Ask the Therapist Ask our resident Psych Central therapists. 2017-02-24T19:45:08Z https://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/feed/atom/ Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker <![CDATA[What’s Causing This?]]> http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/?p=44417 2017-02-22T00:19:40Z 2017-02-24T19:45:08Z

From a teen in the U.S.: I’m not entirely sure how to explain this.. Recently I’ve been wanting something to be wrong with me. I’ve had depression for as long as I can remember and have gone to therapists for it as well as trying Zoloft. While going through treatment I found myself not even wanting to get better. Self harm has also been a struggle of mine that started because it brought pleasure/made me feel better about myself.

I’ve looked into factitious disorder as well as masochism, but I don’t seem to have more than a few symptoms.. I used to do things like cry or act upset in order to get attention from family members and sometimes I don’t only want something to be wrong, but I want others to know it as well.

The past few months I’ve had split seconds of wanting attention from others, but it changes quickly to wanting to detach myself from everyone in order to keep how I feel a secret.

Usually I feel the need to detach myself during depressive episodes, but sometimes I can be okay and still want to close myself off. I don’t want to go to a professional about any of this if I don’t have some sort of disorder.. I know that not wanting to be happy isn’t normal and actually wanting there to be something wrong with me is sick; especially when more recently, I don’t want anyone to know there’s something wrong with me.

I don’t know if it’s simply another form of self pity, but I do want to know why I have such mixed feelings. None of this is healthy and I would like to know what’s causing it.. if it’s at all possible at this point.

A: You are correct that this isn’t healthy. Although you have had some treatment for depression, it sounds like maybe you didn’t help your helper as much as you should.

A therapist only has what you tell her to work with. Did you talk about it when you felt your therapy wasn’t working? Did you let your therapist in on your self-harming behavior? Did you talk about your feelings of detachment? If not, there was very little the therapist could do to help you out of the depression.

You don’t have to have a “disorder” to see a therapist. It’s enough that you are feeling some distress and that you worry about the mixed up feelings that leave you feeling healthy. If you are honest with your therapist, you will get both specific help and support for making change.

I strongly urge you to go back to the therapist who already knows you — unless you really feel you could not connect with her. If that’s the case, start over with someone new. Take your letter with you to share during your first appointment. It will jump-start your session.

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie

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Daniel J. Tomasulo, PhD, TEP, MFA, MAPP http://www.FormerChild.com <![CDATA[Attachment Disorder?]]> https://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/?p=44684 2017-02-22T00:17:29Z 2017-02-24T12:30:59Z

I struggle to maintain long term relationships, both with friends and partners. My last proper relationship was over 6 years ago. It was love at first sight. I was infatuated and when I felt he was straying I suffered get anxiety and developed anorexia (now self managed). He cheated on me. Since I’ve felt very alone and now I tend to get close to guys and find it very easy to be intimate. Once they develop more feelings I push them away. They become my friends and I enjoy having sex. I think I use sex to make myself feel better. I can spend a week with someone and we act like we are in a loving relationship, but as soon as I leave that friend I don’t retain those feelings. It’s almost like I have the opposite of attachment disorder because as soon as they attempt to make the relationship monogamous I run. One guy is quite a bit younger. I have been honest and told him we will not be in a relationship he has told me he is in love with me. Even still, when I am sad we have sex. I don’t want a relationship with him, but enjoy the intimacy. I know that when I end it again he will be hurt. There are others like this. I think it makes me a bad person even though I am fully honest with them.

In terms of friends I don’t really have any that last for more than a couple of years. I think I have very high expectations of people, but I am very forgiving. Often they are less forgiving in return. I am not in competition with my friends, but often feel that they are competing with me, especially professional friends. I struggle with this and often begin to distrust them. I protected one professionally for sometime, but recently she and another friend didn’t give me the same curtesy and I am now under a formal investigation at work. Others have said it is premeditated, but I don’t want to feel paranoid about it. Neither have apologized. My self-esteem is low. I am concerned about how I can become so intimately involved with someone and the next day act like nothing has happened. Also I worry about why I can not maintain friendships over a period of time. (From the UK)

A: It sounds like you abandon people before they abandon you. By you hitting the ejection button it gives you both the intimacy you crave and the control you need so you don’t get too dependent.

Your insight about your process is quite admirable and I think you would be a very good candidate for psychotherapy. My guess is this pattern emerged earlier than when your long-term boyfriend cheated on you. You may want to explore this with a good therapist. Understanding where the pain began gives you more options on how to correct it.

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

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Kristina Randle, Ph.D., LCSW <![CDATA[Issues with My Psychotic Disorder NOS Diagnosis]]> https://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/?p=44771 2017-02-19T04:12:39Z 2017-02-23T21:30:02Z

I have been having psychotic episodes since I can remember. Hallucinations and delusions take up a good percentage of my childhood memories and still to this day are so extreme I spend half of my day out of reality. My doctors in the past have refused to look at the possibility of schizophrenia. My current doctor says I do not meet requirements, yet I have extreme visual and auditory hallucinations to the point I can’t work or even really be a viable member of society. I am diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder with Psychotic Disorder NOS. I am confused as to what is going on, because I apparently have extreme delusions in regards to my occult obsessions. I am starting to realize that something is wrong with my thinking, and I am irritated that both my current doctor and doctors in the past have not even looked at schizophrenia, nor have even entertained the idea. I feel underplayed and that I am not being well taken care of because they just slapped an easy diagnosis on me and didn’t look any further. I am miserable, and my family and friends are sick of my “delusions,” making things even worse. I have not heard of or found anything about people having been born with symptoms such as psychosis, especially as extreme as it is with me. I am by no means a professional and do not want to self-diagnose, but I am able to pinpoint certain symptoms I have in the diagnostic manuals. I match the things with Schizophrenia. I have been diagnosed as Bipolar I,II, and schizoaffective bipolar type. Even when I tell my doctor, those schizophrenic symptoms are ignored. I am honestly afraid that I may be schizophrenic and I am not being properly treated. I am scared for myself. What can I do to get someone to actually find out what is going on?

A. There are two schools of thought when it comes to diagnosis. One holds that diagnosis is fundamental to treatment. Without a diagnosis, it’s difficult to treat the problem. The other school of thought is that diagnosis is irrelevant. The only thing that matters is treating the symptoms. If the symptoms are being treated, then a diagnosis is of little value.

When it comes to diagnosis, it is not an exact science. Studies have shown that patients often receive multiple, sometimes conflicting diagnoses. This is especially true with psychotic disorders. Part of the confusion might be that the symptoms of psychotic disorders often overlap.

In your case, diagnosis might matter less than finding the right treatment. For many psychotic disorders, medication is the main type of treatment. Counseling can be helpful too.

I would recommend finding a therapist and a doctor with whom you feel comfortable. You want to choose providers who are willing to make adjustments to your treatments as needed, based on your feedback. Choose professionals who specialize in psychotic disorders. Not all professionals know how to treat psychotic disorders. It is specialized knowledge and not everyone has it. Please take care.

Dr. Kristina Randle

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Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker <![CDATA[What Am I Anymore?]]> http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/?p=44415 2017-02-19T04:09:30Z 2017-02-23T12:30:38Z

I’m 14 years old, I’m aromantic, and I can’t tell what I am anymore. I feel as if I’m not what I should be. I’m… mentally tired. I’m sick of going to school and watching all this knowledge be forgotten. I don’t want it to wasted on me, a person who won’t live past twenty.

Right now, I’m mentally unstable. Which is the only reason why this is being written. I am weak right now, and I am too tired to care. I know writing this is a risk, but maybe it will bring some light to some things.

I tend to use manipulative ways to get what I want. Such as lying and deceiving people or teachers, to maybe get more time on work to maybe get their pity. Or maybe to get them to care… I do find it exciting to watch them buy an act. Though, I am usually bored. I hate being bored even more, I’d rather lose my morals than be bored. They are all so simple minded, if I cry, that makes me the victim. No matter what I’ve done. I’ve learnt that.

Everything is so repetitive. Wake up, school, sleep. Its robotic actually. And I’m tired of it, I dislike change, I do. Anything is better than this life. I will usually do anything for excitement. Though, I hate crowds and talking to adults.

I should say a few big things now. I do self harm. Cutting, is the main way, but I also have tried choking myself, overdosing on pain medication, drowning myself, I’ve even tried drinking. I do those things, without thinking. They just happen.

When I am seriously mad, I tend to go for a walk, without shoes. To see how long it takes for my feet to bleed or until they get blisters. I don’t really know why though. I do it without thinking.

To also add, I do have a inferiority complex towards my sister. Its like I don’t exist. I acted to change, to be myself. I don’t want to be her. I was called her name, compared to her and I hate it so much. Our parents would pay attention to her first, listen to her first, take her side, and it was like i was alone. I hated that feeling. I learned to hate her, my own sister.

What am I anymore?

A: I wish I could give you a definite answer to your question. I can’t given the limited information in a letter. What I can do is validate that you are troubled and that you need and deserve some help.

Your feelings probably have something to do with your relationship to your sister and whatever caused your parents to seem to favor her over you. The kind of situation you describe sometimes makes a kid do lots of things to make it clear that, yes, she exists too. Feeling so invisible and powerless, you manipulate people and hurt yourself to tell yourself that you do have some power. Although it does help you prove to yourself that you have some control, it isn’t healthy and won’t lead to a positive self-image or a happy life.

If you could have found other ways to feel like you have a place in the world, you would have done it long ago. For that reason, I strongly urge you to get into therapy. Ask your school nurse or guidance counselor how to find a therapist who works with teens and their families. Your whole family needs some help — not just you.

In the meantime, if you need someone to talk to, please call the Boys Town hotline. Don’t be put off by the name. Girls can call too. Counselors are available 24/7 all 365 days a year to talk to teens who are distressed or scared or confused. It’s absolutely free and confidential. The phone number is 800 448 3000.

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie

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Daniel J. Tomasulo, PhD, TEP, MFA, MAPP http://www.FormerChild.com <![CDATA[Unintentional Relationships]]> https://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/?p=44682 2017-02-19T04:06:02Z 2017-02-22T21:30:58Z

I’m Not Here For Myself. I am here for my boyfriend who has been feeling paranoid and distant lately. Question: He is denying using people to feel emotion. But he hangs out with someone—not intentionally trying to befriend them—but making the illusion of befriending. Won’t he feel something toward them and become friends? Isn’t it possible he might actually get close to someone and have a feeling toward them of trust and closeness that he didn’t expect?

A: The first rule of genuine friendship and intimacy is proximity. You can’t begin to have a genuine relationship with someone you don’t have contact with. So, hanging out with someone is a good place for your boyfriend to start.

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

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Kristina Randle, Ph.D., LCSW <![CDATA[I Cut Myself & I Can’t Stop]]> https://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/?p=44768 2017-02-19T03:23:49Z 2017-02-22T12:30:55Z

I don’t know what to do. I cut myself really bad. At first they were shallow cuts, but now the shallow ones don’t satisfy me anymore. The longer I cut, the deeper the cut has to be for me to feel any sense of relief. It’s been going on for about a year. My mother doesn’t know and I don’t plan to tell her. I don’t want her to think I’m more of a disgrace than I already am. And I’m scared to tell my doctor because I think she will tell my mom. I know there are confidentiality laws but I think those only come into play when you’re not hurting yourself or others. I don’t know what to do. I’ve lost friends because they want me to tell them whats wrong but I just can’t. I’m scared they will tell the administration. Who will then tell my mom. I only cut on my thighs now because if they are on my arms, people will see them. And that would give me more anxiety, which would make me cut more. It’s a vicious path I would rather not go down. I’m already addicted to cutting, and it’s really, really hard to stop. I know I can, I just don’t know how. Please help me.

A. You say that you can’t stop cutting but there are certainly times when you’re not cutting. You don’t cut when you’re in school or when you’re the presence of your mother or doctor. Certainly there are other times too. If you do not cut on those occasions, then you do have some control. It shows that you can stop when you choose to. It also shows that you are not powerless or addicted.

Being able to control your behavior demonstrates an important level of self-control. You have more power and control than you realize. You can use this self-control to resist the urge to cut.

When you feel the urge to cut, do something else. Try to find an alternative activity. Some examples include, but are not limited to: exercise, dancing, drawing, playing a musical instrument, painting, calling a friend or playing with a pet. Writing is also a great stress reliever; one of the best according to many studies. There are many other things you could do in place of cutting.

The best way to solve this problem is to discuss it with your doctor. He or she can help you. Therapy only works if you are honest with the people who are trying to help you. I know that you are frightened but there is nothing to fear. Cutting is common and highly treatable.

Counseling will help you to find healthy ways to release your emotional pain. Don’t let fear keep you from treatment, recovery and a satisfying life. Please take care.

Dr. Kristina Randle

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Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker <![CDATA[Just about Anything Can Anger Me Now]]> http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/?p=44246 2017-02-19T03:22:24Z 2017-02-21T21:30:28Z

From a teen in the U.S.: Just about anything can anger me now. Whether it is me stubbing my toe, my mom coughing or the neighbors making the tiniest bit of sound when taking out the trash. I used to be a volcano trying to erupt under ice, but now I’m a car that won’t stop running, and the only thing that keeps me going is adrenaline. I feel so angry about everything. About the people who bullied me, about my mom ignoring me, about my mom constantly checking her Facebook, about her rather going drinking with friends on a Friday, about everything. I am angry about every mistake that I have made, I am angry about every thing I’ve seen people do that was not okay, and I’m angry about every single thing that has been done to me, and I’m angry that these people are now “accomplished” and are happy with their crap lives. They have friends they go out with, they have always had friends, they have always had big smiles on their faces at school, but me? …

What angers me is hearing my mom chew w too loudly, her friend speak too loudly, or hear a BIG “GULP” when someone swallows water. My mom used to not think as much when she spoke, I don’t know if she’s the same today, but I remember that being the day I snapped, and stopped thinking before speaking, and I remember so clearly, that everything I said, I thought about before it escaped my mouth, and I’m not the same anymore.

Everything will piss me off, even my life pisses me off, and every effort I have to make, or make for myself, everyone seems to ignore. I have no friends, no one, and I’M ANGRY. I AM SO ANGRY. And sometimes, half of the time I think that what MAKES killers, is people who have been treated like me and believe it was unfair, and that’s when the super-narcissistic personality comes in, and so on. I used to think I was perfect, and say it all the time because no one liked me, and I suppose it made me feel better. I believe that if any normal person were me for a day, they would feel the anger, and they would not recognize the feeling – and feel the shame in every stare.

A: At only 14, you impressively articulate about the reasons for your anger. But here’s the thing: There are always lots of reasons to be angry if you are a sensitive person who is paying attention to the problems in the world. Anger isn’t your problem. Your problem is that you don’t know what to do with it and you don’t pay enough attention to the positive things going on to balance the onslaught of the negative.

For example: TV personality, Mr Rogers, is quoted as saying this: “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’ To this day, especially in times of ‘disaster,’ I remember my mother’s words, and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers–so many caring people in this world.”

You need to develop some coping skills and anger management techniques for dealing with your observations of negative behavior. You probably need some therapy to deal with a long history of abuse and bullying. And you would definitely benefit from getting some coaching in social skills so you can make and keep friends.

In addition, you may have something called misophonia, an angry reaction to sounds like people chewing, swallowing or sniffing, or everyday noises that other people only find to be annoying. Take a look at this article for more information on that: http://www.slate.com/articles/health_and_science/medical_examiner/2015/08/misophonia_research_disorder_of_irritation_by_chewing_lip_smacking_sniffing.html

All this may sound overwhelming. But your letter demonstrates that you are a sensitive and thoughtful person. For someone like you, therapy often moves along quickly. Please talk to your school counselor or another adult you trust about how to find a therapist who works well with teens.

In the meantime, do consider talking to the counselors at the Boys Town Hotline. (Don’t be put off by the name. They talk to girls too.) Counselors are there 24/7 to talk to teens like you. Your call is free and confidential. Here’s the number: 1 – 800-448-3000. If you aren’t comfortable talking to someone, there is also the option to text or chat online.

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie

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Daniel J. Tomasulo, PhD, TEP, MFA, MAPP http://www.FormerChild.com <![CDATA[Mum Controlling My Life]]> https://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/?p=44680 2017-02-18T00:01:04Z 2017-02-21T12:30:41Z

Please help me I need advice. My mother has been so controlling since grade school from my daily conversations with friends to what I wear and where I should go. She has always made me feel worthless and so I have suffered with depression and social isolation for so long. I finally applied to a university abroad and just got accepted but am very scared of what she might think. Just need advice on how to handle this sort of situation.(From New Guinea)

A: Don’t spend the rest of your life worrying about what your mother thinks. No matter what you’ve done she hasn’t approved, and you’ve been miserable. Trying to do what your mother wants will continue the feelings of worthlessness, depression and social isolation. Take the university offer and as soon as you get to campus talk to the people at the counseling center. They will be able to help you individuate from your mother’s clutch.

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

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Kristina Randle, Ph.D., LCSW <![CDATA[I’m Very Depressed, and Not Optimistic as I Used to Be]]> https://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/?p=44765 2017-02-17T21:51:23Z 2017-02-20T19:45:50Z

I’m studying in the second year at the university. When I was in the first year, I was very optimistic and happy. Then after entering the second year, there are more works to do. But I can handle it without a problem. However, my colleagues cannot adapt to their responsibility and get mad to each other. They always shout in my face about childlike problems. That environment turned me in to a depressed and pessimistic person. I sometimes cry alone in my room with depression and go to study with a displeased face. What should I do? Things are worse than I can explain. Thank you.

A. You should limit the time you spend with your colleagues. It seems that they might be the source of your problems. You seemed fine until you started spending more time with them.

You could also try telling your colleagues how you feel. They may be unaware of how their behavior is affecting you. Even if you do bring it to their attention, they may not care to change. That’s why limiting your time with them might be necessary.

If you continue to struggle, try counseling. You could learn how to set personal boundaries with difficult or challenging people. It could also provide emotional support and guidance for problem-solving. Please take care.

Dr. Kristina Randle

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Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker <![CDATA[Attracted to Young Boys]]> http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/?p=44180 2017-02-17T21:12:07Z 2017-02-20T12:30:41Z

From the U.K.: Im a young adult now 17 years old will be 18 next year which is why iv decided to seek help! Now basically here is a quick background of how this happened!

I used to get teased and messed around with by my not anymore “Dad” for many years but on top of that i had autism and got bullied for 10 years straight! By the age of 9 i started looking at boys my age but didn’t understand why at that age.

Anyways i started doing this thing to my well private part lying on my stomach which gave me a “nice” feeling after a while till i hit the age 13 I discovered masturbation and started that instead but this is where my life goes downhill..

I do it to pics of boys aged 5-14 years old and this is when my Mum got divorced and I didn’t have a Dad anymore mixed feelings, both good and bad then at age 16 my Mum found someone who is now the best “Stepdad” ever!! No more teasing ect.. But to this date iv been getting worse masturbating 3-4 times a day sometimes just once to picsnof boys aged 6-11 instead.

I really want to stop as i may get in trouble when im 18!! Any help?

A: I’m so glad you wrote. Yes, you are right that this could lead to serious trouble. It already is very troublesome.

Children who have been traumatized often act out the trauma as a way to try to understand and master their feelings. It’s possible you have been re-enacting the treatment by your “dad” and/or that you are reacting to the bullying by older boys by wanting to have power over younger boys. I don’t have enough information to go beyond those very preliminary guesses.

But I do know this. The more you masturbate to pictures of young boys, the more you are reinforcing the very behavior you say you want to stop. Orgasm is a powerful, powerful reinforcer. Every time you climax while looking at those pictures, you are conditioning yourself to do it more.

There is nothing wrong with masturbation. There is something very wrong with doing it while looking at pictures of little boys.

Your report that you are masturbating 3 – 4 times a day suggests to me that you are also using it as a way to relieve intense anxiety. It works, I’m sure. Orgasm is an effective stress reliever. However, the more you do it, the more addictive it will be.

Please consider getting into therapy. A therapist won’t judge you. Instead, a therapist will help you deal with your history and learn to express your sexuality in ways that are appropriate and pleasurable. You will also learn alternative ways to relieve stress and anxiety. Do look for a therapist who has expertise in working with young men with high functioning autism.

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie

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Daniel J. Tomasulo, PhD, TEP, MFA, MAPP http://www.FormerChild.com <![CDATA[Mother Holding Grudge]]> https://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/?p=44678 2017-02-13T21:27:55Z 2017-02-19T19:50:25Z

I was abused as a child along with my 2 brothers and mother. Our relationships with each other as adults tend to be rocky. My brothers are explosive towards anyone when mad. my mother puts us against each other at times. From another marriage my mom had my youngest bro who I was the main caregiver To when she was diagnosed with breast cancer and received treatment since it was 15 I cared for my special needs bro for 11 years doing all his personal care my life has revolved around him. My parents tended to be controlling of me cause of this. Always needing me home never allowing me to have independence without some sort of threat. I ended up self-harming again those last 2 yrs in the home. I was stressed and overwhelmed. I ended up meeting a man that I now call my husband and I’m in a very healthy and happy relationship. However I made the decision to move without warning to my parents. And they reacted as I suspected my one brother cursed me out. My mother told me I was a bad sister and that I wasn’t allowed to see my brother whom I cared for. My stepdad refused to see me. And so I left. I have tried to maintain a relationship with my family. But my mother is constantly finding reasons to not talk to me or remind me that I’m bad for leaving. My special needs bro I have had no contact with as she says he misses me and only will make it worse. My other brothers are mad I left and cut off all communication. And I’m starting to feel like I should just quit trying. I want so bad to have my family. But I don’t know how to fix this? I have said sorry for hurting their feelings for a year now but we haven’t made any progress.

A: I am sorry you’ve had to deal with the abuse and now with a selfish mother. Leaving was what you needed to do for self-care. I’d invest my time and energy into building a life you can enjoy. A mother who treats you so poorly, feels she is entitled to enslave you, and then try to make you feel guilty for growing up doesn’t have much to offer. You are 26 and need to build a life of your own. Let her hold a grudge, or be angry, or whatever else she wants to do. My guess is that as time goes on you’ll find a way to reconnect with your special needs brother. But until then I would enter into some type of counseling to grieve leaving your family as you build a life for yourself.

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

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Kristina Randle, Ph.D., LCSW <![CDATA[I Think I’m Ruining My Life]]> https://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/?p=44762 2017-02-13T21:26:28Z 2017-02-19T12:30:20Z

I think I’m ruining my life. I can’t figure out what my problem is and I can’t help but feel like I’m exaggerating the depth of it. I’m currently in medical school – in my 2nd year. I’m supposed to be in the third but I failed my very first year. It’s been like cycle, everything is repeating itself all over again. I can’t explain why I failed my first year. I didn’t fail any exams – I just didn’t go. I kept lying to everyone about it. Summer came and I had to fess up. My dad wanted me to pull out but I insisted on going back because I knew I didn’t fail for the reasons he thought I did. It wasn’t because I couldn’t handle the workload – I just never tried. I gave up in an instant. No one forced me into medical school – I’m here on my own accord.

My 2nd trie at 1st year didn’t go any smoothly. The same cycle repeated itself. I locked myself away from the world, ran away from my problems by watching K-dramas but I had friends to help me out. My family helped me out too. Now, I’m in my 2nd year, about to take a major exam and I’m screwing it up all over again. This year went well to be honest. I made friends, didn’t lock myself out and worked hard (but not to the fullest because I am lazy!) But exam is here and ipdespite having friends who are trying to help me out, I’m falling back into the same cycle. I’m locking them out, lying through my teeth, not going to my exams. My parents have no idea because I lied that I was already done with my exams. I wasn’t always like this. I knew how to motivate myself. I wasn’t always this helpless or childish. Out of three kids, I’m the level headed one. My friends have given up and I’m scared. Why can’t I stop lying? Why can’t I stop panicking? Why can’t I get my shit together? Why do I keep looking for excuses to justify my stupidity. Why am I single-handedly ruining my life? Why do I feel like I’m blowing things out of proportion. Maybe I’m just scared of failing. I’m tired of not being able to figure myself out when I figure people out easily.

A. Your letter indicates that you judge yourself harshly. Within the contents of a few short paragraphs you called yourself an exaggerator, a liar and someone who was helpless and childish. You also seem to consider yourself a failure because you can’t solve your own problems.

That type of thinking is consistent with people who are depressed and who harbor unrealistic expectations of themselves. Humans are not born with innate problem-solving knowledge. That type of knowledge is learned. Sometimes it is learned from a good mentor or from our parents or caregivers. For those wanting that knowledge, counseling could help. You are the perfect candidate for counseling.

It’s important to stop being so hard on yourself. That kind of attitude has the potential to prevent you from seeking therapeutic help. It is the same kind of attitude that prevails among many in our culture. Seeking mental health treatment is nothing to be ashamed of. Counseling can be immensely empowering and it can change your life for the better. I would recommend trying cognitive behavioral therapy. It is evidence-based and problem-solving oriented. It targets both thinking and behavior. Please take care.

Dr. Kristina Randle

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Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker <![CDATA[I Have No Control Over My Anger and Short Temper]]> http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/?p=44182 2017-02-13T21:23:01Z 2017-02-18T19:50:31Z

From Malta: I’ve never reached out to anyone for help regarding this matter, however my wonderful girlfriend knows what my problem is, but only because I’ve been inflicting her pain.

Me and my girlfriend have been together a little over 8 years now, and we just bought ourselves a place to call home. We are still not living together since it still needs to be finished however, it is our dream to have a family together.

The problem? I suffer from short temper and lose control over what I say or do. To be clear, I’ve never laid a finger on her or would even think/dream or wish it. That would be the day I’d go drive myself over a cliff. However, I do loose control and I bad mouth (swear) or yell (sometimes at her but not directly offending her, but nonetheless disrespectful and making her feel like she’s being controlled). My parents got divorced when I was 10 and ever since I’ve lived with my father along with my siblings.

My father was always controlling and short tempered, and me being the youngest, it always felt like I was a punching bag. He never really send me to the hospital or anything but he did use physical force when he thought I showed him disrespect. Having said that, he always loved us and provided for us, but it doesn’t change the fact that I did and still feel that he sometimes take it out on me. I’m 26, and to this day he feels he’s got some kind of hold over me just because HE’S the parent. And it’s OK, I’ll soon stop living under the same roof. However i have been telling myself that I won’t be like him ever in my life, ever since I can remember.

Despite all the hate and anger I have for how he talks/threats me, I’m afraid i’m just him, and I hate myself for it. The anger, the short temper, the yelling, the controlling, the dismissal of one’s opinion, I hate all of it. I sometimes realize that I’m doing the same thing as he does, and manage to control the situation, however, sometimes I get angry and lose temper for no good reason and before I know it, I’m yelling, swearing and banging on doors, or my car or whatever’s in my hand. I’m out of control. Please help.

A: You do have control — at least some of the time. You are at least not being physically abusive with your girlfriend. But, as you well know, that is only the first step. You learned lots of negative ways to express anger from your father. Unfortunately, you didn’t have another strong male in your life who could teach you the positive ways to handle it.

Yes, there are positive ways to be angry. There is nothing wrong with anger as a feeling. Often our anger tells us that something needs to be fixed. But there is plenty wrong about yelling, swearing, belittling and being generally disrespectful. Those behaviors only teach other people to distance from you. Problems never get solved.

I suggest you get into either an anger management program or therapy to help you learn constructive ways to deal with anger. In addition, observe how people you respect handle their irritation, annoyance and anger. Copying good behavior is always a place to start. There are also excellent books on the subject.

And there is a forum here at PsychCentral where community members share and support each other in dealing with strong emotions. Go to the “Find Help” tab, then click on “Forums” to find the group.

All I can do is make those suggestions. If you really want to solve the problem, it is up to you to take the next step. I hope you do. The stakes are high. If you continue on the path you are on, it is likely you will end up like your father and you will hate yourself for it.

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie

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Daniel J. Tomasulo, PhD, TEP, MFA, MAPP http://www.FormerChild.com <![CDATA[Difficulties with Food Depending on My Mood?]]> https://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/?p=44676 2017-02-13T21:08:04Z 2017-02-18T12:30:02Z

I think I have BPD and major depression. When I’m in a good mood I tend to eat a lot and when this happens I don’t feel bad a t the moment but when I’m done I feel gross and just too big. I start overthinking about how I will gain weight if I can’t control myself and make plans on how long I’ll fast to loose weight. That’s when I become very depressed. I really hate gaining weight and I’m can’t stop thinking about it. The thing is that every time I start fasting I can’t complete the goal that I set and it makes me hate myself even more. I’m very sensitive to failing at things due to school and I feel like a disappointment to my family especially my mom. She obviously get’s angry and disappointed with me because I don’t want to eat. Sometimes I also feel like the only reason I’m still alive is her. I’ve been depressed for more than 4 years (on and off).

Sorry this is so confusing t me and I can’t explain myself properly about this topic.
I’m waiting for my first therapy appointment now but I need to know how to manage this eating issue I have until I go (in a month).

Thank you in advance. (From Germany)

A: I am very glad you are going for therapy. My guess is that as the mood swings come under control so will your eating. What may be very helpful is to simultaneously work with a nutritionist to lean about the yo-yo fasting and eating cycle — and what strategies can be used to temper and manage it. Learning about healthy eating habits and lifestyle will be a good support for the psychotherapy.

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

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Kristina Randle, Ph.D., LCSW <![CDATA[Scared by My Thoughts]]> https://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/?p=44715 2017-02-13T20:09:18Z 2017-02-17T19:45:03Z

Hi! , i was looking for a job and i found one for being a nanny. in the website company it say that you have to take a psychological test, and i started to think about if i’ll ever hurt a toddler or if i am a pedophile. and im really concerned, i feel really disgusted, guilty for thinking that, and i dont know how to shake of that feeling, i really like kids, i want (eventually) have one of my own and i feel really bad because i have this thoughts , i know that im not a bad person, but i dont want to think this anymore.

A. The problem might be anxiety. There is a specific type of anxiety disorder called pedophile OCD. It is not an official diagnosis, but researchers have noticed that some individuals have a strong fear of harming a child and become obsessed with it. These individuals don’t trust themselves around children despite there being no evidence to suggest that they are a danger to children. These thoughts often lead to significant distress in their lives.

I would highly recommend counseling. It is especially important to be proactive with treatment when it comes to anxiety disorders. Untreated anxiety disorders tend to become worse over time. It’s best to get help now while the problem is minimal. The sooner you can begin treatment, the sooner you can remove this anxiety from your life. You will find great relief with treatment. Please take care.

Dr. Kristina Randle

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