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Dr. Z
Dr. Z, Psychologist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 5983
Experience:  Psy.D. in Clinical Forensic Psychology with a background in treating severe mental illnesses.
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I retired at 60 after a 24-year career in youth corrections

Resolved Question:

I retired at 60 after a 24-year career in youth corrections and a follow-up of 10 years as a newspaper and freelance journalist. Both careers were stressful. The corrections was tough as I was dealing with very disturbed and violent kids and victims of very sick sexual abuse, much of it by fathers and other male relatives. Also some of the boys had committed incredibly violent murders.

My journalist career was tough as there were long hours with very little pay.

Now that I am retired I find I cannot enjoy myself as I am plagued (especially in the morning) by memories of my childhood and young adulthood (before my parents passed away) when my father used to beat me and then (when I grew too big for that) insult me and denigrate me, calling me useless and stupid.

I should add at this point that I had polio as a three-year-old and had a bit of weakness in one arm and leg. Otherwise I was (and am) physically strong although my parents continually treated me like a weakling. They also (I recently found out from my sister) refused to allow the school board to jump me two grades since I was soaring through middle school with little effort. My parents never told me this.

As an adult I easily completed all but one course of a Bachelor of Arts Degree program but was too tense or hyperactive too continue. I also went to community college at the age of 50 to study Journalism where I scored the highest mark on the entrance exam ever recorded. I completed the course and wrote for smaller newspapers on Canada's East Coast and in Manitoba. I have also won half a dozen PROVINCIAL journalism awards
yet here I sit in retirement, depressed as hell and feeling like a loser. Sometimes I feel like suicide since I never lived up to my potential, whatever that means. Any suggestions as to what I need. As an aside my wife and I have been living in rural Canada for the past ten years and I cannot find a friend or anyone who I can talk to. (I am not an intellectual type).
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 :

I am so sorry that you are having these feelings and memories come up since your retirement, I can understand the distress you are feeling.

Dr. Z :

I also worked in prisons and state hospitals with very disturbed individuals, so I do understand what you are going through

Dr. Z :

I believe you are going through a segment of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) where your time with these disturbed children that have many psychological issues brought up issues/memories from your own childhood that great effect you in a psychological way.

Dr. Z :

I understand that you are having difficulty finding a qualified mental health professional to help you with these symptoms because you live in a rural area and it also appears that the mental health professionals you have seen have nor been very professional with you .

Dr. Z :

I would like to mention some good therapeutic techniques that can possibly help you. The best and most evidence based therapy to effectively treat your symptoms 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 :

So this link may help you, it contains a technique I use with patients called a thought record. It will help you keep track of any negative thoughts you have. You put the negative thought on paper, the emotion accompanying, the evidence to support it, and the evidence against it. Then I want you to come up with an alternative thought for the situation (more objective and plausible). This will help you change your way of thinking to be able to think more positive and not automatically go to a negative type of thinking.

Dr. Z :

In addition, these two worksheets are very good at helping lessen your symptoms. It can help you focus on the big picture and the objective/positive thoughts and outcomes.

Dr. Z :

Also individuals with similar symptoms may have a poor coping mechanism, so this worksheet will help you develop a better coping strategy to manage your symptoms better.

Dr. Z :

And I also believe that these books are good as well for the intrusive memories that you are having and the depressive/anxiety feelings as well.

Dr. Z :

In regards XXXXX XXXXX feelings that you have never lived up to your potential, that is a surprise because it appears you have accomplished a lot, more than most people.

Dr. Z :

I think that the intrusive memories from your possible diagnosis of PTSD has caused you to feel like that child that was abused and that makes you feel depressed and in low self-esteem as well.

Dr. Z :

I think if you learn to focus on your positive qualities and replace those negative self-critical beliefs, then you will be able not to think that you have not lived up to your potential because from an objective viewpoint you have lived up to your potential and more from what you described. This technique will also help with that as well.

Customer:

Thank you very much. I have used cognitive therapy in the past through a book called Woulda, Coulda Shoulda. I do have plenty of intrusive memories. I told myself a lot of lies to convince myself that my father and mother loved me and wanted the best for me. It is only recently that I have come to discard them in favour of a truth that is hard to accept.

Dr. Z :

That is good that you have used CBT techniques before, these books use CBT techniques in a variety of ways to specifically address PTSD and intrusive memories as well. Accepting the truth about your parents will be tough, but you will get there in time and these techniques will help you through that. CBT is focused on the present, and not the past because we cannot change the past, so CBT will help you accept the present as it is, but it does take time unfortunately. But because you actually had a thought of suicide, you may want to consider taking medications to help lessen the symptoms faster until the techniques start to be effective for you

Customer:

Thank you. It has been very helpful.

Dr. Z, Psychologist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 5983
Experience: Psy.D. in Clinical Forensic Psychology with a background in treating severe mental illnesses.
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Dr. Z
Dr. Z
Psychologist
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Psy.D. in Clinical Forensic Psychology with a background in treating severe mental illnesses.