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Why Do I Fail at Getting Myself Help?

by Kristina Randle, Ph.D., LCSW

Q. I just don’t seem to be able to let myself get help, and when I do, one would think it’s too late. I really didn’t want to go to therapy, but my psychiatrist insisted, and so I did. I’ve been going for 7 or 8 times, and I thought it was going fine, not great b/c of my lack of positive thinking, but I finally thought I was getting better. I was taking Seroquel XR + Trazodone (have tried many anti-depr in the past), and I just didn’t feel like it was making a big impact on me, so I talked to my psych that I didn’t want to take any more. I do confess that by that time I had already thought of going through some fatal accident and therefore prevent any more sadness. So I thought of starting by saying goodbye to the meds and then in 1 or 2 more sessions to the therapy. I don’t want to make anyone feeling guilty, and I bought life ins 4 my family.

Last time I saw my counselor she told me that I needed to change and let myself get help b/c it was not a good indication and that either meant I needed some time, or to change, or that I wasn’t ready for therapy. She then learned I hadn’t been taking meds and I guess was a little more understanding. She asked me if I had thought of the consequences and stuff. I recognize I’ve said I don’t want to change, but having that last session made me think about stuff, and so I did a Pro-Cons-and Don’t Know List. I gave myself until the following afternoon to decide. It took me a little longer, and so I decided to call my psych to ask him if I could re-start taking the meds. I do have to admit that in the past I’ve slightly overdosed and not followed direction regarding how much I’m supposed to take, so he asked me to write a paper where if I violate his instructions then he wouldn’t treat me anymore.

Lately I’ve been drinking and since I’ve a huge desperation for being able to sleep, I’ve been taking leftovers as well. So I called him, and he pretty much told me to go to somebody else. I have a really hard time opening up, and I don’t want to go to anyone and start over again, and it’s not the first time a doctor tells me to go to somebody else. I’ve been unkind with my job, so I’m not all that focused. I’ve been getting notices of paperwork I’m behind and being late, and not been getting good evaluations. What advice do you have?

With regard to getting help, I think you have to ask and answer honestly this question: “Do you really want help?” In some respects it does seem that you do want help. You do make an effort to see your psychiatrist. You have tried the advice of your doctors to seek psychotherapy. These are all good needed first steps to getting help. But the problem begins, and this seems to be a pattern, when you start treatment but you do not follow through. You give it a little time and then you seem to lose interest and decide that help may not be all that important to you, at least that is the message you appear to be sending. Your doctor(s) seem to perceive you as not wanting help. You ask for the help and then don’t take their advice. What happens?

If you really want help then you have to put in the full effort toward getting help. This means you must follow through and give treatment time to work. You can only get out of treatment what you put in. If you put in half the effort then you will likely have limited success. There are no magic pills that will cure you and there are no therapists who can help you get better overnight. Getting better requires work, time, patience, desire and effort on your part. A therapist can only facilitate the process of improving one’s life if that individual is ready for change. In this respect, getting better begins with you.

Without more information I am unable to precisely know why your attempts at getting help have failed. It could be that you have not met a good, qualified therapist and this is making your recovery difficult. This is very plausible. But it also could be that you are not ready to get better and therefore you are self-sabotaging all your chances of getting better. Maybe for you this is easier than doing the work that is required to get better. This may be why doctors feel as though they cannot help you and give you ultimatums. Again, with limited information it is difficult to answer the “why” questions with any real accuracy.

I would advise you to think about what it is that you want and if you truly want to get help. If you do then you will have to make a full commitment to the process.

There is an old saying that goes “when the student is ready the teacher will come.” For you I’d change the saying to “when the client is ready the therapist will come.” In essence it means that when you are ready, really ready to change and accept help, you may find it much easier to find help.

One final thought for you. Life can be good, very, very good. Many people with exactly your symptoms have made a full transition to a life better than they have ever known or even knew could have existed. You can achieve the same success and you will if you keep trying. Don’t give up.

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