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Kate McCoy, M.Ed, NBCC, LPC
Kate McCoy, M.Ed, NBCC, LPC, Therapist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 5401
Experience:  Over 20 years experience specializing in anxiety, depression, drug and alcohol, and relationship issues.
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My girlfriend (32 yrs. old) is having a very difficult time

Customer Question

My girlfriend (32 yrs. old) is having a very difficult time getting over her last relationship. She knows that it was a emotionaly abusive, volatile and not at all good....yet she cannot get these thoughts /memories of him out of her head. She goes into episodes of extreme sadness when thinking about him, yet has no idea why as she is in love with me desperately wants to move on and get him out of her head. He was emotionally abuse and undermined her every comment, she was fearful to tell him anything that would upset him and therefore just told him what he wanted to hear. She is now on Lexapro and really does not want to have to be on drugs to get over a man who she knows is not for her. This relationshiop has been over for about a year, and she has talked to him only once. She says she thinks of him almost daily and even in her sleep. She is extreemely confused, and can find no logical reason why she is thinking of him. We want to move on in our relationship and feel we cannot until she can focus strictly on us....is there any mental exercises, methods or alternative RX she may try? It is becoming a major issue for both of us.   PLEASE Help....thank you SM
Submitted: 3 years ago.
Category: Mental Health
Expert:  Steven Olsen replied 3 years ago.

I believe I can help you.

 

Your girlfriend is experiencing emotional preoccupation that is the result of trauma. When we are involved with high anxiety/emotional situations our brains attempt to cement the experience into long term memory. This is a survival mechanism that is useful to recall experiences that are a part of our control. But, when the circumstances are not, and it is the results of abuse, the emotions and memories stay with us, often in a dysfunctional way. This is the same mechanism that creates Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and although I do not believe your girlfriend has the full disorder, she is showing many of the traits.

 

What should you do? Trauma of this nature is causing her to feel inaccurate feelings. She is not longer in love with him, for certain, but the emotional memories are still present, causing her to dwell of the feelings and thoughts of this relationship.

 

Fortunately this is treatable and medications are not the total answer, although they can be of some help in the short run. Instead, she needs to see a counselor who is familiar with trauma based treatments such as EMDR and similar. These techniques are used to desensitize the events and lessen the impact of the trauma. The techniques are safe and effective and many counselors are trained in the process. Your family doctor should be able to refer you to a CBT (cognitive behavioral therapist) who will either practice this or know those who do.

 

In the meantime I would highly suggest an excellent and inexpensive resource: The PTSD Workbook: Simple, Effective Techniques for Overcoming Traumatic Stress Symptoms by Mary Beth Williams and Soili Poijula (Paperback - May 15, 2002)

 

This book will open up a great many options for your girlfriend and help her to reprocess the feelings she is unable to resolve. The book is available on amazon.com

 

With trauma oriented counseling and the book I recommended, she will be well on her way to getting over this problem. Steven

 

Customer: replied 3 years ago.
Relist: Other.
Need more suggestions on how to cope and or understand the situation and move on. Things to try, Rx both homieopathic and generic. Excersises we may be able to so together to help remove him from her mind.
Expert:  Kate McCoy, M.Ed, NBCC, LPC replied 3 years ago.

Hi, I'd like to help you with your questions.

 

I do agree with Steven Olsen. It does sound as if your girlfriend is experiencing PTSD symptoms. She was traumatized by her experience with this former boyfriend. She may also be depressed because of the abuse.

 

When someone is abused, they go through the same type of trauma as someone who witnesses violence. But they also have the additional issues of shame. They could not stop the abuse and had to give part of themselves to prevent being hurt further.

 

Your girlfriend needs treatment. If she is willing, she should see a therapist who has experience with abused women. She can talk with her doctor for a referral or try the local community mental health center.

 

Also, you can help her by letting her express her feelings about the abuse. Give her opportunities to talk without judgment or comments. If she can, help her to avoid the areas where the trauma took place and most of all, she should not be talking with this individual at all. She is only going to re traumatize herself. She can also attend a group that is for people who have survived abuse. Here are some sites that might help her as well- http://helpguide.org/mental/domestic_violence_abuse_types_signs_causes_effects.htm and http://www.joyfulheartfoundation.org/dv_learnthefacts.htm?gclid=CLOK6Y-GwqYCFQQ65QodsSZJJQ.

 

You can be the most help by being as supportive as possible. Ask her what she needs and be there for her.

 

For a homeopathic option, she might want to try supplements to help her mood stabilize. Please let her know to check with her doctor before trying this, since the supplements can thin her blood and cause problems depending on the medications she might be taking or any health issues she has. Try taking Omega 3 fatty acids (fish oil) in 1,000 mg, 100 mg. Magnesium glycenate, and 10 mg. zinc once a day. This will lift her mood and help her cope.

 

I hope this has helped you,

Kate

Kate McCoy, M.Ed, NBCC, LPC, Therapist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 5401
Experience: Over 20 years experience specializing in anxiety, depression, drug and alcohol, and relationship issues.
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