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Ask A Therapist: Mentally Ill Sister Won’t Seek Psychiatric Help

Q: Hello, six years ago my sister started having aches and pains everywhere. She spends her time running around to hospitals for physical diagnoses. They will not treat her because she has been examined physically and tested millions of times. She is physically fine confirmed by medical Drs. however she still believes that she is physically ill. She says she cannot breathe and believes she has bone cancer. All she talks about is wanting to die but she is not suicidal. She has asked for assistance from myself (I’m her sister) and my father to euthanize her. She was told she had severe anxiety and somatization disorder but she will hear nothing of it. When you try to talk to her she gets very verbally abusive. What can be done to help her get the proper psych help she needs? This has been going on for 5 and a half years.
thanks.

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Ask A Therapist: Am I Really Bipolar?

Q: I have just recently dealt with the trauma of being molested by a friend’s father. I thought all of my erratic behavior resulted from this, but now I’m hearing that I am Bipolar. I am confused and scared. I have been given lithium, but the doctor has not spoken to my family and only spoke with me once for about 20 minutes. His assistants did separate interviews with me as well. I don’t have insurance so I am paying a lot and don’t if I can afford to get a second opinion.
Facts: I was in a state of depression from February to July 5th. Attempted suicide 3 times. I attempted suicide 2 other times, once at 13 and another at 21. I have also worked overseas and traveled extensively on my own. I feel great when I am traveling. I know several languages (minor) but never stick to one long enough to learn it well, which is a habit in every study I’ve undertaken.  Jobs: Baker, Insurance Sales, Teacher, Prison Guard, Carnival Ride Operator, Counselor, PCorps Volunteer, usually stick to a job for 6-8 months and then move on. I need help.  I have no money and am in serious debt because of the way I’m living.

A: Thanks for writing in. You raise an excellent question: Is your erratic behavior due to sexual abuse history or bipolar disorder, or some combination of trauma and mental illness? While I can’t provide you with a diagnosis in this format, I can point you in the direction to get a psychiatric evaluation to determine whether or not your bipolar disorder is accurate.

I suggest that you get an additional evaluation and second opinion.  There are community resources available for mental health services free or at a reduced fee. Here’s a link to state funded mental health services in Indianapolis, Indiana. Another resource is the Find Help link at the top of this page and here is the link to providers in your city. When you contact them, ask if they have a sliding fee scale based on income. Here’s another link to help you gain more information about the causes, symptoms, treatment of bipolar disorder to empower you in your quest to get an accurate diagnosis and treatment.

Take good care of yourself!

Julie Hanks, LCSW

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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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My Best Friend Is Depressed and Suicidal

(15 year old female) For as long as I can remember, my best friend has been depressed. She has a history of self-harm, however, the school guidance counselor and her parents know about it. She recently attempted to take her life more than once. She told me about it and said not to tell anyone because her parents didn’t know. I know she needs help so I told the school guidance counselor and the Crisis Center, both of which got involved and talked to her. She lied to them though so they’ve now dropped the subject and act like it never happened. I don’t want to wake up one day and her not be there, are there any other agencies or help centers that I can contact for someone under the age of 18? Please help!

A: I’m so glad that you wrote in for help, support, and resources to help your friend. Did the school guidance counselor and crisis center counselor contact your friend’s parents? If not, I suggest that you go to the counselor directly, tell them exactly what your friend told you about her depression and suicide attempts, and ask them to contact your friend’s parents so they can be aware of the situation. From what you’ve described, your friend needs treatment immediately and her parents are the one who can get her a psychiatric evaluation and treatment.

While your friend asked you not to tell anyone, this is a situation that is serious enough that it warrants breaking her trust for her own safety and protection. I’m guessing that, as a 15-year-old, it’s difficult for you to know what to do with this kind of heavy information. I encourage you to talk to your parent/guardian about your friend’s depression, and how scared you are that one day she may not be here one day so you aren’t carrying her burden. Your parents can help you and can contact your friend’s parents about your concerns.

Take good care of yourself!

Warmly,

Julie Hanks, LCSW

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