A reader writes: I lost my mom two years ago, 43 days later my dad remarried and disinherited me for his “new” son, 6 months later my business and personal partner of 5 years walked out with no notice leaving me several million dollars in debt with construction loans. That same year two of my clients died by suicide and I was called to take care of the property including the clean-up. Four months ago I was raped by an usher in my church. For the first 2 years I worked 16-18 hours a day trying to keep up with the financial debts that were over 10K monthly. The legal financial part was over last month. I survived that on my own. I decided to take this month off just to regroup. The rape didn’t even bother me until I stopped. I have no family or friends. I work out of my home. Since I stopped working around the clock, I cannot function. I have never experienced this kind of pain. I do not get dressed, I’m confused, overwhelmed, don’t want to leave the house. I spoke with my minister and he told me I had the emotional maturity of a 12 year old. I am a 55 year old woman who has always run her own life and has been financially independent. Sometimes I sit home and cry for hours. I take naps in the morning and afternoon. Am I mentally ill? I’ve been told I am manic, a spoiled rotten brat and have dependent personality disorder. I quit going to church, I don’t want to be around people, I don’t trust anyone. This is totally out of the norm for me. Do I need to be committed, do I need medication? There is no where for me to turn. I have never felt this alone in my life. I’m not sure I care what happens anymore.
My response: Forgive me, but I don’t think being called names and having fancy psychiatric labels pinned upon you is helpful, and certainly not what I would expect from a qualified mental health professional! If that’s the sort of “help” you’re finding, I think you need to look elsewhere.
You say you’re not sure you care what happens anymore. If that means you’re thinking of suicide, please, please READ THIS FIRST!
Obviously you have been under a great deal of stress for quite some time. The fact that you were raped four months ago and “it didn’t even bother me until I stopped [working around the clock]” tells me that, in addition to whatever unresolved grief issues surround your mother’s death and your dad’s subsequent rejection, you’re probably experiencing post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
You say you have nowhere to turn, but you managed to write to me. Good for you! There is a great deal of help “out there,” just waiting for you to find it, and I hope you will get going and start looking. Since you have access to the Internet and time to devote to taking care of yourself right now, why not begin by doing some good, sound research? For example, take a look at Coping with Traumatic Loss: Suggested Resources. See especially the sites and articles listed there having to do with PTSD, such as Living with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.
I truly do believe that the PTSD needs to be addressed before you can even begin to focus on your grief issues. So much research has been done in this area in recent years, and many effective forms of treatment have been developed too. (See, for example, Anxiety Attacks in Grief: Tools for Coping.)
I don’t know if you’re “mentally ill” or whether you need medication, since that requires a thorough examination and careful assessment by a qualified mental health professional. I urge you to look in your telephone directory or contact your primary care physician, or call your local mental health association for a referral. You are NOT alone. There is ample help available ~ and my prayer for you is that you will not rest until you find the help you need. You are worth it, and you deserve it.
Afterword: Thank you. You’re the first person who has made me feel like there is a reason for my behavior. The PTSD does make sense. I can not go out of the house alone, I don’t want to be with anyone. Until I can be assured that I can behave well publicly, I prefer to stay in. I must get back to work and soon. I just get so tired and afraid. I have lost so much of my self-esteem and drive that has made me a success.
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Image by Josh Clifford from Pixabay
© by Marty Tousley, RN, MS, FT, BC-TMH