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Kate McCoy, M.Ed, NBCC, LPC
Kate McCoy, M.Ed, NBCC, LPC, Therapist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 5517
Experience:  Over 20 years experience specializing in anxiety, depression, drug and alcohol, and relationship issues.
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Can you go through the obsessive stages if its for a friend

Customer Question

Can you go through the obsessive stages if it's for a friend of the same sex? I am 40 years old and happily married and so this is not an obsession in a lesbian type of way. I just don't have many friends and feel lonely but yet I go round and round with all the obsessive wheel stages? And I have turned this person away because I'm so obsessive about wanting her to respond to my e-mails and always wanting to know where she is, etc. I am on medication but it's not really helping. I mean it's way better than before the medication, especially the depression and anxiety, but yet the obsession and routine is still there.
Submitted: 3 years ago.
Category: Mental Health
Expert:  Kate McCoy, M.Ed, NBCC, LPC replied 3 years ago.

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

 

It sounds like your obsession could be one of two things- either you have feelings about this person because they fill an emotional void for you, or you have a type of Obsessive Compulsive disorder.

 

Since it sounds like you have been seen already either by your doctor and/or a therapist, then I am taking a guess here that someone has done an evaluation and has given you a diagnosis. Did the doctor or therapist indicate whether or not they felt you have obsessive traits? If not, you may want to talk with them again. Obsessive compulsive behavior is related to anxiety, so it may be very possible that is what you are dealing with. In that case, the medications will help, but therapy is also indicated. The medication can treat the symptoms, but to solve the problem talking to a therapist would best help you resolve the issue.

 

If you do not already have a therapist, talk with your doctor for a referral. Or if you attend church, your pastor might be able to help. You can also search on line at http://therapists.psychologytoday.com/rms/.

 

If you feel that your thoughts about this person is because of an emotional void, then you can work on finding new ways to fill it. First, determine what the void could be. Where you abused as a child? Was there a traumatic event in your life? Whatever you feel it could have been, look at exploring how it affected you and how you feel it has caused your feelings now. Also, you can explore these feelings with a therapist to get insight into how you can best address this.

 

Some of the steps you can take to help yourself right now include:

 

Letting yourself obsess. If you try to stop the thoughts, it only makes it worse. Think about it, but don't act on it.

 

Write out how you feel. It helps you clarify your feelings and also allows you to keep track of how often you feel this way, and your progress on recovery.

 

Educate yourself. Learn all you can about obsessions. Read books, search on line and learn what you can.

 

Do good things for yourself. Spend time with supportive friends and family. Take an exercise class, start a hobby, anything to keep yourself busy. You shouldn't ignore your thoughts, but if you focus on other things as well, the thought won't be as intrusive.

 

Here are some book recommendations to help you as well:

 

Overcoming Obsessive Thoughts: How to Gain Control of Your OCD by Christine, Ph.D. Purdon and David A. Clark

 

Coping with Anxiety: 10 Simple Ways to Relieve Anxiety, Fear & Worry by Edmund J. Bourne and Lorna Garano

 

Stop Obsessing!: How to Overcome Your Obsessions and Compulsions (Revised Edition) by Edna B. Foa and Reid Wilson

 

You can find these books on Amazon.com or your local library may have them.

 

I hope this has helped you,

Kate

Kate McCoy, M.Ed, NBCC, LPC, Therapist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 5517
Experience: Over 20 years experience specializing in anxiety, depression, drug and alcohol, and relationship issues.
Kate McCoy, M.Ed, NBCC, LPC and other Mental Health Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 3 years ago.
I did see a therapist for a couple of years but it's been a year since I've seen her. I still go to a psychiatrist every 6 months but only because I'm still taking the meds. I have no more anxiety because the meds help and because the anxiety came with a former job that I felt was over my head and it caused me to get depressed. Then I got let go and it was very hard on me because I was working for my church and I lost my identity and it was a big shock and a big embarrassment. I have since had a new job for 3 years now where I feel capable. But, while I was going through the trauma of switching positions and feeling incompetent in my old job is when I became obsessed with my boss. She is very smart, pretty, strong and not afraid to say anything. I was very persistent very fast and wanted her constant attention, had to know where she was all the time and I couldn't stop thinking about her or clicking on her facebook 20 times a day. I remained friends with her since then and I would e-mail her every day. She got overwhelmed with me and would frequently say hurtful things to me which made me obsess worse and think I'm going crazy. Then in October, she moved to St. Louis but she still works for the same company so she comes into town a lot. She doesn't have time to see me anymore so all I've done is e-mail her since then. But, she is going to be at my church on Saturday and I haven't seen her since October and it's a little awkward. She knows now about my obsession and she has been cautious as to how much she writes me and careful how she reacts to me. But it's driving me crazy and I miss her a lot. I don't really have much family or friends and sometimes feel like she is all I have...other than my husband and kids of course. I'm very religious, shy and always want to do the right thing and please people. I never get in trouble but I constantly crave her attention. I don't know why but you could be right that she's filling an emotional void but I don't know what that void is. Do you?
Expert:  Kate McCoy, M.Ed, NBCC, LPC replied 3 years ago.

It sounds like it may either be something you did not get as a child (relationship with your mother or father was not close, or you were not loved like you should have been, etc) or your self esteem was damaged with the job loss. You mentioned that your identity took a hit when you lost your job, which is a good indicator that you feel you have no identity or you get your identity from outside sources such as your job, family or others.

 

Since your obsession was over your boss, then that says you were looking for an authority figure, much like a mother would have been. I would look at your relationship with your mother and see if you can find something you feel was missing. If you cannot recall very well, talk with siblings or relatives.

 

Also, consider exploring your identity issues. Educate yourself on how to form an identity or recognize the one you have. You are a mother, a wife and you also work, so you formed your choices based on who you are, so you must have some idea of who you are. Work on exploring your personality and form your identity from there. Seek out therapy again if you feel it would help.

 

Consider ending your contact with your former boss. Even if you see her at church, stay away. You need to make a clean break from this dysfunctional relationship so you can focus on healing.

 

Kate

Customer: replied 3 years ago.
My parents love me very much and are good people. All I can think of is that I never wanted to hug anybody my whole life except for my husband or former boyfriends in college. Also, my parents moved to Iowa most of my senior year in high school and I had to stay in Idaho and live with a church family that I barely knew and I was not comfortable there. It was hard on me but I felt pretty confident in myself then, except that we only lived there for 2 1/2 years so I didn't have a lot of friends but I had a best friend that I hung around who was very motherly to me. Also, my former boss/friend that I obsess over is very motherly and I constantly craved hugs from her almost daily when I worked with her which is unusual for me but I was extremely depressed then. Over the last six years, I haven't been very close to my parents. My mother is very sensitive so I would never hurt her feelings so I just don't talk to her much. But I love her very much. She is a very sweet person. My parents went through a rough time when I was in middle school. My dad lost his job and we almost lost our house. My dad got depressed and we couldn't pay bills for a few years. It was hard on them but they stayed together and we worked it out. Also, I forgot to mention that when I was seeing a therapist, I never admitted to having an obsession. It was mostly to work out the anxiety with my job and the depression of getting let go. My boss' name was brought up a lot but I would never really admit to be obsessed. I just thought she was being mean to me and it was affecting me. But I did wonder why I couldn't stop thinking about her when that has never happened to me before. I guess I should go back to therapy and now deal with the real problem. Does this help you get a better idea of what's going on with me?
Expert:  Kate McCoy, M.Ed, NBCC, LPC replied 3 years ago.

Yes, a bit better. But to deal with this, going back into therapy is a good idea. Your problem deserves attention so you feel it is resolved. There appears to be some underlying issues here that a therapist could address for you and help you come to a resolution.

 

Kate

Customer: replied 3 years ago.
Thank you for listening and responding. I've been dealing with this for six years and don't know how to stop. So bizarre!
Expert:  Kate McCoy, M.Ed, NBCC, LPC replied 3 years ago.

You are welcome! My best to you!

 

Kate

Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Hi again!

I was doing more research online yesterday and I knew that somebody had to have gone through what I went through. So I found somebody reference the term "transference" and so I googled it and read everything I could find on it. I really think this is what happened to me. Even though my boss wasn't my therapist, she sort of acted like one. She was the only one totally invested in me and the only one I felt comfortable talking about my feelings with and she hugged me all the time and cared about me. I'm normally a shy person who holds my true feelings inside and am not really close to very many people, except my husband of course. It did feel like a romance to me except that I was terribly confused and felt bad for feeling this way. I knew I would never act on it but It was like I was in love with her. And then also I still keep calling her mama in my head and wishing she would stop ignoring me and just love me. It absolutely drives me crazy. I know she's trying not to act like a therapist to me anymore and she doesn't give me advice anymore and she's trying to do the appropriate thing. But I think what I need is to openly talk about it to her. I felt ashamed all these years feeling this way about her and hiding my feelings about it to everyone. But I still can't let go of these feelings and constantly wanting her attention, her advice, her affection. How do I make this stop? I mean I don't see her anymore and it's been almost a year now but I just constantly e-mail her. I really wish I wasn't so lonely and that I had another friend to reach out to but it's still not the same with other friends. I think it's her personality in that she's strict, she tells me how it really is and most people either hide the truth or sugar coat it because I'm so sensitive. I've never had a friend like her and I crave it all the time. What should I do? I've been going through this now for 7+ years. Crazy!

Expert:  Kate McCoy, M.Ed, NBCC, LPC replied 3 years ago.

Hello! It's good to hear from you. Thank you for requesting my help again.

 

It sounds like there still is some unresolved issue for you around this woman. It may be from when you were left with the church family as a child that affected you deeper than you thought, or it is somehow about your relationship with your mother. Something was missing or something you did not get that you really needed.

 

Whenever you have an emotional reaction that is bigger than the circumstances, then you do have a transference issue. And you are right, that is what you are feeling here. This woman and how you see her is fulfilling a void for you. Finding out what that void is is the key to figuring out these feelings you have for her and solving the problem once and for all.

 

Did you try therapy again? Trying therapy and self help are the two best ways to resolve this. Do not be discouraged if you need to search a bit to find a good therapist that you click with. As long as you keep trying to resolve this, you will succeed.

 

It is probably not a good idea to tell this woman how you feel. I understand that the feelings are very strong for you, but they are probably not for her towards you so she may not understand. Instead, you can try pretending to talk with her. Write a letter to her about your feelings. Don't leave anything out. Write until you feel you have gotten it all out. Read it as you need to. Keep a diary if that works better. This will allow you to get your feelings out, see them on paper (makes it more real), and avoid telling her.

 

Also, try building up your support in the meanwhile. Work on meeting others, trying new things and getting yourself out and distracted. Thinking about how you feel all the time will make it harder to resolve this. You will only weave a deeper web and try to find ways to be with this person or contact her. Your focus will not be on getting better. By forcing yourself to grow in other directions, you help yourself overcome this problem easier.

 

Kate

Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Hi:)

 

Thanks for your answer. No, I haven't tried therapy again. I know it would be good for me but I haven't gotten myself to go. I feel weird talking about this to my old therapist because I never admitted to having these feelings before during all our sessions and I feel bad for not bringing it up. I was so confused back then and I just thought it was a bad thing to feel this way and I've been trying not to admit it to anyone even though it weighs on me all the time. I always worry about what people think of me and I'm always trying to do the right thing and I didn't know how people would react. I fought hard to fight the feelings and I still can't get these feelings to disappear. And, I already told her how I feel. She hasn't responded because it was yesterday and she's at a family camp and doesn't have good internet this week. I don't know if she'll understand or not but I know she won't be surprised.

 

I think it's probably a little bit of both...meaning that I probably am using her to fill a void and there are unresolved issues with her referring back to things that happened before I lost my job that I could never confront her on. There were so many times I just wanted to tell her how I really felt about what was happening to me at work but I was intimidated by her and afraid she would yell at me because she was under an enormous amount of stress and would often times yell at me. I've never been yelled at my whole life so her moods would really upset me and I cried a lot and was very hurt a lot but yet I still couldn't stop wanting her attention. I can be very persistent in a quiet, sneaky way when I really want something. It's like I would love her so much and want her to hug me but yet she scared me and I was upset all the time because I never felt good enough for her. And all the stress from all the changes with my job and her yelling at me and hiding my confusing feelings just sent me in a deep depression. It was not fun for a couple of years. And then when I got let go, I didn't feel like she stood up for me and I was devastated because the people there were like a family to me and now I have this job where it's so quiet, small and most of the time I'm bored, especially in the summer. I think my lonliness and boredom at work make me want her attention more because I have more time to think about it and I want attention from somebody. She was always on e-mail and would always respond to me...until this past year where she doesn't respond as much. It's so hard.... I miss her a lot and I've tried other friends but I'm not close to them and I don't have the same reaction towards them. Thanks for listening:)

Expert:  Kate McCoy, M.Ed, NBCC, LPC replied 3 years ago.

I understand about not bringing this up in therapy. A lot of times people hold back in therapy because they believe that the therapist will think badly of them. But if you have a good relationship with your therapist and they have been trustworthy, there is no reason not to tell them. Good therapists expect to hear things that their patients think are strange or embarrassing. I could not tell you how many times people would tell me something and say they felt too embarrassed or too weird to tell anyone. And it would be something I thought nothing of or that I had heard many times before. And I was able to provide comfort based on the normalcy of their problem.

 

I suggest therapy to you because whatever that void is in you and the feelings that you have towards your boss may take a bit of digging to figure out. You and I can certainly talk about it here on JA but to really get into what may be causing this, therapy can be very effective.

 

I would also try the diary/writing down your feelings suggestion. Even if you are not a writer, getting those feelings out on paper will help you clarify how you feel and give you the chance to express yourself without worrying about anyone seeing it.

 

Part of this could also have to do with your depression and feelings of insecurity. Needing someone else and feeling obsessive over them gives you someone to look up to and to focus on so you don't need to feel alone and inadequate. You may want to spend some time looking at how you feel about that and see if it fits for you. If it does, it may give you a direction to work on this issue. And if it is part of the problem, resolving it could help the obsessive thoughts and feelings go away.

 

Kate

Customer: replied 3 years ago.

You had asked me awhile back if I had ever been abused as a child or had a traumatic event. I don't think I was ever abused but my memory only goes back to age 6. So before that I wouldn't remember. But, I was born with a degenerative hip and had to have surgery when I was 3 months old and then had to wear a cast from my hip and down through my leg for a few months. I even learned how to crawl with the cast on. Don't know if that would do anything to a person later on in life but my mom told me I smelled bad because the cast was so close to my diaper. Also, when I was 7, I snuck out of the house to go play up the street with a friend whose parents weren't home and there ended up being a burglar in the house and we barracaded ourselves in the closet for awhile until we made a run for it. The police did come and catch the guy and we weren't harmed or anything. Mom says I've always been sensitive and would get my feelings hurt easily as a child. Also, we moved a lot while I was growing up. I switched schools in first grade, third grade, 8th grade and 10th grade...and then my parents left me alone my senior year. Also, my dad was very strict but yet a good church guy and could be fun a lot too, but he was always getting impatient in public which really bothered me and he wasn't affectionate (like me). Also, I had a very hard break-up with a boyfriend in college and became obsessive with him after the break-up which lasted about 5 yrs. This is all the traumatic stuff I can think of. My mom is a very affectionate and naieve person but since I was in 5th grade, I never wanted to hug back. I've always been such an independent person up until the depression started and my mom and others would always praise me when I was young as to how well I could play all by myself so well. Mostly all my cousins were all boys. I also sucked my thumb (at night mostly) until I was 10 yrs. old. It was hard to stop.

 

Looking over my entire life, the job crisis with my boss was the most traumatic thing I've ever been through.

 

I do like your advice and I do think what you said in your last paragraph probably is true.

 

Thanks:)

Expert:  Kate McCoy, M.Ed, NBCC, LPC replied 3 years ago.

You are welcome!

 

It does sound like all the moving, the playing by yourself a lot, lack of relationship with a role model and being left alone in high school probably made you feel separated from others, and caused your insecurity and depression. It would make sense that you felt obsessed with others because you did not have close relationships as a child and if you did, you did not have them for long. Your relationship with your parents seems ok but not particularly close, since you mentioned being very independent. Sometimes, independent children become that way because they feel they have no one else to depend on.

 

The crisis with your boss most likely represents your accumulated feelings from your childhood and your feelings about being isolated and unattached to others. That may be why it felt so traumatic.

 

Let me know how you progress with this. I'm here to help anytime.

 

Kate

 

If you felt that this has helped, please consider accepting again. I do not receive any reimbursement for my assistance unless you accept my answers. Thank you very much!

Kate McCoy, M.Ed, NBCC, LPC, Therapist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 5517
Experience: Over 20 years experience specializing in anxiety, depression, drug and alcohol, and relationship issues.
Kate McCoy, M.Ed, NBCC, LPC and other Mental Health Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Yes, as I remember back, I was a little obsessed with a few teachers that I had and respected a lot. One was in 6th grade and one was in 9th grade. They were both females who took a liking to me and they too were very dominant personalities. I also had a teacher at family camp every summer that I obsessed about. Even one of my aunt's who was dominant I wished was my mother for some reason when I was about 13. How could I hate my mother? She was so nice, but I do remember always thinking she didn't understand me and she liked my brother more. My brother and I fought a lot growing up. He was always annoyed with me and hitting me. We are not close now but we do see each other at family gatherings maybe 3 times a year. We don't talk much though. He's very moody and rarely in a good mood. I sometimes feel like I'm an only child. My husband is an only child and so there really aren't any sister-in-laws to get close with. I guess I do like a lot of alone time but yet I tell myself that I'm lonely and crave a close "girlfriend" relationship. I love friends that are motherly. So weird. I probably was left a lone a lot now that I remember. But I always made friends easily. People have always liked me and I get along with just about anybody. People say they think I'm a sweet and caring person and I was shy when I was very young. I'm not shy anymore. I actually enjoy being around lots of people...it gives me energy and makes me happy.

 

If I had to describe myself, I would say that I'm a delicate, sensitive, spiritual person. And I'm definitely a feeling oriented person. I'm very in touch with how I feel.

 

I think you're right in that losing my old job was so traumatic because it felt like I was being abandoned and that nobody wanted me. That was the best job I ever had because I was working for my church and I really loved all my co-workers. And then when I got this job, it was hard at first because I just don't have enough work to keep me busy and yet I'm stuck here all day with lots of time to feel lonely and lots of time to think. I felt so depressed at first getting used to a new place and feeling sorry for myself that I was abandoned. My former boss was all I had to keep in touch with...and Facebook:) I think I probably click on her facebook profile page 20+ times a day to check to see if she's written anything new or just to look at her pictures.

 

I am better than I used to be though. 3 years ago when I first got this job, I felt like I had no purpose living life. I'm much better and do like my current job now (even though I still get bored sometimes) but I still can't stop obsessing over her and I still feel very lonely.

Customer: replied 3 years ago.
One other thing I just thought of is that my parents went through a rough spell from when I was in 4th grade through 8th grade. My dad lost his job because it went bankrupt and couldn't find a decent job because he never got a college degree. He went through a depression and I didn't see him much for a few years because he worked at night for awhile and slept all day. I remember he was very quiet and impatient all the time. He wasn't happy and extremely stressed about finances. This was the period of time when I was left a lone a lot because my mom worked full-time. And, I found out a couple years ago that my mom had a difficult time dealing with my dad being depressed and she almost left him. She had asthma bad and ended up in the hospital a few times too. I don't know if I really knew how bad it was at the time but people from our church were donating clothes to me and my grandparents were the only ones who could afford to give us presents for b-days and christmas. We ended up losing our house and even had to live with my grandparents for about 5 months. This could be important...
Expert:  Kate McCoy, M.Ed, NBCC, LPC replied 3 years ago.

What you said makes a lot of sense. When you think of it, you are looking for a mother figure who will take charge yet care about you and be affectionate toward you. You have been searching for it most of your life. With a dominate father, a mother who was there but not enough for what you needed, and the conflict with your brother, you were one left out child. On top of all that was moving around a lot, no real long term relationships and being left alone.

 

I imagine that if you had had the childhood you needed, you would be an outgoing person with many deep relationships that leave you feeling fulfilled and happy. You sound like a sweet person with lots to offer others. But because of your childhood and how you were treated, you have voids that are not filled. So you feel obsessions towards certain people that you feel would fulfill those needs for you. And you spend time trying to get their attention because you crave and need that void to be filled.

 

What are your thoughts?

 

I wonder what your picture of an ideal mother would look like. What do you think about trying to put one together? We can take a look at whether or not it helps you to look at this issue that way.

 

Kate

Expert:  Kate McCoy, M.Ed, NBCC, LPC replied 3 years ago.

More losses in your life is definitely significant. Your father being depressed makes him removed from being with you and paying attention to you. Your mother being gone physically and probably emotionally with the stress she was under and losing your house.

 

You have had a lot of loss in your life.

 

Kate

Customer: replied 3 years ago.

I think you just figured it out. Until I started thinking over my entire life and seeing there was a pattern in obsessing over dominant and affectionate women, this must be what I'm craving and needing. It hits hard when I really think about it. Makes me want to cry. I guess I have had a lot of loss. I always tried to be so confident and cover up any emotions most of my life, but over the past six years, I've let it all out. I've never cried so much than I have in the past six years. What a mess I am sometimes. I remember growing up that I always got annoyed because my mom would look at me during a sad movie on tv and see if I was crying (she still even does this today). I knew she was looking at me and tried to hold it in and never cry. I didn't even cry when I broke my arm, finger or got stitches as a kid. She always told me I was strong and fearless. But now I know I'm very weak and do fear a lot. Also I'm just getting older and have more hormones:)) My mother has never been a strong person and she is very heavy and eats to fill her voids. But like I said, she is a very sweet and loving person. By the way, I have two teenagers and I worry that I don't give them enough attention and affection. But, my husband is wonderful and he does give them a ton of attention and affection. He is the best thing that ever happened to me. I've hidden a lot of this from him. I don't want to stress him out or worry him. When my kids were very young, my husband and I would take turns with each kid and read them a story and give them one-on-one attention every night before bed. I always felt this was important. But then they reached a certain age (6th grade) and we stopped doing this. We also don't hug as often like we did when they were younger and I worry about this. But we are a very close family and we eat dinner together every night and talk openly about everything. I can tell my kids really enjoy our dinner time talks. But also when they were toddlers, I had a rough time because my kids are 12 months apart and they were not easy toddlers. I did yell a lot, especially when I was PMSing because it was so overwhelming to me. I feel bad about this. I'm much better now with my medication and don't yell anymore during the PMS time.

 

An ideal mother would be one who holds their kids a lot, listens, doesn't yell, is compassionate and understanding and has unconditional love, openly communicates about sensitive issues because she cares about not wanting her kids to hide things from them, wants their kids to know that no matter what mistakes they make in life, that they are still loved and they feel free to openly and comfortably talk about them without harsh judgment. Mainly a good mother spends lots of time being with their family and being a good role model as to what a happy life looks like.

Expert:  Kate McCoy, M.Ed, NBCC, LPC replied 3 years ago.

You are doing some hard work here and have taken the risk, opened your heart and showed yourself. That is truly brave. I am only the guide here. I just showed you were you needed to go. You took the steps to get there.

 

Crying is good. It shows that you are in touch with your feelings. And you do have a lot of loss. The loss in your life is huge. And you learned to hide it because your mother used to make an issue of it, probably unintentionally, but it was still there. You needed someone strong who could be there for you, listen to you and allow you to be yourself. You also needed attention. Someone to show you that you are important and that what you feel is ok and it matters. Someone to explain all the loss and help you through it. Children are not supposed to be left to deal with these things on their own without help. It is no surprise then that you grew up looking for some way to fill up the hole inside.

 

Allow yourself to mourn. Feel upset, cry and be angry if you need to. Whatever emotions come up. If it helps, read about grief. The more you know, the better off you are.

 

You sound like an excellent parent. Reading to your children, being there for them, sharing with them at the dinner table. Matter or fact, I was thinking that your description of the perfect mother sounded like you. You may not feel like a good mom, but you are. Yelling when the kids were little is not going to hurt them. Every parent yells. You would not be human if you did not lose it once in a while.

 

Kate

 

 

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