Paranioa Answers

Um stressed and having anxiety, indulge into drugs, due to some personal issues, My head is stuck

Hello, I'm sorry you're going through so much! Typically with hallucinations, paranoia and possible delusions (scared of people and things) we would recommend you see a doctor to help you decrease those symptoms or get more sleep, which could be causing those symptoms. A psychiatrist is the best, but if you cannot get in soon enough, a family doctor can typically help you get on a medication and refer you to a psychiatrist.    Therapy for this would help you to learn grounding techniques, mindfulness and eventually work out your trauma. Those techniques, and other things that distract your mind, will help decrease the hallucinations.    You do mention drug use, that can invoke paranoia, delusions or hallucinations, and may be complicating your trauma. I understand it may decrease other symptoms when you use, but it is detrimental to your mind overall. For instance, if you are using alcohol; the night after drinking you will be more depressed as alcohol is a depressant. It turns into a vicious cycle as you're trying to feel better but it may increase symptoms. Prescription medication has many studies to show what part of the brain it targets and the side effects are minimal compared to street drugs.   Grounding techniques and mindfulness are things such as: Use your five senses to identify what you are doing. (Pet a dog and notice how they smell, look, sound, and feel [don't taste them :)).  Play I spy games such as noticing 5 red things around you. You can also just reach out for a friend when you're wondering if something isn't real such as touching, someone else's arm. Another good trick would be getting a strong mint or sour candy that will bring you back into the present when you eat it.  Step outside in the cold, take a cold shower or hold an ice cube. This will also bring you back to the present.   We have many great therapists at Betterhelp that can assist you in deploying these techniques and getting you a referral to a doctor who can assist you in getting on some medication to help decrease your symptoms and also the cravings for other drugs. 
(MSW, MN, LICSW, #26706, EMDRIA, Certified)
Answered on 01/21/2022

What should I do?

Hi there and thanks for reaching out. It sounds like you are having some uncomfortable feelings of paranoia and are hearing people laughing at you. It also sounds like maybe some people have told you that you have delusional thoughts. A worry that you have is if you talk to a provider that he or she will diagnose you with a mental health disorder and that you will be put in a locked institution. That is a really scary thought.  But it also sounds like you feel like you have managed some of these thoughts and feelings in an effective way but then also feel like your friendships and relationships get stymied. This keeps you from having the kind of friendships and romantic relationships that you are interested in. It sounds like it has also kept you from achieving some goals that you have for yourself professionally or otherwise.  So where to go from here?  You feel like you can do some things on your own but might not mind some support but if you ask for the support you will get locked up. Well, that depends right? In most states, you are not able to be "locked up" unless you present as a clear danger to yourself or others. And even if that were to happen there are evaluation periods that are generally 24-72 hours before there would be a formal commitment. So that is the scariest scenario.  What is the next scariest scenario? Talking to a Psychologist or Psychiatrist who has the ability to give you a diagnosis and they might say that you have an anxiety disorder or a thought disorder or schizophrenia. They might be able to help you get some meds or seek out treatment that would provide support in your life with activities of daily living or help your thoughts become more manageable. This could actually help prevent you from being locked up.  Less scary than that? Reaching out to a counselor here on betterhelp to help you explore what you are feeling and what your options might be to implement some coping mechanisms or get some support that you may need. Taking a step like asking the question that you did was a healthy first step... trying to find out more information and to find out what your options might be.  I hope this helps you understand a little bit more about what your options to get some help look like. It is all about at what level you feel comfortable and what will ultimately help you get to the place in life that you want to be: achieving more of your personal goals and maintaining meaningful relationships.   
Answered on 01/21/2022

When does having high Anxiety levels become a proper mental condition?

Thank you for reaching out for some help, Lena. It sounds like you have been struggling with high anxiety and paranoia. While anxiety and paranoia share similarities and may even be co-occurring symptoms, they are entirely different phenomena that are not mutually exclusive. In other words, you may experience anxiety, paranoia, or some combination of the two mental health issues. Of note, you can experience these symptoms - anxiety or paranoia - and it not necessarily rise to the level of clinical significance. Anxiety and paranoia can also manifest as byproducts of other mental illnesses, such as bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, schizoaffective disorder, and posttraumatic stress disorder. Perhaps none of these apply in your situation. You may be experiencing anxiety and paranoia secondary to trauma you endured from bullying or abuse during childhood.  Whatever the cause of your anxiety and paranoia, you did the right thing by reaching out for help.  The common ground shared between anxiety and paranoia are negative thoughts that are not necessarily rooted in reality. It sounds like your paranoia seems specific to social settings where you believe people are thinking and speaking negatively about you. While you have no concrete evidence to support your suspicions, these negative thought patterns nevertheless seem to prevail in your mind. You may have rehearsed these unhealthy narratives for so many years that they have become automatic thoughts making challenging them even more diffuclt. I can imagine living this way would complicate your interactions with others, making relationships nearly impossible to function healthily. Many people who face similar challenges isolate from others to avoid feeling this way, which unfortunately only worsens anxiety over time.  I am especially proud of you for overcoming the additional challenge in reaching out for some assistance with this matter in particular. Although I am licensed to diagnose mental illnesses, we are not permitted to provide you with a diagnosis as a licensed therapist on BetterHelp. If you are seeking an official mental illness diagnosis, you may wish to consider seeking treatment from another source where diagnoses are offered. However,  you may benefit from initiating counseling with a therapist on BetterHelp to master coping strategies to help you more effectively cope with paranoia and anxiety.
(LCSW)
Answered on 01/21/2022

would i be oblivious to the fact that i have schizophrenia if i really do have it?

Hi Cat, First of all, you should be proud of yourself that you're reaching out for help. It sounds like you've been bothered by this paranoia and hallucinations for a while now, and getting help can significantly improve the quality of your life. To answer your question, some people with Schizophrenia are well aware that the hallucinations are not real and that it's resulting from their mental health, while others do not have that insight.  I can understand how scary all of this must be for you. There's actually a lot of good news here. If you do have Schizophrenia (which I'm not sure you do--I'll explain below), there are much better treatments for it today than there were decades ago. Many people with Schizophrenia, if they take their medications as prescribed, have no symptoms at all, and there's a good chance that you know people with Schizophrenia who live perfectly normal lives because they're on the right medications. I You have an appointment with someone and I'd imagine you'd receive a diagnostic assessment, and so a lot of questions will be asked to determine whether you do in fact have Schizophrenia. However, there are a lot of explanations for what you're experiencing, and if you've been able to function pretty well in life, my guess is that you probably don't have Schizophrenia. Some people experience these symptoms due to significant stress in their life. This is especially common for those who have endured trauma. In those cases, working on stress management and on the trauma can often reduce or eliminate these symptoms. In other cases, the symptoms are a result of using substances. I don't know if you do use any substances, but even marijuana for some people can result in hallucinations and delusions that don't necessarily disappear immediately when the marijuana use is stopped. There are also other mental health disorders that can involve having depressive episodes. For example, some people have Schizoaffective Disorder, which is less severe than Schizophrenia, and some people only have mood disorders with psychotic features, which means that their depression or mania is resulting in the hallucinations and delusions and that the focus needs to be on treating the mood disorder. Given that you may be describing a depressive episode before these symptoms start, I'm not sure that Schizophrenia is what you have. Honestly though, the diagnose itself is not what's important--you receiving the support that you need, and if you do need medication, receiving that--that's far more important than any label that can be given.  So, I certainly couldn't diagnose you based on the information that you've presented, but I just want to assure you that what you're experiencing is very treatable and also much more common than what most people think. I absolutely think therapy could be helpful, and I do encourage you to sign up for it, but do also keep your appointment with a psychiatrist or medical doctor who can prescribe medication if necessary. Be kind to yourself and give yourself credit for reaching out for this support. I'd be happy to work with you if you're interested in participating in therapy. 
(MRC, LPCC-S, LICDC)
Answered on 01/21/2022

Starting to get paranoid. Is there a test for schizophrenia, bipolar disorder?

To answer your question, yes there are assessments and medication that can assist with these issues. Based on your question I'm not sure if you're concerned about schizophrenia is because of family history?   Better help therapists cannot prescribe medication and that needs to be the first step in order to help stop the voices. so you'll need to speak with your primary care physician. They will then most likely need to refer you to a psychiatrist because they are able to prescribe certain classes of medication that a primary physician cannot.   Insurance companies often require a referral from a primary care physician for a psychiatrist  anyway, so that's why I suggest you start there or local ER, whichever is easiest.    If I chance you do not have insurance then going through your ER would be the quickest route since they cannot turn you away is simply because you don't have insurance.  There are definitely meds though that can assist with bipolar and or schizophrenia  symptoms depending on the actual diagnosis given. The fact that you are hearing voices and experiencing paranoia, is essential that you contact your doctor to initiate this process for you. Once your medications are determined you can then ask for referral for outpatient counseling.   If you find that the primary care physician is not available due to scheduling, you can also Go to an ER in your nearest hospital. There should be someone there Who could assist with getting medication Until you can make an appointment to an appropriate physician.  If the ER staff cannot provide an assessment they will have resources to refer you to a local agency who can help you.  In my area we have a local psychiatric hospital that specializes in providing assessments and testing as well as medication. If you have an option like that where you live, this may be the quickest route For getting assistance. Start with these beginning steps and that should get you headed in the right direction. I wish you the very best and applaud your efforts to reach out for help. The right medication can go along way to stabilizing your symptoms. Once that is in place then it will make Counseling more effective since you'll be able to focus better.
(LCSW, MSSW)
Answered on 01/21/2022

how to deal with paranoia

Thank you for reaching out to get some help, Sour. I can imagine living like this has created a lot of suffering for you. I find it fascinating that you are able to acknowledge that your thoughts are irrational, yet it seems you still believe them to be true. These thoughts are so invasive that they interfere with your ability to sleep at night. I wonder if you are able to sleep at all. If you are not sleeping or sleeping very little, then I would imagine these symptoms will only worsen over time. Sleep is so imperative to achieving optimal mental health.  It sounds to me as though you are experiencing not only paranoia, but you are also endorsing delusional thinking. Paranoia and delusional thinking are components of psychosis.  In other words, you appear unable to distinguish what is real from what is not real. Although it feels so real that you repeatedly check your bed, you are still not convinced that there are no bugs crawling on you. You are afraid of bugs crawling on you even though you have no evidence to suggest that they are indeed there. I am curious as to when this phenomenon began. I would also like to know why this sensation only occurs at night and if it is restricted to your bed only or if it is generalized to other locations. I wonder also if you experience any paranoia or delusions in other aspects of your life. Most people who experience paranoia and delusions have these thoughts in other areas, as well.  However, if your belief that bugs are crawling on you is the only "irrational" thought you have, then there may be a specific trigger. If you were exposed to bed bugs previously, maybe you are reliving the memories and now you feel anxious and hypervigilant of it recurring. If there are no actual historical cases of a bed bug infestation,  then this phenomenon may be explained by other factors. Some drugs - namely, stimulants - may actually trigger this sensation.  In this case, it would be a substance-induced psychotic episode.  If you are using any drugs, I would advise you discontinue their use immediately as they are triggering and/or exacerbating your psychosis. Psychotic symptoms like the ones you described could also be a symptom of your "psychotic break," mania, and/or depression with psychotic features. Although some conditions can be managed without medication, psychotic symptoms typically require pharmacological interventions. I recommend you additionally pursue psychiatric medication options to target the psychotic symtoms. In order to adequately treat your symptoms, you will need to speak with a psychiatrist for further evaluation. 
(LCSW)
Answered on 01/21/2022

Why am I scared if darkness

Thanks reaching out for help, Easa. Your fear of the dark sounds like it is bringing you quite a deal of distress. I can imagine having this fear could have severe implications on your quality of life. It sounds like you have had a lifetime long fear of the dark. Child development experts would agree that some degree of fear of the dark would be considered appropriate and normal for younger children to experience. However, it would seem that your fear of the dark has persisted into adulthood. It would be helpful to know where you could trace back the origins of your fear of the dark. I wonder if your fear is rooted in something traumatic that happened to you in the dark or if it is based on messages you received during childhood.  Despite the origins, the fact remains that your fear remains and it does not appear to be abating. Not surprisingly, your fear has not only continued, but your fear has intensified. You also mentioned not only being afraid of the dark, but you are also afraid of ghosts. I wonder if your fear of the dark is linked to your fear of ghosts and their connection to darkness. Nevertheless,  your fear is so intense that you experience physiological responses with your insomnia, shortness of breath,  and racing heart. What you described is your body's fight vs flight response. When we feel threatened,  our sympathetic nervous system revs up and our bodies essentially respond as though they are in a life vs death scenario. To exacerbate the matter,  it appears you use distractions to avoid facing your fear of the dark. When you turn on the lights, for example, to avoid confronting your fear of the dark your fear of the dark only continues to flourish. Avoidance is a typical fear response and while it does offer temporary relief, it actually makes your fear loom larger than ever before! The more you avoid, the more the fear grows as you are not acquiring  memories (or evidence) that counter the fear.  Perhaps there is a message you are telling yourself (i.e. "Bad things happen in the dark") that has no opportunity to be challenged because you are not permitting yourself an opportunity to actually spend time in the dark free of all the avoidance mechanisms. Lastly, I encourage you to address your fear in therapy. Therapy provides an invitation for you to uncover the origins of your fear and learn how to overcome this fear. The hardest part often times is getting over our own fear of fear. You took a courageous step today by reaching out for help. Your next step will bring you closer to a solution in transcending your fear of the dark. 
(LCSW)
Answered on 01/21/2022

How to deal with a harsh inner critic?

In gaining a better understanding of when you say that you have this “harsh inner critic” I had to read more about what you have described.  I had a general idea of what you have expressed but wanted to gain a better understanding. It appears you are experiencing a well-integrated pattern of destructive thoughts toward yourself and others. The nagging “voices,” or thoughts, that make up this internalized dialogue about yourself which could be the root of much of your self-destructive and maladaptive behaviors. Your inner voice is not an auditory hallucination; it is your experienced thoughts within your head. This stream of destructive thoughts forms an anti-self that discourages you from acting in what is in your best interest. It appears your harsh inner voice is an internal enemy that can affect every aspect of your life, including your self-esteem and confidence, personal and intimate relationships, and your performance and accomplishments at school and work. These negative thoughts affect you by undermining your positive feelings about yourself and what you think others are thinking and it fosters self-criticism, distrust, self-denial, addictions, and a retreat from any goal-directed activities. At times, some of the common voices may include thoughts like “You’re stupid,” “You’re not attractive,” or “You’re not like other people.” Some people have voiced about their career, like “You’ll never be successful,” “No one appreciates how hard you work,” or “You are under too much pressure, you can’t handle this stress.” Many people experience voices about their relationship, such as “He doesn’t really care about you,” “You’re better off on your own,” or “Don’t be vulnerable, you’ll just get hurt.”   I’m sure you are wondering where my harsh inner voices come from.  These inner voices usually come from early life experiences that are internalized and taken in as ways we think about ourselves. Often, many of these negative voices come from our parents or primary caretakers, as children, we pick up on the negative attitudes that parents not only have towards their children but also toward themselves.  Our voices can also come from interactions with peers and siblings or influential adults. Additionally, your inner voice can be different than your conscience. Many people think if they stop listening to their inner voices, they will lose touch with their conscience. However, the harsh inner voice is not a trustworthy moral guide like a conscience. On the contrary, the harsh inner voice is degrading and punishing and often leads us to make unhealthy decisions. These negative voices tend to increase our feelings of self-hatred without motivating us to change undesirable qualities or act in a constructive manner. I am sure you are wondering how I conquer my harsh inner voice. Working with a counselor can help you take back the power of your destructive thought processes.  Counselors can help you first to become conscious of what your inner voice is telling you so you can stop it from ruining your life. To identify this, it is helpful to pay attention to when you suddenly slip into a bad mood or become upset, often these negative shifts in emotion are a result of a critical inner voice. Once you identify the thought process and pinpoint the negative actions it is advocating, you can take control over your inner voice by consciously deciding not to listen. Instead, you can the action that is in your best interest. Counselors here at Betterhelp can assist you to overcome your “harsh inner voice”.  
(EdD, NCC, LPC)
Answered on 01/21/2022

Is there any other way to get healed apart from counseling

This is an interesting question that could stand to be brought up in counseling to help define what you mean by healing. Without your input, it is difficult to determine how you see these thoughts and how they affect your behavior. Other questions could be how do you want this to change or appear different; do these thoughts disturb you; or even can you realize these are bizarre delusions and would like to be able to tolerate them? Maybe you want to use them as a resource to create fiction writing.  The most important question accompanying these kinds of thoughts is do they prompt malevolent behavior?  If it turns out you are a danger to yourself or others, it will likely lead to your being removed from society. Discussing this with others could help you determine what kind of help you would need to avoid being incarcerated. Those others would be people trained to discuss in a calm rational way the content, focus, meaning, and possible resolution to what you see needs healing. Some counselors are such people. They are trained to not judge or label you, but sit with you and explore your thought world experiences and how you may be able to bear with them. As far as healing, there could be several options. One is medical and involves taking medicines that reduce the intensity of the thoughts so they seem less powerful and intrusive. Other ways could involve spiritual practices like breathwork or such that help you tolerate these thoughts and turn them to good use. The prime concern here is to help you stay behaviorally safe both to yourself and others. It is OK to entertain the notion that you may be the leader of a pack of werewolves, but it is a whole other issue to act out as such.  The importance of working with a counselor is that it enables you to make the best possible choice in choosing the path that enables you to live successfully while these thoughts manifest in your psyche. Thoughts are neither good nor bad, but what is brought to justice is how we react to our thinking. Others with similar thought disorders have taken many paths dealing with them. Some have led to long-term incarceration, others to mandated medical delivery, while still others to satisfying thriving peaceful lives punctuated by rich thought lives of somewhat bizarre nature.  However, you proceed, I wish you a healthy journey. I hope your way is filled with helpful people who both support and encourage you to follow your best leadings. Counselors could be such people. Good Luck.  
(LMHC, LCMHC)
Answered on 01/21/2022

How do I cope with my wife who refuses to get treatment for her mental illness?

Thank you for reaching out to better help for assistance. I look forward to assisting you. Sounds like you would like to know how you cope with your wife who refuses to get treatment for her mental illness.  Sounds like your wife has a lot of paranoia that is affecting her life.  Sounds like you should see a mental health professional get a good diagnosis and treatment or medication. Sounds like she might be suffering from a psychotic disorder of some type.  Without treatment, this won't get any better. She probably needs some medication.  Sounds like your wife isn't a danger to herself or others. If she was you could request she go to the hospital. I would suggest you talk with her and how concerned you are for her wellbeing and just get a good medical checkup. Many times people that experience symptoms like this believe they are true and wonder why you don't believe them. This can be scary for them. You really can't change her beliefs or what she will do but can encourage her to get a good medical checkup. Do you have a good family doctor that your wife trusts and would be willing to talk with?  She might feel people think she is crazy and will lock her up. The fact is no one thinks she is crazy or wants to lock her up. Sounds like you just want her to get treatment. Once she gets on some good medication she will be more like her old self and these paranoid thoughts will go away and she can enjoy her life more. It would be like if a person has diabetes they need to take medication. If a person has high blood pressure they need to take medication. Is there something wrong with these people taking medication? They have a chemical imbalance in their bodies. Sounds like your wife might have a chemical imbalance in her body. She also needs to make sure she is getting enough sleep. Is she sleeping enough? This kind of paranoia can happen if a person goes too long without enough sleep. Encourage her to get good sleep. I hope this helped some and I wish you and your wife the best. I look forward to hearing from you.
(LPC, NCC, MS)
Answered on 01/21/2022

I am 34 and I think I might have ptd. I have been diagnosed with PTSD and anxiety can you plz help

Hello there, Unfortunately, determining whether or not someone has a diagnosis requires more than just a short consultation. To ensure that the diagnosis is accurate, I would recommend meeting with a psychiatrist a few times so that they can gather a thorough history and symptom picture.  "According to the DSM-5, there are two primary diagnostic criteria for Paranoid Personality Disorder of which criterion A has seven sub-features, four of which must be present to warrant a diagnosis of PPD: Criterion A is Global mistrust and suspicion of others motives that commences in adulthood. The seven sub-features of criterion A are: 1.The person with PPD will believe others are using, lying to, or harming them, without apparent evidence thereof. 2.They will have doubts about the loyalty and trustworthiness of others, 3., They will not confide in others due to the belief that their confidence will be betrayed. 4.They will interpret ambiguous or benign remarks as hurtful or threatening, and 5. Hold grudges, 6. In the absence of objective evidence, believe their reputation or character are being assailed by others and will retaliate in some manner and 7. Will be jealous and suspicious without cause that intimate partners are being unfaithful. Criterion B is that the above symptoms will not be during a psychotic episode in schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, or depressive disorder with psychotic features, A qualifier is that if the diagnostic criteria for PPD are met prior to the onset of Schizophrenia, it should be noted Paranoid Personality Disorder was premorbid (American Psychiatric Association, 2013). Onset The DSM-5 notes that Paranoid Personality Disorder features may be apparent in childhood and adolescence. Children may act strangely, resulting in teasing (American Psychiatric Association, 2013). This is an interesting note, in that it raises questions of premorbid causality. A child who exhibits abnormal behaviors and who is rejected by peers may learn not to trust and may become suspicious of others' motives. This could be a contributing factor in the development of a paranoid personality. Prevalence According to the DSM-5, the prevalence of Paranoid Personality Disorder is 2.3 % to 4.4 % of the US population and is more frequently diagnosed in males. (American Psychiatric Association, 2013). Risk Factors The DSM-5 indicates that a family history of Schizophrenia, or persecutory type delusional disorder are risk factors for Paranoid Personality Disorder (American Psychiatric Association, 2013). Comorbidity The DSM -5 identifies the following conditions as comorbid: Other personality disorders, specifically, schizotypal, schizoid, narcissistic, avoidant, and borderline personality disorder. Substance abuse disorders, Major depressive disorder, OCD, and agoraphobia are also noted as conditions which can develop in conjunction with PPD (American Psychiatric Association, 2013)." All of this information was taken from https://www.theravive.com/therapedia/paranoid-personality-disorder-dsm--5-301.0-(f60.0) but I highly encourage you to meet with a mental health professional to determine if this is something you have.
(LPC, NCC, CEDS-S)
Answered on 01/21/2022

How can i stop my repititive thoughts?

Dear Lily,   Thank you for your message.   I understand how difficult it is to try stopping your thoughts. I could imagine how hard you have been trying and how frustrating to feel that nothing is working. You have done so well in noticing your worries, and make strategies to focus on what would be the likely outcome over what our imagined outcome is. Yet no matter how spiritually and mindfully mature we are, it is still inevitable that we experience feelings of fear, anxiety and grief at times. That is unfortunately what life brings us, however just as how you have noticed before, sufferings do make us wiser and stronger, and sometimes allow us to discover things that we would have never discover without sufferings.   We can't stop our thoughts, but the more we practice being mindful of the present, the better we can catch ourselves with our thoughts and develop an alternative response to them, and learn to let go.   During moments like this I remind myself the teachings of the Buddha regarding worries, it is consisted with a 2 part questions:   1. Is this problem within my control? If so, then this problem will be solved given time and the right intervention. 2. Would worrying about it make any difference? If not, then is it worth it to sacrifice our time and mental health worrying over something that (1. can't be solved anyway / 2. will be solved anyway)?   This is definitely easier said than done, therefore as a fellow human being, I am working with you to pay attention to what is good, what is kind rather than our worries.   Obsessive or consuming thoughts can make living miserable when you are plagued by them, but this very situation can become the invitation to transcend mind and be free of suffering forever.   Can you stop obsessive thoughts? - If you could, it would be great, but the truth is that it's slightly more complicated than just suppressing your thoughts which at-most you can do for a few seconds. Plus suppressing thoughts is even worse than enduring thoughts. It builds up a lot of negative energy inside.   So how to stop these stops thoughts? The secret to stopping these thoughts is to detach from the mind because You cannot fight mind with the mind. Let's look at this in more detail.   What Causes Obsessive Thoughts?   If you generated the thoughts, you could've controlled them too.   The truth is that you don't generate thoughts, the mind does. And the mind is on auto-mode most of the time.   You can see this for yourself; can you predict what you will think 30 seconds from now? If you can't how can you assume that you are generating the thoughts?   If you believe that you are your mind, that's a false notion again.   If you are your mind then how can you observe the thoughts? So you must be separate from the mind to see what the mind is doing.   The mind generates thoughts, which are mostly just energy forms. These thoughts pass through like clouds. We identify with some of these thoughts and obsess over them.   So in truth, all thoughts are just neutral energy forms; it's your interest or association with the thoughts that makes them obsessive. If you can understand this truth, you have taken the first step towards getting rid of obsessive thoughts.   How to Stop Obsessive Negative Thoughts?   If you are asking this question, ask yourself another question - "is this question not another thought? It's a thought about killing thoughts".   All your attempts at suppressing and stopping thoughts fail because you are using the mind to stop the mind. The police man and thief are both the mind; so how can the police man catch the thief?   So you cannot kill the mind by force. The mind dies its own death by the poison of disassociation.   What gives power to a thought? - Your interest. If you have no interest in a particular thought then it loses its hold over you.   You can try this out now. Let the thoughts flow through your mind but don't take interest in them. Just stay as a bystander or a watcher and let the thoughts float.   Initially you might have a hard time watching thoughts because of your inherent habit of associating with each thought that arises.   It helps to know that you are not your thoughts, that thoughts are just energy forms created in the mind. Why does the mind create thoughts? No one knows - it's just something it does, why bother. Do you ever ask why does the heart beat?   With a little practice you will get really good at watching thoughts and not involving yourself with them.   You will stop giving power to thoughts by not giving them your interest. Thoughts die immediately when they are deprived of this fuel of interest. If you don't associate with the thought or give power to the thought, it will wither away quickly.   What Are Thoughts?   Past events get stored as memories. Your mind conditioning and beliefs are also stored as memories. All this is unconscious storage; the mind does all this in auto mode.   Perceptions and interpretations are created in the mind based on its past "external" conditioning and also its natural conditioning (genetics). These interpretations, perceptions and judgments come up as thoughts in the mind, and they can be positive or negative depending on the mind's conditioning.   Thoughts are generated based on the past incidents/memories, future projections and interpretations on the present life situation. It's like a computer trying to predict or conjure up projection based on the data it has collected so far.   When thoughts are negative in nature (thoughts of worry, anxiety, stress, lack, resentment, guilt etc.) they produce resistance to the movement of your life, and this resistance is felt as suffering. Negative thoughts will always stand in resistance to the movement of your life, like blocks of stone in the midst of a swift current of water.   Life is a stream of pure positive energy and hence any negative thought will stand in opposition to it, causing friction which is felt as suffering in the body.   The thoughts in your mind gain power from your attention and interest. Your attention is the fuel for your mind. So when you give attention to consuming thoughts in the mind, you are unconsciously fueling it and thus attracting more momentum for these negative thoughts.   The momentum of negative thoughts in your mind will slow down, and ebb away, automatically when you stop feeding your attention to it. Stay as an open space of awareness without focusing your attention on the negative thoughts of the mind, and soon they will lose their momentum.   You can focus on the positive thoughts generated in the mind, and thus develop a positive momentum in your mind. Every time your mind produces some positive thoughts, e.g thoughts of love, joy, excitement, abundance, beauty, appreciation, passion, peace etc, focus on it, milk it, and give attention to it.   This will cause your mind to attract more positive thoughts and thus build a positive momentum.   Whenever the mind thinks negatively, don't give it attention or interest, this will cause the ebbing away of the momentum of negative thinking. It's really that simple. Once you understand the mechanics of how thoughts gain momentum in the mind, you will be in total control of your state of being.   Please let me know if this is helpful, looking forward to talking with you more :) Jono  
(MSW, LICSW, LMHC)
Answered on 01/21/2022

How can I be healed from trichotillomania after 25 years of hair pulling? Can I be 100% pulling free

Dear Bati,   Thank you for your message and sharing with me how you've been interacting with yourself, especially on how you've been handling unpleasant feelings and emotions. As you said this has also affected your life significantly. Perhaps by addressing how to handle unpleasant emotions in a healthier manner, we can dive into addressing the issues in your life as well?   Often the experience we've had about anxiety (or any strong emotion such as stress/depression) was so terrible (even physically) that our body sort of become traumatized to it. We naturally become nervous about these unpleasant feelings because we don't like these sensations and experiences. As a result we would do everything we can to avoid/fight these anxious feelings, often using numbing techniques such as using substances or distracting ourselves. Yet only to find that the anxiety gets stronger over time because we have never been able to make peace with it.   Therefore rather than trying to "change" / "fight" / "get rid of" these unpleasant sensations, perhaps the best thing that we can do is to make room for these feelings and even sensations, while staying on track to do what brings us meaning and fulfillment. Floating without judging / blaming ourselves through the anxiety experience, while focusing on making room for anxiety can be helpful.   Here is a short video put up by the author of the book "The Happiness Trap" which does a good job explaining this concept:   Please take some time to watch this and share your thoughts later :) I also highly recommend picking that book as well to supplement this therapy process.   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rCp1l16GCXI    We as human beings do not like sufferings, therefore often times we would be doing our best to fight it. However just like the analogy of swimming vs floating that we have talked about before, the more we fight it, the faster we sink. While if we can learn to float with these waves, we will realize that we won't sink.   Radical acceptance / Expansion is about accepting of life on life's terms and not resisting what you cannot or choose not to change. Radical Acceptance is about saying yes to life and all that life brings (including all sorts of emotions such as joy, sadness, peace and pain), just as it is without forcing our ways into our lives.   Why do we want to accept life as it is? Because with anything that we do in life that brings us meaning and fulfillment, it always accompany a wide range of emotions, we can't possibly just choose the ones that we like and fight/avoid those that we don't like. Learning to experience all emotions as they are, is a sign that we are living our lives to the fullest.   To do so we must learn to accept (and make room for) any unpleasant sensations, feelings or thoughts that we experience.   We don't want to fight it because the more we fight, the stronger they will come back.   We don't want to avoid it either because the more we avoid, the more we'll be afraid of it.   So the key here is to make room for these sensations, feelings and thoughts, while continue to do what brings us meaning and fulfillment in life.    Learning to "co-exist" with these feelings will naturally reduce the intensity of them.   Floating, is a form of learning to accept these feelings and make room for it.   Let me give you some practical guidelines on what I mean by accepting these feelings and make room for it.   You can look up "expansion technique" under Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) for more information as well.   How to accept our emotions (and make room for them):   1. OBSERVE. Bring awareness to the feelings in your body.   2. BREATHE. Take a few deep breaths. Breathe into and around them.   3. EXPAND. Make room for these feelings. Create some space for them.   4. ALLOW. Allow them to be there. Make peace with them   Some people find it helpful to silently say to themselves, 'I don't like this feeling, but I have room for it,' or 'It's unpleasant, but I can accept it.'   • When you're feeling an unpleasant emotion, the first step is to take a few slow, deep breaths, and quickly scan your body from head to toe.   • You will probably notice several uncomfortable sensations. Look for the strongest sensation - the one that bothers you the most. For example, it may be a lump in your throat, or a knot in your stomach, or an ache in your chest.   • Focus your attention on that sensation. Observe it curiously, as if you are a friendly scientist, discovering some interesting new phenomenon.   • Observe the sensation carefully. Notice where it starts and where it ends. Learn as much about it as you can. If you had to draw a line around the sensation, what would the outline look like? Is it on the surface of the body, or inside you, or both? How far inside you does it go? Where is the sensation most intense? Where is it weakest? How is it different in the center than around the edges? Is there any pulsation, or vibration within it? Is it light or heavy? Moving or still? What is its temperature?   • Take a few more deep breaths, and let go of the struggle with that sensation. Breathe into it. Imagine your breath flowing in and around it.   • Make room for it. Loosen up around it. Allow it to be there. You don't have to like it or want it. Simply let it be.   • The idea is to observe the sensation - not to think about it. So when your mind starts commenting on what's happening, just say 'Thanks, mind!' and come back to observing.   • You may find this difficult. You may feel a strong urge to fight with it or push it away. If so, just acknowledge this urge, without giving in to it. (Acknowledging is rather like nodding your head in recognition, as if to say 'There you are. I see you.') Once you've acknowledged that urge, bring your attention back to the sensation itself.   • Don't try to get rid of the sensation or alter it. If it changes by itself, that's okay. If it doesn't change, that's okay too. Changing or getting rid of it is not the goal.   • You may need to focus on this sensation for anything from a few seconds to a few minutes, until you completely give up the struggle with it. Be patient. Take as long as you need. You're learning a valuable skill.   • Once you've done this, scan your body again, and see if there's another strong sensation that's bothering you. If so, repeat the procedure with that one.   • You can do this with as many different sensations as you want to. Keep going until you have a sense of no longer struggling with your feelings.   • As you do this exercise one of two things will happen: either your feelings will change - or they won't. It doesn't matter either way. This exercise is not about changing your feelings. It's about accepting them.   Looking forward to talking with you more, Jono
(MSW, LICSW, LMHC)
Answered on 01/21/2022

Why do I feel like I’m acting the whole time and struggling to be my true self

Depersonalization can be its own disorder, or a symptom of depression, drug use, or psychotropic medications. But when it occurs as a symptom of severe or prolonged stress and anxiety, experts agree that it's not dangerous, or a sign of psychosis, like many people fear. DDD symptoms generally fall into two categories: symptoms of depersonalization and symptoms of derealization. People with DDD can experience symptoms of just one or the other or both. Depersonalization symptoms include: feeling like you’re outside your body, sometimes as if you’re looking down on yourself from above feeling detached from yourself, as if you have no actual self numbness in your mind or body, as if your senses are turned off feeling as if you can’t control what you do or say feeling as if parts of your body are the wrong size difficulty attaching emotion to memories Derealization symptoms include: having trouble recognizing surroundings or finding your surroundings hazy and almost dreamlike feeling like a glass wall separates you from the world — you can see what’s beyond but can’t connect feeling like your surroundings aren’t real or seem flat, blurry, too far, too close, too big, or too small experiencing a distorted sense of time — the past may feel very recent, while recent events feel as if they happened long ago for many people, DDD symptoms are hard to put into words and communicate to others. This can add to feeling like you don’t exist or are simply “going crazy.” Close to 50 percent of adults in the United States will have an episode of depersonalization or derealization at some point in their lives, though only 2 percent meet criteria for a DDD diagnosis. What causes DDD? No one’s sure about the exact cause of DDD. But for some people, it seems to be linked to experiencing stress and trauma, especially at a young age. For example, if you grew up around a lot of violence or yelling, you may have mentally removed yourself from those situations as a coping mechanism. As an adult, you might fall back on these disassociating tendencies in stressful situations. Using certain drugs may also cause symptoms very similar to those of DDD in some people. These drugs include: hallucinogens MDMA ketamine salvia marijuana  
(M.Ed., LPC, NCC)
Answered on 01/21/2022

How to receive support for my delusions? Also how to stop delusions?

Hello! So glad you reached out and hope you will find this helpful.  The information I am going to provide is generally helpful to individuals who struggle with delusions and/or paranoid thoughts.  However, please keep in mind that I have minimal information about you and your specific situation and history.  I strongly encourage you to get the support of an ongoing therapist and/or seek a psychiatrist for a medication evaluation, if you are open to that, to help manage or reduce these stressful symptoms.  Struggling with psychosis can be terrifying and draining, to say the least!  First and foremost, our minds are very powerful.  Our thoughts and feelings influence our behavior and sometimes can feel so intense we make decisions based on thoughts or feelings alone!  With delusions and/or paranoia, our mind is in a sense "playing tricks on us" due to brain chemistry changes.  So it's as if we have one side of our brain as the "wise mind" that is aware of reality and what's going on and then we have the other side of our brain as the "trickster mind" that is trying to trick us and cast doubt and suspicions, etc.  It feels really real sometimes and can be hard to differentiate sometimes.  One coping skill clients have found helpful to manage delusions and associated anxiety and fear is called "reality testing."  This involves you finding one or more people you truly trust that you can openly talk about these thoughts/ideas with so they can support you to test reality and the "possibility" that your mind may be playing tricks on you. You can also work with a therapist in order to teach yourself how to reality test yourself.  One way is to ask yourself if it's "possible" that your trickster mind is activated, rather than your wise mind.  You can connect with the wise mind part of yourself and remind yourself that you are currently in a safe place and determine if it might be a possibility that it's just the trickster part of your mind playing tricks on you again.  These may sound oversimplified in writing, but these techniques have proven helpful to many individuals struggling with psychosis/delusions/paranoid thoughts.  I wish you hope and healing! 
(MSW, LCSW)
Answered on 01/21/2022

I need an counselor right away.

There is no doubt in my mind that you would benefit from starting counseling as soon as possible given your symptoms.  However, if you are not taking medications there is also no doubt that you should be seeing a psychiatrist for either an initial evaluation for medications or for an assessment of the need to have your medication regimen adjusted.   You have a co-occurring mental health disorder of Post traumatic Stress Disorder, Chronic.   We do not know for sure but it is likely that you have either schizoaffective disorder of the bipolar or depressed type or schizophrenia.  Either of these disorders may have psychoses as a part of their symptoms.  Since you haven't provided a full list of your symptoms, I cannot finalize a diagnosis for you until we meet and discuss your symptoms.  Your treatment will likely consist of counseling (EMDR, CBT, DBT and perhaps ACT), medications consisting of an antipsychotic and antidepressant, and ECT for the depression which it appears is not under control with medication.  ECT is generally used to treat pervasive and intensive depressive symptoms that cannot be controlled with medication.   I would want to use the EMDR for the trauma and depressive symptoms.  We would begin with EMDR container and calm place exercises followed by resourcing.  We may interweave the other Cognitive Behavioral Techniques with the EMDR.  We would do this being mindful of the types of symptoms you are having.  For instance, DBT can be used to initiate and maintain emotional regulation, distress tolerance, and interpersonal effectiveness.  We would establish a baseline for these symptoms and apply the appropriate tools of DBT to achieve control of them.  Again, we would also be working with EMDR to manage the trauma as well as the depressiom and any other features of the psychotic symptoms.   I would recommend that you receive counseling weekly as we initiate treatment and reduce treatment to every other week after you have completed sufficient parts of treatment to bring emotions, distress, and interpersonal effectiveness into an ability to self initiate skills to effectuate mastery and control of these at least 50% of the time.  You will be immediately referred to a psychiatrist for psychiatric evaluation, medication prescribing, and monitoring, and assessment of the need and frequency of ECT.  You will learn self practice skills and practice same daily.
(Psy.D., LISW-CP/S, CACII)
Answered on 01/21/2022

Why am I being paranoid

Dear Elisse,   Thank you for your message and for sharing with me how you've been interacting with yourself, especially how you've been handling unpleasant feelings and emotions. As you said this has also affected your life significantly. Perhaps by addressing how to handle unpleasant emotions in a healthier manner, we can dive into addressing the issues in your life as well?   Fear of loss is what I might think about when it comes to anxiety in relation to loss or change, especially failures. We are scared of losing the ones that we love, losing our health, losing what we treasure, losing our relationships, losing our success and potential. Being scared of losing make us feel anxious and often we would act impulsively on these fear.   "Death is not the greatest loss in life. The greatest loss is what dies inside us while we live." ~Norman Cousins   Of all the things that scare us, the loss can seem like the most terrifying. At times, I've thought about it with such dread that it's felt overwhelming.   Whenever I quit a job I hated in that past, I felt stuck between two loss-related fears: the fear of losing my passion by staying, and the fear of losing my financial security if I walked away and didn't find something else.   Whenever I considered leaving a bad relationship, I felt paralyzed by two similar fears: the fear of losing my chance at fulfillment by staying, and the fear of losing the comfort of companionship if I walked away and didn't find someone else.   I haven't only worried about the potential for loss as it pertains to big decisions. I've worried about losing people I love, pleasures I enjoy, and circumstances that feel comfortable. I've dreaded losing my youth, my health, and my sense of identity.   And then there are the everyday losses: If I don't do this, will I lose someone's respect? If I don't do that, will I lose my own? If I don't go, will I lose some of yet unknown opportunities? If I don't stay, will I lose my sense of comfort and security?   I might even go so far as to say that whenever I fear something, loss is at the root of it. I suspect I'm not alone.   We buy things we don't need (or groupons we won't use) because a sale's ending soon. We grab an item of clothing because there's only one left and someone else might take it-even if we aren't really sure we want it. We keep gym memberships we aren't actively using if we know we won't be able to get that same rate again.   And then there are the bigger things.   We turn down opportunities that could be rewarding to avoid the risk of losing something else that feels good enough. We use our time in ways that feel unfulfilling because we fear losing time on a decision that might be wrong. And we fail to invest in ourselves, even though we're aching to expand, because it can feel painful to part with our money.   We can't ever know for certain that a risk will payoff, but we can choose to recognize when the fear of loss motivates our actions, and make a conscious effort to overcome it. If we don't, it can severely limit our potential for growth, happiness, and fulfillment.   Overcoming the Fear of Loss   I first recognized this fear, and it's associated irrational thoughts and behaviors, when I felt devastated after someone I wanted to break up with broke up with me first.   I realized I didn't make the decision myself because I preferred a bad (even abusive) relationship to being single. I also understood that I would have been far less affected if I'd made the choice to walk away, and that my feelings completely transformed because I felt out of control-like I lost something, and it wasn't my choice.   Since then, I've developed a little system for identifying this fear when it takes hold-and a few practices for overcoming it so that it doesn't overcome me.   1. Ask yourself, "What am I scared of losing?"   This may seem like an obvious question, but I've learned that it's all too easy to go through our days, making choices, without recognizing the underlying feelings that motivate them.   Whenever you have a choice to make, recognize in what way you're motivated by the fear of losing something, whether it's comfort, security, control, money, companionship, or something else.   Once you understand what you're scared of losing, you can…   2. Ascertain if you're seeing the whole picture.   There was a time when I worked 60+ hours/week to hold onto a job I didn't even want. I was the last remaining employee after a massive layoff, but I didn't feel ready to lose that job.   After several months of working long hours from home, I realized I'd never feel ready. It wasn't until I finally got laid off that I started planning for this site.   My logic was faulty-that it was best to stay with the sure thing, because I wasn't ready to do something else-because the reality was that I needed the time and space to figure out that something else.   In other words, loss was necessary to set me up for gain; it wasn't the other way around.   If you're making a decision, or avoiding making a decision, based on the fear of what you might lose, ask yourself if you're losing more by not doing what you really want to do.   When you attempt to see beyond the fear, you're better able to recognize if you're keeping yourself stuck-and if you'd benefit from letting go of what you think you need.   3. Use loss aversion as motivation to pursue what you really want.   My mentor once suggested that we can benefit from the fear of loss by charting our progress toward a goal. Just as we don't want to lose time and money, we don't want to lose momentum.   If you hang a large calendar on your wall, and put a star on every day when you do something positive-like exercise, practice a new hobby, or send out a resume for a new job-you'll create a psychological need to keep that streak going.   She said to me, "Your disappointment in seeing a day without a gold star is greater than your happiness at any single day's work."   Of course, you have to know what you really want first. That takes time and patience for us to reflect and think with our imagination, not logics.   4. Regularly assess your intentions and motivations.   This ties into the last one. Sometimes we think we want something because we've wanted it for years-and then we feel scared to lose that dream and all its related rewards.   But sometimes, as we grow and learn about ourselves and the world, our wants change.   A friend of mine racked up massive debt studying law, only to realize a couple years into her career that it didn't fulfill her as she hoped it would. She'd built her whole life around this possibility-and she had close to $100,000 in student loans.   She could easily have felt stuck, as if she'd lose too much if she walked away. But she did anyways. She moved to Chile and became a Pilates teacher, and though she ultimately realized she'd need to return to law for a while longer to pay off her debt, she's released the emotional fears associated with pursuing a different path.   And because she's experienced the joy of doing something else, she now has a compelling motivation to do it again: She knows what she stands to gain is greater than what she stands to lose.   If you're forcing yourself to do something and a part of you feels it isn't right, ask yourself, "Do I actually want this right now?" There's a chance you do, and you're just feeling frustrated and discouraged-but there's also a chance you don't anymore. Only you can know for sure what you really want.   5. Change how you see the inevitability of loss.   The reality is that loss is inevitable.   We will all lose relationships, situations, and states of being that we enjoy and love. Even if we practice non-attachment, on some level we will get comfortable with people and circumstances.   You could say that this is what makes life beautiful and meaningful-since nothing lasts forever, each moment presents unique possibilities worth fully appreciating and savoring.   Or you could say this is what makes life tragic-that everything is fleeting, and eventually it all slips away.   How we choose to see things dictates how we'll experience them. Would you rather see everything as precious or pointless?   If we can choose the former, we can recognize that every loss provides opportunities for future gains-new relationships, experiences, and ways of being that may fulfill us in ways we can't possibly predict.   Of course, this can only happen if we trust in our ability to recognize and create these new connections and situations. We all have the potential to do it.   Some losses feel devastating when we experience them-and sometimes, the gain isn't proportionate to the loss.   But somehow, we survive in the wake of almost every storm. Whether we thrive is up to us. That's a choice we need to make proactively, not in response to what we fear, but in response to what we genuinely want to feel and do in this life.   So I leave you with this question: Why are you afraid of losing? And are you ready to trust in yourself and your abilities so that you can get unstuck?   The answer could be no to this question. It is absolutely acceptable to acknowledge our fears and be honest with ourselves if we don’t feel ready to change. We are all humans and that means we have a right to not be perfect. There is no judgement. We are all in this together.   Looking forward to learn your thoughts, thank you for your trust. Jono
(MSW, LICSW, LMHC)
Answered on 01/21/2022

How do i overcome fear especially fear of death and getting old?

Dear Pretty,   Thank you for your sharing. As humans we are all not as strong as we think we could be, and there are times we face situations like this that on one hand we are not satisfied with where we are, yet the thought of changing this situation also scares us. We don’t want to be abused, yet we fear more about being lonely.   Fear of loss is what I might think about when it comes to anxiety in relation with loss or change, especially failures. We are scared of losing the ones that we love, losing our health, losing what we treasure, losing our relationships, losing our success and potential. Being scared of losing make us feel anxious and often we would act impulsively on these fear.   "Death is not the greatest loss in life. The greatest loss is what dies inside us while we live." ~Norman Cousins   Of all the things that scare us, loss can seem like the most terrifying. At times, I've thought about it with such dread that it's felt overwhelming.   Whenever I quit a job I hated in that past, I felt stuck between two loss-related fears: the fear of losing my passion by staying, and the fear of losing my financial security if I walked away and didn't find something else.   Whenever I considered leaving a bad relationship, I felt paralyzed by two similar fears: the fear of losing my chance at fulfillment by staying, and the fear of losing the comfort of companionship if I walked away and didn't find someone else.   I haven't only worried about the potential for loss as it pertains to big decisions. I've worried about losing people I love, pleasures I enjoy, and circumstances that feel comfortable. I've dreaded losing my youth, my health, and my sense of identity.   And then there are the everyday losses: If I don't do this, will I lose someone's respect? If I don't do that, will I lose my own? If I don't go, will I lose some as of yet unknown opportunity? If I don't stay, will I lose my sense of comfort and security?   I might even go so far to say that whenever I fear something, loss is at the root of it. I suspect I'm not alone.   Loss Aversion   Economists have identified loss aversion as a major factor in financial decision-making, in that most people would rather avoid losing money than acquire more. The psychological impact of losing is thought to be twice as powerful as the pleasure of gaining.   According to Ori and Ram Brafman, authors of Sway: The Irresistible Pull of Irrational Behavior, we often make poor decisions simply to avoid loss.   One example they offer involves Captain Jacob van Zanten, once a well-established and respected pilot who headed the safety program for KLM-a Dutch airline marketed as "the people who make punctuality possible."   In the spring of 1977, on a flight from Amsterdam to the Canary Islands, van Zanten learned that a terrorist bomb had exploded at Las Palmas airport, where he was supposed to land. Along with a number of other flights, his was diverted to a smaller airport 50 miles away.   After landing the plane safely, he started worrying about a number of problems that would result from failing to take off soon.   The government had instituted a mandated rest period between flights for pilots, which meant he could be imprisoned if he took off after a certain hour. Staying overnight meant putting the passengers up in a hotel, which would be costly for the airline.   Waiting much longer meant losing time, money, and his reputation for punctuality.   Ultimately, van Zanten took off in a thick fog-despite knowing the risks, and not receiving take off clearance-because it seemed like a now-or-never moment. He didn't see the Pan Am 747 across the runway until it was too late-and 584 people died as a result.   The pressures and potential consequences of lost time piled up, and van Zanten acted against his better judgment, hoping to evade them.   Loss Aversion in Everyday Life   We all make irrational decisions everyday simply to avoid losing.   We buy things we don't need (or groupons we won't use) because a sale's ending soon. We grab an item of clothing because there's only one left and someone else might take it-even if we aren't really sure we want it. We keep gym memberships we aren't actively using if we know we won't be able to get that same rate again.   And then there are the bigger things.   We turn down opportunities that could be rewarding to avoid the risk of losing something else that feels good enough. We use our time in ways that feel unfulfilling because we fear losing time on a decision that might be wrong. And we fail to invest in ourselves, even though we're aching to expand, because it can feel painful to part with our money.   We can't ever know for certain that a risk will payoff, but we can choose to recognize when the fear of loss motivates our actions, and make a conscious effort to overcome it. If we don't, it can severely limit our potential for growth, happiness, and fulfillment.   Overcoming the Fear of Loss   I first recognized this fear, and it's associated irrational thoughts and behaviors, when I felt devastated after someone I wanted to break up with broke up with me first.   I realized I didn't make the decision myself because I preferred a bad (even abusive) relationship to being single. I also understood that I would have been far less affected if I'd made the choice to walk away, and that my feelings completely transformed because I felt out of control-like I lost something, and it wasn't my choice.   Since then, I've developed a little system for identifying this fear when it takes hold-and a few practices for overcoming it so that it doesn't overcome me.   1. Ask yourself, "What am I scared of losing?"   This may seem like an obvious question, but I've learned that it's all too easy to go through our days, making choices, without recognizing the underlying feelings that motivate them.   Whenever you have a choice to make, recognize in what way you're motivated by the fear of losing something, whether it's comfort, security, control, money, companionship, or something else.   Once you understand what you're scared of losing, you can…   2. Ascertain if you're seeing the whole picture.   There was a time when I worked 60+ hours/week to hold onto a job I didn't even want. I was the last remaining employee after a massive layoff, but I didn't feel ready to lose that job.   After several months of working long hours from home, I realized I'd never feel ready. It wasn't until I finally got laid off that I started planning for this site.   My logic was faulty-that it was best to stay with the sure thing, because I wasn't ready to do something else-because the reality was that I needed the time and space to figure out that something else.   In other words, loss was necessary to set me up for gain; it wasn't the other way around.   If you're making a decision, or avoiding making a decision, based on the fear of what you might lose, ask yourself if you're losing more by not doing what you really want to do.   When you attempt to see beyond the fear, you're better able to recognize if you're keeping yourself stuck-and if you'd benefit from letting go of what you think you need.   3. Use loss aversion as motivation to pursue what you really want.   My mentor once suggested that we can benefit from the fear of loss by charting our progress toward a goal. Just as we don't want to lose time and money, we don't want to lose momentum.   If you hang a large calendar on your wall, and put a star on every day when you do something positive-like exercise, practice a new hobby, or send out a resume for a new job-you'll create a psychological need to keep that streak going.   She said to me, "Your disappointment in seeing a day without a gold star is greater than your happiness at any single day's work."   Of course, you have to know what you really want first. That takes time and patience for us to reflect and think with our imagination, not logics.   4. Regularly assess your intentions and motivations.   This ties into the last one. Sometimes we think we want something because we've wanted it for years-and then we feel scared to lose that dream and all its related rewards.   But sometimes, as we grow and learn about ourselves and the world, our wants change.   A friend of mine racked up massive debt studying law, only to realize a couple years into her career that it didn't fulfill her as she hoped it would. She'd built her whole life around this possibility-and she had close to $100,000 in student loans.   She could easily have felt stuck, as if she'd lose too much if she walked away. But she did anyways. She moved to Chile and became a Pilates teacher, and though she ultimately realized she'd need to return to law for a while longer to pay off her debt, she's released the emotional fears associated with pursuing a different path.   And because she's experienced the joy of doing something else, she now has a compelling motivation to do it again: She knows what she stands to gain is greater than what she stands to lose.   If you're forcing yourself to do something and a part of you feels it isn't right, ask yourself, "Do I actually want this right now?" There's a chance you do, and you're just feeling frustrated and discouraged-but there's also a chance you don't anymore. Only you can know for sure what you really want.   5. Change how you see the inevitability of loss.   The reality is that loss is inevitable.   We will all lose relationships, situations, and states of being that we enjoy and love. Even if we practice non-attachment, on some level we will get comfortable with people and circumstances.   You could say that this is what makes life beautiful and meaningful-since nothing lasts forever, each moment presents unique possibilities worth fully appreciating and savoring.   Or you could say this is what makes life tragic-that everything is fleeting, and eventually it all slips away.   How we choose to see things dictates how we'll experience them. Would you rather see everything as precious or pointless?   If we can choose the former, we can recognize that every loss provides opportunities for future gains-new relationships, experiences, and ways of being that may fulfill us in ways we can't possibly predict.   Of course, this can only happen if we trust in our ability to recognize and create these new connections and situations. We all have the potential to do it.   Some losses feel devastating when we experience them-and sometimes, the gain isn't proportionate to the loss.   But somehow, we survive in the wake of almost every storm. Whether we thrive is up to us. That's a choice we need to make proactively, not in response to what we fear, but in response to what we genuinely want to feel and do in this life.   So I leave you with this question: Why are you afraid of losing? And are you ready to trust in yourself and your abilities so that you can get unstuck?   The answer could be no to this question. It is absolutely acceptable to acknowledge our fears and be honest with ourselves if we don’t feel ready to change. We are all humans and that means we have a right to not be perfect. There is no judgement. We are all in this together.   Looking forward to learn your thoughts, thank you for your trust. Jono
(MSW, LICSW, LMHC)
Answered on 01/21/2022

How could you help covert/vulnerable narcissist improving obsessive compulsive personality disorder.

Hello Anonymous, I am glad you reached out for support at this time.  I am sorry you are struggling in this moment.  I would encourage you to start to work with a therapist to help you learn skills to help you overcome your struggles.  If we were to meet I would first talk to you about the counseling process through our site and how together we could help you obtain your goals going forward, how I work as a counselor and how I would try to help you through the counseling process.  I would also take the first session to get to know you by asking you a few questions to get a better understanding of your struggles, so that I am able to focus on a plan and goals to work on going forward. I want you to know that you are not alone during this time even through you may feel like you are alone at this time.  During the therapy process you can have support 100% of the time as you are able to reach out and talk to a therapist 24 hours a day 7 days a week.   A few of the questions I would ask would include the following:Can you tell me more about your past history?How long have you been exhibiting traits of dependant personality disorder?Have you ever been in counseling before now?I am going to send you some skills and tools to help you during this time of struggle you are having.  If we were to work together we would be going over these and more tools to help you through our struggles and be able to ask for support from others.  I see you have mentioned a few different struggles you have been facing. So today I will only focus on trying to give you some skills to try and use before getting support and counseling for yourself.   I have created the following list of skills to try to help you be able to change your thought process and help you gain more control over your thinking in current situations you maybe facing or in the future situations that may arise.  These skills can be used in tandem with other skills that you may have been using or individually. It depends on the setting, the circumstance or issue. That is the cool thing about the following skills – there is no ‘cookie cutter’, one-size-fits-all way to use them.  You can pick and choose when you feel the need to use them. These skills can help with identifying maladaptive thinking and intentionally making specific, strategic behavioral changes to achieve a desired outcome. Some are general skills, while others are more targeted to specific issues or needs.Behavioral experimentsBehavioral experiments are experiments are designed to test thinking and identify thought patterns that influence behaviors.By intentionally ‘trying out’ specific ways of thinking and observing the outcome behaviors, you will gain a deeper awareness of the patterns of thinking that may be holding you back from reaching your goals.Thought recordsThought records are also designed to test the validity of our thoughts. Actually recording our thoughts provides a way for us to evaluate the evidence for or against a particular way of thinking – essentially, is it true or not true based on the situation? Thought records help to establish a more balanced way of thinking based on logic what is as opposed to what you feel.ExposureExposure is a powerful technique used to help you to face your fears or phobias in a controlled way. Basically, having the client to be exposed to the very thing they fear. It will, of course, be scary for them.When used properly, exposure has been proven to be effective in the reduction of fears and phobias.There are many exposure techniques, and even more ways to implement them. Here are some of the more common and well known techniques.Situation exposure hierarchiesIn this technique, the client make a list of feared objects or situations. The client then rates, on a scale of 0 to 10, how distressed they would be by each item. For example, a person who fears dogs might say “Not seeing a dog in the yard” is 0. “A dog licking my hand” might be their 10.Starting with the least distressing, I can help you work through each situation in the list. This is a way of gradually increasing exposure and diminishing the distress of exposure.FloodingFlooding also uses exposure hierarchies, but generally begins with the more difficult or distressing scenarios or objects. Caution should be used when choosing this technique, as it can elicit strong responses. This technique is best utilized as part of a therapeutic intervention and most of the time done best in personSystematic desensitizationThis technique involves combining exposure with relaxation exercises. You are taught strategies to remain relaxed in situations that would normally elicit fear. Gradually, you start to associate your feared object or situation with relaxation rather than powerful negative feelings.JournalingJournaling is a great way to gather information about thoughts and feelings. The journal can be used as a place to identify, describe, and evaluate moods, thoughts, scenarios, and responses. Having a place to ‘unpack’ and explore can lead to tremendous insight.Cognitive restructuring – unravelling cognitive distortions.Cognitive distortions are patterns of faulty thinking that convince us something is true when it is not. There are several types of cognitive distortions. The plan would be to help you identify and challenge your distortions in thinking. This can also be accomplished through the therapist-client dialogue. The goal, of course, is to have you learn to do this on their own.Here are five ‘thought challenges.  You can use these to take a closer look at your negative thought patterns.1. What are the chances…?The things you worry about may be very unlikely to happen. Would you be willing to put money on it happening?2. What is the worst thing…?The things you worry about might happen, but you are making way too much of them. Consider whether it would really be that bad if the worst did happen and realize that it might not be worth all that anxiety.3. Am I right to think that…?You might be missing important information that would help you with decisions. As you gather more information, your worry and stress may abate.4. The five-year rule (‘the history game’)This challenge has been applied to lots of situations within and outside of our work together to put events that have happened or will happen into perspective. Ask yourself, “Five years from now, will it really matter?”5. What is this worth?Consider just how important this thing you are worrying about is. Life is too short to be spent worrying about things that just do not deserve that kind of time investment.Functional assessment (ABCs)A functional assessment tool allows the client to record the ABCs (antecedents, behaviors, consequences) of a situation. If you are wanting this tool, I will send you a worksheet for this.  This data allows both myself and you to begin to identify patterns of behavior.  ReframingIt’s easy to fall into familiar patterns of negative thinking. One way to counteract negative thinking is through reframing. Reframing is the act of replacing negative thoughts with positive ones as soon as the negative thought occurs.Reframing disrupts the negative cycle of perpetuation and resets the focus on something positive. Relaxation and mindfulnessThree of my favorite relaxation and mindfulness practices are progressive muscle relaxation (PMR), meditation, and deep breathing. Each is a bit different in its implementation and intent.PMR involves the systematic tensing and releasing of each muscle group, combined with deep breathing and mental imagery. Mindfulness meditation involves clearing the mind and focusing on the sensations and thoughts in the moment, observing them and allowing them to pass. Deep breathing is an action that is physiologically incompatible with anxiety.Relaxation and mindfulness techniques gives you a new and different way to respond to distressing situations. This change of response can break the cycle of perpetuation. Relaxation also helps to quiet your mind so that you can think more rationally and logically. The SOLVED techniqueThis technique is used to teach problem-solving skills. While there are many variations on this technique (and lots of other names for it), structured problem solving is a critical skill for clients to learn. The acronym SOLVED gives the client a tangible, memorable tool for working through the problem-solving steps.S – Select a problem that the client wants to solve.O – Open your mind to all solutions – brainstorm all the options with your client.L – List the potential pros and cons of each potential solution.V – Verify the best solution – decide which choices are practical or desirable.E – Enact the plan.D – Decide if the plan worked   I hope that these skills have been helpful for you in your struggles you have been facing at this time.  If we were to work together we would work on more skills and tools to help you when you are feeling overwhelmed and help you calm down and get back to a positive space.  I encourage you to reach out for support at this time to help you get to the best version of yourself.
Answered on 01/21/2022

From getting up in the morning I clean constantly , certain obsessive personality ruins relation.

Dear CJ,   Thank you for your message and sharing with me how you've been interacting with yourself, especially on how you've been handling unpleasant feelings and emotions through these obsessive behaviors. As you said this has also affected your life significantly. Perhaps by addressing how to handle unpleasant emotions in a healthier manner, we can dive into addressing the issues in your life as well?   Often the experience we've had about anxiety (or any strong emotion such as stress / depression) was so terrible (even physically) that our body sort of become traumatized to it. We naturally become nervous about these unpleasant feelings because we don't like these sensations and experiences. As a result we would do everything we can to avoid / fight these anxious feelings, often using numbing techniques such as using substances or distracting ourselves. Yet only to find that the anxiety gets stronger over time because we have never been able to make peace with it.   Therefore rather than trying to "change" / "fight" / "get rid of" these unpleasant sensations, perhaps the best thing that we can do is to make room for these feelings and even sensations, while staying on track to do what brings us meaning and fulfillment. Floating without judging / blaming ourselves through the anxiety experience, while focusing on making room for anxiety can be helpful.   Here is a short video put up by the author of the book "The Happiness Trap" which does a good job explaining this concept:   Please take some time to watch this and share your thoughts later :) I also highly recommend picking that book as well to supplement this therapy process.   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rCp1l16GCXI    We as human beings do not like sufferings, therefore often times we would be doing our best to fight it. However just like the analogy of swimming vs floating that we have talked about before, the more we fight it, the faster we sink. While if we can learn to float with these waves, we will realize that we won't sink.   Radical acceptance / Expansion is about accepting of life on life's terms and not resisting what you cannot or choose not to change. Radical Acceptance is about saying yes to life and all that life brings (including all sorts of emotions such as joy, sadness, peace and pain), just as it is without forcing our ways into our lives.   Why do we want to accept life as it is? Because with anything that we do in life that brings us meaning and fulfillment, it always accompany a wide range of emotions, we can't possibly just choose the ones that we like and fight / avoid those that we don't like. Learning to experience all emotions as they are, is a sign that we are living our lives to the fullest.   To do so we must learn to accept (and make room for) any unpleasant sensations, feelings or thoughts that we experience.   We don't want to fight it because the more we fight, the stronger they will come back.   We don't want to avoid it either because the more we avoid, the more we'll be afraid of it.   So the key here is to make room for these sensations, feelings and thoughts, while continue to do what brings us meaning and fulfillment in life.    Learning to "co-exist" with these feelings will naturally reduce the intensity of them.   Floating, is a form of learning to accept these feelings and make room for it.   Let me give you some practical guidelines on what I mean by accepting these feelings and make room for it.   You can look up "expansion technique" under Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) for more information as well.   How to accept our emotions (and make room for them):   1. OBSERVE. Bring awareness to the feelings in your body.   2. BREATHE. Take a few deep breaths. Breathe into and around them.   3. EXPAND. Make room for these feelings. Create some space for them.   4. ALLOW. Allow them to be there. Make peace with them   Some people find it helpful to silently say to themselves, 'I don't like this feeling, but I have room for it,' or 'It's unpleasant, but I can accept it.'   • When you're feeling an unpleasant emotion, the first step is to take a few slow, deep breaths, and quickly scan your body from head to toe.   • You will probably notice several uncomfortable sensations. Look for the strongest sensation - the one that bothers you the most. For example, it may be a lump in your throat, or a knot in your stomach, or an ache in your chest.   • Focus your attention on that sensation. Observe it curiously, as if you are a friendly scientist, discovering some interesting new phenomenon.   • Observe the sensation carefully. Notice where it starts and where it ends. Learn as much about it as you can. If you had to draw a line around the sensation, what would the outline look like? Is it on the surface of the body, or inside you, or both? How far inside you does it go? Where is the sensation most intense? Where is it weakest? How is it different in the center than around the edges? Is there any pulsation, or vibration within it? Is it light or heavy? Moving or still? What is its temperature?   • Take a few more deep breaths, and let go of the struggle with that sensation. Breathe into it. Imagine your breath flowing in and around it.   • Make room for it. Loosen up around it. Allow it to be there. You don't have to like it or want it. Simply let it be.   • The idea is to observe the sensation - not to think about it. So when your mind starts commenting on what's happening, just say 'Thanks, mind!' and come back to observing.   • You may find this difficult. You may feel a strong urge to fight with it or push it away. If so, just acknowledge this urge, without giving in to it. (Acknowledging is rather like nodding your head in recognition, as if to say 'There you are. I see you.') Once you've acknowledged that urge, bring your attention back to the sensation itself.   • Don't try to get rid of the sensation or alter it. If it changes by itself, that's okay. If it doesn't change, that's okay too. Changing or getting rid of it is not the goal.   • You may need to focus on this sensation for anything from a few seconds to a few minutes, until you completely give up the struggle with it. Be patient. Take as long as you need. You're learning a valuable skill.   • Once you've done this, scan your body again, and see if there's another strong sensation that's bothering you. If so, repeat the procedure with that one.   • You can do this with as many different sensations as you want to. Keep going until you have a sense of no longer struggling with your feelings.   • As you do this exercise one of two things will happen: either your feelings will change - or they won't. It doesn't matter either way. This exercise is not about changing your feelings. It's about accepting them.   Does this make sense so far?   Looking forward to talking with you more, Jono
(MSW, LICSW, LMHC)
Answered on 01/21/2022