Dear Feelings Doctor: I’m a 55-year-old woman who has been diagnosed with clinical depression, anxiety and OCD. I’ve been in and out of “talk” therapy since my 20s. I’ve been on a whole slew of psychiatric medications (under the supervision of various psychiatrists) since my mid-30s. Despite all of this, I am still unable to live fully, happily or productively.
Through my ongoing research, I’ve recently become more aware of the incredible impact of complex trauma (untreated) on children — now adults. I suffered physical, emotional and mental abuse, as well as physical neglect and removal from the family home due to the dangerous situation. I’m looking for therapists or organizations that treat this broad spectrum of issues specifically (and inexpensively; I’m on disability).
— Me, Santa Barbara
Dear Me: What a survivor you are! First of all, be sure that you have the proper medical people around you, and second, I am wondering if you have any physical activity that you can do. One of the best things for depression is movement. If you can, begin walking a block or two each day, gradually increasing it to what feels right for you.
You are not only a survivor, you can become a thriver with a positive attitude and your strong will. I am sure things will be looking brighter very soon. You can also contact the Center for Successful Aging in Santa Barbara by clicking here for peer counseling immediately. The phone number is 805.963.8080. It is a nonprofit organization with trained counselors on staff. It also has specific ongoing weekly discussion groups.
“Begin telling your story from a place of empowerment.” Good luck to you.
Dear Feelings Doctor: My partner is a wonderful person, but he is constantly telling me what to do, as if I don’t have a mind of my own. His intentions are sincere, but it’s just starting to get on my nerves! Any suggestions on how to handle this?
— Frayed Nerves, San Luis Obispo
Dear Frayed Nerves: Next time you are in the middle of him making you feel uneasy, stop the conversation and begin:
Start by asking him if he has a moment for a conversation about something that is very important to you. Once you have his attention, begin by saying, ”You may think that this is about you, but it’s actually about me. I really feel uneasy when I am spoken to like that, so please understand that if I ask you to stop — it’s because it’s something that is very bothersome to me. I really appreciate your understanding, and will let you know when it happens again. Thanks for being such a good listener. Now, where should we go for lunch?”
You may need to repeat, repeat, repeat this phrase several times until the new pattern is in place.
Dear Feelings Doctor: My wife has been going through the “change of life” since she turned 50 — that was three years ago. We are great friends and share a passion for life, but the passion for each other has been withering. Every time I bring it up she gets offensive. What do I do? I love our friendship but miss the intimacy.
— Greener Pastures, Ventura
Dear Greener Pastures: The truth of the matter is, there really are no “greener pastures”! All grass is just green if you look close enough. When women go through the change of life, it happens to their mate as well. Hormones colliding can be a challenging time for everyone.
As far as intimacy, this is the time in your life to really be creative. Women respond to good ol’-fashioned courting, and most of them always will. So, make friends with the local flower shop, ask her to dance with you, and remind her often what it was about her that captivated you all those years ago. Sounds to me like you two have a wonderful richness in your friendship that only happens with deep connection. How lucky for the both of you! Go get ‘em, Tiger.
Imagine this …
For all you emotional hoarders out there, it’s time for some spring cleaning.
Yes, I know, the vernal equinox was March 20, but it’s never too early or late to begin with some fresh, fun habits. That’s right, those negative thoughts or fears that have been occupying your mind for a bit too long, and make you feel tight in your body. Let go and recycle some fresh, positive energy into what makes you smine — yes, smine: smile and shine. Mix this new attitude with some fresh, deep breaths and tell me how you feel in a few days.
Just look at all that wide-open space filled with new possibilities.
Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible.
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— Psychotherapist Randi Rabin, M.A., MFTI, answers reader questions in her weekly Noozhawk column, The Feelings Doctor, and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org. She received her bachelor’s degree in psychology from Antioch University Santa Barbara and completed her master’s degree in psychology at Pacifica Graduate Institute under the guidance of renowned psychologist Stephen Aizenstat, Pacifica’s chancellor and founding president. She has worked as a counselor with a number of local nonprofit organizations and schools. Click here for previous columns. The opinions expressed are her own.