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Can’t Find Help For Depression and Self-Harm

by Kristina Randle, Ph.D., LCSW

Hi, Thank you for taking time away from your life to read this. It means almost everything to me at this point.

I think I’m losing myself… I can’t help but feel like I’ve messed everything up and it’s too late. I have gone through cycles of major depression for most of my life, but have never before sought help for it. I have been self-harming for over 10 years now, mostly cutting, and it has recently become a little worse in terms of depth and the lack of control I feel prior to making the cuts. I already live far away from any family, whom I barely speak to, and have recently found myself really pushing away my friends and roommates to the point that they no longer want much to do with me. It hurts a lot, because I care for them so much and do not understand why I feel angry toward them and push them away. Over the last month or so, I have experienced really intense crying spells (and I am NOT one to cry, even with reason) to the point where I feel completely out of control and almost can’t breathe. This happens almost every night now. I am having more and more trouble finding the motivation to do anything, and I think about suicide far more than I’d like to admit. I’m miserable and I absolutely hate myself for it.

I finally talked to my doctor, though I admittedly minimized much of what I am experiencing, and she has tried two different anti-depressants with no effect. I then tried to go to a therapist for the first time, and within 5 minutes of just going over my history, she turned me away and referred me someplace else and they do not have an open time slot for a number of weeks. (And, while I can see the irony in being rejected even by a therapist at this time, it doesn’t make the situation stink any less). I don’t know what to do, because whatever is happening is consuming and destroying my life. I’m not sure exactly what I am asking from you, but please, if you can, help? Anything… please.

Thank you,

I am glad that you have written because it gives me a chance to encourage you to continue your search for professional help. You are on the right track. Seeing both a doctor and a therapist is exactly what you should be doing.

I would suggest contacting the new therapist to request a quicker appointment. The therapist might see you sooner if he or she were made aware of the immediacy of your needs.

I would also encourage you to revisit your doctor about your concerns. Report that your medication is not working effectively. Adjustments to medication are part of the process of finding one (or a combination of several) that works.

It is also important to be honest about your symptoms. As you stated, you minimized them in previous appointments. By minimizing your symptoms you inadvertently provide inaccurate information. This could have led your doctor to prescribe the wrong medication. Your doctor might need to adjust your medication based on the true nature of your symptoms.

If you feel that you might harm yourself, go to the emergency room. The hospital is designed to help individuals in emergency situations. The hospital can keep you safe.

I would also suggest that you be in the presence of others whenever possible. Isolation can exacerbate depression symptoms. Even if being in the presence of others makes you angry or upset, do it anyway.

Part of the anger you feel toward your friends and family might be due to resentment. You may resent the fact that they seem happy. You may also resent them for not doing enough, from your perception, to help you. It is normal to feel that way. Your friends and family may have a strong desire to help but are not sure how. They might also be unaware of how much you are suffering. The possibility that friends and family may struggle with knowing how best to help you underscores the importance of seeing a mental health professional. Mental health professionals are trained to know how to help individuals with the problems you have described.

It is not too late for you to get help. It is never too late. The reality of your situation is that you have been suffering for many years and you have yet to receive professional help. The positive aspect of this situation is that you are on the verge of getting the help that you deserve. Please take care.

Dr. Kristina Randle

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