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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: Best Friend Thinks I’m His Ex-girlfriend

What does it mean when my best friend tells me he has hallucinations, when he hangs out with his ex girlfriend, where she literally turns into me for a few minutes, and then turns back into herself? I’m starting to worry about his sanity. And at the same time, am curious as to why it’s ME his brain turns her into. Another friend of mine who doesn’t even know my best friend, is trying to convince me that this is happening because my BFF is “in love with me”. If it were this simple I wouldn’t be so concerned. I know for a fact that this is not the case. Have you ever heard of this happening before? And if so, what are some reasons for WHY it happens? Also, could something be triggering these hallucinations?

A: Encourage your friend to get a mental health evaluation to rule out any mental illness. Since I have very little information as to what your friend is labeling a hallucination, it’s difficult to tell what it means. I have some questions for your friend. Does he use any substances? Are other triggers or situations that accompany his ex-girlfriend “turning” into you? Watch the video below for my full response…

Take good care of yourself!
Julie Hanks LCSW

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Ask A Therapist: I Feel Ashamed about Being Molested as a Child

I’ve started thinking of my past life and how naive I was. Then horrible memories have come back to me. When I was around 9 going to 10 I was molested by a teenager. It made me cry almost thinking how stupid I was by listening to the molester telling me what to do and threatening to tell my parents what he did. I thought I would get in trouble so I let him do what ever. It happened for almost 2 years and I kept it secret. I was even more frightened that he said he planned to bring his friends. Then when I was in middle school, we moved and I finally told. The officers didn’t do anything because there wasn’t enough evidence.. I felt stupid for not telling and to this day, knowing he’s still out there.. I wished I was strong. This really affected me making me more naive, confused, and depressed as the years went on. I have felt sexually attracted to older men wanting them to touch me. I was even willing to risk my life by walking around my neighborhood hoping I would get captured and raped. Then I met my ex boyfriend. He changed me in a way but wasn’t what I thought we would be. I believed in my ex boyfriend and allowed him to have sex with me whenever he asked and I fell in love. It didn’t end too well.. I changed after that situation and I hate my old self right now.. please give me words of advice..

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Ask A Therapist: I’m Madly In Love with My Ex-Therapist

I am madly in love with my ex-therapist…this is not transference, I truly love her! I never had the chance to tell her and now we no longer talk to one another. This has and is still bothering me. I can’t stop thinking about her and it is killing me inside everyday! I wanted to tell her back then during sessions, but was afraid to and now I will never have the opportunity to ever tell her. This is not healthy…what should I do? (28 year old female)

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Ask A Therapist: Afraid My Husband Will Cheat On Me

Q: I need help on this issue. I feel myself getting jealous all the time with my husband, and I don’t want to be like that. My last two relationships were a disaster. my kids father cheated on me our whole 15 yr relationship and 4 kids later. i didn’t know he was cheating until towards the end. then my next relationship he went to Florida and brought someone back with him and they started living together right away. that was a 3yr relationship i had with him. but i always think my husband is cheating on me or talking to someone. its like I don’t want him going anywhere without me. I love him and I don’t want to be like that with him, hes never giving me a reason to think this….. please help me…

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Ask A Therapist: My Ex Has Dissociative Identity Disorder. Is There Hope For Us?

Q: How can I explain to an ex-boyfriend who left state and returned that he needs help for is DID? My current psychologist couldn’t answer this question, but flipped it off as insignificant.  I fell in love in Jan. 2010 with a foreign worker who was here to repair damage in the condo after carpet removal and air scrubbing.  I texted him I was i terested and we had a first date.  He ran out unexpectedly, with no excuse and did not return.  ‘Gone then for 3 months to his “country”, back once, ran out with no reason, gone another month, “for a funeral”; back, ran away, then back after another 3 months saying he was emotionally sick and went back to his home country, and was sorry he didn’t call.  During all this strange interims, I hired a detective, then, found out in July he ran to another state, after saying he had gotten a new apt., broke his leg, came back, called me after I left a message at his work, then went back to the other state, back in two weeks to give no reason for his leavings, except that, “a man leaves because a man leaves.”  My question is:  since I noticed he had DID, and he agreed, and had tried to get help, can I assume the relationship is doomed or is there hope if he gets help, that he could ever be stable, or so men with this affliction just drift through life never really finding happiness?  Thank you for reading.  I would not give him a second thought, except that I did have real feelings for him, not just because of his illness.

A: What a tough situation. I think the best approach is to express your concern about his illness and strongly encourage him to get into a psychiatric evaluation to see if he indeed does suffer from Dissociative Identity Disorder. If your ex doesn’t want to get help, there is nothing you can do. If he does seek help there may be some improvement in his behavior and his stability through individual psychotherapy. I suggest you ask yourself “Why am I attracted to someone who is so unavailable and unstable?” There may be some deeper issues for you to explore in your own therapy. Thanks so much for writing in.

Take good care of yourself!

Julie Hanks, LCSW

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Ask A Therapist: I Deal With Abusive Boyfriend By Cutting And Binging

Q: Hi, I am 19 year old girl in my 2nd year of college. I currently live with my boyfriend of 4 years who is 25 years old. Our relationship used to be really good, but now all we do is argue. A few years ago I was flirting with other guys and he has never forgiven me for it. He constantly tells me he doesn’t trust me, and when he gets mad he tells me he hates me, that I should crawl in a hole in die, that he can’t stand to look at me, and many profanities. He spends no time with me so I spend the majority of time home all alone, which is the main issue because that gives me all the time alone I need to self-destruct.

I can’t stand myself, I hate everything about me. I’m fat and ugly, sometimes I don’t even know why I bother trying to make it through life nothing ever goes as planned. I feel like I am constantly starving myself or if not eating ridiculous amounts of food and then feeling guilty so that I either make myself puke or cut myself. I can’t control it, I feel like if I can make myself attractive my boyfriend will love me again but I can’t even take care of myself. The worst was when he caught me binging and freaked out along the lines of “No wonder I’m always starving, you eat all the food. For once I wish you would save some for me instead of stuffing your face all the time.” And despite hearing that I still continue to stuff my face… I can’t help myself… maybe I deserve to be fat. I can’t even decide what is worse, the purging or the self-harm. Both cause me discomfort and to feel like a failure, but in the end neither make me prettier…they just make me uglier. This also causes me to spend way too much money on food…I am $20,000 in debt with my bank because of all the money I waste on food. I eat too much so now I cant even barely afford anything…which my boyfriend also blames me for…rightfully, it is my fault.

I just don’t know what to do. I have thought about trying to see a therapist regularly but I’m too embarrassed. I don’t want to make known just how disgusting I am. I don’t want anyone to know how much I eat. I don’t want anyone to know how my boyfriend treats me. I just want to be a normal person… I want to be happy, and loved…what do I have to do to be okay?? 🙁

A: Even though you’re embarrassed, please go see a therapist ASAP. Licensed therapists are trained to help individuals and couples in crisis resolve your problems and help you, not to judge you. Just by reading this letter I can sense the depth of your pain, I have empathy for you,  and I want to help you. This is how your therapist will feel too when you meet with him or her face to face. If you’re not sure where to find a therapist in your area click the Find Help tab at the top of this page for a listing. There are likely earlier roots to your self-destructive eating patterns, cutting, and dysfunctional relationship that can be explored and healed in therapy and are beyond the scope of what I can offer here.

What you’re describing in relationship with your boyfriend is verbal and emotional abuse. No one deserves to be told by their lover “I hate you” or “You should just crawl in a hole and die.”  That is heartbreaking to hear and needs to stop if you are ever going to gain self-esteem and confidence to change your life. Your therapist can help you to build  relationships skills and to help you come up with a plan to stand up for yourself when your boyfriend becomes verbally abusive.

In addition to meeting with a therapist regularly, I suggest you start seeking out books, blogs, and other resources and start arming yourself with more knowledge and tools to help you feel stronger and more competent. Here are some excellent resources right here at Psych Central to help you get started:

Weightless Blog
Eating Disorder & Binge Eating Info
Self-injury Forum
Relationship & Communication Forum
Eating Disorder Community Forum

Take good care of yourself!

Julie Hanks, LCSW

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I Don’t Love My Boyfriend

Private moment. In public.

I guess when people say “to much of a good thing isn’t good either” they were right… I met my 2nd boyfriend senior year of high school, we fell in love and I can truly say that the first year with him was the best of my life. It was very odd that one random day, out of the blue, just a few days after our 1 year, I woke up and I just had a nagging feeling I didn’t love him anymore. It felt horrible. A lot of my friends and family said it’s because we had spent way to much time together, and so I thought okay, I’ll tell him we need to spend less time together. We did so for a few weeks but my feelings still didn’t change. This man [he is 20 like me] has been the most wonderful person to me in the entire world, he would give his life for me, and I know I would to. However, I constantly think of other guys, I’m curious to explore and be in other relationships. He is only my 2nd boyfriend, and I am his 1st girlfriend
Creative Commons License photo credit: skedonk. I care about him so much, and sometimes I feel like maybe just maybe one day I will feel that intense love I felt for him before, but as the months go by my hope lessens… it’s been about 5 months that I feel this way. I even broke up with him, but we got back together a month later because I am so used to him and feel so comfortable around him that I just felt kind of weird being without him. I encountered once after we broke up, and I couldn’t help but cry softly while he wasnt watching. That made me think that I must miss him and so I did get back with him… The main problem is that I take him for granted ALWAYS. I can yell at him, be enraged and not talk to him, break up with him or tell him I will, and he won’t do anything. I know he loves me so much it’s boring… I wish he would take control of the relationship and stop being so nice! We have never been in a fight because he avoids them, and I just wish he was a tougher. He is too loving and caring, I wish he was more stern and I really wish he broke up with me, because I feel like that is the only real way I will know if I love him or not. I don’t know if that makes any sense, but to me it does. I wish I didn’t feel this way, but I am in much need of help.

Click below to hear my audio response.

[powerpress]

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Boyfriend Has Changed

Teen Angst
Me and my boyfriend have been going out for almost 2 years. We were so in love and we never fought. In July I started taking birth control pills and became anxious and depressed. we started fighting a lot and everything I guess changed. It’s been at least 5 months from then and my feelings have changed. he isn’t the same person anymore and gets mad at everything. I’m sometimes afraid to to say anything because how mad he gets. He doesn’t listen when I tell him whats wrong and he doesn’t understand why I get mad. he is really hard to talk to and all we do is fight now. I don’t enjoy spending time with him anymore and I hardly think about him the way I used to. I don’t think about other people but I do think about what if I went out with other people, would I be happier? I don’t want to break up. I just want to see if there is hope to save this relationship.

A: Please check with your medical provider to see if there are other options for contraception that will have less impact on your mood. Your longing to explore other relationships is very appropriate for a 17 year old. If you’re really invested in this relationship, you may consider going to counseling together. My biggest questions are “Why are you holding on to the relationship?” and “Is this relationship in your best interest?”

Click the arrow below to listen to my audio response…

[powerpress]

Creative Commons License photo credit: Nathan Csonka Photograph

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Infatuation…Makes Your Brain Act Like A Crack Addict!

Oh the joys of infatuation.  Did you know if you take an MRI of a brain during infatuation and compare that to the MRI of a crack addict they would look almost identical?  I have seen it myself.  However infatuation can be a good drug, that is if you don’t become too addicted to it.

Infatuation is an altered state of consciousness meaning you usually say and do things in that state that you would not usually do.  Infatuation floods the brain with ‘feel goods’ like dopamine.  It is a natural drug in many ways and it has a purpose!  Infatuation gets us to meet, mate and procreate!  This semi-drug allows us to focus on one partner, as well as, see the positives and eliminate, or conveniently not notice the negatives.  Lastly, it helps us get into relationships and keeps us there long enough to develop a deeper connection.

So what are the signs of infatuation (any of these sound like a drug to you?):

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