I am almost one hundred percent sure that most people suffer from some sort of neurosis. I think we are all a little neurotic about something and it’s usually not enough to cause so much distress that we end up needing professional help.

Neurosis, as best describe to me by a former professor in layman’s term is an unusual or rather extreme response to a normal stress inducing event. For example, it’s normal to be nervous about a job interview, but it is not normal to be so nervous that you decide not to show up or make yourself sick so you can’t show up or purposely sabotage things to the point where you are unable to go to the interview consciously or subconsciously.

Normal neurosis is usually overcome, especially when it has to be. Someone who has a fear of public speaking will usually speak in front of a group if they had to. Or someone who is very shy, will usually attend a party, even if they don’t mingle with many new people.

Neurosis that is abnormal leads to illnesses such as depression, chronic anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder, phobias and in it’s extreme forms, personality disorders such as borderline personality disorder and obsessive-compulsive personality disorder.

Normal neurosis can usually be combated by either changing ones thoughts about the anxiety provoking event or dealing with the event in a healthy way using stress reducing activities such as relaxation techniques (breathing exercises, etc.).

I think it is important to understand yourself and your reactions to different events so that you know when you are experiencing normal anxiety and when you are being neurotic. If you get asked to dance at a party and you don’t want to, that’s normal. If you want to, but you’re nervous, yet you dance anyway, that’s normal. If you want to, but you’re nervous so you don’t… well that is a little neurotic, but nothing to worry about. If you avoid the party all together out of fear of someone asking you to dance, well, that’s a more serious form of neurosis that in it’s extreme could turn into things such as generalized anxiety disorder.

I myself am a little neurotic about more things than I probably know, but each time I discover one of  my neurosis, I try to analyze it, pick it apart and combat it with healthy behavior so that it does not own me.

Writing as Therapy

Writing to express yourself, ease pain, erase trauma and reflect and gain insight is a powerful form of therapy. This has been practice for years in the form  of journal keeping and has even been shown to positively effect the immune system. For some people dealing with certain issues, it may be too painful to try writing about them alone, without the help of  a counselor or therapist to help them deal with some of the thoughts and memories that may come rushing in, so while I encourage you to write, I want to strongly encourage you to stop writing and to seek help if it  becomes to much to deal with alone. I also want to share with you something I wrote a while ago to deal with the loss of a relationship when I didn’t really know what to do or what to feel, but I wanted to express myself in a safe place away from judgment and to ward off the feelings of depression and failure.

You told me that if I loved you, that if I believed in our love I’d let you go, knowing that someday you’d return. I didn’t want to. My heart told me not to, but I did because I wanted you to believe I was brave and confident that our love could endure both time and space apart. In reality I was petrified, afraid that letting you go would mean the end of us. Still, with trembling hands I let you go explore the world, hoping and praying that our love alone would bring you home. At first it wasn’t so bad. We emailed each other often, nothing much had seemed to change except your location, but then the emails became less frequent and our conversations seemed more distant. Eventually you stopped emailing me all together and the longer I went without communicating with you, the more it felt like I was suffocating from lack of your presence. I tried to stand strong in this growing abyss hoping that my strength in allowing you to explore would serve as a demonstration of my deep desire for you. And then you came back as promised, only this time something was different. The light in your eyes had faded along with your smile. I wasn’t going to say anything, hoping that our closeness would bring back both the light and your smile, but then you told me you met someone. I stopped breathing. I probably wouldn’t have taken another breath if you hadn’t told me to. My heart galloped inside of my chest as I saw the promise of us come to a crashing end. I wanted to remain positive, told myself that this too shall pass and somehow serve as a catalyst for what was surely to come… you and me, together forever. Somehow things didn’t workout that way. You continued to distance yourself from me, drawing closer to someone else. Months passed and I found the courage to email you again, asking simply how you were you doing. You replied with a few words I imagine, I hope were hard to type; “I don’t know how to tell you this, but I’m engaged to be married in June.” Time froze as I deciphered those words and allowed them to sink into my pores. I started to write you back, my words fast and angry, then I hit the delete key… thought for awhile and started again, this time my words more gentle, too gentle, too forgiving. Again I hit delete and just stared at that email for what felt like an eternity. I haven’t written you back or talked to you since, until now. Now I’ve found the words to express myself and let you know how I feel. I feel angry, disappointed, cheated and hurt, but none of those things will bring you back to me. None of those feelings will heal my heart. I love you, I probably will always love you, and when you asked me to let you go I never really did. I still hung on to a big part of you, but now I see that in order for me to heal I truly have to let you go as you have apparently let me go a long time ago. I want to be able to say I hope everything works out for you, but I can’t, at least not right now. I know that will change overtime, as soon as I fully let you go and convince myself that this too isn’t a catalyst for us to be together forever somehow, but the catalyst for me to move on with the rest of my life.

“Why Do People Try to Kill Themselves?”

I was asked that question earlier this morning by a client who had tried to kill himself over the weekend. At first I found it strange that he would ask that question. The answer of course is that there are a number of reasons a person may think suicide is the answer to his or her problems. Those answers are generally irrational at bese. I replied to his question by asking him why did he try to kill himself. He hemmed and hawed for a momment and then replied that he was tired of all of his physical ailments (back problems, body aches), that he didn’t feel appreciated by his family any more (especially his wife) and that he just wanted to take an overdose of sleeping pills (which he did) and sleep forever (which thank God he didn’t). So why do people try to kill themselves? Name a reason, and there’s probably someone who has tried to kill themselves because of it. Generally it’s because of irrational thoughts, poor impulse control, poor coping skills, feelings of hopelessnessa-suicide-note-photoshop-876693_1024_768 and lack of insight. The key is to help them find hope and a reason to live. One of my favorite quotes is by Viktor Frankl: “To live is to suffer, to survive is to find meaning in the suffering.”

“I dreamt my teeth fell out!”

dream_standard_1280x960A friend of mine recently told me she had a disturbing dream that her teeth had fallen out. Alarmed, she called me and I quickly consulted two dream books, both of which stated that dreaming your teeth are/have fallen out can mean multiple things, but generally the end of a relationship or the the fear of being lied to/cheated on. My friend quickly acknowledged that she is afraid of both, her relationship ending (which isn’t going so well) and being lied to by her boyfriend who has lied to her multiple times before. What I found interesting besides the dream and it’s possible interpertations is how she felt felt during the dream about her teeth falling out. She told me she felt disgusted and I took that a step further to say that she feels disgusted with the thought of a) losing her relationship and b) being lied to by her boyfriend… again. After some thought, she agreed with my analysis and not that it was some sort of breakthrough, but it did help her realize that her dream wasn’t just about losing her teeth, but about her fears.  I think it’s important when trying to analyze your dreams to not only look at who was in the dream or what was happening in the dream, but how you or the people in the dream felt about what was happening. I believe looking at that will potentially give you greater insight not only into your dreams, but into your reality.