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Dr. Mark
Dr. Mark, Psychotherapist
Category: Mental Health
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Experience:  Dr. Mark is a PhD in psychology in private practice
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Last year I shut my perceptory senses down to focus only on me and the

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Last year I shut my perceptory senses down to focus only on me and the people around me. It probably sounds strange, but i did it by contracting my stomache and relaxing my eyes, focusing only on myself and others. It made me feel confident, and i was able to make close friends without being too tense and aware of my surroundings as i normally am. It was great at first, but as a result i had a constant pressure in the stomache all year, i lost all perception on surroundings, space, smells, time, my own bodys spaciatory sences, and even stereotypes. I even began feeling attracted to the same sex, and i know im not supposed to be that way. After 3 months of trying to become the normal me, i am much better, but many things doesent seem real, ive had serious depersonalization, depression, lack of will to live, constant things now seem like a momentary congregation of parts, and i cannot fully grasp time or distances like i did before. Have you heard of this before, and what do i do?
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Mental Health
Expert:  Dr. Mark replied 2 years ago.

Hi! I believe I can be of help with this issue.


First let me say that I can imagine how worrisome this situation must be for you. You are clearly an intelligent and sensitive young man. You have had a remarkable experience that most people would not be willing to even consider let alone embrace as completely as you did and for as long as you did.

And this is actually the key to my answer to you that you need to think about and consider and act on. There are two ways to interpret what you experienced: spiritually or psychologically. Now here's the important part: as long as you are functioning okay and as long as you're able to have a stable social life it's your choice how you want to approach this event.

Spiritually: you had an event that parallels many altered state experiences that most wisdom traditions describe. In the West we associate it most with the Eastern Religions and Hindu and Buddhist traditions but it is found in most traditions. That you are having a slow time coming back would then be a function of your having gotten there on your own in the first place and not having an experienced guide to guide you in how to get to altered states and back from them in an orderly fashion. So you are slightly disoriented and it may take you a while longer to come completely back.

Psychologically: you are at the age where various thought disorders or obsessive compulsive disorders can occur. You may have had an episode of such a thought disorder. In psychology, we judge things based on functioning. So if you are functioning okay and this episode is slowly improving and coming to an end, then psychologically it would be a matter of monitoring the situation yourself at this point.

My recommendation: you don't have to decide between the two options. Let yourself explore both options and accept that something unusual occurred. The more you treat it as a positive, the more you will allow yourself to come back from the experience gracefully. The more you turn it into a negative, the harder it will be.

As a way of coming all the way back, I want you to get really into motivational videos and books. Let's try this self help track before going for professional help. Here's a simple YouTube search I put together for you on "motivational speakers":

http://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=motivational+speakers&aq=f

Some like Tony Robbins are the classic big guys. Some are newer. Watch them all. Get inspired. Buy a book or two. Here are some possibilities, but they are only suggestions as there are so many good ones. They're mostly Americans, but so what?

The first book is the father of all these type of books. How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie. There are classes in these books now! It was written in the 1930s and still has something to say to us today that is very worthwhile.

I think very highly of the second book on my list, which is a real classic: The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey. It is the book that has helped more people than probably any other.

The third book is by Anthony Robbins. He's one of those speakers who fills up huge auditoriums. For a reason. He's a terrific speaker and writer. The particular book (if you like it, try his others): Awaken the Giant Within.

So give this positive approach a chance. Yes attitude is just attitude. But attitude shapes a lot of how we feel inside.

Now, I want to give you a tool to use for when the depression is overwhelming or there is anxiety. Here are instructions on a therapeutic protocol called Progressive Muscle Relaxation (PMR). It's really quite easy to do almost anywhere. My patients suffering from depression or anxiety, when I teach them PMR at first are amazed how simple it is and that it is a psychological protocol. It was first used in the 1920s! Since then, of course, it has been refined and many studies have been done showing its effectiveness. You will practice PMR at first when you don't wake up with an attack so that you will be familiar with it. I want you to practice the PMR at least 5-6 times before an attack or feeling acute anxiety. Why? Because when you're in the throes of anxiety, you will only remember to do something you are very familiar with it. So practicing 5-6 times is really a minimum.

I want to stress the importance of breathing as well. Part of the physiology of what is happening to you in anxiety is that your breathing is getting shallower. This reduces the oxygen in your blood to your brain. That increases the anxiety reaction, which strengthens the attack and you are in a vicious cycle! Not good. So breathing is the primary tool. I have found in my practice that learning breathing techniques can be helpful. But some of my patients are not interested in learning more than one thing at the beginning, so I have found that just reminding you to BREATHE deeply at the same time you are doing PMR is almost as good. If you are willing to take a yoga class and learn breathing techniques, that's the best. But, breathing deeply with your PMR will help.

So, we're ready for learning PMR. I want you to print my instructions below my signature and have a copy in each of the rooms of your home where you may be when you have an attack. And again, you need to practice this easy technique at least 5-6 times as soon as you can. It needs to become as natural to you as breathing. Ah, remember breathing?


INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. After finding a quiet place and several free minutes to practice progressive muscle relaxation, sit or lie down and make yourself comfortable.
  2. Begin by tensing all the muscles in your face. Make a tight grimace, close your eyes as tightly as possible, clench your teeth, even move your ears up if you can. Hold this for the count of eight as you inhale.
  3. Now exhale and relax completely. Let your face go completely lax, as though you were sleeping. Feel the tension seep from your facial muscles, and enjoy the feeling.
  4. Next, completely tense your neck and shoulders, again inhaling and counting to eight. Then exhale and relax.
  5. Continue down your body, repeating the procedure with the following muscle groups:
    • chest
    • abdomen
    • entire right arm
    • right forearm and hand (making a fist)
    • right hand
    • entire left arm
    • left forearm and hand (again, making a fist)
    • left hand
    • buttocks
    • entire right leg
    • lower right leg and foot
    • right foot
    • entire left leg
    • lower left leg and foot
    • left foot
  6. for the shortened version, which includes just four main muscle groups:
    • face
    • neck, shoulders and arms
    • abdomen and chest
    • buttocks, legs and feet

Quickly focusing on each group one after the other, with practice you can relax your body like ‘liquid relaxation’ poured on your head and it flowed down and completely covered you. You can use progressive muscle relaxation to quickly de-stress any time.

What You Need:

  • A comfortable place.
  • Some privacy.
  • A few minutes.

Again:

Dr. Mark, Psychotherapist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 5087
Experience: Dr. Mark is a PhD in psychology in private practice
Dr. Mark and 2 other Mental Health Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
for Dr. Mark

Hey, thanks for your answer.

One of my other quite significant problems is that i have a very unstable social life at the moment. Last year i had 5 people who were good friends, but i suspect i would not have been able to befriend some of them or even relate to them without tention if i were to do it before this happened. And during the course of this, my personality also changed, i became more decisive and also, frequently grumpier, but the best part was relating to people with no further thoughts, just being what i thought was myself, but i suspect this has to do with the constant pressure in my stomache being a thought distracter. And that pressure has to go, i cannot bear walking around with that any longer. When i started school this semester, that stone in my stomache grew heavier each time i talked to a relatively new person, stuck in my universal person relation state, just talking to those people became physically painful/strongly uncomfortable, and i therefore had to force myself to stay clear of those people, even though i could easily become their friend, (and would have wanted to) in that state. But in that case i knew i couldnt heal. Oh well. I therefore have become the old, somewhat lonely me. The lump in my stomache has been reduced dramaticaly but so are my social skills. I now am a fish on shore. Its terrible, but it is the only way i knew to actually be more normal. This i did during the last 2 weeks. But now im drifting between having no friends and a seriously skewed view on society, and sometimes the lump in my stomache returns and i no longer know which state i am in exactly. And i guess im functioning okay, but it doesent feel a 100 percent okay to me. This was just some extra (but important) information:) Had i been the old me, i probably would make even some school mates, but i have now actually no friends at school, just knowing the people i got to know during the first classes. So i have gone from 5 good friends to no one where i live now. And that in itself could probably give me another depression, so it´s a dull situation. Im not quite sure how to act with this at the moment. What can i do with this?
Expert:  Dr. Mark replied 2 years ago.

I am going to recommend to you a psychological approach that I think you will find most helpful. I am assuming here that there is no physiological problem that is causing the stomach "stone". I would recommend you see your doctor to just rule out that there is any physiological problem going on, okay?

Assuming, then, that this is ruled out, the stone is what you are portraying it as: a physical manifestation of your inner emotional/psychological/spiritual self.

Mostly we are trained to treat our pains and physical sensations on the basis that they are a mechanical, biological problem: you are the driver, your body is the "car". Your body hurts, go to a mechanic (doctor) and have it fixed. But we are not built that way. Our "selves" and our "bodies" have an intertwined relationship and sensation (pain, for example) is not just part of our body's system and irrelevant to our "selves", our feelings, experiences, thoughts, etc.

So let's look at something that ties together that pain and the inner self. This is something called the mind-body connection. The idea of mind-body connection is that the physical symptoms you (and most of us) are feeling are not the disorder; they are symptoms masking the emotional and psychological realities (mind) that each of us is too scared to face. On the surface it sounds strange and almost anti-modern. How can things about me I am not ready to deal with cause pain. This isn't the place to give a full class on mind-body connection, but I can tell you that you will find many resources on the web.


I want to give you an example from someone I worked with:

Her husband died in an auto accident. She never grieved properly for a number of reasons. She at one point fell off a ladder and broke her foot. Her foot just wouldn't heal properly. she wound up with an acupuncturist/massage therapist who told her, "Your foot will never heal until you let yourself grieve for your husband." She was shocked. She came to see me and worked on letting herself grieve. She's fine now. The concept, though, that her foot's healing from the pain of the break was somehow related to her emotional healing from her husband's death was at first impossible for her to fully accept. But she did and it helped. This is just one example.

So this method requires you to allow yourself to see the pain as a manifestation of something more emotional within. This approach is the mind-body connection approach.

You can Google it and get acquainted. I know many people who have been helped with this approach and I know many people who scoff at it. I hope you won't scoff at it because it can help you. So get acquainted with the mind-body connection. Then I'd like you to look for a psychologist or a psychotherapist in your area of Norway who is familiar with the approach and can help you work on your social situation and relating to people. Okay?

That our bodies can respond to our psychological/spiritual selves is really not so strange if we think about it. The studies in my field of psychology and in medicine are just starting to be done confirming this connection. For example the studies showing the connection between spiritual practice and healing from surgery; the greater longevity of people who have regular church attendance. And many other connections.

I wish you the very, very best!

Dr. Mark

Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Hi:)

It´s been two months now, and i would think that i have improved slightly. I have been a lot back and forth between mental states, and the two seem to constantly change. The scary thing is that when i am in a state when i feel closest to normal, i also feel like i have the least control over myself, and recently, when in that state, i have had severe troubles focusing on what im actually doing, and feeling that my mind (even though it feels more normal) is detached from what i am doing, which makes me feel like im really losing touch with reality. So i just have to concentrate on trying to just stabilize in the remnants of the mental state i have been in the last year. But it seems more and more like i just feel detached from what im doing. But i realized that when i feel closest to normal (but yet most unstable and uncertain) scaciatory senses and my normal percention of things like cars returned to some extent,( at least for a while)
but yet my mind couldn´t really take in all the information. It might be the fact that my mind has been partially focused on my stomache thing ( the inflated self- confidence) and therefore creating the illusion that my mind is working normally, even though a part of it has been inactive since it started. And when that stone is not present, i only get what my mind havent been focusing on for the last year, without the confidence of the stomache thing, and that might be why im having troubles focusing and concentrating on the situation and surroundings. Maybe i need some sort of training.
In the middle of september i talked to some persons from a health service, but i couldnt get an appointment with a psychologist until the middle of november, and these last two weeks have been very turbulent. I think im getting much closer to being normal, but also much more unstable and afraid of losing touch. I have to wait one more week, but that seems much harder now that i feel i am at an important turning point, and i probably should have gotten help as soon as possible to be more secure.
Expert:  Dr. Mark replied 2 years ago.
This is my training as a psychologist coming into play now:


I'm sensing some dissociation that is both not completely controlled and also interfering with your ability to function. So I want to ask some questions:


Was there trauma or abuse in your childhood?

What about alcohol or dysfunction in your family when you were growing up?

Other factors that might account for dissociating from external reality?


Dr. Mark
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Hi:)

There was no trauma, nor any alcohol, and i have a caring family ( although slightly dysfunctional) but otherwise a functioning family. I probably wrote now just to get some opinions or reassurance, ( im seeing a psychologist in a week, but i feel like it is getting rather urgent), but i know this is due to what i did a year ago. The reason for why i drowsed myself ( focused on being myself) was probably because i was sick and tired of not being myself and not feeling confident ( i had a severe depression and monumental identity crisis during winter 2010 ( due to being with people with which i couldnt be myself ( there is not a lot of people i could be myself with, ( my whole family is like this, basically)) and i got tired of acting over- positive and social while i really had this sad feeling deep down much of the time.

I think my mind has gotten used to processing little external information, and i might need some sort of training?

Expert:  Dr. Mark replied 2 years ago.

Thank you for the extra information. I'm glad you're going to see the psychologist soon. And I hope that you and the psychologist will focus on how to gain the most advantage from the experience you have had. You've tapped into a different way to approach yourself and social reality. And it originally made you more confident and gave you the ability to make close friends. But now you're finding yourself not able to switch back and forth at ease.

And also, there's the problem of focusing, of being detached from what you're doing. I'd like to recommend something for you to look into and consider:


There has been some research support for brain enhancement games and software products in helping with focus. I think you may find them useful for helping you stimulate your brain function so that you feel more "creative" and alert mentally when you are in the more "you" state.

One of the best programs is called Lumosity:

http://www.lumosity.com/

It's one of the less expensive of the good programs. Here's also a site that is worthwhile for you:

http://www.braintraininggames.net/

Go through the web pages on this site they list on the left hand side and focus on the information they give as much as the products they promote. You'll get a good sense of what's out there from this site.


I would also like to recommend Omega 3 fatty acids. Either in flax oil, fish oil or capsules. You need to take daily a clinical dose, about 2-3,000 mg a day. The research is conclusive on this for depression and positive for anxiety issues. This isn't your primary problem, but it can creep in.


Exercise: 5 days a week moderate exercise, to include 3 days of strength training as you will get more used to it. Pretty amazing isn't it? What you put in to it you will get out of it. Your doctor will verify the research results show the benefit to overall health, focus and confidence.


All these are gentle recommendations. Because you are doing well. And I want you to focus on that. You're doing well. But life always presents challenges. Before last year, you had the challenge of being only you and not having any confidence. So you answered that challenge with a bold perceptional shift.


And that solution has created its own new set of challenges. So that is what you are dealing with now. This is how life progresses. As we move forward we are presented with new challenges to solve and to overcome.


Okay, I wish you the very best!

Dr. Mark, Psychotherapist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 5087
Experience: Dr. Mark is a PhD in psychology in private practice
Dr. Mark and 2 other Mental Health Specialists are ready to help you

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