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Ask A Therapist: Depressed, Anxious, and Socially Awkward

Q: I don’t remember a time in my life where I’ve been totally happy but for the past approximately 2 years i have been extremely depressed as a result of my social anxiety and loneliness. I have always found social situations ‘awkward’, in fact the last time I remember frequently leaving my house for social reasons was when I was about 13. I then became more and more of a recluse from there on, i went out with my friends less and less outside of school, then upon leaving school i stopped doing things with my friends more and more until the point where i have not left my house for social reasons for about 2/3 years. I no longer have any friends and although my family is nice and supportive they cannot provide me with what I need. I have not spoken to anyone in person about my problems, I simply can’t. My parents will just tell me to go to a doctor. Doctors will just prescribe me with a drug that I don’t want. I don’t feel a psychiatrist can help me. I’ve become extremely lonely and depressed. My self esteem is extremely low and although I’m not a bad looking person I simply cannot accept my imperfections, no matter how hard I’ve tried. I feel I am in so deep that I cannot make a recovery. I cannot throw myself into social activities to make friends because of my social anxiety. I no longer find anything enjoyable and nothing at all interests me, this leaves me with the motivation to try nothing. I feel like I’m in a corner with no way out, every possible path I need to take to fix myself, I cant bring myself to walk down whether its my self esteem, depression or social anxiety stopping me. I hate it and I hate the person I am, I’m so sad it hurts. I feel so lost and lonely I cry randomly, its pathetic. There is no reason why I should feel like this, I’ve had a very normal life without any trauma, this only makes me feel guilty for the way I am. Guilt I don’t deserve to feel when there’s so many more out there in far worse situations.

I just want to live my life and be happy, but I truly believe I will never get there. Sometimes I feel like giving my life and donating what i have to give someone else a shot at life. Someone who can appreciate life.

I have read a lot of advice online about people in similar situations to myself but what are my options when the things I need to do to fix myself, I simply cannot bring myself to do?

A: Thanks so much for writing in and reaching out for help. I have seen many clients in my therapy office who express similar feelings of hopelessness, worthlessness, focus on their own imperfections, and have extreme guilt for feeling so sad and lonely because they’ve had a “pretty normal life.” It sounds to me like you are suffering from severe depression and anxiety that are keeping you in a downward spiral, unable to reach out for help. The good news is you have reached out on this forum, so I am very hopeful that you can reach out in other areas.

I urge you to talk to your parents and ask them for help. You said you haven’t talked to your parents because they will tell you to go to a doctor. If they love and care about you they will tell you to go to a doctor or a therapist because that’s the right thing to do when a family member is ill. I suggest that you keep an open mind about medication. While it doesn’t need to be the first course of treatment, it can definitely be a helpful tool in treatment. Ask your doctor for a psychotherapist referral as individual psychotherapy can be very effective. Often, a combination of medication and psychotherapy can be effective in treating depression and anxiety.

In order to experience some change in your life and find happiness you will need to take some action, even if you don’t want to, and even if it’s a small one – like talking to your parents about how hopeless you feel. You can do it. It sounds to me like what you’re experiencing isn’t really “you” but is mental illness clouding your thoughts and feelings. You can have more satisfaction and joy in living than what you’re experiencing.

Take good care of yourself!

Julie Hanks, LCSW

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Ask A Therapist: How Can I Get My Baby’s Father Back?

Q: My daughter is 3 now. Her father and I have been split up for almost 2 years now. Due to postpartum, hormones, stress, loss of a family member, and cancer health related issues I was having and needed treatment for. My emotions were too much. He had been dating a girl from his work for the amount of time we have been split up. I previously got engaged, and am now 7 months pregnant. This relationship failed. During this time of me not connecting my self and my previous EX fiancé being too needy and clingy drowning every ounce of me. Playing games to see “how much I cared.” I couldn’t handle it anymore and shut my wall up. Trying to reason with him if I hadn’t at one time cared I wouldn’t be pregnant or previously engaged. Although that ended I feel relieved and not controlled. And our personalities were too different; I wanted the idea of him trying to fill the hurt.

Although being my daughter is 3 my ex (her father) and I keep in close contact. And being through these last 7 months of pregnancy I realized I missed him. And he’s whom I wanted and WANT to be with. Not someone who looks like him.

These last 7 months also made me realize that the way my ex fiancé was treating me was very similar to the way I was treating my daughter’s father. Because I didn’t have the confidence to believe he cared enough to be there through my emotional roller coaster at the time. And now that this has hit me in the face and my life is in a positive place and knowing I was never happier I want him back.

Is there any advice you can give me on approaching my daughter’s father in time, to take the steps to try and make things work?

A: Thanks for writing in. It sounds like the last 3 years have been extremely stressful for you on many levels, some of which you had no control over, and other stresses that you chose. I know your question is regarding getting your ex-boyfriend back, but I hope you’ll consider that there are other things that need to be addressed before you get back into any relationship.

Please get in to a therapist to explore why you are having such difficulty in love relationships. To find a qualified therapist in your area click here. We often replay our childhood issues in adulthood and my guess is that there are some deeper unresolved issues playing out here.  My biggest concern is not how you’re going to get your ex back, but in you developing the stability and strength in yourself that your children will need in order to thrive, whether you’re in a relationship or not.  Rather than focusing on getting your daughter’s father back, I urge you to focus on being a strong person, and a strong mother for your children, and developing the confidence and the skills to maintain a healthy, long-term, committed relationship. Focus on being the kind of person that would attract a healthy and committed man to build a stable life for you and your children.

Please, be cautious about having more children until you have a healthy, long-term, committed, stable relationship. Focus on getting healthy yourself for the children you already have before you focusing on getting your daughter’s father back. Be the kind of woman he would want to be with. Once you’ve worked on yourself please get relationship counseling before you get into any relationship with your ex or anyone else.

Take good care of yourself and your children!

Julie Hanks, LCSW

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