Trauma Answers

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

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

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

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

I don’t know what’s wrong with me

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

How can I know my feelings?

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

How do I gain motivation and self worth?

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

Why is it so hard to communicate my thoughts and feelings to my spouse?

Hello and thank you for your question. I will attempt to answer the question best I can based on the information provided. Ultimately, the past traumas are likely affecting the current relationship. Thus, a few quick communication skills may not resolve the issues. The majority of the work will likely start in therapy where you can begin to address those past events and practice those communication skills more thoroughly. Individuals will often try strategies like suppressing the thoughts and memories or just trying not to think about things. However, these strategies will not work. It is impossible for the mind to stop thinking or for you to stop feeling. It may be important to note what about your spouse’s communication could be contributing to make communication difficult. This is identifying what seems to be triggering about these conversations. Although it may be difficult to say what exactly you are feeling, you may still be able to communicate certain things you are not comfortable with. For example, “I’m not comfortable with us raising our voices like this.” Later, you can examine how your spouse responds to you. I have often noticed in therapy that it is not always just my client who has a communication issue. The majority of the time both people are contributing to the miscommunication in some way. Now, I am going to provide a communication skill related to couples counseling to assist. However, it is important to keep in mind that processing trauma and learning how to communicate emotions, really starts in the therapy process with someone you trust. The 'I feel' statements tend to be common technique used in couples therapy, but I also use it general as a way to help people start communicating emotions more often. Also, it makes you come off as more gentle in your communication rather than starting with statements like “You” statements which can lead to more arguments.  "I feel stressed out when _____." "I feel worried when _____." "I feel sad when ______."   Also, some people may say the emotions are just so overwhelming that it is too difficult to communicate this. If this is the case, I recommend that people start somewhere rather than criticize themselves for not doing enough. Depressive and anxiety symptoms tend to increase in that way. The best course of action will likely to do what you can even if you feel sad or anxious. For example, some people will become really hard on themselves for not doing enough or not feeling better sooner. Instead, I encourage them to recognize any small progress they have made in their day. In your case, you tried starting the process of seeking out some help so that's already some progress forward. A mental shift to focus on anything that you at least attempted or finished in the day is better than putting yourself down more. Again, in order to fully process all these things therapy is highly recommended. Thank you again for your question!
(MA, LPC, NCC)
Answered on 10/25/2022

Why do I feel melancholic so much?

We humans are social beings and need loving interactions, especially when we are young. As children it is also important to have secure attachments to our parent or caregivers. Your question does not make it clear why you were often left alone, nonetheless, the result was that you felt lonely. Your memories are vague. Many times children do not have vocabulary to express themselves, the memories can be sensory, or body sensations. It could very well be that your senses are triggered if you are in a stuffy room and the sighing could have been your attempt to self-sooth because a sigh mimics deep-breathing, which is helpful comforting your body, which sends a message to the mind that everything is okay.  Very often pathology begins in childhood and we carry the ideas of not being loved or unworthy because the adults in our lives were not around to provide the nurturing required of a young child. This can sometimes lead the child to believe that he/she did something "bad" and result in a negative self-concept. These childhood memories of being alone were maladaptively stored and have stayed with you into your adult life. You learned to combat the melancholy feeling by keeping busy. When you are not busy, the childhood feelings return. You regress to old behaviors of sadness and mend it by keeping busy.  The key to conquering the melancholy feelings, is to lean into the sadness, feel it, learn from it and find language to discuss it. If you can name the emotion it will lead to clues that will unravel the mystery of why melancholy takes over when you are idle or have free time. Healing will take form in cognitive restructuring of self-talk and being kind to the young child within. As an adult you can tell that child you will protect him/her and teach the child to get attention in a positive manner, which includes living a balanced life of work, quality time with friends and relatives, self-care of good nutrition and getting sufficient.. And last but not least, forgiving those who neglected to see you, hear you and love you.
(LMFT)
Answered on 10/16/2022

How to get over someone that’s not good for you

Your loss of a friend is a serious trial for you, and has precipitated (caused) a deep and severe reaction of depression, so much so that you have lost your appetite and your energy for self-care.  You didn't mention whether or not there are others in your life who can be supportive -- family, other friends, and so on. This is a good time to let others who can help you through this know that you would welcome their support. Counseling can certainly help. Once you are stable and safe, on-going counseling is certainly a good, effective way to heal from your sense of loss, and to find your way back to healthy, strong relationships. That can take time, but it would be worth it. Getting over the loss of a friend is always a long process. That's why people need help to do it. Part of that work might be learning to understand more about your idea that this friend was "not good for you," as you put it. Sometimes it's harder to leave a bad or harmful relationship in the past. It's not unusual, even though it seems like it should be easier. That's another reason that having a counselor to talk it over with can help. You took an important step in posting your question, and asking for help. I feel very hopeful that you can see your way through all of this, with your own strength and courage and with the help of others.
Answered on 10/07/2022

How can I feel better with my mental health, I wanna get therapy but right now I can’t afford it?!

Hi Elizabeth My name is Juli-Ann, and I am a licensed therapist (license number LMHC MH 15094).    First, let me congratulate you for having the courage to seek help. Yes, you're in a difficult place, and the need to move forward and find the solution is essential for change.   Understanding each aspect of your presenting problems is essential. Your feelings need to be validated, coupled with identifying why is there undealt with trauma. It is also vitally important to develop coping skills as you move forward and; while addressing underlying concerns. May I suggest you asking yourself the following questions; what is causing this pain, how long have I been feeling this way, what stage of grief I am in, and what do I need to put in place to move forward? Not being able to validate your feelings causes you to feel stuck.    While recognizing this source of your struggle is good, it is also necessary to identify what processing method needs to be in place to address this matter. Implementing coping skills to process the stressors is essential, while continual processing with a Licensed Clinician addresses further issues.  Some benefits of completing therapy include a better understanding of your current concerns, overcoming past trauma, and achieving goals that you will set; while gaining healthy coping skills to cope with the everyday stressors, you will identify during the process. Another benefit is having someone / the therapist as your sounding board to help you while you process your concerns. During which there are no concerns that you cannot express to your therapist.   As a therapist here on BetterHelp, I have learned that no one person is alike. With this, I utilize various techniques to help my clients identify their chief complaints while setting realistic goals that are attainable and achievable. Some of the therapeutic methods I use include; Cognitive Behavioral Therapy ( CBT), Solution Focus, Reality Therapy, etc.    I hope you decide to continue this journey in seeking help. This will be the best decision you make for yourself, and the results can only lead to great success. I am looking forward to working with or hearing from you. Thank you for reaching out with your question.       Kind Regards Juli-Ann
Answered on 10/05/2022

Anxiety, overthinking, fear

Hello, I"m so sorry to hear about your loss. Thank you for sharing your experience. This sounds like it has been very hard for you to experience this loss.  You are not alone.  It is actually quite common for people to have a fear of dying or being terminally ill, especially once they have experienced a traumatic event of seeing a loved one die.   You can feel completely helpless in the process. If you had a very close relationship with your mom, it would explain why you may be having "phantom" feelings of being ill and why this has impacted you so strongly. Many times death can be a very traumatic experience.  I'm not sure how long she was in critical condition, but watching someone fall ill and then die will leave a devastating impact on your life.  You may often find yourself replaying the event over and over again in your mind. Also, remembering the event in every detail.  You could also be very triggered over the slightest thing, not want to sleep (due to fear of dying), and living in fear of death.  You could be experiencing Complex Post-traumatic Stress Disorder with depression and anxiety. It would helpful for you to share your experiences, thoughts, and feelings in a bereavement group with others who also understand your pain.  Also, choosing to speak with a professional who understands bereavement can also help you overcome all the stages of grief and loss.  Sometimes, talking to a professional can help you process everything that has happened so you are not stuck on a negative loop of overthinking the trauma. I would strongly encourage you to seek out professional help so you can start to move into the "acceptance stage" and help release the overthinking, anxiety, and fear.  You can also perhaps get a psychiatric assessment if you feel you need medication to help you in the meantime. I'm so sorry to hear about the loss of your mother.  It is very hard to see and go through this process.  I wish you nothing but the best in healing from this situation.
Answered on 10/04/2022

How can I stop felling sad?

It must be hard to feel as though you are all alone from family and friends and even pets. It can also feel as though you have no one, but I would encourage to challenge that thought. Are there people or individuals in your life that you feel you can go to? Are there people or individuals that you feel comfortable and safe with to just hangout and enjoy each other's company? If there are some individuals that you feel would be trustworthy around you, try to engage in peer activity. Allowing yourself to go out and socialize with others can help yourself feel less alone. Surrounding yourself with others even in different ways such as socializing on social media or chat groups in order to still have connections with others. Making connections with others can help with that feeling of loneliness. Of course this can be hard and difficult when feeling as though you don't want to do anything or feeling as though you can't get up and make yourself go out. I would encourage you to do so in order to socialize again, this is important. Some other ways to help cope with an overwhelming feeling of sadness is keeping in mind of how you talk with yourself. Stoping to think if you talk to yourself in a positive way or a negative way can impact how you feel about yourself. This is a task that you would have to be mindful in trying to implement. Take a moment to reflect on what you say to yourself. If you find yourself being hard or mean to yourself, try to stop that at the moment and be mindful of your words. Even implementing this simple task a few days out of the week can help to create a positive habit. A positive habit if implemented correctly can become automatic.  For example if you start each morning by stating to yourself what you are grateful for your mood can be changed throughout the day. If you start to give yourself a compliment such as a hard worker or physical compliment you start to see yourself as valuable. You will start to believe in what you are saying to yourself. You will start to slowly change that mindset and create positive thinking. These are a few things that can be implemented on your own, or what you can do to start doing before you work with a therapist. When you are alone and have little or no contact with family, one way of helping you feel better is also reflecting on happier memories, being able to look at photos, or remembering a time when you were feeling happy or you can remember a time you were laughing with those around you. Having a safe space is also important. A safe space is a place where you can go to feel comforted and know that you will not be bothered in this spot. For example, a safe space can be your bed, a place in your room, a place in your home, or somewhere outside of your home such as the ocean view, a special park that brings you joy, or a coffee shop. So it is a place where you know you can go and know that you will start to feel at ease. Once you identify your safe space, try to enhance it by creating an experience of where once you are there you know you can relax, unwind, not think too much about what may be bugging you or holding you back. If you do not currently have a safe space, you can always create one. Just think of a spot in your home where you feel as though no one can bother your peace in that area you choose. You can then get creative with your space by adding visuals that you feel you resonate with or visuals that empower you or make you feel like you can visualize a safe spot. Also when feeling overwhelmed with feelings of sadness, there can be other emotions linked to this sadness, so allowing yourself to even write out how you're feeling can help to create a sense of peace within yourself. Finding your own peace and defining your peace can also help with easing that sadness. Unfortunately we cannot control the struggle that we face, but we can control how we want that struggle to make us feel. It may not feel like it at most times, but you are in control of how you feel and you are in control of how you allow outside factors to make you feel. The circle of control is another aspect to look at for yourself. Remembering that you can only control yourself in terms of how you want things to affect you. It is not easy but reminding yourself that you have the power to control how you feel can help to ease that pain. I want to end with giving you a grounding technique when feeling sad and overwhelmed. This is very simple and easy and can be used at home or outside of the home so it is discreet but also empowers you to know you can get through this. First ground yourself by sitting down or lying down comfortably, next take notice of your body language and see if anything is tense and tight and try to move that muscle to relax it. Then take a moment to breathe in five times. These have to be with intention, meaning taking in one long breath, then slowly letting it out and counting to five. Do this exercise about five times or until you feel a bit more centered. This is not the all cure answer but I hope this allows you to one know you will be okay and two to take notice of your strengths. 
Answered on 09/15/2022

Wondering how I can better understand my emotional traumas and work on them so I make better choices

Hi JBE, Thank you for your question.  In your situation, I would recommend looking for a therapist who specializes in Internal Family Systems (IFS) work.  In IFS, there is a belief that everyone has a core SELF, capable of being the leader of their internal system.  You know you are acting from the self when you are displaying attributes such as calm, creativity, courage, confidence, curiosity, compassion, connectedness, and clarity. All of us have various "parts" that sometimes blend with the self.  These parts often develop as a response to traumas or other life experiences when we are young.  They still think we are young children and need their protection.  They do not trust the SELF to lead the inner system so they take over.  You mentioned a number of "parts" in your question. One type of part is the injured, vulnerable childhood parts that we try to keep hidden or protect.  These parts are referred to as exiles.  Exiles are states of mind and do not have an agenda.  Two examples you gave are "I am a failure" and "I suck at relationships."  As a result of these parts, other parts called "protectors" jump in to help them.   The first types of protectors are called "managers."  Managers are concerned with the future and their goal is stability and control.  They do not want the exiled feelings to emerge.  Anxiety, or worry, would be an example of a "manager."  For example, if I worry about this problem, I will work harder and not feel like a failure.  The other type of protectors are called "firefighters."  Their goal is relief and release in the present moment.  An example of a firefighter part you mentioned is substance abuse.  They want to feel better now, consequences be damned! The goal of IFS is to have the SELF care for and comfort all three types of parts.  Involving the SELF in decisions and action, instead of being led around by childlike parts, leads to better decisions and happiness.  The goal of IFS is self leadership. Additionally the IFS Institute web site has resources.  You may also wish to check out the book No Bad Parts by Richard Schwartz. Help and improvement is possible!  I wish you much success in your journey! Sincerely, Jim Grande, LCSW-R 
(LCSW-R)
Answered on 07/06/2022

Help with depression and emotional social anxiety

Hello Josh and thank you for sharing these concerns. It sounds like you are dealing with several issues at once such as: trauma, moving away, depression, and anxiety. Major life changes such as these can affect your overall mental wellness and your ability to function in a healthy way. Some mental health symptoms may be difficult to manage without proper support, self-help, or treatment.   You mentioned experiencing depression in your list of concerns. One thing that can help manage your depression can be to understand your triggers for the depression and find ways to cope in a healthy way. A few ways to cope in a healthy way with your depression can be exercise, picking up a hobby, self-care such as cleaning and cooking, or reaching out to an old friend. It is also important that you are aware of unhealthy coping skills that may add to the depression such as: drugs/alcohol, isolating, negative thoughts and self-talk, or giving up on enjoyable activities. Negative thoughts tend to make you question your abilities but also interfere with your self-esteem and motivation. As you experience negative thoughts, you may be able to challenge them by questioning the authenticity, your evidence contrary to the belief, or even asking yourself what you think a friend may think about the thought.    Regarding anxiety, is it helpful to understand what it is and how it affects your overall functioning. Anxiety can present in many ways such as: excessive worry, nervousness, rapid heartbeats, fear, and poor concentration. It may also be helpful to understand the triggers for anxious thoughts and behaviors. Some examples of triggers may be public speaking, starting a new task, or even performing. From there, you can use coping techniques such as deep breathing, exercise, talking with positive people, or engaging in self-care.    Regarding moving away from friends, you can also look to building your own social support in your new town. You may be able to do this by using social media to join groups or finding activities of interest. Other ways may be to connect with school or work colleagues to engage in social activities.    Lastly, healing from hurt may take time and usually happens when you learn to identify your stressors and manage your symptoms. It is normal to grieve the loss of the relationship as you manage negative feelings and behaviors associated with it. When you can identify and label your trauma, you can focus on moving forward to manage it. 
Answered on 06/02/2022

What to do to improve mental health and work-life balance with mental stability and peace?

Dear Nakshatra,   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 hurt 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.   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. 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? 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. 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. 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. 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 05/31/2022

Can I take an anxiety and depression test?

First, I want to thank you for reaching out with thought a thoughtful question. It is not always easy to share such intimate details about ourselves, even with the anonymity that these question forums are structured to have. I am so sorry to hear that you have suffered severe childhood abuse and of the lasting effects that you are experiencing to this day. With regard to your question around whether or not you will be able to take an anxiety or depression test to identify whether or not you have either of these (or similar) diagnoses, the answer to that is yes and no. BetterHelp does off some basic questionnaires to identify the severity of depressive or anxious symptoms. However this is not to be confused with a formal diagnostic assessment. Clinicians and therapists are not permitted to provide formal diagnoses through this site. That being said, there are a lot of benefits that BetterHelp offers as well! Some of the things that BetterHelp provides which would be different from a typical in-person therapy session include app resources such as group therapy in addition to individual therapy, journaling features that allow you to write your thoughts and feelings and share them with your therapist or keep them private for your own self to look back on as needed. Another feature which is unique is the ability to connect with your counselor in between sessions via the messenger component of the app. I find that people really enjoy this feature, in that they are not needing to cram an entire week's worth of events or feelings into one 45 minute session. Instead, they can report on a particularly bad day, or even a really great day, and get feedback, guidance or insight from their counselor before their next session. The level of communication that the BetterHelp app allows far exceeds that of a typical client-therapist relationship.  The clinicians on BetterHelp can serve to provide counseling and education as well as skill building and development of coping strategies to help with some of your symptoms. I do feel that this could be beneficial to you in addition to reaching out to a medical provider for formal diagnosis. Essentially, there may be several routes you can go here. Formal diagnostics, pharmacological treatment as well as counseling, processing and development of coping skills can truly create a variety of tools and resources that allow you to manage and live with the challenges you are facing. It IS possible to have a functional, happy and rewarding life while living with anxiety or depression. It IS possible to get to a point where you are able to process and heal from past traumas and learn ways to navigate difficult family issues that may be ongoing. I wish you the best in your journey as you explore and navigate these options I have outlined in this answer.
Answered on 05/17/2022

How to deal with surgery recovery?

Hello Briar, thank you for reaching out, I know it is not easy to ask for help sometimes. Based on the information that you have provided in the question, it seems like you may benefit from emotional management during this time of recovery. I did have an experience similar to yours when I suffered one of my accidents, which is why I can relate to being affected by a sudden change in life routine. The first thing that helped me at that time was understanding what emotional management was. I figured that if I focused on my mental state, then the emotional healing would eventually turn into physical healing, and that is exactly how it happened. When I dove into emotional management I had to accept that we all suffer from emotional instability at times. In the heat of the moment, we say something to a person we love without stopping to consider the shockwaves. Or we blast off an email and wonder why we didn’t sleep on it before pressing Send. Our emotions spill over and, by the time they recede, the damage is done. The converse situation is that we feel gripped by fear or anxiety and fail to seize the moment to speak up or act according to our values. The consequences of freezing can be just as deleterious as those of overreacting, and sometimes more so. Either way, managing our emotions is a tricky business.   When we look back on these situations our stock explanation is, "My emotions got the better of me." But this raises a serious question: Am I in charge of my emotions, or are they in charge of me? Nobody asked me this question at school or told me the answer. Consequently, I stumbled into the adult world with a royal flush of emotions, ranging from joy and excitement to fear and anger, without a manual for how to live with them.   The truth is that we’ve ended up with a tangled mess of advice in this area. Much of the prevailing literature tells us to squash negative emotions and replace them with positive ones. Other experts tell us this is tantamount to putting the icing on dog food and calling it cake. So who, if anyone, is right? To navigate through this emotional battleground, we need to make some important distinctions:   We cannot turn emotions on and off like a tap. They will come and go whether we like it or not. Once this is clear in your mind, you can stop waiting for unwanted emotions to go away. The idea that we can banish them is unhelpful and doesn’t hold up to scrutiny; they are part and parcel of the human experience. Besides, the more we strive to live according to our values and commitments, the more our emotions will rise to challenge us.   Emotions aren’t positive or negative. The human brain is wired to categorize things as positive or negative and is particularly alert to threats. This made good evolutionary sense for our ancestors, who learned to react to external threats for survival. As humans developed language, we employed the same process of classification of our internal state, including our emotions. Thus we see joy as positive, and therefore welcome, and fear as negative and unwelcome.   However, this creates new problems. On the basis that ‘what we resist persists’, suppressing emotions that we perceive to be negative only tightens their grip. So what’s the alternative? If we can experience the full range of human emotions without attaching positive and negative labels to them, the result can be hugely liberating.   You are not your emotions. Emotions are, by their very nature, strong. However, it’s important to get clear that you are not your emotions. You are a person with values and commitments who happens to have emotions that are triggered on a regular and ongoing basis. This point might seem semantic, but it isn’t. When we become fused to our emotions, thinking that ‘they’ and ‘we’ are the same thing, we are effectively hijacked by them. If you can notice emotions without becoming them, they no longer determine your behavior.   We always have a choice. A thought or feeling in itself doesn’t prevent you from taking any action. It’s easy to think, "I’m frightened and can’t speak," but this is a trick of the mind. It would be more accurate and authentic to say, "I’m frightened and I’m choosing not to speak." Being able to observe our emotions, even when they feel overwhelmingly powerful, creates a space in which we can reference our commitments and values. While we cannot always choose our emotions, we can choose our response to them. This gets to the heart of responsibility, and responsibility is probably the closest thing to a superpower that human beings possess.   Once I grasped this concept, then I was able to learn ways in which I could combine emotional management with physical sensation to further bond the connection for the eventual healing. That is when I learned about grounding techniques, As a therapist today I can tell you that there are probably hundreds of grounding techniques out there, mainly because people handle emotional management problems differently all the time. The ones I was to share with you are physical techniques that may help you with your emotional management issues during this time of recovery:   These techniques use your five senses or tangible objects, things you can touch, to help you move through distress.   1. Put your hands in water   Focus on the water’s temperature and how it feels on your fingertips, palms, and the backs of your hands. Does it feel the same in each part of your hand?   Use warm water first, then cold. Next, try cold water first, then warm. Does it feel different to switch from cold to warm water versus warm to cold?   2. Pick up or touch items near you   Are the things you touch soft or hard? Heavy or light? Warm or cool? Focus on the texture and color of each item. Challenge yourself to think of specific colors, such as crimson, burgundy, indigo, or turquoise, instead of simply red or blue.   3. Breathe deeply   Slowly inhale, then exhale. If it helps, you can say or think “in” and “out” with each breath. Feel each breath filling your lungs and note how it feels to push it back out.   4. Savor a food or drink   Take small bites or sips of a food or beverage you enjoy, letting yourself fully taste each bite. Think about how it tastes and smells and the flavors that linger on your tongue.   5. Take a short walk   Concentrate on your steps, you can even count them. Notice the rhythm of your footsteps and how it feels to put your foot on the ground and then lift it again.   6. Hold a piece of ice   What does it feel like at first? How long does it take to start melting? How does the sensation change when the ice begins to melt?   7. Savor a scent   Is there a fragrance that appeals to you? This might be a cup of tea, an herb or spice, a favorite soap, or a scented candle. Inhale the fragrance slowly and deeply and try to note its qualities (sweet, spicy, sharp, citrusy, and so on).   8. Move your body   Do a few exercises or stretches. You could try jumping jacks, jumping up and down, jumping rope, jogging in place, or stretching different muscle groups one by one.   Pay attention to how your body feels with each movement and when your hands or feet touch the floor or move through the air. How does the floor feel against your feet and hands? If you jump rope, listen to the sound of the rope in the air and when it hits the ground.     I hope that some of these can help, and if you need further assistance, please do not hesitate to reach out, I hope you have a wonderful day!
(MA, LPC)
Answered on 05/03/2022

I'm concerned that I'm suffering from one of, or a combination of PTSD, depression, or anxiety?

Hello C,   In the first month or so of treatment your therapist will help you to sort out just this....Long term family suffering and struggle can create a complex experience of PTSD where symptoms are more pervasive and do not stem from an easily discernible trauma.  It will look a lot like anxiety and depression but will have triggers.    It is possible to help you bring to the surface and rework your initial experience of life with your Mom through therapy techniques that connect your visceral sensations of trauma to your conscious awareness so that you can learn to process your feelings and then better manage them in the moments that they come up in your day to day life.  This kind of treatment for trauma is called EMDR.    This in combination with another kind of talk therapy like psychodynamic work or CBT will allow you space to understand and process your family dynamics.   This is a very hard, challenging family dynamic C, and, I hope that you find a therapist that you connect with who can help you feel much better, soon.   It is however, really important that you yourself are already on a path to recognizing that you are struggling to sleep well, you are isolating, moody and irritable.  You are struggling personally, and you are it seems like, looking to understand if your emotions are the "problem" in your family, or, if your awareness of your family member's struggle and the family not dealing directly with it, is the problem.  Might it be that both are true?  In fact....both are most likely true!  Quite possibly, as well, your own needs have always been important to focus on and at some point will have needed your conscious attention because you lived with a lot of worry and concern for your Mom for many years.   It would be only natural to need time to process your own feelings about your mother and how her addiction impacted you.  That these feelings are triggered by watching your family not know how to deal directly with addiction again, and, watch this unfold, must be very very hard for you.   Often, families struggle, just like yours, to first recognize and then cope with the pain of dealing head on with addiction.  This is not an unusual struggle. Confusing "boundaries" are common in families with alcohol or other substance use disorders and this is called a codependency or even, an enmeshed family system.  Other people in the family serve the family cohesion and balance by shoring up the weaknesses and vulnerabilities of the person who is struggling.  It then makes it very hard to see the origins of a struggle, who needs what in the family, and even to say a healthy and clear no to boundaries that make no sense to you.    Please do, reach out and talk to a therapist, because you deserve to be your best self and to work through the issues that are effecting your quality of life.   In this time with a therapist, you can also clarify for yourself what feels more like a family issue, the issues related to the family member who is suffering with addiction and the impacts to you.  All of this deserves it's own time, focus and understanding so that you can develop more self confidence setting boundaries and discovering what your needs are and how to care for them even when other's in your family don't see things the same way as you do.   All the best on your journey,   Elise Jacobson, LICSW Social Worker  
Answered on 05/01/2022

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 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