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Hey guys! My name is Harlo and I'm searching for serious advice. I'm 20 years old and suffer from..well..everything. Severe panic disorder, anxiety, depression, agoraphobia, social phobia, fears, intrusive thoughts, OCD, and probably much much more. I have been dealing with this for almost 5 years now and for the past 2 months now, I have been at my worst. I had such a horrible childhood. Both of my parents were and are alcoholics, my brother was and is a drug addict. I've always been the only sane one in the family.. no addictions and had full control of my life. I think that's what made me INsane ha. I found my brother overdosed on heroine 4 years ago which was my breaking point. He survived..thankfully. but it was devastating at 16 years old. Growing up and still to this day I constantly hear fighting and yelling and screaming between my mother, father, and brother. My parents just recently filed for divorced a year ago. I now live with my mother and brother. My father lives at my old house. Anyway, when I started getting panic attacks I was a senior in high school. I had to drop out of cheerleading, dance, and every other activity. I couldn't got to school. I've been through it all.. hospitals, inpatient hospitals, western psychiatric partial hospitalization, therapists, psychiatrists, medication, group therapy, etc. I lost everything.. fortunately I was able to graduate. For college, I have to do online because I can't actually go to college. I can't work. I basically cant function. I can't sleep at night and I basically sleep my days away. It's like is rather sleep than feel all of these feelings. I'm scared of everything. I'm scared of my panic attacks, going far, going anywhere actually, being alone, all of my symptoms, my thoughts, everything. My mother and father were there through it all (surprisingly) so therefore, I can't be without one or the other. I'm 20 years old and I'm like a 2 year old baby. They literally have to babysit me. It's pathetic. I don't know what to do anymore.. I don't know who to turn to for help. Look, the thing is.. I'm sooo dependant on my family...like I'd literally go crazy if i didn't have them around.. they're all I got. But.. at the same time.. they're making it worse by the stress they put on me with everything. What do I do? Where do i even start? I'm lost. Nothing is helping... Can someone please try to help me figure something out...

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Hello, harlo, and welcome to our community.

I'm sorry you are struggling so much right now. It does sound as though your life is being very adversely affected by your fears. That must be very hard on you. :( I have some phobias too (highway driving, flying) and I know they can be quite stressful.

Did any of the therapy you received help in any way? Ever try cognitive behavioral for the panic attacks and phobias? Phobias can sometimes be caused by conditioning and this type of therapy might be beneficial. I do hope you can be gentle with yourself through this. I also hope you continue to seek out help and soon find someone who can help. I can understand how it must feel very discouraging when nothing has worked so far.

We are here to listen and support you, harlo. Take gentle care.

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Hello, Harlo,

I'm also very sorry you're in such a distress :(... It's hard to imagine for me...

I was clueless about what to reply to you but wanted to find the right words. And then I saw this post of dburney (a member here) and I got a feeling those words would be right also for you:

Help comes in many forms. And just because something didn't work before, doesn't mean it won't work now. Or later. One therapist may have all the answers for one patient, but may be leading another down the wrong path. Some people are just more at ease and feel more comfortable communicating with one person versus another. One med that works for me will cause too many side-effects for you. For some, it's meditation, for others, it's religion. There is no silver bullet. And I can speak from years of experience that the goal is not to be cured, but to not hide from the symptoms, the thoughts, the voices - to learn not to be afraid. [...] for the minority of those of us who suffer mental and behavioral illnesses in a chronic form, being well is an elusive benchmark, but if you approach it as learning to live with yourself instead of against yourself, you'll begin to be well. And slowly things begin to change. And sometimes you notice this, and you relapse, cause you're scared shitless. And that's okay too. It wasn't a waste of time - it simply was.

[...] The only advice I can offer you is to press on. It's taken me 37 years to navigate my feelings and emotions, my fears and insecurities. I can't tell you it will be okay - I can't tell you that if you just keep living at some point you'll get to that point of "being well". But I can share my experiences and what has worked for me. I can commiserate, offer support and inspiration. What you do with all of this is up to you

(It's from here: http://www.mentalsupportcommunity.net/index.php?/blog/186/entry-2466-whats-wrong-with-me/#commentsStart )

I hope you'll find it insightful and maybe even helpful...

Good luck and take care!

L.

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Thank you irmajean and lala3. I appreciate the time you have taken to respond. And thank you both for such kind posts!! Irmajean, you seem to understand the phobia side to this. It is very, very hard. I wish the best for you as well. I have seen 4-5 different therapists and haven't gained much more than what I'm already knowledgeable to. I have researched all of these problems very thoroughly and now I feel as though I need a therapist that atleast knows more than me. I'm sick of being told everything I already know. I want to be told what i have to do in order to APPLY the things I know. Kind of confusing.. I guess everything is trial and error, right? I'm just beginning to become impatient. thank you for your support. It means so much! Lala3, thank you deeply for sending me that. It was very reassuring and uplifting. It was so sweet of you to not understand what It's like, but to try to help anyway. And you did! I am now able to read that quote whenever things become overwhelming. It's special to me that you took the time to refer back to something you have read and send it to me. Thank you!

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You're welcome, Harlo :). There's no much to thank for ;). I'm very glad that the words feel reassuring and uplifting to you!! :)

You say:

I'm sick of being told everything I already know. I want to be told what i have to do in order to APPLY the things I know. Kind of confusing.. I guess everything is trial and error, right? I'm just beginning to become impatient.

I can related to this. I was in therapy for two years (it finished almost a year ago) and I was lucky to find the right therapist on the first occasion. But before deciding to see a therapist, I used to be (for several years) very doubtful about a possibility to help me. I also had read many things on the web and supposed that a therapist would only tell me what I was able to expect - and that would be useless to me as I didn't know how to apply it. But the therapy was... actually "unexpectable" ;) . It gave me much more than I had been able to imagine.

How long have your therapies last? Maybe you didn't give the process the time it needed. Maybe when it didn't change anything in... some weeks or months, you gave up. I don't know. And maybe you didn't find yet the right therapist for you. When you find somebody you can trust and you can feel at least a bit good with, and who can explain you properly the perspective of the therapy (-how you'd proceed), you could give him/her more time to help you. It's always better than just being just stuck in the "custody" of your family, isn't it?

Moreover, there are meds against panic attacks, depression, ... It's often hard to find the right one, but after having it, it can really help. How many have you tried?

Take care! :)

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Hi Harlo,

I feel for you.... I would recommend to you what has halped me feel so much better and regain control of my life. CBT and the TEA form exercise. CBT is quite remarkable and has a high success rate for those who dedicate themselves to it. Look into it or read the CBT book by Obitz and Craske and start doing the TEA forms everyday and I think it will begin to help you feel better in your own skin.

Best wishes for a speedy turnaround:)

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Hello, Harlo,

I'm also very sorry you're in such a distress :(... It's hard to imagine for me...

I was clueless about what to reply to you but wanted to find the right words. And then I saw this post of dburney (a member here) and I got a feeling those words would be right also for you:

(It's from here: http://www.mentalsupportcommunity.net/index.php?/blog/186/entry-2466-whats-wrong-with-me/#commentsStart )

I hope you'll find it insightful and maybe even helpful...

Good luck and take care!

L.

OMG - my head just exploded when I say that LaLa3 quoted one of my previous posts. That's exactly what I strive for in this kind of community. Compassion and open minds and hearts. Wow.

Harlo - I'm so sorry for what you've been going through. For me the turning point was realizing that all my insecurities, co-dependencies, nervousness, anxieties, etc., were really fear. Fear of life. Fear of being alone. Fear of being out of control. Fortunately for you, you have decided to address these issues while you're young. Keep at it. Keep at the therapy and group. Keep talking - that is the only way you'll build up the courage and the experience to someday confront the root of all the evils. Read, educate yourself on the processes that cause you to feel the way you do. Once you understand the how's and why's of your emotional reactions, you can begin to pick them apart - much like with CBT. And as you get better at it, you get stronger. Two books I recommend are "The Fear Book" by Cheri Hubris and "The Journey from Abandonment to Healing" by Susan Anderson. I never realized how strongly my childhood abandonment issues effected me throughout my life before reading this book. All my anxieties, all my depression go back, way back to events and circumstances that I thought has long been resolved. But they haven't.

Hang in there. If you're interested in my story - and what I've been through I've started a blog. I think it's time someone spoke out and stepped out of the shadows. Put themselves out there for all to see in an attempt to show others that you can go through this really bad shit and still be okay. That it isn't something to hide from or be embarrassed about. http://theicygripoffear.tumblr.com/

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Thank you lala3. I have seen many therapists. I saw this one therapist for 2 years.. I kept trying to make it work with her but she was very "professional" I guess you can say. Being a therapist seemed more like just a job to her. Or maybe she just didn't understand my story as opposed to others. I've definitely given a lot of time through this journey.. and i think thats the reason why I'm in such a dark place. I feel as though I have tried my hardest for so long and i haven't gotten much out of it. Recently though, because of how bad It's been ive been afraid to go places. So to be honest.. I haven't seen a therapist in almost 2 months now. That's another reason qhy Im so frustrated. Although, I just got in contact with a new therapist. I heard he was really into meditation and stuff. I'm a very uptight and tense person so I think it can benefit me. It's funny though.. I feel like as much research and studying ive been doing.. I'm going to end up going in there and telling him what to do. Haha I'll probably end up taking over the therapy sessions because of all the build up ive had these couple months. I'm praying he will be my miracle. Hoping for the best... that we can connect and work through this chaotic mess of a life that I have.

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Dburney, just reading your post I can tell you have been through much similar things as I have. I'm glad to have found you. I think It's a wonderful idea about blogging this and coming out of the darkness. I honestly believe it will helps so many people through the hell we have gone through. I always say that everything has a reason, and I really think God gave me this for a reason.. and I think because I'm so open with my feelings and issues that the reason is to eventually conquer all of this and be able to help others. thank you for the book recommendations! I will definitely be looking into them. I journal a lot.. I know through therapy that that's a really good thing to do. It's very helpful. I carry a notebook everywhere with me haha. I actually got this workbook too that's called "the anxiety and phobia workbook" 4th edition by Edmund j. Bourne. It's wonderful. You should really check it out. You know, I like in Pittsburgh and I haven't gone on vacation in 5 years.. one of my biggest dreams is to go to California. And even with all of this negativity in my life.. I am set on conquering all of this, going to California, and leaving all of this behind me. You mentioned about your childhood which is something I have struggled with as you have read. My therapist constantly tells me that most of my feelings come from "body memory".. I know I have to go back through my past and get rid of all the skeletons still left in my closet. It's a scary thought... to go back there you know.. but i know It's time to face reality and stop covering up all of the hurt I have felt through my life. I will definitely keep up with your blog and if there's a time you come across my posts.. please write something insightful for me :) I know the main thing i need to change is my thinking patterns.. I need to retrain my brain into positive thoughts.. so positive words are very helpful! You are inspiring! Don't give up what you're doing. Someday, we're gonna change the world. ;)

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I will definitely check out the workbook. I will actually be in California next week. I'll extend my thoughts and take a deep breath for all those, including you, who wish they could be there, but can not. The Abandonment book I mentioned has been key to me uncovering all those skeletons and dealing with them. I've made so much progress just in the last six weeks as a result of digging deep into who and the why of me. It's very scary stuff - you not only confront all the things that have wronged you, but also address your responsibility in the emotional mess. And that's where the Fear Book helps me. I read it, I re-read it. I highlight passages from it.

Keep up the journaling. It has been a saving grace for me and I realize only now after 10 years of journaling that I really love to write. And that between writing and helping others in mental illness community I can finally begin to do something that I'm passionate about. Nothing fills me with greater joy than to read a response like yours. It gives me hope, builds my confidence and lets me know that somewhere, someone will listen.

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Hello, everybody! :) I think there's nothing helpful I could say here (so much has been said and I really have nothing better), but I want you all to know that it's a pleasure for me to read your posts. Yes, it is very sad that you have been suffering (/used to suffer) so much, but at the same time, it's great how you are able to have the right attitude, to fight your demons, and also to search for the best way to help others. I'm so glad you met each other here ;).

Good luck to all!!!

P.S.: I like your blog, David! :)

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Cynthia, you have helped me more than you could believe. I had no clue what TEA was. After researching it, I think it is a wonderful exercise to start applying to my everyday life. And also my therapies. Thank you!!

Thanks for making my day Harlo with your sweet post. The TEA forms turned my life around (after doing them for quite a while of course) and I hope they are as useful for you. I don't sign in here as often as I used to but let me know if you have any questions when you start using them as it takes some practice to get good at doing them.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Harlo - hope you're doing well. Just checking in on you. Been a rough couple of weeks for myself :) but it's manageable. I hope you're taking care of yourself and finding the tools that you need. Mostly, be patient. It's a very tall mountain to climb. And we all occasionally slip. There's nothing wrong with that.

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Hey dburney! Thank you for checking in on me! I'm very sorry to hear your past weeks haven't been treating you well. Keep in mind your own advice, "It's a very tall mountain to climb. And we all occasionally slip." :) you didn't fight all these years for nothing.. continue to beat the crap out of this!! ;) I'm still struggling BUT I was able to get in with a therapist near my house. I just started and It's a twice a week thing. I am having somewhat of a problem with it though... Every time I am in therapy, I have horrible panic attacks the whole time and want to leave. It hasn't even felt helpful because I'm SO anxious. I don't know what to do about it. Of course I'm still going to keep going because I know this WILL help me. But, I'm worried as to when these panic attacks will go away during therapy so I can actually focus, learn, and practice. Another thing, my new therapist is an old man... For some reason I feel like we don't fit together...like I feel as if I'm more knowledgeable on my panic disorder and everything than he is..... But he's all i have right now. There's a lot of things weighing heavy on my mind about this therapy...what do you think?

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I'm glad to hear you're in therapy, harlo! :)

It's interesting that your mind/uncounsciousness reacts to it by panic attacks! There's a lot to discover, I start by rather simple questions to get a better image:

What is the panic related to?

What is the trigger?

What are your thoughts associated to therapy sessions and to the panic?

How does your therapist react? What does he say about it / ask you?

What, in particular, makes you suppose he knows less than you about the disorder?

Do you feel a pressure to "get better / start working hard (in therapy) asap" and panic when you see that it will not be as quick as you'd like to?

I hope it will get beter soon...

Take care!

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Harlo - it's great that you're in therapy. It's an important first step. I've found the majority of my anxieties stem from fear. In your case there are a multitude of fears that could result from being with the therapist. You have to share things, private things. That can be scary. You're probably concerned that there's some way to "be" in therapy. And that is not the case either. There is no right or wrong way. And like Lala says - there's likely pressure on yourself to get a move on and see some results. Whether you realize it or not, all of these thoughts, and probably more, invade your subconscious. One of the tricks I've learned is to get to the root of these feelings. You'll get there! It just takes time and a lot of patience with yourself and with your support groups (friends, therapists, etc.).

As far as your therapist goes - give him a shot. If you feel like he isn't the right fit for you, then by all means, you need to find someone else. It's important for you to feel comfortable and confident in your therapist. But, try to be open-minded at first. Each therapist has their own methods and techniques that they've used over the years. I wouldn't assume that you know more than he does ;) Often times it's a matter of them figuring out how to make you comfortable and how to get the information they need out of you. Sometimes they really know more than they let on - at least in my experience. Be patient with him and with yourself. Be honest as well. Don't be ashamed to talk to him about things. The more truthful you are, the better his assessment and your treatment.

You can be well. I can't tell you that it goes away. And I can't tell you that it's easy. But I can tell you it is possible to live with your fears and anxieties and not struggle against them to point that you have in the past. Keep climbing. Keep journaling. And keep sharing. Spread the word - we don't have to be afraid. We can fight the fear and change the world.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Hi Harlo,

Sorry to hear that you are not clicking with your therapist. I hope he is at least a cbt specialist? If he's good at teaching you how to counter your thoughts in the TEA forms clicking is not essential because the work you do on them will be what helps you more than the sessions themselves, but if he's just a talker type therapist meshing with him would help.

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