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Dr. Mark
Dr. Mark, Psychotherapist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 5220
Experience:  Dr. Mark is a PhD in psychology in private practice
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My family thinks Im crazy. Ive been suicidal. Im depressed

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My family thinks I'm crazy. I've been suicidal. I'm depressed and pessimisstic all the time. However I'm highly functioning and a perfectionist by all appearances. I can't seem to relate to any disorder I've found online, but feel I need treatment for something. I'm anxious a lot. I clinch my teeth uncontrollably. I'm completely independent. I have no help and am the mother of two teenagers and work 2 jobs. But I need to be busy - I can't stand boredom or stupid people, that REALLY irritates me.
Hi! You know, to give you the best answer, I think I should ask you a few questions first that will help define the problem and the situation.
Your question is very evocative that there is so much behind the simple few words you write. You certainly are functioning at a very high level but you also describe a very high level of anxiety. Have you had any neurological testing to make sure there are no problems in physiological brain function?
Have you always felt this way with so much anxiety and teeth clenching?
Was there trauma or abuse in your childhood? What about alcohol or dysfunction in your family when you were growing up?
Are you interested in medications to help? Or self help techniques? Or psychotherapy?
Are you getting any treatment right now? If so, what type? How is it going?
If not, when was the last treatment? What type of treatment was it? Was it helpful?
Any extra information that will help, feel free to share.
Please go ahead and post your response. I'm going to be going into therapy sessions in my office soon, so if I can't answer before that, would later this evening be okay for me to respond?
Dr. Mark
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Hello, No I have never had any neurological testing. I do not have insurance. Yes I've always been anxious and clenched, just sometimes it's worse than others. I've even had TMJ surgery because I've worn down all the cartilege in my jaw joints. That was in 2000. In 2005 my aunt committed suicide. She was like a mother to me, she had no children of her own. I was not physically abused, aside from regular spankings by my mother and stepfather, but the verbal abuse was off the charts. I was never good enough, even though I was perfect. I was accused and blamed for everything, even when it wasn't close to true. My stepfather was an alcoholic and beat my mom to a pulp a couple of times, but now in their retirement they don't drink, they go to church regularly, and pass judgement on me and everyone around them that isn't as great as they think they are. My PCP prescribed anti-depressants to me in 1998. I have not gone off, he says I nevern can, my problem is genetic. Currently I take 30 mg of Cymbalta daily. I haven't seen a mental health Expert in a few years. Lately I have been very suicidal. The only reason I don't check out is that I have two teenage boys. The idea of checking out seems so peaceful. I've never been happy in my life. The only episodes of happiness I have are when I drink alcohol. I drink nightly, but it has never gotten out of hand so much to get me in trouble. The therapists I've seen all seemed like idiots. I was married for 15 years. My husband understood me and is still a great friend. But he irritates me, I think hes a loser and he smokes pot all the time and I never wanted that around my kids. I always said if he didn't quit by the time the kids were teenagers, I was leaving. And I did. No one else in my family understands me. I am the black sheep. I'm too liberal for their taste and small-mindedness, therefore I must need psychological help.

Thank you for the replies to the questions and the added information. It helps a lot. I believe I can now be of help with this issue.
First, let me say I can imagine how confusing and distressing this situation must be for you. On the one hand your competence is off the chart. But on the other hand life has not given you much recognition of your strengths, loyalty, loving, caring, stick-to-itness, intelligence, abilities, warmth, and all the other attributes you have. And really, this is a lifelong pattern we're confronting. What do I mean?'
I am referring to the fact that your whole childhood was patterned on you trying and trying and being beaten down and so you clench your teeth and try again. I am truly and sincerely ***** ***** amazed at your ability from your childhood and over the decades to keep being positive, even if you do take it out on your jaw! It truly is remarkable.
And this is actually the key to my answer to you that you need to consider and think about. You are clearly a loving and caring person who has had your sense of "normal" love and life taken away and damaged by your parents. You are an Adult Child of Alcoholics (ACoA), an Adult Victim of Child Abuse (AVOCA), and a survivor of Toxic Parents (name of a book). One thing that ACoA and AVOCA adults have in common:
They fluctuate between feelings that are difficult for them at best. Why?
Because deep within they have been made to feel totally unworthy, tremendous shame, undeserving. They just feel rage alternating with shame much of the time. So what to do?
When I work with ACoAs or AVOCAs, the main first goal is coming to the slow (here's where you have to work because it needs to be patient) realization that you do NOT have to be this way. So, I'm going to give you some resources to use. You are such a good person, I urge you to find a psychologist or psychotherapist who is experienced working with ACoA and AVOCA.
So here are the resources. For AVOCA, start with this site and you can do lots more searches to find other sites. For AVOCA, start with these sites and you can do lots more searches to find other sites. But remember, some are going to be commercial.
Next, a book: Toxic Parents: Overcoming Their Legacy and Reclaiming Your Life by Forward and Buck. It's a classic and easily available online or in libraries. There are other books you can find online once he's done with this one. And you can get two copies if you like and both read it and discuss the pages you've read at the same time. Treat it as a date night when you discuss the chapter you've each read.
Now for ACoA. Here's the website of the national organization. Lots of resources:
Here's the website for Janet Woititz. Since the 1980s she's been the leader in ACoA therapy. She's still speaking nationally, I believe. I use her books with my patients and think she's great. Here's her site:
Let me paste in for you her 13 characteristics of ACoAs. Take it to the discussion and see how many you and he recognize:
1. Adult children of alcoholics guess at what normal behavior is.
2. Adult children of alcoholics have difficulty following a project through from beginning to end.
3. Adult children of alcoholics lie when it would be just as easy to tell the truth.
4. Adult children of alcoholics judge themselves without mercy.
5. Adult children of alcoholics have difficulty having fun.
6. Adult children of alcoholics take themselves very seriously.
7. Adult children of alcoholics have difficulty with intimate relationships.
8. Adult children of alcoholics overreact to changes over which they have no control.
9. Adult children of alcoholics constantly seek approval and affirmation.
10. Adult children of alcoholics usually feel that they are different from other people.
11. Adult children of alcoholics are super responsible or super irresponsible.
12. Adult children of alcoholics are extremely loyal, even in the face of evidence that the loyalty is undeserved.
13. Adult children of alcoholics are impulsive. They tend to lock themselves into a course of action without giving serious consideration to alternative behaviors or possible consequences. This impulsively leads to confusion, self-loathing and loss of control over their environment. In addition, they spend an excessive amount of energy cleaning up the mess.
You don't have to fit every single item. You have to only begin sensing that you have a chance to be "normal", that others have gone through this and learned what "normal" is and how to attain it.
When you get to the HAVOCA web site home page (go there first) you'll see a chart called "From Victim to Survivor to Thriver". I know that the last thing you want to think of yourself as is "victim". And you are an unusual person. But see what you think of the descriptions there anyways.
So, if this seems like you connect with it and the resources, bring it up in therapy. Make it part of your therapy to really get closer to that "self" that had to hide deep within in childhood. Your doctor is so physiologically oriented that he can only think in terms of medications. But that can only numb the pain, the emotional pain. I am suggesting here that you explore the origins of your situation and emotions. You deserve that more than just what he said.
Here is the web address for Psychology Today's therapist directory. You can sort by zip codes and when you see someone who seems like they might be helpful (you can see a photo of the person!) look at the listing and see if they list trauma as something they work with and a combination of CBT and psychodynamic therapy in their orientations. There's also a place there where it says if they will work on a sliding scale. So look for that as well. Then interview them and see if they are familiar with ACOA and AVOCA or are willing to become familiar.
Good Therapy is a non profit directory. Same idea as the one above:
Okay, I wish you the very best!
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