Ask the Therapist Ask our resident Psych Central therapists. 2016-07-26T11:25:27Z http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/feed/atom/ Kristina Randle, Ph.D., LCSW <![CDATA[I Have Adverse Reactions to Every SSRI I’ve Tried]]> http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/?p=42122 2016-07-19T18:39:04Z 2016-07-26T11:25:27Z

At first I divided them into two categories, the sedating ones that left me a zombie and the agitating ones that made me aggressive and gave my violent thoughts. I think I’ve been on 10-12 of them, including all of the standards. In trying the zoloft for a month I noticed that it started sedating but evolved into aggression, so the two categories might just be one with different timing. Now, I find myself in a situation where my GP is accusing me of faking the reactions. Is there a test I can insist on to validate my views? An expert I can ask her to talk to? Also, she’s been minimizing the effects of things and now the insurance company is using her notes against me to kick me off LTD. Currently, I’m on wellbutrin, because we have to do something and the dogma of the protocol requires that I take an SSRI. I’ll try to keep the emotional out of this, but I am quite demoralized now. In the last appointment my GP asked me if I was suicidal and I went off on her pointing out that she was only asking to cover her own ass and that I knew if I said yes it would mean her calling an ehs crew to come and restrain me (the one thing that I’d told her earlier would make me violent).

PS: I’ll include this because it’s sadly amusing. The last psyh eval I got a diagnosis that literally (no exaggeration) relied on time travel for validation. To say I have no faith in psychiatrists would be an understatement.

Thanks in advance for your assistance

A. You did not include a key piece of information in your letter, namely, your symptoms. Maybe your medicine is not working because your symptoms require a different type of medication rather than the SSRIs. Without more information about the nature of your symptoms, I cannot provide specific suggestions but a different type of medication might be needed.

You might also benefit from treatment other than medication. Depending on your symptoms, psychotherapy might help. Psychotherapy can treat a large variety of psychological problems including depression, anxiety, irrational thinking, violent thoughts, and more. It is generally recommended that people taking medication also be in therapy. If you are not in therapy, it might explain why your symptoms are not improving.

Finally, I’m not certain what you meant by: “I got a diagnosis that literally (no exaggeration) relied on time travel for validation.” Perhaps you’ve lost confidence in your psychiatrist. A second opinion could expand your options. Please take care.

Dr. Kristina Randle

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Daniel J. Tomasulo, PhD, TEP, MFA, MAPP http://www.FormerChild.com <![CDATA[Constant Anxiety]]> http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/?p=42120 2016-07-19T18:37:14Z 2016-07-25T21:05:15Z

I Need to prove myself to myself. I’ve struggled with anxiety and depression for over a decade, since I was 13. Through college I went through five majors and the one I graduated with I hated by the end. I began graduate school because I put in all the work in undergrad and my parents wanted me to try grad school. I dropped out before the first semester was over. I work in an unrelated field, making just enough to live on.

I was always told I am very smart. I had a 4.0 gpa in high school and a 4.0 gpa my first 2.5 years of college. I was never drawn to science in high school. My parents highly value practicality and usefulness. They see art and humanities as unnecessary fluff. My friend group was the top 10% of my high school class. They’ve all gone on to masters degrees, medical school, or working in a science-y / technical field.

I wrote a short novel in high school. The summer before going off to grad school I wrote another novel. I self-published and told extended family as well as a few friends about my book. Only my mom bought a copy. I felt very hurt.

I’ve always wanted to make a difference in the world. I want to inspire, share beauty, and touch the humanity in people. I’m moved by music, art, literature, and film. I remember writing short stories in high school, having my parents read them, and seeing my parents with tears in their eyes. They said how well I conveyed human experiences.

I’ve returned to school for another degree in a technology subfield. This field allows me to make good money, and over the past six months I was very excited about the actual content of the degree. The more I look into it, the more I realize that jobs in the real world will be focused on making profit for a company, not helping others.

I wonder if I chose to go back to school to prove to myself that I am smart and capable of hacking it in a science/math/tech field? I feel so lost. A month ago I was gung-ho about this degree. Now I’m wondering if I’m a duckling trying to be a swan. I voiced my concerns to my dad. He said I need to just commit to it and do it.

A: It sounds like it is time for you to focus on your purpose and meaning in your life rather than trying to follow your parent’s well-meaning advice alone. I’m not suggesting that you give up school, or technology, but I am suggesting that you make sufficient time for your writing.

Everything you have said about your passion for storytelling indicates that you are more whole, integrated, and happy when you are creating. Make your creative writing an integral part of your world. This will give you the balance you are looking for.

Wishing you patience and peace,

Dr. Dan
Proof Positive Blog @ PsychCentral

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Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker <![CDATA[My Dad Has Developed Weird Patterns]]> http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/?p=41828 2016-07-19T18:34:58Z 2016-07-25T16:35:53Z

From the U.S.: My father’s mental health has been deteriorating lately. No one in the family talks to him except me and my little sister (10). He went from this quiet guy when I was growing up to someone who isn’t afraid to voice his opinion. Which wouldn’t be so bad, if his opinion made sense. He has this obsession with rhyming all the time. He thinks it’s funny. It’s not. And he does it all the time. He thinks its so good, it’ll be the hottest thing to hit Vegas. For Example: (If you don’t read all of it, I don’t blame you.)

“I will be like a hot potato on fire and when I start there will be no slowing me down and I will touch the ground my ass will get the cash as I smoke the grass in a mad dash so I will not get a rash kiss the monkey in the mouth as you chase the monkey down south punk will suck then he must f– till 1 oclock then he will catch the truck to get a fucking ugly duck then they will be out of luck and out of their mind as they get a dirty behind then they will resign”

I feel bad for him. He has no one in his life besides me, my sister, and whoever he sees behind a cash register.

While I’m out here trying to live my life, I also cannot post anything on facebook and socialize with my friends because my comment section becomes his comedy hour.

I don’t want him to feel cut off from my life, but I also cannot tolerate this any longer. What do I do?

A: You are right to be concerned. The fact that this is new behavior is a red flag that something is seriously wrong. He shouldn’t have to deteriorate more before something is done. You, and especially your little sister, shouldn’t have to put up with this.

You didn’t mention what your mother is doing in response to this behavior. If she is in the picture, she is probably in a better position to get your dad to the right help than you are. If she is not available, then please enlist the aid of someone your dad respects to help you take the steps that need to be taken.

He needs to see a doctor. He needs a complete physical check up to determine if there is an undiagnosed medical problem. A heart condition, a thyroid problem, even some vitamin deficiencies (to mention a few possibilities) can cause this kind of erratic behavior and irrational thinking.

If he is medically fine, then the family needs to get him to a mental health professional. I don’t have enough information to make a diagnosis, of course. But an interview with a professional will help determine whether there is a mental health issue.

Your father is a lucky man to have such a caring son. Trust your good instincts and do what you can to get him the help he needs.

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie

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Kristina Randle, Ph.D., LCSW <![CDATA[How Can I Talk to My Friend about My Feelings?]]> http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/?p=42068 2016-07-19T18:31:57Z 2016-07-25T11:25:55Z

For my entire life I have had to deal with anxiety, and because of this I’ve always had a hard time making friends and opening up to people. Things that have happened in my past does not help this. For about a year now I have gotten very close to my now best friend. I go to her house a lot and spend the night often. Lately we have been staying up late, and have been talking about our emotions and things that are bothering us. I don’t know how to talk about how I feel or how to put my feelings into words. So when we talk it is mostly her talking and me listening. I want to be able to rant to her or to just be able to tell her whats wrong with me when I’m upset. The thing is I never know how to put it into words or how to explain it in the slightest. When I get face to face with people my mind just kind of goes blank. Would you have any advice for me? Thank you for taking the time to read this :)

A. You are welcome. It is my pleasure to read and answer your question.

There’s really no right or wrong way to speak about these issues. The best advice I can give you is to be honest and sincere. Honesty is important for having a good relationship. You might first try talking to your friend about how difficult it is for you to share your feelings. That might be a good start.

Another idea is to write her a letter about your difficulties with sharing your feelings. Writing is more contemplative than speaking. It affords you the opportunity to think through what you want to say before you say it. It could help you to clarify your own feelings. It could be a good exercise for you and it could improve your relationship with your friend.

Relatedly, you might want to start writing a daily journal. Many people believe that journaling is very powerful. It allows you to organize your thoughts, detached from the busyness of day-to-day life, clarify your feelings, increase your memory, identify patterns of behavior and thinking, and so much more. It’s something to consider. I hope this helps. Please take care.

Dr. Kristina Randle

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Daniel J. Tomasulo, PhD, TEP, MFA, MAPP http://www.FormerChild.com <![CDATA[My Life Is Finally Moved Forward, So Why Am I More Down Than I’ve Been in Years?]]> http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/?p=42118 2016-07-19T18:30:30Z 2016-07-24T21:05:46Z

I have come a long way since 2008 when I had a complete mental health breakdown. I have finally gotten control over my action. I am winning my daily battle more almost all the time, or I was. I lost everything in 2008 including the ability to control my actions, for years my emotions ran everything. I didn’t want to hurt anyone. I hate taking medication but I was begging for anything that might help, only to be told I would be on so many pills I wouldn’t know whether I was coming or going. So I closed myself away from the world for fear I would react to anything in a negative way. I wanted to give up, but couldn’t. I tried everything available to me in town and in cities I knew well so would not put any more stress on myself then I had already by forcing myself to go to theses places. That went on for years I would force myself to leave my home go to wherever my new hope for help was but nothing worked. I left my home less and less scared of what I might do. T
hen 3 and a half years ago something changed. I was starting win more and more. I had no help no support but the strength that I lost in 2008 was coming back. I struggled yeah but I was doing it. My life was getting better. Soon I felt strong enough to work. However I was turned down every single time. I was still winning my battle for control over my actions and thoughts but I did give up hope of having a job and moving out of a town that is for me toxic.

18 months ago every thing changed I met someone. I met a man who is building a business from scratch and is taking a chance on me. He knows the truth about my difficulties and for the last 10months he has been pushing me to keep moving forward. Days I’d try hide he’ll come round my home talk me up. For 3month I’m working and winning my battle for control 99.9%. My life is amazing. So why for 2week are suddenly I so down that I cry myself to sleep almost every night. Or will break down crying during the day. Luckily my boss he is ok with it. But why?

A:  Thanks for your letter. Sometimes when we transition to a life that we have been yearning for we can feel disoriented because we have spent so much time in the struggle that the achievement throws us off. If you have been constantly grappling with the work of getting better then the norm for you is to be in a fight for improvement. To reach a point where you are not having this struggle demands a recalibration.

Give yourself time to get used to a life with less battle. I’d highly recommend reviewing your gratitude for specific events in your daily life a few times a week. This can help you settle in to your new situation.

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

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Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker <![CDATA[I’m Afraid of My Own Brother]]> http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/?p=41832 2016-07-19T18:14:39Z 2016-07-24T16:35:04Z

From Canada: I am 17 my brother is 20. As a young child he was a momma’s boy and very kind but he did have anger which was seen as normal. But looking back at his anger, it was there from a young age (from my view anyway) as time went on his anger got worse.

He’s been physically and emotionally abusive to me, which everyone that I confided in said it was just a brotherly thing. He yells at me and my parents, mainly just me and my mom. He is always right no matter what, in his mind anyway. He lies and over exaggerates everything to put the blame on someone else.

My mom will ask him a simple question and it will result in him screaming in her face. We are tired of the way he treats us. Outside of the house he is seen as very polite and kind but at home he treats us terribly. I’m not sure what’s wrong with him, please help.

A: It’s true that siblings fight. It’s true that most families experience conflict now and then. But not to the point where a younger sister is afraid of her brother; not to the point where a young man is abusive to his parents and his sister. What you are describing is not a “brotherly” thing. What you are describing is bullying.

Your brother seems to be more in control of himself than you think. If he can be civil to other people outside of the house, he could do the same at home. He is choosing not to. It may be that he has learned that all he has to do is act threatening and he can do what he pleases at home. Other people won’t tolerate it.

There is no good reason for you and your folks to put up with this behavior. At 20, he is old enough to leave home and take care of himself. The condition for remaining in the house should be the same kind and polite behavior he uses outside. Family members who love him should get his best self, not his worst.

If your parents can’t draw a line on his behavior, I hope they will consider seeing a counselor to help them feel okay about making reasonable demands on their unreasonable son. No one should live in fear in their own home. All of you deserve a peaceful and loving atmosphere at home. Your brother will only benefit from learning how to treat the people closest to him with respect and love.

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie

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Kristina Randle, Ph.D., LCSW <![CDATA[I Can Be Anyone I Wish to Be, It’s Like I Choose from a Collection of Personalities]]> http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/?p=42065 2016-07-19T18:16:48Z 2016-07-24T11:35:03Z

I’ve completely changed, I don’t know exactly who I am, I can be anyone I wish to be, it’s like I choose from a collection of personalities in my head. My mind always has 2 opposite opinions on a subject. Most of the time i feel irritated for no reason and it’s like there’s too much going on in my mind at the time that doesn’t have anything to do with anything going on in my life. i just think-really think- about things that i shouldn’t be thinking about. Sometimes, I think of these picture perfect scenarios with people whom I may or may not have met before that would never happen. I have so much to say and feelings to express yet I prefer to keep to myself. I’d rather spill to a stranger whom I won’t ever see again rather someone close to me.

A. You seem to be daydreaming, fantasizing and having difficulty concentrating. You indicated that you have changed but you did not elaborate. Did something happen that may have led to this change? I need more information to determine what might be wrong.

Meeting with a mental health professional might help to uncover the source of the problem. Generally, you tell them about your symptoms, your life circumstances, your psychosocial history, and they will help you to fix the problems. Both medication and psychotherapy could be very helpful.

Mental health professionals are specifically trained to treat psychological problems. They know how to help. Mental health treatment would be the most efficient way to solve your problem. Please take care.

Dr. Kristina Randle

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Daniel J. Tomasulo, PhD, TEP, MFA, MAPP http://www.FormerChild.com <![CDATA[My Divorced Mother Hates My Boyfriend]]> http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/?p=42116 2016-07-19T18:11:44Z 2016-07-23T21:05:58Z

Hello. My concern is basically that my mother who has been divorced for 10 years (maybe longer) says that she hates my boyfriend for these reasons:

1. He reminds her of my father.
2. “There is just something about him I don’t like and I don’t trust him,” she said.
3. She doesn’t like his eyes.
4. Because he is Mexican.
5. He is a contract worker. Your father was a contract worker too and he always lost his job. He doesn’t have a real job. (she says)

My boyfriend is very well educated and is a computer engineer. Yes, contract. But he makes a lot of money and has been taking care of me. My mother is Japanese and she lives in Japan. She met my boyfriend when she came to visit America. I didn’t tell her about him much but I wanted her to meet him so I arranged a dinner at my house. I even kept it casual by inviting my mom’s best friend and her kids (who are adults) too. Before she even met him, she drew conclusions about him and said ugly things like “I don’t like Mexican families.” This is really odd. Because my mom is not usually this judgmental when it comes to race. But I guess she’s an inner racist? Anyway, during the dinner she barely spoke to him. And our dinner was at most 2 hours long. The sad thing is that he knows she doesn’t like him, although I’ve been telling him that she does not and it will be fine.

Now, a year later we are still together and my mom still hates him. Recently he said that for my Christmas present he wants to pay for my plane ticket to go to Japan for New Years (a very important family holiday). He knows how much my family and I miss each other and he wants to do this for me. He is expecting that my family will be kind and welcome him to the family and let us stay at my family’s home. I believe that the rest of my family will really like him. But, I am scared to tell my mom that we are going to Japan. And I am also scared to tell my boyfriend IF my mom refuses to let him stay with us and join in the family festivities.

A: The story of mothers and fathers not liking the choice their child has made for his or her lover is as long as recorded history. From Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet to many current-day movies, the story of prejudice and racial bias in imbedded in the evolution of relationship.

Since you list your age as 24, I’d say it is time for you to be direct with your mother, Let her know that her protests are not going to change how you feel — and that they have more to do with her past than your future. I’d be very clear with her that if she can’t welcome you both, that you aren’t interested in a trip marred by her poor attitude. If your mom can’t accept your decisions, let her know you will wait until she can.

The process of individuation is difficult, but you cannot live your life trying to please your mother. If you do you are likely to hold a resentment that will affect your relationship with her anyway.

I’d also talk to other family members about your concerns to get their input. Right now you and your boyfriend are the target, but they may have an interest in helping you because it may be helping them downstream.

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

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Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker <![CDATA[Increasing Depression]]> http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/?p=41834 2016-07-19T18:08:45Z 2016-07-23T16:35:02Z

From Australia: I’m 40 and was made redundant from my job and can’t find work for the past 18 months. I am unemployable despite having qualifications. My dad past away in September. Can’t find a partner.

This is affecting other parts of my life including getting rid of all my friends and their contact details, not leaving the house unless I have to, being a recluse, not talking to people, attending family functions and not socializing, not doing things that I use to enjoy, always tired, no energy or desire to do anything, I feel helpless, useless, lost all confidence in myself and want to just end it all.

A:  Losing a job and being out of work is a major psychological injury for many people, especially in middle age. I wish you had shared why you think you are unemployable. I don’t think it’s because of your age. The fact is that you are 40, not 60. You still could have a 20 – 25 year career ahead of you. The same is true of finding a partner. I know from my mail that there are wonderful single women who are looking for love. You could have a loving relationship for decades ahead.

Your response to this crisis seems to be depression. For that reason, I urge you to see a therapist to help you manage the loss of both your job and your dad and re-enter the world of the living. It may be that you need to retool in some way or even change your line of work. It may be that you need some help figuring out how to meet potential partners.

Sitting at home feeling helpless isn’t going to improve your situation. If you could have pulled yourself together on your own, you would have done it already. Writing us here at PsychCentral was a good first step toward a better future. Now, please, take the next step and find a counselor who can give you the advice and support you need.

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie

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Kristina Randle, Ph.D., LCSW <![CDATA[Diagnosed Bipolar 2, Fear It’s Becoming Narcissism or Sociopathy]]> http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/?p=42062 2016-07-19T18:06:14Z 2016-07-23T11:25:38Z

To sum things up, I haven’t had therapy since I was a child. Im terrified to seek help, but lately the thoughts and impulses scare my safety and others. I idealize a lot of things socially unacceptable, my only confidant said if I were to act or attempt such things they would have to turn me in. I have a hard time knowing whats real pr not, and if others are out to get me. Ive been suicidal n self mutilate my entire life, Ive almost lost it a few times. In 2013 I tried to seek help, I think I was suffering PTSD. After wanting me in group therapy I ran and never went back. I also have substance abuse problems, Im irrational and impulsive, and making common decisions is difficult. I shake constantly, always weak but sometimes feel invincible. I may be anemic but nothing confirms it. I sometimes see things that aren’t there but rarely. I dont like people by any means, nor do I have much empathy. To keep my relationships okay sometimes I fake or overly act certain emotions I know I should have. I crave power and glory, to a point it should be a concern, yet sometimes lack motivation? I know I have experienced depression on many,many occasions. There’s things I’d like to do but I know I never could. I’ve been anticipating a major breakdown for about 8 from suppression, hiding, and faking. Ive had a great deal of tragedies, sexual abuse, abandonment, various suicides. I saved a friend once as a teen, I cut myself fairly bad, but I succeeded in taking the box cutter away after he cut his wrists, throat, and tried to stab his stomach. It plays out in my dreams like I remember, when I awake many things I’ve suppressed flood my head. Overall though the things I want to do, the things I find acceptable etc. thats what is scaring me, also that I can’t remember things.. I guess all of it. The thought of seeking actual help, I know what I feel isn’t normal, but I fear what will become of me or my family if I go and completely honest.

A. You are making a mistake by not seeking help. The only thing that could “become of you” if you were to seek help, is that your illness would get to improve. Psychotherapy is a positive experience for most people.

You may be ill-informed about psychotherapy. Negative ideas about it often come from a combination of unflattering pop culture stereotypes and fear. In order for it to be effective you must be open and willing to accept treatment. People who are willing to accept treatment can be helped. People who are unwilling to accept treatment can’t be helped. You can choose to be open to treatment or you can choose to not be open to treatment. The choice is entirely yours.

The symptoms you have described could be the result of the trauma you have experienced. Trauma can cause many problems in life. Psychotherapy is the ideal place to deal with trauma. It can help you to correct your problems.

The bottom line is this: if you choose not to seek help, then you’ll likely continue to suffer and may even engage in criminal behavior for which you could be incarcerated. As you noted, you are on the verge of losing control. Your confidant made it clear that he or she would turn you in to the authorities should you do something that warrants it. Those are indicators that you need help now. It is better to be proactive than reactive. The time to seek help is now, not after something bad has happened. Please take care.

Dr. Kristina Randle

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Daniel J. Tomasulo, PhD, TEP, MFA, MAPP http://www.FormerChild.com <![CDATA[I Think I Am a Compulsive Liar]]> http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/?p=42114 2016-07-19T18:06:57Z 2016-07-22T21:05:08Z

From England: I don’t mean to be and I desperately want to stop. Please help me. I am absolutely horrified and hate myself so much because I that I lie about some things that are serious and many other minor things (not to do with anyone else but myself) and I don’t know why I do it, I don’t do it on purpose, I don’t mean to – it just comes out somehow automatically before I can stop myself, it always has done and I desperately want to stop and don’t want to hurt anyone. I don’t think anyone in the world would hate or judge me more than I do myself and deservedly so. I think I have done it since late childhood. Please help me. I was sexually abused as a child and grew up in a very dysfunctional family where my mum had a ‘nervous breakdown’ when I was about 7 and again at 9. She was/is also very agoraphobic. I and didn’t tell anyone about my abuse until well into my thirties. My ex-husband left me when my children were 5 & 3 and I never remarried and never want to. Please, please help. I don’t know where else to turn. Thank you.

A:  I appreciate your email and think it is very brave of you to start facing these issues. One way to begin understanding the lying is that for years you kept the abuse a secret. This, along with growing up in a dysfunctional family created an internal truth that had to hidden to the outside world. Since the beginning of your “lying” started in childhood it makes since that the original dynamics of the abuse and dysfunction may have been what forged this coping mechanism. My experience in this matter is that learning how to cope as a child by lying becomes a style of interfacing in the world.

I would highly recommend some individual therapy to sort through the origins of this style — and to find ways to begin sorting through this compulsion. There is some interesting research that expressive writing may be one way you might enhance your therapeutic process.

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

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Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker <![CDATA[To Flirt or Not to Flirt …]]> http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/?p=41836 2016-07-19T18:01:07Z 2016-07-22T16:35:31Z

I’m in my 30’s with an adult child whose out of the house, so I’m no youngster, but I recently met a man I’m attracted to who happens to be 23 years my senior. We met via a writer’s group. Both of us have published works and neither of us were impressed with the format or quality of feedback from the group. I don’t remember how it happened, but I ended up with his contact information. After a few emails I invited him to another writers group. He accepted and has been attending, so we see each other twice a month and usually linger after the meeting to chat before heading home.

Last week I called him and asked if we could meet for lunch because I needed someone to bounce some ideas off of. He’s a wonderful conversationalist and we talked about everything, including writing. It seems we have a lot in common: gardening, love of history and linguistics, gourmet cooking, and yes, writing. We lost track of time and 2 ½ hours later we said our goodbyes.

I ruminated over the situation for a few days, then called him and invited him to dinner. Now, I’m thinking I shouldn’t have done that. I completed a public records search on him before inviting him to dinner. I wanted to know how long he’s been divorced because I didn’t want to simply be the rebound. What I found wasn’t what I expected. No divorce records, but probate. His wife died in 2009; he’s a widower.

He accepted the dinner invitation, but has never attempted to flirt with me, nor I him. I’m afraid that if I do attempt to flirt he’ll be put off because of the age difference. I don’t want to make him uncomfortable, nor do I want to be seen as a gold-digger or as having an Oedipus complex.

I feel like dating is a mine field. I’m flustered and unsure of how, or even if, to proceed. It’s always been me who initiates contact. I invited him to the other writers group; he accepted. I invited him to lunch; he accepted. I invited him to dinner; he accepted. Is this a red flag? If he were actually interested in me, wouldn’t it be the other way around? What about the taboos regarding dating older men? I don’t want to be seen as seeking a father figure.

A:  Good friends who share our interests and delight in the same things are hard to find — even harder to find as we grow older. Why not treasure this developing friendship? It doesn’t need to turn into a “dating” situation.

It may or may not lead to something else. The most stable relationships are those in which the two people are very good friends. If the friendship doesn’t lead to romance, you will still have added an important friend to your life. If it does evolve into romantic love, that’s a bonus.

In the meantime, please stop keeping score about who initiates contact. He may be shy. He may not know how to ask you to do things without implying more than he is ready for. His wife may have been the person who always organized social events so he’s out of practice. It really doesn’t matter. What counts is whether you enjoy each other’s company.

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie

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Kristina Randle, Ph.D., LCSW <![CDATA[I Feel Like I’m Not Really Here]]> http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/?p=42059 2016-07-19T18:00:50Z 2016-07-22T11:25:07Z

I used to be really social. I had a lot of friends and didn’t mind talking to other people. It was easy for me to socialize but a couple years ago I started to get the feeling that I wasn’t real, like I’m in a dream kind of state. This only happened once or twice a month and I could easily get the thought out of my head. Now this happens every day and I have been admitted to 3 hospitals THIS YEAR. I feel like I’m not actually here. I feel like a zombie just kind of walking through life. Im afraid to talk to people and when I’m around people I feel like my soul leaves my body and I start having an “episode”, where I freak out and feel like I’m literally going to die. I’m so scared all the time because I dwell on the thought of “am I actually alive or not?”. I’m so irritable all the time, just my family talking to me makes me angry. I’m always paranoid and always feel like I’m being watched, even when I’m alone. These thoughts of not being real have made me freak out so bad that I literally hyperventilated and passed out. I’ve tried to smoke weed to calm myself down but that just makes me freak out even worse. I don’t know what’s wrong with me and I’m so scared. Someone please help!

A. You stated that you were admitted to three hospitals this year, but you didn’t elaborate on why or what happened. It would have been helpful for you to have included information about those hospitalizations, such as your diagnosis and what treatment was given. It’s unclear why these hospitalizations were not apparently helpful and why you are not utilizing treatment.

What you may be describing is depersonalization/derealization disorder. Your symptoms seem most consistent with the derealization aspect of the disorder which, according to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, involves having experiences of unreality or feeling detached (i.e. feeling lifeless, having out-of-body experiences, etc.). Auditory and visual hallucinations are also common with this disorder.

Diagnoses cannot be made online and thus, in order to determine if you have a mental health disorder, you would need to undergo an in-person evaluation. That is something I would highly recommend. You should also avoid using drugs or engaging in any other self-determined treatments. Doing so could make your symptoms worse. You want to try to stay as calm and relaxed as possible. Stress, anxiety, overstimulation, lack of sleep, and even certain lighting can make your symptoms worse.

Please speak to your parents about your symptoms and ask for their assistance in seeking professional help. Treatment might involve your taking medication and or engaging in psychotherapy. Treatment will be your best chance of overcoming this problem. Please take care.

Dr. Kristina Randle

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Daniel J. Tomasulo, PhD, TEP, MFA, MAPP http://www.FormerChild.com <![CDATA[I Need to Fix This Behavior]]> http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/?p=42112 2016-07-19T18:06:46Z 2016-07-21T21:10:58Z

My boyfriend says he will break up with me if I don’t stop doing this thing that I do. He says it’s my childish attitude but I’ll try to be more specific. This happens when I get my feelings hurt. I deal with my emotions in front of other people and affect them instead of dealing with my emotions in private. I ruin plans or create drama/a scene by either reacting outwardly with my emotions (screaming/throwing a fit but I do that much less than I used to) or I react passively where I still show that I am upset but instead of being just plain aggressive, I am passive aggressive where I run out of the room drawing attention to me and I affect those around me and often ruining the vibe/good time. I do the latter of the two the most.

Some examples:
I came home to hang out with my bf and his friend, got upset over something minor, and locked myself in the bathroom for a while pretending to take a shower and then walked out the door and went on an hour long walk while they waited for me to come hang out. I think I justify my behavior as okay because by itself when I’m alone, it’s alright but it’s bad when I affect other people.

My boyfriend and I were going to the store and he said something about finances that I perceived as hurtful and so I changed plans and said I wasn’t going to the store and walked out of the room before he could respond. He says I torture and punish him emotionally and I normally say I don’t intend to but maybe I do subconsciously?

Being at a party, someone says something hurtful and instead of dealing with the hurt at home in solitude, I leave the conversation in a rush and go to the bathroom and cry and then come back and act like nothing happened after making a scene.

I am now becoming aware of this even though I have done it for years. It’s embarrassing and I do it almost everyday. How do I stop? What is a new approach? What is something new I could do instead of reacting this way? How can I be more aware of when this is about to happen?

A: Thank you for sending us your email. Your courageous self examination is an excellent way to begin getting to the bottom of this. You acting out (and acting in) when your feelings are hurt are indicators of a need for greater self-regulation and self control. The very fact that you are now aware of this, have written us here, and are looking for ways to cope are the necessary ingredients for change. It is a good start. I’d recommend therapy focused on developing coping skills with these impulses. Along the way developing a meditation practice can be a terrific way to begin developing these emotional muscles.

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

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Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker <![CDATA[Should I Compensate for My Past Failures?]]> http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/?p=41775 2016-07-19T18:00:25Z 2016-07-21T16:35:40Z

From Bangladesh: I am 34, married, have a daughter who is eight years old. I love her a lot.

I probably have very low self esteem since my childhood and also obsessions/compulsions. In the sanityscore.com, I scored 75 in self-esteem and 56 in obsessions/compulsions. Although I am sure I couldn’t answer a lot of questions correctly.

I graduated in 2006. But for the past 10 years I was employed for only 22 months in 2 different jobs. The second job barely covered my expenses. I am currently unemployed and pursuing a Master of Science degree. I have been living off of my father’s house rent for most of my adult life.

I have been abused by my parents since the age of 4. Both my parents used to beat me a lot but my father used to emotionally abuse me more. My mother expressed her love and appreciation for me sometimes but my dad never did so(except for 3 occasions) because ‘that would spoil me’. Constant criticism, name-calling, belittling, ridiculing, verbal threats was a daily routine in the name of education up until 2012.

I was thrown out of home twice before the age of 12. When I was 20, I escaped from home for fear of my dad after failing in 2 courses but returned home after 3 days. I was and am very fearful of my dad. I can never speak to him normally and mostly keep silent whenever he is around, I feel like walking on egg-shells.

In 2012, at the age of 30, I first came to learn what emotional abuse is. At one occasion in that year, I confronted him and yelled at him for the first and last time. The abuses lessened ever since. But I am still afraid of him and want to move away but I need a decent job first.

I procrastinate a lot. I have no friend since the age of eight . I am afraid of facing job interviews (despite having well qualifications) and making friends for the fear of being judged negatively. I know I need therapy.

I am not legally/financially indebted to anyone. But I feel I should compensate for my past unemployment by earning more in the future. Some people I know are trying to do so to compensate for their ‘forgiven debt’. Should I do it?

Everyone in society (including my parents) seems to believe that consuming more than you have earned in life is disgraceful and nobody deserves to live on the food that he hasn’t paid for. But I don’t want to do so. I want to be happy but want to ‘deserve’ it too. But I don’t want to go abroad to earn more. I just want to live away from my parents with my family, learn more of what I love, connect with people, raise my kid and have a good life. I don’t want to pursue more money or burden myself with more responsibilities or pains than that is required to have a healthy self-esteem. What steps should I take?

A: Your unresolved anger at past abuse is keeping you stuck. You say you want to live away from your parents, but if you live away from your parents you will have to support yourself. If you get on with life and support yourself, you may believe that you are helping your parents deny responsibility for past abuse. You may be giving your parents pain but at great expense to yourself.

I agree: You need therapy. At some point, we all need to learn ways to move on from our upbringing and create our own adult life. Your self-esteem would be better served by finding a good job and getting on with the responsibilities and tasks of adulthood instead of entertaining philosophical questions about whether you need to compensate for the last 10 years of procrastination.

The first step you need to take is to find a therapist and get to work on focusing on your future instead of your past. Since you admit that you procrastinate, I doubt you can move on without help. Please get the support and practical help a therapist can provide. You deserve to be all you can be. Your partner deserves to have a functioning partner. Your little girl needs a dad who is able to show her how to be an independent, working adult.

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie

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