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Ask Kate McCoy, M.Ed, NBCC, LPC Your Own ...

Kate McCoy, M.Ed, NBCC, LPC
Kate McCoy, M.Ed, NBCC, LPC, Therapist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 5481
Experience:  Over 20 years experience specializing in anxiety, depression, drug and alcohol, and relationship issues.
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Hey Kate.

Customer Question

Hey Kate.
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Mental Health
Expert:  Kate McCoy, M.Ed, NBCC, LPC replied 2 years ago.

Hi, how are you?

 

Kate

 

PS I have an appointment in a few minutes so if I don't catch you in the next 10 minutes, I will be back before lunch time.

Customer: replied 2 years ago.

I'm fine. How are you?

 

Turns out all my worrying about crying was for naught. On Monday, we just talked about benign things, and she asked me a bit about my crying "history" (which sounds strange to me -- like it's a "criminal history" or "history of drug use") ... anyway, didn't even come close to crying. However, when I got home Monday night, I was totally pissed. I have no clue why -- but I felt really mad, again the feeling like I might explode. Then I rather wished I had explored my feelings in my therapy appointment. It was a bad night.

 

But also, some things she said during my appointment kind of pissed me off. I told her that the past Wednesday night had been bad, and she said "was that when you had the dream and hit your ace" and I said no -- tha was when I had the appointment and cried the whole time. She said that it took me a while to get there, but I had let myself cry more than I ever had in there. She said she is sure I cry a lot harder when I'm by myself, but she doesn't want me to be alone. She acted like I hadn't cried much, but for me -- I felt like I let go a lot -- like that was a major thing to me, and I thought it was what she had wanted me to do -- but she apparently thinks I didn't let go nearly as muuch as I need to. Really? I felt like I kind of lost it. So for some reason, I was upset about that.

 

Meanwhile, my closest friend ["P"] (who also lives with me and whose family has kind of "adopted" me since mine lives across the country and I spend most holdays, etc. with them in the past 10 years) .. her mother had died 6 months ago, and her dad died Tuesday night. So I've been dealing with that and trying to do what I can for her and them, so I haven't had to think about any other stuff since Tuesday night.

 

I had another appointment with L. yesterday, and she said she didn't think that she should have me work on these other feelings when I have present feelings to process. But the thing is -- I am fine with his death. That may seem strange since I have basically been treated as family for the last decade and knew him well. But he was sick. And he wanted to be with Jesus and his wife and son. The only thing that upset me was seeing my friends so upset. I am not unfeeling. I loved him. But ..... It's strange to me that my legal assistant, who is a good friend and also a good friend with P., was just beside herself crying when I called to let her know. She was crying this morning when I told her something that went on the night he died. She cried when she brought food over last night, when P. showed her the box her dad had made for her parents' remains. Oh well. It's not that I'm holding back. I have no compulsion to cry at all.

 

L. talked about that some in my appointment, but not a whole lot. She told me that if I have time, to try to pin down some of my feelings about the other thing. Then she told me not to do that, unless I called her. She's out of town this weekend. She said "if you get upset, call me and we'll do a session over the phone, but you'll have to tell me if you're crying." Strange. I'll just wait to talk to her at my appointment on Monday.

 

She also was saying that when I am in there, she doesn't ever know where my mind is, and when I get upset, she can't guide me very well because she has no idea what I am thinking. She said I sometimes will give a summary after a period of silence, and she can kindof use that to try to figure out where all my mind was, but that she doesn't really know because I don't say anything. I told her most of the time, my mind is just jumping around, or if I'm upset, I don't usually know about what. Am I supposed to give her a play-by-play? I understand what she is saying -- that she can't help guide me if she doesn't know where I am. But I don't know what to do about it.

 

Sorry for the rambling and the jumping back-and-forth between subjects. It's been a pretty sucky and sleepless few days.

 

:)

 

Shay

Expert:  Kate McCoy, M.Ed, NBCC, LPC replied 2 years ago.

Shay,

 

I'm doing fine, thank you! The usual running around and working. I am glad to finally get to sit down with you and talk. I was thinking of you and wondered how you were doing.

 

I am sorry that you have been having a rough time of it. You certainly have had a lot going on.

 

It sounds like your therapy is focused a lot on crying. I realize that getting in touch with your deeper emotions is important and that is ok. But feeling that you are obligated to cry or talk about crying is not helpful. Crying is a natural response and happens differently for everyone. It is not a barometer for your deeper feelings because it is so different for everyone. Some people cry all the time, sometimes for no reason at all. Other people hardly cry. While it is an expression of your feelings, it is not the only expression of your feelings. There are other ways to express how you feel.

 

Your anger towards your therapist probably comes from your expectations of her making a bigger issue out of your crying than she did. Crying like you did was significant and you felt that needed acknowledged. However, L downplayed it. This seems to have led to you feeling shortchanged. But is also about expectations. You felt that L wanted you to cry and when you did what you thought she wanted, she didn't acknowledge it.

 

She also made a judgment about your crying, saying that you didn't let go as much as you needed to and that you must cry harder in private. I'm sure she means well, but from your perspective, this must sound like a judgment on your ability to express your feelings well enough to meet standards. And that may be what triggered your anger.

 

It is just fine that you did not cry about your friend's fathers death. Not everyone reacts the same way when someone close to them dies. Some people feel shocked (even if it was expected), some are sad but don't cry, and others feel angry or peaceful about it. There is no right or wrong. And who is to say your tears will not come later? You were taught to repress your feelings when you were young and you are just beginning to work on them now. It may be just how you handle your feelings for now. They will come out when they need to. If you feel sorrow for your friend, that is enough.

 

You do not need to give your therapist a play by play of your feelings in therapy. It sounds like she is concerned with you being in touch with your feelings. But therapy is supposed to guide you to what a healthy expression of your feelings is for you, not what it is for everyone else. When I do therapy, I ask the person I am with how they are feeling throughout my sessions. That helps me get an idea of what is going on for them and if they have difficulty expressing how they feel normally, my asking gets them in touch with their emotions. It may take several months of asking this question here or there, but eventually they can express how they feel without me asking. And whatever they feel is fine. It may not make sense to them but we eventually figure it out. And crying is only a part of that and only if they feel the need to. Maybe that will help you know that what you are doing is just fine. As long as you are motivated to help yourself get better, it doesn't matter what emotions you express to get there.

 

Kate

Kate McCoy, M.Ed, NBCC, LPC, Therapist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 5481
Experience: Over 20 years experience specializing in anxiety, depression, drug and alcohol, and relationship issues.
Kate McCoy, M.Ed, NBCC, LPC and 3 other Mental Health Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Kate:

 

I have a feeling that the crying thing is more my focus -- what I pulled out of the whole thing -- rather than her focus. I think it must just feel like a big deal for me. Also, I think one of the reasons she keeps bringing it up is because I have told her about feeling teary a lot over the past few weeks, but not crying. And I think she senses I am holding back, and she knows that crying was not tolerated when I was younger and I think she may be going overboard telling me it's okay to cry, but it feels like pressure to me. And I think I have a fear of it -- like once I start I may not stop, or I will lose control or something.

 

Also, I do appreciate her not wanting me to be alone, as I have told her how sometimes I feel like I am 21 again, all alone, and think she feels like if I get a big rush of feelings I may freak out, which could be accurate. :)

 

L also asks me, from time to time, during the sessions, what I am feeling, and I usually don't know. She also asks me, when we are talking about hard stuff, to tell her where certain emotions are, on the SARS thing. But I have trouble with that, too -- do I rate from 1-10 or 1-100, the highest number being the strongest I have ever felt OR the strongest I COULD feel it? Like a pain scale from 1-10. Is 10 the most pain I have ever experienced, or the most I could ever experience? And is it the most painful in general or to that part of my body? I have trouble communicating in this way, and I have trouble communicating my feelings in general to L. I Sometimes I can give analogies so that she can understand what I am thinking, but otherwise, considering my job is to write and speak and communicate, I do a sucky job in therapy. :)

 

And, honestly, I was shocked at myself Monday night through Tuesday morning, but I felt like I had needed to get stuff out and had missed the opportunity. I didn't feel the slightest need while I was actually there, but I did when I was at home. Maybe that's why I am quasi-obsessed with the crying thig. Maybe because it scares me and will get out of control, but I know it's building up and I need to release it somehow??

 

However, on other things, I'm just not a cryer. I don't feel bad about not crying over C.'s death. It was probably good that I didn't, so I could focus on the others. I just wanted to clarify, however, that I wasn't holding back or thinking I couldn't cry. I just didn't feel like it.

 

Shay

 

Customer: replied 2 years ago.

And ... btw ... I kind of got a week's break from dealing with all that crap, without doing it on purpose. :)

 

Expert:  Kate McCoy, M.Ed, NBCC, LPC replied 2 years ago.

Shay,

 

It's ok if crying is more your focus rather than your therapists. Either way, it has become an issue for you in and out of therapy. Although we have talked some about crying before, it might be helpful to see why you fear crying, or even just the thought that you might lose control. Has your therapist talked to you about that yet? I don't want to tell you something opposite or drastically different so I'll just throw my thoughts out there and you can take what you want from what I say.

 

Your feeling of fear around crying and not being able to stop seems to stem from your childhood. What do you feel would have happened if you had cried as a child? What actions would your parents take? When you did cry, what did they do? It might help to write your thoughts out or you can talk to me about them. We can try to pinpoint where the fear comes from.

 

What does losing control mean to you? Maybe listing the signs of someone losing control or picture yourself losing control. By exploring this, you will find what you fear most. The fear that you will lose control is very common, especially if you have little experience with crying. It is like driving a car. The first few times you do it, you think of having an accident or losing control of the car. But as you get experience, you will see you can do it without preparation or much thought.

 

What does crying mean to you? Since crying was not accepted when you were a child, you have little to no reference to your own feelings behind crying. You don't know when it is natural for you to cry and when it is not. Or how much you would cry if you had been allowed to (or if it was accepted for you to cry) as a child.

 

It is very common for crying to make you feel vulnerable and scared. Letting your feelings out and making them present can feel overwhelming. Hence the feeling you are losing control. By crying is not a pathological condition so it will not make you crazy or out of control. It is actually a healthy reaction that makes you stronger and more able to cope. And you will stop crying. You may cry a lot at first, but you control your crying by your thoughts. It does not control you.

 

When you rate your feelings, it is for what you feel at that time. So if you are talking about something that makes you angry and L says rate your feeling, you tell her how angry you feel right then. If it's just a little, then say 1 or 2. But if you are so angry your hands are shaking, then it's at the other end of the scale. I believe the scale goes from 1 to 10, but clarify that with your therapist. She could be using another scale or changing the numbers to suit what you need.

 

Kate

Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Oh -- I know the scale is for how I feel right then -- but what I don't know and we always have to discuss is whether 10 is, for instance, the angriest I have ever felt, or if 10 would represent the angriest I COULD ever feel. Does that make more sense? Like, if we were talking about pain, and I have a terrible migraine, the doctor might ask me to rate my pain on a scale of 1-10. It may hurt worse than it has ever hurt before, but I still would hesitate to give it more that a 6, because I can imagine it could hurt a lot worse. And as far as pain goes, it's hard, because it could be the worst my head has ever hurt, but being stabbed in the eye would hurt so much worse. So, if I am feeling angry or sad or uncomfortable or whatever and L. asks me to rate it, if the feeling seems really strong, I give it a six, nonexistant a zero, and a little, a 2. I never go above a six, because things can ALWAYS be worse than they are.

 

About the crying ..... my parents have told me that when I was a baby, I could not stand to be away from them, and I would just cry and cry. They said it was ridiculous. My mom said she would take me over to friends' houses, and they would put me upstairs and go outside, thinking that if I got used to it, I would stop. But apparently, I would scream and cry for hours when they did this. Of course, I don't remember any of that. When we were little and got in trouble and got spanked, it pleased my mom if we were brave and didn't cry.

 

I have a sister who is about 18 months older than me (but 2 years in school) and a brother 3 years younger than me. My sister and I did NOT get along growing up. Probablly in late elementary school, my sister took to teasing me mercilessly, and she and my brother would gang up on me (it wasn't that my brother and I didn't get along particularly or that he was a bad kid -- he just didn't want to be on the receiving end of my sister's wrath, too). They knew how to hurt me without leaving marks, and knew what my buttons were to push, and I would get really upset (my parents would characterize it as hysterical), which would only make it more fun for them and egg them on. When my parents would get home, or if they were home, they always sent me to my room "to calm down." I realize that they just didn't want to deal with me being upset, but at the time, it seemed like I was getting punished for what they had done to me. And every time I cried, I had to go to my room until I stopped crying, so it didn't take too long to figure out it was easier just not to cry. When someone would die, and my sister would cry (she always got more upset at that kind of thing), my mom would tell her she's being selfish. Since it was only her grandma, and not her mother or wife, or only a friend, but not her best friend or child, my mom's opinion is that she didn't have the right to be upset about it. She would act like it was her trying to get attention, when in reality, she was just really sad.

 

When we got hurt, they would tell us to stop crying, and that it didn'r really hurt.

 

So I'm sure I have issues because of that. But I seem to cry at other times, when it doesn't make a whole lot of sense. I was telling L. on Monday that I had a terrible case -- 3 weeks into opening my firm. It was an emergency reorganization, and it turned out to be a huge deal in the state. Everyone hated my client, other attorneys were critiquing averything I did, on the news or in the newspaper, and the media was calling every day. There were death threats against my client .... It was awful, in addition to the fact that the case instantly exploded and there was no way I could handle everything in the case for too long. I would work from about 6:00 a.m. till 9:00 pm, go home, cry until I fell asleep, then do the same thing the next day. It lasted for about 2 months. I remember thinking that no other attorney I know would have been crying every day. However, I know that other attorneys would have killed to get the case, but it's just not "me." I also cry in sad movies.

 

So .... who knows??

 

As to control --- it means to me that I can dictate the process and result of whatever it may be. That I can predict, even with not complete certainty, then at least predict the possible results. That I can choose how to act or what is going to happen.

 

I feel like I have all these feelings I've either never felt before or not in this intensity, and I feel like I cannot control them and will them away. Since I cannot control the build-up, I doubt I can control the release, and I feel like there will be a flood I can't stop (while, as I said, recognizing [at least Monday night] that releaseing some of it would have made me feel better).

 

About 7 years ago, one of our legal assistants, and a really good friend of mine, died in a drunk driving accident. She had just truned 22 a few days before. She had gone home to another state to celebrate her birthday, and died a few days before she returned. I was so shocked and really upset. I know I cried some at first, once I figured out that her sister was not playing a joke on me. But not as much as everyone else, it seemed. Then we went to her hometown for the funeral, and I went to look at her body, because I needed to see it was really her. As soon as I did, I started shaking uncontrollably. Every time I would try to speak, had to stop, because I would just cry and couldn't talk. It was horrible. I felt that if I opened my mouth or tried to speak, all my tears would gush out. After that, her parents and siblings would call me quite a bit and come to town to visit -- I guess to feel like they were making some kind of connection with her. The fact that I was able, after a few days, to talk to them without falling apart, I think was helpful to them, although it just killed me.

 

So, not sure what that means. ?????

 

Expert:  Kate McCoy, M.Ed, NBCC, LPC replied 2 years ago.

Shay,

 

Your explanation of the scale makes more sense now. I think what your therapist is doing is trying to make you aware of how deep your feeling is at the time she asks you. It may be that she wants you to be aware of the range of your feelings as well. So if you feel sad, how sad do you feel and is that the saddest you ever felt or could feel. It is very hard to tell since you have yet to experience the full range of your emotions. But it may be what she is trying to make you aware of.

 

I could not imagine leaving my baby to cry out like your parents did to you. I do understand a parent's frustration with a baby that cries a lot and the need for a break. But just leaving you like that is a tough way to handle it. It seems to show your mother's ability to tune out the pain you were feeling. You could have had colic or felt ill in another way. Or something else was wrong. A mother's instinct is to comfort her baby. Your mother was able to tune that out. It says that she was out of touch with her feelings.

 

And to stifle your crying as a child is cruel. This was your mother's inability to handle her own feelings so instead of recognizing her own problems and dealing with the dysfunction of her feelings, she transferred her feelings onto you and your siblings. That can be considered emotional abuse. And you are right, it probably has something to do with how you cope in your life now. You could not help but be influenced by what she did. She made crying and feeling sad unacceptable, no matter the circumstances. Even death had to be categorized into whether it was ok or not to cry about. You weren't allowed to just be you and feel what you felt, you had to be told what to feel and if your mother thought it was acceptable to feel.

 

It sounds like you handled the emergency reorganization just fine. Everyone would have handled it differently. Some may have cried from the stress, others would have gotten angry or upset, others would have skimmed through it doing the minimum. Although they all said they wanted the case, wanting it is much different than having it. You had it and handled it the best you could.

 

The fact that you cried under the stress of the case and you cry at sad movies are a testament to your resilience. You have overcome your mother's emotional abuse and let your feelings come through. It is a sign of health.

 

You also seem to have reacted normally to your legal assistant's death. That was a horrible tragedy. She was young, just celebrating her birthday and doing something as innocent as having her birthday with family. It was also unexpected. Death that is unexpected is sometimes harder for people to accept. You handled it well though. And you were there for her family, which they appreciated I'm sure. How else could you have reacted? If you felt that you should have repressed your feelings, that is your mother's influence which is the unhealthy way of approaching such a sad event.

 

Kate

Kate McCoy, M.Ed, NBCC, LPC, Therapist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 5481
Experience: Over 20 years experience specializing in anxiety, depression, drug and alcohol, and relationship issues.
Kate McCoy, M.Ed, NBCC, LPC and 3 other Mental Health Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
I don't think that my mom was "emotionally abusive". She is the most good-hearted person. She just was a little bit overwhelmed as a parent, I think. Plus, her parents were very selfish and unavailable. When she was in her mid teens, her mom had another baby (there were 5 total and she was the eldest) and she ha what woul now probably be called post-partem depression, and stayed in bed all day for months, and my mo
Had to take care of all her younger siblings, including a newborn. So ....

And she seems to be totally different with my niece and nephews. I have found that she is very patient, understanding and living towards my 7 year old nephew, who is a really serious and sensitive little guy. And sometimes when we remind them about things they did and said, they don't even remember and are surprised at themselves. They are really great people. I never realized anything was "missing," although I did feel a bit starved for attention when I was younger, but I attributed that to being the middle child.

I didn't realize I had any emotional issues. However, I have been told by 2 different people, kind of out of the blue, in the past few months, that I have little affect. I didn't even know what that was at first. I had to look it up. I have been told by people that before they got to know me, they had the impression that I was without emotion. But people have told me a lot of things they thought before they knew me that they found out weren't accurate, so ....

Oh well. We're all probably screwed up by our parents in one way or another. I'll tell you what, though - We were the kids who could finish the game with a sprained ankle or busted mouth. That's gotta be good for something :)
Expert:  Kate McCoy, M.Ed, NBCC, LPC replied 2 years ago.

Shay,

 

I'm sure your mother did, for the most part, care for you and your siblings. And her refusal to allow you and your siblings to express your feelings though can be seen however you feel comfortable. The main issue is that her actions affected your ability to handle your emotions by teaching you it was not ok to express yourself as you needed to. Crying was a no no in your home. And since crying is a way to express yourself, especially as a child, her actions emotionally affected you.

 

Children are very impressionable and learn mostly from their parents what is acceptable and what is not. And when a parent forces a child to surpress their feelings, offering punishment instead of comfort, that can greatly affect that child's ability to recognize and express their feelings. A child does not understand that their parents act as they do because they were taught to. They only feel confused, isolated and upset. The fact that people told you that you seemed to lack affect when they met you tells you that you learned this lesson from your childhood very well. You learned to shut your feelings off because you were taught to by your parents. It also affected how you handled your attack and probably how you handle other emotional times in your life.

 

This is not a way to blame your mother and say she is a bad person. People often repeat dysfuntional behaviors they learned from their parents and lack the insight to change what they learned so they do not cause harm to their own children. The key here is recognizing that you did not grow up in a emotionally healthy environment, one that equipped you with the best way to handle your feelings. The fact that you are learning now to express yourself and facing those things you had to suppress as a child is very positive. Many children who are raised in dysfuntional homes struggle to gain insight into how they have been affected. But you have been able to work through the past and overcome your past. You are moving towards emotional health.

 

Kate

Kate McCoy, M.Ed, NBCC, LPC, Therapist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 5481
Experience: Over 20 years experience specializing in anxiety, depression, drug and alcohol, and relationship issues.
Kate McCoy, M.Ed, NBCC, LPC and 3 other Mental Health Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Hmmmn. I find this all very interesting. It's funny, because I always thought that I had the most non-dysfunctional family. And my parents ended up with 3 kids who finished college and are responsible and independent adults. And my brother and sister are great parents. (they must have overcome the emotional issues, because they are very attentive to and affectionate with their children).

However, when my grandma (my mom's mom) died last year, my friends here thought the way my mom handled it and handled it with all of us was ridiculous. So I kind of figured out that maybe it wasn't normal. But as an adult, it was almost humorous. My friends also seem to think it strange because my parents were honest with us about stuff, like after a basketball game my dad might tell me I played terribly, or if I was singing a solo, he might say I screwed up or something. But that was the truth, and I always knew that if they said I did a good job, they really meant it. And we always knew that if they said there were consequences for something, they would follow through. I knew if I got a bad grade, how long I would be grounded, etc. (but they weren't strict except for grades. They were pretty liberal about everything else, with limits.). Like I knew I really wouldn't get in trouble for drinking, but I also knew that under no circumstances was I to drive after drinking and I could call them to pick me up. As far as sex goes, it was basically fine to have sex, but if we were going to have sex, we were supposed to use birth control (now, I didn't do that, but my sister was pretty promiscuous). I think all that was fine and taught us that we are responsible for our own actions. There was no blaming anyone else for anything. And I think that's really good, because none of us grew up with the attitude of entitlement or lack of personal responsibility.


In any event, this is quite interesting to me. But I'll take the positive things and work on the other stuff. :)

But I guess I should probably work on my other stuff for the time being. I want this issue to be resolved and over. I got a copy yesterday in the mail of the assessment the sleep doctor did, which he apparently was sending my psychologist and psychiatrist. It was a bit surprising. It was done partly based on my talking with him and partly in the extensive questionnaires I had to complete beforehand. He concluded I had severe post traumatic stress and the nightmares are out of control (based on the present and history) and I displayed avoidance behaviors, even though I denied it when asked. Then he went on to list his suspicions about sleep disorders and why an in-lab test was necessary. Kind of surprised me. I knew I had PTSD, but I wouldn't say it was "severe.". I also don't think I have avoidance issues. ???

Anyway, learning a lot about myself, I guess. I thought I knew myself pretty well, but I guess not. :)
Expert:  Kate McCoy, M.Ed, NBCC, LPC replied 2 years ago.

Shay,

 

It's normal for you to see your parents the way you do. Many children do not know things should have been different in their home growing up because there is nothing to compare it to. All you know is what you experienced. There is no one saying to you "Oh, that is not healthy or normal. This is how it should be." when you are a child. So you learn to accept what you had as a child and how you were treated.

 

Even with parents who hurt their children there are good parts to what they do. Your parents may have set the rules in such a way that you understood exactly what to expect, but they also set them without allowing for your feelings.

 

It is a misconception that abused children always fail in adulthood and those raised in good homes always are successful. While it is true to a certain extent that parents have some control, raising children is influenced by other factors as well. There are many children who are raised in horrible circumstances that turn out even better than their peers who are raised in non abusive homes. There are too many factors in such a situation to predict how a person will turn out given the circumstances. You have the basic personality then you have the environment. How the two interact is what makes the person who they are.

 

What you may want to look at is why the thought that your parents could have been wrong and influenced you by making you repress your emotions bothers you. You have a lot of energy around trying to see your parents as loving and good. You hear others tell you how they see your parents behavior, but you resist accepting what they see. What would it mean to you to see your parents the way others see them?

 

You may want to talk to your psychiatrist and therapist about the sleep doctors report and whether or not severe PTSD fits your symptoms. But his thoughts about avoidance issues may need to be explored further. It would be good to see the report to find out what his reasoning is behind saying you have avoidance issues.

 

Kate

Kate McCoy, M.Ed, NBCC, LPC, Therapist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 5481
Experience: Over 20 years experience specializing in anxiety, depression, drug and alcohol, and relationship issues.
Kate McCoy, M.Ed, NBCC, LPC and 3 other Mental Health Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Kate:

 

For the record, although my friends think they react abnormally to death, illness, etc., everyone really likes my parents and enjoy spending time with them, and I do too. I think they like us more and feel more comfortable with us as adults. But all my college friends loved coming home with me and my best friend here, P., talks to my mom all the time and we go on vacation with them and stuff (of course, P. and my mom are the same age, and they both recently retired from teaching, so they probably have more in common). And my mom has been very sympathetic and empathetic with P. with the illnesses and loss of her mom then her dad. I don't get that, but she has been great for her.

 

Plus, I think all the really weird ways they handle things don't bother me as much now because (1) I am an adult; and (2) I live across the country. My sister and brother are much more irritated with how they are than I am, probably because they live close.

 

I think it bothers me to think my family is dysfunctional emotionally, because I never thought we were. We were never abused, we weren't spoiled, there was no divorce, no addiction issues, etc. And I never thought I was emotionally stunted in any way, so it bothers me to think that, beyond the incident I am trying to deal with, there are othre problems with me, and that those problems may be the cause of how I handled/didn't handle that situation, which is why I'm kind of screwed now.

 

As for the report, the basis for the conclusion that I showed avoidance behavior, was primarily because I didn't want to do the sleep test in the lab, because I don't want someone watching me have a nightmare, because it is embarassing, and it makes me anxious. I guess it doesn't matter if the PTSD is severe or not -- that just surprised me, because I know how I presented things, and he kind of looked beyond that to make his conclusions. And I would have characterized my PTSD as mild, wince I function just fine.

 

Oh well. :)

Expert:  Kate McCoy, M.Ed, NBCC, LPC replied 2 years ago.

Shay,

 

I know it's hard to move beyond the positive aspects of how your parents acted with you as a child. And there seems to be a lot you took away as good in your experience. But there is also a bad part. The issue with your parents allowing you to express your feelings as a child and even now is important to focus on because it effected you and your siblings. It cannot be ignored because it happened and because it did have an effect on how you deal with your situation.

 

If you want to see it in another light, look at the evidence that there is something wrong with how your parents treated you as a child. The comments from your friends, your siblings reactions to your parents now that they are adults, and your reactions to things like crying and the trauma you suffered. This is not so much about blaming your parents as it is acceptance that the forced you to repress your feelings. By recognizing this is an issue, you can move forward and work through it. Learning what was healthy emotionally can open up your repressed feelings and allow you to experience your emotions in a good way. It also helps you regulate your reactions to emotional situations so they do not end up being repressed and causing you more pain in the long run. People who repress feelings can have physical and emotional consequences because of it.

 

Fear of feeling overwhelmed by your emotions is common when you have had to repress them for a long time. By not being allowed to cry as a child (or being treated as if your crying was a crime) taught you to repress your sadness. You learned to ignore or bury your sorrow. When you were attacked, you pushed the feelings aside and went on. But your feelings would not stay repressed because that is unhealthy. So they came out through nightmares and other means. Learning to cry and express sadness will help you reduce or eliminate the nightmares because your mind will have an acceptable way to get those feelings out and will no longer need to play them out through the nightmares.

 

If you are fearful of participating in the sleep study that is ok. Many people are self conscious about sleeping in front of others, especially if you are being observed. Sleeping leaves you feeling vulnerable and that is not an easy state to be in, especially after experiencing trauma.

 

Kate

Kate McCoy, M.Ed, NBCC, LPC, Therapist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 5481
Experience: Over 20 years experience specializing in anxiety, depression, drug and alcohol, and relationship issues.
Kate McCoy, M.Ed, NBCC, LPC and 3 other Mental Health Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Kate:

 

That makes sense. It is just difficult for me to see myself in one of those "I have issues because of my mother" situations. We all have to take responsibility for ourselves and our actions/reactions. So, viewing it not as a blame thing, but more as a past environment which had consequences I need to work out is easier.

 

I have shared with L. how my parents were, emotionally speaking, a bit, and how they have handled some recent situations, but maybe I need to tell her I need to talk about the issue of emotions and my experience as a child affected my experiencing emotions. She said she thinks my parents are probably good and nice people, but their reactions to things is not normal and she said that she can understand why I told nobody about what happened, especially my parents. She said that if I had told my parents right after it happened and thye would have reacted how they did when they found out 2 years later, it would have been devastating. And I agree, and I am sure I knew that, and that's why I didn't tell. Even though I was over 18, the college would have informed them if I had told anyone. So I'll talk to L. about exploring all this more. Even if it doesn't help for my current situation, it will surely help in the long run, and even though I'm 40 and have no prospect of having children, I may want to adopt at some point (I guess it would need to be kind of soon), and I don't want to be a bad mother, especially since I am single.

 

So this has helped a lot, and I understand better. Thank you.

 

A question, though: is there ever a situation when someone (without any serious mental illness) would lose control or not be able to stop crying for a really long time?

Expert:  Kate McCoy, M.Ed, NBCC, LPC replied 2 years ago.

Shay,

 

I agree very much with your thoughts about the childhood emotional issues. Your therapist can certainly help you work on the issue of emotions and how your experience as a child has affected your current reactions.

 

I also agree with what your therapist said. Your parents are probably very nice, but their reactions to emotions are not normal. If you had told them about your attack at the time it happened, they would have reacted badly and made you feel worse. And you would have felt so vulnerable at the time that it probably may have damaged your ability to deal with how you felt.

 

Preparing yourself for being a mother now is very insightful. Once you have kids, you want to do the best you can by them and getting your own emotional issues out of the way first is the best way to do it.

 

No, you cannot lose control of yourself while you crying. Crying is an emotional reaction but it is also thought based. Think of all the times you suppressed your crying. You did it by conscious thought. Although there are some things that can cause you to cry spontaneously, most likely you are thinking sad thoughts as well. Also, it is impossible to feel sad enough for that long. Eventually, your body says that is enough and you stop. Even if you are mourning a death or suffer a severe loss, you still will cry off and on. Plus the body's need for sleep would prevent you from crying uncontrollably for a long period of time. Crying lets out all of your emotions which is good, but in the process it takes a physical toll. You usually feel better but very tired afterwards.

 

I think part of your fear of crying comes directly from what happened to you as a child. Your parents made crying a bad thing, something you even were punished for. To a child, that would be very confusing and painful. It would also create fear- why is crying bad and what happens when you do? Something bad? Making a big deal out of crying as your parents did set a bad conotation to allowing you to express your feelings. Children's imaginations can take that message and make it frightening.

 

You may also feel very deep feelings and fear that once you give permission for your feelings to release, you may never get to the bottom of them. But I can assure you that you will. It will not all come out at once. Allowing those feelings out comes in steps. You may feel the need to cry a lot and very hard at first, but you will not lose control and you will be able to stop. You did when you were with your therapist and you will again.

 

Kate

 

Kate McCoy, M.Ed, NBCC, LPC, Therapist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 5481
Experience: Over 20 years experience specializing in anxiety, depression, drug and alcohol, and relationship issues.
Kate McCoy, M.Ed, NBCC, LPC and 3 other Mental Health Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Thanks, XXXXX XXXXX I bring this all up to L. on Monday, do you think it will help with what we've been working on or am I trying to create a distraction?
Expert:  Kate McCoy, M.Ed, NBCC, LPC replied 2 years ago.

I think it's a good idea to talk to L about it. The emotional issues from your childhood are part of your current recovery from the attack. Also, talking about it addresses your ability to express your emotions in general. So it's not a distraction. And if you feel it is significant to you, then you should talk about it.

 

Kate

Customer: replied 2 years ago.
ok. thanks. :)
Expert:  Kate McCoy, M.Ed, NBCC, LPC replied 2 years ago.

You're welcome! Sleep well. I'll talk with you soon.

 

Kate

Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Hi Kate.
Expert:  Kate McCoy, M.Ed, NBCC, LPC replied 2 years ago.

Hello, how are you? How is your weekend going?

 

Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Okay. Yours?
Expert:  Kate McCoy, M.Ed, NBCC, LPC replied 2 years ago.

Pretty good. Too much cold and snow to do much, but it's still nice to be off work!

 

Customer: replied 2 years ago.
A little chilly here, but it was pretty nice this weekend.

Pretty bad dreams this weekend.
Expert:  Kate McCoy, M.Ed, NBCC, LPC replied 2 years ago.
I am sorry to hear that, Shay. What did you dream about?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Same kind of thing. Like it was happening again. Part like I was on it, part like I was watching a video of myself doing those things.
Expert:  Kate McCoy, M.Ed, NBCC, LPC replied 2 years ago.

What you are experiencing are PTSD nightmares. It is a common and well known symptom of PTSD. The nightmares occur over and over and often repeat the traumatic event in detail.

 

In order to cope with the nightmares, it helps a lot to work them through. It may help you to talk with your therapist about the details of your nightmares. We can also process them together if you are not bothered by the lack of immediate feedback because of the on line limitations of JA. The idea is to go over the details so you can talk out the nightmare and bring it into the "light of the day" and confront it.

 

As you talk about the details, it is important to note what you feel about the events going on the dream. By getting in touch with your feelings, you can begin to identify your feelings about the traumatic event and how it affects you presently. It may also help you to write out your feelings. By putting them on paper, you can process your feelings and re read them as you need to.

 

You also need to note the sensations you are feeling in your body. This will help you find out how the nightmares and the event affect your body and how you process the stress from the attack. It can help you also learn to relax yourself when you begin to feel the same sensations as you do when you think of the attack.

 

Work on replaying the nightmare but this time, put yourself in control. You tell the people in the nightmare what to do. This can help you gain more control over your dreams and also in real life.

 

Try learning and practicing relaxation techniques so next time you experience a nightmare, you can calm yourself easily by using the techniques. Here is a link to help you:

 

http://helpguide.org/mental/stress_relief_meditation_yoga_relaxation.htm

 

 

Kate

Customer: replied 2 years ago.
How can I make myself relax if I'm asleep? I've tried that rewriting-the-nightmare thing, but the proem is that I know I made it up. It's not true. It didn't happen that way. And I'd the nightmares are replays of what happened (which is how they've been forever), then how it writing down or talking abou the nightmare any different than writing down/talking about the actual event?

I don't even care anymore. I'm used to them. I'm just tired.
Expert:  Kate McCoy, M.Ed, NBCC, LPC replied 2 years ago.

The relaxation techniques are not for when you are asleep. They are for when you wake up and feel upset. Or before you fall asleep so you can relax enough to sleep.

 

It is understandable that you feel upset about your dreams. And that you feel rewriting them may not help. Sure it's not true that you were in control. But by getting in touch with that part of you and talking about it, you can feel less out of control. It also helps you explore different ways of seeing the attack so you can have options about how you feel.

 

By talking out the event, you can confront it and deal with the feelings around it. Nightmares are the way your mind tries to cope with what you went through. When you talk about the nightmares, you bring them out and face them. It takes the power out of the nightmare when you explore it in detail and confront the feelings around it.

 

I know you are tired. Dealing with trauma can be overwhelming. It wears on you and tests your defenses. And it can make you feel that your whole world is about one event. It might be a good idea for you to consider taking a break here and there. Try planning something fun or distracting. It may only be a few hours or even a day, but it might be enough to help you refocus.

 

Kate

Kate McCoy, M.Ed, NBCC, LPC, Therapist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 5481
Experience: Over 20 years experience specializing in anxiety, depression, drug and alcohol, and relationship issues.
Kate McCoy, M.Ed, NBCC, LPC and 3 other Mental Health Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Thanks. I thinkable if I take more sleeping pills tonight, maybe I won't have one.
Expert:  Kate McCoy, M.Ed, NBCC, LPC replied 2 years ago.

I hope you ended up having a good night.

 

Kate

Customer: replied 2 years ago.
I didn't sleep much, but no nightmares. I get to the point after several days of really bad dreams where I'm scared to go to sleep. I took a double dose of the sleeping pill, but it didn't matter. I did eventually fall asleep, but I woke up every 45 minutes or so. Oh well. At least no bad dreams. I will try some of the relaxation stuff tonight. I have an appointment with L. this evening, and my thoughts are always swirling afterwards.
Expert:  Kate McCoy, M.Ed, NBCC, LPC replied 2 years ago.

It is hard to get a good night's sleep when you are worried that you will have nightmares. I hope L is able to help you work through some of your worries and thoughts so it's easier to cope.

 

Kate

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