We all sometimes need a second opinion, a second set of eyes on our situation in life.
Whether it be about a relationship or something to do with work or school, LifeHelper is designed to give you a “Dear Abby”-like advice column response.
I was always good in school. Even if I didn’t review all my notes on the lecture, I always get high scores. My friends often acknowledge this ‘gift’ of mine (that’s what they call it). I also enjoyed doing home works and usually after checking the answers in school, I always get perfect scores. After my father’s death in February just this year, I started losing control over myself. I began to lose interest in all the things I do.
I started failing in tests. But what scares me most is that… I didn’t care anymore. Usually when I don’t get the grade that I want, I feel so bad all day. Most of the time nowadays, I feel sleepy and light-headed, as if I’m in a dream. As if I’m just floating, doing my work absentmindedly, just for the sake of finishing all the tasks that had been assigned to me.
I usually like to write. I write all sorts of literature – in English (not my mother tongue). I had perfect grammar. Essays, poems, short stories, novels… I have a rich vocabulary, but now I find it hard to put words together. Just as I am writing this paragraph, words aren’t forming in my head. I have to pause once in a while to check if I’m not typing in anything stupid. Writing had always been spontaneous to me. But now I find it extremely hard to get my point across.
I also have a problem with reciting in class. Since words aren’t forming in my head, I don’t know what to say whenever the teacher asks me a question. I feel so embarrassed not being able to answer her question when my classmates could easily state their own opinions. It’s like my brain suddenly shut down – somewhat dead and unwilling to think.
I also became forgetful. After reading books, (even my favorite fiction books), I tend to forget what happened in the story in days time. I forget the names of some minor characters (which never happened to me because I LOVE reading fiction books and I treasure every little detail in the story). I am a college freshman. I meet new people everyday… and I also forget their names easily. At night I get frustrated… What can’t I remember their names? Sometimes, I have to close my eyes and think really hard what the thing that I was holding was called. I was holding a pencil then.
I also liked being alone. Sometimes, when a friend says hi to me along the school corridors, I pray to God that he won’t stop and chat with me. I just didn’t like talking at that time. Alarmingly, I feel that way more and more everyday. I didn’t want to get out of my bed every morning. I just wanted to do absolutely nothing.
I still have many problems, like my appetite. Sometimes I feel so hungry, and then the next day I didn’t want to eat or drink anything. The next day, I want to buy everything in the canteen. The next day I just wanted to vomit until my stomach bleeds. I don’t have anorexia, nor did I ever cared so much about my weight. I don’t know if it’s because I’m stressed that eating has been troublesome for me.
Could you help me? I don’t know if these are all caused by my father’s death. I had some of these problems before he died, but they intensified after he did. The forgetfulness is the worst. I just feel so frustrated not knowing what is happening to me.
I’m so very sorry for the loss of your father and for the emotional turmoil you find yourself in now. I’m very glad you wrote. What you are describing may be what is called a “grief reaction.” People grieve differently. How and how long we grieve depends on our relationship to the person who has died, our own personality, and our coping skills. About a third of grieving people develop symptoms of depression in the months immediately following the death. About 15 percent continue to find it difficult to function a year or more later. Memory loss, lethargy, and inability to concentrate are common symptoms. So are gastrointestinal problems and problems with eating, much as you described them.
Grieving eople have told me that they just want to world to stop for a while so that they could get their bearings again without worrying about what other people think or having to fulfill responsibilities. Unfortunately, there’s no way to do that. But you can get some good support to help you through the grieving process. Grief work involves coming to terms with the loss, adjusting to what it means to be without that person in your life, and either enhancing current relationships or making new ones that fulfill at least some of the roles the deceased person had in your life.
Many people find it helpful to join a bereavement support group. Sharing with others who are going through the same kinds of experiences can be particularly comforting. Other people look for a counselor who speciailizes in grief work. Still others turn to their spiritual leaders for emotional support and practical help.
You didn’t mention other members of your family. I hope there are close relatives with whom you can talk about your father and his meaning in your life. Sharing memories, crying together, and talking about how to go on without him can be comforting and helpful.
It’s always a good idea to see a doctor to make sure there isn’t a medical problem causing some of the distress. I doubt that you are ill but it’s wise to check. I don’t think you are going crazy. I do think you need an assist to help you mourn and start to move on.
I wish you well.
I have very little memory of how I behave from day to day with no control of my mood swings.
As a background, I was made redundant almost 4 months ago, and have since been finding it very hard to find another job. At around 19 (I am now 25) I was diagnosed with depression, and placed on medication, the dose of which went up for some time. I attempted suicide twice, but seemed to be over this from around the age of 22, and have had little trouble with it since, and other difficult periods in my life (similar to the stage I am at now) have not caused my moods to change so. I live with my boyfriend of several years, who has tried quite hard to deal with my moods, but is understandably now suggesting that I get some kind of professional help.
Recently, I have found myself to spend much of my time feeling helpless, listless, unwilling to leave the house, finding it difficult to make simple phone calls etc. I spend a lot of time alone during the day, and understand from my previous episode of depression, that these are classic symptoms. However, unlike during my previous experiences with depression, my moods tend to vary dramatically between this “depression”, and hysteria, frightening anger, hyperactivity and fitful tears. None of this I have any control over. I have considered the possibility of a mood disorder, but my more “manic” episodes do not last for more than a few hours at a time, and I do not tend to spend wildly, or engage in outrageous behaviour with strangers- I am still quite insular. My hysteria is primarily aimed at my boyfriend and close friends and family. I also have prolonged periods of “normal” feeling and behaviour, thankfully, where I can look back at my actions, and see how irrationally I have behaved.
One major concern, and a huge cause of disharmony in our lives, is that I seem to have little or no lasting memory of how I have either felt or behaved. My boyfriend will suggest that I have been behaving hysterically for 5 of the last 7 days, and I will only remember perhaps one incident, and almost never remember what it was that caused the argument (which is the outcome of many of my irrational moments). I have been insisting for some time that my boyfriend must have been making up some of these arguments, or that he must be doing something, something I have been unable to put my finger on, in order to enrage me so. His constant insistence that he’d “done nothing wrong” seemed to upset me more, as I could not believe that I was reacting like this without provocation. Of course, my rational side realizes that he doesn’t have any reason to make me feel like I am insane by making this up.
When I am in one of these hysterical moods, I am always fully confident that I am right- that whatever wild point I’m making is correct.
I am still not sure whether I am depressed, but for some reason behaving like a spoiled, crazy toddler, or if there is something more wrong? I would like to get help, but it takes so long in the UK, and when hysterical, can’t organise myself to get to an appointment, and when miserable, am very reluctant to leave the house, or even call to make an appointment.
I am sorry that you are feeling so unsteady emotionally. The mood swings sound like they are very disregulating and I appreciate the opportunity to respond.
Three things jump out at me right away. The first is that you seem to have a boyfriend in your life that really cares about you and wants you to feel better. This is a very good thing, and I would draw on this relationship to help you get to a better place. I would ask him to help you by planning a time for him to be with you to make the call. I do know that in the UK the appointments can take time, but I also know that nothing will happen if we don’t get one nudged onto the menu. Ask him to help you make the call.
Secondly, I would make the call for a psychiatrist to do the evalation because my guess is that you want someone with experience in prescribing medicine for mood swings. Naturally I am a proponent of talk therapy, but my guess is that to make the kind of changes you want both medicine and therapy will be necessary.
Finally, I would start keeping a journal. A brief daily journal that would allow you to write down both what has happened (this will help with your memory,) and what your feelings are –so the psychiatrist might be able to discern if there is a cycle or a pattern to your mood swings.
I think if you take these steps you may be able to find out what is underneath all of this.
i’m a fresh graduate, 25 and male, looking for a job in Hong Cong. I have been suffering from depression and anxiety. i took medicine, sertraline because my student counselor asked me to see the doctor in May. After a few days, i had a mild headache. Then after 2 months, i saw the doctor again to tell him the problems of headache. He thought i had no need to take the medicine and should focus on seeking a job. Then, after half a month, i still had a bad headache so i saw him the third time and i took the medicine again. Now, my headache happens every day, but it’s very terrible in some period of time.
Besides, i have felt extremely exhausted like i have done a ton of things or jobs in a day. i feel extremely extremely tired and didn’t want to do anything. in fact, it’s okay to do something like watching tvs or listening to music. in particular, i feel completely tired when waking up in the morning. it’s too hard for me to be like a normal person who feels good and can do cleaning at least once every day. I usually need to sit down and thought what’s wrong with me and how i can overcome this, but this makes me upset and sad.
by the way, i think at this moment i can’t do a job although i can find a job. it’s because of the tiredness. in addition, i have stomach problems and some illnesses too.
Thus, I am worrying too much that i quite often check my body or go to see a doctor. That wastes time and money. i think i feel sick, but it almost had no problems and i am just fine. in fact, i know this problem but i should make sure that’s ok when i feel just a little bit uncomfortable or sick.
in addition to health problems, i am quite anxious of my daily life, even trivial things, like what i need to do next hour or something. i always want to finish my jobs quickly and perfectly, so that i am not worried. However, this doesn’t work and even makes me worst. Actually, i feel a bit tired of this pattern of thinking because it makes me anxious and gives me some pressure. And i can tell you that it’s not normal.
thank you so much.
You’re right. It’s not normal for a young person to have so much anxiety and depression that he is unable to function. That doesn’t mean that it is that unusual. Many recent graduates have a difficult time for a while. They have been in the rhythm of school and focused on getting their degree for years. Once they get it, they aren’t quite sure how to move to the next stage of life. Some, like you, develop symptoms.
I”m very glad you’re under a doctor’s care. It is always important to make sure that your symptoms aren’t caused by a medical condition. You and your doctor seem to have ruled that out. That being the case, your symptoms do seem to suggest anxiety and depression.
Studies show that anxiety is underdiagnosed in Asians. It may be that your treaters underestimate how serious the problem has become. If you feel this is the case, it may be important for you to emphasize how much you are suffering.
Medication alone isn’t working for you so it might be helpful to add other elements to your treatment. In the States, I would suggest you seek out a cognitive behavioral therapist. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) has been shown to be one of the most effective for dealing with anxiety and depression. If you would like to learn more about it, go to this link.
In addition, it’s particularly important that you pay attention to your physical health. That means eating right and getting some exercise every day – even if you don’t particularly feel like it. Some mindfulness strategies like meditation or self-hypnosis or yoga often help to lower the intensity of anxiety. Finally, you might find it helpful to join one of our online support groups. Members of the community can offer both emotional support and practical help.
I strongly suggest you find a mental health professional to help you develop a comprehensive treatment plan and to provide you with support. If you could pull yourself out of this on your own, you would have done so already. With a more intensive treatment strategy, I have every reason to believe that you will get through this.
I wish you well.
I tend to have a problem with self esteem: I do have self esteem issues and I am also a Student In Training or a S.I.T. I am a S.I.T for saying sorry too much, looking worried and if Isay something to somebody and they do not hear me the first time I tend to say never mind and refuse t tell them what I have said. Once a person in my class counted how many times I had said sorry. He ended up saying sorry fourty times and he was not with me for the whole day. I also look worried or that is what my teacher says. She says that I never look calm or relaxed. I also have a problem with saying nevermind if somebody does not hear me the first time. Here is the average conversation between me and a class mate:
Me: That math test was kind of hard was it not?
Classmate: Huh what did you say?
Me: Oh it was nothing
Classmate: No I really want to hear what you have to say.
Me: Oh nothing.
I also have a problem with the volume of my voice. My teacher says that I do not speak loud enough. During a play practice she said that people who were fifteen feet away from me. I do not know why I do these things, but I knw that I need help.
I believe you are correct when you say this is a self-esteem problem. It’s common for teenagers to have problems with self-esteem. Developmentally, most teenagers will struggle with this issue but the good news is that it can be overcome.
You seem to feel as though you don’t matter to people. Perhaps you also feel that you’re a burden to others. You seem to feel unimportant and believe that what you say isn’t of any relevance. This could explain why you talk in a low, quiet voice. It could also explain why, if you make a comment that someone doesn’t hear, you are reluctant to repeat yourself. All of your behavior points to a lack of self-confidence.
Sometimes people with low self-esteem feel as though they are not worthy of love or the attention of others. If someone is not treated well by their parents, for instance, they may begin to believe that they deserve to be treated badly. This type of thinking makes it difficult to develop a good healthy self-esteem.
How can someone develop self-esteem? There are several ways to do this and it’s important to keep in mind that it may take time. Below are some tips that you may find helpful:
Increasing one’s self-esteem includes accomplishment but it also means believing in reality. Many people who have low self-esteem erroneously believe negative things about themselves. I see this in counseling quite often. For instance, a person may feel like no one likes them but in reality they may have many friends. People with low self-esteem have a tendency to discount positive aspects about themselves and highlight negative qualities that are often not true. A therapist could help you sort through these issues.
I would encourage you to attempt some of the aforementioned tips but also to speak to your parents. You should inform them about your struggles at school. If you do not feel comfortable talking to your parents about this issue then go to a teacher or the guidance counselor at school. They may be able to assist you in developing your self-esteem or direct you to a mental health professional. Self-esteem and related conditions such as depression and social anxiety are some of the most common reasons individuals enter counseling. I wish you well. Please take care.
Ok… good job, educated, single parent of a special needs kiddo. Got good stable help from my family; grandma lives with us now. Yeah, so I had it rough with the ex years ago; left him the day our kiddo was born, haven’t been back. He had some anger issues, wasn’t so nice to me, violent, blah, blah, blah… Court was long, drawn out for divorce, custody, assault cases that lasted years. Been wayyyy too busy with life to deal with it all. I’m a first responder in public safety; working and volunteering (though disasters like Hurricane Katrina) kept me moving forward for years. When I promoted up to desk duty, that’s when I started to realize for my kiddo’s sake I needed to get healthy — everyone who knew me thought with my chronic jumpiness, sarcastic humor about disturbing personal/professional incidents, that I was a walking mental time bomb. (Heck, I’m the one that facilitates the department CISM groups for crying out loud!)
Anyways, found a great therapist; love her to death. Finally started to trust her too after two years of avoiding her questions, smiling, laughing though old ‘war stories’, and she’s been really great about guiding me towards seeing stress in my life in a difference light. Yeah, got trust issues — I have probably 1,000 great acquaintances, but no friends… not looking for any either. They just cause more stress.
A few weeks back therapist mentioned that she sees me as having many layers that are hard to get down to. I took it as a badge of honor thinking I do a good job in keeping ‘the real me’ concealed. If you don’t open up, you can’t get hurt, right? I didn’t stop to think until I got out to the car that her comment probably was not meant as a compliment.
She’s diagnosed me as PTSD (which I wanna think is a load of crap; I hate labels). But the thing is, I know she’s right. And I can’t open up about it. In therapy sessions, she asks me what’s wrong and I totally clam up; changing the subject, dodging and deflecting her questions, laughing off any attempt to get to the root of any issues. I’m scared (although, if I ever said that out loud, I’d melt into a puddle on the floor… I’m supposed to be strong dang it!)
I know she ‘knows’ (I’m sure she’s not an idiot and knows how to google someone; my life back then was on public display during my ex’s trials), but how do I tell her about all the physical trauma with my ex? How do I start the conversation? “Gee, ya’ know he beat the crap outta me years ago, stuck his army rifle up inside me, tormented me mentally for six years until I just about cracked, and I can’t seem to get it outta my mind lately” — yeah right, that would never come out of my mouth. Ever. And do I even need to talk about it? Will talking about the incidents take away my ghosts? Is verbalizing the magic cure all?
When I open my mouth to try to say something, I can’t. A joke comes out, a comment about the weather, I freeze up. I’m tired of hiding the panic attacks, the bad dreams, hypervigilence. Dang it, my kiddo is starting to notice. I am afraid I’m going to snap like everyone thinks, and I don’t know how to tell the therapist. She might be the world’s best therapist, but I know she’s only as good as the playdoh she’s got to work with here.
So, two questions: why is it helpful to talk about old traumas, and how can I start a conversation with my therapist that I think after two years I’m finally going looney tunes? Thank you. (sorry for all the TMI details)
No apologies necessary. You’ve been through a horrific time. It makes sense to me that you have issues with trust as well as concerns about recalling and talking about things you’d like to leave far behind. The problem is that the strategy you’re using isn’t working for you. You’ve been locking things down rather than working them through.
I don’t have a scientific answer to your question as to why talking helps. I do know from years of experience that the “talking cure” does seem to reduce the impact of trauma over people’s lives. By talking over a tregedy or trauma with a trusted and sympathetic person, we get the situation out of the shadows of shame and provide a safe place for anger and grief and eventually for more inner peace. I have every reason to believe that you will find it helpful.
You’ve done a great job laying the foundation for the work you now need to do. You’ve built a good relationship with your therapist that is based in trust. As you correctly point out, she can only work with what you give her. I think you’re more ready than maybe you think you are. By writing this letter, you’ve told me and yourself exactly what you need to tell your therspist. All you need to do is give her a copy of the letter at the beginning of your next session and ask her to use the information very, very slowly since you’re feeling quite anxious. Now gather your courage and bring your letter to her. Trust that the two of you will figure out what to do.
I wish you well.
I am 29 years old. When I was younger I grew up in the foster care system, because my father was abusive(so they tell me, i do not remember) and my mother, well my mother was not a mother. I was abused by her boyfriends, (again I do not remember), and I was removed from her care when I was 6 years old. I found love in the family that took me in, but what I also found was that I had aquired some disturbing traits. And I had a real problem with men. (so they told me) I lived with them for 5 years, as a kid then I thought that for sure that they would adopt me when my parents rights were terminated. They did not.
was then put into a book and was adopted by total strangers. This took alot of getting used to and caused many problems in my teenage years. I did not call my father “dad” for a long time. I was never good with boys and was considered a tomboy.
After high school I came out of my shell so to speak. I found that I loved sex and the way that it made me feel. I also loved that I was skinny and exactly what men wanted. I had many relationships but one that forever stays with me is when I was 19, I think that I fell in love then, and possibly only then. At least real love. He was everything to me and I adored him. We spent all our time together and we never disagreed about anything. I thought that he was my soulmate.
Well something went wrong and we seperated and came back together years later, while he was incarcerated. He was the one that I could never get over, and quite possibly would return to even to this day if he asked me to. Thru 8 years we were off and on even when I had a baby with someone else.(even though he too could have been the father). My son’s father chose to have nothing to do with us, but my guy did. He was basically the only father that my son ever knew.
Almost 3 years ago, my son was murdered by my boyfriend at the time. He was 4 years old. His killer is still loose and we have seen no justice. For the last three years when I get into a relationship, I find that I become bored easily, or can be distracted by another man easily. (cheating) After awhile, I feel as though in a relationship it becomes a chore to be with someone. Like it is something that I HAVE to do instead of something I WANT to do.
Such is my current relationship, my boyfriend and I have only been together for 2 months, but we were friends for over a year before we started a relationship. He is great. He is sweet, caring, attentive, and always there when I need him. And he is good in bed as well. But about 2 weeks ago, I found myself with one of my old “sex buddies” (someone I used to just have sex with)and though I tried not to give in to temptation, (he did not help the situation, he begged me and said amazing things) I ended up giving in and having sex with him. And I have continously for the last 2 weeks, and though we have tried to keep feelings outta the mix.
I think that I might start to feel something for this other guy. He is always on my mind. Now don’t get me wrong, I love my boyfriend…at least I think that I do. But he seems to drive me crazy sometimes and all I think about when we are together is this other guy. What is wrong with me? Is it even worth me being in a relationship if I can stray so easily? Why do I not stay faithful? And why do I seem to not feel for my boyfriends after about a month? Please help me cause I do not wanna hurt my boyfriend but I don’t want to keep giving him hope for being with me, especially if I can’t fix it.
Your life is a story of one loss after another. Your parents, foster parents, and boyfriends haven’t stayed. If that weren’t enough, your child was brutally taken away by someone you thought you loved. In an instant, you lost not one but two of the people closest to you.
Although you have done amazingly well in many ways, it makes absolute sense to me that you have difficulty staying in relationships. The only “committed” relationship you’ve had was ironically with someone who was unavailable to you most of the time you were together because he was in jail!
Women who have been through so much loss often have difficulty trusting in relationships. As much as they want to really love and be loved, they’ve had so much experience with being abandoned that they keep a piece of their heart out of the relationship. It just plain feels too emotionally risky to commit everything. Like you, they feel they HAVE to get out before they get abandoned yet again.
Being faithful isn’t magic. It’s a decision people make to be committed to the commitment of being together when the going gets a little rough. There’s a saying that when love doesn’t feel like enough to hold a committed relationship together, the relationship can hold people together until they find the love again. Relationships are rarely steadily romantic or passionate or even interesting. We move in and out of love’s intensity as we grow together with someone we care about. But for it to work, both people have to be willing and able to stick.
If you truly want to be able to have a long-term relationship, I suggest you find a therapist who specializes in trauma and loss. Such a therapist will help you resolve old griefs and learn to take emotional risks again. It will take time. But in my opinion it’s worth doing. You’ve had far too much loss in your life. You deserve to be cherished by someone and to learn to wholeheartedly love back.
I wish you well.
check my score, its kinda lengthy to explain hear. I can go out,i can trust others, i am a master at building up a fake me for every situation there is, and im also great at segregation. Im never happy, i hate myself so much i am never me. I have never been the real me in years, so long that i forgot who that was. All that is left is the me’s i came up with to assume when i am around other people. Hell on me is one that is instable and one is strong, one gives great advice, one is sick and twisted, it all depends on what other people need from me to get what they want out of every interaction. Im an empty shell. When i am alone, i am nothing, i cant sleep or relax, i drink and do things that deter my goals that i set when i think i have found a end all solution for my problems. ANd there has been alot of them in life. I hurt my self as well, when i am sick me….then i take a hot knife blade and burn and cut my self. Not to kill myself, but to feel the pain, cause that me loves the pain. It got bad enough that my tattoo artists has declared there is no part on my left arm thats eligable for tattooing cause its all full of scars. I drink every night, i hate it but i do. Not to get drunk but to stop my heart from racing,to calm down so i can sleep. I tried sleeping pills, but they lost effect. I have taken so many pills over the years that sleeping pills are like a afternoon snack and wont sastisfiy my goal. I have over taken sleeping pills, liquid pain med mixed with rum, mixed with over the counter sleeping pills and had no real effect of a normal sleep. I was up for hours still, barley slept, went to work and did my workout, then went and trained in judo, then went home and had same problem going to bed. There is more, so much more, i want to say, but i need to cut this short and im scared as it is to post this.If someone comes after me for this, i wont be the same person, just as i am not when i go see a doc for help. You will never know, because i will know you within a couple minutes of meeting and i will have assumed a me that will please what ever it is your looking for and you will never see the real me. You will even walk away thinking you acomplished alot with me and that you had a strong connection with me and thats what allowed you to help me. And you will never know me, no one ever knows me. So im hoping that people on this website can help, cause i cant see you and you might get to see the real me and help, cause if i were to see you in person…well u get it, it wont be me.
I hope it will be the real “you” reading this letter. It is not healthy to pretend to be someone you are not. I am not certain if you are consciously choosing to be someone else in the presence of others or if it is an unconscious reaction. In either case, it is most likely serving the same purpose: psychological protection. The key question is: What are you protecting yourself from? If I had the opportunity to interview you in person, I would want to know when this problem began, what you were like before it started, and whether you experienced a traumatic event that may have prompted this reaction, among many other questions.
You are obviously suffering. This is evident from your behavior including the severe self-mutilation and your use of alcohol and sleeping pills. It is clear that the pain you feel is very real.
My concern is that you will continue down a road of self-destruction. I say this because you mentioned that even when you saw a doctor you pretended to be someone else. It will be difficult for someone to help you if you deliberately mislead them.
I would advise you to consider seeking professional help but only if you think you can tell the truth. It would not be beneficial to attend counseling if you have no desire to go or have no intention to be honest with the therapist. It would be a waste of your time.
Part of the problem may be that you have lived as this “other person” for so long that you don’t know how to behave or how to change. Pretending to be someone else has obviously provided some level of comfort and functionality in your life. Therapy could help you to find healthy alternatives to deal with psychological pain.
The choice is yours as to whether or not you want to seek help. No one can force you into therapy but consider the alternative: continued use of pills, alcohol and self-harm as a way to anesthetize your emotional pain. These choices may provide temporary relief but they will only prolong your suffering. I hope you are able to find the help that you need. Click on the “find help” tab above to search for a therapist.
Thank you for your question. Please take care.
Well, as far as I know my mom is in the hospital. Last night she “drank a bottle of brandy” and called the ambulance on herself, but knowing her recent behavior and unhealthy substance abuse I’m willing to bet she also overdosed on sleeping pills. Heck, she took too many sleeping pills the night before that, too. When she got to the hospital she had a seizure. That’s really all my sister and I know about it. My sister told the doctors everything and strongly encouraged them to give her a psych evaluation but it seems my mom will just be released either today or tomorrow.
When we spoke at around 1pm yesterday she was not at work, but was slurring her speech and confused. She told me that a skinny african man had broken into her apartment and stolen a bunch of her sleeping pills. I clarified that this was a delusion, to which she replied “Oh yes, I know, it’s just a figment of my imagination. But still, the fact remains that he took my pills!” Anyway, I can’t talk to her when she’s like that. She forgets things we’re talking about, and she sometimes says rude or inconsiderate things about my sister. My family is almost entirely fractured, and I don’t want to push anyone away so I keep the secrets.
The weight of all this built up crap is pulling me down. I’m naturally a very productive, energetic, focused person. My drive goes right out of the window when I deal with my mom. Usually I find myself in the bathroom messing with any imperfections on my face in the mirror. I recognize that it’s an unhealthy desire for control that makes me do such things. I’ve been trying to cut back, but I have to admit it’s hard.
My sister has no patience for my mom. She is 12 years older than I am, and married with two children. All of us live in the same town, but we rarely all get together. Recently my mom will call me at 1 or 2 in the afternoon, drunk. She’s usually supposed to be at work. It’s also worth noting that she decided to quit her job and move to a new state. She has demonized our city until there is literally nothing redeeming about it. She’s got a ton of debt from the medical bills she accrued during a particularly rough patch a few years ago, and there’s no telling how she will do as an unemployed depressive. A few years ago she abused substances, had some memory loss, had a “stroke”, woke up in ditches on the side of the road (yes, and with a bottle of vodka in the trunk). For about two years my sister and I completely had to pull back to protect ourselves from her depressive reign that resulted in a dui and involuntary admittance to a rehab center.
It’s worth noting that she’s not married, and blames many of her current problems on my dad who left when I was 8. She has no friends, no boyfriends, and has alienated nearly everyone in her family. She has had bouts of stress that led to stomach ulcers, and after a concussion in 2001 she asked me to kill her, claiming she was empty inside. I was 12, and for weeks I played parent. I was the only one living with her then, and until we moved in with my dying grandparents in my senior year of highschool it was just her and I. She was mostly jobless, though she wrote a couple of books. Despite our poverty, my mom continued to use my dad’s child support and my allowance to afford new hairdos every few weeks and plastic surgery. I ended up having to get a job working at a restaurant during my junior year to pay the bills.
When we lived with my grandparents she started to take their very heavy medications, mainly morphine, ativan and ambien. Those were the drugs which landed her in rehab before, and recently her supposedly devastating insomnia has led her to not only taking ambien (and lots of it) but also drinking during the night and sometimes during the day.
So, what the heck? She is clearly crying out for help, but I’m not sure what I or anyone can do in this situation. I want to be there for her and love her, but she’s doing this to herself. She’s hurting herself. In a way I’m mad at her, because she’s threatening my mother’s life, and how dare she. I feel disillusioned at this point, when I found out about the attempt I was calm and detached. I don’t know what to do anymore. She hasn’t contacted me, and I know she would deny it was a suicide attempt (“No, honey, oh no it wasn’t like that. I just wanted to sleep. I know it was bad, I’ll do better” it’s a familiar refrain) but I don’t know what to do.
I’m just tired of the yo-yo. I want the best for her, but I realize it’s in her control, and she’s out of control. I’m not sure what to think or do or say, so I stay silent.
Actually, yes, I do have a suggestion. I don’t think your mother is necessarily “crying for help.” I think she is in the grip of addiction and mental illness. Your mother is a bottomless pit of neediness. Nonetheless, you and your sister have done your best, in spite of all her problems, to love her, love her, and love her some more in your efforts to help her. But as you’ve found, love and effort isn’t enough. You are physically drained and emotionally exhausted because the situation is enough to wipe anyone out. You need support, information, and resources so that you can be more effective with your mom and, just as important, so that you can take care of yourself.
I suggest you contact the local chapter of NAMI (The National Alliance on Mental Illness) at 770-234-0855. Local chapters offer training for family members of people with mental illness or addictions as well as peer-to-peer support groups. There’s an active chapter in your city. A free 12-week course for families is starting soon.
Please follow through and make contact with NAMI. You deserve to have support.
I wish you well.
I started self-harming around 13. My mom was emotionally and verbally abusive to me. She would constantly scream at me, She would call me worthless, disgusting, the worst child she ever had, and told me she hated me. Once she even blamed me for her drinking. She would make comments about me ‘hacking on my self’. I suffered through her emotional abuse. And no one would stop her. My dad, and older sibling heard the stuff she said but wouldn’t do anything about it. I think a part of me felt abandoned. She was and is an alcoholic prescription drug addict. My dad is neglectful and never there. He told me once he wasn’t even my dad. My parents fight. My dad yells at my mom calling her a drunk and a whore. Sometimes they would push each other around. I would make sure my three younger siblings were in a room away from where my parents fought. But I had to witness their fighting.
I have OCD. I check things like lights or locks, count steps and other things, I go up and down stairs a certain number of times or until it “feels” right.
I feel like there’s something wrong with me but don’t know what.
I don’t or just can’t love anyone. I use to love my parents when I was younger but that changed after all the emotional abuse. I don’t hate them, I just don’t love them. Also I hate people touching me, and it’s worse with people in my family. It makes my skin burn and I’ll scratch and scrub at it. Sometimes I starve myself, because it makes me feel so pure and light.
I still cut myself though nobody knows. Sometimes I cut myself because I like to. I don’t know why. Sometimes I wonder if I have self-defeating personality disorder. I’m not really attracted to people that are caring and affectionate. I think I’m drawn toward depressing, destructive things and people.
There are times when I’ll go out into the building we keep tools and stuff and I’ll scream as loud as I can. When my mom has to go shopping I’ll try to get her to take the kids so I can be home alone, once after they left I took a shower and screamed hitting and kicking the walls. And I like to just set in the bathtub. I don’t let anyone else know, my mom would yell about me being crazy. Sometime I have trouble sleeping or I’ll wake up several times. I’ve stayed awake for three or four days a few times before. A couple of weeks ago I laid in bed all day sleeping or staring at the wall; I don’t do that often though.
There are times when I want to scream and yell and throw things around the room, scratch at my face and arms and pull my hair and bite my arms, and just lay there crying.
I don’t know if I have a mental disorder or if I’ve just been so emotionally damaged that I’ve lost it.
I really don’t think you have a “self-defeating personality.” What you are describing may be the effects of repeated trauma. You’ve done the best you can to manage feelings that are overwhelming and frightening. You’ve tried to find ways to control at least some things in a life that often felt out of control and to protect yourself from further harm. You’ve actually done a very good job coping with feelings and a situation that many adults would have trouble dealing with. Now you are finding that the ways you coped at 13 aren’t working for you – or at least aren’t working enough.
Yes, I know you feel you’ve “lost it.” But, please trust me. Losing it is a way that people cope when they have nowhere to turn. Now we need to get you to someone who has the skills and experience to help you reclaim yourself and your life. Please talk with your doctor or a school counselor to get the names of counselors who specialize in trauma and recovery. You need some intensive therapy to learn new ways to deal with all the hard things that have happened to you and to go forward in your life.
Meanwhile, If your parents are still violent with each other and can’t take care of you and your younger siblings, it may be necessary to call in child protective services. Please talk to an adult you trust about what is going on at home and how best to take care of kids who are too young to take care of themselves in this situation. No child should live in fear.
I am so sorry that you are dealing with so much so young. I know it’s very hard and I don’t blame you a bit for being mad and sad about it. But your letter tells me there is a strong inner core to rely on. Do some reading about recovery from trauma. And – please – turn to some people who can help you. You’ve been trying to manage this on your own long enough. With some support, you’ll come through this tough time okay.
I wish you well.