Kristina Randle, Ph.D., LCSW – Ask the Therapist Ask our resident Psych Central therapists. Sun, 25 Jun 2017 11:30:36 +0000 en-US hourly 1 111842220 Intellectually & Socially Mature, But Emotionally Immature Wed, 21 Jun 2017 11:30:56 +0000

OK so this may be a little complex, but I feel I have a major problem connecting with others on an emotional level.

Now intellectually and socially, I feel I have few problems; I can grasp abstract concepts easily, and I get along well with others (including strangers) and make new friends easily. I’m always the life of the party wherever I am, and I make friends whether younger or older.

However, when it comes down to a more personal and emotional level, I feel I don’t quite have what it takes. I feel that when people start to know me better, they end up detaching themselves, and it causes me a lot of personal distress.

I’ve suspected I may have psychopathic tendencies, but the fact that these things bother me causes me to doubt this to an extent.

A little about my background; I grew up with undercover law enforcement and military family. Family interactions were basically head games and trying to decipher one anothers’ motives. However, it feels like the more I try to reach out to others, the more they pull away from me. I’m not sure if they really are, or if I’m just being paranoid.

Sometimes I feel as if I’ll forever be stuck as an emotional teenager stuck in an aging adult body, and if I should try to do anything about it, or simply accept it and concentrate on what I know I excel at.

A. You are the ideal candidate for counseling. I say this because feelings are subjective. You need an objective, third-party to evaluate how you relate to others and to determine if it is problematic. As you said, your assessment could be based on paranoia. If so, you could be very wrong about your conclusions. The point is that you do not know objectively.

I recommend contacting a minimum of five therapists and speaking with them over the phone. Talk to them about your concerns. Ask them if they think they could help you. Meet the ones you like the best in person and then make your decision. Finding a therapist you like and trust will significantly increase your likelihood for success.

I wish I could offer you more than general advice but without more information it is simply impossible to determine if you are right or wrong in your assessment. The bottom line is that you need an accurate assessment of this issue. A therapist will determine the truth objectively. Knowing the truth is fundamental in determining your next move. Please take care.

Dr. Kristina Randle

I Don’t Know if I Need Help or Not Tue, 20 Jun 2017 11:30:59 +0000

I have not been feeling like myself at all lately. I feel like everyone who is surrounding me doesn’t actually like me. I have cut myself recently because I find it calming. I get sad and down a lot and I am constantly worrying about what other people think of me. I have been tired no matter how much sleep I get. I also don’t know what emotions I am feeling, I can’t identify them. I tell people I’m just said if they ask but in reality, I have no idea what I am feeling. Maybe I’m feeling nothing at all, I don’t know. Sometimes I plan out how I would kill myself even though I know I would never do it. I also have zero motivation to do anything and when I try to do my schoolwork I cannot concentrate at all. I always get distracted.

A. Yes. You do need help. It’s not normal to want to kill yourself. Nor is it normal to cut yourself. People who are thinking about suicide or who are cutting themselves are suffering. It could be depression, but it could be something else. Depression and related disorders are highly responsive to treatment.

The best way to know what might be wrong and most importantly how to fix it, is to consult a mental health professional. They will know how to help you. They receive specialized training for exactly these problems. You will feel a great deal of relief when you have someone offering support and guidance.

Ask your parents to help you find a mental health professional in your community. If that’s not an option, the school counselor or trusted faculty member is your next best option. They can assist you in finding the right treatment for you. Finally, if you believe that you might harm yourself, call the authorities or go to the hospital. They can protect you and connect you with mental health professionals who will help. Please take care.

Dr. Kristina Randle

Was I Emotionally Abused by My Teacher? Mon, 19 Jun 2017 11:30:34 +0000

I found myself really looking up to this amazing teacher, and telling my friends and family about her. I looked forward to seeing her everyday at school. I started to really open up to her, as she made me feel I could trust her. She always cared about me, and was always there for me during rough times. She was always open to listen to my problems and offer advice. Summer rolled around, and we kept in touch everyday, I would share with her my summer days, and she would share hers back. She made me feel cared for, and always loved hearing about my day, as I did with hers. It is now my junior year, she told me she wanted to meet. I walked in, they both sat at the table across from me. Her face was serious. I sat down slowly, putting my bag down. She then started talking. I felt as if my world was stopped in time. I felt alone.

She continued to tell me that I was making her uncomfortable, these words she was telling me, little did I know they would haunt my mind forever.That she “cannot help” me anymore. That I need help, and should seek a counselor. Someone I truly admired, looked me dead in the eyes, and spoke some of the most haunting words I have ever heard to me. The meeting started off with her explaining how I make her feel uncomfortable. They kept stating I “did nothing wrong”, yet kept listing everything I did “wrong”. She also proceeded to tell me that I am with her too much, that I am “too” emotional when I shouldn’t be, that I should seek help. She said to me; “you need to stop caring so much about others. And “Don’t go home and cry to your mom, because I know you are going to go home and lose your everloving mind.” I began to get this overwhelming feeling wash over me, numbness. Numb to my surroundings. That day has scarred me for the rest of my life. I lost who I am. I couldn’t believe that a person whom I trusted would do this to me. As a result of that day, I cannot trust anyone, for the fear of putting me through that kind of pain again. I CAN’T go through that again.

A. Several questions arose while reading your letter, namely relating to your statement that “they” sat across the table from you. Who are “they?” Your teacher and who else? My assumption was that it was a school administrator but I can’t be certain. If so, the way they handled this situation is odd and unprofessional.

It seems that you and your teacher had a close and perhaps inappropriate relationship. Beyond that, I do not have enough information to fully understand the nature of your relationship. For that reason I can’t answer the question about whether or not you were emotionally abused by your teacher.

Generally speaking, what she did was harsh and unsettling. She may have realized the inappropriateness of your relationship and felt the need to bring “backup” for protection. She likely did it out of fear of getting into trouble. Perhaps she knew that her behavior was inappropriate and she wanted to protect her job and in so doing, blamed you for what happened. But it’s not your fault.

Please understand that her reaction to this situation is not a reflection of you. You shouldn’t take it personally. She made a mistake. She should have known better. Most teachers would not have done what she did. You should not assume that all teachers are untrustworthy just because one of them acted inappropriately. She does not represent all teachers or all people. Of course we should be choosy about whom we trust but we should never make assumptions about groups of people based on the behavior of one person. That type of thinking encourages discrimination and prejudice and leads to incorrect conclusions.

If you haven’t done so already, report these events to a trusted school authority and your parents. You should also enter counseling. This has already become, in your mind, a pivotal event and that needs to be addressed. Counseling can effectively treat the emotional effects which have resulted from this encounter and restore your faith in people. Problems will result from trusting those that you shouldn’t but problems will also arise from not trusting those that you should. Please take care.

Dr. Kristina Randle

Is There Something Wrong with Me? Sun, 18 Jun 2017 11:30:47 +0000

I’m a complete loner. If I could, I would just live alone for the rest of my life, like a hermit. I have only three friends, and rarely hang out with them. I get told that I’m not emotional enough, and I hold little sentiment. I can cut off friendships without a second thought. I’m a chronic liar, and half the time I don’t even realize I’m in the middle of a lie until I’ve said it. Most of the time, there’s not even a reason to lie, I don’t know why I do it. I also get told I’m not concerned enough with other peoples’ problems. I don’t know how to be “loving,” and I don’t know how to console and make people feel better when they’re upset. I don’t know if this is anything strange, but I have a deep interest in true crime. I know more about the Unabomber than I do about most of my family members. Any free time I have, I spend it reading about criminals. I’m not too concerned, but it does get tricky trying to act like someone I’m not. I’m curious if there might be something wrong with my head, or if it’s just who I am.

A. You consider yourself a “complete loner” but have three close friends. That would suggest you’re not a complete loner. Someone who is a “complete loner” doesn’t interact with anyone. They don’t have friends or acquaintances.

You also stated that you “get told” things about yourself such as you’re not emotional enough or that you hold “little sentiment,” and so forth. I’m wondering who’s telling you these things. The source is important. It could have helped me to determine the validity of the source. Friends can be biased whereas someone like a school official or a therapist would be more objective.

You also stated that you have an interest in true crime. That in itself is not necessarily a problem. However, in the context of increasing social isolation and difficulty interacting with people, it may be a sign that something is wrong.

Generally speaking, when you are concerned about your mental health, you should be evaluated by a professional to determine if something is wrong. Counseling is the ideal remedy for developing the requisite social skills for healthy relationships. Please take care.

Dr. Kristina Randle

Friendship-Related Problems Sat, 17 Jun 2017 11:30:19 +0000

I had been cheated on by my BF in 2014. He told me 4 months after our breakup. I have one BFF (since school days), and 5 best friends (from College) I share everything with. I have always chosen to keep the rest 5 at par in terms of sharing. I did not tell my best friends immediately about the betrayal because I cared more about my ex. I did tell my BFF though. But one of these 5 best friends had already gone through a similar experience, and it felt ‘wrong’ to have not shared it with her (considering she used to be the first person I used to spill out my secrets to in College). This feeling had been nagging me for long. And one night we were chatting on WhatsApp, and I felt close and connected to her in the moment, so I told her. I started shaking uncontrollably after I told her. I asked if I could mail her, and she told me to write as much as I wanted. I did the same..opened up her on mail. But she did not respond. It was a really long mail, so it is possible that she was tired or maybe she felt too overwhelmed to say anything..was at loss for words. Anyway, she did understand my pain. But I wish she had responded on the mail.
Now, the thing that has been bothering me is that I have not told the rest 4 of my best friends that my ex had cheated on me.
I understand why my ex cheated..and so I find it a little weird to talk about it. Secondly, these 4 and me are a group..and in a group, it is inevitable that somebody’s personal life becomes a topic of discussion. Thirdly, I don’t want to reduce my ex to nothing in their eyes (not that they knew him much, but still) feels a bit wrong.
There is one best friend I am closest to in this group. I do not feel guilty for not having told the others, but I do feel guilty for not having told her. But she tends to naively discuss or should I say, gossip about people. I am afraid something might affect my ex’s reputation in the future (world’s a small place after all). That also bothers me.

A.  If you don’t want them talking about you or your relationship inappropriately, then it’s best not to share with them. As you noted, they’re likely to gossip or misunderstand the relationship. In addition, what happened between you and your ex is personal. It’s between you and him. It’s none of their business. As a general rule, the more personal information you share, the more likely it is to be shared inappropriately.

I don’t think it’s always intentional or even something that people are consciously aware of. Remember, the more personal information you share with others, the more others will have to use against you. People tend to be competitive. In the wrong hands, personal information may be used against you.

You should not feel bad because of your lack of sharing with the rest of the group. Be careful about what you share and with whom you share it. Counseling would be the ideal place to discuss your relationship concerns. Therapists are relationship specialists. They are also nonjudgmental and can provide guidance regarding your relationship challenges. Please take care.

Dr. Kristina Randle

I Suspect that I Am Developing Schizophrenia Fri, 16 Jun 2017 11:30:13 +0000

I’m a 19 year-old female college student and am currently at a very distressing point in my life. Over the past several months I’ve managed to fail just about all my classes, although I plan to take the summer off as my family insists it would be beneficial for me to do so. I have also begun to withdraw socially from just about everyone except my boyfriend, due to a constant fear that no one understands me (it’s as if they’re all on a different planet and I feel so isolated and alone) however when a friend does try to reach out to me I immediately feel irritated while talking to them (ex: I vented to a friend earlier today and all they had to say was “Life doesn’t wait for anyone” so I immediately wanted to find a sledgehammer, jump out the window, run to their place of residence, and bash their head in with it). Intense emotional responses have never been foreign to me as I suspect that I suffer from bipolar disorder and many other mood-altering disorders as well, but it’s still distressing when it happens. Furthermore, I’ve been constantly paranoid for months, well all my life really, but it’s gotten especially bad within the past several months in that I have recurring thoughts that there are cameras everywhere and whenever I do see cameras my thoughts start to spiral, but I’m able to compose myself for the most part. I seem to be quite disorganized (ex: forgetting to put on certain articles of clothing, forgetting to eat, never cleaning my room because zero motivation to do so, or to do anything for that matter, forgetting everything I read directly after I read it, etc.) my boyfriend has noticed my behavior and mannerisms and claims I seem paranoid and talk in a very rushed manner and eyes wide and looking around everywhere (told him to not let me spend any money under any circumstances because I’ll need it for something). I also have a tendency to lose my train of thought always. Then there’s hallucinations such as seeing yetis on my way home at nights and every time I hear a bunch of people talking it gets distorted and I can’t make sense of it, constant brain chatter, etc. which again, aren’t new at all, just more prevalent than before. Just nothing ever feels… right.

A. I cannot provide a diagnosis on the basis of a letter. You mentioned a variety of symptoms but without conducting a personal interview, it’s difficult to know if they constitute a disorder. Generally speaking, the main problem seems to be your untreated symptoms.

I would recommend undergoing an evaluation with a mental health professional. For a variety of reasons, many people wait to seek help. One recent statistic indicated that some people wait 10 years before they seek help for their mental health problems. Waiting makes it worse.

Acknowledging your symptoms is a good first step. The next step is to seek treatment. Once you undergo an assessment, you will have clarity about what might be wrong. At that point, a treatment plan will be created. It will be designed to meet your needs and goals. Your symptoms are highly treatable with medication and therapy. But if ignored, they will continue to disrupt your life. Don’t needlessly suffer with treatable symptoms.

Ask your parents or your boyfriend to assist you in finding a local therapist. Once you begin treatment, you will feel relief. Maybe then you can return to school (if you want) without the interference of troublesome symptoms. Please take care.

Dr. Kristina Randle

Am I Delusional or What’s Wrong with Me? Thu, 15 Jun 2017 11:30:47 +0000

Okay so it all started in 2012 I was very depressed and so scared one night I was calling Gods name like “I want to talk to God” I called him in like 2 hours and then suddenly I heard a voice he told me that he was God from above, at first I didon’t believe ithat, I asked him to talk in my language ^african^ and he did it, that’s where I started to believe he showed me thinngs from over 1000s years ago. I asked if I may talk to someone else and the person came through. I still to tour that person til this day the problem is that the person isn’t living one earth anymore he past away. We talk every night he seems very real he was a singer before he past way so he dor sing for me. He makes me feel so good.

A. You began to hear the voice of God when in great distress. I don’t think that is a coincidence. A religious interpretation might be that God came to you in a time of need. He brought you comfort. The hearing of divine voices dates back to the Bible. CNN reports that in a 1999 Gallup poll, 23% of Americans said they heard a voice or had a vision in response to a prayer. These experiences however, were very brief, involving only a few words or short sentences.

A clinical interpretation might be that you are experiencing auditory hallucinations. Hallucinations are associated with psychosis. Psychosis is often triggered by stress. It is common for people with psychosis to believe that they are interacting with God or some other supreme being. It is often the first sign of mental illness.

Relatedly, you could be describing an inner voice. Inner speech is often used as a coping mechanism. It could be your way of handling stress.

If mental illness is present, then intervention is necessary. An evaluation could help to make that determination. With psychosis, early treatment is especially important. It can prevent the development of additional episodes or other mental health disorders. Contact a mental health professional for an evaluation. It might offer you peace of mind. Please take care.

Dr. Kristina Randle

13 Years Old & Extremely Sadistic Wed, 14 Jun 2017 11:30:14 +0000

I’m a 13 year old girl and I’m a very violent, sadistic, unempathetic person. I’ve had very violent desires and urges ever since I can remember, and in recent years, it’s also become sexual. To put it simply, I want to kill people, I want to see them suffer, and I’d be lying if I said I didn’t get sexual gratification from doing so.
When I was younger, and even a little bit now, I would try to hurt animals. I would throw things at them, try to run them over with a dirt bike, and would tear any bugs I found limb from limb, along with other things. I would even plot to murder my parents when I was around 8. I’m not saying I don’t do that now, but I fully intended on following through with my plans back then. I would pack a backpack, wait until my parents were asleep, and sneak knives into my room.
I’ve never had much empathy, and the amount I do have has been gradually decreasing over the years. I have decent cognitive empathy, but I have no affective empathy, nor do I feel sympathy at all. In fact, for the longest time, I actually thought the words “I feel bad for you” was just an expression. I’ve never felt for another person, or at least, not for a very long time. I don’t care about other people, nor do I form emotional attachments with others. Thanks for any help.

A. Your violent desires and urges are very concerning. Desiring to hurt others is not normal. Most people don’t feel that way. It’s good that you recognize these feelings as being problematic. Solving a problem first requires acknowledgment. It is an important first step.

It’s also worrisome that you have tried to hurt animals. Not only is it morally wrong, but it’s illegal. If caught, you could be charged with a serious crime. The federal government has recently increased the penalties for people convicted of hurting animals. The Federal Bureau of investigation (FBI) considers animal abuse a “crime against society.” It is often a precursor to serious criminal behavior. People who hurt animals might also hurt people.

Some communities have created a registry of animal abusers. Much like sex offender registries, people convicted of hurting animals are placed on the registry and barred from owning animals. These registries are publicly accessible so that community members can keep their animals away from dangerous people.

In order to protect yourself against future legal trouble, I would strongly advise that you consult a mental health professional. Ask your parents to help you find a therapist. A clinical evaluation will determine if something is wrong. Most importantly, the therapist will then create a treatment plan to address your problematic behavior.

Finally, if you feel that you are a danger to yourself or to others, call the authorities. They can protect you from doing something that you would regret. Hurting people and animals could lead to your arrest and severe punishment. Treatment could help you immensely. It has the potential to positively alter your course in life. Please take care.

Dr. Kristina Randle

Possibility of an Alter Due to Traumatic Childhood Tue, 13 Jun 2017 11:30:45 +0000

For most of my life, I had undergone severe physical and emotional abuse from my father. It stopped after my first year of high school, and I was put through a series of sexually abusive relationships between that time and onwards. I never had anyone to talk to about my father’s abusive behavior, because I was deathly terrified of being taken away. Because of this, I depended solely on myself for coping and recovery. I always imagined this stronger version of me protecting me and fighting my father back in my head. It always made me feel better and stronger as a young kid.

However, as I began to go through my years of high school, despite my father’s abuse dying down, that person in my head who always protected me stayed. They flipped, and I started to notice their influence more and more on me when something would go wrong, and their voice, which is quite different from my voice or my conscious, would completely bring me down with insults and mockery. At first it sounds like my self esteem is just very poor, but after all this harassment this character will tell me everything is okay. They always promise to protect me whether or not they hurt me in the process. It kind of reflects how I used to view my father.

They’re becoming more and more influential of my decision making skills slowly but surely. I’ve recently overcome almost 5 months clean of self harm, and my last relapse was because they told me to hurt myself since no one but them cared for me. Clearly this isn’t true, but it’s hard to run away from the voice in your head, the only thing that once protected you so often. They’re trying to destroy interpersonal relationships of mine, because to them, all I need is them.

I am interested in psychology, and after taking classes, I feel as if I may have some alter that is a result from my childhood trauma. I am unable to refer to a professional about this, and I feel nervous confiding in such a thing. I feel as if I would be regarded as childish, and as if I never got rid of my ‘imaginary friend’. I guess I’m looking for clearance, understanding, or maybe advice to help keep myself healthy and able to live with them.

A. People often fear that therapists will be judgmental. They are not. Therapists care and support their clients. You have nothing to fear.

Alters are thought to be the result of severe trauma. Consider them a form of psychological protection. Psychological protection is good in the short term, however, in the long term it can be problematic. It’s akin to a tourniquet. Tourniquets, in the short term, stop the bleeding and thus are good, but if left on too long, they will damage or kill the extremity they are protecting in the short run. Your alter protected you when you needed it. Now that the abuse has stopped, it’s interfering with your life. Therapy could help you to regain control of your life and dissolve the restrictive alter that may be blocking your progression and growth.

I would suggest consulting a therapist who specializes in trauma and or dissociative identity disorder (DID). They would be in the best position to help you.

You might try beginning your search for a therapist on the International Society for the Study of Trauma and Dissociation. They have good resources on their website that may be of interest to you. It would also be helpful to read about dissociation, alters and trauma. It might provide a deeper understanding of your symptoms. Finally, click on the “find help” tab, at the top of this page, to locate a mental health professional in your community. I wish you the best of luck. Please take care.

Dr. Kristina Randle

Thinking about Death a Lot Mon, 12 Jun 2017 11:30:20 +0000

Hello. I find myself thinking about death a lot. I’m not quite suicidal, but i would not mind dying at all. My life isn’t the best right now and whenever even a minor inconvenience happens i find myself wishing to just spontaneously combust and die. When i think about death, or what comes after death, i think about it like the times before i existed. It would just be nothing, absolutely nothing. And that thought sort of comforts me. Death would just be an eternal nothingness, and to me that’s perfect. PS- I’m not religious.

A. I’m not certain of your exact question. In that case, I can only provide a general response. You might be experiencing passive suicidal ideation. Passive suicidal ideation occurs when someone is not actively trying to die but thinks that they would be better off dead. These people often feel hopeless and depressed. It’s close to being suicidal.

You stated that “death would be an eternal nothingness” but that’s your belief and not a statement of fact. No one knows what awaits us after we die. Death might not be “eternal nothingness.” It could be entirely different, something that we don’t understand. Without confirmable facts it is difficult to draw definitive conclusions.

The fact that suicide is crossing your mind, however passively, indicates suffering. Clinical intervention is necessary. I would encourage you to utilize the mental health services available in your country. If that is not an option, maybe there are others with whom you could speak, such as clergy or other trusted individuals. Treatment is the solution. Please take care.

Dr. Kristina Randle

I Don’t Know if It Was Rape Sun, 11 Jun 2017 11:30:38 +0000

I used to stay at my now ex-boyfriend dorm, during one of those nights we had sex and had fallen asleep undressed (I was aware of what we had done). The next morning I woke up and there was a condom wrapper next to me; I was confused because I didn’t recall doing anything else with him after falling asleep. I asked him about it and he told me if I didn’t remember that we had done it again after that; he just said he thought I was awake because he heard me moan. But I don’t remember a thing; further on I got really bad anxiety with him, it can be described as a fear of him.

A. There are federal and state legal definitions of rape. Generally speaking, rape involves non-consenting sexual behavior. If you didn’t agree to it or know about it because you were asleep, (i.e. did not consent) it would generally be considered a crime. However, whether or not he is guilty of rape is a legal question that I cannot answer. Those types of questions should be directed towards legal and or law enforcement professionals.

You mentioned that he is now your ex-boyfriend. Part of the reason seems to involve your fear of him. If he had sex with you while you were unconscious, then your fear of him is warranted.

Because this incident happened on school grounds, you should contact on-site counselors. Under federal law, schools are required to respond to reports of sexual violence. Under Title IX, of the 1972 educational amendments, colleges and universities who receive federal funding are required to “combat gender-based violence and harassment, and respond to survivors needs in order to ensure that all students have equal access to education.” Most higher education academic institutions have resources on campus to help victims of sexual violence. The school counselors will know how to help you. Please take care.

Dr. Kristina Randle

How to Solve My Problems Sat, 03 Jun 2017 18:45:45 +0000

So I can kinda say that my childhood was ok but tough at moments. My father is a lazy alcoholic and he was emotionally absent, my mother loved me a lot but her sharp criticism destroyed my self esteem and the fact that she didn’t care about me very deeply, but only on the surface. Also I grew up poor, so all the things normally kids would have I didn’t have those. However despite all of this, I was happy as a child. It wasn’t until later when I started comparing myself with others that I became depressed. I feel that because of what my life has been like (alcoholic father, growing up poor) it has affected my self esteem a lot and I even have depression. I used to be very ambitious, and even though I’m an A student I don’t feel confident enough to pursue a successful career. Right now the only way that I think would make my life better is to move out of my parents home and start therapy. But that is what gives me great fears and anxiety, that I don’t manage to move out (in my country it is difficult to live alone). In fact people ask me why I don’t go to college, but I only want my own normal life. I feel wounded, sad and my parents are never there to help me with my feelings, they don’t understand me. I love my mother but my heart is full of anger toward her to tell her this. Also I’m bisexual, so I’ve had to keep this a secret for a long time, and I still do. That kinda made me lead a double life where I don’t even talk to my parents anymore. So my question is, should I pursue my dream to move out abroad while I’m 18 or should I go to college and resolve my problems here? (which is impossible).

A. For many years, you were happy and did well in school, in spite of your parents. Developmentally, it is necessary for all individuals to become independent. That means independent of their parents. Essentially it means becoming your own person. You are not an extension of your parents and thus their behavior should have no bearing on your happiness. Understandably, that is easier said than done.

The fact that you were happy and maintained good grades, despite their problems, should give you some confidence. It is evidence of your resiliency. Generally, teenagers have underdeveloped self-esteem. Since self-esteem is developed through life achievements, teenagers are too young to have achieved many successes. They simply haven’t lived long enough. If you were to attend college (should you decide to go) and you continued to succeed, your self-esteem should improve. The more you achieve in life, the more self-confident you will feel.

You asked about counseling. I think that is a very wise idea. Many young people enter counseling because of problematic relationships with their parents. It is a common reason for young people having entered counseling.

Counseling will help you to live independently and to develop a healthy sense of self-esteem. It is also the ideal place to explore how you should proceed with your life. Good luck and please take care.

Dr. Kristina Randle

I Think I Have a Number of Problematic Disorders, But My Parents Say Otherwise Fri, 02 Jun 2017 11:30:34 +0000

Hello, I’m 13 years old, and on most days, I have auditory and visual hallucinations. Anything from mild disturbances to voices that seem to be right behind me. I feel highly anxious most of the time. I find it difficult to fall asleep and stay asleep. Some days or even weeks I feel ok or even very happy but then for a few days or weeks, I feel depressed. I don’t want to get out of bed. I’m at a point at which I’m overeating very often and I need help. I’ve talked to both my parents about these issues and my father says I don’t have these things, yet my mother says they are normal for my age. Is this stuff normal or is there a serious issue? Thank you in advance and I appreciate your support.

A. In order to make the most accurate assessment, I would need more information about your symptoms. However, the symptoms you have described are concerning. I would not categorize them as “nothing wrong” or “normal for your age.” I disagree with your parents.

Your parents are not mental health professionals and thus might have difficulty recognizing mental health problems. A common reaction by parents is denial. Their reaction might also be wishful thinking. Perhaps they believe that by minimizing the problem, it will simply go away.

It’s best to be proactive about mental health. Treatment can prevent the development of troublesome symptoms and mental health disorders. You are doing the right thing by asking for help and I commend you on your efforts.

I would encourage you to tell your parents that you wrote to us at Psych Central. Suggest that they speak to your primary care or pediatric physician about your symptoms. If that doesn’t work, report your symptoms to your school guidance counselor or another trusted adult. They might be able to speak to your parents for you.

You should also inform your parents that depression is highly treatable with medication and counseling. Treatment works. If you can convey that message to them, they might be open to your getting help. Good luck and please take care.

Dr. Kristina Randle

Is It Possible that My Mind Could Have Repressed the Memory of Being Raped When I Was 14? Wed, 31 May 2017 19:45:52 +0000

When I was in my last year of middle school, I had this teacher who always acted strangely toward me. He would always make strange/flirty comments with sexual undertones. He did this throughout the entire year, and on the last day of school myself and one other student stayed behind to say goodbye. I had very low self esteem and was just happy that someone seemed to be paying me attention, and so I didn’t think about how wrong it was. The teacher hugged me goodbye, and I remember looking over his shoulder at the other kid, and he just looked so disturbed. Then the other student left, and we were alone. I don’t remember the rest so much except I showed up to art class late. I have struggled since with depression and anxiety. I frequently think about the encounters we had, and wonder what they meant. Since coming to high school, I have encountered the teacher twice and nearly had a panic attack each time. I cannot sleep past 4 am, and am constantly exhausted. I think about rape a lot, and frequently imagine scenarios in which it happens to me. Is something wrong with me, or did something happen either on the last day of school or during my childhood?

A. Sometimes, people repress traumatic memories. It’s possible that something did happen with your teacher and you don’t remember it. That might explain why you panic when in their presence.

However, repressed memories are difficult and in some cases impossible to verify. The latest research into human memory suggests that it is very fallible. In other words, our memories can be unreliable and distorted. People can think that they remember things that actually did not happen. Innocent people have spent decades in prison because of false memories.

It is fruitless to spend energy on attempting to remember a potentially traumatic event that may or may not have happened. Your efforts would be better spent on treatment for your depression and anxiety. You are suffering on a day-to-day basis. That need not be the case. Your symptoms are highly treatable. I would recommend finding a local mental health professional who can help. Choose a professional who specializes in trauma. They would be in the best position to help you. Please take care.

Dr. Kristina Randle

Am I Going Schizophrenic? Tue, 30 May 2017 19:45:22 +0000

I had an anxiety attack and in the midst of it I thought I was losing control and was gonna have a heart attack. I thought I just needed to leave school for a minute and take a break. I told a parent about it and they told me that my stress was self inflicted and that I needed to fix my problems rather than run from them. They gave me a list of mental illnesses and reasons for why the illnesses may have happened. I read up on them and identified with them and saw that some people never heal from them and that petrified me into thinking it was no hope for me. That I would be that 1% I tried a self help program and it didn’t do much help because I was scared it was a scam because I couldn’t find any credible information about the program and because the guy who told me about it seems like a pathological liar. I was shook outta my mind realizing it didn’t work for me. A hospital psychiatrist and school therapist said I don’t have schizophrenia. I still have this fear even after hearing that. Ill explain the symptoms I recognize with: I went thru a phase where me and a friend were trying to unlock more than 10%of our brain and thought we could flow our energy in our body by thinking about it. After finding out what a delusion was I quickly realized I shouldn’t even keep trying this.I also believed in 1 too many conspiracy theories and thought that the gov. harmed people that were trying to do positive. I had a really positive idea that could help the world and fear they may come after me for working on it. I quickly dropped that idea too. Now when Im reading tweets I read them a little too quickly and my brain changes words around. This only happens with tweets and when Im stressing about going schizophrenic (almost 24/7now) Ive started having nightmares about my worst fears Anytime I get scared I think ima paranoid schizophrenic now. I’m always scared my thoughts will turn into delusions I fear any low noise that might mean Im hearing something None of this has gone on for more than 6months. Am I losing it? PS I smoked a lot of marijuana prior to the anxiety attack

A. The nature of anxiety is to excessively worry. Anecdotally it seems that many people with anxiety disorders worry about getting schizophrenia. In fact, it’s one of the most common questions that I receive.

A related common question that I receive involves using marijuana and subsequently developing psychiatric symptoms. Some studies suggest that smoking marijuana increases the risk for psychosis and for that reason it’s a dangerous drug to use.

Psychosis involves a break with reality. People with schizophrenia have psychotic episodes but not everyone who experiences psychosis has schizophrenia. Some people have one psychotic episode and never have another. Usually those cases involve drug abuse or a physical condition.

The bottom line is this: people who use drugs, including marijuana, have an increased risk of psychosis when compared to people who do not use drugs. It is best to avoid drugs if you want to preserve your mental health.

You stated that a hospital psychiatrist and a school therapist said that you don’t have schizophrenia. That should give you some peace of mind. If the experts don’t believe you have it (the people who are trained to know), then you should believe the experts. If you continue to worry, you might try seeking a second or a third opinion.

Finally, if you have an anxiety disorder, you should seek treatment. Once your anxiety is under control, these fears might dissipate. Please take care.

Dr. Kristina Randle