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Ask A Therapist: I Hate Myself And I Don’t Know Why

I hate myself and I don’t know why. How do I learn to love myself? Even though I believe I’m a daughter of God, I feel like believing and knowing is different than feeling. I don’t FEEL like that. I have urges to cut myself and sometimes give in, and I make myself throw up off and on. I hate being like this. I was sexually abused by a family friend for about six years. Even though he stopped when I got older, I never said anything to anyone. I feel like this might contribute to my feelings of hatred toward myself. Sometimes, I even think that my life has no purpose and that the world would be better off without me. I hate myself for doing things like spending money on a nice haircut. Every time I treat myself nice, even if it’s something like a bubble bath or chewing a stick of gum, I feel guilty. I treat other people well. I give people more energy than I have and it’s not fair to them or me. I know that if I treat myself better, I’ll have more energy to not only give to myself, but to others too. However, every time I try to do this, I end up cutting or throwing up because the urge to do so is overwhelming. How do I learn to treat myself well? What is your advice? Is there something I can do without therapy? I don’t have a lot of money and am out of a job.

A: Thank you for writing in and trusting me with your story.  I want to suggest to you that you look into the mental health resources at your college and so you can start on a path to healing. Many schools offer free or reduced fee counseling for students. I want you to know that you are not alone. You are not crazy. You have suffered years of sexual abuse. I’ve worked with many young adults who’ve been sexually abused and who’ve expressed similar feelings of self-loathing, cutting, eating issues, and emptiness.  Watch the video for more suggestions on how to start healing from your trauma.

Take good care of yourself,

Julie Hanks, LCSW

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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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