Depression Answers

Hi. I am feeling very negative and hopeless in life

Hi, Thanks for reaching out!  I'm sorry you are going through a tough time but am hopeful that you can get some things in place to help you into the right direction. Sometimes when there is a significant loss in life, particularly that of a parent, that type of grief can have a deep impact on all other aspects of life, including other interpersonal relationships.  The thing with grief as well, as a person navigates through the grieving process, there is no timetable, it isn't linear, and you can "revisit" a stage of the grief cycle at any point after a person's loss.  The five stages are denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance.  Some people never fully get to that acceptance point, and if they do, they don't stay there, and that's okay, but sometimes those people need some additional support as well.  Sometimes people fall into what is called complicated grief, which pretty much means that you are so impacted by the loss of your loved one that you have difficulty resuming other parts of your life.  This may be the case of finding difficulty seeing possibility or hope in your current or future relationships.  Feeling hopeless in any area of life is not something you want to be experiencing, particularly if you are feeling burdened by it or like you can't get out of it. Speaking to a therapist, either in person or virtually, maybe one that specializes in grief to start with, may really help you work through some issues you are experiencing with your grief and help you find ways to find hope in your future again.  They can also help you identify and prioritize what is important to you in a partner and why, and maybe help you get more of a sense of hope in that aspect as well.  It is important to address how you are feeling now, before you get into a deeper place of depression and it is harder to work out of.  Best of luck to you, and please feel free to reach out if you need anything more in the future!
Answered on 11/18/2022

How to cope with losing my wife and mom

I am very sorry that you are struggling with the loss of your wife and mom. That is a tremendous loss for you to have gone through and the way you're feeling would be expected after experiencing such life changing events. I am not sure of the circumstances of the loss of your wife and your mom and whether it happened recently or if you are still grieving these losses for quite a while now. Either way, there are specific stages of grief and loss that people go through and there isn't really a timeline on how quickly people go through the stages and sometimes they might get stuck on one particular stage. It sounds like you are in the depression or sadness stage. This stage usually comes after denial and anger. Some people start their stages of grief and loss with depression, especially is they knew the death was going to happen due to a prolonged illness. In these cases, people will actually go through the denial and anger phases while their loved one is still alive. Again, I am not sure of the circumstances of your losses and this might not apply to your situation. Usually the first year of the loss is the hardest because you experience all of the birthdays, holidays, and anniversaries without your loved one. These days that were once happy and enjoyable are now sad because your loved one isn't there to celebrate with you. This can leave a great void in your life as a result. You will also not have the same amount of enjoyment you once had with the things that made you happy in your life. You may find yourself longing to share your joy with your missing loved one but cannot which can be especially difficult. Being patient with yourself and acknowledging that the way you are feeling will not last forever but also knowing that you might not ever return to the level of happy you were before you lost your loved ones. It is important to get support from friends and other family members to help maximize the joy you feel in your life. If people offer to help or do things with you, take them up on it even if you don't feel like it at the moment. Most times you will end up feeling glad that you said yes to their offer. It is like not wanting to go to the gym but then feeling better after your workout. It is also important to look for new forms of happy that might not necessarily be associated with the memory of your loved one. This can help you to create new experiences that are unique to your life as it is now and not the way it was when your loved ones were here. Attending a grief support group might also be helpful, especially a loss of a spouse support group. These are great ways to connect with others who are experiencing the same feelings you are going through and often you can make new friends and sources of support and joy from these types of groups. Not sleeping well can make all of the symptoms you are experiencing worse so try to develop a healthy bedtime routine to get better quality sleep. This includes avoiding caffiene late in the day, minimizing your screen time a few hours before bed and refraining from watching depressing programs like the news or murder mysteries. These can stimulate your brain in a negative way and keep you from getting to sleep or being able to stay asleep. Talk to your doctor about getting a sleep aid if this situation doesn't resolve soon. Sleep is so important. Your lack of sleep might be due to not having adequate serotonin levels which can be depleted after prolonged periods of stress. Losing a spouse is actually one of the most stressful things to go through. You may want to talk to your doctor about medication to help restore your serotonin levels. This will also help with not feeling social, not enjoying your work and not feeling happy with your life.  I can't really comment to your feelings of doubt and conflict because I am not sure what these feelings are about but hopefully you can talk this through with your therapist. I am glad you are taking advantage of Better Help and getting the much needed support as you transition through this very difficult time in your life. Try to keep in mind that these feelings are temporary and it will get better but it will be difficult for a while. Let others help you if they offer and reach out for support if they haven't offered. Many times people are honored to help someone who is struggling and is so glad they were asked for support. I hope this helps to address your concerns and I hope things get better for you soon. Take care
(LCSW, CEDS, Mary, Beth, R, Blackwell)
Answered on 11/16/2022

I am depressed and I don't know what to do anymore

Sounds to me like you are depressed and mourning.  Essentially, you are suffering a significant loss and you seem to be grieving the loss.  That is totally ok to do right now considering the fact that you were probably very close with your boyfriend.  At some point, you will have to move from mourning the loss towards honoring it and allowing that wound to heal so that you can move forward.  It sounds cliche, but you have to be good on your own before you can be good with anyone else.  Many people get into relationships just because they are "afraid" of being alone or when they are not mentally or emotionally stable.  Typically, those relationships wind up being with significant others who are toxic and further hurt/traumatize the other person. Learn to love you.  Place your focus on your needs not your wants.  There is a distinct difference.  Wants are typically superficial and/or materialistic.  "I want a sports car, but I can live without it."  You can't survive without having your needs met.  You can use food and water for examples.  If you don't have those, you could not survive.  So put it into practice.  Do you want or need a significant other?  Do you want or need to go on a vacation?  Do you want or need to go out and party tonight? When in a relationship, you want to pay attention to resentment as well since that is the catalyst for relationship decompensation.  It usually happens when one or both people in a relationship are not getting there physical or emotional needs met.  They try to voice their need for change to occur, but the other person doesn't change.  Then the resentment grows until the relationship falls apart (break up, cheating, divorce, etc.).  Also, you are an individual and have your own path.  Just because other people have careers and families doesn't mean you are "behind the ball".  It just means you haven't gotten there yet.  You will in your own time.   If you want to start a career, then that is what you do.  If you want to go to see a movie, then go.  You don't need anyone else, but you.  
Answered on 11/15/2022

How can I move on and be happy when everyone leaves me and hurts me?

Hi NP! It is really great that you are reaching out for support at this time. I can tell that you have been feeling concerned about how you will be able to move forward from your past experiences. I hope to give you some guidance and insight on how to manage your thoughts and feelings in addition to help you uncover what you could do next as you navigate your journey of self discovery. It appears that you have been trying to be the bigger person. You mentioned that you have been focusing on forgiving other people for their actions. This speaks to your many strengths, including your sense of bravery, resiliency and maturity. What are some of the barriers to seeking out forgiveness for others? Are you finding it tiring or exhausting to always be the better person in social situations? Take some time to reflect on your current role as a friend in your relationships. Where would you say that you are at in the process of forgiveness? Perhaps you can utilize a positive, self affirming statement as a means to seek out forgiveness from within yourself! Here is an example of a positive affirmation that encompasses the principle of forgiveness: "I free myself from anger and resent. I choose forgiveness as a guiding force and empowering principle." For more ideas and positive affirmations, check out the daily reflections written by Louise Hay. Here is the link to the website: https://www.louisehay.com/affirmations/ I realize that you have been trying to move on and feel happy. That is a really great goal that you have set for yourself. In addition, I recognize that you have been trying to pretend that everything is okay. What are some of the pro's and con's to pretending that things are alright with you? How long have you been trying to pretend for? How has this behavior been working for you? I would be interested in hearing more details about your experience with this. It sounds like you would benefit from building up your natural supports. I realize that you have been going through a lot. Who in your life is willing to support you? I want to encourage you to take some time to identify your social supports. Here is a link to the support circle worksheet that you can print out and complete when you have some time: https://www.citn.org.uk/resources/circle-of-support/ You mentioned that you have people in your life that say that they are your friends but, in turn, participate in activities without inviting or informing you about the plans. It sounds like this is a one way street, in that you are expected to be there for them, nonetheless. Have you considered writing in a therapeutic journal as a means to reflect on your past experiences? Journaling can be a wonderful way for you to organize your thoughts and express your feelings about your current relationships. There is a journal feature on the BetterHelp platform that provides clients with some ideas for daily writing and journal entries. You can pick an emoji that describes your current feelings and state of mind at the time of writing the journal entry. Sometimes writing down thoughts and feelings can be a valuable motivating factor, too! In addition, there are other resources for you to try when it comes to journaling. If you would like more information and ideas for journaling, check out the Therapeutic Writing Institute! What have you been doing to take care of yourself at this time? I recommend practicing self care skills as a means to manage your assessed self care needs. The BetterHelp therapists have access to a really great, in depth self care assessement that you can fill out if you choose to start therapy. In the meantime, do what you can to improve and build upon your self care skills. Be kind to yourself because you truly deserve it! Here is a link to some ideas for coping skills that you can incorporate into your self care routine: https://static1.squarespace.com/static/5c154cf9372b964a03cbccdb/t/5c488d65352f534aa63aa58a/1548258661324/100+Coping+Skills.pdf In addition to utilizing journaling techniques and self care skills, I recommend that you practice a variety of therapeutic drawing techniques. Therapeutic art making can be a holistic approach that facilitates the healing and recovery process. Draw a picture of your ideal friendship. What would that look like for you? Take some time to draw your feelings in lines, shapes and colors. Maybe you can draw a house, a tree and a person. You can consider drawing a bridge that goes from someplace to someplace. Mark what direction you are going in and where you are at on the bridge. Here is a link to more information about the therapeutic benefits of therapeutic art making: https://psychcentral.com/stress/art-therapy-ways-to-draw-your-stress-out#drawing-exercises At this time, I would like to recommend that you begin attending individual therapy sessions on a weekly or bi-weekly basis. It seems like you are open to trying out new ideas and learning new skills. I believe that you would find one on one counseling sessions to be helpful for you. You may find great joy by simply being heard.It sounds like you may also benefit greatly from attending a weekly support group. Would you be willing to meet other individuals and connect with others as a means to process your experiences in a therapeutic setting? There are a myriad of elements specific to group therapy that you may find to be healing and inspiring. In addition to attending individual and group counseling, you may benefit from going to a class or an activity. Perhaps you can join a pottery class, yoga class, photography group or a paint night! Thank you again for taking the time to reach out for support on the BetterHelp platform. I hope that my response has been helpful for you in some way. I want to wish you all the best on your therapeutic journey. Take good care and have a nice day!
(LMHC, ATR-P, MS, NCC)
Answered on 11/15/2022

Why is it as women we go through the ups and downs of life?

Hi Diamond!  I'm Maya, one of the therapists on Better Help.  Welcome!  I hope today is an "up" day for you.  I'm not sure it's true that women go through more "ups and downs" in life, I think it's just perhaps that women are more vocal about it, as we do tend to be more relational and more verbally expressive as a group, at least that is my general perception. By "ups and downs" I guess it may be possible that you're referring to both positive and negative life events that happen to you, and that happen to all of us.  But I have a feeling you're referring more so to your "up and down" (moody) emotional reaction to those events, or to random mood swings that don't seem to be tied to life events. If so, your question seems to be "why are women moody?"  Well, for that answer, I think we need to first look at why people in general are moody.  Well, I think there could be 101 reasons!  Humans are very complex and multi-faceted after all!  But if we look at "moods" as just a state of (somewhat prolonged) negative emotion, such as sadness or anxiety or irritability... then the question becomes a bit simpler.  It becomes 'what causes us to have uncomfortable or painful (negative) emotions?'  Again, the causes can be many, depending on what type of psychologist or therapist you ask.  And a neurologist might have a lot to say about it too, as would a spiritual guru.  Things can be looked at from different angles.   But personally, I believe it's our THOUGHTS that give rise to emotions.  That's right, I do not believe that 'ups and downs" are caused by life positive or negative life situations.  Those situations can definitely be triggers of course!  But they do not directly cause the emotions/moods.  What generates our emotions is the quality of our thoughts!  That's very good news, Diamond.  Because it means that you can literally CHOOSE your emotions (pick the pleasant ones!) by learning how to harness and direct your thoughts!  And that is what therapy is all about!  What kinds of thoughts create pleasant emotions and moods?  Thoughts that are logical rather than irrational.  Thoughts that are positive or balanced rather than negative or over-reactive.   Thoughts that are empowered rather than hopeless or helpless.   Thoughts that are accepting rather than judgmental or  blaming.  Optimistic rather pessimistic.  It is sometimes hard to think about life in those ways, and that's where therapy can help a lot.  Women do indeed have 'special' mood challenges... look up the symptoms of PMS.... pre-menstrual syndrome.... do you think it might describe what you're going through?  If yes, jump on to some reputable websites and blogs to find out some tips for dealing with it.  A therapist can help you deal with it too.  Now of course there are more serious 'moodiness' issues as well, that can be experienced by both women and men alike, like depression, cyclothymic disorder, or bipolar disorder. A therapist can help you figure out what sort of moodiness you have, and that can point the way towards ways to fix it.  You mention that you've been dealing with the 'ups and downs' more often, as you've been getting older.  And yet at age 30 you are (probably) not old enough yet to be experiencing the moodiness that is typically due to the hormone shifts in peri-menopause.  So I do have a theory (and it is JUST a theory) about why you may be feeling more moody now than you did in your 20's, Diamond!  I sense that life is generally experienced as "harder" for women in their 30's, because there is often more responsibility on the shoulders!  And more internal and external pressure to "succeed" whatever THAT means.  And just more accountability expected, since you're well and truly "grown up" now.   And many 30-something women begin to grapple with questions like "what's the meaning and purpose of life, and of my life in general?"  or "what do I really need to be happy?" or "what do I want to do with my work life?"   The ticking biological clock can be stressful too, for women who wish to have a child. All of this stress can be overwhelming.  And that can make it hard to "talk yourself into" the kinds of thoughts that will help you stay in a good mood.  The stress can make it all too easy to fall prey to the kinds of thoughts that cause those negative emotions and 'bad' moods.  Therapy can help you cope with stress and problem-solve!  It's natural to want to ponder the "why" of things, as humans we are very curious creatures, but don't get too caught up in wondering "why" you feel or act the way you do, since the reasons can be many, and some of them may be quite hidden and hard to see.  Even if we are very talented at figuring out the reasons for things (or assuming that we have!) that insight might not get us very far, Diamond.  Because at the end of the day, we are probably going to have to learn to think and behave in different ways, to see the change in ourselves (or in our lives) that we want to see.  Insight alone will likely not be enough to get us there.  And guess what?  We can often make positive changes without even knowing 'why' we are experiencing a given challenge like moodiness.  So I say don't delay!... if you are bothered by those ups and downs, get the help you need today!   Hope this answers your question, Diamond.   Maya 
(MS, LMFT)
Answered on 11/13/2022

I could use someone to talk to and get guidance from but don’t know where to start?

Hi Finn,  You don't say how long you've been teaching for exactly, but there is a lot to unpack there. Could it be the teaching job you are doing now that you're struggling with, would a different school/environment help you to feel better? Just something to think about. You describe that you go through ups and downs, could this be just a down phase, rather than you wanting to give up teaching completely? Again, just something to think about.  I'm wondering where that feeling of helplessness comes from and if that is playing a part, being in a new work environment can be overwhelming, and can lead to feeling a bit out of control.  You mention feeling like a failure in many areas of life, so I'm wondering what else might be going on for you to cause how you're feeling at the moment. However, even if you were to give up your teaching role, that in no way would make you a failure, it would make you someone who wants to be happy, and that is totally ok. Again I'm wondering where this feeling of failure comes from, and if it impacts on your self-esteem. Is this playing in to some insecurities? All that said, I'm a massive believer in that we all have it within us to be happy, and if you believe that teaching is what is causing you unhappiness, then maybe you do need to explore other options, and what they might look like for you.  You mention that you get stuck in your head, if you try to tune in to your heart or your instincts, what do they tell you? Are they all in alignment with what's in your head or are there any alternative voices there? What are they telling you?  You mentioned mindfulness and self care, but I'm wondering if you are doing any other activities outside of work that are just for you right now? Teaching is a full on career choice and so I'm wondering if you're getting enough downtime or doing the things that bring you joy.  Hope this helps...
Answered on 11/12/2022

How do I overcome feeling like I am not achieving anything in life?

Having depression whether it be mild, moderate, or severe can definitely block you from making progress towards achieving goals.  Especially goals that require physical activity.  And when you have been depressed for a long period of time, coming out of that depression can be even harder.  If you combine the depression with a traumatic past, you have a recipe for almost pure stagnation. Sometimes in order to move forward, you have to first process your past to assess for any unresolved trauma that could be holding you back.  This can be done through numerous types of therapies/treatments depending upon the individual and what works for them.  As you come to contentment in regards to your past traumas, you can then shift to working on the depression. If you are trying, you are winning.  Depression wants you to not move.  It wants you to be unhappy.  It wants you to stay in bed all day.  One thing that you can do to attempt to move out of being depressed and to increase physical activity is to use irritability/anger (symptoms of depression) as motivation rather than letting them consume you.  For example, you need to be able to recognize and attend to yourself when you are getting irritated with someone or something.  If you can slow down the process of getting angry, you can choose to leave the house and go for a walk or go to a room where you can punch something soft until you are tired.  Or you can just drop and start doing pushups.  Some of these things may sound ridiculous, but they are benefitting you two fold.  One because you are disengaging from whatever is contributing to your feelings of irritability and anger.  Two because you are physically exerting which is exercising that will improve mood, reduce anxiety, and help you hopefully feel that you are making progress.  You have to start somewhere otherwise nothing changes.  You need to choose to change and you will when you are ready and the time is right.  As long as you are breathing you are still alive and there is still hope.    
Answered on 11/11/2022

I don’t know what’s wrong with me

Hi Han! Thank you for reaching out here. I appreciate you taking the time to connect to the services available on the BetterHelp platform. It is truly a good sign that you have decided to reach out for support at this time. You did a great job of identifying the ways in which you have been experiencing difficulties lately. I hope that my response to your question helps in guiding you in your journey of self discovery! Based on what you wrote in your question, I can tell that you have many strengths that have yet to be uncovered. It appears that you have been dealing with anxious and intrusive thoughts. It sounds like the thoughts that you have been having are consistent with negative self talk. You may benefit from learning more about the cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) concept of Automatic Negative Thoughts (ANTs). The foundation of CBT principles is that thoughts, feelings and behaviors are interrelated and connected. Essentially, the founders of the ANTs theory purport that thought patterns can be cyclical and often repeat themselves in recurrent, maladaptive ways. Below is a link for additional information and insight into ANTs from the Positive Psychology website: https://positivepsychology.com/challenging-automatic-thoughts-positive-thoughts-worksheets/ My go-to treatment recommendation for navigating negative thoughts is to utilize positive affirmations. By practicing self affirming statements, individuals can actually interrupt negative thinking patterns and begin to break up the continuous cycle. An example of a positive affirmation that could work is: "I fill my day with loving thoughts. I feel safe in my body. Today, I choose to stay positive and practice the principles of patience and gratitude." The inspirational affirmations written by Louise Hay can be rejuvenating and healing. I recommend practicing affirmations multiple times per day. Write the quotes down on sticky notes, store them digitally in your phone and repeat these sayings aloud as you look in the mirror. Take some time to read "You Can Heal Your Life" by Louise Hay. This is the link to the daily affirmations written by Louise Hay: https://www.louisehay.com/affirmations/ In addition to experiencing intrusive thoughts, it sounds like you recognize that you have been experiencing mood swings. Would you say that these two experiences are correlated? Do the mood swings tend to happen after the intrusive thoughts arise, vice versa? Keep track of your moods in a daily planner or calendar. Try to notice patterns of mood changes over time. In addition to practicing affirmations and keeping a daily mood log, I recommend that you try out some mindfulness exercises. Essentially, mindfulness means being present in the current moment and removing judgement from the here and now. You mentioned that your thoughts just come and go. This experience is something that you can utilize as you learn mindfulness based techniques. Take some time to draw your thoughts and feelings in lines, shape and colors. The art making process can help cultivate spontaneity. You can enjoy an expressive experience as you draw, paint or color. Here is a link that provides an overview of additional mindfulness strategies: https://wellness.mcmaster.ca/your-health/mindfulness-and-relaxation/ I understand that having these mood swings can be incredibly difficult to navigate. The swift changes in mood combined with the anxious thoughts could be a contributing factor for stress, as you mentioned that you have been feeling nervous and stressed out lately. I can see how being in a constant state of heightened anxiety would be disconcerting and distressing, to say the least. What have you been doing to manage the feelings of stress that you have been experiencing? I will share with you a resource for stress management strategies: https://www.verywellmind.com/tips-to-reduce-stress-3145195 I realize that you sometimes have difficulty with maintaining healthy connections with the people in your life. Who, would you say, are the people in your support circle? Is there someone in your life who you feel comfortable with reaching out to for guidance and encouragement? Take some time to build upon your natural supports. It is imperative that you connect with the people in your life who you trust. It may be advantageous for you to begin attending individual counseling sessions on a weekly basis. It sounds like it will be beneficial for you to meet with a trained therapist on a regular basis in order to communicate, express and discuss your thoughts, feelings and experiences. In addition to starting individual therapy sessions, you may also want to consider attending a group or a groupinar on the BetterHelp platform. Becoming part of a group will help you to foster meaningful connections and establish healthy, supportive, relationships in a therapeutic setting. Thank you again, Han, for asking this essential question on the topic of managing challenging thoughts and emotions. I am so glad that you reach out for support. I hope that my response has been helpful for you in some way. I want to wish you all the best on your therapeutic journey. Take good care and have a good day!
(LMHC, ATR-P, MS, NCC)
Answered on 11/11/2022

How can I know my feelings?

Hi there, when something bad happens, it can leave us feeling sad, mad, helpless, disappointed, shamed, guilty, hurt, pain, and even anxious, it can be very confusing and leave us feeling conflicted about just how we feel, or should feel.  The emptiness you mentioned in your question is very real and painful.  There are a lot of factors that can make a difference such as: this time and what has happened in the past, with the same person or persons,  how we viewed what took place past and present, whether we are conflicted because of what was said, how it was said, when it was said, the surroundings when it was said, whether others were around when it was said--all of this makes a difference.   So not knowing the exact circumstances leaves us giving a VERY general answer. Many times we may have to "decipher" our own feelings and it sounds like that is where you are currently.  The feeling you have of being empty can also come from repeated instances of disappointment, discouragement and even a feeling of despair, which again can leave you confused and conflicted.   I often find many clients going through this type of confusion came from families where they often had to conform, many had learned to perform and did not have the "right" to be angry, the "right" to express their feelings without being ridiculed.  I find often when we don't know how we are "supposed" to react can be because we have not had the freedom, (whether real or imagined) to feel what THEY feel. We tend to conform to the guidelines and expectations of others.  You may have learned how to feel, how to think, how to act in order not to be made fun of, to be punished or shamed.  Making the decision to get in touch with the real you, not the one who has been "acting" or "performing" according to the predefined guidelines and family "rules" may very well help you with understanding your true feelings.  I believe the work to do this will be uneasy--at first, but so rewarding as you move toward feeling, touching, healing and releasing the old for the new.  I speak peace, love, and joy into all of who you are in your wonderful journey of discovery! 
(M.A., LPC)
Answered on 11/03/2022

How do I gain motivation and self worth?

Hi. You can talk back to your thoughts. You can even name it if you would like. You can call it a name like Bobby or something like "the worry monster." When you ask yourself "what if they're right?" reply with "What if they're wrong?" A couple ways to increase your self-esteem is to state a positive affirmation many times a day and also to say or list 3 of your qualities daily. State, "I am enough" repeatedly as you shower. Write "I am enough" on every mirror you own. Listen to an "I am enough meditation." You can find this on YouTube. I recommend one by Marisa Peer. However, if you don't like that one, choose one of your liking. Write "I am enough" on your hand. Set a reminder in your phone that goes off twice a day that says, "I am enough."  Think of 3 of your qualities daily. Write them down in a journal or look yourself in the mirror and say 3 kind things to yourself. Tell yourself the things you would have wanted to hear from your dad or brother, a boss, friend, anyone. Say things like "You're amazing!" "You're kind." "You're successful", etc. Listen to 3 Secrets to Boost Your Self-esteem by Marisa Peer on YouTube. Also listen to Why All Our Insecurities Come From This One Thing by Marisa Peer.  Think of 3 things you did right today. What does that say about you? If you listened to a co-worker, it could mean you're a good listener. If you finished a project, it could mean you're diligent. Another way to think of your qualities is to think of qualities you don't like in others such as lying. If you don't lie then you can say, "I am honest." Or what positive things do others say about you? Write it down.  We are operating from our subconscious 95% of the time. Your subconscious doesn't differentiate from fact and fiction. It will believe whatever is repeated enough. You only believe your dad and brother because you heard it 16 years. It wasn't true. You can reprogram your mind by telling it new affirmations like "I am enough" and reminding your subconscious of your positive qualities over and over again---every single day. Consistency is key.  It's great that you're exercising. Other things that build happiness are practicing gratitude (look up the scientific benefits of gratitude), meditating, positive journaling, acts of kindness, and fostering social relationships. 
Answered on 11/03/2022

What would advice would you tell a 20 year old about something you wish someone told you?

This is a really good question and one I believe a lot of young people are struggling with right now.  If I am going to stay strictly with the question of what would I tell a young adult that I wish someone had told me the response would be: "Work toward self-acceptance - that is key. Have experiences, remember you are young and all of your life is ahead of you.  This is the time to explore, find your passions, your interests and your people and nothing is out of bounds for you.  Find out who you really are and what you like, what you dislike and what you are willing to do and not do.  Be brave, have courage and remember that bravery and courage are not the absence of fear, they are proceeding in the face of fear.  Talk to people, find those who have your back through thick and thin and stick with them.  Give yourself grace and room to make errors. This means letting go of the idea of perfection - allow for mistakes from you and from the people you love.  Feel the feelings, identify what works for you in your belief system and get rid of what doesn't lift you up and improve your life when it comes to your thought processes.  If you have thoughts that are dragging you down, figure out the reasons, take what you need and leave the rest - there is no need to drag your bag of shame behind you throughout your life. You will have your own identity and that identity will grow and morph as you go through life - you will still be you underneath, just with new and developed layers!" That is the beginning of what I would say to a young adult that I wish someone had said to me.  I also wish someone had told me I am doing the best I can with what I have at any given point in time.  This is one of the truest statements I have ever heard and one I tell myself every day, whether things are going right or things have gone sideways somehow.  As an individual it is important to find our own levels of measurement with which to measure ourselves and in the young adult years we are usually still using someone else's measuring levels and believing we are failing horribly.  When we step back and take a real look at whose measurements we are trying to live up to it can give perspective on how we are looking at ourselves, what we are saying to ourselves and our own basic beliefs about ourselves.  Finding someone to help sort all of that out is vitally important and young adulthood is a great time to get started with that process! 
Answered on 11/01/2022

What can I do to improve my motivation and self care?

Hi Casey! Thank you so much for asking this valuable question. It is really good to hear that you are planning to improve your self care skills and build upon your intrinsic motivation. I can tell that you are preparing to make changes in your life based on your willingness to set goals for yourself. It seems like you are ready to begin the process of establishing a healthy self care routine. What would you say are your primary self care skills at this time? What are some of the first things that come to your mind? First and foremost, I want to let you know that I am truly sorry for your loss. I am sending my heartfelt condolences to you. When your dad passed away, how did you cope with the feelings that you had experienced at the time? I suspect that this loss must have been a truly challenging time for you and your family. I can only imagine what you must be going through. How are you feeling about things now? I hope that you are doing what you can to take care of yourself at this time. In your question, you mentioned that you have been having sudden changes in your overall mood, fogginess, tearfulness and feelings of being isolated. Also, you stated that you have been having trouble with sleeping and weight gain. Thank you for providing the details of your specific symptom presentation. How have you been managing these symptoms thus far? Are these symptoms impacting your ability to function in your environment, in your occupation or socially? I realize that this must have been an extremely difficult situation to deal with. Did these symptoms first arise in January, after your father passed, or had you experienced some of these things before? It appears that you are feeling like this is the best time for you to begin to make some changes. It sounds like you are ready to begin coping with the loss as well as overcome the feelings of sadness and isolation. I completely agree with your intention to allow your dad to rest peacefully. It is a really good goal to learn to manage the worried feeling that you have been having about your mental health. How often do you find yourself feeling worried? What have you been doing to address your concerns and worries? Are you feeling more worried on some days than others? What sort of things trigger your worry? What are some of the warning signs of worry? Based on what you wrote in your question, it sounds like you have come up with an action plan to further develop your self care skills in response to the loss. That sounds like a really awesome idea. Perhaps you are wondering where the best place could be to start. What steps have you made so far in identifying your strategies for self care? From my perspective, it may be beneficial for you to make a list of your hobbies, talents and interests. In my experience, it is a good idea for people to develop self care techniques based on activities that are of interest for the individual. I would like to encourage you to utilize your strengths and create a personalized self care routine that best suites your interests and assessed needs. In addition, it might be beneficial for you to look at some resources available online in order to make a list of self care skills. It is a good plan to establish a long list of self care skills in order to have many options to choose from in any given moment. I can share with you two different web links of ideas for coping skills and grounding exercises, all of which can be incorporated into your self care routine. https://static1.squarespace.com/static/5c154cf9372b964a03cbccdb/t/5c488d65352f534aa63aa58a/1548258661324/100+Coping+Skills.pdf https://www.healthline.com/health/grounding-techniques#physical-techniques At this time, I would like to encourage you to attend individual counseling sessions on a weekly or bi-weekly basis. Through individualized therapy appointments, you will likely gain some perspective as well as additional insight into your current experiences. In addition to one on one appointments, it seems like you could greatly benefit from attending group therapy or one of the groupinars on BetterHelp. It would be really great if you could interact with other individuals who may also be going through similar experiences. An area of focus for therapy could be on the topic of the grieving process. Identify where you are at in the stages of grief. This might give you some insight into how to manage your experience. It is completely up to you what you decide to pursue in order to heal from this experience. My hope for you is that, in the right time, you will begin to feel better about yourself and your situation. As an aspiring art therapist, I always recommend creating art work as fuel for healing. I would like to encourage you to draw a picture within a circle of your worries. Perhaps you can create a word splash of your triggers and draw a spontaneous scribble over the words. Maybe you can make a collage that depicts your relationship with your dad in a positive way. Gather some art supplies, such as colored pencils, markers and watercolor paints and draw a tree. If you draw a story, write a poem or create a mobile or a diorama, this may be useful for you in some way. It is true that emotional expression can be utilized as a driving energy force through drawing, coloring, sculpting and painting. Take some time to make art and you can turn this process into a powerful self care skill over time. Thank you again for your time in asking a question on the BetterHelp platform. I want to wish you all the best in your therapeutic journey! I hope that my response was helpful for you in some way. Have a wonderful day!
(LMHC, ATR-P, MS, NCC)
Answered on 11/01/2022

How do I manage stress and anxiety? Especially when the anxiety turns into feelings of depression?

Often depression and anxiety go hand in hand and it can be difficult to determine which comes first. However, it seems like you understand that it is your anxiety and worry about not getting things done that causes the depression.  One thing that might be worth looking into are the thoughts behind your anxiety. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is one way to start identifying the feelings that are creating the anxiety and then working on changing those behaviors.  It may be the same thought that is creating the anxiety repeatedly. For example, if you thought "I'll never be good enough. I won't get this done" then your brain is setting you up for failure. If you can capture that thought and change it to "This is overwhelming, but I think I can get it done. I'm just going to take one step at a time or maybe ask for help" it might alleviate some of that anxiety. You could also stop and think "What is the worst thing that can happen if I don't get this done?" Sometimes addressing the worst case scenario head on can be helpful because it takes the fear out of the situation.  Look for patterns in your thought process. Is it the same type of situations/thoughts that are creating the anxiety?  Are some days harder than others?  Once you realize that you are depressed is it easy to "snap" out of it or does it take some time? I'm so glad that you are able to recognize that you are spiraling because hopefully that will make it easier to catch yourself before you head to that dark place. Sometimes it is just about the facts. I'm overwhelmed. I don't have enough time to complete this---these thoughts may all be your facts but modifying them by changing it to "I will get it done, but maybe not in this time frame."  or "My worth is not based on my work." or even "I should ask for some help--this is too much for just me right now" will eventually allow you to feel less anxiety.  I know I make all this sound like it is easy, but it does take being mindful and practicing.  Take care of you, Amy
Answered on 10/31/2022

What is wrong with me?

Dear Flo, Thank you for your message.  I am sorry to hear that you are struggling with depression and anxiety.  We may often feel that we don't really understand why we are feeling depressed or anxious.  We try to search for answers but we don't get any.  However I must say that our past has a lot to do with how we feel in our present lives.  Something that may have happened in our life could have impacted us - without us even realizing this.  It may then come back to haunt us in some way.  I note that you say you don't remember must about your childhood and I wonder why this could be.  I am wondering whether you could have blocked some of your memories as you could not process them appropriately as child?  It is worth exploring this further. You say you have felt this way for a long time.  It must be very hard for you to feel so low and yet carry on with your life.  I would encourage you to speak to a therapist who could support you with dealing with these issues. In the meantime, even thought there are many tools available, I would also encourage you to maintain a daily routine and create a structure in your life so that it promotes a sense of control and also it might ease the feelings of depression and anxiety. I would also suggest to you to try doing at least one positive thing every day that would give you some happiness.  For example, going for a walk, meeting a friend for a coffee, listening to music, reading etc.  It might even be as simple as cooking your favorite meal and enjoying it.  When you do something that makes you happy (even though it might be for a short while only), it would still promote good mental wellbeing.  You would just have to take one small step at a time and do one little thing every day......this might be the beginning of your road to recovery. I would like to end with this quote: "There is hope even when your brain tells you there isn't! Best wishes
(Diploma, in, Integrative, Counselling)
Answered on 10/29/2022

I would like some help to feel better.

 Hi Mario,Thank you for your question. This is a very brave step you are taking with reaching out for help. Where to get started on the mental health journey can sometimes feel confusing and hard for many people. You are not alone. Battling several mental health symptoms might feel especially overwhelming, frightening, and perhaps isolating if you feel you're not getting the support you need. However, many people have done the work to overcome these same kinds of experiences. BetterHelp has different avenues of help that come with your subscription. First, you get connected with a licensed therapist. You can meet on a consistent basis (weekly, biweekly, etc.) with someone trained and experienced in working with the symptoms you mentioned. Group sessions also come with many subscriptions where you can find additional techniques/support for working through things like anxiety and depression. The site also offers features for journaling and interactive worksheets you can share with your therapist. You also have the option to message your therapist in between sessions. There are also a few process questions I would encourage you to consider on your own as you work through this difficult time. -Who are you without the anxiety, OCD, and Depression? -What is going well in your life right now? -Who is in your support system? How can you get the support you need during this time? -What lessons can be learned from this time that can aid you for challenges in the future? When you think about six months or a year from now, what do you want your journey to look like? How do you want to describe to others how you were able to navigate this tough time? In Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), one main focus is interrupting negative thought patterns and replacing them with alternative ones that can give you a more positive outlook on your situation. Perhaps an alternative way of looking at your situation is “This is a difficult time where I don't feel my best and need help, but many people have experienced this and I can get through it." It might also be helpful to see this time as great opportunity for self-growth and to enhance coping techniques and self-care. In Narrative Therapy, part of the journey is to help clients start living their preferred story. For example, write out how you see what your life's journey has been up until this point. Think about what you would want your preferred narrative to be versus the one that you are currently living. Then write out that preferred narrative. Ask yourself "What would it look like to live a life where I feel things are improving"? How would things be different in my life if I practiced daily self-care and managed my mental health in a healthy way? Navigating the ways to get appropriate mental health treatment can be challenging, but worth the journey to get to a healthier and more fulfilling place. I encourage you to be kind and patient with yourself as you work towards managing this difficult time and improving your emotional well-being overall. A few tips for now. -Keeping a journal is a healthy outlet for your thoughts. Use it to process some of the questions posed above and the feelings you are experiencing and symptoms related to the anxiety and depression. -Develop a good self-care routine. This can help with anxiety and stress management and boost positive feelings. The routine can start with making times for journaling, breathing exercises, or just going for a walk. YOU ARE IMPORTANT! -Do things to boost your self-confidence: Find 2 to 3 things daily that you did well or went well for you and write them down. Seek out positive affirmations. Think about what gives you purpose and fulfillment as mentioned above. -Use your support system in a healthy way. Seek out the people in your life that support you, make you laugh, help you with calmness. -Make a list of hobbies and interests and seek out ways to do them or find something new to learn.
(PhD, LMFT)
Answered on 10/29/2022

How do I approach therapy without yet knowing if something is off physiologically?

Jimmy I appreciate you reaching out to us. I want to talk about your grief first. There are five stages of grief: Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression and Acceptance. This may not be new to you. The important thing to remember is that there is no pattern or timeline for how you go through the stages. You may go from stage one, to stage three and then to stage five etc. You have to go through grief on your own timeline and not someone else's. Also, there may be triggers that lead you back to one stage or another. This is completely normal. Journaling may help you to process through your grief. I am wondering if you have a counselor. A counselor can also help you process your current situation.  'Therapy lights' may be helpful with depression. They can be purchased starting at around $30 dollars and on up. They give your body what the sun does and may help you to have more energy. Has the depression affected your sleep, energy level or eating? Has it led to isolation? These would be concerns to discuss  There are many anxiety coping skill options including guided imagery apps, deep breathing. the five senses technique (focusing on one thing you can either see, hear, feel, smell or touch) as well as utilizing a weighted blanket. The idea is to center yourself during times of anxiety. Rating your anxiety and depression levels, periodically, (on a scale of 1-10 with 10 being the worst) may assist you to locate triggers. It may be beneficial to document these scores in a journal. When having the negative thoughts, I would practice thought stopping. This is when you stop yourself and force yourself to have an "opposite" or positive thought. Remember, You do not want to jump to negative conclusions, about a situation, without evidence. Only focus on the facts that you know. If your motivation level is low, start by putting one task on the calendar a day. Don't focus a a huge task list. Break down the list. You may even look into time blocking. (Ex. From 10-2 I  am going to ......). Maybe create a list of short-term and long term goals as well as steps to achieving these goals.  Self-care is really important. This includes eating healthy, exercising, practicing good hygiene, obtaining an appropriate amount of sleep, utilizing positive words of affirmation and spending time doing things you enjoy. What does your support system look like? Do you have friends and family that you can reach out to if needed. If so, I encourage you to do so. If not, there are many ways to build a support system (meetup.com for example). I hope this information has been helpful. Please feel free to contact us, again, in the future if we can be of help to you. Have a wonderful day! Alicia Powell, LCSW.
(LCSW, LICSW, LMHC)
Answered on 10/29/2022

How can I figure out what exactly my mental issue is so that I can treat myself better/accordingly?

Dear Rue, Firstly, can I say thank you for sharing what you are going through and I’m sorry to hear that you are having a difficult time. You’ve explained that you are uncontrollability depressed and anxious. At the same time, you have taken the step of reaching out to be able to work on these things. This shows self-awareness.  After reading your message, it felt like there are some questions you’ve asked. You want to know, how to figure out what exactly your mental health issues are so that you can treat yourself better and appropriately. Let’s start by asking, how long ago have you been feeling this way? Can you identify what may have triggered your feelings of depression and anxiety? How long ago did you notice the change? How have you been coping with the changes? How has it impacted you?  You spoke about how you are insightful and self-aware. It feels like you know a lot about yourself. How do you experience yourself when you are aware of what is happening but yet still feeling down? I noticed that you mentioned that you have tried some ‘tips and tricks.' Sounds like you have been looking into how to manage your situation. What tips and tricks did you use? What worked and what didn’t work for you? A lot of the time it is helpful to know what our triggers are, and how we are experiencing these feelings of depression and anxiousness when they arise. Once you are able to identify these, grounding techniques can be useful and finding comfort in your own self. How do you feel about having therapy to explore in more detail what you are going through? Counseling is a non-judgmental space where you can talk openly about what you are going through. There could be things in the here and now or things that you may want to discuss in your past. I guess, as humans, we all have things in the subconscious but only through exploration, can we become aware of them and make lasting change. Thank you for reaching out. I hope talking about this has helped you. Warmest wishes, Mehreen.
Answered on 10/28/2022

How do I keep the depression away and be a normal functioning adult?

Depression is a sign that your body needs time to rest and is tired of going through the motions of daily life. First, take an inventory of what you like in your life and what you would like to change or things that don't align with your values. Once you find things that are depleting your time and energy do your best to eliminate these things to live a more fulfilling life. Also, there are some things you could do daily that help correct those symptoms of anxiety. These include incorporating exercise into your day and routine. Exercise has been linked to improved mental health and improved mood. Another thing to include is setting daily goals. Make sure that they are S.M.A.R.T. goals, which stands for S- Specific, setting real numbers with real deadlines, M- Measurable, making sure your goal is trackable, A- Attainable, working towards a goal that is challenging but possible, R- Realistic, be honest with yourself and knowing what you are capable of, and T- Time-bound, giving yourself a deadline. Also creating a special diet and eating foods that are known for improving energy and improved focus and avoiding junk food. Another is to establish a routine for sleeping and waking. This will give the body a proper schedule and a better sense of control and routine in your life. Another is to limit the use of alcohol and other drugs, they only give temporary relief and don't get to the core of the problem. Lastly, you are also welcome to reach out to family and friends even if it is just to catch up and see what they are doing in their life. Making an appointment with a therapist can also help with discussing your triggers, and coping skills that you can use in daily life. The theory that is one of the most effective with people experiencing depression is called Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). It explains how thoughts, behavior, and emotions are all connected. The thoughts are the internal dialogue that you tell yourself, your emotions are how you feel in the moment of the activating event, and behaviors are your actions or what you did at the moment. In order to change your emotions you have to change your thoughts. Which would then change your emotions and actions to follow.  I really hope this was helpful for you and provided actionable steps towards correcting those feelings of sadness.
(LPC, NCC)
Answered on 10/28/2022

Is there help for me?

When we feel depressed, we can feel like we are broken, that there's something wrong with me. Depression sucks out our energy and we start to think negatively about our lives. We end up experiencing negative thoughts, and our perspective on life can be very negative as well. It starts to interfere with our day-to-day functioning and can also impact our relationships with ourself and our family and friends including romantic partners. I know that you've mentioned that you've been put on four different medications to treat what you've been experiencing. You feel like they've not helped you to feel better. We can't always rely on medications, because it's about balance in our lives. Medications may help us to feel a boost in our energy, but they do not clear our thoughts. It's about finding the skills and the techniques that are effective and helpful for aiding us in feeling better both emotionally/behaviorally. and to feel like we can improve with our functioning. A lot of it also comes back to the way that we talk to ourselves. When we stay consistent with a negative attitude or perspective it really takes a toll on the way that we feel emotionally and behaviorally. We can set ourselves up to fail with the way that we think about ourselves and our environment. If we take the time to acknowledge our negative thoughts or perceptions on ourself and our environment, we can influence the way that we feel and work towards changing our responses to situations and triggers. You mentioned how you see how everyone else is, and how they don't react to things. The goal is to focus on responding to things rather than reacting to things. Everyone responds to things differently, some of us react and some of us respond. It's not necessarily that it's wrong, but there is a better way to manage situations and we just want to work towards developing a healthier way of responding to a situation. A good way to help us respond to situations is called the stop method. It's a way to help us manage impulsivity, reactions, and is a mindfulness practice for stress that helps us come back to the present moment and gain perspective. It helps us to mitigate the negative effects of stress and instead see that we have the ability to control our response to the pressure of stress. The skill is used in an acronym called STOP. STOP: when you feel stressed or overwhelmed and feel like reacting, stop and take a step back. Take a few breaths: you want to breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth. Focus on allowing your body to fall into its natural rhythm of breathing. Observe: you want to notice and be aware of where there is tension in your body and observe the thoughts and feelings in your mind. You don't want to judge what you're feeling or thinking, you just want to be simply aware of your experience in the moment and just let it be whatever it is. Proceed: you wanna ask yourself what's important to pay attention to right now? What am I needing right now? You want to be able to move forward by acting on the answer to those questions. This skill, just like any other skill or technique needs to be practiced consistently and continually to be able to utilize it when you need it the most. Practice is what makes permanent. If you don't practice the skill, you won't be able to utilize it when you need it. It won't come natural to you. Even if you can't get it down pat at first, focus on continuing to practice it because overtime it will be helpful for you. It also is very helpful for depression and anxiety. The self worth and self-image are both parts of both depression anxiety and anxiety can be a part of depression. What that means, is that everything goes hand in hand with each other and integrates into one. So if we work on improving depression and anxiety, self worth and self-image will improve and if you work on self worth and self-image, depression will improve. It all comes together. I think that it's great that you're able to identify that you are a lovely person with ambitions and dreams and desires. You're able to see those strengths and traits within yourself. The way that you're feeling impacts your recognition of those strengths & traits though. It means that they are still there, but when you're not feeling so good, they become hidden and when you feel better they come back out. You have a hard time staying passionate based on the way that you're feeling, so if we can get you feeling better, you'll be able to develop more passion, more motivation, and more commitment to things.  When the depression and anxiety improve, our thoughts also improve. When you have these thoughts, focusing on what we call grounding techniques can help you detach from the current thought and bring you back to the present moment. Grounding techniques include: going for a short walk, 4-7-8 breathing, carrying a grounding object, focusing on meditation, muscle relaxation, etc. There is a lot of great grounding skills and they are very helpful for detaching from anxiety, depression to aide us and becoming more centered in the here and now. Also focusing on doing something that helps you to relax will also help to challenge and change the hurtful thoughts that you're experiencing. Listening to music, savoring a favorite food or beverage, going for a walk, just taking time to sit and relax can help you feel calmer and less distressed. There is a lot of hope out there for you, even in times of hopelessness, there is hope even if it's hard to believe. We can get you to a point of being able to have and live a normal life, to be normal, to be good. Like I said, there are so many tools and strategies that can help you, and working together as a team we'll get you to that point. It may take time, but time is of the essence. Getting better is a process, which means that it takes time, practice, and consistency, but you can get there. I appreciate you reaching out, and I hope that this is a helpful for you. You took that start with reaching out for help!
(LMHC)
Answered on 10/27/2022

How do I just keep pushing through everything bringing me down?

Hi there, I am glad that you reached out. It sounds like you are feeling burned out and maybe even possibly dissociating at times based on what you wrote about feeling as though you are "just here". I would look up both the term dissociating and depersonalization to learn more about this and then I would speak to a doctor or therapist about it. Having these moments in life when it feels like everything is going wrong and nothing feels as good as it used to, is normal. I know that may not help you feel any better in this moment but it's important to remember that throughout the years, we will find ourselves in "valleys" so to speak. Life is an endless series of peaks and valleys in which the tide changes all the time. It's important to build your tolerance to change, disappointment and fear.  You said that your girlfriend isn't responding correctly, I would be interested to know more about what you meant by that. Sometimes, it's important to remember that we are the beginning and end of our own emotions and thoughts. People, even people who are close to us, cannot change or improve our thoughts and emotions, only we can do that. I would begin working on writing down what you need in terms of what thoughts and emotions are causing you most distress and work on changing those. Our thoughts create our emotions and so, we can begin with our thoughts and figure out what thought patterns are causing us the most distress. Do you believe that nothing in your life will ever change? Do you believe that you have the ability and/or tools to change your life for the better? If you do not believe that you can feel better or that you are capable and worthy of feeling better, it may feel like you are in a constant state of depression and anxiety because there is no light at the end of the tunnel. I would work to decide that you are going to have hope for your future and then purposely act on those thoughts and I wouldn't wait for others to validate those beliefs.  I wish you all the best!
(MS, LPC, NCC)
Answered on 10/27/2022