.

It’s a problem for your relationship because even after bringing it to his attention, he continues to do it. He seems to have little regard for your feelings.

Whether he is a pedophile is not something that I could determine on the basis of a short letter. He would need to undergo a psychological evaluation to determine that. Despite not having a definitive answer, there are legitimate reasons to be concerned about his behavior and your relationship.

It is concerning that he asks you to do things that make you feel uncomfortable. You also described him as controlling and jealous. By your own admission, being in a relationship with him makes you unhappy and anxious. If those things are true, then the question becomes: why stay with someone who makes you unhappy and anxious?

Generally speaking, relationships should bring happiness into your life and not be a source of misery. Whether or not you stay with your partner is ultimately your decision. If you’re having difficulty knowing what to do, consult a therapist. Therapy could help you to determine whether you should end the relationship. Please take care.

Dr. Kristina Randle

Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker <![CDATA[My Father Is Moving Out of the House]]> 2016-10-11T02:39:27Z 2016-10-22T18:45:28Z

From a teen in the U.S.: Hello. My father is moving out of the house but not divorcing my mom. I’m very confused. My mom and dad are married and fight occasionally. I got mad at my mom one day so I went through her texts and discovered my dad telling her that he was going to move out for a couple of months. He’s planning on moving into his cousin’s son’s room. Nothing’s the texts implied that they were getting divorced. I’m upset and confused about why he would do this. I can’t share my feelings with anyone because nobody knows that I know. If you have any advice or any idea why he would move out, please let me know. Thanks

A: Sometimes people separate for a time in order to try to save their marriage. Your parents may be considering a “time out” from the fighting in order to make a good decision.

Yes, you can and probably should share your feelings. You already know you shouldn’t have gone through your mom’s phone. I imagine you’d be furious if anyone did that to you. But since you did do it and discovered their plans, it doesn’t help anyone for you to keep it secret.

You need to apologize sincerely for invading your mom’s privacy by going through her phone. Own up to it and take whatever consequences come your way. But don’t let that stand in the way of a discussion about their plans and what it means to you. Often what we imagine is far worse than reality. Often incomplete information leads to complete misinformation. Let your parents know that you would rather be in the know than in the dark and scared.

Do be clear that you are not asking for them to share their problems with you. The details of their difficulties with each other are none of your business but the change in your family relationships is.

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie

Daniel J. Tomasulo, PhD, TEP, MFA, MAPP <![CDATA[I’m Emotionally Numb]]> 2016-10-11T02:23:01Z 2016-10-22T11:35:02Z

I’ve had only 2 sessions of EMDR, but I’ve read online that it only takes one session to start bringing back emotions. I suffer from PTSD, depression, anxiety, mild bipolar, and borderline personality disorder. I became emotionally numb 2 years ago… I have a boyfriend that I know I care about because of the things that I do for him and the way that I feel when we’re together (Not a feeling, more like I’m imagining what I’m SUPPOSED to feel.) I want to feel that sense of love, that warm feeling you get in your heart. I know in my mind that I love him, but not with my heart, and that’s the issue. I’m not able to feel positive emotions like joy, love, lust, passion, etc. I only feel nervousness, dread, anger, and deep, bone-rattling sadness and hopelessness. I’ve basically been a robot for the past 2 years and it’s destroying me. I also have weird urges to hurt my pets, which I couldn’t control at some point. I used to feel so bad about punishing my pets, but now I feel satisfaction is hurting them for no reason. My therapist thinks she can help me, but I’ve been seeing her for 4 months and there is no progress. What should I do?

A: While EMDR can and often does work rapidly I wouldn’t give up on the possibility that a few more sessions might be needed to help. While I’ve had people respond within 2 or 3 sessions, there are many that need a half dozen or more. Each person is different, and you may need more time. Also, I’d give your therapist a chance to help. While I know you want more immediate results, the fact that you know there is something not okay and are working toward getting it resolved with the right techniques and support is a very good thing. I’d encourage you to hang in there a bit longer with both the EMDRT and your therapist.

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


Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker <![CDATA[Should I Move to My Dad’s House?]]> 2016-10-11T02:17:56Z 2016-10-21T18:45:33Z

From a teen in the U.K.: I wish to know whether I should move into my Dad’s house, if that will make matter worse for me or can improve my life at the moment.

My step dad and my mother have, for a long time now, been moaning and shouting at the smallest things. I originally took this as just them trying to be good parents and teach us. However, recently I had an argument with my step dad and mother and things “blew up”. I was told I have been giving them attitude for a long time and that I show no emotion towards my step dad despite the things he has done for me which are things a true father would do and I truly am grateful for that.

I am a teen and I do admit I give them attitude, I am sure every teen does, but it is nothing like they make it out to be. During this argument my step dad told me that if I do not like the rules set in the house then I should move out. He also told me that I’m an embarrassment and he wants nothing to do with me. Tensions are high. Sometimes dinner is not made for me out of spite I think, even though I pay them 140 a month to pay my way, to have some dinner cooked for when I get in from a hard days work.

My mum doesn’t work due to disability and my step dad is her carer so they are always at home which I think is the reason they are always stressed and moaning. Being in the house is like being in prison a lot of the time.

That is my current situation. I am curious as to whether living moving out into my dads house in the south of England, where the rest of my family also lives as we moved up here 4 years ago will help things. If my mother found out I was debating this in my head she would be very offended and upset because my father used to slap me at a young age. I do not remember a lot of this however she does and she doesn’t like the fact I have forgiven him.

I am in favour of this. I’m currently at a job I dislike as well therefore a fresh start seems the right thing to go for.

A: This is a tough situation. Your home does sound like a pressure cooker. Your mom and stepdad are apparently restricted from doing very much outside of the home due to her disability. Isolation and lack of stimulation from friends and activity can wear people down, which often leads to irritability and can lead to depression. When you give them “attitude”, it may be the “last straw” for people who are already on the edge.

In addition, their pride may be suffering if they are more dependent on your income than they want to accept. If that’s the case, their annoyance with you may be an attempt to regain some dignity by asserting their parental authority.

At 17, you may want to reconnect with your father in order to make your own decisions about who he is and what your relationship should be. Your mother isn’t wrong to be concerned. But you are old enough and independent enough to take care of yourself now. It may be important to you to find out if he is willing to make amends for whatever happened when you were young.

Before you make a decision, I hope you will have a serious, calm talk with your mom and step dad about the current situation. Admit your part in making home less than wonderful. Talk to them about what it is like for them to be so isolated and see if you can find ways for them to have more to do. Talk frankly about whether your financial contribution is necessary for their survival. A fresh start might be helpful to you, but not if it puts your folks into financial crisis and you end up feeling guilty for it. You may need to do some planning with them first.

Meanwhile, do explore with your birth father about whether he would welcome having you with him. Explore employment possibilities before you quit your present job. It is generally easier to find a job while you have one. Prospective employers are more likely to hire someone who is demonstrably able to work than someone who is unemployed. (It’s not necessarily fair but it tends to be true.)

Take your time. Talk it out. Work on your own attitude and do some clear planning. Impulsive moves in situations like this tend to end badly.

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie