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Help! Please!

Question:

I’ve felt like this for 5 years, ever since my 8th grade Summer break and no matter how hard I try I still cannot dig myself out of this. I spent my whole Summer break staying with my family in Colorado. I found them to be really harsh and low class and I disagreed with them the whole time.

My aunt was mean and wouldn’t give in on anything and I felt like I was in the middle of a very dysfunctional family and situation. I had not been exposed to anything like this before. Soon after, I just fell apart and could never pull myself together.

Nearly all the time I feel stressed or anxious even when I’m not around particularly stressful situations. I feel like I have very low self worth and I try to promote myself to be bigger than I am. I expect people to give me attention and not to disagree with me. I also feel really sensitive and always need “a break” away from people and any social interactions so I can build myself to feel better.

When I’m around people anything they say gets me stressed out. Almost all the time I feel emotionally and mentally wrong or different from everyone else. I also feel very nervous in social situations and I’m having a very hard time making friends or even just finding happiness and security. Its as though I completely feel I don’t belong on this planet and I feel like I’m only comfortable with myself and just being with me.

I fear I have many personality and anxiety disorders…

Please help!

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  • Dr. Schwartz responds to questions about psychotherapy and mental health problems, from the perspective of his training in clinical psychology.
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Answer:

Let me begin by saying that your summer experience with your family was awful. It appears to have have been extremely stressful and unhappy. In fact, you may have experienced Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, as a result. Its too bad you could not leave and live on campus. I am assuming that you are a college student in Colorado. Learn from this experience and, in the future, when you have breaks from school, arrange to live somewhere else.

Quite aside from the horrors of this past summer, you seem to have a lot of anxietu in social situations that cause you to want to avoid them. However, avoidance does not work because it leads to depression and low self esteem. Its the depression and esteem problems that cause you to believe that “you do not belong on this planet.”

I have no idea what year you are in at school but my intuition tells me that you are either a Freshman or Sophmore. Its important because the first and even second years of school can be very emotionally difficult. The school work is hard as well as making friends. If this is your first time away from home, it can compound your difficulties.

I hope it helps for you to know that you are not alone. When I still had my private practice, by coincidence, in Colorado, I worked with many students who were referred to me form the University of Colorado. In addition, there are many recent articles in newspapers and magazines highlighting the fact that students are struggling with their emotions.

All the colleges and universities now prove services for students health and mental health issues. I recommend that you go to the school counseling or health center and ask for help. They will be happy to accomodate you. If you need continued help beyond the number of meetings they can provide, they can refer to people like me.

Even if my assessment is wrong about you being a student, you should go for psychotherapy. You have nothing to lose but your anxiety and unhappiness.

Best of Luck

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