Ask a therapist

Should I stay or should I move and what should I do for work

Good morning.... As a mother myself my heart pulls for you and your goals for your son.  What you want for your son is admirable.  Any mother wants only the best for their child/chrildren.   My best advice on the subject is your son is at a very impressionable age in terms of his brain development.  Any negativity can be detrimental to his development, this includes from his own grandfather.  Many times you won't see the effects until later on in age.  There is much we don't know about the brain, but the medical community does understand that the brain is affected by stress.  The negativity from your father, although it sounds/appears as though you are attempting to keep him as safe and as protected from that negativity, can and will have negative effects on your son's brain development.   Effects of Stress | Better Brains for Babies (bbbgeorgia.org) This is a link to a short but very good article on stress on a developing baby.  This may help you understand better than I could fully explain.  Your son is at a very impressionable age, so this time of development is so important.   In terms of your own relationship with your father.... it sounds as though this has been a stressful relationship.  My perspective is that you should ask yourself what you want from a relationship with your father and what would you want that relationship to look like exactly.  Do you just want him to stop being "grumpy" and negative?  Do you want him to be a more loving grandfather?  Ask yourself this.... Is he able to do these things?  You may or may not know the answer, but maybe sitting with him a discussing your concerns (which are quite valid) may help him to understand your concerns.  If you father does not want to make changes or able to make those changes then you will be faced with deciding if you will want to remain residing with him.  This is only a question you can answer.     I hope this message finds you well and helps you with your future.  I wish you well and hope to speak with your further in the future.  Kristen Sheppard, MSW, LICSW
(MSW, LICSW)
Answered on 01/21/2022

Is there anything I can do help myself without therapy? The cost is just too much for me.

You asked "Is there anything I can do to help myself without therapy?  I would start with trying to develop some self compassion.  Are you typically hard on your self?  Do you have a strong inner critic ( do you have an inner voice that is constantly beating yourself up ?)  I also would work on some self soothing activities to help yourself relax and practice "self care."  Listening healthy podcasts is also a suggestion and/or reflecting on things you have done in the past that seemed to have helped is also something that might help.  Without knowing your history its hard to recommend alot and not being able to access a therapy session I am unable to share concrete tools that might help further. However here are some self soothing tips for now that are based on the five senses:   D Look at the stars at night. D Look at pictures you like in a book. D Buy one beautiful flower. D Make one space in a room pleasing to look at. D Light a candle and watch the flame. D Set a pretty place at the table using your best things. D Go people-watching or window-shopping. D Go to a museum or poster shop with beautiful art. With Vision: D Sit in the lobby of a beautiful old hotel. D Look at nature around you. D Walk in a pretty part of town. D Watch a sunrise or a sunset. D Go to a dance performance, or watch it on TV. D Be mindful of each sight that passes in front of you. D Take a walk in a park or a scenic hike. D Browse through stores looking at things. D Other: _ D Listen to soothing or invigorating music. D Pay attention to sounds of nature (waves, birds, rainfall, leaves rustling). D Pay attention to the sounds of the city (traffic, horns, city music). D Sing to your favorite songs. D Hum a soothing tune. D Learn to play an instrument. With Hearing: D Burn a CD or make an iPod mix with music that will get you through tough times. Turn it on. D Be mindful of any sounds that come your way, letting them go in one ear and out the other. D Turn on the radio. D Other: -------------- With Smell: D Use your favorite soap, shampoo, aftershave, D Sit in a new car and breathe the aroma. cologne, or lotions, or try them on in the store. D Boil cinnamon. Make cookies, bread, or D Burn incense or light a scented candle. popcorn. D Open a package of coffee and inhale the D Smell the roses. aroma. D Walk in a wooded area and mindfully breathe D Put lemon oil on your furniture. in the fresh smells of nature. D Put potpourri or eucalyptus oil in a bowl in your D Open the window and smell the air. room. D Other: _ D Eat some of your favorite foods. D Drink your favorite soothing drink, such as herbal tea, hot chocolate, a latte, or a smoothie. D Treat yourself to a dessert. D Eat macaroni and cheese or another favorite childhood food. D Sample flavors in an ice cream store. With Taste: D Suck on a piece of peppermint candy. D Chew your favorite gum. D Get a little bit of a special food you don't usually spend the money on, such as fresh squeezed orange juice or your favorite candy. D Really taste the food you eat. Eat one thing mindfully. D Other: _ D Take a long hot bath or shower. D Pet your dog or cat. D Have a massage. Soak your feet. D Put creamy lotion on your whole body. D Put a cold compress on your forehead. D Sink into a comfortable chair in your home. D Put on a blouse or shirt that has a pleasant feel. With Touch: D Take a drive with the car windows rolled down. D Run your hand along smooth wood or leather. D Hug someone. D Put clean sheets on the bed. D Wrap up in a blanket. D Notice touch that is soothing. D Other: _  I hope this helps. Be kind to yourself :) Ruth
(LCMHC)
Answered on 01/21/2022

How do I best cope with my grief over my boyfriend getting shot and killed?

First let me say I'm very sorry to hear about the recent death of your boyfriend and my heart goes to you.  Being a single parent can't be easy.   I know you said that you know about the stages of grief but it seems there may by some things you are not considering about your situation. The first thing that stands out is that your boyfriend's death occurred about a month ago.  This is very recent.  Adjusting to anything in a month is difficult but especially having a close partner in your life one day and the next day is not in your life anymore.  Secondly, your boyfriend most likely was not old and did not die of natural causes.  He was reasonably young and was killed abrubtly.   This was a violent death.  Violence that results in harm or death to a loved one has a horrible effect on us.  This is trauma.  There are many emotions related to trauma often that may include shock, disbelief, sadness, anger, rage, hurt, fear, and many others.  These are separate from the emotions connected simply to loss such as when a loved one dies of natural causes.  All loss is traumatic because it is the severance of an attachment.  But this was violent traumatic loss. Lastly, the death of a loved one leaves loneliness and likely uncertainty about the future.  Imagining life without that partner may be quite difficult as couples likely had future plan together, hopes, and dreams that will not be realized together. You turned to drugs to ease the pain bu unfortubnately they just intensify the pain and complicate the problem.  You now need help with dealing with drug use and depression. Our emotions cannot be controlled or coerced, only accepted.  The grieving process takes time and one month is not a long time.  I'm sure you want a partner to share time and even love with in your life but you sound like you miss him immensely.  The pain we feel after loss is often directly related to the level of closeness in our relationships.  Give yourself time.  Focus on other relationships such as family and friends who can be supportive.  Take care of your baby.  Maybe even consider a bereavment group with others who have had similar experiences.  You might consider easing up on yourself and not expecting that you should just be able to move on as if nothing happened.  Something happened that changed your life forever.  Lastly if your sadness ever gets overwhelming and you think or feel like hurting yourself, you can call 1-800-973-8255 to speak with someone, call 911, or take yourself to a hospital where you can be helped.  You can be fine and you will get through this but it will take some time and remember that you don't need to go on dealinbg with this alone.  Take Care..... T. Alan Schweizer, M.Ed, LMFT    
(M.Ed, LMFT)
Answered on 01/21/2022

How can I find my purpose in life?

Hello! Thank you for your question. You are not alone in coming to a point in your life when you feel uncertain of your direction or purpose. While this can be confusing and painful, it can also be an incredible opportunity to explore what is most meaningful to you. "Purpose" can be defined in a variety of ways, but as a starting point, there are two exercises I recommend. The first exercise invites you to reflect on and put words to your core values. We aren't often required to put these into words which sometimes leads us to make assumptions about what they are or to take them for granted. As Russ Harris puts it, our values represent how we want to approach our lives on an ongoing basis rather than what we want to achieve in life. Connecting with our values offers us ways to feel fulfilled and satisfied no matter what might be happening around us. As you consider what is most important to you, it may help to have a list of common values as a starting point (I like to use this one: https://www.actmindfully.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2019/07/Values_Checklist_-_Russ_Harris.pdf). It may also help you to speak with other trusted people in your life to hear their perspectives, or if you hold a particular faith or set of spiritual beliefs, to consider how this influences your values. Aim to develop a list of five to ten values which seem to capture the most important things to you. Ask yourself what these values might tell you about your purpose and direction. The second exercise is to explore how well your values have been integrated into your life. Take some time to break your life down into different categories which represent where you would ideally like to direct your energy. Common categories include things like friendships, family relationships, physical health, mental health, spirituality, community connections, career development, and personal development. It may help to be even more specific about some of these; for example, "family relationships" as a category could be broken down into "parenting," "siblings," and "partner." It is important to include categories which you would like to be part of your life, even if they aren't part of it yet. For example, a person who would like to have more friends but does not yet feel they have any would want to include "friendship" as a category on their list. After you have identified these categories, write down a few thoughts about what each would be like in your ideal life. How would you think and feel? What would you be doing? What values would be reflected in each area? Take a moment to rank these categories by how important each would be in your ideal life. Then, rank each category based on how important it currently seems to be in your life and allow yourself to consider how closely your current approach to each area resembles your ideal. Chances are there will be some places where your ideal and current situations are quite similar, and some places where they are very different. Make some notes about these differences and how you feel about them. After completing these exercises, it may be helpful to consider what specific steps you could take to bring your current situation into greater alignment with your values and your vision of what you would like your life to be. It may feel less overwhelming to focus on one or two categories at a time and identify the smallest possible step forward in each. For example, a person who values connection and would like to see themselves becoming more involved in their local community might identify a first step of doing an internet search for nearby volunteering opportunities. A person who values nature and would like to become more active might identify a first step of going to stand outside for five minutes. Even the tiniest action is a place to begin. In addition to wondering about your purpose in life, it sounds like you are struggling with some feelings of regret about your past. It is easy to look back with shame if we think we are not where we are "supposed" to be or see ourselves as having fallen short. While these feelings are valid, I also encourage you to consider that what you have been through has shaped you into who you are, which is a necessary foundation for who you will become. These past events and choices have also led you to this place of questioning, which many people never reach. If you find that you are having difficulty resolving your feelings about the past or determining how best to move forward, counselling can offer non-judgmental support.  Thank you again for reaching out. I wish you good luck! Warmly, Kate
(MA, LPC)
Answered on 01/21/2022

how can I heal properly

RE:how can I heal properlyIm going through a break up and it’s been super hard on me, I feel so unmotivated and broken because I was so attached to this person and i don’t know how to let go I want to be with them so badly and I don’t know how to tell them that because what if they don’t want to be with me there was so many red flags in our relationship but at the end of the day we always made it work and a part of me feels like this separation is my fault and u didn’t deserve this person but i miss them so much and i really do want to work on myself and hopefully come back to them in the future but i don’t even know where to startHello, I’m so happy that you have reached out for help.  Kudos to you for finding a brave and safe space to discuss your concerns and work towards healthy healing.  I’m sorry to hear that you are going through this and again, I commend you for taking the first step towards getting the help you need.  Posing the question hear is a start however the ideal thing would be to sign up to receive therapy so the therapist can explore more with you and help you work towards achieving your goals.  Going through a breakup is very similar to going through the grieving process when you lose a loved one.  There are 5 stages of grief and the key is not to allow yourself to be stuck in one stage for too long in order to allow yourself to properly heal.  Below I have posted the stages of grief.  The Kübler-Ross model of grief (the five stages of grief) describes five primary responses to loss. These stages are denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. Someone who is grieving may go through these stages in any order, and they may return to previous stages.Denial: "This can't be happening."Individuals may refuse to accept the fact that a loss has occurred. They may minimize or outright deny the situation. It is suggested that loved ones and professionals be forward and honest about losses to not prolong the denial stage.Anger: "Why is this happening to me?"When an individual realizes that a loss has occurred, they may become angry at themselves or others. They may argue that the situation is unfair and try to place blame.Bargaining: "I will do anything to change this."In bargaining, the individual may try to change or delay their loss. For example, they may try to convince a partner to return after a breakup, or search for unlikely cures in the case of a terminal illness.Depression: "What's the point of going on after this loss?"At the stage of depression the individual has come to recognize that a loss has occurred or will occur. The individual may isolate themselves and spend time crying and grieving. Depression is a precursor to acceptance because the individual has come to recognize their loss.Acceptance: "It's going to be okay."Finally, the individual will come to accept their loss. They understand the situation logically, and they have come to terms emotionally with the situation.What you have shared above is clear that you are going through an emotional rollercoaster.  So many feelings (guilt, depression, anxiety, etc.) which can leave one feeling lost and confused.  As mentioned earlier, I highly recommend that you connect sooner than later to start working on your healing and identify any other areas you would like to focus on during your sessions.  Best of luck to you.
(LCSW)
Answered on 01/21/2022

How do I heal my fear of attachment and abandonment?

A way of starting the path to healing is to honor the spectum of emotions (comfortable and uncomfrotable).  When we experience traumas and in this case learning that a parental figure would no longer be in the same home on the day-to-day basis is rightfully so- a difficult event for a child to process. The emotions that have resulted from this experience and the residual effects (that show up in your present day life) are all trailheads of information to further explore.  What did you need back then that you can give to yourself in the present? (verbally, symbolically, creatively etc).  As you strengthen your muscle of vulnerability you can start with establishing what safety looks/feels like for you in proximity to other people. Trust is something that takes time to establish and being mindful of your needs and ability to communicate them to those you share space with is a starting point.  As you are mindful of your current attachment style, give yourself grace along the way as you unlearn patterns that are no longer working for the way you want to show up in relationships moving forward.  I'm curious, what you mean by "safely grow"? To be vulnerable is to risk, there is the possibility that things will not turn out how we want them and even in that there is still an opportunity to be present with ourselves and how we respond to the situation. When things work in our favor (comfortable emotions), things to consider include but are not limited to:  1. Did I honor my own boundaries? 2. Do I feel safe to share what I actually felt without holding back? 3. Is this relationship recriprocal? When uncomfortable emotions come to visit, curioisty around the emotions that still sting are trailheads of areas in your life that need further attention.  In the opportunities available to further explore and get to know yourself intimately, you can build on the information that you gradually uncover and move from a place of authencitity at the pace that works for you in the place you are currently in.  Addressing abandonment wounds take time, be gentle with yourself as you gradually address something that has been challenging. 
Answered on 01/21/2022

How do I mourn the childhood and teen stages that I didn’t have?

One thing that a lot of adults say is that 'children do not come with an instruction manual', which does hold a lot of truth. Parents will make choices based on either their own experiences that they are trying to avoid the situation repeating itself or because they are trying to provide a better life for their children. At times that can come across as domineering behaviors because a lack of understanding of the child's emotions. Something to challenge yourself to do would be to look at the choices that they did make and try to think of why they could have made them. If you look at a situation through a different eye, although it cannot heal and change the past- sometimes it can explain it better.  As the years pass you have a choice to make on whether or not to express some of these ideas and feelings with your parents. Keep in mind that they cannot change the past and they way they handled things before but they have a chance to learn about who you are as a person now and provide the support you might need in the future. If there are things that you know you will need their support on, explain it to them in an assertive way where it highlights how much it would mean to you and how it supports your feelings. Try to avoid 'you' statements or 'you never..' because this will put people on the defensive almost immediately. Instead use 'I feel', or 'it means a lot to me...' instead and they can see how their small displays of support will impact you.  In regards to not letting you fully express and be yourself, at times parents will make choices where they are trying to prevent a worse consequence in their mind but also do not consider how their actions or inactions can impact their children. Parents do not always understand or consider the fact that it is better for them to heal their child from the hurt of the world than to be the cause of it. However along with that, as you grow you have a chance to help them understand what kind of support you would like in order to make your relationship stronger. It may take time, but instead of thinking of the relationship with them as a wall that has been built because of lack of understanding, it can be a door to a new opportunity for them to see you for who you really are. 
Answered on 01/21/2022

I need help dealing with my anxiety issues.

Hello! Thank you for the question. This is hard for me to answer because I have so many follow up questions! I guess that is the life of a therapist though :)  My first question is are you getting 7-9 hour of sleep per day? With there being this pattern to the anxiety, in that it happens in the evening and is helped by sleeping, I wonder if your body is trying to communicate a need for more rest. Other things to think about to address the biological aspects of anxiety are how much caffeine are you drinking throughout the day, when do you stop having caffeine and other stimulants and what activities do you tend to do in the evening? If you are a student and tend to do school work in the evening, maybe try switching that up and doing it first thing in the morning or in the afternoon. If you are watching exciting shows or playing intense video games, change the times that you do those activities. If there is anything that you do regularly in the evening, try to switch it up to see if that helps. Think about creating an evening routine based solely around calm and relaxation.  The next thing I would encourage you to try to be aware of is your inner dialogue in the evenings. Many times anxiety stems from faulty cognitions (lies) that we have taken to be true. Examples are: I can't handle this, I am dumb, I am wasting my life, I need to do enough to earn love, I am weak, I should be..., I should do.., and there are so many other options. The evenings and nights are when those big fears come up.  So, in summary, here is what I would suggest: 1. Are there lifestyle habits that are contributing to the anxiety? 2. Are there lifestyle changes that can be made to help alleviate the anxiety? This could also include starting a simple calming yoga routine or slow evening walk.  3. Check in with your inner dialogue to see if there are things you are believing that are contributing to the anxiety.  4. For the next week, set a timer for 10 minutes and write without stopping. Start with the topic of your anxiety at night and see where it goes from there. This is not something that should sound good or look good. You don't stop for the 10 minutes, its a free-flow writing exercise to see if you gain any more insight into what is causing your anxiety.  5. If this continues to be problematic, check in with your doctor to see if there is anything physical contributing.  Your BetterHelp Therapist can help you explore your negative thoughts and help you reveal if those are an issue, because it can be tricky to even become aware of the things we are telling ourselves throughout the day! Best of luck! I hope this was helpful. 
(MSW, LISW-S)
Answered on 01/21/2022

Is it possible to make a marriage better if just one partner is in therapy?

Hi there,   Thanks for reaching out with this question.   First, I’d like to commend you on 40 plus years of marriage!  That is no easy feat. I can understand how tiring that must feel, after so many years of feeling responsible for all the things, as if you were his parent and not his wife.  Can things change?  Yes, I believe it is possible to change.  Of course, it isn't an easy task... as you say, you like to be in control at times.  ;)   That said, I believe that you are capable of making changes... as for your spouse?  Well, you can't make someone else change... we are only responsible for our own behaviors.  What we can hope is that when we make changes, those around us will choose to adapt, as well.   More than anything, I wonder how freeing it might be for you to find a way out from under feeling like his parent?  And what would it mean to let go of the control (or perceived control, perhaps)?  Can you imagine what that would look like or how it would feel?   But yes, more than anything, I believe people can change (otherwise, I’m in the wrong profession!)... however, what that will look like, well, only time will tell.  And for as difficult as change might be (and for letting up some of the control), I suspect it might be far less burdensome or challenging to change than just learning to accept it!   While I don’t know you, I can say that knowing you have been married for 40+ years, I have little reason to believe that you also couldn’t withstand change.  As I said, 40+ years is no easy feat… you have shown your strength!   I wish you the best of luck on this journey, wherever it may take you.  I hope you find the answers and peace you are seeking.   Warmly, ~Keri Keri M. Zwerner, MA, LCPC   ps/ I hear they do make ‘less smart phones’ akin to the early generations of phones… text and calls.  That’s one way to eliminate those calls from him!   
(MA, LCPC, LMFT)
Answered on 01/21/2022

How do I stop self sabotaging once a year?

In order to stop any amount of self sabotage, it is vital to know your thinking and behavior patterns. You must identify those patterns that negatively effect your well being and find creative ways to counteract them and form new healthier habits. Developing self-awareness and prioritizing behaviors that help reduce stress over time can prevent those larger events that have such devastating outcomes. Little changes can have huge impacts and let you feel more in control of what is going on around you. Sometimes it is as simple as knowing when you are getting in your own way. For instance, we know that procrastinating taking care of a mess will only lead to having to clean up a bigger mess later on. Or we buy a bunch of candy and sweets when we are trying to cut back on eating sugar. In other situations, it may not be as evident especially when it comes to relationships. We might assume things about a romantic partner or become competitive with a good friend which results in strain and stress and the inability to have meaningful relationships. Creating a system or rules for any major decision making can help especially those who tend to overthink. Your rules need to be specific to you, based on your personality, situation, and resources. My rules would be different than yours and vice versa.  Celebrate and take pride in small improvements. Appreciate the work you have done and continue moving forward focusing on your end goals. Self-care is incredibly important and should be top priority. Making changes requires a great deal of time and energy, you cannot do this if you are running on fumes and mentally exhausted. Do not get into the pattern of thinking you will take care of yourself once this project is done or you have met a deadline. Just like a vehicle, you cannot run on an empty tank. Reaching out and asking for help from a mental health professional is another great tool. They can help you identify thinking errors while creating a plan on how to handle situations that typically lead to self sabotaging and depressive episodes. Lastly, self sabotage is common and most people deal with it in one way or another. Building on these steps can help pave a better path to a bright future    
Answered on 01/21/2022

I feel crazy. Sorry that's not a question

Thank you for reaching out to better help for assistance. I look forward to assisting you. Sounds like you feel like you are going crazy. This is a very good question.  Did something bad happen in your life or did you have a loss, death or grief in your life. If you had a loss you could be grieving and in denial and holding things in.  It isn't good to hold things in and you sound like it is starting to affect your physical health. There is a big mind body connection.  You do not want to turn to negative coping skills like too much drinking, eating or drugs. You do not want to go to a lot of negative thinking. Negative thinking will just make you feel very depressed and might get you in a hole of depression. I would suggest you apply some cognitive behavioral therapy/ CBT and work on challenging your thoughts and beliefs to get the best possible outcome or consequence for yourself. I would apply the ABC Model.  A= the activating event, B= your thoughts and beliefs, C= the outcome or consequence. You want to challenge your thoughts and beliefs and ask yourself is this the right thing to do or wrong thing to do. Will doing this give me a good outcome and consequence or a bad outcome and consequence. You want to do what will be the best for you. You want to put your oxgyen mask on and take good care of yourself.  You want to ask yourself is repressing and holding my thoughts and feeling helping me or hurting me?  If it is hurting you and making you depressed or anxious you want to challenge your thoughts and do something that will be better for you.  Changing habits take a month or so but you want to challenge your thoughts to think better and healthier. You do not want your thinking to affect your physcial health. I hope this helped you some and I wish you the very best. I look forward to hearing from you in the future and hope you work on challenging your thoughts and beliefs. 
(LPC, NCC, MS)
Answered on 01/21/2022

Does Better Help take insurance?

Hello, First I'd like to say that you're doing a really good thing for yourself, in recognizing that you need to seek mental health services. Even that can be a hurdle for some people, so not being able to afford it when you're ready to start, can be very frustrating.    As a therapist on Better Help, I do not deal with the financial aspects for clients, but I know that Better Help does not currently accept insurance. However, they do offer financial aid to those who need it. To find out if you are eligible for financial aid you can contact them at support@betterhelp.com. You can also talk to your current therapist about this, if you have one. That way, they could probably provide you with more resources that can help you to be able to afford therapy sessions.    In the event that financial aid with Better Help is not possible for you, there are other options that you can look into. If you had to seek a therapist in your area specifically, you could ask them if they have a sliding scale payment option. This allows them to decrease the fee of each session for you.   You can also check with your insurance company to see what therapists are In-Network. This would give you access to therapists who are more affordable for you as well. A lot of insurance providers allow you to seek therapy with a therapist out-of-network, but they will give reimbursements once you make a claim with them. So again, getting in contact with your insurance provider would be really helpful as well.   Also, you could also look into searching for non-profit and/or therapist training institutes that offer discounted rates for therapy sessions (such as student centers or community facilities).    And finally, if you really want to have therapy sessions on the Better Help platform, you could consider reducing the frequency of therapy sessions you have each month. This would be something you can set up in your account or by contacting support at support@betterhelp.com to obtain help from them about this.    Overall, you deserve to have access to quality mental health care and I wish you the best on your journey to finding affordable options for you.   All the best,
Answered on 01/21/2022

What do you think the problem is ?

It sounds like you are dealing with three different issues. The first one is due to being uncertain about the relationships you are in. I wonder  if you are certain at the time if you want to be in these relationshios or are you in them because you do not like being alone. I read that you are also dealing with anxiety about relationships and self esteem issues as well and I will address these areas in my response. It is important for you to understand what you want in a relationship. What are your boundaries that you want to put in place to not have crossed. Have you considered writing down or journaling your thoughts about the type of relationship you want? What are you looking for in a future partner? If you look back on these previous relationships, what did not work? What did you not like about your treatment in these relationships that you could not tolerate? All of this information about your past relationships can help you make good, healthy decisions in your future relationships and selecting future partners. It is also important to understand your self esteem and love for yourself. When we love ourselves and have healthy self-esteem we can set healthy boundaries and protect ourselves in our relationships with others.  In order to raise your self esteem as well as manage our anxiety, it is important to understand  how our thoughts precipitate our feelings and our feelings precipitate our behaviors. This is know as the Cognitive Triangle. When we respond to events in our lives with healthy thoughts, it leads to healthier and balanced emotions as well as healthy and balanced behaviors. The same is true if we are responding to events in our life with unhealthy thoughts or "cognitive distortions." As you can, if you are experiencing "cognitive distortions" or thoughts that are not support by evidence, this can very much impact your self esteem by having unhealthy and unrealistic thoughts about yourself. It is important to be mindful and aware of your thoughts and how you respond to events that happen in your life. When you notice yourself feeling insecure or having doubts about yourself, take the time to look at an unhealthy, automatic thoughts (thought distortions) that you have that are negatively effecting your mood. It is important to be able to identify and understand these negative and unhealthy thoughts in order to challenge and restructure them to healthy thoughts. In therapy, we try to identify and learn the common "thought distortions" that people can fall victim to that influence our perceptions and mood. These common thought distortions are often associated with the unhealthy thinking someone is experiencing who is anxious or depressed. These thoughts can include "All or Nothing Thinking"(seeing your actions as either a complete success or failure; "Jumping to Conclusions" ; "Labeling"; "Should Statements"; "Disqualifying the Positive" and etc. Once you begin to full understand and accept the Cognitive Triangle and begin replacing your distorted thoughts with healthy, rational thoughts you will notice your self-esteem will begin to improve. This will then result in having more confidence in your abilities because you are weighing and challenging your thoughts instead of falling in to unhealthy, thought distortions of low self esteem. This process can also help reduce our anxious thoughts as well.     
(MSW, LCSW, LCAS)
Answered on 01/21/2022

Severe anxiety/ depression

Thank you for reaching out, I know it is not easy to ask for help, so you can pat yourself on the back for taking this step :) I am very sorry to read about your situation with your spouse. It seems like things might have turned out for the worse. The best thing to do while going through something like this is to focus on getting yourself in a better mindset, and also performing self0care/ this will increase your chances of getting through your divorce without excessive suffering. and perhaps even with a new mindset. Here are a few ways in which you can naturally start the healing process: Physical techniques   These techniques use your five senses or tangible objects — things you can touch — to help you move through distress.   1. Put your hands in water   Focus on the water’s temperature and how it feels on your fingertips, palms, and the backs of your hands. Does it feel the same in each part of your hand?   Use warm water first, then cold. Next, try cold water first, then warm. Does it feel different to switch from cold to warm water versus warm to cold?   2. Pick up or touch items near you   Are the things you touch soft or hard? Heavy or light? Warm or cool? Focus on the texture and color of each item. Challenge yourself to think of specific colors, such as crimson, burgundy, indigo, or turquoise, instead of simply red or blue.   3. Breathe deeply   Slowly inhale, then exhale. If it helps, you can say or think “in” and “out” with each breath. Feel each breath filling your lungs and note how it feels to push it back out.   4. Savor a food or drink   Take small bites or sips of a food or beverage you enjoy, letting yourself fully taste each bite. Think about how it tastes and smells and the flavors that linger on your tongue.   5. Take a short walk   Concentrate on your steps — you can even count them. Notice the rhythm of your footsteps and how it feels to put your foot on the ground and then lift it again.   6. Hold a piece of ice   What does it feel like at first? How long does it take to start melting? How does the sensation change when the ice begins to melt?   7. Savor a scent   Is there a fragrance that appeals to you? This might be a cup of tea, an herb or spice, a favorite soap, or a scented candle. Inhale the fragrance slowly and deeply and try to note its qualities (sweet, spicy, sharp, citrusy, and so on).   8. Move your body   Do a few exercises or stretches. You could try jumping jacks, jumping up and down, jumping rope, jogging in place, or stretching different muscle groups one by one.   Pay attention to how your body feels with each movement and when your hands or feet touch the floor or move through the air. How does the floor feel against your feet and hands? If you jump rope, listen to the sound of the rope in the air and when it hits the ground.   9. Listen to your surroundings   Take a few moments to listen to the noises around you. Do you hear birds? Dogs barking? Machinery or traffic? If you hear people talking, what are they saying? Do you recognize the language? Let the sounds wash over you and remind you where you are.   10. Feel your body   You can do this sitting or standing. Focus on how your body feels from head to toe, noticing each part.   Can you feel your hair on your shoulders or forehead? Glasses on your ears or nose? The weight of your shirt on your shoulders? Do your arms feel loose or stiff at your sides? Can you feel your heartbeat? Is it rapid or steady? Does your stomach feel full, or are you hungry? Are your legs crossed, or are your feet resting on the floor? Is your back straight?   Curl your fingers and wiggle your toes. Are you barefoot or in shoes? How does the floor feel against your feet?   11. Try the 5-4-3-2-1 method   Working backward from 5, use your senses to list things you notice around you. For example, you might start by listing five things you hear, then four things you see, then three things you can touch from where you’re sitting, two things you can smell, and one thing you can taste.   Make an effort to notice the little things you might not always pay attention to, such as the color of the flecks in the carpet or the hum of your computer.     Mental techniques   These grounding exercises use mental distractions to help redirect your thoughts away from distressing feelings and back to the present.   12. Play a memory game   Look at a detailed photograph or picture (like a cityscape or other “busy” scene) for 5 to 10 seconds. Then, turn the photograph face-down and recreate the photograph in your mind, in as much detail as possible. Or, you can mentally list all the things you remember from the picture.   13. Think in categories   Choose one or two broad categories, such as “musical instruments,” “ice cream flavors,” “mammals,” or “baseball teams.” Take a minute or two to mentally list as many things from each category as you can.   14. Use math and numbers   Even if you aren’t a math person, numbers can help center you.   Try: running through a times table in your head. counting backward from 100 choosing a number and thinking of five ways you could make the number (6 + 11 = 17, 20 – 3 = 17, 8 × 2 + 1 = 17, etc.)   15. Recite something   Think of a poem, song, or book passage you know by heart. Recite it quietly to yourself or in your head. If you say the words aloud, focus on the shape of each word on your lips and in your mouth. If you say the words in your head, visualize each word as you’d see it on a page.   16. Make yourself laugh   Make up a silly joke — the kind you’d find on a candy wrapper or popsicle stick.   You might also make yourself laugh by watching your favorite funny animal video, a clip from a comedian or TV show you enjoy, or anything else you know will make you laugh.   17. Use an anchoring phrase   This might be something like, “I’m Full Name. I’m X years old. I live in City, State. Today is Friday, June 3. It’s 10:04 in the morning. I’m sitting at my desk at work. There’s no one else in the room.”   You can expand on the phrase by adding details until you feel calm, such as, “It’s raining lightly, but I can still see the sun. It’s my break time. I’m thirsty, so I’m going to make a cup of tea.”   18. Visualize a daily task you enjoy or don’t mind doing   If you like doing laundry, for example, think about how you’d put away a finished load.   “The clothes feel warm coming out of the dryer. They’re soft and a little stiff at the same time. They feel light in the basket, even though they spill over the top. I’m spreading them out over the bed so they won’t wrinkle. I’m folding the towels first, shaking them out before folding them into halves, then thirds,” and so on.   19. Describe a common task   Think of an activity you do often or can do very well, such as making coffee, locking up your office, or tuning a guitar. Go through the process step-by-step, as if you’re giving someone else instructions on how to do it.   20. Imagine yourself leaving the painful feelings behind   Picture yourself:   gathering the emotions, balling them up, and putting them into a box walking, swimming, biking, or jogging away from painful feelings Imagine your thoughts as a song or TV show you dislike, changing the channel or turning down the volume — they’re still there, but you don’t have to listen to them.   21. Describe what’s around you   Spend a few minutes taking in your surroundings and noting what you see. Use all five senses to provide as much detail as possible. “This bench is red, but the bench over there is green. It’s warm under my jeans since I’m sitting in the sun. It feels rough, but there aren’t any splinters. The grass is yellow and dry. The air smells like smoke. I hear kids having fun and two dogs barking.”   Soothing techniques   You can use these techniques to comfort yourself in times of emotional distress. These exercises can help promote good feelings that may help the negative feelings fade or seem less overwhelming.   22. Picture the voice or face of someone you love   If you feel upset or distressed, visualize someone positive in your life. Imagine their face or think of what their voice sounds like. Imagine them telling you that the moment is tough, but that you’ll get through it.   23. Practice self-kindness   Repeat kind, compassionate phrases to yourself:   “You’re having a rough time, but you’ll make it through.” “You’re strong, and you can move through this pain.” “You’re trying hard, and you’re doing your best.” Say it, either aloud or in your head, as many times as you need.   24. Sit with your pet   If you’re at home and have a pet, spend a few moments just sitting with them. If they’re of the furry variety, pet them, focusing on how their fur feels. Focus on their markings or unique characteristics. If you have a smaller pet you can hold, concentrate on how they feel in your hand.   Not at home? Think of your favorite things about your pet or how they would comfort you if they were there.   25. List favorites   List three favorite things in several different categories, such as foods, trees, songs, movies, books, places, and so on.   26. Visualize your favorite place   Think of your favorite place, whether it’s the home of a loved one or a foreign country. Use all of your senses to create a mental image. Think of the colors you see, sounds you hear, and sensations you feel on your skin.   Remember the last time you were there. Who were you with, if anyone? What did you do there? How did you feel?   27. Plan an activity   This might be something you do alone or with a friend or loved one. Think of what you’ll do and when. Maybe you’ll go to dinner, take a walk on the beach, see a movie you’ve been looking forward to, or visit a museum.   Focus on the details, such as what you’ll wear, when you’ll go, and how you’ll get there.   28. Touch something comforting   This could be your favorite blanket, a much-loved T-shirt, a smooth stone, a soft carpet, or anything that feels good to touch. Think about how it feels under your fingers or in your hand.   If you have a favorite sweater, scarf, or pair of socks, put them on and spend a moment thinking about the sensation of the fabric on your skin.   29. List positive things   Write or mentally list four or five things in your life that bring you joy, visualizing each of them briefly.   30. Listen to music   Put on your favorite song, but pretend you’re listening to it for the first time. Focus on the melody and lyrics (if there are any). Does the song give you chills or create any other physical sensations? Pay attention to the parts that stand out most to you.   Another thing to keep in mind during this process that you are going through is the fact that something such as Seasonal Affective Disorder could also affect you in addition to everything else that you are experiencing.   Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD, is a type of recurrent major depressive disorder in which episodes of depression occur during the same season each year. This condition is sometimes called the "winter blues," because the most common seasonal pattern is for depressive episodes to appear in the fall or winter and remit in the spring. Less commonly, SAD occurs as summer depression, typically beginning in the late spring or early summer and remitting in the fall. SAD may be related to changes in the amount of daylight a person receives.   To be diagnosed with SAD, an individual must meet the criteria for major depression coinciding with specific seasons for at least two years. The individual must experience seasonal depressions much more frequently than any non-seasonal depressions.   Symptoms   Not everyone with SAD has the same symptoms, but, according to the DSM-5, symptoms commonly associated with the winter blues include the following:       • Feelings of hopelessness and sadness     • Thoughts of suicide     • Hypersomnia or a tendency to oversleep     • A change in appetite, especially a craving for sweet or starchy foods     • Weight gain     • A heavy feeling in the arms or legs     • A drop in energy level     • Decreased physical activity     • Fatigue     • Difficulty concentrating     • Irritability     • Increased sensitivity to social rejection     • Avoidance of social situations   Symptoms of summer SAD are:       • Poor appetite     • Weight loss     • Insomnia     • Agitation and anxiety     • Either type of SAD may also include some of the symptoms that occur in major depression, such as feelings of guilt, a loss of interest or pleasure in activities previously enjoyed, ongoing feelings of hopelessness or helplessness, or physical problems such as headaches and stomach aches.   Symptoms of SAD tend to recur at about the same time every year. To be diagnosed with SAD, the mood changes should not be a direct result of obvious seasonal stressors (like being regularly unemployed during the winter). Usually, this form of depression is mild or moderate. However, some people experience severe symptoms that leave them unable to function in their daily lives. Seasonal Affective disorder can be misdiagnosed as hypothyroidism, hypoglycemia, or a viral infection such as mononucleosis.   The cause for SAD is unknown. There is some evidence that it is related to the body's level of melatonin, a hormone secreted by the pineal gland that regulates the sleep-wake cycle. Darkness stimulates the production of melatonin, preparing the body for sleep. As the winter days get shorter and darker, melatonin production in the body increases, and people tend to feel sleepier and more lethargic.   Alternatively, people with SAD may have trouble regulating their levels of serotonin, a neurotransmitter that influences mood. Finally, research has suggested that people with SAD also may produce less Vitamin D in response to sunlight; vitamin D is believed to play a role in serotonin activity. Insufficiency of vitamin D is associated with clinically significant depression symptoms.   There are several factors known to increase an individual's chance of developing SAD. For example, SAD is more frequent in people who live far north or south of the equator. Additionally, people with a family history of other types of depression are more likely to develop SAD than people who do not have such a family history.   Treatment   Treatment to alleviate the symptoms of SAD typically includes some combination of light therapy, vitamin D supplementation, antidepressant medication, and counseling. Because winter depression may be a reaction to lack of sunlight, broad-band light therapy is frequently used as a treatment option. This therapy involves exposure to bright artificial light that mimics outdoor light for some time in the morning. It requires the use of a lightbox or a light visor worn on the head like a cap. The individual either sits in front of the lightbox or wears a light visor for a certain length of time each day. Generally, light therapy takes between 30 and 60 minutes each day throughout the fall and winter. The exact amount of time varies with each individual. When light therapy is sufficient to reduce symptoms and to increase energy level, the individual continues to use it until enough daylight is available, typically in the springtime. Stopping light therapy too soon can result in a return of symptoms.   When used properly, light therapy has few side effects. The side effects that do arise include eyestrain, headache, fatigue, and irritability. Inability to sleep can occur if light therapy is administered too late in the day. People with bipolar disorder, skin that is sensitive to light, or medical conditions that make their eyes vulnerable to light damage may not be good candidates for light therapy. When light therapy does not improve symptoms within a few days, then medication and behavioral therapies such as CBT may be introduced. In some cases, light therapy can be used in combination with one or all of these therapies.   Self-care is an important part of treatment. For those with SAD, it is important to:       • Monitor mood and energy level     • Take advantage of available sunlight     • Plan pleasurable activities for the winter season     • Plan physical activities     • Approach the winter season with a positive attitude     • When symptoms develop seek help sooner rather than later.   People with SAD experience mood changes and symptoms similar to depression. The symptoms usually occur during the fall and winter months when there is less sunlight and usually improve with the arrival of spring. The most difficult months for people with SAD in the United States tend to be January and February. While it is much less common, some people experience SAD in the summer. SAD is more than just “winter blues.” The symptoms can be distressing and overwhelming and can interfere with daily functioning. However, it can be treated. About 5 percent of adults in the world reportedly experience SAD and it typically lasts about 40 percent of the year. It is more common among women than men.   SAD has been linked to a biochemical imbalance in the brain prompted by shorter daylight hours and less sunlight in winter. As seasons change, people experience a shift in their biological internal clock or a circadian rhythm that can cause them to be out of step with their daily schedule. SAD is more common in people living far from the equator where there are fewer daylight hours in the winter. Common symptoms of SAD include fatigue, even with too much sleep, and weight gain associated with overeating and carbohydrate cravings. SAD symptoms can vary from mild to severe and can include many symptoms similar to major depression. SAD can be effectively treated in several ways, including light therapy, antidepressant medications, talk therapy, or some combination of these. While symptoms will generally improve on their own with the change of season, symptoms can improve more quickly with treatment.   Light therapy involves sitting in front of a light therapy box that emits a very bright light (and filters out harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays). It usually requires 20 minutes or more per day, typically first thing in the morning, during the winter months. Most people see some improvements from light therapy within one or two weeks of beginning treatment. To maintain the benefits and prevent relapse, treatment is usually continued through the winter. Because of the anticipated return of symptoms in late fall, some people may begin light therapy in early fall to prevent symptoms. Talk therapy, particularly cognitive behavior therapy (CBT), can effectively treat SAD. Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are the type of antidepressant most commonly used to treat SAD.   For some people, increased exposure to sunlight can help improve symptoms of SAD. For example, spending time outside or arranging your home or office so that you are exposed to a window during the day. (However, exposure to UV light from the sun can increase your risk of skin cancer, and you should talk with your doctor about risks and benefits.) Taking care of your general health and wellness can also help—regular exercise, healthy eating, getting enough sleep, and staying active and connected (such as volunteering, participating in group activities, and getting together with friends and family) can help.   If you feel you have symptoms of SAD, seek the help of a trained medical professional. Just as with other forms of depression, it is important to make sure there is no other medical condition causing symptoms. SAD can be misdiagnosed in the presence of hypothyroidism, hypoglycemia, infectious mononucleosis, and other viral infections, so proper evaluation is key. A mental health professional can diagnose the condition and discuss therapy options. With the right treatment, SAD can be a manageable condition.     As the days get shorter during the winter months some people find that their mood worsens along with the weather. These “winter blues” leave many feeling gloomy, lacking energy and motivation in the days that lack sunshine, and feeling better on the brighter days. Some, however, are intensely affected by the seasonal changes and may experience a more severe form of the winter blues. For them, the winter months bring on a clinical depression called “Seasonal Affective Disorder” or SAD. Those who experience Seasonal Affective Disorder find themselves feeling sad, anxious, and hopeless. They may be easily irritated, feel restless and have trouble sleeping or sleep too much. SAD often causes a decreased level of energy along with a loss of interest and joy from the activities that were previously enjoyed. Changes in weight, difficulty concentrating, decision making, and remembering details are also common symptoms of SAD.   People suffering from SAD experience the same symptoms as the traditional Depression, but throughout the winter months, when there is less natural sunlight. SAD affects people in northern latitude climates, where the winters are usually long and dark, with a greater percentage of those affected being young women. Seasonal Affective Disorder is commonly treated with light therapy, in which the affected person is exposed to bright light in the morning to make up for the lack of natural sunlight. Natural sunlight causes the brain to establish a normal day/night cycle; the lack of natural sunlight in the winter months causes a shift in this cycle that is thought to cause SAD. Light therapy works to readjust the body’s sleep/wake cycle in hopes to reverse the depression.   In addition to light therapy, more evidence is showing that Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), effective treatment for depression, is also effective in treating SAD. Research by Dr.  CBT for SAD involves a structured approach throughout the winter. The therapist helps teach the client techniques and strategies to identify and challenge negative thought patterns and implement healthy behaviors to counteract the symptoms of SAD. A lot of current events might be taking a toll on your mood these days: a global pandemic, reoccurring lock-downs, time away from your loved ones, an array of contextual events, you name it. The abundance of sullen causation makes it hard to pinpoint the actual root of your gloomy mood.   But if you’re experiencing recurrent mood swings during the darker winter months each year, it’s likely that you suffer from the seasonal affective disorder, or also known as SAD. As Mind explains: It’s like having your portable black cloud.’ A form of depression, SAD is mainly associated with the winter months, and no one is immune to it. SAD can affect not only your personal life but also your relationship. If you find yourself struggling to maintain a steady relationship flow, SAD might be the one to blame.   Seasonal affective disorder is a type of depression that comes and goes in a seasonal pattern. Usually, SAD occurs during the winter months when the bad weather, shorter days, and lack of vibrant social life can affect you. Nevertheless, SAD can also happen in spring and summer when the seasons change. The most common symptoms include persistent low mood, apathy, low energy, irritation, feelings of sadness or guilt, cravings for carbs, and weight gain. So, what can cause seasonal affective disorder? Of course, several factors play a role in your dismal mood, but the primary ones include insufficient daylight, disrupted body clock, and high levels of melatonin.   Lack of sufficient daylight   Light influences a part of your brain called the hypothalamus. This part controls your sleep, mood, and sex drive, and when the light is insufficient, these functions start to slow down and eventually stop. Some people need more daylight to perform these functions, while others are the opposite. The latter can experience disruption of these functions when it’s too bright, causing SAD in the spring and summer.   Disrupted body clock   Your body has its internal clock, which is in sync with the daylight and the times of the day. Daylight guides your body when to perform certain functions, primarily sleep. When your sleep pattern is disrupted, it can cause SAD.   High levels of melatonin   When it gets dark, your body produces a hormone called melatonin, responsible for getting your body ready to sleep. But when the darkness is more prevalent than the light, people with SAD are likely to produce higher melatonin levels during the winter, which can make them more lethargic.   The seasonal affective disorder can not only impact your mood and personal life, but it can also affect your relationship. Think about it, when you’re feeling blue and don’t have the energy even to brush your teeth, the last thing you want to do is be proactive in your relationship. Going on dates, communicating your feelings, and being in the throes of passion all seem like a lot of hard work you’re not ready to complete. Here are a few of the reasons why your relationship might be put on the side bench while you deal with SAD.   Turbulent communication   Communication is key to sustaining a connection. But when SAD strikes, your willingness to communicate with your partner can be minimal, if not non-existent. You’re naturally drawn to isolating yourself and snuggling up in a cozy blanket where your negative thought patterns can prevail. When you attempt to communicate with your significant other, you might find it difficult to articulate your feelings and keep your attention, which is counterproductive to active listening. Not only that, but you’re also prone to irritation during this time, so verbal disputes are not to be ruled out.   Lack of sex drive   Licensed clinical marriage and family therapists says:’If you’re experiencing loss of pleasure or loss of interest in activities that can make date nights or the sexual side of the relationship difficult to keep up with as well.’ Because of the never-ending spree of negative thoughts, your body finds it hard to relax, get aroused, and indulge in pleasurable experiences. Not having sex can strain your bond a little bit. Even if you have sex, you might still find it hard to orgasm because your mind is constantly wandering. This can make your partner insecure or guilty. Moreover, due to genetics, a person is more likely to have SAD if a close relative is affected, including your partner. Your unmotivated daily habits can become contagious to your significant other. The sofa life for couples can seem way too appealing, but it’s also dangerous for your mental health, so make sure you uplift each other’s spirits to avoid going into a deep depression.   I hope this was helpful, and please do not hesitate to reach out for more help, and have a wonderful day :)
(MA, LPC)
Answered on 01/21/2022

How do you interact/deal with a chronically ill/in pain spouse?

Hi, thanks for reaching out! It does sound like you are in a challenging situation.  You want to be a supportive, empathetic partner because you don't know how bad they feel or how much their illness really takes a toll on them.  Yet it is easy to find frustration with a person when they put forth minimal effort to seek their own help and when their own pain and unwellness starts to be projected on those around them. It sounds almost hurtful when you say it out loud, but it is important for you to remember that you have feelings to protect, and of your children as well.  If your partners speech and actions are starting to become harmful to you emotionally, its time to take action. Your partner should seek help from a professional.  They can learn to manage their mental health just as they would learn from medical doctors to manage their physical health conditions.  This is hard for most people to buy in to, but the more common it becomes in language in our homes and communities, it becomes more accepted and known to be resourceful.  You could also consider seeing a therapist together as a family, so you can all learn how to respond to one another when your partner feels bad and so you can all feel safe expressing your needs at the same time. It is important for you to continue to be open and honest in expressing how you feel.  Just because one partner has a medical condition and doesn't feel well, doesn't mean you have to tiptoe around them to protect their feelings or that you should feel like you should have to carry their weight of both your feelings and all of their health concerns.  Be assertive in your communication; make your needs and feelinsg known while doing so in a controlled, respecting manner.  Whether it causes conflict or not, you need to be heard and feel like you can equally express your needs as your partner can.  Also, find ways to express how you are feeling.  Have a support network around you, journal, engage in an activity like yoga or exercise where you can let go of how you feel physically, or consider talking to a therapist on your own to have a safe place to share. Best of luck to you and your family, and feel free to reach out if you need anything in the future.
Answered on 01/21/2022

I’ve finally got over the denial that I may have adhd, but now I don’t know where to go from here…

Hey there! I’m so sorry that you are struggling. There are a lot of treatment options out there for ADHD. Unfortunately, there is no easy answer for how to deal with it. So what now? Well, therapy would absolutely be a good place to start, whether it’s through Betterhelp, or another agency! If cost is a concern, put your location + community mental health into google, and a low cost agency (who often works on a sliding scale with payment as low as zero), should pop up. I wish there was an easy, overnight magic wand type answer for you. I would also recommend seeing a psychiatrist! Doing therapy and medication management can help you learn about your symptoms and develop skills to heal. It’s not an easy path, but neither is the one you are on if I’m reading you correctly. If you need help right away, the crisis text line at 741741 might be a good place to start. You just text that number “start” and someone talks to you pretty fast. It’s a great way to get some help in the short term, and you don’t even need to be in crisis in that moment. The National Suicide Hotline is also a good resource, and again, you don’t have to be in crisis to reach out and benefit. And both are open 24 hours a day! And are free! Their number is 1-800-273-8255. Betterhelp does have financial aid available if you qualify, and you can reach out to them at contact@betterhelp.com.   So what is therapy? How can therapy help you? Well, a worksheet that I like to use has the following information. Psychotherapy is a process that many believe is shrouded in mystery, but it doesn't have to be that way. Therapists are normal people who usually chose their profession because they care about other people, they're good listeners, and they want to help. What does a therapist actually do, and how can they help me?Therapists act as a neutral party who can listen and try to understand without judgment. Therapists help you learn about yourself by pointing out patterns and giving honest feedback. Therapists teach specific techniques and strategies to deal with problems. Therapists can refer you to additional resources in the community that might be helpful. Therapists provide a safe place to learn and practice social skills.You won't be annoying your therapist, whomever you choose, by being present and working to change and grow as a person. It sounds like you have a lot going on, and therapy really can help you sort through everything.  Every therapist on Betterhelp has a different theoretical orientations. Some use CBT. Others use REBT, EMDR, or other various evidence based practice.   What are the limitations of psychotherapy?Therapists should not tell you what to do or try to direct your life. Think of the proverb: "Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day. Teach him to fish, and you feed him for life." Therapists will help you learn to solve your own problems, rather than solving them for you. Some mental illness cannot be managed by psychotherapy alone. If medication is recommended, it's probably important. Benefiting from psychotherapy does require work on your part. Speaking to a therapist for an hour a week, and then pushing it out of your mind, probably won't do you any good. Complete homework, practice your skills, and legitimately try the recommendations you are given. Therapists cannot be your friend after starting a therapeutic relationship. Therapists generally like their clients, and would love to get to know them better, but ethical rules prevent the formation of relationships outside of treatment. It isn't you, it's just that the therapist could lose their license! Therapists cannot read your mind. If you hide information, or are dishonest, you're wasting your own time and money. You might also consider seeing a psychiatrist, to see if medication can help with some of your symptoms.Therapy is a great way to help you sort out the why’s and how’s behind what you are experiencing. A therapist can help you figure out what you want to change, and work with you develop a plan for change. It’s okay to seek help. You can change. It takes a lot of time and there isn’t a magical wand. You have a lot of deep seated core beliefs that drive your being. Learning to address and change them, and process them is a lot of work, but it can get done, and you can get better. You deserve to find happiness in your life. You deserve to be relieved of the burdens that you are carrying alone. Therapists are there to listen.  A therapist can really help you process what is causing your thoughts and feelings and help you develop coping strategies. Something to remember when learning coping skills is that they are skills. Skills are something we develop over time and sometimes, new skills that we are still learning don’t quite work effectively, and that is okay! The more you practice, the better you get! An alternative to therapy might be downloading an app like Mindshift (which is free) or Unwinding Anxiety (which is subscription based). Both of these apps contain tools to help you learning calming skills to manage your physical symptoms (such as rapid breathing) and learn to quiet your mind. Google also contains a wealth of information on coping skills. While these apps won’t do much to challenge your cognitive distortions, or core beliefs, they can help in teaching you those important emotional regulation skills. Ultimately, it’s hard to help you figure out what to do without knowing more about you and the situation. You’re in a tough spot, but you will get through this. You are not alone. Remember, you’ve survived 100% of your toughest moments so far in life. It’s okay to need some help to move forward. Therapy can really help you figure out how to change your life for the better. It can really help you change what you are experiencing. Luckily, Betterhelp makes getting matched to a therapist pretty easy, if you want to go this route. If you don’t click with the first therapist you match with, it’s easy to switch counselors until you find one that really works for you and your needs. Finding the right therapist is key. I wish you the best of luck!
(LMHC, MCAP, (FL), LMHC, (WA))
Answered on 01/21/2022

How to heal from a painful heartbreak and betrayal from a friend

Hello Mimee, Thank you for your question. I'm sorry to hear you've experienced such a betrayal from those closest to you. Without you explicitly saying what occurred between your boyfriend and your friend, I am imagining that you were referring to your friend getting between you and him.  That is incredibly painful, and I'm sorry you experienced that.  Knowing that you can't respond to me I want to pose this reflective question: why do you want to hear from your friend? Is it to try and make sense of things? I wonder if any explanation your friend can give will truly help you understand what happened.  Is it to express how upset and angry you are with your friend? Ask yourself whether that will make you feel better. It is certainly okay to confront your friend, but know that won't necessarily give you any sense of closure if that's what you are desiring. You also don’t want to make an impulsive decision out of anger and hurt that you may regret later on.  So how do you move on then; I know this is ultimately the question you have. Remember to give yourself time. Being hurt on an interpersonal level can be very painful and it is all right to not be "okay" right away. Please try to do the following: Let yourself rest for awhile.  If you have been blaming yourself for what happened in the relationship know that's it is not your fault; you do not have to take on the responsibility for your boyfriend and friend's actions. Turn to your support group. Lean on other friends ss and family at this time. If you don't have a very strong support system consider getting professional help by seeing a therapist here on BetterHelp or out in a more traditional setting.  And lastly, remember not to overgeneralize. It can be hard to move on and trust someone else after such a betrayal. Try to remember that just because your boyfriend hurt you in this way it does not mean that everyone will hurt you. Try to give it some time. I have confidence that you will be able to successfully move on and live a fulfilling life. I greatly appreciate that you reached out and wish you the best. Take care. 
(MSW, LCSW, CADC)
Answered on 01/21/2022

Why do I hate myself if I had a good childhood and loving and supporting parents?

Hello, Thank you for reaching out on The BetterHelp Platform with your question:  Why do I hate myself if I had a good childhood and loving and supporting parents? I am glad that you reached out for some support and guidance with what you are struggling with at the moment. I think to best answer your question is to share some information about low self-worth and share some of the other reasons why some people struggle with this as there are indeed other reasons than challenging childhoods can result in someone having poor self-worth/self-esteem. Low Self-Worth Sometimes even when an individual is in a relationship with someone who cares for him or her, rather than enjoying the relationship this person is convinced the relationship and the other person's love are undeserved. They will often unconsciously begin efforts to sabotage the relationship. Feelings of being undeserving of the relationship often causes theses individual to begin acting in a manner that causes the significant other to distance him or herself, thus validating the feelings of being undeserving of love. These same behaviors can manifest themselves in the workplace as well, often with the individual slipping up on the job, doing things that he or she knows are wrong. Sometimes people like this will begin to neglect their duties, such as showing up late for work or meetings. When asked to account for these behaviors by their manager, they cannot give a rational explanation, which makes the situation worse. How does a person tell an employer that he or she doesn't feel like they are good enough? This underlying sense of low self-worth can oftentimes be traced to a childhood full of abuse or trauma where that person was told he or she is worthless or will never amount to anything in life by parents or other authority figures. A child will take in these various negative messages and convert them to how everyone must view them. Instead of developing a healthy ego, they develop a sense of self that is always critical and questioning of their abilities. Ultimately, they feel that they are not deserving of love or respect. Does this sound familiar? Impostor Syndrome Do you struggle with feeling competent at work or school? When people tell you that you are smart or work hard do you not believe them or immediately dismiss these compliments? If so, you may struggle from Impostor syndrome. A term coined in 1978 by behavioral health researchers. It is a psychological term used to describe self-perceived feelings of fraud by people who tend to be very high achieving. People who struggle with impostor syndrome tend to feel depressed and anxious because they believe they will be discovered as fakes at any moment. This creates a great deal of personal stress and unless the person seeks help, can lead to serious occupational impairment over time. When given praise, people who struggle with impostor syndrome will often think such thoughts as: You're just being nice or I was just lucky that's all. People who feel the need to be a perfectionist often struggle with impostor syndrome due to their unrealistic standards around their performance at work. It's important to point out that there is no basis in reality for these beliefs. The person who struggles with these thoughts are generally admired by their supervisors for their competence and hard work. Many people who grapple with impostor syndrome perceive themselves as having deceived or manipulated others into thinking they are more competent than they truly are and assume they will be discovered at some point. More often than not this is pure fantasy and has no basis in fact, except in the mind of the person who suffers from the syndrome. Oftentimes, they feel they are not deserving of success. Helplessness Another common underlying cause of personal insecurity is a general feeling of helplessness. There are times when we all feel helpless, for instance when someone close to us dies. This is normal and is to be expected. No one feels completely at ease and competent in life all the time. However, if someone is feeling helpless on a daily basis, this could be a sign of a more serious issue. Many depressive disorders start with feelings of helplessness which can sometimes change to feelings of hopelessness over time. A general feeling of helplessness will affect our ability to function from day to day. People who struggle with this issue often give up too soon or don't try anything they perceive as being difficult. If you struggle with feeling helpless on a daily basis, this is a sign that you should seek professional help. A good mental health professional can work with you on this issue and help you get back to a place where you feel capable and confident.   Toxic Environments Finally, people who live in dysfunctional toxic environments often question whether they are good enough. Growing up in a dysfunctional family as previously discussed will affect a person's self-worth but so will going to a job where a toxic environment exists as well. Many people don't realize how much their work surroundings affect their self-esteem and confidence. If someone spends their entire work day in a place where they are bullied and belittled, this will reduce their positive sense of self over time. Most of us spend the majority of our day outside our homes. Some people feel very comfortable in their workplaces due to working in an uplifting environment with supportive coworkers and supervisors. If you find yourself in a toxic workplace, it may be time to consider leaving that position before you are overwhelmed by feelings of insecurity and negativity.   Struggling With A Lack Of Self Confidence? Do you ever have days when you struggle with self-confidence? It’s hard for you to think that you’re able to achieve the things that you want to accomplish. You struggle to feel like you’re capable. The bad news is, if you feel like this, you may be struggling with low self-esteem. However, the good news is that there are many things you can do to build healthy self-esteem and confidence. What is self-esteem? Self-esteem is the way that you feel about yourself. It’s your thoughts and opinions of yourself when you aren’t considering what other people say and think about you. Some people have healthy self-esteem and feel good about themselves and their abilities regardless of what others think. And, some people struggle to feel good about themselves and suffer from low self-esteem. Many things could contribute to your self-esteem. This can include how healthy your personal relationships are, past trauma that you’ve experienced, successes and failures that you’ve had, your role in society, and your general health. You may have struggled with low self-esteem for as long as you can remember, or there may be a traumatic experience that you lived through that cause you to start to struggle. Either way, struggling with a lack of self-confidence can impact you in many areas of your life. The importance of healthy self-esteem Your self-esteem is important because it can influence how you think and the decisions you make in your life. People with healthy self-esteem can see and acknowledge their worth and value as a person. They’re able to recognize the contributions that they’re able to make and put their skills to work. But people with low self-esteem can struggle to see what they’re capabilities. They may struggle to know their value outside of what they think other people think of them. This can set up a dangerous cycle of people-pleasing. People pleasers tend to do anything they can to please others around them to try to boost their self-esteem. This can be dangerous because it can cause you to make decisions that you would not otherwise make to try to make someone else happy. Someone with healthy self-esteem and confidence is more likely to go after the goals and dreams that they have for their life, where those with low self-esteem may constantly doubt themselves and struggle to live the life that they want. Signs that you need to improve your self-esteem: Second-guessing yourself Afraid to take on new challenges Extremely critical of yourself Anxiety Being a workaholic Perfectionism If you struggle with low self-esteem, you may notice that you rely on others to make decisions. You may also notice that you don’t feel good about yourself unless you receive praise from others. This can be a sign that you struggle to feel good about yourself on your own. Tips to help you overcome low self-esteem There are many different strategies that you can use to work on building your self-esteem and confidence. The tips below are some that can help you gain progress in this area. However, low self-esteem can be connected with other areas of your life, such as past traumatic experiences. Talking with a therapist can be an important step in addressing your confidence and self-esteem. While these tips below can be helpful, you may find it beneficial to talk to a licensed therapist like those at BetterHelp to get to the root cause of your struggle with your self-esteem. Your therapist will also be able to provide additional activities and strategies that you can use to continue to boost your confidence. Change your self-talk If you struggle with low self-esteem, you may also find that you struggle with negative self-talk. This is what you think and say about yourself. You may find that you are constantly criticizing yourself and believing that you are incapable of accomplishing the things that you want to do. Your thoughts are important. If you constantly think that you’re a failure, it’s going to be hard for you to prove that you’re not. This is why it can be so important to gain control of your thoughts when you’re working on rebuilding your self-esteem. One way that you can do this is to make a list of all of your strengths. If you struggle with low self-esteem, it may be hard for you to come up with things to put on your list at first. Ensure that you come up with at least five things that you are good at or things that are good about you. Then, stand in the mirror with your list and read the list out loud while looking at yourself in the mirror. This can be uncomfortable to do at first, but it becomes easier the more you do it. Continue to do this exercise daily, even multiple times a day, and eventually, you may notice that you’re starting to believe the things that you’re saying. Another thing that you can do to address negative self-talk is to make a list of all of the negative things that you continuously think about yourself. Then, write out new thoughts that you’re going to choose to think of when the negative ones come into your mind. Learn to recognize your success If you struggle with low self-esteem, you may struggle to acknowledge the achievements you have in life. When people compliment you or something that you’ve done, you may find that you excuse it away instead of taking credit for it. Learning how to recognize your success, even the small ones, can go a long way in building your confidence. At the end of every day, write down three things you succeeded at during the day. Continue to build up your list day after day. Eventually, you have a long list of successes that you can look at whenever you start to doubt yourself. It’s okay to start with small things that you succeeded at each day. Change how you view failure If you view failure as a bad thing, it can be harder to build your self-esteem. Anytime you struggle to succeed at something, then you may end up feeling like you failed. A simple change in how you view failure can help address this. Everyone fails at different things throughout their life. Successful people learn how to see their failures as stepping stones to success.  They don’t allow the things that they failed to stop them from moving forward. So, don’t let your past failures get in the way of your future success. Stop trying to please others If you want to build your self-esteem, it can be beneficial to stop trying to please and impress others. Spend time thinking about the things that you want to accomplish and the goals that you have. Then, work towards meeting those goals and being the person that you need to be to live the life that you want. If you are always focusing on trying to do what other people want you to do, it can get in the way of accomplishing what you want in life. And, it can keep you trying to always jump through hoops to make other people happy. It’s impossible to help others if you are not taking care of yourself and your needs first. You’re human and need to take time for yourself as well. Spend time with positive people When working on building confidence and self-esteem, it can be helpful to spend time with other people with healthy self-esteem. It can also help to be around people who are positive and build others up instead of constantly judging them. This behavior can rub off on you. Take care of yourself Taking care of yourself physically and mentally is another way that you can help build your self-esteem. Do things that make you feel good about yourself. This could be doing something like going back to college to get an education or getting your haircut in a way that makes you happy. If you’ve been trying to please other people, this can be a difficult thing to do. But do your best to try to find the things that make you happy instead of asking everyone else for their opinion first. You may have to try a few different things to figure out what this is if you’ve been in the habit of pleasing others for a long time. Remember, building healthy self-esteem is a process. It most likely isn’t going to happen overnight, and sometimes it can feel like work. But it’s well worth the time that you invest in transforming your self-esteem. If you feel comfortable and safe discussing your journey of building self-esteem with your friends and family, it may make you feel like you’re less alone and even closer to them.  If you’re struggling in this area and need help, don’t hesitate to reach out to a therapist for support. There is help and there is help available for you.   I wish you much luck with the next your next step. In Kindest, Gaynor    
(MA, LCSW)
Answered on 01/21/2022

How do I find balance in my life and still have success?

Hello Rosemary,   Thank you for reaching out on The BetterHelp Platform with your question: How do I find balance in my life and still have success?   I am so glad you reached out for some support with your attempts to live a happier and more balanced life for yourself.  This is a great personal goal for any working parent! I will share some information and some tools you can implement to help you achieve.   Being A Career Woman And A Mother: How To Find Balance The majority of parents who are working struggle to find a balance between their job and their personal lives. This can be challenging for a mother who wants to be a career woman, but it's not impossible by any means. One of the things to think about is this - you don't have to do this on your own. You might feel that, as a mother, you've got to raise your children, bring in the money, and do it all by yourself. If you have a partner, they can help with childcare, and if you're both working, one of the things to remember is that you can work on finding babysitters or childcare centers together. As you know, raising kids together is a team effort. If you're a single parent, it's important to remember that your full-time job is important, and so are your children. It's okay to take breaks for yourself and hire a babysitter so that you can go out with your friends; in fact, it's vital. You need to get that downtime. There are ways that you can balance having a career and a family life, and we will go through that in this article. You Don't Have To Do it All There's a lot of societal pressure on women and mothers to "do it all." You might feel tremendous pressure to be successful at your career and motherhood, and it could feel paralyzing. That's an understandable way to react when you're trying hard to make a life for you and your children. Remember that you get to decide what works best for your life. It's not anyone's business to make judgments on your life choices. There are many successful female business owners, and a large number of these women have children. You do not have to give up your life as a mother to have a business or vice versa. You may be a go-getter or an entrepreneur, and that's a wonderful quality. Follow your passion and do what works for you. Maybe, you own your own business. It could be that you work in corporate america in a nine-to-five job. Perhaps you work as a freelance writer or artist. There are so many different opportunities to fulfill your life purpose as a woman and a mother. You don't have to be "just" a mother, or "just" a career woman; those things can coincide, and you can live with balance. You don't have to do it all. It's easier said than done, but it's important not to let other people's ideas about the person that you "should" be get to you. There are ways that you can make a life of balance work for you as a busy mom and professional. One of the first things to think about is what you want to do with your life so that you can establish your priorities as an individual outside of your family life. Finding Your Purpose If you haven't decided whether or not you want to have children yet, that's okay. If it's a priority for you to have children, honor that decision. There are many ways that you can become a parent, whether that's having children biologically or adopting a child; both of those are viable options for starting a family, and remember that there are an abundance of different kinds of families in the world. Some people have a partner, some people are single parents, and some kids are raised by their grandparents; these are only some of the ways that a family can look, and family has varying definitions. If you're a woman who wants to have children, you can do this, and you can have a career. Making It Happen Before you try balancing your job and family, it's essential to define what you want to do with your life. It's okay to not know the answer to that question. Think about it, the average person changes careers many times in their life. If you don't know "what you want to be when you grow up" it's not a big deal. You can figure that out with time and patience. Start by identifying your goals. Get out a piece of paper and a pen and write down what you want. What are your goals in life? Write down a list of five things that you want to accomplish in your career life. Look at that list and prioritize the first one. What's the most important thing to you? Say that you want to become a high-powered executive at a company. This doesn't happen overnight, and it'll take steps to achieve this. Break it down into smaller steps; write down three things that'll help you get to that place in a company and start with the skill set that you have. That could mean working as an assistant for someone first and learning a trade or being an associate and moving up in your company over time. It just depends on what your goal is in terms of what you'd like to achieve. Where are you starting, what's the end goal, and what's in between that? How will you get to where you're going? There are steps involved, and a plan of action is one thing that will get you going. What Is A Plan Of Action? A plan of action is when you write down the steps that you need to take to get to your goal. You know what your objectives are, and now it's time to figure out how to get to where you're going. It's a matter of defining those goals, and then creating the steps to get to your destination. It's okay to be nervous when you start defining the things you want to do, but don't let that stop you! Feel your emotions, and keep going. You will achieve your goals if you stay focused and on track. Let's say that you'd like to own your own business, for example, the first thing that you need to do is determine the following: 1.    What is my business? Once you decide what you want to do, the next thing is - 2.    What are the things that I need to get my business going? Write down the things that you need to get it going (money, people to collaborate with, and so on). 3.    What do I need to fulfill those needs? In a notebook, write down what you need to get your business to where it needs to be. Remember that there are short term goals and long term goals. The short term goals are things that you can accomplish right now. So, in this example, you'd research businesses that are similar to the one that you want to start. Start by understanding what they do and how they do it. The long-term goal is to start that business, but there are steps along the way, and you'll get to where you're going if you stay on track. Managing Your Life And Career Goals With Your Family Goals When it comes to integrating your family life with your career, It's about balance. Naturally, you're going to want to spend time with your children. When you have a family, that's your first priority; your kids are what comes first regardless of what else is going on. You need to make sure that your kid's needs are met and that yours are as well; that everyone is provided for in terms of basic functions such as food, shelter, and love. You know that you love your children; you also need to love yourself or be working towards that goal. Make sure that you're in good standing with yourself so that you love yourself and are working towards being well if you aren't already. Prioritize your kids' needs to be sure they are met both fiscally and emotionally providing the support they need in all areas. It doesn't hurt to have help along the way in the form of mental health care. Your mental health matters as a mother and career woman, and one of the things that you can do is pursue therapy. Online Therapy Helps Career Women There are so many things to think about when you're a busy mom. You're worried about providing emotional support for your children and helping them grow. You also want to make sure their basic needs are provided for, and that can be stressful. You don't have to do this alone! Talking to a therapist is a great way to talk through your problems. Online therapy is a flexible place where you can get help as a busy career woman and mother. Sometimes, it's hard to get to a therapist's office in person with all that you have to juggle, and that's why online therapy is a great place to discuss your concerns about your career, family matters, and your life.   I wish you much luck with your next step! In KIndness, Gaynor 
(MA, LCSW)
Answered on 01/21/2022

Need to learn how to cope and eventually come out of an abusive relationship

Hello Samantha,   Thank you for reaching out on The BetterHelp Platform with your query: Need to learn how to cope and eventually come out of an abusive relationship   I am glad you reached out for some support and guidance with what you are struggling with in your life.  I am so sorry to hear that you have had to go through such difficult times in your relationship.  I think the best way to answer your question is to share some information about problematic relationships and how to deal with this and how to get help. Are You In An Abusive Relationship? You can easily tell if you're in an abusive relationship, right? Maybe, maybe not. You have to have two bodies of knowledge before you can see whether your relationship is really abusive. First, you have to know what abuse looks like and how it shows up in relationships. Second, you need to be able to stand back from your situation so you can evaluate it objectively. When you combine these two factors to assess your relationship, you might be surprised to find that your partner is indeed being abusive towards you. When the Abuse Isn't Physical Physical abuse is fairly easy to spot. Your significant other may punch, kick, or grab you forcefully. They may break your bones or cut you. You may end up in the ER or doctor's office often. However, not all abuse is physical. An emotionally abusive relationship won't put you in the hospital, but it can certainly ruin your mental health. Who Is the Abuser? The signs of an abusive relationship stem from the characteristics of abusers. When your partner is abusive with you, it's likely that they display any or all of these traits and behaviors: They see others as their private property. Using my, mine a lot, such as my friend over there opposed to using his/her name They're intensely jealous. They're cruel to animals and/or children physically/verbally They're unpredictable.You feel on guard much of the time They have a hot temper.Anger easily at almost anything They like to control the behavior of others.Do as I say or else They have old-fashioned notions about the roles of men and women. It's interesting to note that what often happens in an abusive relationship is that one person says they're being abused and then the other follows by saying that no, they are the one being abused. This situation played out recently online with the Markiplier abusive relationship story. Markiplier, a video comedian of sorts, mentioned that his girlfriend had abused him. Then he created a video about abusive relationships. Later, his ex-girlfriend countered with stories about how Markiplier had abused her. Some relationships are abusive on both sides. Another possibility is that the abuser is just being defensive and trying to generate sympathy for themselves. If you're being abused, then it's important to be aware that you could also be accused of abuse. Be ready to stand up for yourself, whatever comes. One way to prepare yourself is to talk to a counselor before you end the emotionally or verbally abusive relationship. Signs within the Relationship Abusive relationship signs in the context of the relationship include all the unhealthy ways your abuser interacts with you. Rather than respecting your feelings and rights as an individual, they turn you into a possession that they can manipulate and control to get what they want. Noticing the following signs of abusive relationship can help you see that you aren't being treated fairly. They force you to have sex when you don't want to. They blame you when something bad happens. They sabotage you at work or school. They control your joint finances. They accuse you of coming on to others or having an affair. They don't let you choose your own clothes or other possessions. They completely control where you go and who you see. They put you down in public or when you're alone together. They purposely embarrass you in front of other people. They lie to you and then get you to doubt your own sanity. Signs within Yourself You might also see the signs of an emotionally abusive relationship within your own feelings, thoughts, words, and behaviors. Ask yourself the following questions and then consider whether your reactions were prompted by the way the abuser has treated you. Am I a worthwhile person? Am I intelligent? Am I sane? Am I trustworthy? Do others like me? Am I as good as others? While negative answers to the above questions might come from ideas you picked up in your childhood, they could also be coming from the way your current abuser is talking to you and behaving towards you. Ask yourself if you always had these opinions of yourself or if they just started when you got into the relationship. Also, ask yourself how you would feel if someone said or did the same things to make someone else feel bad about themselves. If you wouldn't allow your friend, your child, or your parent to be treated that way, don't allow yourself to be treated in those ways either. In addition to your negative thoughts about yourself when you're in an abusive relationship, your behaviors might reflect the signs you're in the verbally abusive relationship, too. For instance, you might look down instead of look at people in the eye. You might feel like you're walking on eggshells, so you become very quiet, trying to avoid saying the wrong words. You might stop trying new things, because the abuser has made you feel like you're too inadequate to succeed at anything. Getting a Quick Answer Sometimes it's hard to decipher all the words and behaviors that make up an abusive relationship. To get a quick answer about whether there are any signs that you're in an abusive relationship, you can take an abusive relationship quiz. You can find such a test online and take it on your own. To get a more complete answer about how much and what type of abuse you're suffering, a counselor can give you any of these several tests. They'll also conduct an interview with you to find out the unique problems within your relationship. The counselor will help you answer the question of 'Am I in an emotional abusive relationship?' Getting Information and Support A professional counselor can give you abundant information about abusive relationships. If you come to a point where you can answer the question 'Am I in an abusive relationship' with confidence, they can help you learn more about what to expect and what you need to do from there. They can share abusive relationship stories that help you see how unfair abuse is and why you need to remove yourself from the relationship immediately. They can share abusive relationship quotes to inspire you to leave the relationship and start fresh. Also, they support you by validating your feelings, explaining that you have every right and reason to feel the way you do about the abuse. They can point you to support resources within your own community as well. How to Leave an Abusive Relationship In many cases an abusive relationship can't be made healthy. The abuser isn't likely to put in the effort to change their beliefs and their behaviors. In fact, they probably won't even see that there's anything wrong with the way they treat you, or at least, they won't admit it. When you need to know the best answer on how to leave an abusive relationship, your best first source of help is a licensed therapist. They can help you understand the need to move on with your life and teach you how to get out of an emotionally abusive relationship. Solving Problems While Learning How to Get Out of an Abusive Relationship Several types of problems can arise as you work on learning how to get out of an abusive relationship. If you have become dependent, as many people who have been abused become, you will have to develop your survival skills and work on your self-confidence. Another problem is that once you've been abused, you might find yourself drawn to new abusers. The same qualities that impressed you with your first abuser can seem appealing again, especially if you aren't yet aware of the way they will treat you once you're in a relationship. This is where a therapist can assist you with recognizing those qualities that impressed you with the abuser. Solving these problems will help you become stronger and more independent so you can make it on your own as long as you need to and as long as that's what makes you happy. These are usually quite complex problems, though, and can be difficult to solve on your own. Getting Help for Leaving an Abusive Relationship As soon as you begin to question whether you're in an abusive relationship or any time after that, you can start the process of leaving your abuser. It is a difficult task, especially if the relationship has gone on for a long time. Because you're faced with such a major challenge, getting help can increase your chances of successfully ending the abuse and living the life you want to live. The first step will be to recognize the abuse. A counselor can help you sort out the words and behaviors that might be innocent from those that are abusive and damaging. They can give you a fresh and objective perspective on the relationship and help you determine if it's actually abusive. If you're being abused in a relationship, the next step is to get stronger within yourself so you can leave the relationship. You'll need support from someone who knows how to show compassion and caring while giving you tools and guidance for getting out of the relationship. Licensed counselors are always available at BetterHelp for online counseling at your convenience. It only takes a moment to get started. You can get the help you need without waiting for weeks or even months as you might have to with a local counselor. The road to freedom from abuse is not always smooth, but with the right help, you can find your way. There is hope and there is help for you.  I hope you consider seeking professional support with this. I wish you much luck for you having a happier and healthier life!   In Kindness, Gaynor 
(MA, LCSW)
Answered on 01/21/2022