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Steven Olsen
Steven Olsen, Therapist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 1765
Experience:  More than twenty years of expertise in counseling, psychological diagnosis and education
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I have been living on my own for 6 years. Put my daughter

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I have been living on my own for 6 years. Put my daughter through college which she just graduated, taking care of a small home on 6 1/2 rural acres, my 85-year old father is now an invalid, and my 83-year old mother is taking care of him in a home that use to house 5 people. I am an intervention specialist at a local high school. I have had two short relationships with men since my 20-year marriage ended. The last just ended w/in the last week, it was very stressful. I finally have cleaned my house after two months (not clutter, just inches of dust). My house got robbed by my neighbors son. I have much work to do for my job and this weekend should have been the time to catch up, or get ahead. I should be calling/seeing my parents to see what I could do to help. I have been seeking answers in a spiritual sense to make sense of all of this. My phone has not rung except from the man in the now-defunct relationship. I would not answer his phone calls because he would only make me upset and depressed over his problems which I cannot solve. I need a spark to get me motivated to see that what I do is important and not just drudgery. I would like to do something social with my many friends but don't really want to do the same old party thing and just don't feel up to it. I would like to have a well-balanced relationship with a man, but keep choosing to get involved with partners that are bad for me. I thought by my daughter graduating and money being freed up that I would be able to go out socially again and have fun. I work with 20 to 30 year olds so no chance of meeting someone there and they are just in a different place in life than I am. Here I am e:mailing this site when my choices are endless, but they seem to be solitary and frankly I am tired of talking to myself. What is the matter with me?

I would like to offer my help.


What you describe sounds like a lot of social pressure and, to a lesser degree, isolation. You do seem mildly depressed and burned out. Truly there has been a lot of discouragement in your life...relationship failures, older parents who are ill or are potentially infirm; plus you have a past history of some depression and not a lot of solid hope about establishing a lasting relationship.


I really try to limit attempts at diagnosing over the web, but your pattern of emotional response is very classic, and typically what is identified with the common mood issue, dysthymia. This is a mild, chronic and nagging depression. It is very subtle at times, and some days the features can be totally absent.


But, the discouragement; the feelings that there are no real answers; the lack of motivation, and feelings that nothing positive will happen (decently) are typical of it. It is very common in midlife and is very common with women. It is also frequently related to relationship issues and the frustration and strain of keeping, finding or dealing with them. I feel that you may have this problem and I also would recommend a face to face assessment to see if this is so. Your statement of "I should" do certain things, such as visiting parents or trying to go out and socialize with others but not doing so is also very typical for the issue.


The best news is that dysthymia is highly treatable. Using cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and in some cases, low doses of antidepressants for short periods, the despondency and frustration abate enough to reestablish solid connections with others.

Even if the assessment shows that you do not have this problem, there is clearly enough stress and frustration in your life that support from an unbiased and caring professional would help. You are worth it, and I would encourage you to not see yourself as defective or odd, but rather as a person who has been though a lot and needs some support. Seeking help, even here on this site is sign of strength and it also shows that you want to feel better.


Consider seeking out a therapist. Family doctors often have the best local resources and can often make excellent recommendations that fit your needs. I feel strongly that the support that you will receive can help you tremendously. Steven

Customer: replied 4 years ago.



Thank you for the answer you gave me, it is a start. While seeking a health professional (I haven't been to a doctor in years, except my GYN, and that has been four years ago) do I ask them to determine whether I have dysthymia or not, do I also ask for recommendations for a therapist who specializes in cognitive behavioral therapy? While I am on the subject do you think this could also be hormonal in addition to all the "stuff" that has gone on in my life? I appreciate your empathy that there is a lot of stuff, and that is where I hit a brick wall. Overall, how can I complain when I have a home, a job, a family, friends, etc. Who wouldn't say that I am blessed? I feel that I am being weak and whiney and to just buck up and get on with it. I have a hard time with goodbyes and especially rejection. I can't seem to find my big girl boots. You are right though I am sick of this. So what can I do in the meantime before I have to wait 3 months to get in to see a doctor? Thank you in advance for your time once again. Rae

Thank you for your reply.

The best way to achieve an assessment diagnosis that is accurate is to give them the basic information about your feelings, but do not lead them to a specific diagnosis. Instead, let them know what you have been though; mention depression, and then let them go from there. Truly, there is not a great many options in the mood disorder category aside from dysthymia which will surface if they do a proper assessment, so I think you should be fine just discussing symptoms.

Yes you are blessed. For certain. Many do not have all what you mentioned.

But that does not minimize the fact that you are very stressed, alone and frustrated. Also, feeling weak, whiny and like you should just be able to pick yourself up by your boot straps is exactly what a person with dysthymia might say! Indeed, just because you have a job and so many blessings does not mean that you are immune from this nagging form of depression. There is a huge difference between being depressed and being a complainer. One is a physical thing (that can be complicated by peri-menopause and similar)...the other is a character flaw, which I see none of here, at all.

I would suggest as you wait for an appointment this resource: The Freedom from Depression Workbook (Frank Minirth)

It is a great resource and is very inexpensive on and similar on-line sources. It should help tie you over until you see the therapist. Yes, you should ask for CBT specifically as this is the form of therapy that works best with functional depressions. My best to you Rae. Hang in there. Steven

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