Loneliness Answers

How can I stop all these bad things? Im seriously over it.

I am so sorry to hear that you are struggling with so much rejection in your life right now.  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 anxieties you have around being assertive when people wrong you.   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 the others, I would be able to follow through with skydiving. Try to sort through any thoughts that get you down about yourself or 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 rejection and overwhelming frustration.    As you do those processes it can be helpful to validate yourself as someone of worth and that has been able to get through challenges in your 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 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 07/25/2022

Why do I feel so lonely? Is it something I can prevent or do I need extra help?

Aly, Thank you for your question. I am glad you are here.    First of all, the loneliness you are feeling after a move is completely normal. Moving and adjusting to a different space is stressful for everyone. Three months is not that long of a time to have adjusted to the new place. However, you should start to adjust as time goes on. For the feelings of being down at night, I will list a coping skill that you can use as you battle those feelings:   Peace Begins With Me There is a quick practice that is involved with Kundalini yoga, which involves a breathing exercise that can be done quietly and anywhere that you are. This technique can help you stay centered when you’re feeling overwhelmed or out of control. Press your thumb into your index finger, then your middle finger, followed by the ring finger, and lastly the pinkie finger. Practice this a few times. Go slowly. After you get the hang of this, practice saying these words as you touch thumb to index finger- “Peace,” thumb to middle finger, “Begins,” thumb to ring finger, “With,” thumb to pinkie finger, “Me.” Breathe deeply and fully as you practice this technique.   Another coping skill that you can use when dealing with feelings of loneliness and depression is cognitive restructuring.    Cognitive Restructuring Cognitive Restructuring is a process of identifying your negative and irrational thoughts. A negative or an irrational thought is called a cognitive distortion. EVERYONE has cognitive distortions; however, if you are a person who has a lot of cognitive distortions, it can contribute to developing a mental disorder such as depression or anxiety.   How can you identify and challenge these cognitive distortions?   Step 1: Understand how powerful cognitive distortions are in influencing your mood. For example, it's your birthday. Your friend does not call to wish you a happy birthday. Your thought is, "My friend doesn't care about me the way that I care about them; I called them on their birthday." Your thought makes you FEEL hurt. Your feeling of hurt turns into the behavior of avoiding your friend for the next month. The cognitive distortion of "My friend doesn't care about me the way that I care about them" yielded the chain of events that led you to feel hurt and to behave by avoiding your friend.  Thoughts are POWERFUL; they start the chain of events to everything.    Step 2: Increase your awareness of your thoughts.  Learn to identify your cognitive distortions. Look for negative emotions and try to pinpoint what thoughts started those feelings.    Step 3: Keep a Thought Record/Thought Log. Break down your experience into a record. For example: The situation was ______________, My thoughts were ________________, My emotions were ________________, My behaviors were ___________________. An alternate thought could've been __________________________.   I hope the above tips help.   The second thing I wanted to address was the sexual trauma that you have endured throughout your life. It would be beneficial for you to work with a trauma-informed therapist to address these incidences that you describe. I am sorry that this happened to you. Trauma can mimic symptoms of anxiety and depression, among others. Trauma can also restructure the brain and the body essentially keeps score of the trauma. I encourage you to do some research on your own about the effects of trauma on mental health and on physical health. I'd like to discuss this with you further, if you are interested.    I wish you well and trust you will have a wonderful week ahead.   Sara Lacaria, LPCBetter Help Therapist
(LPC)
Answered on 10/03/2021

What's my mental health issue?

What is my mental health issue? Hi, you shared that you suffer from numbness to crying excessively. You also shared that back in 2019 you and your mom lived alone and that your mother had suffered from kidney disease. You shared that one morning you saw her dead on the couch. You also shared that in order for you to move on currently you moved out of your hometown and started college. Now, you shared that the pandemic came and you had to move back and it made you feel the pain you felt in 2019 again. But after 9 months you shared that you went back to your college neighborhood and at first it was so happy and stress-free. You also shared that you met a new best friend which made you so happy but now things have changed. You shared that you do not know why but you feel so alone. You also shared that you feel so worthless. You shared that your past still haunts you, and now your best friend will not talk to you, your girlfriend will not respond to you, your dad has cancer, and your siblings always invalidate what you are feeling. You also shared that you are indeed tired and that you give up. You questioned what is your mental illness. Based on your question, I would highly recommend that you first start with seeking mental health therapy from a professional counselor and or professional therapist locally in order to effectively get a proper diagnosis. A professional counselor and or professional therapist can properly assess you for an official diagnosis. Along with a diagnosis, a professional counselor and or professional therapist can support you in assessing your specific mental health needs in regards to creating a treatment plan specifically for you. Licensed Professional counselors and Professional Therapists on the Betterhelp platform are not able to diagnosis you because we cannot see you in person to get a thorough assessment. Therefore, I highly encourage you to continue to search for a local Licensed Professional Counselor and or Professional Therapist in your local area who can properly diagnosis you to help you find out what your specific mental health issue is at this time. A professional counselor or therapist can be very beneficial in supporting you with discussing and processing what happened when you were a child. Traumatic experiences can cause psychological trauma which can cause damage to an individual's mind as a result of one or more distressing events. The distressing event can cause overwhelming amounts of stress that can surpass the individual's ability to cope or understand their emotions which can lead to serious long-term negative consequences. With the help of a professional counselor and or therapist, you can receive adequate help in regards to your counselor and or therapist providing you with effective and or appropriate skills and techniques to learn how to develop and implement effective skills and strategies for you to effectively deal with the traumatic experience that you experienced as a child that continues to cause problems and or concerns for you as an adult. Behavior interventions, Psychotherapy, and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) have all been beneficial in helping people to express their thoughts, feelings, and emotions in regards to a traumatic experience that you experienced as a child that continues to affect your relationships as an adult. A professional counselor and or professional therapist can assist you in learning how to effectively implement coping skills, techniques, and strategies to decrease your panic attacks in public. A professional counselor and or professional therapist can introduce you to deep breathing techniques, calming techniques, stress management techniques, progressive muscle relaxation, grounding techniques, positive interpersonal social skills, and imagery as a means of decreasing you're mental and emotional distresses. Based on your statement, “I give up.” I am very concerned with you sharing that you want to give up. I am not sure if you have suicidal thoughts at this time. However, I do want to be upfront and honest with you by letting you know a little more about the Betterhelp platform. I do want to share with you that being suicidal is considered a medical emergency. When you share that you have thoughts of suicide or wanting to give up, I recommend that you get an assessment from a professional counselor or therapist immediately. If you are not sure who you can go to, you can go to your local emergency room or call 911. Please understand that the services provided through BetterHelp are not intended for crisis situations such as individuals who are having currently thoughts of suicide and or urgent needs. In a crisis situation, please call 911 or your local emergency services or you can also visit the nearest emergency room. Once you have sought the proper mental health treatment to discuss and process your suicidal thoughts. Then, I would highly recommend that you start seeking mental health therapy with a professional counselor or professional therapist or that you continue seeking treatment from a mental health professional counselor and or mental health therapist if you are seeing someone. In an effort to decrease your current mental and emotional distresses, you can also try to commit to changing the way you think. It will take a lot of practice, dedication, and determination to alleviate what triggers your mental and emotional distress. However, trying to do this will help you feel better and it can lead to your feeling much better and becoming more productive. You can recognize when it is happening and when you find it happening you can choose to think about something more productive. You can also look for solutions by committing to learning from your mistakes and solving your problems so you can productively move forward, set aside time to think when you notice you are feeling mentally and emotionally distressed outside of that scheduled time, remind yourself that you will think about it later, distract yourself with a self-care activity and you can practice mindfulness. Mindfulness is the key to living in the "here and now." When you become mindful, you will be completely present at the moment. It can be like a form of meditation that takes a lot of practice, but over time and with consistency, it can be very beneficial in decreasing your mental and emotional distress in an effort to help you experience an overall healthier mental well-being. Overall, I highly recommend that you seek help from a professional counselor and or professional therapist and a medical provider if needed for medication management. The help of a mental health professional counselor and or professional therapist can be quite beneficial in helping you to properly get a better understanding of what triggers your mental and emotional distress, as it can look different for everyone. Also, please remember that mental health is not a one-size-fits-all, so it is very important to get personalized treatment for your specific and current mental and emotional needs in reference to your current life transitions that are causing you to be mentally and emotionally distressed at this time. I hope this helps. Best regards to you!  
(EdS, LPC-S, NCC, BC-TMH)
Answered on 08/29/2021

How can keep myself without being sad?

Becoming sad from time to time is a natural human emotion. However, when sadness begins to happen too often, lasts too long or takes over your life and relationships, it can cause a strain in many areas of your life. You have to find new ways of coping. Sad feelings don't have to take over your mood or ruin your day. It seems that you tend to worry a lot about your relationships with others and expect a great deal of attention from them. It is good that you have recognized your feelings when you don't get what you want. Knowing your emotions helps you to better understand and accept yourself.  Now that you have identified why you are sad, it is time to start working on ways to feel better. It is time to start doing things that make you happy without depending on the help of others. Positive thinking is a great way to get started. Even if you are sad, think of one or two good things about yourself or your situation. Next, try thinking of solutions to getting what you want. Sometimes our friends and family are unaware of what is going on in our lives unless we tell them. Remember, they have busy lives and are dealing with many things too. So, an example solution would be to give them the attention you want from them. Ask them how they are feeling and how their day has been. This will lead to interaction on both sides and them asking about your feelings. Last, put yourself in a good mood! Do things that you enjoy! It could be something as simple as playing a sport, riding a bike, dancing, running, taking a walk, reading, or listening to your favorite music!  Overall, learning to deal with sad feelings takes practice. It doesn't just come overnight. You have to work at it! We shouldn't depend on others for our own happiness. When you do things to take care of yourself, think in positive ways, and show that you care and have concern for others, you then begin to make room for a more positive and happy you!
Answered on 08/26/2021

How to cope with childhood trauma in adulthood

Dear FoxyMoron,   Thank you for your message and diving deeper into reflecting the traumas and the abuses that you have gone through, and what they meant to you and affecting your life at the moment.   This is indeed a painful process that can cause some emotions rising on your end, that is also because for a very long time we have been simply coping with these wounds through our defense mechanisms, rather than actually looking at them and processing them. Therefore it's important that you practice the tools that we talked about before (how to make yourself feel safe and grounded when these emotions rise) so that we can practice living with and manage these emotions rather than going back to our defense mechanisms.   As you have said, perhaps we have learned to deal and cope with these abuses and traumas by making explanations for them, validating them, and even accepting them as a part of our lives. While we have learned to move on without processing these traumas, we could still the effects they bring especially in the form of anxiety and even panic when we are being reminded or triggered by events and people who have inflicted these wounds on us.   To truly move on and not let these traumas affect us, we need to learn to bring closures to these wounds and bind them up. I am glad that you are aware of the need to bring closures, I'll explain more here when it comes to closure.   A lack of closure frequently prevents people from moving forward with their lives and achieving all that they could. It makes it more difficult to reach goals, find self-happiness or make meaningful relationships. For this reason, it is important to find a sense of closure with any situation that you feel is holding you back.   Closure is any interaction, information, or practice that allows a person to feel that a traumatic, upsetting or confusing life event has been resolved. The term has its origins in Gestalt psychology, but it is more commonly used to refer to the final resolution to a conflict or problem.   Closure means finality; a letting go of what once was. Finding closure implies a complete acceptance of what has happened and an honoring of the transition away from what's finished to something new. In other words, closure describes the ability to go beyond imposed limitations in order to find different possibilities.   People seek answers and explanations: They want to know why. However, finding answers does not necessarily end the pain. Sometimes a person who seeks closure finds that an explanation makes no difference, or that it actually worsens their pain. Others find that closure may simply be a starting point for moving past a painful event. Though the trauma is not resolved, the person is better able to work through it. Seeking a definitive way to finalize grief and move on belies the importance of the grieving process. Simply putting an end to one's painful memories may be more harmful than helpful.   In some cases, though, closure is a profoundly transformative experience that does allow the person to move past the traumatic event. For example, a victim of abuse may need to confront the abuser and see them imprisoned before he or she can begin to feel safe again. In acknowledgment of this, the criminal justice system is increasingly recognizing the need for closure by instituting programs allowing victims and their families to meet with offenders in a controlled setting.   Unfortunately, there are times when the closure is simply unattainable. This may be true in situations where someone moved locations or passed away before being able to resolve a problem. In some cases, the other involved person is simply unwilling to engage. In times like these, it can be easy to become bogged down by the lack of closure. It can be easy to cover up the underlying problem with meaningless coping mechanisms like substance abuse. With time and effort, there are many ways to move past unattainable closure to live happily once more.   The most important part of moving on from a lack of closure is taking care of yourself, both physically and mentally. This is also why we have begun our therapy process with a focus on self-compassion. Self-compassion is the core of why we want to bring closures and bind up these wounds because they make us feel better and they are the best decisions we can make for ourselves.   When we bring closures to our traumas, we need to keep in mind that we are doing this not because we have to, but we want to. When we practice forgiving those who have wounded us and let them go, we are not agreeing / accepting / acknowledging what they have done and not holding them accountable, we are simply letting go of the bitterness, resentment, and hatred that we have to hide with us all these years.   As for our physical health, engaging in adequate active exercises could be helpful. Improving your physical health through diet and exercise can help to improve self-esteem and emotional well-being, both of which are essential to moving on from unattainable closure.   Meditation, hobbies, and social interaction are all great ways to nurture your mental health and find the inner happiness that makes a lack of closure bearable.   While self-care is essential to moving on from a lack of closure, it is often not enough to resolve the problem altogether. One great exercise to help you move forward is to write a letter to the individual that you have not received closure. In this letter, you can describe all of your feelings about the situation and how you wish things had ended. Once the letter is complete, you can bury it, burn it, or simply throw it in the trash. Writing an unsent letter can help you get those feelings out that are hiding painfully inside and find a sense of self-resolution.   Forgiveness is another essential component to finding a sense of closure at times that closure cannot otherwise be achieved. Forgiving a person that caused you pain can sometimes seem like an impossible task. However, it is possible with daily efforts. We can go into details later regarding forgiveness, one step at a time.   To move past unattainable closure, you may also need to forgive yourself for anything you feel you did wrong in the situation. If you blame yourself for a broken relationship, the death of a loved one, or anything else, it will be impossible to move on and find inner happiness.   I'll pause here to learn from your thoughts, looking forward to talking with you more. Jono
(MSW, LICSW, LMHC)
Answered on 08/20/2021

How do I start healing from childhood trauma? It feels like two steps forward, one back.

Dear Audge1995,   Thank you for your message and diving deeper into reflecting the traumas and the abuses that you have went through, and what they meant to you and affecting your life at the moment.   This is indeed a painful process that can cause some emotions rising on your end, that is also because for a very long time we have been simply coping with these wounds through our defense mechanisms, rather than actually looking at them and process them. Therefore it's important that you practice the tools that we talked about before (how to make yourself feel safe and grounded when these emotions rise), so that we can practice living with and manage these emotions rather than going back to our defense mechanisms.   As you have said, perhaps we have learned to deal and cope with these abuses and traumas by making explanations for them, validating them, and even accepting them as a part of our lives. While we have learned to move on without processing these traumas, we could still the effects they bring especially in the form of anxiety and even panic when we are being reminded or triggered by events and people who have inflicted these wounds on us.   To truly move on and not let these traumas affect us, we need to learn to bring closures to these wounds and bind them up. I am glad that you are aware of the need to bring closures, I'll explain more here when it comes to closure.   A lack of closure frequently prevents people from moving forward with their lives and achieving all that they could. It makes it more difficult to reach goals, find self-happiness or make meaningful relationships. For this reason, it is important to find a sense of closure with any situation that you feel is holding you back.   Closure is any interaction, information, or practice that allows a person to feel that a traumatic, upsetting or confusing life event has been resolved. The term has its origins in Gestalt psychology, but it is more commonly used to refer to the final resolution to a conflict or problem.   Closure means finality; a letting goes of what once was. Finding closure implies a complete acceptance of what has happened and an honoring of the transition away from what's finished to something new. In other words, closure describes the ability to go beyond imposed limitations in order to find different possibilities.   People seek answers and explanations: They want to know why. However, finding answers does not necessarily end the pain. Sometimes a person who seeks closure finds that an explanation makes no difference, or that it actually worsens their pain. Others find that closure may simply be a starting point for moving past a painful event. Though the trauma is not resolved, the person is better able to work through it. Seeking a definitive way to finalize grief and move on belies the importance of the grieving process. Simply putting an end to one's painful memories may be more harmful than helpful.   In some cases, though, closure is a profoundly transformative experience that does allow the person to move past the traumatic event. For example, a victim of abuse may need to confront the abuser and see them imprisoned before he or she can begin to feel safe again. In acknowledgment of this, the criminal justice system is increasingly recognizing the need for closure by instituting programs allowing victims and their families to meet with offenders in a controlled setting.   Unfortunately, there are times when the closure is simply unattainable. This may be true in situations where someone moved locations or passed away before being able to resolve a problem. In some cases, the other involved person is simply unwilling to engage. In times like these, it can be easy to become bogged down by the lack of closure. It can be easy to cover up the underlying problem with meaningless coping mechanisms like substance abuse. With time and effort, there are many ways to move past unattainable closure to live happily once more.   The most important part of moving on from a lack of closure is taking care of yourself, both physically and mentally. This is also why we have begun our therapy process with a focus on self-compassion. Self-compassion is the core of why we want to bring closures and bind up these wounds because they make us feel better and they are the best decisions we can make for ourselves.   When we bring closures to our traumas, we need to keep in mind that we are doing this not because we have to, but we want to. When we practice forgiving those who have wounded us and let them go, we are not agreeing / accepting / acknowledging what they have done and not hold them accountable, we are simply letting go of the bitterness, resentment, and hatred that we have to hide with us all these years.   As for our physical health, engaging in adequate active exercises could be helpful. Improving your physical health through diet and exercise can help to improve self-esteem and emotional well-being, both of which are essential to moving on from unattainable closure.   Meditation, hobbies, and social interaction are all great ways to nurture your mental health and find the inner happiness that makes a lack of closure bearable.   While self-care is essential to moving on from a lack of closure, it is often not enough to resolve the problem altogether. One great exercise to help you move forward is to write a letter to the individual that you have not received closure. In this letter, you can describe all of your feelings about the situation and how you wish things had ended. Once the letter is complete, you can bury it, burn it, or simply throw it in the trash. Writing an unsent letter can help you get those feelings out that are hiding painfully inside and find a sense of self-resolution.   Forgiveness is another essential component to finding a sense of closure at times that closure cannot otherwise be achieved. Forgiving a person that caused you pain can sometimes seem like an impossible task. However, it is possible with daily efforts. We can go into details later regarding forgiveness, one step at a time.   To move past unattainable closure, you may also need to forgive yourself for anything you feel you did wrong in the situation. If you blame yourself for a broken relationship, the death of a loved one, or anything else, it will be impossible to move on and find inner happiness.   I'll pause here to learn from your thoughts, looking forward to talking with you more. Jono
(MSW, LICSW, LMHC)
Answered on 08/02/2021

Dealing with porn addiction as a way to avoid difficult situations and confusion.

Struggling to cope with any type of addiction--whether it be to pornography, alcohol, drugs, or whatever--exacts a tremendous toll on a person over time. I certainly want to thank you for your bravery in sharing your story. I have myself personally struggled with addiction at various times in my own life, and I vividly recall the feelings of guilt, loss of control, and anxiety, that come along with it. Addictions are a sort of Trojan Horse, though: they are merely the outer façade, which hides a deeper pain and insecurity. They are the means, by which we attempt to cope with those intensely uncomfortable feelings.   Indeed, I heard some of this pain and insecurity in your story, and I am deeply regretful that you find yourself having such difficulty at this juncture in your life. While I am not making a diagnosis in responding to your question, I wondered if you might perhaps be experiencing some depression and anxiety (the two tend to often appear together)--both of which can affect concentration, memory, energy level, motivation, etc. If so, there are some highly effective treatments available for both conditions. Both are treated typically with cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), which is a structured form of talk therapy aimed at teaching you how to think systematically about your own thinking, so that your mood and behavior change, as well. A course of CBT typically takes 12-16 weeks, but most people begin to feel better about 4-5 weeks into the therapy. CBT typically involves weekly 45-50 minute sessions with a psychotherapist, as well as homework assignments between sessions to help you practice the skills discussed in therapy.    Also helpful are certain antidepressant medications, such as the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs), which are newer medications with relatively few side effects or risks. A psychiatrist--a physician with specialized training in behavioral health--can make recommendations about what, if any, medications might potentially benefit you. These medications can require several weeks to begin producing the desired effect, so it is extremely important to take them as directed by your doctor.    In terms of addiction itself, addiction behaviors tend to continue because of a neurotransmitter (a chemical released in our neural pathways in the brain) called dopamine. Dopamine is released upon engaging in an addictive behavior, giving us a sort of "rush" and sense of relief, once we engage in the addiction. Unfortunately, the end result is that the dopamine rush reinforces these behaviors--makes them more likely to recur. Consider, for example, a habitual gambler, who promises himself that he is only going to spend $50 at a casino slot machine. He might initially enter the casino with this mindset, but what happens when he wins even a small amount of money? This is rewarding, and dopamine is released in his neural pathways, giving him a sense of relief and reward--so why not spend "just a little bit more"? Before too long, he has spent a small fortune, trying to ride the evasive dopamine wave.   I might encourage you to consider finding a group of supportive peers, who understand the difficulties you've encountered in your pornography addiction and can help to hold you accountable. Porn Addicts Anonymous (https://pornaddictsanonymous.org/) and Sex Addicts Anonymous (https://saa-recovery.org/) are two excellent resources for finding such support. Both groups offer a safe, confidential environment, in which members come together to support one another and to work toward a life free from addiction to pornography and harmful sexual behavior.    I do hope that whatever course of action you choose to take in working toward your own recovery that you will not lose hope. I am living proof that people can break free from the constraints of addiction and live a productive and fulfilling life. You're worth giving such a gift to yourself, aren't you? Be well. 
(MS, LPC-S, NCC)
Answered on 06/29/2021

I am emotionally dependent on my partner. What can I do to help myself?

Dear Luna,   Thank you very much for your message.   I understand that we are going through some fluctuations with our emotions and often it can feel like we are going backward. However, the reality is that the night is always darkest before dawn. The reason you are feeling discouraged is that you are trying to move forward in this healing process, therefore when you do experience any kind of anxiety or depression you begin to doubt yourself in this process.   Meanwhile, as human being we will always have times when we feel anxious or depressed. That is normal and natural. Just like there are days that it rains, there are also days that the sun shines. This isn't a problem to be fixed.    We will only feel more depressed if we constantly compare ourselves with our old selves in the past that seemed to be happier, while we forget that back then we did not have this much on our plate to worry and we did not experience what we have experienced recently that gave us hurts and pain. Therefore it isn't fair to our current self if we always think about how to go back in time, that isn't possible anyway.   To further recover from feelings of depression and anxiety, we must constantly be thinking about how to develop a healthy, positive interaction with ourselves.   Happy relationships all depend on how happy we are with ourselves. So how happy are we?   If you feel like you're on a constant quest for inner bliss, you might be asking yourself: If there was one secret on how to be happy in your relationship or marriage, workplace, home life and family wouldn't you have learned it by now?   Are you constantly searching, asking people who seem happy, reading articles and watching videos on how to be happy? If so, you're certainly not alone. Online search engines get millions of people asking this question, and the internet is full of promises that this strategy or that formula will deliver you to a place of lasting happiness. Yet, many miss the main point: they never even touch on the fact that the real key to happiness with others is happiness with yourself.   If you haven't noticed or been here yourself (most of us have), an insecure person's need for constant approval is exhausting. Those who are happy and love themselves don't hang around with that kind of negative energy. Since we can't change other people, lead by example and others will follow in your footsteps, becoming good role models themselves. Here are 5 lessons that I learned (still learning) to find peace within ourselves and enjoy true happiness that does not depend on others.   1. Forgive Yourself   Forgive yourself for anything and everything you think you caused that was bad in your or someone else's life. You can't go back for a do-over, so learn the lesson and move forward, promising to better handle any similar situation that may arise. Now you're freed up to relax more and have greater peace of mind without beating yourself up over guilt and resentment.   2. Understand That You Are Complete   And understand that, "You complete me," was just a cheesy line in a Tom Cruise movie. (I loved that line at first too... for a few seconds, until I realized how inaccurate it was. Keep reading to learn why!) The reason most of us don't feel complete, and latched onto that line like it was the end-all be-all relationship concept is because we're waiting for someone else to be or do something that makes us feel whole.   First of all, as mentioned, we are already complete. But even if we weren't, no one else would be able to complete us anyway - it's impossible. When we put our happiness in someone else's hands we set them up for failure. Why would we do that to someone we care about? Because we don't realize we are the only ones who control our happiness.   Does this mean if you're unhappy it's your fault? Yes. Does this also put you in a position of power in your life? Absolutely. You want your relationships to be the joining of two complete individuals to create a third, larger entity so that you're a part of something, not just half of something. The whole "my other half" thing just breeds insecurity, which leads to the most painful relationship challenges like jealousy, abuse and infidelity. Why on earth would you want your happiness to be determined by someone or something outside of yourself?   3. Get To Know Yourself   When do you feel you're at your best when you're alone? Are you reading your favorite book overlooking a beautiful view? Enjoying your favorite tea, watching a movie? Shopping outside at the farmers market? Listening to your favorite music? How does your body feel? Healthy? Need some work? No one will be happier than you when your body looks good and functions well. This is a good confidence builder and when you have more confidence, you look better and healthier, and carry yourself in a completely different way that attracts confident people to you.   Here's a personal example: I had a spider vein on my lower leg and didn't feel comfortable in shorts for years. I finally had it removed and couldn't believe how much better I felt. My posture and confidence in shorts was much improved. Some things are easily fixable and for the others we may need to adjust our perspective a bit.   What are your favorite parts of yourself - your appearance, your character traits, your values or your personality? Do you get a kick out of your great sense of humor? I get a kick out of mine. I laugh to myself quite often! Are you really excited that you value honesty, which has attracted honest, genuine people to you? Are your eyes or hands or knees your favorite part of your body? Get to know your favorite parts and love them all.   4. Take A Good Look At Yourself   Take a look and notice how amazing you are. Keep your self-talk positive. There are things supermodels hate about themselves, so don't go thinking you're the only one who has dislikes. You can be happy with yourself even if there are things you'd like to change. I've always been shorter than most other people and would have given anything to be "normal" height. It took me 27 years of hating my height when many other people always wanted to be taller and would have traded me in an instant. Look how many years I experienced self-induced suffering. (This describes all suffering by the way. Pain is inevitable; suffering is optional.)   What are you good at, best at and want to improve at? What are your talents and what skills have you developed? What would you like to do in your life that you haven't done yet? What is the best thing you've ever done? Are you noticing that you might ask some of these questions on a date to get to know someone and determine if you like them or not? We get to know people by asking questions although we rarely ask them of ourselves. And when someone else asks, we sometimes answer differently than when we're asking ourselves.   5. Ask Yourself Questions   To find out more about yourself, ask yourself the questions you would ask on a date. The quality of your relationships is determined by the quality of the questions you ask. Ask good questions and lots of them (more than you would ask on a date; it's OK to be a chatterbox with yourself) to build that strong, healthy relationship with yourself.   Take time away from other people and be happily alone. At first, it might feel weird choosing to be alone but being alone and being lonely are two very different things. Dr. Wayne Dyer says, "You cannot be lonely if you like the person you're alone with." I went from being scared to sit alone in Starbucks for fear some stranger would think I didn't have any friends to loving going places alone. I have attracted wonderful friends by learning how to like myself and since like attracts like (energy), they happily do things on their own too. Yes, we do enjoy each other's company as well; we don't just talk about all the things we did by ourselves (although that would be funny).   Welcome to your inner power. You are qualified, capable and worthy of being happy with yourself regardless of anyone else on the planet so lead by example and show others how it's done. You will see that you can have much more fulfilling relationships without putting the responsibility of your happiness on someone else.   Looking forward to talking with you more, Jono
(MSW, LICSW, LMHC)
Answered on 05/26/2021

Why do I suddenly feel lonely when I'm alone despite me being a loner for a long time?

Dear Pretty,   Thank you for your message, also your courage in acknowledging the loneliness you have been feeling. I hear you and I feel you. Through your words, I could feel how lonely you are and how depressing it is to feel trapped in loneliness.   If you allow me to, I would like to connect with your loneliness by also sharing my loneliness as well. When two people share their loneliness, perhaps we would not feel all so alone. :)   I moved across the ocean a few months ago, to be precise from the US to Japan. A one-way ticket of a few thousand miles away from my friends, soulmates, and the city I've lived in for more than a decade. For a while, I was distracted by the excitement, the settling in. But the mild hum of anxiety underneath it all alerts me of what I've been most afraid of since deciding to leave my comfortable life: loneliness.   Loneliness used to terrify me, it still does at times. I think I feared that if I felt lonely, I'd lose my mind and develop an attachment to an inanimate object or something, like Tom Hanks in Cast Away. I couldn't sleep alone until I was 10 (hold the "Attachment Issues" remarks). I couldn't spend more than a night away from my family until I was 18. My understanding of loneliness was conflated with rejection, inadequacy, and worthlessness. It meant failure, and worst of all, it meant I had to be with myself and only myself.   Loneliness was mixed with boredom. When I felt lonely I suddenly forgot what I was supposed to do. Everything feels so empty and time seems to have stopped. I struggled to find anything that would motivate me or give me excitement.   It's not like loneliness has transformed into a totally benign feeling for me, but I am learning to do things like move across the country alone and not have a panic attack (yet!). And although I'm tempted to pack my schedule and text my friends until I develop carpal tunnel to avoid feeling lonely, I know that would just be a recipe for anxiety and shame.   So rather than trying to prevent loneliness, I'm going to try using the techniques and reminders I have for the past few years to cope with the discomfort. Here they are and I would like to share them with you:   1. Every single person on the planet feels lonely sometimes.   Loneliness, like most other feelings, is there to tell us something important. It's there to say, I yearn to connect. I want to love and closeness.   Our society tends to pathologize it by portraying lonely people as flawed, weak, or not enlightened enough; yet these are unhelpful products of our independence-valuing culture. Loneliness is normal, healthy, and universal.   Remember that the family member you see as the most independent, and both counterparts of the couple you perceive to be in the healthiest, happiest relationships, feel lonely at times. They also feel sad, angry, hurt, anxious, and inadequate at times. No matter what you're experiencing, I promise you there are hundreds of thousands of others feeling that same thing at that same time.   2. Actually, everyone is alone.   I remember a therapist once told me, "The longest relationship you'll ever have in your life is the one with yourself. So why not try to have a better relationship with yourself?" Romantic relationships end, people, die, but you're with yourself always.   Hunter S. Thompson said, "We are all alone, born alone, die alone...I do not say lonely — at least, not all the time — but essentially, and finally, alone. This is what makes your self-respect so important." So remember that: you may be alone, but you are also the only person who can fully be on your team.   3. We are all connected after all.   In Buddhist philosophy, there is no self and no separation between you and me and the air we breathe and the food we eat. OK, I know this might be a tough one to grasp, but hear me further. Think about it: one moment, a plant breathes in carbon dioxide, which becomes part of the plant, which then expels oxygen, which becomes part of the air, which we then inhale, which then becomes a part of our blood. Similarly, one-moment lettuce is part of the ground, then we eat a salad and it's part of us, then.... you get the idea.   We're all connected to each other and to the rest of the universe. Perhaps this is too abstract for you to swallow, and that's fine. But don't dismiss it just yet. Observe your environment for yourself and notice how everything is connected. It will make the loneliness less acute.   4. Loneliness will always pass.   Loneliness makes each second feel longer, heavier: it feels like time is frozen and our pain is eternal. But loneliness, just like any other thought, feeling, or sensation, is impermanent. Uncomfortable as it is, remembers that it will come and go. Remind yourself of this when as you breathe through the discomfort.   5. I can make space for loneliness and practice being kind to myself.   When I'm feeling lonely, I'm tempted to turn my back to that loneliness — to beat myself up for feeling it, telling myself that I'm pathetic. Then I run away from it, perhaps to Facebook or the fridge or the nearest form of chocolate.   But sometimes, if I can catch myself on autopilot, I can look inward and offer myself a soothing statement. Something like, You're hurting right now. You want to feel something else. It will pass, but remember it's OK to feel lonely and means you're human.   In doing so, we create enough space to do react to and ease the pain of our loneliness in a more serving way, perhaps by listening to music, journaling, practicing yoga, or calling a loved one if the loneliness is momentary; or by volunteering, joining a support group or class, or reevaluating the relationships in our life if the loneliness is chronic.   Pema Chodron says, "Usually we regard loneliness as an enemy. Heartache is not something we choose to invite in...When we can rest in the middle, we begin to have a nonthreatening relationship with loneliness, a relaxing and cooling loneliness that completely turns our usual fearful patterns upside down." So invite your loneliness in.   Thank you for sharing your loneliness with me and allowing me to share my loneliness with you. Although I am unable to take away the feelings of loneliness for you, I can and I am more than willing to be here for you to share your loneliness with you.   Looking forward to talking with you more, Jono
(MSW, LICSW, LMHC)
Answered on 05/25/2021

I feel always unhappy, why is it?

Dear Erin,   Thank you very much for your message.   I understand that we are going through some fluctuations with our emotions and often it can feel like we are going backwards. However the reality is that the night is always darkest before the dawn. The reason you are feeling discouraged is because you are trying to move forward in this healing process, therefore when you do experience any kind of anxiety or depression you begin to doubt yourself in this process.   Meanwhile, as a human being we will always have times when we feel anxious or depressed. That is normal and natural. Just like there are days that it rains, there are also days that the sun shines. This isn't a problem to be fixed.    We will only feel more depressed if we constantly compare ourselves with our old selves in the past that seemed to be happier, while we forget that back then we did not have this much on our plate to worry and we did not experience what we have experienced recently that gave us hurts and pain. Therefore it isn't fair to our current self if we always think about how to go back in time, that isn't possible anyways.   To further recover from feelings of depression and anxiety, we must constantly be thinking about how to develop a healthy, positive interaction with ourselves.   Happy relationships all depend on how happy we are with ourselves. So how happy are we?   If you feel like you're on a constant quest for inner bliss, you might be asking yourself: If there was one secret on how to be happy in your relationship or marriage, workplace, home life and family wouldn't you have learned it by now?   Are you constantly searching, asking people who seem happy, reading articles and watching videos on how to be happy? If so, you're certainly not alone. Online search engines get millions of people asking this question, and the internet is full of promises that this strategy or that formula will deliver you to a place of lasting happiness. Yet, many miss the main point: they never even touch on the fact that the real key to happiness with others is happiness with yourself.   If you haven't noticed or been here yourself (most of us have), an insecure person's need for constant approval is exhausting. Those who are happy and love themselves don't hang around with that kind of negative energy. Since we can't change other people, lead by example and others will follow in your footsteps, becoming good role models themselves. Here are 5 lessons that I learned (still learning) to find peace within ourselves and enjoy true happiness that does not depend on others.   1. Forgive Yourself   Forgive yourself for anything and everything you think you caused that was bad in your or someone else's life. You can't go back for a do-over, so learn the lesson and move forward, promising to better handle any similar situation that may arise. Now you're freed up to relax more and have greater peace of mind without beating yourself up over guilt and resentment.   2. Understand That You Are Complete   And understand that, "You complete me," was just a cheesy line in a Tom Cruise movie. (I loved that line at first too... for a few seconds, until I realized how inaccurate it was. Keep reading to learn why!) The reason most of us don't feel complete, and latched onto that line like it was the end-all be-all relationship concept is because we're waiting for someone else to be or do something that makes us feel whole.   First of all, as mentioned, we are already complete. But even if we weren't, no one else would be able to complete us anyway - it's impossible. When we put our happiness in someone else's hands we set them up for failure. Why would we do that to someone we care about? Because we don't realize we are the only ones who control our happiness.   Does this mean if you're unhappy it's your fault? Yes. Does this also put you in a position of power in your life? Absolutely. You want your relationships to be the joining of two complete individuals to create a third, larger entity so that you're a part of something, not just half of something. The whole "my other half" thing just breeds insecurity, which leads to the most painful relationship challenges like jealousy, abuse and infidelity. Why on earth would you want your happiness to be determined by someone or something outside of yourself?   3. Get To Know Yourself   When do you feel you're at your best when you're alone? Are you reading your favorite book overlooking a beautiful view? Enjoying your favorite tea, watching a movie? Shopping outside at the farmers market? Listening to your favorite music? How does your body feel? Healthy? Need some work? No one will be happier than you when your body looks good and functions well. This is a good confidence builder and when you have more confidence, you look better and healthier, and carry yourself in a completely different way that attracts confident people to you.   Here's a personal example: I had a spider vein on my lower leg and didn't feel comfortable in shorts for years. I finally had it removed and couldn't believe how much better I felt. My posture and confidence in shorts was much improved. Some things are easily fixable and for the others we may need to adjust our perspective a bit.   What are your favorite parts of yourself - your appearance, your character traits, your values or your personality? Do you get a kick out of your great sense of humor? I get a kick out of mine. I laugh to myself quite often! Are you really excited that you value honesty, which has attracted honest, genuine people to you? Are your eyes or hands or knees your favorite part of your body? Get to know your favorite parts and love them all.   4. Take A Good Look At Yourself   Take a look and notice how amazing you are. Keep your self-talk positive. There are things supermodels hate about themselves, so don't go thinking you're the only one who has dislikes. You can be happy with yourself even if there are things you'd like to change. I've always been shorter than most other people and would have given anything to be "normal" height. It took me 27 years of hating my height when many other people always wanted to be taller and would have traded me in an instant. Look how many years I experienced self-induced suffering. (This describes all suffering by the way. Pain is inevitable; suffering is optional.)   What are you good at, best at and want to improve at? What are your talents and what skills have you developed? What would you like to do in your life that you haven't done yet? What is the best thing you've ever done? Are you noticing that you might ask some of these questions on a date to get to know someone and determine if you like them or not? We get to know people by asking questions although we rarely ask them of ourselves. And when someone else asks, we sometimes answer differently than when we're asking ourselves.   5. Ask Yourself Questions   To find out more about yourself, ask yourself the questions you would ask on a date. The quality of your relationships is determined by the quality of the questions you ask. Ask good questions and lots of them (more than you would ask on a date; it's OK to be a chatterbox with yourself) to build that strong, healthy relationship with yourself.   Take time away from other people and be happily alone. At first, it might feel weird choosing to be alone but being alone and being lonely are two very different things. Dr. Wayne Dyer says, "You cannot be lonely if you like the person you're alone with." I went from being scared to sit alone in Starbucks for fear some stranger would think I didn't have any friends to loving going places alone. I have attracted wonderful friends by learning how to like myself and since like attracts like (energy), they happily do things on their own too. Yes, we do enjoy each other's company as well; we don't just talk about all the things we did by ourselves (although that would be funny).   Welcome to your inner power. You are qualified, capable and worthy of being happy with yourself regardless of anyone else on the planet so lead by example and show others how it's done. You will see that you can have much more fulfilling relationships without putting the responsibility of your happiness on someone else.   I'll pause here so that I can learn from your thoughts.   Looking forward to talking with you more, Jono
(MSW, LICSW, LMHC)
Answered on 05/18/2021

How do I stop being such a piece of shit

Hello and thank you for submitting this question. I am sorry to hear that you have been dealing with depression and anger problems for most of your life. Symptoms related to depression and anger can be limiting and negatively impact your overall life. What type of symptoms are you experiencing. Also, given that you have experienced these symptoms most of your life, have you considered seeing a psychiatrist for medication management if interested? Two questions to think about as you address your current needs. It sounds as though your symptoms related to depression, anger and drinking are not a good match. I am sorry to hear that you became "really I mean and abusive to her". No one deserves to be treated abusively. I am pleased that you are reaching out for help. This is a good first step - Self Awareness. You know personally that your symptoms of depression, anger and drinking lead to negative actions and behaviors from you. My recommendation is that you seek counseling services - seeing a Counselor regularly (weekly) to work through your thoughts, behaviors, frustrations, and triggers for your anger. Also, consult with a Psychiatrist regarding possible medication management to manage your symptoms. I believe you will benefit from a thorough assessment of your symptoms and history to develop and comprehensive plan for treatment. Please hear me say: there is hope for you! As long as you are willing to seek help, follow the recommendations of your treating providers and do the work that you all have agreed on - consistently, you will do well. It may be that drinking causes you to not moderate your emotions, feelings, and reactions. Are you able to stop drinking safely and cut back on drinking a lot? This may be another aspect to assess by a behavioral health provider. If you are currently drinking a lot and would benefit from detox, you can be referred and treated safely. If you can safely stop on your own, I would try. You and your current can consider getting relationship counseling to work through some of the present challenges. As you admitted to being abusive to your girlfriend, please encourage her to seek mental health help to talk about/process what has happened and how she can cope and progress. This will be helpful to her and your current/her future relationship. Acknowledging your challenges and apologizing to your girlfriend will be helpful. Also, let her know you plan to seek her to become a better person for yourself and others. I will close by saying, knowledge is power. When we know more, we do more. Given that you know and are aware that your depression symptoms, anger and drinking are not serving you well, work hard to make changes in these areas. It will be challenging to make changes by yourself. You definitely will benefit from working with mental health professionals to guide and support you throughout the process. I wish you well as you work on your current mental health needs. Help and support are available to you - use it! 
(PhD, MPH, MSW)
Answered on 01/29/2021

How to deal with heartbreak when the effort in the relationship was onesided ? in a pandemic and not being able to go out much.

Loneliness is a big deal during this pandemic. One thing to consider is why you are lonely. What specifically are you missing during this pandemic? Is it social interaction? Is it physical interaction? Is it mental stimulation? All these things can be provided for, by ourselves, even though we are socially distant from each other. Exploring hobbies and self care during this time, during Covid, is imperative. I always live by the phrase "you have to be your own best friend". When we think of loneliness, we tend to think it means we are not happy. If we are not happy, we have to explore ways to gain that happiness. Depression can occur for many reasons. A breakup can cause depression, especially if the relationship was one-sided, because we tend to question our values and not the other persons. Throughout life we put our values at the forefront of what we do. Even if we do not see it, they are there subconsciously. This is true in a relationship as well. When we get into a relationship and it does not work out, we tend to question what we did wrong. What could we have done different? Why did it happen this way? Those questions then turn into us questioning our values. Nothing is wrong with looking at your values. Over time, our values tend to change as we encounter and experience new situations. However, when our questioning leads to us become more depressed, that is where the disconnect it. There is a lot to dissect in this situation. The main things I would focus on are self-esteem, values and character. How would I rather my self-esteem? What could I do to increase my level of self-esteem? What are some of my core values and how have they shaped my life? Where did those values originate from? Are they values that I need to maintain, or do they need to be looked at on a deeper level and reconsidered? Do I question my character? Was there anything that happened in the relationship that maybe cause me to go against my normal character? There are so many questions that one can ask themselves in this situation. Those questions can lead to a deeper understanding of who they are as a person and how they want to grow in the future.
Answered on 09/30/2020