When Fear Rules !

Tag: Fear leads to sweating

Success Over Fears !

by on Feb.05, 2012, under Anxiety, Panic Attacks, Agoraphobia and OCD

Success Over Phobias and OCD !

Yes, you really can overcome phobias and obsessive thoughts and compulsive rituals, but it takes hard work and a focus on changing the situations that cause you to be so vulnerable to your fears.

We all have fears.  We all have avoided situations or people because of our fears. And when we avoid, somewhere in our brain there is a message being imprinted saying, “I was not in control”.

Depending on the frequency and intensity of those situations and memories, and of course, what else is going on in our lives that might stroke our self-esteem, we might be less affected. However, many many individuals allow situations where fear rules to dominate and they find there is a pattern of avoidance in their lives that  leads to a feeling of vulnerability. It is that vulnerability that I watch closely for whenever I see a  client as I know how the avoidance-vulnerability cycle can make a person more susceptible to irrational fears, phobias , panic attacks and OCD.

Frequently I have the awesome opportunity to see a client challenge those fears and WIN. Let me offer you an example in hopes it will make my point more clear. A young man, in his early twenties, came to see me more as a follow-up to reinforce what he had learned in therapy years before. I remember oh so well the pain I saw in his eyes when just a few years ago, in his late teens, he came to me totally engulfed with his obsessive and irrational fears that he was gay. Now if he was actually homosexual, then we would have worked on his self-acceptance and coping skills while dealing with society’s prejudices and fears. I have gay clients who are not in conflict over their sexuality. But in this case, he was not gay, but yet found himself constantly having intrusive thoughts and then avoiding places or situations that might bring those feelings to the surface where he might be exposed.

Besides working with Cognitive-Behavioral therapies to help him challenge his fearful thoughts, we had to get to the source of his being so vulnerable, get to the root of why his self-esteem was so fragile that he would give in to those thoughts when his conscious mind knew he was not gay.

In his case, he had never applied himself at school and his grades suffered which meant that college was not a realistic thought. He was bright, but he had an independent side that just did not do things like others. He had a strong aversion to following the crowd and doing the expected. Now, out of high school, and doing it by the skin of his teeth, he really did not know what he was going to do with his life.

Seeing his parents  struggle through life, to some degree he just felt that is how his life would be. His lack of effort, not setting or achieving goals, had led him to have  very little faith in himself. He felt very out of control, especially once he was out of the protective and structured environment of school.

He had a father who was very negative and critical since he too had not accomplished much in his life and just blamed the world for his lack of achievements. His father soothed his frustrations with alcohol as so many do. My client saw himself self-medicating in the same way.

How could my client escape the shadow of his father? How could this young man have the confidence to face his fears when his self-esteem was so beaten down ? He had never really taken control, set goals or had seen himself meet those goals, so he had little faith in himself.

Once I realized this, and was able to gradually get him to see that his life was a self-fulfilling prophecy, and that his fearful thoughts of being gay were mostly, if not entirely, a symbolic fear of being “out of control” in his life, he was able to take steps to build a plan with me that when put into action, step by step, led him to begin rebuilding his self-respect and awareness that he really could do some really meaningful things with his life.

He took on some challenges, but fell off the path a few times. He accepted that  set-backs were normal, and although they took some of the vim and vigor out of his efforts for a few days, he would throw himself back into taking steps to accomplish his new goals of doing something purposeful and meaningful with his life. Managers at his job were taking notice and giving him more responsibility, which he was able to see he could handle quite effectively. He finally was feeling some control in his life. He was finally beginning to TRUST himself.

He has miles yet to travel, but as he takes steps along this journey, he is realizing that his fearful, obsessive thoughts are happening so infrequently that he almost does not pay attention to them at all. When he does find himself attending to them, he immediately looks at what is  going on currently in his life where he might be avoiding and settling, and gives himself a swift kick, a jolt of reality, to get back on track.

Just think about the power of avoidance and the fear that is generated by that avoidance. This young man worked very hard to face what he needed to change in his life. He faced the fact that he had created a deep hole because there were things in his life that he was NOT taking control of, so his subconscious mind seized on that sense of being vulnerable and played with his mind when he was idle, or in his dreams. It was not really about being gay. Not that being gay has to be an issue, but for him, it was a significant symbol of being out of control, of somehow failing and rejecting himself.

Just food for thought !

Gene Benedetto, Clinical Psychologist
Coach

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She Asked Me to Be Her Pretend Grandpa

by on Dec.27, 2011, under Anxiety, Panic Attacks, Agoraphobia and OCD, STOPPING ABUSE

My dear young friend who allowed me into her life when she was a homeless kid on the streets at age 11, has now been recently adopted by a great and loving young  family, and she just celebrated her first Christmas with that family.

About two years ago she asked if I could be her pretend grandpa. That was when she was still on the streets, just surviving. I was and am honored. But this Christmas, she is safe and sound, and part of a loving family.

She knows I would buy her anything for Christmas, but she wanted NO gifts. What she asked for was and Adoption Agreement, something I would create,which although not a legal document, would be a more formal testament to our relationship as grandpa and grandchild.

It was one of the most important documents I have ever been a part of creating, and it meant so much to me that she still wants me in that role.

She told me she was framing the agreement and hanging it next to her adoption papers from her new parents.  How awesome ! I am so proud of this young lady, my No. 7 Grand-daughter. What she has overcome is impossible to express effectively, but her tenacity and determination to get off the streets was nothing short of miraculous.

 

Gene Benedetto, Psychologist

Coach

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Is The Fear of Change Paralyzing You ?

by on Nov.28, 2011, under Anxiety, Panic Attacks, Agoraphobia and OCD

We have fought wars to be free, yet, with all the freedoms we do have, one that we squander each day is the freedom to change.

I received a very timely message on Facebook from a friend, Betsy, that read “ If you change nothing, nothing will change  ! “

In my profession  as a psychologist, I am ALL ABOUT CHANGE.  People suffer much frustration in life, much of it directed back at themselves, because they allow opportunities for change to pass by. They get stuck with what is known, with what they are comfortably-uncomfortable with……therefore, they become stagnant, as they settle.

Don’t most, if not all of us have personal issues, self-esteem or personal growth issues that we want to improve upon ?  For one person it may be their weight, for another it is their frustration with a go-no-where job, and yet for others it is a stagnant or even abusive relationship that they feel unable to extract themselves from. Don’t we just want to feel more CONTROL in our lives ? Don’t we want to feel some PASSION ?

Some think long and hard about making changes, but then the FEARS set in. The fear of failure, rejection. embarrassment or ridicule. Many are so dependent on approval that they allow what they think others will say influence so much of what they do, or don’t do to stretch beyond the norm.

So what do we do ?

We buy more self-help books looking for  some magic pill. We go to a Self-esteem or healing seminar looking for an EPIPHANY, a previously hidden realization that just comes from out of the blue.

Well, you are making authors of these books and seminars rich, but how often do books and seminars actually bring about change ?

I DO believe we can all find more happiness with who we are and what we do, but we need to explore our personalities, explore our past and see where we have felt passion, where we have felt something special. We sometimes are so busy focusing on our self-perceived weaknesses, that we cannot see through the clouds of doubt we create.

Nothing I say here is going to cause a massive change in the way we avoid options to grow through making changes. But maybe I can hit a nerve with just you. Look at some of those weaknesses, and maybe there are some hidden strengths. You may be shy, but are you a good listener ? You maybe have made some bad choices in your life, but what have you learned from those  choices ? Tell me about your personality. What makes you different than some others ?  I  bet you are not taking advantage of what makes you really different.

What have you experienced in your life that has caused you to feel some passion, some inner excitement ? Don’t drown out these thoughts with those always present negative and often obsessive thoughts and fears.

Are you more logical and analytic ? Are you more emotional ? Do you have patience when dealing with others ? Are you persistent ? Do people come to you for advice ? Are you sensitive to the needs of others ? Are you especially creative ? Can you take up a cause and see it through ?

People so often take jobs because they were just there. How often do people explore jobs that actually fit their personality, fit their emotional needs ?

And how about our choices in relationships ? What initially attracts us to a special person, especially when we are young, does not often hold and nurture a relationship later on. How many of us find ourselves naturally attracted to opposites, maybe because we are drawn to someone who appears to have different qualities than we do ?
What about what we REALLY NEED in a relationship ?

Yes, we can all make changes that would greatly enhance our happiness in our personal life, relationships and career or avocation. But if we take the time to truly explore the nature of who we are, what makes us unique, what brings us sustained pleasure and a sense of worth and value at the end of the day, and lay out a game plan, step by step to explore the possibilities rather than overwhelm ourselves by thinking huge steps instead of small, frequent steps, we might actually be able to make changes without becoming paralyzed by fear.

If you are interested in exploring this further, come to our On-Line Support Group on Sunday evenings at 9 ET. It is free, and we can all work on creating a game plan for change that would not stimulate so much fear.

Go to : www.OneStepataTime.com

Join and become a member…It’s Free !

Then Join us in our Support Group on Sundays.

Also Check out our Blog at www.RuledByFear.com

See us on Facebook at www.Facebook.com/Gene.Benedetto  and then join our Facebook Group, RuledByFear.  Options and choices ! What WILL you do ???

Gene Benedetto, Psychologist
Coach

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Fear of Change

by on May.01, 2011, under Anxiety, Panic Attacks, Agoraphobia and OCD

It is so very easy to settle for less when you yearn for more. Deciding what needs to be changed is a challenge in itself, but once realized, we are most likely to overwhelm ourselves at the prospect of what needs to change.

I have seen first hand, and repeatedly, that if I have the opportunity to guide my clients not only to the source of their anxieties, but also have to chance to help them set up a game plan for change, a step by step approach, there success is much greater. Left on their own, most people allow their need for approval and fear of failure, rejection and embarrassment to cause them to try to make change with bigger bites then they can swallow, which ensures the frustration and often, failure that they fear.

Most often, we have developed certain habits of avoidance that cause us to put off anything uncomfortable, so we spend many of our productive years comfortably-uncomfortable, trapped as our life is Ruled By Fear.

Breaking free of our self-imposed entrapment requires that the degree of fear related to potential change is felt to be outweighed by the emotional pain, and symptoms we experience as a result of our avoidance of the needed change.

Creating a reasonable plan to approach needed changes in reasonable bites, step by step, requires patience for sure, but allows you to create some emotional momentum to help you take the next step.

The needed changes most often have to do with learning to more effectively realize and then communicate your needs, learn to deal with difficult people who often realize your need for approval and take full advantage of your need to please, but mostly to see yourself doing things with your life that enhance your perceptions of yourself, your self-esteem.

Those personalities who are less wanting or needing of approval are able to rely of what they DO in order to foster their self-esteem rather than being as dependent of the nods and smiles and encouraging words of others. Now, those of us who do value approval from others may at times be at a disadvantage, but isn’t it better to have that emotional and intimate side of one’s personality, but realize the need to focus on our gifts and talents and seriously make an effort to realize the value of what we do ?

Coach
Gene Benedetto
Psychologist

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Trapped by Fear

by on Apr.09, 2011, under Anxiety, Panic Attacks, Agoraphobia and OCD, STOPPING ABUSE

I remember a situation where a young lady that I had worked with in the past had contacted me again because she was experiencing a set-back where her panic attacks were returning with a vengeance, worse than ever. At first, she was just so overwhelmed and disappointed by her symptoms that I knew she could not even hear what I was saying. But, I allowed her to vent as i knew she needed to, then I began asking some probing questions.

As I listened, I recalled that she had become, for the most part, agoraphobic, very infrequently leaving her apartment. I recalled that she was living near her parents, and due to her anxiety, was somewhat dependent on them financially. She was in conflict with them as they would foster her dependency on them and yet embarrass her with comments that she should be out there on her own. I could see many co-dependency issues at the time where the mother, being unhappy in her marriage, wanted to keep her daughter close.

I thought about past sessions where she would be in such conflict over a boyfriend who was actually very psychologically controlling and was manipulating in order to have her dependent on him sexually.

When I had last talked with her, she had been taking on-line schooling and had an online job, Great steps toward gaining some financial security, but at the same time, making it terribly convenient for her to not have to leave her apartment, her comfort zone.

She dared to dream of being independent. She even cut off communications with the intrusive boyfriend, a huge step after all he did to create dependency of her on him.

Her panic attacks subsided.She was at least feeling some direction and hope.

I could see, as i listened to her, that as expected, her isolating herself had left her vulnerable still to her anxieties. She had become comfortably uncomfortable with her situation, but realized she was still trapped. The job did not pay enough for her to be on her own, the parents were still creating conflict with their mixed messages, and the ex-boyfriend, if one would call him a friend at all, was calling and texting her. In response to the latter, she was not answering his calls or responding to his texts, but she did hear and read his comments. Feeling very lonely, she imagined somehow it might be different this time with him, but then reality would hit and she would remember the pain he caused so often, and how he used her.

However, in her mind, this did not have anything to do with her panic. She was not in that relationship anymore, and her parents were just who they were and would never change.

And then she said that she cannot do anything about any of these issues because of the anxiety and panic. And my response was, you cannot stop the panic until you trust yourself to do something about those issues and conflicts.
The reality was that the panic attacks began again AFTER she started getting calls and e-mails from him. Besides the need to take steps to become less dependent on her parents and her need to have a plan for her life, she needed to trust herself that she would not be vulnerable to this man again. In truth, the one thing that kept her from letting him back in was her PAIN. I asked her one simple question. “If you were free of your panic attacks and any significant anxiety, would you be tempted to go back to him?” She responded, yes !

So, in truth, she was subconsciously creating the panic to prevent herself from forgetting the pain that he created and that she had been so vulnerable to. This is an example of a hidden agenda, a cause for anxiety and panic, where we do not trust ourselves to do what we need to do to protect ourselves, so we use our symptoms, our pain, to create a detour.

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Attracting Difficult People !

by on Mar.27, 2011, under Anxiety, Panic Attacks, Agoraphobia and OCD, STOPPING ABUSE

Sometimes we ATTRACT difficulty people. The adapting personalities are most vulnerable to these harder to please and often very needy personality types.

Why?

Adapting personalities are most often those of us who seek approval, who stretch beyond the norm to help, fix, please or do what we feel “should” be done for our fellow man. Doesn’t sound like a bad thing, does it ? However, manipulative, controlling and needy people tend to pick up the signals given off by adapting, approval seeking personalities, so we are on their radar. And, our problem is that we have a hard time setting boundaries. It is a good thing to be there for others, however, if you do not keep your eyes wide open and your emotional barometers set on “alert”, you miss the usually obvious indications that you are being taken advantage of, even emotionally abused and used.

Yes, open your eyes. You can take stock of those family members, friends and peers who take more energy from you then they ever attempt to replace through similar good deeds and efforts to be there for you. Make a list right now of all the “significant” people in your life. How much emotional and physical effort do you put into pleasing each of those individuals ? Have you ever asked any of these people for help or assistance, large or small, frequent of seldom ? Can you depend on them as they depend on you ?

This is not to say you can not or should not do something out of the “goodness of your heart”. However, stand back and look at how much energy you put out versus how much you are taking back in. Unless you run on air, the lack of some energy returning into your space by those you care about and stretch to assist, will lead eventually to feelings of anger and resentment not only towards the offending person, but also towards yourself because anger makes you feel out of sorts, and in conflict.

What do YOU think ? Is there a balance in your life ?

Coach
Gene Benedetto, Psychologist

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Intrusive Thoughts of Self Abuse

by on Mar.18, 2011, under Anxiety, Panic Attacks, Agoraphobia and OCD, STOPPING ABUSE

Obsessive-Compulsive behaviors can appear baffling at first, as the person reports dealing with intrusive thoughts and urges that seem to make no sense to them or anyone else, yet they feel compelled to respond to those thoughts and urges through compulsive and ritualistic behaviors.

One such case that I dealt with in the past was a perfect example of this confusing, yet strangely logical behavior. This young woman, in her twenties, would feel compelled to wash her face in a strangely ritualistic way, where she would take twenty or thirty minutes to carry out what should be a simple task. Why? Because as she went through what is a normal and natural task for many, she was plagued by the fear that she would somehow scratch, cut or in some way scar her face with her hands or finger nails. Every move she made as her hands came closer to her face, had to be carefully thought out, as she watched for any sign of some form of self abuse.

Yes, it sounds weird, yet I will tell you there are many people suffering from these kind of intrusive-obsessive thoughts and their companion ritualistic behaviors. Maybe some one you think you know very well, maybe even you privately suffer under the control of such fears.

Whether one subscribes to the theory that people with OCD are suffering due to some chemical imbalance, or whether you feel it is primarily psychologically based, my experience has been that there are most often emotional traumas or conflicts at the core of this behavior.

With this young lady, I helped her realize that there was a pattern to her symptoms.
At the times when her intrusive thoughts and urges to scratch and harm her face were at their highest, there was almost always some issue of conflict going on in her life. Not just any conflict, but personally significant conflicts that had repeated themselves many many times since childhood.

As a child, she was bullied and made fun of incessantly, and her response to all this emotional abuse was to either shrink into her private little world, or after a time and some build up, explode with anger. Both the withdrawal and emotional explosions caused her to feel very out of control emotionally.

When she avoided dealing with the bullies, she felt weak and angry not just with the abusers, but with herself. Self hatred became a part of her private thoughts.

When she would finally explode with anger at the abuser, she felt just as out of control, and therefore her self esteem and self talk was further in the dumper.

Later in life, when she did get a job, the pattern continued. She worked hard to gain approval, over-extending herself many times over hoping for that pat of the back and hopefully a promotion or raise. However, her apparent meekness allowed her to be a target of bosses who would take advantage of her, make promises that were never kept.

She needed to take steps to not be so vulnerable to their games. Otherwise, the anger would build as she felt weak or then she would have a blow-out.

We worked to help her realize that her OCD had a source for sure on the emotional side, so we focused on her taking steps to put herself in a less vulnerable position. She did great work, got very good write-ups, but now was taking those write-ups to other potential employers. She was working to see that she was a valuable person in her field. All her efforts to please had made her a very knowledgeable and capable individual in her career. Once her employer heard through the grapevine that she was looking elsewhere, he began treating her with more respect. He promised her a promotion as soon as the next batch of new positions was posted. I advised my client to post for those jobs, but continue to search on the outside, and let it be known in a quiet way, that she was looking for the best opportunity.

The more she was able to keep her momentum going, working hard but searching for other employment, the better and more in control she felt. The more she took steps to not be vulnerable to her bosses games, the less anger and resentment she felt because she was not cowering to her boss. There were no explosions of anger because she knew she was taking steps to take care of herself. The more she felt in control of her emotions, the weaker and less frequent her fears or self abusing her face came to the surface.

The point is that much of the Intrusive thoughts and compulsive behavior were symbolic manifestations of her true life anger and resentment towards those who would abuse her and toward herself for allowing it.

It will take time to gain full control of the OCD, as the fears run deep and the tendency to fall back into avoidant behavior is strong. However. with growing and consistent effort, she can gain control. Medications can be used to help subdue some of the obsessive thinking, but the real need to is realize and deal with the source issues and conflicts.

Coach
Gene Benedetto
Psychologist

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The Evil Dark Side

by on Mar.06, 2011, under Anxiety, Panic Attacks, Agoraphobia and OCD, STOPPING ABUSE

The Evil Dark Side

Some of you have written to me in response to my articles about the young homeless girl that I now treasure as a friend, and yes, admittedly, have taken on the roll of a grandfather, wanting to teach, and guide, and keep her safe.

I listen to her as she shares with me the struggles and conflicts she has, wanting to be loved, wanting a family, wanting to be safe and yet being afraid that she is getting soft, and if not wanted, if not a “keeper”, how much more vulnerable she will be if she finds herself back on the streets. I feel her fear, and sense her tears as she fights the competing forces that try to tell her that she must just accept who she is. But she is truly strong and has jumped many hurdles including a first family placement who failed her.

She will never be back on the streets, because she has connected with a few loving people, a new family and me. But, her struggles and fears have enlightened me.

Those struggles have caused some of you to say to me, “ My issues are so small compared to this child’s .”

My response to that is that as much as she endured, as much as she faced the evil dark side of mankind, she survived because she dared to see a choice.

Choices create conflict, don’t they ? It was not until she, and you, realized there were choices, options to change your life, that the real anxiety and fears hit. It was her taking a risk to contact me through our web site’s chat room, her expressing to me the want to feel love and be safe that she ventured one step out of the dreadful life that she seemed destined to before. So, it is when you realized that you were not happy, just ‘comfortably uncomfortable’ with some significant aspect of your life that you really felt the anxiety symptoms hit a peak.

We can only ignore needs so long, we can only adapt so far to please others, before we realize we are not happy, just settling.

And it is not an easy path, allowing yourself to love yourself, taking better care of yourself, setting boundaries with those who would hurt you with words or deeds, those who would control and manipulate you seeing that your need for approval makes you vulnerable to their games.

As a grandpa, I want to protect those I love, but as much, I want to teach them how to protect themselves, how to set those boundaries, how to never be vulnerable to the games of the dark side, and how to respect themselves, and those who prove they can be trusted. As a therapist, I have a similar goal with my clients.

So although some of you have written that your issues seem to pale in comparison to this very very special person in my life, I appreciate that your conflicts are sources of pain for you, and your struggle is as important to you as hers is to her. At the heart of it all is self-esteem. You must be proud of the fact that you are not avoiding that which stands in the way of you becoming the person you wish to be.

So I tell my new grandchild, as i tell you, do not stop dreaming of how you want life to be, but be willing to take the steps, as scary as they can be at times, to make those dreams come true. It is hard work, and there are NO short cuts to change. We by nature resist change, but the option to create and allow change is yours !

Coach
Gene Benedetto, Psychologist

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Take a Look at Yourself !

by on Feb.25, 2011, under Anxiety, Panic Attacks, Agoraphobia and OCD, STOPPING ABUSE

Take Another Look at Yourself !

Alright, I admit I am on another rant. However, when a young lady I have been working with goes to a hospital for life-saving treatment, and says how well she was treated “this time” as compared to her previous visit when she was fresh off the streets, yes a homeless person, it makes me wonder about us as a people.

For sure, this time she was all cleaned up, not appearing in layered clothing as is typically the case for someone who must protect herself from the brutal Winters on the streets of New York, and her hair actually showed its natural color as it had been cleansed of the grime of back alleys.

I will accept that there may be a natural adverse reaction, a fear, when we see a person in such a condition, but what strikes me even deeper is that this is a child of only thirteen. Doesn’t that make you think twice ? As she shared how different everyone treated her now, even the nurses and doctors and aides, as much as I was happy for her present condition, I could feel some inner rage as I recalled just weeks ago when she was treated so poorly by those same persons.

Before, when she felt so alone and was trying to be so strong, she had to search for any tid-bit of support. She could hear professional people talking outside her hospital room about her condition, yet no one talked to her, except to make comments that were derogatory. Now, they were almost charming. The word “RESPECT” comes to mind, or the lack there of. But in reverse, I have a hard time drawing upon respect for those professionals who were so unable to show her respect.

Sadly, our “perceptions” of another are often clouded by misunderstanding, FEAR and maybe some bad experiences that taint our ability to see the other person as a person.
Believe me, I understand FEAR, but if we would take time to understand rather than avoid, we might not fear as much.

Maybe we need to take another look at ourselves !

What I have discovered about this child is that she is a bright, inquisitive, strong and vibrant young lady who due to no fault of her own, had become a kid of the streets, mostly to save herself from an abusive and mean mother, and an uncaring segment of society. With no one else to turn to, and in fear of a Social Service System woefully inadequate to help children, she carved out an existence on the streets to survive. I am excited to say we are now friends, and I thoroughly enjoy daily IM discussions with her as i try to teach, but also learn from her. I have developed a tremedous respect for her survival instincts, her independence, and yet her ability to still dream about a better life. I see more drive in her than I do many people I talk to who have experienced very little stress and conflict in comparison, especially when you consider her young age.

Some of my readers have shared their thoughts about this young lady as a result of previous articles I have written, and I want those of you who have to know I am sharing those uplifting notes with her. I will happily accept any other messages you may want to share with me or her, as feeling support is part of her healing.

By the way, she made a suggestion. When you see a homeless person, rather than flip them a few bucks, bye them a Big Mac and fries. Hey, if it’s a child, how about a Happy Meal . Such irony !

Coach

Gene Benedetto
Clinical Psychologist

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Crises versus Conflict

by on Feb.20, 2011, under Anxiety, Panic Attacks, Agoraphobia and OCD

I was working with Angie, a young lady referred to me by a psychiatrist who provides her medications to help deal with her ever increasing panic attacks and obsessive-compulsive symptoms.

At first glance, it seemed very easy to understand where all her anxiety was coming from. She had , within the last six months, been in the hospital due to a condition where her body was not metabolizing certain foods, so she suffered significant digestive problems that were painful and limited her ability to leave her home for any long periods of time. She became afraid to eat not only the offensive foods, but just about anything solid, for fear that the symptoms would occur. She was losing significant weight and entered the hospital malnourished and dehydrated.

The doctors were able to help her find a relatively healthy diet that would not cause her pain or reduced her digestive symptoms. Then upon leaving the hospital, her father died suddenly. So obviously, this young lady in her early thirties had been through a great deal.

However, when I questioned her further, she admitted that she had experinced anxiety, panic and OCD symptoms for at least five years prior to these current personal crises. We chatted for a while, and I was not surprised to hear her say that there were no other crises in her life, yet, she was frustrated with the fact that she was in the same, go no where job for ten years. As I pressed further, I could see tears forming. I had hit a nerve.

The tears surprised her at first, however, she did respond to my probing further, saying that her whole life had been all about playing it safe, being comfortable. So here she was, after ten years in a career that was just a job that paid bills, still playing it safe. There was so much more she wanted to do with her life, but had never been encouraged to do more with her life. She was not blaming anyone, as she realized these were her choices. But the tears flowed more heavily and she began to sob. So it was obvious, that she was very conflicted at the direction her life had taken and felt so out of control, comfortable but yet terribly uncomfortable.

These are the types of inner conflicts that are more at the heart of panic and OCD than the health crises were. The health crisis and the death of her mother were stressful and terribly sad, but if anything, had awakened in her the reality that she wanted to do more with her life, as our time can be so short.

Now that we recognize the underlying issues that are truly at the heart of her panic, we can take steps to overcome and challenge her avoidant behavior. She can learn to take small, step by step moves to take control of her live.

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