Hello, I have a problem, I think, I am 20. I have a baby, 5mo., and I got married last month. Since a young age, well since I can remember I haven’t felt, right… I would describe it as empty, never satisfied. before I was married I was with my husband for 11 months and then I couldn’t take it one day and I felt like I had to leave or like I was trapped, so I broke it off with him and things just went out of control. I started going for clubs looking for someone to come home with me because I was desperate at the though of being alone… I had a string of “boyfriends” I would sleep with them immediately and continue the relationship for about a month, never more than 2, and then they would have enough and well ask me to get lost. I didn’t really care about them, I think, but at the time I was always in love. Madly in love and I thought we should run to vegas and have children but… well I am always thinking I am sick, I mean cancer ridden, but I don’t tell anybody because I am afraid they will find out I am a wierdo… My husband knows I have strange thoughts but he just says I have an overactive imagination. Over the past few months I have become increasingly afraid of the dark. Not the dark it self but what could happen in the dark. what I can’t see, who I can’t see… My best friend at the time was bi-polar and she said I should get some help but she was just as destructive as I was so I never did anything about it. Ummm… I think there is something wrong, well not right. But if I did have a problem I don’t think i’m supposed to realize something is wrong so it makes me think maybe I am just and imaginative person but at the same time, I want to get out of my skin. I have never had extreme anger or anything, just extreme sadness from seemingly nowhere. I can get through the day because I have kind of taught myself how to cope and put on a happy face. When I feel things it’s not normal. It’s either the best or the worst, there has never been an inbetween… isn’t there supposed to be an inbetween. I am afraid my baby will have whatever it is that I might have… I think I am just at the end of my rope and I can’t do it alone anymore, for the sake of my baby and husband please help. I want to be a great mom and wife but I am always feeling like I am letting them down and doing things wrong. even when my husband tells me i’m doing a great job! Maybe I am just being an idiot… Maybe I should just be stronger… Maybe… I have been having these thoughts of cutting myself, again, Or hurting myself in some other way because maybe then someone will see, someone will help…
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You’re feeling unsure, aren’t you. You know that you don’t feel right and haven’t for years, but you’re not sure if your condition is serious enough to merit doing something about. Or maybe you know there is something wrong, but you aren’t sure if you (as a person) are important enough to deserve help. Not sure and hard to tell from your communication. Either way, I’d say from reading over what you’ve said here that there is something wrong that you could probably be helped with, and that it would be a good idea for you to seek professional help. You should do this becuase it’s fairly obvious that you’re in some emotional pain, and life is hard enough to get through without having to deal with unnecessary pain. You should also seek help becuase you (along with your husband) are now responsible for a little life who will take cues from you. Your child will be taking cues from you, and if you are feeling helpless, empty and sad and not doing anything about it, that is about how your child is likely to feel too. So there are several good reasons for seeking help now.
There is no way to say what is wrong exactly, but certainly you are experiencing some depressive and anxious feelings. Feelings of emptiness, sadness and wanting to “get out of your skin” (e.g., agitation) are consistant with a mood disorder such as depression. The sense that you maybe have a serious disease has anxious overtones and can also be a sort of body-manifestation of depression. When this sort of thing becomes a repetitive problem it is known as hypocondriasis and classified as a somatization disorder. The promiscuity you describe, the extremes of emotion and the urge to cut yourself in particular are suggestive of what are known as personality disorders, in this case, perhaps something along the lines of borderline personality disorder; a condition characterized by intense relationships, difficulty trusting others, a tendancy to alternatively idolize and then despise others, and difficulty managing emotions. Depression often accompanies issues like borderline personality disorder, as you might imagine. When you feel empty and unstable, you tend to swing through various emotions. Borderline personality disorder also fits becuase it is developmental in nature – it is something you grow into from the time you are a young teen.
Let’s go with the idea that you are dealing with a borderline personality disorder sort of condition for a moment. The people who tend to develop BPD are often sensitive by temperament and vulnerable to moodiness and depressed moods. However, this genetic moodiness (sometimes called neuroticism) is not generally enough by itself to cause BPD. BPD is thought to occur most typically when someone who is emotionally sensitive by nature has a rough experience coming up as a child, either due to having been abused or otherwise traumatized as a child and/or having been raised in an overly strict and rejecting household which demanded unreasonable perfection of children and instead trained them to put on facades. Because most BPD is half genetic and half environmental in nature, there is no reason to fear that your baby will “get it” from you. Your baby may end up with your sensitivity but then, many people are sensitive by nature and they don’t all feel empty or any particular need to cut themselves. So long as you can provide a loving and accepting environment for your child which is free from abuse, he or she will likely do well (or at least as well as most other kids – parenting is difficult and fraught with peril even when you’re emotionally healthy).
More good news. Depression is a very treatable condition, and so too is borderline personality disorder (although as it is by definition more of an ingrained personality and maturity issue, it tends to take longer to resolve than depression alone). There are multiple means of treating depressed mood. Many people will see a physician and ask for antidepressant medication. There are many different antidepressant medications out there today and a good number of people respond to them well enough with some or all of their depressive symptoms resolving, at least while they stay on the medication. Antidepressant medications also help with anxious feelings. Then there are non-medication treatments. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) for depression is an excellent treatment for depression which has no side effects at all (many antidepressants have sexual and other side effects). CBT teaches you how to identify and argue with the thoughts that occur in your head that cause and maintain your depression. When you learn how to fix your depressive thoughts, you learn how to control your mood. Perhaps even a better therapy for your purpose will be Dialectical Behavioral Therapy or DBT, which is designed for people with borderline personality disorder. This therapy works hard to teach coping and self-soothing skills to patients who otherwise may remain too emotional to engage standard CBT.
I do encourage you to make an appointment with a mental health doctor (a psychiatrist or psychologist) to see about getting yourself formally diagnosed so that you know what condition(s) you are facing, if any. Then, if there is a diagnosis or suggestion of Borderline PD, seek out a DBT therapist. Many communities will have DBT groups that you might be able to attend. If you need a referal, you can ask your local doctor, or call a local therapist and ask about DBT or CBT and see if they provide that or know someone who does. A psychiatrist or any regular medical doctor can prescribe antidepressant medications or whatever is appropriate, but psychiatrists will tend to know the most about this family of medications. Good luck to you and your family.