Abuse Answers

What can help me get unstuck in life?

Hi MovingForward.  Thanks for your question and for making yourself vulnerable.  I'll try to give you some information about abuse and its effects, and also will suggest a couple of ideas for helping you to move forward.   For therapists who specialize in trauma, many symptoms of abuse are re-imagined as coping skills.  I'll explain what I mean by this.  If you were psychologically abused by someone you love, you probably found ways to deal with this situation.  For lots of people, these ways include blaming themselves for the abuse, developing protective layers against vulnerability, avoiding situations in which they might become vulnerable to abuse, and constantly being on the lookout for signs of abuse.  While you were abused, these coping skills and protective mechanisms likely served their purpose and helped to keep you as safe as possible.  Unfortunately, what usually happens in trauma is that the coping skills that were once helpful become maladaptive.  Thus, many people in this situation continue protecting themselves from love, believing negative things about themselves, avoiding intimacy, and expecting others to hurt them even after the threat of abuse has passed.  People who have been abused have a hard time trusting others even when they want badly to trust and to love and be loved.     In a healthy and supportive environment, you would have been nurtured and supported, and encouraged to take risks that might have helped you to grow.  But if you were scorned and insulted instead, you probably developed many fears, including fears of being further abused, and fears that you weren't good enough or worthy enough.  Although I don't know exactly when in your life you were abused, and whether you are referring to childhood experiences or to experiences in your adulthood, both can leave deep scars.  The trauma of this sort easily produces anxiety and fear, and your feeling of being stuck really comes through in your question and statement.   A trauma-informed therapist can be immensely helpful in a situation like this.  First, a rapport with the right therapist can help to create the nurturing and supportive relationship that you have been lacking.  It's much easier to take risks for our growth when there's someone on our side to bounce ideas and plans off.  During the therapy process, you'll hopefully start to see the ways in which your response to trauma was normal.  You're not broken!  You had a normal response to a terrible situation.  And there are specific therapeutic modalities, such as Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT) that can really help you to focus on the ways in which your specific trauma has impacted your beliefs about yourself and the world.  Once you identify these beliefs, it's a lot easier to start changing them.   My best wishes.   Gabrielle    
Answered on 10/23/2021

Should I stay in relationship with someone super suspicious and controlling?

I am glad you reached out and are questioning what is happening in your relationship.  Healthy relationships include trust in each other, friendship, and mutual respect.  They do not include fear or walking on eggshells, so to speak.  The description you provided does include symptoms of paranoid personality disorder, but those behaviors are also red flags for domestic violence.  One does not necessarily exclude the other, that is to say, that someone with a personality disorder may be likely to perpetrate domestic violence.  Deleting your social media accounts is isolating you from others who may help and support you.  Accusations and blame are designed to take away your power and erode your self-confidence.  Always checking on you undermines your independence and autonomy.  Individuals engage in these tactics to gain power and control.  These are serious signs that this relationship could lead to more severe domestic violence. Domestic violence is not always immediately recognizable in a relationship.  The domestic violence perpetrator is often very nice, accommodating, and charming initially.  They are often well respected in the community, and people outside of the immediate relationship may never suspect those traits in that individual.  There is a cycle to domestic violence that is often observed including rising tension, an incident of some sort followed by gifts, kind words, promises designed to promote reconciliation, and then a period of calm.   Because power and control are very important to domestic violence perpetrators, their partners usually face a lot of danger when attempting to leave the relationship as this represents an ultimate loss of power and control to the offender.  I have experience working with survivors of domestic violence.  Be cautious.  Trust your instincts.  You are uncomfortable and reaching out for help for a reason.  Please don't hesitate to reach out to a therapist and visit The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV) at ncadv.org/get-help or call 1-800-799-7233 (SAFE).  Additional red flags for domestic violence can be found on their site.  All red flags do not have to be present to indicate signs of an unhealthy relationship.  The NCADV can offer support, education, safety planning, and shelter if needed.  
(LCSW, LAC, MHPP)
Answered on 10/23/2021

How can I overcome a past trauma without therapy?

Hi Lostinreality, Domestic violence is about Power & Control. There are many nuances of manipulation to toy with your thoughts and emotions. You feel powerless and beat down when you are abused, neglected, and traumatized not only by the abuser but society in general that includes law enforcement and the legal system. Your first step is to seek ways to become empowered. Certainly, this process can begin in individual therapy and counseling, but, of course, that can be costly and, for other reasons, not practical for you at this time. Online resources can be a great place to start to get support, information n, and even legal advice. EndAbuse https://www.endabusewi.org/ provides info and resources to help you get connected. DAIS https://abuseintervention.org/ has staff on hand that can help you identify your options and what steps you can take. DAIP (Domestic Abuse Intervention Programs) https://www.theduluthmodel.org/ is based in MN and has taken a leadership role in the movement to end domestic violence throughout the world. Also, be aware that whenever it comes to legal proceedings, the District Attorney's Office in your county may have a specialized Victim-Witness Unit whose role is to advocate for victims in any Court case. The staff of a V-W Unit can provide you with support as well as join forces with the prosecuting attorney handling any case to make sure your voice is heard and properly factored into any decision coming from that office. I would also recommend reaching out on a larger scale by contacting the National Domestic Violence Hotline. Either go to their website https://www.thehotline.org/ or call them at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233). You are not alone. There is always strength in numbers. You will gain empowerment as you become better educated on this field, understand abuse in its entirety, become more connected to those facing the same challenges, and take the steps you can take to be in control of your life. You deserve to be treated with dignity and respect. You deserve to be happy and fulfilled in your life. You deserve to be loved by someone who truly cares about you and what's in your best interest. I also want to recommend another resource that will help build your confidence, self-esteem, and help you Build Your Winning Self-Image. I was provided with this information over 30 years ago. His programs and guidance significantly improved many facets of my life. You can go online to get more information by clicking on https://www.jonathanparker.org/workshops-retreats/ Also, I have a website and created a model that helps you Stay Focused on Healthy Living, Healthy Relationships, Freedom, and Career Development. My model is designed to help you organize, store, and retrieve information to Stay Focused on Your Goals and find peace and happiness in your life. The link is http://www.stayfocusedcounseling.com/ I wish you the best!
(LPC, CSAC, CS-IT)
Answered on 10/23/2021

How do I get past childhood trauma and abuse that’s affecting my relationships and career?

I like to start working with trauma by making sure that there is a basic understanding of trauma and how it affects us because I have consistently heard through the years questions like Why is this still bothering me?  Why do I keep doing______________?  My partner is safe, but things that have happened to me in the past are interfering with our relationship now.  Why?  We respond to trauma in predictable ways and I think it is helpful to normalize that experience so that we can change that inner dialogue to be more objective and less judgmental.  Secondly, I like to make sure that there are safeguards in place to be able to work through the trauma.  Things like emotional regulation, distress tolerance, and grounding/containment skills.  Trauma work is not easy, but it is very much worth doing.  It is important to have good foundational skills in place so as not to create more trauma.   There is a lot to be said for Cognitive Behavioral Therapy.  CBT is the relationship between thoughts, feelings, and behaviors.  If we didn't first have a thought, we wouldn't have a feeling.  Please forgive me if I am saying things you already know because I know you have done work around this...  We develop core beliefs based on all the influences we have had in our life:  family, friends, church, school, social media, etc.  If we were raised in a healthy environment, we probably have healthy core beliefs.  If we were raised in a dysfunctional environment, we probably have a lot of cognitive distortions or thinking errors.  Therapy would be about examining those messages and core beliefs about being "worthless or a loser".  Children always blame themselves for what is going on.  You probably heard a lot of bad messages growing up from your parents and later when you were being bullied.  We don't have to have the abusers in our life to continue repeating those messages as an adult.   I also like Dialectical Behavioral Therapy.  That is a type of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy but there is a specific focus on emotional regulation, distress tolerance, mindfulness, and interpersonal effectiveness.   Healing from childhood trauma is like going back and reparenting that wounded child.  It is about processing those events and integrating those experiences into our life.  I often tell people to imagine a mural that tells their life story.  When there is unresolved trauma, and you look at your mural, trauma appears to be front and center.  By processing your trauma and integrating it into your life, the trauma fades into the background.  Yes, it is still in your mural, but the intensity has become less and it is not a focal point.  What may be front and center on your mural after processing the trauma could be, family, friends, career, travels, etc.   The trauma journey begins with being a victim and then moving to survivor and eventually to thriver.  First and foremost you did what you needed to do to survive.  You don't want to stay in that role of a survivor because it is limiting.  You want to go on to thriver.  That looks different for people.  It could be about learning from the experience and doing something positive with it.  It could be about becoming an advocate for others or something totally different.  I experienced a lot of family of origin trauma and that is what motivated me to become a therapist (after I processed all that old trauma).  It is hard work, but it is definitely worth doing. Going back to your original statement, "I don't know what to do", I think a good place to start would be to stabilize your depression, and if you do not have good skills with emotional regulation, distress tolerance, grounding and containment; develop those so that you can begin to process the trauma without creating further trauma.  I also really like EMDR (Eye Movement, Desensitization, and Reprocessing).  However, it is not possible to do it in this format.  There are other specific therapies that can be useful but I do not have the credentials or the ability to do them in this context.  Doing this work is hard, but it is worth it so that you don't have to continue being distressed. I hope this helps.  Take care.  I wish you a very successful journey of recovery.      
(M.S, LMHC, CAMS-II)
Answered on 10/23/2021

How do I stop my ptsd from controlling my life?

J, thank you so much for reaching out. Being contacted by a detective about these events sound very triggering. It's great that you've reached out for help. There are a lot of ways you can work through and heal from PTSD. When we experience PTSD, we typically will have a flight, fight, or freeze response during which the brain goes into survival mode and experiences a past event as if we are in imminent danger. Changing the brain's chemistry isn't an easy thing but it can be done through many different methods. I like to use Dialectical Behavior Therapy and distress tolerance skills with my clients who may be triggered or be in a triggering situation along with a lot of mindfulness and relaxation skills.  I am going to share some techniques that you can use to distract yourself when you are feeling high levels of anxiety related to these triggering events that you can also pair with mindfulness training.  Distraction (A.C.C.E.P.T.S.) Negative feelings will usually pass, or at least lessen in intensity over time. It can be valuable to distract yourself until the emotions subside. The acronym “A.C.C.E.P.T.S.” serves as a reminder of this idea. Activities Engage in activities that require thought and concentration. This could be a hobby, a project, work, or school. Contributing Focus on someone or something other than yourself. You can volunteer, do a good deed, or do anything else that will contribute to a cause or person. Comparisons Look at your situation in comparison to something worse. Remember a time you were in more pain, or when someone else was going through something more difficult. Emotions Do something that will create a competing emotion. Feeling sad? Watch a funny movie. Feeling nervous? Listen to soothing music. Pushing Away Do away with negative thoughts by pushing them out of your mind. Imagine writing your problem on a piece of paper, crumbling it up, and throwing it away. Refuse to think about the situation until a better time. Thoughts When your emotions take over, try to focus on your thoughts. Count to 10, recite a poem in your head, or read a book. Sensations Find safe physical sensations to distract you from intense negative emotions. Wear a rubber band and snap it on your wrist, hold an ice cube in your hand, or eat something sour like lime. If you like these tools, check on this link for more info: S:\Handouts\Clinical\Depression; Distress Tolerance Skills.pdf  I have a youtube channel with a lot of mindfulness exercises that can help you feel more grounded, calm, and in control of your mind body, and emotional spirit. Take a look at Mindful Moments and incorporate this into your daily routine: https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=mindful+moments+kstate+research+and+extension I would also strongly encourage you to talk through this with a trained counselor so that you can get the support you need on a daily and weekly basis. I hope these tools help you in your healing process. Take care of yourself, J!
(MA, LCMFT, #855)
Answered on 10/23/2021

What do you know about the after effects of emotional abuse?

Hello Lion, Thank you for reaching out with your question to The BetterHelp Platform. It is encouraging to hear that you have been able to 'let go' of the person!   So, I hear that you are now wanting to know how to 'let go and heal from the emotional aftermath. Emotional abuse is extremely painful, but you can heal and live your best life yet.  Healing From Emotional Abuse There is hope to heal from the pain emotional abuse creates.  You are not alone in your journey. Like you, many people have experienced emotional abuse and have found healing and meaningful connections in healthy relationships.  Below are 5 steps to help you in your healing process. STEP 1:Acknowledge the Abuse Thinking about and accepting your past abuse as a real event can be very difficult to do but it’s the first step to healing from your experiences.  Many people find it difficult to acknowledge their past abuse. This can sometimes be due to a belief that says “I’m shameful for having been abused” OR “What I experienced really wasn’t all that bad”. Other times people repress their past abuse with the hope that if they don’t acknowledge it, it will go away.  One thing can be sure, the longer your emotional pain from abuse is allowed to remain unacknowledged, the more negative impacts it will produce in your life.  As you begin to acknowledge your abuse for what it was, you will also begin to take back personal power over your life.  When you decide to engage with your old wounds, be aware that it’s normal to feel the same emotions you felt at the time of your abuse. These painful feelings have remained inside you and will only be healed when you accept and move through them. STEP 2:Change Negative Thought Patterns Emotional abusers alter your experience of reality by telling you lies about yourself and about the world until you accept their explanation of reality over your own. After enough time, you begin to accept these messages which affect the way you see yourself. These unhealthy thoughts can become the voice in your head (your self-talk) that tells you exactly what your abuser told you.  As you begin to process your past abuse, one way you can begin healing is by challenging your self-talk and dispensing with the negative thinking patterns you find there.    Below is a list of unhealthy, negative thought patterns that people who have been emotionally abused often experience.  Some negative thinking patterns you may be reinforcing are: Black and White Thinking: “I either get it right or I’m a failure” Over-generalization: “All men are like this” Disqualifying the Positive: “Nothing good ever happens to me”, “I can’t ever do anything right” Unrealistic Expectations: “I shouldn’t make mistakes” Name Calling: “I’m so stupid” Self-Blame: “It’s all my fault” Catastrophizing: “I won’t be able to figure out how to do anything without my partner,, then I’ll be hungry and homeless” Should Statements: “I should be further along by now” Emotional Reasoning: “I feel guilty, I must be a terrible person” Personalization: “He’s upset because I’m a terrible girlfriend” False Permanence: “Things are going to stay this bad forever” Magical Thinking: “If I were skinnier, my partner wouldn’t have cheated”   Negative thinking patterns have been linked to anxiety, depression, and feelings of shame, guilt, and blame.  These types of messages will retain their grip on your life and mind until you begin calling them out for what they are and replacing them with new and healthier patterns of thinking.  STEP 3:Engage in Self Care Many of the suggestions below may seem trivial but they are extremely important to your healing process. When you begin to take care of your needs, you will have more energy, support, and nutrients to overcome the struggles you’re facing.     Here are a few practical ways to begin the process of regaining power over your life:  EMBRACE MORE OF YOUR WANTS AND DESIRES Many victims of abuse recall that their only purpose was to keep their abuser satisfied.  You may have forgotten likes, dislikes, passions, hobbies, etc. To begin the process of healing from your emotional abuse you will need to rediscover who you used to be and who you want to become.  Start Small: Do something you love. Ask yourself what you have been wanting to do. Have you been wanting to join a bowling team, go to a painting class, or take up underwater basket weaving? DO IT! And after that, do something else you have wanted to do. This is your time to reclaim your mind and life.    Oftentimes, people who have experienced emotional abuse can carry excessive shame when it comes to being their authentic selves.   MAKE YOUR PHYSICAL, EMOTIONAL, AND SPIRITUAL NEEDS A PRIORITY Part of the healing process from emotional abuse is caring for yourself. When in an abusive relationship you can quickly lose sight of what a healthy, normal lifestyle should look like.  Loss of self-esteem is one of the hallmark consequences of emotional abuse victims because they are led to believe they don’t matter or they aren’t valuable. We take care of the people who matter to us. When you take care of your needs, you will begin to develop the belief that you matter.   Treat yourself like you’re valuable and you will begin to feel like you’re valuable too.  GET YOURSELF MOVING Begin by asking yourself what type of exercise would you enjoy most? Remember, whatever you decide to do is entirely up to you, so do something you love.  Exercise releases endorphins in your brain. These endorphins are often referred to as your brain’s “happy drugs”. They are responsible for regulating your mood.  Doing aerobic exercises for as little as 90 minutes each week can help to reduce your risk of depression and help you sleep better.  EAT RIGHT When you’re in an emotionally abusive relationship, your focus is always on the other person. Not only this, but the intense emotions in these volatile relationships can also lead you to eat in unhealthy ways and amounts. When you begin to eat right, you will find that your body has the nutrients it needs to better regulate your energy levels and emotions.  GET ENOUGH SLEEP There is no better way to keep yourself from making progress than being exhausted all the time. Try some of the following: Creating a routine gives you more control over your life (And enough sleep). Create a habit of going to sleep at the same time each evening, getting a solid 8 hours of sleep, and then waking up at the same time each morning.  Create a relaxing evening routine that helps you wind down (What helps you relax?). Over time, your brain will associate this evening ritual with sleep and you will begin falling asleep faster.   Exercising during the day will help you be sufficiently tired in the evening.  Don’t use electronics before bed.  Be sure your room is sufficiently dark.    Below are some different relaxing activities you can do before going to sleep: Put on some calming music or sounds of rainstorms, the ocean, etc.  Do 3 minutes of deep breathing Do 5 minutes of mindfulness exercises Read a book Dim the lights Drink bedtime tea   3. CREATE HEALTHY RELATIONSHIPS AND ALLOW OTHERS TO SUPPORT YOU Friends, family, and faith communities can support you as you work through difficult situations (even if you don’t feel comfortable sharing with them). While you never have to do anything you don’t want to do, it can be very helpful to find one or two trusted friends or family members who will listen without judgment and offer the empathy and compassion you need to heal.  If this isn’t an option, we suggest you think about joining a support group with other people who have been through traumatic and abusive situations.    Abusive relationships break down your trust in other people and keeps you isolated.  Remaining socially isolated can keep you feeling down and dependent on unhealthy relationships.  It is also common for individuals who receive constant criticism, judgment, and rejection from past abusers to experience feelings of unsafety in social relationships or a fear of being negatively evaluated and rejected by others.   If social isolation has crept up on you, it’s time to reconnect.  Healthy relationships have been linked to an increased sense of worth and belonging and decreased stress. Not only this but engaging in healthy relationships also increases the release of those happy neurotransmitters called dopamine, giving you feelings of happiness and fulfillment. Consider doing the following: Go to lunch with a friend you have spoken to in a while. Invite a family member you enjoy to a movie. Say yes to an invitation when your feelings are telling you to stay home.  Engage in a social hobby to meet new people.   Don’t rush yourself, healing can take some time   Be patient and empathetic with yourself as you heal. Remind yourself that it’s okay to feel confused, scared, tense, angry, or any other emotions that come up.  These feelings are a normal part of the healing process and there is no rush to get past them. They are yours and it’s okay to sit with them and experience them. Having and experiencing painful feelings doesn’t make you anything except courageous. STEP 4:Set Boundaries Asserting your boundaries when in an emotionally abusive relationship can often antagonize abusers and escalate tension in the relationship. This happens because abusers don’t want you to have control of your life. The more control you begin to take back, the more they begin to feel out of control and chaotic.  Learning how to implement and assert healthy boundaries between you and other people is a necessary step in your journey to retake control over your life WHAT IS A BOUNDARY? Healthy boundaries are indicators that let you and others know when they are crossing over from their space into your space. Just like the fence with a gate in your front yard or your front door, some people should be allowed in and some people shouldn’t.  People who are being abused often have no boundaries and are completely enmeshed with their abusers.  After people have been hurt, they can often erect impenetrable boundaries that keep EVERYONE out.  Both of these are unhealthy.  Healthy boundaries allow the right people in and keep the wrong people out. Boundaries also let you and everyone else know where YOU begin and where YOU end; what areas of your life are under your control and which are not.    Below is a list of everything that should be within your boundaries, and therefore under YOUR control.  Your thoughts Your emotions Your attitude Your choices Your behaviors Healthy boundaries give you control over these areas and allow you to recognize when others are attempting to take your control from you.  In addition, healthy boundaries let you know when others are holding you responsible for areas you are not responsible for: their thoughts, emotions, attitudes, choices, and behaviors. When you have healthy boundaries, you should notice these changes: You won’t need to defend yourself: You don’t need to defend yourself for anything within your boundaries or feel guilty for having your own needs, wants, or desires. This is as ridiculous as defending what things you keep in your house to your neighbor. It’s not their house and so it’s not their business.   You won’t take it personally: When someone has a problem with what’s within your boundaries, it’s exactly that, their problem. If an abuser doesn’t like the way you act, think, or feel or hold you responsible for how THEY think, act or feel, this is also their problem, not yours. These things have nothing to do with you so you should not feel ashamed, guilty or anything else about it.  You won’t try to make them understand: Trying to make other people understand and approve of what is within your boundaries is like trying to explain to your neighbor why it’s okay for you to love that ugly brown couch you’ve had since college. If that couch is in YOUR living room, the only person’s approval you need is your own!   STEP 5: Know When to Seek Help Knowledge is power.  Emotional abusers want you to depend on them to determine who you are and how you should see the world. The more knowledge you have, the more power you will have to get your life back under your control.    While working through past and present abuse and the emotional trauma it brings into your life is a difficult process, there are many resources and avenues available to help you along the way.  “You don’t have to wait until the house is falling apart to fix the windows” is true. Therapy can be a helpful resource for you no matter where in the healing process you find yourself. Here is a list of indicators that may be helpful to you when considering if it’s time to seek professional help. EMOTIONAL PROCESSING You have got over the breakup but not the emotions: Your feelings are too powerful to face alone, and you want help to process.  Your past trauma is too much to handle alone. You think you may be depressed.  You feel afraid or anxious often.  You’re experiencing nightmares, flashbacks, or your startle easily.  You find that you’re not able to manage your day-to-day responsibilities.  You’re having problems sleeping You have been using mood-altering substances to cope. Consider the steps outlined above and you will be well on your way to healing from the wounds of emotional abuse. There is hope for you! Is Complete Recovery Possible After Emotional Abuse? I believe we can conquer all of these horrible side-effects after emotional abuse is out of our lives. Some effects will take more time than others. Trusting myself seems to be at the core of it all. You may not be done healing, but you will completely heal. You will completely trust myself. It will be sooner rather than later. It can happen for you, too.  I would urge you to seek support with this from a trusted source, perhaps that is by you seeking mental health therapy where you can get some guidance on how to recover back to healthy.    Recovery is possible!  I wish you the best of luck in your journey. Kindly, Gaynor    ]
(MA, LCSW)
Answered on 10/23/2021

I need help eliminating my obsessive thoughts about my x. I find myself lurking on his profile etc

Hello, I first want to say that I am glad that you survived the abuse. Each year, a lot of people lose their life from domestic violence. When I think about the obsessive behavior that you speak of, I feel as if you have been dealing with this person for a significant amount of time and it became the norm for you. He had total control over you by using violence. There may be several reasons why you were not the one to leave due to safety concerns. However, the fact that he did leave should prove to be the best possible outcome for your quality of life.  Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) focuses on the relationship between thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. It will be beneficial to explore your thoughts and feelings about your ex and the past relationship. Hopefully, that can explain why you are engaging in obsessive behavior.  Once you find the root cause of your behavior, you will need to have further interventions to refrain from doing the unwanted behaviors.  There are also other questions/factors that can be considered, such as: How long were you in the relationship? What kind of relationship do you have with your family? What kind of relationship does he have with his family? Do you have a support system? Were either of you abused as children? Do you have any issues with self esteem?   Since you have been out of the relationship, have you had any counseling? I believe that Cognitive Processing Therapy(CPT) would be a good choice for addressing your trauma. CPT is a form of CBT that focuses primarily in "stuck points" that are preventing a person from healing or making progress from their trauma. This method looks at the traumatic event, your beliefs about the event, and the feelings that arise from the trauma.  Even though your relationship was unhealthy, it would also be worth it to ask him for specific answers regarding his past behaviors. Sometimes people can move on after getting the answers that they seek from their abuser.  I hope that this information provides you with some insight to help you.   Sabrina     
(MA, LPC, CRC)
Answered on 10/23/2021

Cross generational trauma reenactment how is it diagnosed, treated and is this mental disorder

As you can see above, it looks like your question was cut off and that you did not finish what you intended to ask. However based on what I have seen I will assume that you are asking me about something that is sometimes referred to as "trauma reenactment syndrome.", Or more commonly understood as a. Component of posttraumatic stress disorder.  This is a simplified answer to a complex situation but it is very common to experience this in response to childhood abuse or trauma. Traumatic memories almost always eventually spill over into other areas of one's life, but when and gown That occurs depends on each person.  It is the mind's attempt to try and resolve and process what happened and can show up in emotional,  ( depression, panic attacks/anxiety, anger outbursts or behavioral and physical /symptoms Such as Stomach issues, migraines, etc. These physical symptoms and behaviors are usually intrusive and can negatively affect other areas of someone's life, but can be treated.  The severity of how reenactment presents itself Depends on how well someone is able to keep memory suppressed.  Most people find that eventually,  past trauma will push to the surface and need to be resolved.  It is common for symptoms not to present themselves for years and then to be triggered by something that is "the straw that breaks the camel's back" and causes many emotions and memories to occur. Since it is a reflection of trauma,  it does qualify as a "mental diagnosis" but again can be treated.  Because I am not present during your current custody battle I cannot advise specifically but I hope that this at least answers your question. I do strongly encourage whoever is involved to seek regular individual counseling and or family counseling as appropriate.  When treatment is being sought, it is important to remember that who is involved in those sessions should be handled carefully because a victim has a right to feel safe in any interaction and not be required to be accidentally re-victimized by such things as sessions Or visits with the abuser, for example.  Medication is also a possible thing to consider in order to help control the intensity of symptoms especially depression or anxiety.  
(LCSW, MSSW)
Answered on 10/23/2021

How can I get over the physical and psychological abuse I experienced two years ago?

Dear Andrew, I am very sorry for the pain you have endured. It is very hard to trust a person, and for that person to violate your trust and to shatter it, in your case, with violence and abuse. I am glad you are not in that relationship anymore. I just want to bring to your attention that counseling services are available and at no cost concerning Domestic violence. Your traumatic relationship with your ex, screams Domestic Violence. I hope that you will reach out and you would call in your area to be able to enroll in services that are available to you. I commend you for identifying the problem, and for reaching out to find out about available services. What you talked about in your story translates as abuse. Abuse comes in many forms. Emotional embarrassment, humiliation, physical abuse, sexual or mental abuse. You have endured physical or sexual abuse if a boyfriend has physically or sexually assaulted you. The only way to deal with an abusive boyfriend is to end the relationship as quickly as possible to keep yourself safe. There are three major steps to deal with abusive relationships: Getting away from abuse, moving on, and staying safe. Each of these steps has a meticulous plan. 1-     Getting help: there are often local resources to help victims of abuse. If you are not sure where to start, or if you just want to talk to someone about whether your relationship is abusive, try one of the following resources. Be careful and watchful when seeking help. The National Domestic Violence Hotline 1-800-799-7233 (SAFE). http://www.thehotline.org/  2-     Please make sure to not excuse or dismiss abusive behavior. It is very common for abusers to lead victims to believe that the abuse is the victim's fault. A boyfriend acting aggressive, violent, or manipulative towards you is not your fault.  3-     Please plan to end the relationship immediately. Physical and emotional abuse is to be considered a deal-breaker for a relationship. Decide what steps you need to take to stay safe after you leave.   4-     End the relationship safely. You should make it clear that you are ending the relationship with no hope of restarting it in the future.  ·     Do not try to end the relationship while you are at home alone with your abuser. Your attempt may cause his abuse to escalate, and you might be putting yourself in serious danger. ·     Consider breaking up in writing or over the phone and keep records. ·     Be short and to-the-point. You should close the door fully on the relationship. It is important that you speak with a professional who can help you with the next steps. As soon as possible, you should get in touch with a domestic abuse counselor and learn about your options moving forward. They would help you to receive counseling and they have information to help you even if you do not have the financial ability to pay for the services. Keep records of any attempts that your partner takes to get in touch with you after breaking up. Write down a description of events that happen in person or on the telephone, and keep any physical evidence such as emails, social media messages, or text messages. You need to document all of the correspondence that you receive, particularly if it contains threats of violence. If you are able to, you should document any physical abuse that happened while you were with the abuser or that he inflicts after the breakup. Once you break up, do not go back, attempt to contact, or reconcile with your partner. It is over. If you've suffered abuse, there's nothing to discuss. Abuse ends relationships. Avoid coming in contact with your abuser. Avoid places that you know he frequents and change your own routine so that he will not necessarily know where you are at all times. If you go to school with your abuser or work with your abuser, or otherwise see him frequently, try to ignore his presence as much as possible. You can also talk to your boss, the HR department, or a school counselor about changing your work location, work hours, or class schedule to keep yourself safe. It is common for victims of domestic abuse to feel as though they have brought the abuse upon themselves. This is due to the manipulation of their abusers; no one is responsible for bringing abuse on themselves. After the abuse has ended, work on building yourself back up from the place that you were in the abusive relationship. ·     Seek therapy to work on your self-confidence. ·     Rely on friends and family to rebuild your social connections. ·     Seek healthy new relationships that are entire without abuse   Make an appointment with a domestic violence counselor. It is critically important that you talk to someone that understands the psychological trauma of abuse. Seek out a local domestic violence support group and attend as soon as possible to begin the process of healing. Let yourself be angry. It might take a while for it to come on. Anger is not bad; it can be a catalyst for change. Go running. Take yoga. Sweat your rage out. Be careful not to translate your anger into risky or self-destructive behaviors, and try to process it safely. Focus on building yourself back up. Abuse chips away at your defenses until you are left exposed and raw. It can be a long process of building yourself back up into the unique, lovable, interesting person that you are and that you deserve to be. ·     Let yourself mourn for a time, and then get busy. ·     Try to avoid focusing too much on ideas about lost time and regret. ·     Focus on the positives: You took an important step in ending your relationship and moving forward. ·     Look forward to the future. ·     Spend time with loved ones.  ·     Be kind to yourself”.  Dr. Aboulhosn, LMHC, LMFT, CCSOTS
(PHD, LMFT, LMHC)
Answered on 10/23/2021

A coworker shared nude photos of me with other colleagues. How do I deal with the humiliation

To have something so personal and private, taken and exposed to others without your consent, constitutes a profound violation. Legally, this is referred to as nonconsensual image sharing, or "revenge porn," and there are now several states in the US where this type of offense can be prosecuted. I share this to validate that you have experienced a violation and a highly distressing event that is, unfortunately, becoming more common.  Image-based abuse is often accompanied by anxiety, depression, a sense of a loss of control over one's body, and shame. Your central question: "How do I deal with the humiliation?" speaks to this. A fundamental step to finding healing is to first identify what you are experiencing, and you've already done this here, which is good work on your part. The first link at the bottom further defines this emotion, but I'm also going to give a brief overview here:  Humiliation is a form of shame.  Shame is a painful emotion that causes a profound sense of disconnection from others.  Shame signals that we have missed the mark; that something about us as a person is flawed. With humiliation, there is the added element of public exposure. Shame signals us to shut down or hide. Ideally, this "shut down" period gives us space to consider if we have done something wrong, and if we have, make changes so that we can re-engage with our social group.  In your situation, however, you are NOT responsible for the disconnection, even though you are left feeling its weight. The more you can share your sense of shame with trusted others (i.e., a very close friend or therapist) while placing responsibility for the disconnection and violation squarely on the shoulders of the co-worker's wife, the more you will be able to let the humiliation go. For example, you may be plagued by the thought, "my coworkers will never take me seriously again."  Yet, in reality, it is your coworker's wife who will likely not be taken seriously again for showing someone else's private photos to mutual colleagues. Unprofessional doesn't even begin to describe the egregious nature of this action.  A second way to regain a sense of safety and control is to consider what options you may have to ensure your photos are removed from the coworker's wife's device permanently if they ended up stored on her device - or anyone else's depending on how she shared or showed them to your colleagues. Some resources can help you navigate this, such as the Cyber Civil Rights Initiative (third link at the bottom).  This answer is in no way intended to oversimplify your situation. Each situation like this is unique, just like any traumatic event. The second link below contains additional education about Image-based abuse. Talking to a counselor, even if it's on a short-term basis, to help process and determine the best next steps (ie: taking legal action or not, how to talk to Human Resources at your company, setting boundaries for future safety) could be very beneficial. Regardless, anyone you choose to open up to about this should be a good listener, non-judgemental, and able to allow you to come up with your own path forward that works best for you and your work situation.  May the courage you have already demonstrated in seeking help only grow as you move forward.  Sincerely, Shannon Garretson, LCSW  https://psiloveyou.xyz/these-4-concepts-by-brené-brown-can-make-you-shame-resilient-9c4ab6dfb78 https://blog.oup.com/2019/09/the-long-trauma-of-revenge-porn/ https://www.cybercivilrights.org  
Answered on 10/23/2021

How do I know my sexual orientation?

I am so sorry to hear that you are struggling with feeling unsure about your sexuality and that you were abused growing up. It will be important to recognize when your feelings have a purpose versus when they do not.  We of course want positive feelings in our lives, but sometimes negative feelings are there for a reason and we need to live out that purpose in order for it to get better.  If we do not live out the purpose of our feelings, it likely leads us to feel worse.  For example, something as simple as having anxiety about needing to get the chores done has the purpose of getting us motivated to get the chores done.  Therefore, if we do not live out that purpose and the chores remain undone, that can lead to more bad feelings, such as, “I am lazy” or “I am worthless.”  This is a simple example of how if we do not pay attention to our feelings and live out the purpose, they can become much, much worse.  So, I would encourage you to try and separate out the thoughts that have a purpose from the thoughts that do not have a purpose and are more intrusive.    For the ones that do have a purpose, it can be helpful to allow yourself to think through the anxious thoughts because anxiety has a nasty way of going to the worst possible scenario.  If you can wrap your head around that scenario, it can make it less scary.  For example, I had a client that was very anxious daily about being single for the rest of his life.  Thinking to that extreme is clearly anxiety and it just lingers there.  So, then he was able to think through that scenario and come up with a plan to make it less scary.  He then came up with that if he really is going to be single the rest of his life, which is highly unlikely, he is going to work towards being able to live close to the ocean since that is a dream of his.  Thinking about it now does not make him as scared because he recognizes he could be happy with that. So, try to think through specific things you are anxious about that have a purpose and make sure you have a specific plan on how to improve those things. For example, having a specific plan for how to address specific fears you have around your sexuality.       Intrusive thoughts tend to not have a purpose and it can be really helpful to try and overpower those before they are accepted as truths.   We can have power over our thoughts and I want to help you not engage in these thoughts that make you so upset.  The easiest example of this that I can think of is if I went skydiving.  If I went skydiving I would have some obvious, rational, anxious thoughts.  If I really have a desire to skydive though I will need to not engage in those thoughts.  I might have thoughts such as, "My parachute could fail, I will hit the ground, I am going to pass out, etc."  However, since I really want to follow through with skydiving, I would want to stop those thoughts in their tracks with, "I know this is going to be really fun, they inspect the parachutes ahead of time, people hardly ever get hurt doing this, etc."  By focusing on those thoughts and not engaging in the others, I would be able to follow through with skydiving. Try to sort through any thoughts that get you down about yourself and that you can’t handle all of this and try to overpower those.  These types of thoughts are very common when dealing with feeling unsure about your sexuality.   As you do those processes it can be helpful to validate yourself as someone of worth no matter what your sexuality is. Something that could be helpful for you is what I like to call centering thoughts.  These are thoughts that are predetermined and unique to you for you to turn to in low moments.  They need to be powerful enough to bring you back to your center.  It is important that these thoughts are accessible for you to look at when you need to.  Some clients prefer to read and re-read them and some prefer to write and re-write them until they feel better.  I have clients that write these somewhere they will see daily such as their bathroom mirror or phone background, while others simply have them in their phone to pull out when they need to.  An example of a centering thought would be from a client I had that related to nautical-themed things and her thought was, "I will not let this sink me."  Another example is from an Olympic skier that actually had difficulties with negative thinking getting in the way of her performance so she went to therapy.  She mentioned that she learned about centering thoughts to battle all of the people telling her she “should be” or “should do.”  To battle those thoughts, she uses the simple centering thought of, “I am.”  She can then remind herself that she is good enough, that she is confident, and that she does want to still compete, which really affirms her own feelings and not others.  Hopefully, you can come up with something that helps validate your worth and abilities to move forward.       I hope that some of this is helpful and that you can apply it to your circumstances.  I hope that you can lean on some family and/or friends through this.  Doing so can help take the weight off of your shoulders as well as hopefully get some valuable advice from them. Try to take the healing one day at a time and adding one positive thing back into your life each day. I wish you all the best and I hope that you are staying safe.
(MA, LPC, NCC)
Answered on 10/23/2021

I need to start a new life at 47, leave my neglectful husband of 9 years.

Hello Tess08, I am sorry to hear you are feeling so dissatisfied in your current relationship and that you feel as if your partner does not love you/has been cruel to you. I do not know, but I am guessing you have tried to resolve things with him and to communicate how he is making you feel. If you have not; I do think that is a good place to start. Often marital problems can be resolved by learning to communicate better with one another; this can start by you expressing how his actions/behaviors are making you feel. If you have had those conversations, and your husband is not willing to make any changes/you are not able to resolve the conflict then I think it is about reminding yourself why you are wanting to end things and to really think through what your values are and what your worth is.  If you find yourself in an abusive relationship, I want you to remember that : You are not to blame for being mistreated. You are not the cause of your partner’s abusive behavior. You deserve to be treated with respect. You deserve a safe and happy life. Your son deserves a safe and happy life. You are not alone and there are people waiting to help.   I know it can be challenging to leave an unhealthy relationship and that the thought maybe bringing up any range of emotions for you from confusion to fear. It can be helpful to talk and meet with a trained mental health professional about what you are experiencing. They can help you work through what has happened and help you to come up with an action plan for you and your son.    There are many counselors here on BetterHelp who are ready to work with you. There are also great resources if you are fearful for your safety should you leave your husband. You can call the Domestic Violence support hotline at any time 24/7 at 800.799.SAFE (7233). They can connect you with resources in your area as well.   It can be hard to leave an abusive relationship, but you do not have to do this alone! I encourage you to seek support during this time. I wish you well and hope that you are able to separate yourself from your husband. Best wishes!
(MSW, LCSW, CADC)
Answered on 10/23/2021

Steps on how to manage panic attacks and depressive episodes,what to do when drugs don’t calm you

There are various methods and techniques that are helpful in handling the symptoms that you mentioned in your question. Without all the details, it sounds like you are connecting the depression and panic to what happened to you at a young age. Typically, EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) would be a therapist-led intervention to "rewire" your brain regarding that memory. It may take one session or several sessions; however, a therapist trained in that would want to make sure you have some calming skills such as Mindfulness practices of deep breathing, meditation, living in the present before conducting EMDR. Mindfulness practices, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), and Emotional Freedom Tapping (EFT) also help with calming and rewiring your brain. Your therapist would want to more about you and other stressors that impact your life before engaging in any of the methods or techniques I mentioned. I do know that I have had good success with the integration of Mindfulness, EMDR, and EFT for the symptoms and issues you mentioned in your question. Should you wish to know more about each of the therapies I mentioned above, in this day and age, you can always scan the internet to read more about them. There are also apps for your phone that can be used to help with Mindfulness such as Calm, Serenity, and Headspace. There are also worksheets that are free on the web to help guide you in thinking about situations differently, which does impact depression and panic moments. While there is information out on the Web with EMDR and EFT, it is definitely recommended that a trained professional utilize those techniques within a counseling session. If you do engage in therapy and desire to use those techniques, I would make sure you do know if your therapist has training and practice in those areas. It does sound like it would be helpful for you to spend some time in therapy to assist with the ongoing symptoms that you have described. Many therapists would be familiar with CBT and Mindfulness, but not all therapists can use EMDR and EFT. I wish you the best in the resolution of the issues you described in your question.
(LCMHC, LPC, NCC)
Answered on 10/23/2021

Should I forgive them?

You are not obligated to engage in any relationship that is uncomfortable for you.  Abuse is very serious and you have a right to your feelings. It is important that you set boundaries and you give yourself time to heal.  No one can tell you how long that will take.  If your parents are actually getting help for their actions, they should also be learning about boundaries and your right as an individual to have your space. This process will take time, patience, and understanding.  You must take care of yourself and work on healing for yourself and for your future relationships.    Only you know the pain that the relationship has caused.  It is important that you have supportive people around you and people who are empathic and actually hear your voice.  Your parents may want to rush the process and maybe implying that you need to just forgive, forget and move on and so many others.  Do not allow others to dictate your healing process. You need to be around supportive and empathic people who do not feel sorry for your but can help you process your feelings and thoughts in a healthy way.   You make the choice on how much involvement you want to have with your parents. If you want to communicate with them, let them know that you need time to heal and give them specific ways they can support you.    Also if you choose to engage with them further,  be specific on how that should look and what you need from them.   I hope you have to nurture and care for the people around you.  Remember, it is important that you forgive them but that does not mean that you forget and that you rush to include them in your life.  You may have heard the phrase that 'hurt people hurt people' meaning when people are hurting, they tend to hurt those around them. Many times it is their loved ones and people the closest to them.  Some who abuse, have been abused themselves.  I am glad your parents are finally getting the help they need. Now it is time for you to get the help you need so that you can properly heal. 
Answered on 10/23/2021

What is the best type of help?

Good day Jonesy, and thank you for taking the time to reach out for help. Let me first state that I am deeply sorry for the experience you have had with regards to the you have endured while growing up. Traumatic experiences of any kind often do result in distressing and negative experiences and symptoms.   The answer to your question is not so simple, but i will certainly do my best to provide you with some clarification and resources that will help you to hopefully better understand your experience and how to work through and potentially resolve the distressing symptoms and experiences you are having. As is usually the case in circumstances pertaining to childhood emotional abuse and trauma, psychotherapy in combination with medication are often the best and most efficient treatments. However, depending on the severity of one's experience and symptoms, there are absolutely other means of recovering from distress and one can certainly try any of them and should they not prove to be effective, utilizing additional and/or different resources would be the healthiest way of proceeding along your journey of recovery towards a happy, healthy, and joyous life experience. With that being said, most often an individual’s being “triggered” can be attributed to Anxiety. Anxiety is also a common outcome as a result of traumatic experiences and "threats" to one's self, either physically or psychologically. Anxiety can have a paralyzing affect on a person. This "fear" can often present as isolation, avoidance, and withdrawal from relationships. As for wanting to attempt to begin your journey of recovery and healing, the following are some very good resources to start with should you want to attempt to work through the issues by yourself or without professional help. However, I must say that I would highly encourage you to have a supportive person identified whom you can turn to for support should the workbook begin to have you address things or if you start to experience things as a result of the workbook's guidance that becomes overwhelming and distressing for you. -The PTSD Workbook: Simple, Effective Techniques for Overcoming Traumatic Stress Symptoms Workbook Third Edition by Mary Beth Williams (Author), Soili Poijula (Author) *In the third edition of The PTSD Workbook, psychologists and trauma experts Mary Beth Williams and Soili Poijula offer readers the most effective tools available for overcoming post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). -Complex PTSD Workbook: A Mind-Body Approach To Regaining Emotional Control And Becoming Whole by Arielle Schwartz -The Dialectical Behavior Therapy Skills Workbook for PTSD (A New Harbinger Self-Help Workbook)by Kirby Reutter -The Cognitive Behavioral Coping Skills Workbook for PTSD: Overcome Fear and Anxiety and Reclaim Your Life (A New Harbinger Self-Help Workbook) by Matthew T Tull PhD (Author), Kim L. Gratz PhD (Author), Alexander L. Chapman PhD RPsych (Author).   In regards to working through and healing from the abuse you wrote about, there are several different therapeutic techniques and approaches that address root traumas and “heal that pain inside” so to speak, by therapeutically addressing the cause as opposed to the symptoms. Traumatic Incident Reduction (TIR), Accelerated Resolution Therapy (ART), and Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR).   As I am certified in TIR, I will speak on that method first. TIR is a rapid (compared to traditional therapy) method of effectively reducing traumatic stress from emotionally and/or physically painful events in the past. It involves re-experiencing past traumas in a completely safe environment, free of distractions, judgments, or interpretations.   When something happens that is physically or emotionally painful, one has the option of (1) either confronting it fully and feeling the pain, or (2) trying in some way to block one’s awareness of it. In the first case, the action of experiencing (perceiving and understanding) what has occurred is allowed to go to completion and the incident becomes a past incident. However, in the second case, the action of experiencing that incident is blocked. That is, one represses the incident, and the incident (together with the intention not to experience it, and any other intentions and activities present in the incident), continues to exist as ongoing unfinished business. Such traumatic incidents may continue to exert negative effects. We say such incidents carry charge defined as “repressed, unfulfilled intention”. This blocking activity is a self-protective impulse. It “works” to a certain extent, but it can cause us to have attention and awareness tied up in incidents from the past. This has a dulling effect on our ability to perceive, to respond intelligently in the present, and to enjoy our current environment. Unexamined, unresolved past events tie up our energy and intention. Traumatic Incident Reduction provides a safe space and the means to fully examine that which had been blocked. A past incident loses its ability to hurt us at the point where we have looked it through and through. In the process, we release our resistance as well as the painful emotion and negative thought patterns contained in that past trauma. At the point where the incident has been fully viewed, we feel our attention become un-stuck from it and often have some realization. This is called an endpoint. The idea that present difficulties may be caused by past traumatic incidents is not a new one. It was with the recognition of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) as a major difficulty for many returning Vietnam Vets, that it was given a higher profile. Once the phenomenon was clearly recognized, PTSD was easily identifiable among other populations, such as rape survivors and victims of natural disasters. People with PTSD are severely incapacitated by ongoing, uncontrolled remembrance of their traumas. In effect, they are continually reliving these incidents. Although survivors of trauma who have PTSD and flashbacks offer perhaps the most dramatic example of living in the past, the phenomenon of having attention fixated on past incidents is quite common to people in general. In normal life, most people can be triggered into a momentary or prolonged reliving of past traumas of varying degrees of severity, with attendant negative feelings and behavior. TIR is a technique designed to examine the cognitive, emotional, perceptual, or other content of past incidents, to reduce or eliminate the emotional charge contained in them, and thus to relieve a person of their negative consequences, whether or not a diagnosis of PTSD applies to the person.   In the great majority of cases, TIR correctly applied results in the complete and permanent elimination of PTSD symptomatology. It also provides valuable insights, which the viewer (or client) arrives at quite spontaneously, without any prompting from the facilitator (practitioner), and hence can “own” entirely as his/her own. By providing a means for completely confronting a painful incident, TIR can and does deliver relief from the negative effects, enabling the person to move on. The resolution of past traumatic incidents can bring about a greatly improved quality of life. You can find practitioners who are trained in TIR all around the world by using this link: https://www.tira.org/find-a-practitioner/   Accelerated Resolution Therapy (ART) is an evidenced-based, rapid-eye-movement therapy for the treatment of trauma, anxiety, depression, sleep problems, self-esteem problems, and other issues. Research shows that the course of treatment averages between three and four sessions. The gains made from ART therapy were still in effect 4 months after its conclusion. The cost of this therapy is comparable to most other mental health therapies. The key concepts of Accelerated Resolution Therapy include memory reconsolidation and smooth-pursuit eye movements. Together, these techniques help patients deal with issues like trauma, anxiety, depression, or sleep problems. When we remember an emotionally-based memory, one of the natural processes that occur in our brains is the “unfixing” or malleability of the memory. Scientists refer to this natural phenomenon as “Memory Reconsolidation.” Science has shown that the memory remains “malleable” in a period called the Reconsolidation Window for about 6 hours after recalling it. During this period, under the direction of the therapist, the client would imaginatively create new images that are peaceful or evoke pleasant feelings and replace the old troubling images that were previously paired with fear, anger, or other distressing emotions. Research shows that the new images and the accompanying positive feelings are still attached to the memory at follow-up 4 months after the treatment has ended. There are other published studies that show that the replacement images and positive feelings are still present as long as one year later. These improvements suggest that the therapy can be long-lasting. Another effective ingredient of ART is the use of “smooth pursuit” eye movements. Imagine an audience watching a tennis match, their eyes, gliding back and forth as they follow the ball from one side of the court to the other, This example demonstrates smooth pursuit eye movements. There is evidence that this kind of eye movement, over a period of time, relates to a relaxation response in the brain. The ART therapist would use their hand, moving it smoothly back and forth at a comfortable distance from the client, and ask the client to keep their head still and just track the hand. This exercise results in the engagement of smooth-pursuit eye movements. While eye movements have been extensively studied, there is still no definitive “proof” of how they work beyond creating the relaxation response. One popular hypothesis is that when a client is engaging in smooth-pursuit eye movements, they are roughly replicating Rapid Eye Movements (REMs) which occur while we are dreaming. It’s intuitive that dream simulation could somehow be used to solve problems and feel better about them, as indicated by expressions such as “sleep on it, you will feel better in the morning.” However, when we are asleep and dreaming, much of the rational/thinking part of our brains is asleep. Perhaps this is why our problem-solving capacity while sleeping is limited. Some suggest that while we do ART, all of the brain is awake and participating in the voluntary process of image replacement. The image replacement is thought to automatically cause us to have the peaceful or positive feelings the arise with the new images selected. ART therapy is a “Manualized” protocol, meaning each therapist is taught how to proceed through an ART therapy session following a step-by-step procedure. The therapist is in control of which step the client is working on and the order of the steps. However, the client is always in complete control of the content of their experience. In other words, when the client is recalling a memory that illustrates the problem they are working on, they have complete control over the details of what they are imagining. In the same way, the client has total control over what new images they select to replace the old images that they do not want to see or experience any more. Another important distinction is that a client can choose not to tell the therapist parts or all of the problem that they are working on, as well as the imaginative replacements that they think up and use in the recalled memory. If the client wishes, they can speak with the therapist outside of the explanations about the next step in the protocol. The therapist, however, will try and hold the talking to a minimum so that the client has plenty of time in the session to complete the changes that the client makes in their mind’s eye. Reticent clients may prefer ART. Moreover, talking and sharing about the session can briefly occur in that session and at greater length in a subsequent session if that is what the client wishes. ART is different from hypnosis. The client retains their ability to be consciously aware of their surroundings (externally) and what they are working on (internally). Sometimes clients do report that they feel very relaxed or even a little sleepy during an ART session. It is thought that this may be the natural result of the relaxation of the brain found to coincide with smooth-pursuit eye movements. Sometimes people feel uncomfortable with the idea of changing images, as well as corresponding feelings, attached to troubling memories in a purposeful way. However, the client is given the information about Memory Reconsolidation to explain the scientific understanding that this is a natural process that we all engage in whenever we recall an emotionally based memory. With ART, we are taking advantage of this natural process and purposefully and consciously selecting replacement images to replace the formerly upsetting ones.   And finally, EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) is a psychotherapy that enables people to heal from the symptoms and emotional distress that are the result of disturbing life experiences.  Repeated studies show that by using EMDR therapy people can experience the benefits of psychotherapy that once took years to make a difference. It is widely assumed that severe emotional pain requires a long time to heal.  EMDR therapy shows that the mind can in fact heal from psychological trauma much as the body recovers from physical trauma.  When you cut your hand, your body works to close the wound.  If a foreign object or repeated injury irritates the wound, it festers and causes pain.  Once the block is removed, healing resumes.  EMDR therapy demonstrates that a similar sequence of events occurs with mental processes.  The brain’s information processing system naturally moves toward mental health.  If the system is blocked or imbalanced by the impact of a disturbing event, the emotional wound festers and can cause intense suffering.  Once the block is removed, healing resumes.  Using the detailed protocols and procedures learned in EMDR therapy training sessions, clinicians help clients activate their natural healing processes.   More than 30 positive controlled outcome studies have been done on EMDR therapy.  Some of the studies show that 84%-90% of single-trauma victims no longer have post-traumatic stress disorder after only three 90-minute sessions.  Another study, funded by the HMO Kaiser Permanente, found that 100% of the single-trauma victims and 77% of multiple trauma victims no longer were diagnosed with PTSD after only six 50-minute sessions. In another study, 77% of combat veterans were free of PTSD in 12 sessions. There has been so much research on EMDR therapy that it is now recognized as an effective form of treatment for trauma and other disturbing experiences by organizations such as the American Psychiatric Association, the World Health Organization and the Department of Defense. Given the worldwide recognition as an effective treatment of trauma, you can easily see how EMDR therapy would be effective in treating the “everyday” memories that are the reason people have low self-esteem, feelings of powerlessness, and all the myriad problems that bring them in for therapy. Over 100,000 clinicians throughout the world use the therapy.  Millions of people have been treated successfully over the past 25 years. EMDR therapy is an eight-phase treatment.  Eye movements (or other bilateral stimulation) are used during one part of the session.  After the clinician has determined which memory to target first, he asks the client to hold different aspects of that event or thought in mind and to use his eyes to track the therapist’s hand as it moves back and forth across the client’s field of vision.  As this happens, for reasons believed by a Harvard researcher to be connected with the biological mechanisms involved in Rapid Eye Movement (REM) sleep, internal associations arise and the clients begin to process the memory and disturbing feelings. In successful EMDR therapy, the meaning of painful events is transformed on an emotional level.  For instance, a rape victim shifts from feeling horror and self-disgust to holding the firm belief that, “I survived it and I am strong.”  Unlike talk therapy, the insights clients gain in EMDR therapy result not so much from clinician interpretation, but from the client’s own accelerated intellectual and emotional processes.  The net effect is that clients conclude EMDR therapy feeling empowered by the very experiences that once debased them.  Their wounds have not just closed, they have transformed. As a natural outcome of the EMDR therapeutic process, the clients’ thoughts, feelings and behavior are all robust indicators of emotional health and resolution—all without speaking in detail or doing homework used in other therapies.   EMDR therapy combines different elements to maximize treatment effects. It involves attention to three time periods:  the past, present, and future.  Focus is given to past disturbing memories and related events.  Also, it is given to current situations that cause distress, and to developing the skills and attitudes needed for positive future actions.  With EMDR therapy, these items are addressed using an eight-phase treatment approach.   Phase 1:  The first phase is a history-taking session(s).  The therapist assesses the client’s readiness and develops a treatment plan.  Client and therapist identify possible targets for EMDR processing.  These include distressing memories and current situations that cause emotional distress.  Other targets may include related incidents in the past.  Emphasis is placed on the development of specific skills and behaviors that will be needed by the client in future situations. Initial EMDR processing may be directed to childhood events rather than to adult onset stressors or the identified critical incident if the client had a problematic childhood. Clients generally gain insight on their situations, the emotional distress resolves and they start to change their behaviors.  The length of treatment depends upon the number of traumas and the age of PTSD onset.  Generally, those with single event adult onset trauma can be successfully treated in under 5 hours.  Multiple trauma victims may require a longer treatment time.   Phase 2:  During the second phase of treatment, the therapist ensures that the client has several different ways of handling emotional distress.  The therapist may teach the client a variety of imagery and stress reduction techniques the client can use during and between sessions. A goal of EMDR therapy is to produce rapid and effective change while the client maintains equilibrium during and between sessions.   Phases 3-6:  In phases three to six, a target is identified and processed using EMDR therapy procedures.  These involve the client identifying three things:   1.  The vivid visual image related to the memory   2.  A negative belief about self   3.  Related emotions and body sensations.   In addition, the client identifies a positive belief.  The therapist helps the client rate the positive belief as well as the intensity of the negative emotions.  After this, the client is instructed to focus on the image, negative thought, and body sensations while simultaneously engaging in EMDR processing using sets of bilateral stimulation.  These sets may include eye movements, taps, or tones.  The type and length of these sets is different for each client.  At this point, the EMDR client is instructed to just notice whatever spontaneously happens. After each set of stimulation, the clinician instructs the client to let his/her mind go blank and to notice whatever thought, feeling, image, memory, or sensation comes to mind.  Depending upon the client’s report, the clinician will choose the next focus of attention.  These repeated sets with directed focused attention occur numerous times throughout the session.  If the client becomes distressed or has difficulty in progressing, the therapist follows established procedures to help the client get back on track. When the client reports no distress related to the targeted memory, (s)he is asked to think of the preferred positive belief that was identified at the beginning of the session.  At this time, the client may adjust the positive belief if necessary, and then focus on it during the next set of distressing events.   Phase 7:  In phase seven, closure, the therapist asks the client to keep a log during the week.  The log should document any related material that may arise.  It serves to remind the client of the self-calming activities that were mastered in phase two.   Phase 8:  The next session begins with phase eight.  Phase eight consists of examining the progress made thus far.  The EMDR treatment processes all related historical events, current incidents that elicit distress, and future events that will require different responses.   Overall, I would recommend any of the three therapies that I’ve mentioned in this response.   Above all else, for any general state of "well-being" and certainly to aide in your journey, I will leave you with some tips on self-care: Self-care means taking time to do things you enjoy. Usually, self-care involves everyday activities that you find relaxing, fun, or energizing. These activities could be as simple as reading a book, or as big as taking a vacation. Self-care also means taking care of yourself. This means eating regular meals, getting enough sleep, caring for personal hygiene, and anything else that maintains good health. Make self-care a priority. There will always be other things to do, but don't let these interrupt the time you set aside for self-care. Self-care should be given the same importance as other responsibilities. Set specific self-care goals. It's difficult to follow through with vague goals, such as "I will take more time for self-care". Instead, try something specific, such as "I will walk for 30 minutes every evening after dinner". Make self-care a habit. Just like eating one apple doesn't eliminate health problems, using self-care just once won't have much effect on reducing stress. Choose activities that you can do often, and that you will stick with. Set boundaries to protect your self-care. You don't need a major obligation to say "no" to others— your self-care is reason enough. Remind yourself that your needs are as important as anyone else's. A few minutes of self-care is better than no self-care. Set an alarm reminding you to take regular breaks, even if it's just a walk around the block, or an uninterrupted snack. Oftentimes, stepping away will energize you to work more efficiently when you return. Unhealthy activities don't count as self-care. Substance use, over-eating, and other unhealthy behaviors might hide uncomfortable emotions temporarily, but they cause more problems in the long run. Keep up with self-care, even when you're feeling good. Doing so will keep you in a healthy routine. Plus, self-care might be part of the reason why you're feeling good! I wish you all the best in your journey of recovery and please don't hesitate to reach out to me should you desire any further information, resources, or support
(LMHC, MCAP, TIRF)
Answered on 10/23/2021

How do you heal from infant neglect when you don’t trust anyone, not even yourself ???

Hello there, I give you so much credit for reaching out and trying to process your trauma. That is no small feat! From what you are telling me, I think EMDR could be extremely beneficial for you. I am going to share some information below, on EMDR, that is taken from EMDR.com. You can also go to this website to find an EMDR specialist near you. EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) is a psychotherapy that enables people to heal from the symptoms and emotional distress that are the result of disturbing life experiences.  Repeated studies show that by using EMDR therapy people can experience the benefits of psychotherapy that once took years to make a difference. It is widely assumed that severe emotional pain requires a long time to heal.  EMDR therapy shows that the mind can in fact heal from psychological trauma much as the body recovers from physical trauma.  When you cut your hand, your body works to close the wound.  If a foreign object or repeated injury irritates the wound, it festers and causes pain.  Once the block is removed, healing resumes.  EMDR therapy demonstrates that a similar sequence of events occurs with mental processes.  The brain’s information processing system naturally moves toward mental health.  If the system is blocked or imbalanced by the impact of a disturbing event, the emotional wound festers and can cause intense suffering.  Once the block is removed, healing resumes.  Using the detailed protocols and procedures learned in EMDR therapy training sessions, clinicians help clients activate their natural healing processes. More than 30 positive controlled outcome studies have been done on EMDR therapy.  Some of the studies show that 84%-90% of single-trauma victims no longer have post-traumatic stress disorder after only three 90-minute sessions.  Another study, funded by the HMO Kaiser Permanente, found that 100% of the single-trauma victims and 77% of multiple trauma victims no longer were diagnosed with PTSD after only six 50-minute sessions. In another study, 77% of combat veterans were free of PTSD in 12 sessions. There has been so much research on EMDR therapy that it is now recognized as an effective form of treatment for trauma and other disturbing experiences by organizations such as the American Psychiatric Association, the World Health Organization and the Department of Defense. Given the worldwide recognition as an effective treatment of trauma, you can easily see how EMDR therapy would be effective in treating the “everyday” memories that are the reason people have low self-esteem, feelings of powerlessness, and all the myriad problems that bring them in for therapy. Over 100,000 clinicians throughout the world use the therapy.  Millions of people have been treated successfully over the past 25 years. EMDR therapy is an eight-phase treatment.  Eye movements (or other bilateral stimulation) are used during one part of the session.  After the clinician has determined which memory to target first, he asks the client to hold different aspects of that event or thought in mind and to use his eyes to track the therapist’s hand as it moves back and forth across the client’s field of vision.  As this happens, for reasons believed by a Harvard researcher to be connected with the biological mechanisms involved in Rapid Eye Movement (REM) sleep, internal associations arise and the clients begin to process the memory and disturbing feelings. In successful EMDR therapy, the meaning of painful events is transformed on an emotional level.  For instance, a rape victim shifts from feeling horror and self-disgust to holding the firm belief that, “I survived it and I am strong.”  Unlike talk therapy, the insights clients gain in EMDR therapy result not so much from clinician interpretation, but from the client’s own accelerated intellectual and emotional processes.  The net effect is that clients conclude EMDR therapy feeling empowered by the very experiences that once debased them.  Their wounds have not just closed, they have transformed. As a natural outcome of the EMDR therapeutic process, the clients’ thoughts, feelings and behavior are all robust indicators of emotional health and resolution—all without speaking in detail or doing homework used in other therapies.   TREATMENT DESCRIPTION EMDR therapy combines different elements to maximize treatment effects.  A full description of the theory, sequence of treatment, and research on protocols and active mechanisms can be found in F. Shapiro (2001) Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing:  Basic principles, protocols and procedures (2nd edition) New York: Guilford Press. EMDR therapy involves attention to three time periods:  the past, present, and future.  Focus is given to past disturbing memories and related events.  Also, it is given to current situations that cause distress, and to developing the skills and attitudes needed for positive future actions.  With EMDR therapy, these items are addressed using an eight-phase treatment approach. Phase 1:  The first phase is a history-taking session(s).  The therapist assesses the client’s readiness and develops a treatment plan.  Client and therapist identify possible targets for EMDR processing.  These include distressing memories and current situations that cause emotional distress.  Other targets may include related incidents in the past.  Emphasis is placed on the development of specific skills and behaviors that will be needed by the client in future situations. Initial EMDR processing may be directed to childhood events rather than to adult onset stressors or the identified critical incident if the client had a problematic childhood.  Clients generally gain insight on their situations, the emotional distress resolves and they start to change their behaviors.  The length of treatment depends upon the number of traumas and the age of PTSD onset.  Generally, those with single event adult onset trauma can be successfully treated in under 5 hours.  Multiple trauma victims may require a longer treatment time. Phase 2:  During the second phase of treatment, the therapist ensures that the client has several different ways of handling emotional distress.  The therapist may teach the client a variety of imagery and stress reduction techniques the client can use during and between sessions. A goal of EMDR therapy is to produce rapid and effective change while the client maintains equilibrium during and between sessions. Phases 3-6:  In phases three to six, a target is identified and processed using EMDR therapy procedures.  These involve the client identifying three things:1.  The vivid visual image related to the memory2.  A negative belief about self3.  Related emotions and body sensations. In addition, the client identifies a positive belief.  The therapist helps the client rate the positive belief as well as the intensity of the negative emotions.  After this, the client is instructed to focus on the image, negative thought, and body sensations while simultaneously engaging in EMDR processing using sets of bilateral stimulation.  These sets may include eye movements, taps, or tones.  The type and length of these sets is different for each client.  At this point, the EMDR client is instructed to just notice whatever spontaneously happens. After each set of stimulation, the clinician instructs the client to let his/her mind go blank and to notice whatever thought, feeling, image, memory, or sensation comes to mind.  Depending upon the client’s report, the clinician will choose the next focus of attention.  These repeated sets with directed focused attention occur numerous times throughout the session.  If the client becomes distressed or has difficulty in progressing, the therapist follows established procedures to help the client get back on track. When the client reports no distress related to the targeted memory, (s)he is asked to think of the preferred positive belief that was identified at the beginning of the session.  At this time, the client may adjust the positive belief if necessary, and then focus on it during the next set of distressing events. Phase 7:  In phase seven, closure, the therapist asks the client to keep a log during the week.  The log should document any related material that may arise.  It serves to remind the client of the self-calming activities that were mastered in phase two. Phase 8:  The next session begins with phase eight.  Phase eight consists of examining the progress made thus far.  The EMDR treatment processes all related historical events, current incidents that elicit distress, and future events that will require different responses
(LPC, NCC, CEDS-S)
Answered on 10/23/2021

I am currently experiencing workplace bullying by my direct supervisor. What should I do?

Hi Stacy, I am so sorry to hear that you are dealing with this issue in your workplace.  This is EXTREMELY inappropriate - obviously.  I want to first commend you for how you have tried to handle this situation already.  We always want to follow the chain of command in a professional setting (I learned that lesson the hard way) and you did that.  When there was no progress or change, you escalated it to the next level and when that didn't work, you approached the perpetrator directly.  Bravo!  The fact that you saw some improvement, however brief, shows that there was some awareness on the perpetrator's part.  The reality of the situation is, if you wanted to be hard-nosed about this you can escalate this to your human resources department and get them involved.  If your company does not have a human resources department, the reality is that you could obtain legal representation and that would put a halt to this behavior immediately.  BUT, I'm sensing that you would like to try to avoid that route if at all possible.  In that case, I would suggest repeating all of your steps, but in writing! I would explicitly outline the efforts and steps you have made to rectify this issue and share that you are now putting this in writing so that all parties involved have a written record of the offenses and the complaints.  Bottom line is that they are creating a hostile work environment and can endure heavy penalties, or if you choose to not return and you had legal representation you could get some money paid to you from the company.  But that's a legal fix - from a clinical fix - I would do the letter. Once they have the letter, I would not accept this behavior from the perpetrator.  I would verbally remind them that you will no longer be engaging or allowing this type of behavior.  If they persist, I would verbally let them know that you are disengaging and leave the meeting or discussion.  I would keep a record of all interactions and what was said and if by chance you get a bad review or God forbid you are let go, I would not hesitate to find legal representation to fight this.  Many lawyers will work on a contingency fee basis and take a percentage of whatever is awarded to you from the courts.   Just because you are in a position beneath the perpetrator does not mean that you have to accept this kind of behavior.  Sometimes people find it easier to deal with this kind of behavior because there are self-esteem or confidence issues, but I would always work with my clients on "knowing their own truth" and with that foundation come from a base of confidence.  I truly hope I have given some information that will be helpful for you in navigating this challenge in your workplace.  Good luck!  Diana
(LPC, FT)
Answered on 10/23/2021

How can I stop abusing & using alcohol?

I am so sorry to hear that you are struggling with a possible addiction to alcohol. A lot of times addictions are related to unaddressed feelings that alcohol helps distract from. It will be important to recognize when your feelings have a purpose versus when they do not.  We of course want positive feelings in our lives, but sometimes negative feelings are there for a reason and we need to live out that purpose in order for it to get better.  If we do not live out the purpose of our feelings, it likely leads us to feel worse.  For example, something as simple as having anxiety about needing to get the chores done has the purpose of getting us motivated to get the chores done.  Therefore, if we do not live out that purpose and the chores remain undone, that can lead to more bad feelings, such as, “I am lazy” or “I am worthless.”  This is a simple example of how if we do not pay attention to our feelings and live out the purpose, they can become much, much worse.  So, I would encourage you to try and separate out the thoughts that have a purpose from the thoughts that do not have a purpose and are more intrusive.    For the ones that do have a purpose, it can be helpful to allow yourself to think through the anxious thoughts because anxiety has a nasty way of going to the worst possible scenario.  If you can wrap your head around that scenario, it can make it less scary.  For example, I had a client that was very anxious daily about being single for the rest of his life.  Thinking to that extreme is clearly anxiety and it just lingers there.  So, then he was able to think through that scenario and come up with a plan to make it less scary.  He then came up with that if he really is going to be single the rest of his life, which is highly unlikely, he is going to work towards being able to live close to the ocean since that is a dream of his.  Thinking about it now does not make him as scared because he recognizes he could be happy with that. So, try to think through specific things you are anxious about that have a purpose and make sure you have a specific plan on how to improve those things. For example, having a specific plan for how to address specific triggers that lead you to drink.   Intrusive thoughts tend to not have a purpose and it can be really helpful to try and overpower those before they are accepted as truths.   We can have power over our thoughts and I want to help you not engage in these thoughts that make you so upset.  The easiest example of this that I can think of is if I went skydiving.  If I went skydiving I would have some obvious, rational, anxious thoughts.  If I really have a desire to skydive though I will need to not engage in those thoughts.  I might have thoughts such as, "My parachute could fail, I will hit the ground, I am going to pass out, etc."  However, since I really want to follow through with skydiving, I would want to stop those thoughts in their tracks with, "I know this is going to be really fun, they inspect the parachutes ahead of time, people hardly ever get hurt doing this, etc."  By focusing on those thoughts and not engaging in the others, I would be able to follow through with skydiving. Try to sort through any thoughts that get you down about yourself and that you can’t handle all of this and try to overpower those.  These types of thoughts are very common when dealing with this kind of addiction.   As you do those processes it can be helpful to validate yourself as someone who has been able to persevere through difficult circumstances in the past.  Something that could be helpful for you is what I like to call centering thoughts.  These are thoughts that are predetermined and unique to you for you to turn to in low moments.  They need to be powerful enough to bring you back to your center.  It is important that these thoughts are accessible for you to look at when you need to.  Some clients prefer to read and re-read them and some prefer to write and re-write them until they feel better.  I have clients that write these somewhere they will see daily such as their bathroom mirror or phone background, while others simply have them in their phone to pull out when they need to.  An example of a centering thought would be from a client I had that related to nautical-themed things and her thought was, "I will not let this sink me."  Another example is from an Olympic skier that actually had difficulties with negative thinking getting in the way of her performance so she went to therapy.  She mentioned that she learned about centering thoughts to battle all of the people telling her she “should be” or “should do.”  To battle those thoughts, she uses the simple centering thought of, “I am.”  She can then remind herself that she is good enough, that she is confident, and that she does want to still compete, which really affirms her own feelings and not others.  Hopefully, you can come up with something that helps validate your worth and abilities to move forward.       I hope that some of this is helpful and that you can apply it to your circumstances.  I hope that you can lean on some family and/or friends through this.  Doing so can help take the weight off of your shoulders as well as hopefully get some valuable advice from them. Try to take the healing one day at a time and adding one positive thing back into your life each day. I wish you all the best and I hope that you are staying safe.
(MA, LPC, NCC)
Answered on 10/23/2021

What can I do about my mom?

Ugh. I'm so sorry that you're going through this -- it can't be easy. It stinks when someone we love is hard on us, because we love them so much, that we often take what they say to heart. I'm not sure what your relationship with your mother looks like typically, but it doesn't sound as though it's something that's healthy for you right in this moment. If you live at home, that can make this even more difficult, because you have to rely on her for domestic-related things. However, it doesn't mean that you can't emotionally distance yourself from her. There's a phrase that is often used in AA (unrelated to your situation), that I always found kind of inspiring, when it comes to loving someone that makes it really difficult, given their toxicity: "emotional detachment." It's a really neat phrase, in that it doesn't mean that you have to physically distance yourself (because, often, you can't), but rather implies that you can detach ENOUGH that you can maintain a relationship of sorts, while also maintaining your emotional stability; learning to love someone, without letting their actions destroy or negatively affect you. The key to that is to realize that their choices are not up to you -- those are their choices and their choices alone; it has nothing to do with you or anything that you're doing. Your mom may not be a fan of your relationship (for whatever reason), but that doesn't mean that you aren't allowed to participate in that relationship -- that's YOUR choice, no one else. Recognize that your choices are yours and that your mother's choices are hers and it's as simple as that. Be confident in your own choices -- recognize that you're strong enough, smart enough, and worthy enough to make your own decisions, insomuch that you don't need the approval of someone who is reacting on their own accord. And honestly, your mom may have some deep-seated issues, herself, which is causing her to react to YOUR situation (see what I did there -- YOUR situation, not hers). If that's the case, though, it has nothing to do with anything that you're doing and has a lot more to do with her own issues. It sounds as though you need to work a little bit more on your self-confidence and ability to love/trust yourself. Don't doubt yourself -- you have everything in the world going for you. Be confident in your ability to make your own choices and work towards recognizing that your mom's issues are just that -- hers -- it's not related to you in any capacity. Is she allowed to worry about you? Sure, she's your mom. That being said, it's okay to be assertive with her. Tell her that you don't appreciate her comments and that you're going to choose to step away whenever she chooses to voice them. Respect yourself enough to not stand for the disrespect. Even if/when it's difficult to do, I'm here to remind you that you're allowed to demand both love and respect from anyone that you have in your life. You are worthy of that. Don't be afraid to be assertive for it.
(MS, LPC, NCC)
Answered on 10/23/2021

I am not sure if I am blaming my issues mostly with weight and laziness on being raped.

The short answer is: it depends, but probably yes.   Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) occurs when a person is traumatized (and this certainly sounds traumatizing)  and then they have a very hard time sort of putting it out of their mind.  The trauma continues to creep (or explode) into their life in problematic ways.   If this traumatic event affected things like the way you feel about yourself, the way you think other people see you, then it could be a piece of what has driven this stuff for you.  Common reactions to trauma include things like: Feeling like the trauma is happening again, and negative beliefs about yourself like "I am worthless", or "I am broken".  If you believe these negative things about yourself, then it makes sense to act in ways that reflect that.  If I think that I am a worthless person, then why should I try hard in school or college, and why should I be concerned with my appearance.  Those are responses that make sense given those circumstances.     The other piece of PTSD is the reminders, the feeling like the trauma is happening again.  This is related to the way the brain keeps track of danger.  Human brains want to remember dangerous things so as to keep us alive.  So our brains remember the terrible things and then connect them to triggers, sometimes the triggers make sense, and sometimes they are not logical.  In your case, I would guess that your triggers could be your brother, and possibly the room that this occurred in.     And I guess the other question is what do I do now? What can I do about the fact that this happened and has been a driving force in my life for so long?  Being able to see what is going on and seeing the pattern is somewhat helpful, but it is not enough.  It is about breaking the pattern.  Breaking the pattern takes slowing down the automatic thought process, seeing what is going on and how is it triggering me, what is my automatic reaction to this event, and then what is the "smart" reaction to this event.     A method I like to use is to start small, start with a very small goal.  If you want to be less lazy, what is one small step toward getting closer to that, maybe it is getting up at a certain time every day, even if the rest of the day is not very productive, start with that small step, and get pretty good at it, then start layering in another goal that is not too much on top, that usually helps them progress to not feel overwhelming?     There is also some benefit from connecting to the trauma and feeling the feelings associated with it.  Feelings around the trauma can be scary, but by processing it they can become less so, the triggers are not as intense after doing some of that processing.  
Answered on 10/23/2021