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What Is Wrong With Me?

Question:

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p>I am always angry, irritated that my children are around me, and sad all at once. I have been diagnosed with Post tramatic stress and depression. I have been on and off med’s for the past 5 years (mainly Paxil and Wellbutrin). The drugs have either left me feeling emotionally dead, or haven’t been working. I came of the Paxil about 6 weeks ago (life has been hell ever since).

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p>My parents split up (when they were actually together) when I was 3 (shortly after my sister was born) and I went to live with my grandparents. When I was 4 my dad receive custody (my mom didn’t want us). At 5 my dad started sexually abusing me, at 8 he raped me. When I was 10 I told my grandparents about the abuse. We were taken from him, lived with my grandparents for the summer and then were sent to live with my mother and her husband. We then had to go to court and tell the judge about the abuse. He was convicted on my testimony (my sisters was thrown out, she got confused. The lawyer was cruel and confused her, she was only 8) At 11, My dad commited suicide by crashing his car into the tree across from my house (I was outside at the time). At 12 my parents had a new baby. We were no longer wanted. I lived in foster care on and off during my teen years, but mainly bounced from home to friends house. At 15 I became sexually active and slept with many men (mainly 5-6+ years older). As I would say, looking for love in all the wrong places. At 18 I moved out of my parents house for good and onto my own. Shortly there after I dropped out of high school and me the man I married to today. (I love my husband. He is a good man) I don’t know how I lucked out with him, but he faithful, doesn’t abuse me in anyway, and takes good care of his kids (no abuse). I should be happy, but I am not. I resent my kids, I resent myslef. I am angry all the time. I have been to numerous consellours from the time I was 11 until just a few years ago. They don’t help. I don’t want to abandon my children (like my parents did), but I want it all to end. I feel trapped and I don’t know how to deal with it. Any ideas?

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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:

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p>Your situation is not an example of how well medication works to relieve psychiatric difficulties. Rather, you situation typifies the old saying that as long as you have learned to do things one way, and you do not learn another way, you just keep doing things in the same old way. You know, “I failed, but I keep trying…in the same unsuccessful way.” You are not responsible for what you learned during the years of growth and development. You were not at fault for the divorce, or for you mother not wanting you, or for you father’s abuse of you ending in his suicide. It is a tragic story shared by too many people. Once you entered adolescence there was no real help available to you to serve as a kind of rescue.

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p>Some medication and counseling were not enough to help you get out of the mess that life dealt you. I agree that you seem to have lucked out with your husband and that is a really good thing. What you need, in addition to your husband and your children, is a powerful type of psychotherapy. What I am referring to is Dialectical Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (DCBT) that is now used to help people with a variety of personality disorders. Personality disorders are usually the result of things that happened to people from earliest childhood on an ongoing and persistent basis. Personality disorders give rise to types of thinking and ways of behaving that are not helpful. When anyone has been subjected to the terrible events that you lived through in their early lives it causes them to be stuck in a groove that they cannot get themselves out of. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy helps people learn new ways of handling their issues.

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p>I would urge you to see a Clinical Psychologist who specializes in DCBT and who works with people with personality disorders. These professionals also conduct DCBT group therapy sessions for patients with similar problems. If you cannot afford a private psychologist you might try the mental health clinic located in your local hospital. You could also contact the American Psychological Association in your state and ask them to find the correct therapist for your needs. There are Licensed Clinical Social Workers trained and certified in this technique and you could call the local chapter of National Association of Social Workers and ask for the proper referral. Social Workers are often (but not always) less expensive than psychologists.

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p>Since you are taking medication you can ask your psychiatrist to refer you to a practitioner who does Dialectical Cognitive Behavioral Therapy.

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p>In conjunction with this type of very structured and focused therapy you probably would need medication. Medication is likely to be more effective if you start to have some reason to hope that you are getting the specific type of therapy that you need.

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p>The situation you are in is complex and needs time, hard work, intensive DCBT and medication for you to make lasting positive changes in your life. It is overwhelming to know that one’s own mother did not want custody of them. The loss of your mother was a massive rejection for you. It goes almost without saying that your father’s behavior, including his suicide, was terrible events for you. I hope you do not feel guilty about his death. It would certainly be understandable if you felt angry at both of your parents.

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p>However, more important than anger is the need for you to find a way to live peacefully. That peacefulness includes being able to enjoy your children and participate in their lives in a way that your parents failed to do. DBCT is an important way to learn how to live better because it includes or incorporates learning how finds inner peace.

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