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Dr. Z
Dr. Z, Psychologist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 5781
Experience:  Psy.D. in Clinical Forensic Psychology with a background in treating severe mental illnesses.
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Im 23 years old. Since I graduated from university this year,

Resolved Question:

I'm 23 years old. Since I graduated from university this year, I moved in with my sister, her husband and her three children. I chose to live with my sister and not to live with my parents because it is stressful and disheartening to live with them. Two of my three sisters live with my parents. One of them is 39 years old, has depression and agoraphobia and my other sister has OCD. My eldest sister is constantly causing a fuss and physically and emotionally harming my parents and sister. She chooses not to speak with me, and has not spoken to me in 11 years. I found comfort in living with my other sister and her family, as they were the support I never felt I had.
The sister that I live with is now getting a divorce with her husband. I feel depressed and that I have lost touch with reality, as i can feel myself lost in my own thoughts throughout the day. I want to feel happy again! How do I do that?
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Mental Health
Expert:  Dr. Z replied 1 year ago.

Dr. Z :

Hello I believe I can help you with your concern

Dr. Z :

Please give me a couple minutes to read over the question carefully, so that I can better assist you tonight

Customer:

okay

Dr. Z :

I am so sorry that you are feeling this way, I can understand why this distresses you currently

Customer:

thanks

Dr. Z :

You feel really close with your sister that you live with and her husband and children, but now that they are getting a divorce you feel that world shattering and you may get lost in the mix.

Dr. Z :

Well what you are feeling is actually very natural and is called an Adjustment Disorder, most likely with a Depressed Mood.

Dr. Z :

A good way to help with your depressed mood is to seek therapy and possibly have someone there to talk to. The best and most evidence based therapy for this issue is called Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). CBT has a premise that your symptoms are caused by negative thoughts, so if we change your thought process to be more positive and objective as well, then your symptoms will lessen.

Dr. Z :

I can also show you some good techniques and recommend some good books to help you feel happy again too

Customer:

That is okay. I by no means mean to be rude, but I actually know what you are talking about!...I mean, I graduated with a degree in psychology. Three years ago, I bought a book called, "Mind Over Mood", including self-help books. I have actually been depressed several points in my life, starting from the time I was 9 years old. There was never any "unity" at my household. My parents have been together for 42 years but familial situation made it difficult for me to adjust and grow in the way that I should have. My eldest sister ignores me, and has for 11 years. Tonight, I had happily asked my parents if they wanted to have dinner with me. They agreed to it, but we could not have it at their house, as my eldest sister, the one who does not speak to me, said that she did not want me to be over today. My parents took their home-cooked dinner to a local McDonald's where we had dinner there.

Dr. Z :

Mind over Mood is a great book!! And you are not being rude at all, I love speaking to fellow minded people with degrees in psychology :)

Customer:

I have seen psychologists and counselors several times in my life, and I have taken prozac every night for 5 years for anxiety and depression. My other sister who lives with my parents, has OCD and another disorder that I do not know about because my parents have never told me. My eldest sister abuses her emotionally and calls her, "retarded". I don't like going over to my parents house as I know that I will have to witness that and it is hurtful to me. I Actually, I don't feel very close to my sister I live with, but I do feel it was the closest thing to normalcy living with her. After living with my sister for a year and a half, I have witnessed the distressing and agonizing deterioration of her marriage. Her husband had stopped working for several years. Two weeks ago, he would show up unannounced to my parents house at 1:00 a.m. and express to them how unhappy he was that his marriage had fallen apart. He told them of the evidence he had of my sister being unfaithful with another man. I mean, it is all very disheartening to me. Since I was living there, he would tell me that I had no choice but to teach his children their colours in Spanish. I had to live with my friend for most of the final week of university in an attempt to pass my exams and graduate.

Dr. Z :

Wow you have definitely lived in some hectic environments that have definitely contributed to this anxiety and depression you are have been going through. I do want to mention that Prozac is one of the least effective antidepressants in the SSRI class of antidepressants. I would recommend going either on Lexapro at 10-20mg or Zoloft at 150-200mg as studies show those two are much more effective.

Customer:

okay, thanks. I actually am okay with the medication.......The other situation is that my parents struggle financially. My father became a pastor 15 years ago. I have been helping my father with his business for several years now. He marries people for a living....he doesn't make a lot of money but it helps with his expenses. He supports two of my sisters. Since my eldest refuses to work, he pays for her living expenses. She manages to compensate him with $200 a month. Now that my sister is single, I have been helping her take care of her children. I wake up everyday before work and I get them ready for school. I have actually been thinking about moving out on my own but I need to save up money for that.

Customer:

While I was living with my friend, I felt a lot better. Her family is completely different from mine. I mean, they are stable. There is so much unity, understanding and togetherness there and they were very helpful towards me, as I would wake up at 6 a.m. in the morning to study and my friend's mother would get up and make me my lunch!....I felt like I was productive, confident and "in touch with reality". I felt happy. I think I just really wish I had that kind of support.

Customer:

My best friend didn't really feel compassionate towards me, as she can not even fathom what it could be like to live in the situation that I was in. It was very disheartening to learn that and it made me feel very alone and unable to trust her.

Customer:

The reason I am saying all of this is because I guess I have been feeling very alone and scared, and terrified for my future. I want to be successful in my life..I really do...but these are the cards that I have been dealt and I'm trying to come to terms with it for the first time in my life instead of just sweeping it under the carpet and pretending that It's a happy life

Dr. Z :

I am so sorry that you have not gotten this support that your best friend has, but support does not make you successful, only you can do that. You are in control of your life and you can be successful despite not having that family support you should have had. I think moving out is a great idea when you get the money. But I think you have been comparing your family to someone's elses family and that is why you think you need this support to help you achieve your goals and to be happy, when that power is inside of you. Since you know all about CBT and Mind over Mood, then you know you can only be concerned with what you can control and that is you. You have the power to do this on your own. Once you escape from this toxic environment you will do well again like you did when you lived with your best friend, because right now your family is bringing you down and not uplifting you.

Dr. Z :

But you have proved that when on your own, you can achieve a lot

Dr. Z :

So your lack of family support is not a determinate for your success and being happy, I am positive that you can achieve this, but you will have to look more inward and rely on yourself and not others

Dr. Z :

I know that you feel alone with everything, but I am sure when you do have a chance to move out on your own, you will get a great roommate, then you will have co-workers, then a partner, etc...and you will not be alone in this and you will achieve this because of your inner strength

Customer:

okay thank you. I think I am just so angry that I don't have that type of support. That "family". I do not know why I think I need that. I know what you mean about trusting your "inner strength". I know what you mean by that because I make a conscious effort to do that every single day. I actually have gotten closer to God recently because I had been feeling really alone. You also mentioned that I do not need family support to be successful and happy, but family support would have made things a heck of a lot easier and happier a lot faster. I do have co-workers now, but I feel that with everything going on I have been slowly losing touch with reality. I can feel myself doing that. It's causing me a lot of distress. I projectile vomited last week because the situation made me feel sick to my stomach. I am just so compassionate of everything that is happening to my sister, and to her kids. I hate that they are going through this. Now that I am finished university, I don't have that distraction from the situation. I can feel myself slowly losing touch with the situation, subconsciously ignoring it and avoiding it because I do not want to face it because it hurts and it sucks and I just want to be part of that happy family

Dr. Z :

I know you want to be a part of that happy family and it is not fair that you did not receive that, but again just because you did not receive that does not mean that has to define you. Would having that supportive family have made things easier for you, that is a possibility, but it also may have made you take things for granted too. The positive and negatives of our lives make us who we are today, and you have the option to focus more on the positive because you are still very young and have an opportunity to be successful because of your determination and degree. The symptoms of losing touch with reality is very indicative of depression and the stress most likely caused the vomit too, so this is all the more reason why leaving this environment will be helpful for you and your psychological well being.

Dr. Z :

I know you are angry, but that anger is not going to get you anywhere. Try to focus on the here and now, what you can control and that is you. Focus on the objective and positive thought process and not the negative thought process. I know you definitely know all this, but I just wanted to reemphasize it and help you shift your focus away from what you missed and what you deserve to what you have.

Dr. Z :

You have a College Degree for one thing, only 26 percent of Americans have a college degree, so that puts you at an advantage for the future already

Dr. Z :

And despite going through all this and lack of support you pushed yourself to graduate, that shows resilience, motivation, and determination...all great qualities.

Dr. Z :

And I believe in God as well and I know that He is looking out for you and will always be with you to not let go through anything alone. Relying on Him shows humbleness.

Customer:

I know what you are saying, to focus on what I do have. But seriously though, what the heck do I do about my family? I mean I love them all so much despite of everything, and despite of their dysfunctionality. I try to help out as much as I can to make it better. I want it to be better and happy so badly that it pains me and it hurts me that it is not. I want things to be better, I also want me to be better and to be happy. I know I do not receive the support that I want and wish I could get from my family but I am just to live a life trying to be, "my own best friend?" You mentioned losing touch with reality being indicative of depression. It really started to happen after my graduation, on October 25th when I started to feel that happening. I had just moved back from my friend's house, had just graduated, did not have the distraction of school, did not have the "next paper" to write....I felt a little directionless. Losing touch with reality is particularly scary to me as I feel like I am being naive and spaced-out at work. I can feel myself acting that way as I can feel myself getting lost in my head. It further makes be feel unsafe, anxious and scared

Dr. Z :

Well the losing reality is considered a depressive symptom and since it occurred after your graduation means that is depressive symptom associated with the adjustment period. Now I know that you want to help them out, but they have to help themselves, you cannot force change on them. Remember how you are going through your own treatment, well that is all you and you are trying to change yourself, if you take the weight of trying to "fix" your family than it will just cause you more stress/anxiety

Dr. Z :

You do not have to be your own best friend, but there is more support out there that can help you besides your family. There are friends for instance that be like family and better than family in many ways as well.

Customer:

I want to enjoy myself, have fun and celebrate being finished university. I feel as though I do not full enjoy myself as I am in this "head-space" and I am afraid of acting weird around people while i'm out because of it. You said friend being like family. While I was at my best friends house, I over-heard my friend asking her sister, "it's as a hassle that she is here, right?"...my own friend since I was 10 years old!!...that's why I felt alone. I've always been so candid with her. Always. I never thought she wouldn't have understood how much It meant to me to be there. You also mentioned having a partner. I had one for four years, we broke up 5 months ago. I think a lot of it had to do with me moving back from living on my own. I had moved back in with my sister and had to face my family situation again. I never confided in him how dysfunctional my family was. As my sister's marriage fell deteriorated, so did my relationship. Since I never invited and shared to him what was happening because I was embarrassed, he started to not trust me and we broke up.

Customer:

I know I cant "fix" my family, really wish I could though.

Customer:

ohwell.

Dr. Z :

I am sorry to hear about this issue with your friend and your past relationship, but I think you keep looking at your family and the past, and we cannot change the past and what they did or did not do for you, we can only change our present. Once you get out of this home and live on your own, you will be able to achieve what you want and hopefully move past the way your family makes you feel because you mention a lot of symptoms of depression and anxiety and this actually could be associated with PTSD from the emotional trauma and also the neglect too.

Dr. Z :

I am confident that once you can leave this environment you will be able to get past this family issue, but that means you cannot think about fixing them or trying to be there for them, instead you will have to focus on you and getting better for you

Customer:

i figured you were going to say that

Customer:

I just love them so much. Wish it as different.

Dr. Z :

I know you do, but you cannot change them, only yourself

Customer:

i dwell a lot

Dr. Z :

The dwelling is a part of anxiety

Customer:

I still havent moved on from my relationship. I love him too.

Dr. Z :

And your desire to help your family too

Dr. Z :

Well after 4 years of being with him, no one expects you to move on that suddenly and the way it ended must have been hard too

Customer:

yeah it's okay, i know. So what, I move on, move out and get my family in doses? Is that denial?

Dr. Z :

Moving out, focusing on you and only you, and then seeing your family in healthy doses is a great plan. This is not denial at all, you recognize that they are a negative factor in your life and you are avoiding being dragged down by it

Customer:

I DON

Customer:

I just am so afraid of being alone!

Customer:

moving out I mean

Customer:

I mind-psych myself a lot when I am alone

Dr. Z :

I know you are, but maybe you can find a roommate to live with at first to help you through this transition, but I think it would be better for you to be alone than in that environment.

Dr. Z :

When you are alone you ruminate and obsess over the negative thoughts, that is understandable

Customer:

So, I accept my family is dysfunctional, brings me down, and let go of the imagination that we could every be a happy, united, loving and functioning family, who loves and cares for each other, talks to them candidly, with respect, trust and confidence?

Dr. Z :

I think you definitely should not be expecting that from your family anytime soon, if it happens that is great, but it will only happen if they choose it to happen. Accepting your family is dysfunctional will be the first step in healing because it brings you closer to reality regarding this

Customer:

yep, trying to come to terms with it. Since I am the youngest,, my parents tried to shelter and protect me from the struggle of my family which only made matters worse

Customer:

okay, I don't know if you have a time limit or anything

Customer:

thanks for the talk

Dr. Z :

I do not have a time limit, I am just happy that I was able to help you tonight. Is there anything else you would like to discuss?

Customer:

yeah, why the heck did my friend not understand me? I just wish she really could see what I was going through. I don't know what to do about that. I still love her. And, I have been having really bad thoughts, like wanting to hurt myself for the first time in my life. It's okay, I would never follow through with it, but I guess that's how distressing this situation is. Embarrassing actually. I feel as though being in this head-space keeps me from being logical and aware. Now I am embarassed.

Dr. Z :

Well your friend did not understand possibly because your friend does not have a frame of reference. That is like telling someone who has never experienced a hallucination before, what they are like...its near impossible to fully understand. Many individuals do not fully understand the impact a psychological disorder can have on a person.

Dr. Z :

I think if you strongly focus more on you and getting better and not trying to make your family into this "perfect family" it will help you a lot

Customer:

what about coming to terms with it, do I hide that from people? I feel like I have been doing that my entire life

Customer:

hide my familial situatioin*

Dr. Z :

No I think hiding it is what causes you greater anxiety, but talk about it when you are ready because have not fully accepted that your family is dysfunctional

Customer:

okay, not sure where you are, but here it is 3:30 a.m. and I think I need some rest. My head-space needs rest.

Dr. Z :

I definitely understand, I am actually in California. But I will let you rest and I wish you all the best with your continued treatment and with your family. My goal is to provide you with excellent service, so if you ever have any further questions or concerns please do not hesitate to contact me at anytime. Before you sign off though, I would very much appreciate if you could rate my performance in helping you so that I can get credit for this question. Thank you very much

Customer:

Yeah, I have a lot of things that I need to come to terms with, my own treatment, and my family. I can't hide that anymore. I can't. It's there, it hurts me and it always has. I think being best friends with girls who have great families made me realize that I want them to be more supportive. I just don't want to be naive anymore. I don't. I don't want to be bitter either by facing the reality of my situation.

Dr. Z :

I understand and that is a big step forward in your treatment by admitting that and coming face to face with that issue regarding your family

Customer:

thanks

Dr. Z :

You are most welcome, I wish you the best of look moving forward from this. Please feel free to contact me anytime you need anything at all

Customer:

How would I contact you?

Dr. Z :

You can put "For DoctorZ only" before you type a question or the best way is to go to my homepage with this link, bookmark it, and then ask a question there for me.

Customer:

okay, thanks. I have to be honest and tell you I am completely terrified of my future, and of everything ahead of me. I mean, I know that now I am to start working and making a living. That scares me. I just need to face my life. That also scares me. Maybe a lot of my anxiety has come from not facing things and being in denial. But yeah, i'm just scared about it that's all and I guess your right, this is a transition phase in my life. Maybe that's why I wanted my family there for the support, I don't know. Either way, I think I'm just tired and my brain hurts now

Customer:

thanks for the talk again

Dr. Z :

I understand the fear and it is very normal to feel this way with this transition, but you will ger through it. Good night and I wish you all the best :)

Dr. Z :

*get

Customer:

yeah it's okay I know it is somewhat normal. I assess myself all the time

Customer:

thanks for the best wishes!

Customer:

Good night

Dr. Z :

Before you sign off though, I would very much appreciate if you could rate my performance in helping you so that I can get credit for this question. Thank you very much

Customer:

okay

Dr. Z :

Thank you I truly appreciate it

Customer:

My situation was heavy, wasn't it?

Dr. Z :

Well I have seen people in worse scenarios, for you though you have a leg up because you are already familiar with CBT, you just have to put it more into practice

Customer:

thanks okay, rating you now

Dr. Z :

You are most welcome :)

Dr. Z, Psychologist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 5781
Experience: Psy.D. in Clinical Forensic Psychology with a background in treating severe mental illnesses.
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Dr. Z
Dr. Z
Mental Health Professional
5781 Satisfied Customers
Psy.D. in Clinical Forensic Psychology with a background in treating severe mental illnesses.