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Ask a Therapist: Could Grandfather’s Death Cause Depression?

I saw my grandfather die when I was young and it was very painful because he was like a dad to me. And ever since my grandfather’s death I’ve been having troubles maintaining my relationship with others whether it’s friends or family members. I try to distant myself away from them in fear of getting hurt again. I have trouble letting people in my life and tend to disassociate myself from being involved in a romantic relationship with anyone. As a result, I can’t truly love or care for anyone. Although thinking about my grandfather made me very feel sad and depressed at first, now I’m not as sad as I used to be and I felt guilty for not being sad and I would force myself to think about his death over and over again and make myself feel bad and cry myself to sleep. I also feel pressured by my parents to do well in school and life and it’s almost as if I’m letting them down and becoming that worthless and useless person I was when I stood there and watched my grandfather died. And whenever I feel useless and think I’m such a failure or that I might not live up to other’s expectations, I want to die. I have suicidal thoughts almost everyday and wish I were dead but never actually thought of actually committing a suicide. I also feel irritated very often recently and just want to be left alone. I gave up or got bored of things I used to love doing. This is ruining my life and I think I seriously really need help.

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Ask A Therapist: Father-in-law Is Ruining My Marriage

Q: My Father In-law has been living with us for 2 years now. What started out as a temporary situation 3-6 months. Has turned out to be a permanent situation. Despite talking to him, he doesn’t help with expenses and hasn’t made an effort to move out.. We just bought a Condo and can’t very well move out leaving him behind like we did once before 4 years back when our apartment lease was up. We just went our separate ways. He’s Diabetic and still drinks and smokes all day long and doesn’t eat healthy. He rearranges everything in the house to the way he wants it. He yells/makes rules to our kids and I don’t like how he favors our youngest 4 year old daughter causing hurt and stress on our 9 year old older daughter. We’ve tried contacting other family members to arrange a living situation where we each have a couple years of responsibility for him but no one is interested. My husband and I constantly fight over him. I feel my only option is to leave him with the kids and start a new life. There has to be some solution I love my husband and we’ve made it this far with our 11 year marriage. There’s got to be another way please help us.

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Ask a Therapist: Is My Friend Really Suicidal or Just Seeking Attention?

I have a friend with severe problems. She’s 16, she is at distance from me. She has claimed to have tried suicide many times, sometimes even talking about committing suicide while I was talking to her. A friend posed the possibility that the suicide attempts were fake, and that she was calling for attention. One, I want to know if it is possible for her to actually want to commit suicide, while announcing it to us. I ask this because a friend of mine insists that suicide is only committed by people who don’t even mention it, or who mention it once and attempt it. Two, if she is attention calling, how can I help her? She is a great friend of mine, and I want to help. She was/is bullied, she’s bisexual, and that already got people to bash on her, she was beaten by her father, and occasionally still is. She cuts herself. Doesn’t eat for large amounts of time, because she thinks she’s fat. She is ignored by her mother, etc. I wonder if it’s also possible that she exaggerated her description of the problems, in order to call for attention.

A: Your friend is lucky to have a concerned friend like you. While you can help, it’s important for you to remember that you can’t save her from her problems. It sounds like your friend could benefit from intensive therapy. Are her parents or extended family members a resource for her to get help? Please encourage her to get a mental health evaluation as soon as possible. You nor I can determine whether she is indeed suicidal, especially in this forum, but a licensed mental health professional can. Watch the video for the complete answer.

Take good care of yourself!

Julie Hanks, LCSW

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Ask A Therapist: I’m a 26-Year-Old Virgin with No Close Friends

Q: I’m 26 and very lonely, a virgin and I have no close friends. I’m socially awkward and it has affected me all my life. I’m so alone that I made a time limit in my journal that if I don’t make friends or have sex when I reach 30, I’ll kill myself. Crazy right? I even know it’s crazy. I’m a really nice girl, but quiet. What is wrong with me? I have no help what-so-ever around me. I don’t even know what to do anymore. I’ve tried making friends, but it’s so hard. I’m getting desperate, I’m so alone.

A: Thanks for writing in about your desperate need to connect with others. I hear that your overwhelming feelings of hopelessness and helplessness are so painful that you have considered putting a time limit on your life. Ironically, putting a time limit on getting close to others will likely increase your anxiety level and create situations that will make it less likely that you’ll create close and successful relationships. Instead of giving yourself an ultimatum (“You get close to someone or else I’ll end your life”), I suggest that you work on seeking sources of emotional and relational support, on self nurturing, and on actively seeking relationship skills.

I strongly recommend that you seek a psychotherapist as soon as possible to get someone on your “team,” someone you can explore your pain with, ease your loneliness, and help you find the tools to connect with others.  Opening up to a therapist may feel very scary; however, therapy can be extremely helpful in resolving emotional blocks that are making it so difficult to get close to others, and help you develop emotional and relationship tools.  Your therapist will also assess for a mental illness that is contributing to the feelings of loneliness or isolation. If you need help to find a qualified therapist please click here. Group therapy may also be a helpful treatment option for you at some point. Groups are a wonderful place to explore your relationship patterns and to practice relationship skills in real time with the support of a therapist. Thank you again for writing in.

Please take good care of yourself.

Julie Hanks LCSW

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