I grew up in an extremely abusive home. My mother used to watch me get beat, she too was beaten, and there was never anyone that could help me. At age 9, I snapped and decided to kill my stepfather, but on that day my mother’s parents came took me to live with them. They showed me love, and cared for me, but I have always felt like something was missing from my life. I have sought to fill that void through relationships, but all have failed except the one I am currently in. I have had a spouse that got hooked on drugs commit suicide, then got remarried years later only to be cheated on, and now I can’t stop being suspicious of my current spouse.

I relive my abuse everyday, relive walking in to a bathroom after coming home from work and finding my first spouse dead, relive my second spouses actions and betrayal. Most days I am a nervous wreck inside. I have tried to commit suicide a few times, but was unsuccessful. I am not currently suicidal, but I feel that any day that could change. I see a therapist, but they don’t live my life for me and can not be there when I need them to tell me what to do. I feel everyone is out to get me, to a point now where it affects my ability to work, have friends, and may eventually destroy my relationship I currently have. I am scared for my spouse to do things on their own cause I always feel they’re up to no good. I feel like my life is always on the brink of disaster. I am paranoid about everything, and everyone.

I want peace in my thoughts, but I react negatively to everything because I feel like it is a personal stab at me or my feelings. I feel like no one really cares about my feelings, feel alone even when I am with my spouse, and always feel scared. My stress levels are so high that most days I feel like I’m going to burst, like all my atoms are just going to fly apart at one time. My chest hurts a lot, my mind and judgments are cloudy or confused, and I feel like I may just kill over from a heart attack at any moment.

Is there hope for me?

A. Yes, of course there is hope for you. People are amazingly resilient. Recovery should be expected. Be patient and don’t give up. Your situation can improve.

One of my favorite books is Man’s Search For Meaning by Viktor Frankl. It’s a good book for a variety of reasons but most importantly because it demonstrates the power of resiliency and how to find meaning in the worst of all circumstances. Frankl was a prisoner during the Holocaust and was almost killed. Despite living through one of the worst tragedies in human history, he came out an optimist.

He counseled many people in the concentration camps. Some of his fellow prisoners were abysmally depressed and suicidal because of the near hell in which they lived but Frankl gave them hope, despite their circumstances. I believe his book will change the way you view your life and circumstances. Anecdotally, it has helped many people with depression. It provides concrete ideas and tools for overcoming suffering. It is a one-of-a-kind book, and I would highly recommend it.

You stated that you are in counseling. You have had traumatic events occur in your life and are still reliving some of those traumas. You might benefit from consulting a therapist who specializes in trauma. It might serve as a good adjunct to your current treatment.

In addition, you might also benefit from medication. It might help you to feel less “on edge.” It is exhausting to feel as though you are going to “burst.” It is important to relax. Exercise, meditation and so forth, could all be helpful. There are many ways to decrease your stress levels. Ask your therapist to assist you.

With full sincerity, I most certainly believe there is hope for you. As an experienced professional, I have seen many people overcome psychological problems and live joyful lives. It’s often a matter of finding the right treatment. Good luck and please take care.

Dr. Kristina Randle