Individual Relationship Challenges
Relationships, both romantic and not, are tough- there's no doubt about it. They're hardest with people we care about most. Maybe you feel like you're walking on eggshells and the smallest misstep will lead to irrational anger. Maybe you feel like you're less important to them than they are to you, and you're constantly trying to get approval that never seems to come. Maybe no matter how hard you try, they just don't ever seem to understand or listen to you. When relationships fall apart, you wonder how you'll ever move on. You just want to feel loved, understood and appreciated.
People with diagnosable mental health or substance use disorders are not the only people who can benefit from therapy. Although it might seem like the world always focuses on them, I know you're there too. Trying to maintain a relationship with a loved one with these difficulties while staying positive and supportive is a really tough thing to do. I'm here to support you as you learn different ways to take care of yourself.
What are some possible things your loved one may be struggling with and, as a result, so are you?
Borderline Personality Disorder:
Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) is a serious medical illness characterized by pervasive instability in moods, interpersonal relationships, self-image and behavior. People with this disorder struggle with emotion regulation. They may experience explosive, intense anger or have difficulty controlling it. They might engage in self-damaging, impulsive behavior, have episodes of self-injury, or use drugs and/or alcohol. They might also engage in recurrent suicidal behavior, behaviors or make threats of self-harm. Sometimes people with BPD view themselves as inherently bad or unworthy, and may experience feelings of shame. They often fear abandonment and respond based on that belief, whether the threat is real or imagined. What may appear to be manipulative behavior may in fact be their desperate attempts to cope with painful feelings or get their needs met. People with BPD often demonstrate poor boundaries or have control issues.
Does this sound familiar? As a child, parent, spouse or other loved one of a person with BPD, it can be a real struggle. You may feel as though you're always walking on eggshells. I can help you recognize and understand the characteristics of BPD and learn different strategies for taking care of yourself. Therapy may include psychoeducation, understanding and replacing irrational thoughts about yourself or your loved one, setting boundaries and asserting your needs.
Narcissistic Personality Disorder:
Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) is characterized by grandiosity, lack of empathy, an inflated sense of self-importance and a need for admiration. People with this disorder may seem arrogant, take advantage of others to achieve their own goals, disregard the feelings of others and have a sense of entitlement. They might exaggerate their achievements, believe they are "special" and can only be understood by other special people, expect excessive admiration and are often envious of others or believe that others are envious of them.
If you have a loved one with NPD you might feel like nothing you do is ever good enough. As a result, you might find yourself over-achieving in a desperate attempt to get recognition or conversely, self-sabotaging. You might believe you're not good enough, you're unlovable, or that you're valued for what you do instead of who you are. You might struggle with feelings of emptiness, have a hard time trusting others and experience challenges with your own romantic relationships. I can help you understand and recognize the characteristics of NPD and learn strategies for coping with the repercussions of having a loved one with this disorder. Therapy may include psychoeducation, understanding and replacing irrational thoughts related to your own self-identity and self-worth, and detaching emotionally from your loved one.
What are some other things you're trying to manage that may be impacting your relationships?
According to Melody Beattie, "a codependent person is one who has let another person's behavior affect him or her, and who is obsessed with controlling that person's behavior." This could include the loved one of somebody who struggles with drugs or alcohol, mental or physical illness among other things. The problem, though, does not directly lie within the person who has the concerning behaviors but rather in how we lot those behaviors affect us and our own behavioral or emotional response. Behaviors and emotions characteristic of a codependent person include but are not limited to controlling, obsessing, obsessive care taking, anger, guilt and low self-esteem.
I can help you recognize these patterns of behaviors and emotions and help you gain back your independence. Therapy may include psychoeducation, understanding how your thoughts and beliefs about your loved one's behaviors may affect your feelings and behaviors, accepting what you cannot change, learning assertive communication skills and detaching yourself so you can live your own life.
There doesn't always have to be a person who struggles with mental illness or addiction in order to benefit from the support and guidance that comes with therapy. Every day there are people from all over the world who are experiencing challenges in their relationships. These challenges could stem from a number of things including but not limited to children, money, work, sex, infidelity, infertility or other life stressors. Whatever the reason is that you are struggling with your relationship, I am here to help. Therapy may include processing and gaining insight regarding your own situation and feelings, setting goals and identifying what you want from your relationship, accepting what you cannot change while identifying and developing skills to change the things you can, learning active listening and assertive communication skills, and general self-care or coping strategies.