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  • #16492

    luciana
    Member

    Hi,

    I’m Canadian but I’m studying abroad. I have experienced a lot of emotional, physical, and sexual abuse growing up and now that I’m living alone in a foreign country, I feel like my bad experiences are rising to the surface and disrupting my life. I’ve been trying to find a therapist here for almost a year now but the system is difficult to navigate and I still haven’t found anyone, so I’m hoping that maybe posting here could be helpful…

    I guess my problem is with men, because I can’t trust them and they always hurt me either emotionally or physically. I found a guy I really liked and trusted, and I fell for him really bad but he wasn’t interested in a relationship. Ever since then I’ve been unable to control my emotions. I randomly experience really intense, good feelings and then suddenly my mood shifts and I cry for hours. I daydream basically 24/7 about this guy, I have conversations with him in my head and things like that and usually my mood stays stable. But then when I run into him my mood crashes and I become depressed. So I’ve avoided seeing him and that has worked, but I saw him a few days ago and he was with another girl and I’ve been depressed since then. Today I woke up feeling happy, and I fanatasized about him in my head as always, but then I looked at his facebook (even though I’ve deleted him, I can’t stop constantly checking his profile and his friends’ profiles) and I saw that girl on his page and I just cried for several hours. I know it’s stupid but I can’t stop obsessing over him. He’s the first guy I’ve met in my life that I felt safe with in an intimate/sexual situation and it kills me that it meant nothing to him, and that he’s doing that stuff with other girls. I just want to move on and stop letting him occupy so much space in my mind. Do you have any tips for stopping my obsession with him? I constantly have all these thoughts that I can’t control; it makes studying and functioning very very difficult. I want them to stop but it’s like there’s a movie constantly playing in my head that I can’t turn off. Thank you so much for your time.

  • #19271
    Youthspace
    Youthspace
    Moderator

    Hey Luciana,

    Welcome to the Youthspace Forum. I am sad to hear you are going through such a rough time. I imagine moving to a new country would be challenging and possibly very isolating. I can see how such a big change might feel destabilizing and really impact your ability to cope with both the day-to-day and your past.

    From what you’ve said, you’ve survived a lot of abuse. No one deserves to be abused and I am sorry that happened to you. I get the sense that the abuse you experienced has left you feeling scared to open up and be vulnerable with people. It sounds as though you felt things were different with this guy and you were really hopeful and excited about a future with him. I can imagine how devastating it was to see him with another girl.

    Constantly obsessing about this guy sounds as though it would be painful and frustrating. Tiring too- to be riding the wave of your emotions. I am guessing it is also frightening for you to not be able to control your thoughts. Have you had the experience of having thoughts play like a movie in your head that you can’t turn off before?

    You mentioned you were looking for some tips on how to get relief from your obsessing. If you were interested, you could check out Calm Clinic (http://www.calmclinic.com/anxiety/treatment/relaxation) for some stress reduction activities and ideas that might be helpful? (They are designed with anxiety in mind but they can be used to for stress in general).

    I am glad you reached out to us. I would totally invite you to use our chat service but unfortunately it is only available within Canada. However, our forum is open to you and we’re always here to listen and offer you support. I hope you’ll connect with us here whenever you need to.
    <3
    Youthspace

  • #19272

    luciana
    Member

    Thank you for your reply. Whenever I try to talk to someone about this guy they always just say I should get over it, but they don’t know about my past and they don’t understand that it’s out of my control to think about him. So I really appreciate your support.

    Yes, I often experience these running thoughts that play like a movie. It’s not always bad thoughts, however. When I used to spend time with that guy, everything would finally be quiet in my head but afterwards I would have a lot of happy thoughts about him which I also couldn’t turn off, but they were enjoyable and comforting. But the problem was that the thoughts made it impossible to get any work done or even properly enjoy social situations because I would be focused on what’s going on in my head. People often tell me that they find me very distant, and it’s because I find it difficult to engage with them fully when I have so much going on in my head.

    I hate having this never-ending movie playing in my head, but in a way it’s also comforting. I feel empty when I’m not thinking about the guy I like, so I keep on fantasizing about him and then feel bad about it. Sometimes I see his friends at the university and I feel embarrassed for thinking about him because if they knew my obsession, they would think I’m insane and creepy. Also a lot of times I’m scared that his friends don’t like me, sometimes I feel like they’re watching me. I know it’s weird because they probably don’t have any opinions about me, but still when I see them I get scared. Once I saw them at a party and I was scared that they were watching me and making fun of me, and I thought one of them threw something at me, but apparently nothing like that happened. I don’t understand why I get scared and nervous when I see his friends; we never have any interactions so it doesn’t make sense to me.

    Thank you for the stress reduction activities. I think they will be helpful.

    Yes it is very difficult living in a foreign country by myself, but at the same time it’s also liberating. It is empowering to live freely without being controlled or threatened by someone, and I love that everything is new and unpredictable. It’s exciting, but like you said, it’s also isolating. I didn’t expect that I would have all these emotional problems and problems with my thoughts; I’d assumed that everything would be solved once I came here.

    About that guy, I know that he has every right to be seeing someone else and I feel bad for being so selfish and not wanting him to be with anyone else. I think that I was being very needy with him, always needing him to take care of me and protect me. I realize now that he has his own needs and wants that I couldn’t fulfill because I was so focused on myself, and that’s why he didn’t want to be in a relationship with me. What I really want and need is a father I can trust and depend on to protect me, but I know I will never get that and I don’t know how I can be a complete person without one. People tell me to move on when I talk about this guy, they say I’ll find someone else, but I know I won’t be able to find what I need. It’s upsetting knowing that everyone else can find people and be in happy relationships and have supportive families, and nobody will want to be with me because I’m so messed up because of all the stuff that has happened to me.

  • #19274
    Youthspace
    Youthspace
    Moderator

    Hello Luciana,

    I am glad you posted again.

    I get the sense that it feels as if the boundary between what goes on inside your mind, and what goes on in the world outside of you, isn’t always quite clear. Sometimes it seems like the movie playing in your mind is more real than the work you need to do or the people you are hanging out with. I can understand how hard that would make it to be engaged with other people. And correct me if I’m wrong, but from what you described about the party where the guy’s friends were present, it sounded as though your feelings of embarrassment and concerns about them thinking you were creepy or insane, made it difficult for you to interpret his friends actions. I imagine that would feel a little unnerving, to not to be sure if you are interpreting stuff quite right. It also sounds like in some situations, the things that are happening in your head might stop you from seeing what’s happening around you until later on, when that barrier might drop, and you are able to see it from a different perspective – such as when you talk about how you might have been acting needy around this guy, but you weren’t able to see it that way until later.

    I can appreciate how comforting the movie reel of this guy is in your mind — yet you also despise your reliance on these fantasies and the role they plan in distracting you from your daily life there. I’m wondering what you do to pull yourself out of those movie scenes? Are there times when you feel more present and grounded in your life? Since you liked the exercises we gave you before, I’m going to give you another link to a site that has some good self-help techniques, in case you want to try some others out. https://www.walkalong.ca/explore/self-help-exercises

    Luciana I can hear how much thought you are putting into your mental health right now. I admire the courage with which you are looking at your thought patterns and working to understand not only where you are, but also where you want to get to in order to be healthy. I truly hope you believe that you deserve love and happiness.

    And in a way, it seems like your living abroad is opening you up, and allowing you to learn many things about yourself. I can hear how so much of that experience is new, exciting, and has that spirit of creation and “anything can happen”. As you said though, you weren’t expecting all of the emotional challenges that you’re feeling, and I can imagine how vulnerable it feels to have them exerting such power over you when you’re also feeling isolated.

    When you say you won’t be able to find what you need, I’m wondering if describing what you need here would be helpful for you as part of your process? It sounds like there are a some very strong feelings attached to having a father figure in your life, and that there’s a deep yearning to have what other people have in terms of family support and connection?

    With warmth,

    Youthspace

  • #19275

    luciana
    Member

    Hi,

    thanks again for your reply. I think you’re right about what you said in the first paragraph. When it comes to people and what they think of me, I always tend to think the worst. I have a lot of fear when I see that guy or his friends, and you are also right about the embarrassment. I read through the link you gave me and the exercises there are also very useful. I read through the part about facing fears, and it made me realize how afraid I am of being rejected by him, and the fact that he rejected me as a romantic partner is what makes me so embarrassed to see his friends, because I feel like they all know I was rejected and they’re all laughing at me (although they might not be at all). I also just realized that I obsess over this fear and the fear makes me avoid places where he or his friends could be – that’s why when I accidently run into them, I get so scared and anxious. I guess if you keep avoiding your fears they get worse…and this fear is something obsessive for me; I think about him constantly like I’ve said. Maybe the movie-like thoughts in my head occur because of that obsessive fear. They’re a way to control my surroundings; I can pretend that what’s in my head is real and that makes me feel in control of the situation and it’s comforting.

    I really miss that guy and want to just talk to him… I don’t know if that’ll be good for me, but it was really awkward the way I ended things with him. I was really hostile when he was trying to be nice and let me down gently, and I deleted him from Facebook and was cold to him and of course he stopped trying to talk to me because of the way I acted. I feel really ashamed about that because doing that only hurt me, and he’s probably glad he doesn’t have to deal with me anymore after seeing that side of me. Anyway I’ve been obsessing over this the whole day now and I finally wrote him a short message on facebook, because I thought that’d be a way to face my fear and hopefully that’ll help me move on. I’m terrified now that I’ve made the wrong decision, and now I’m obsessively checking my FB to see if he’s replied and getting anxious that he hasn’t. I don’t know how I’ll deal with it if he just ignores my message…maybe it wasn’t a smart thing to do to try to get rid of my fear of rejection by putting myself in a situation where I could get rejected…I was just hoping that if I actually do something and get rejected I’ll regret it less than doing nothing at all and continuing to obsess over it forever.

    To answer your questions about what I do to pull myself out of the movie scenes…I guess it’s easier when I feel like I’m in control of the situation or when other people are paying attention to me and I don’t feel like I’m being judged. The movie scenes will start playing in my head whenever I’m confronted by a situation that makes me feel anxious or awkward, or if the situation is generally unpleasant. The problem is that I get used to that and eventually I lose the control to stop what’s going on in my head. I feel more “present and grounded” when I’m doing things that require intense concentration – like cleaning, writing, drawing, or something like that. When it gets really terrible sometimes I go to a church and meditate and that works really well. I was traveling the last few days and that was exciting, so it distracted me from the movies. I can’t travel much though, because of the lack of money and time, so that’s not something I can do more often to feel more grounded.

    One of the worst things about my situation now is that I didn’t realize how hard it can be to get mental help in a different country. I’ve been trying so long to find a therapist and am still getting nowhere. Someone here had mentioned to me that her boyfriend had been depressed and had been trying to get help, but he wasn’t able to find a therapist either. Then he attempted suicide and finally he got the help he needed – so basically you need to actually hurt yourself before you can be heard here, and that is very discouraging. I’d put myself on a waitlist with a therapist in October, and when the appointment finally came I was so relieved but she kicked me out within five minutes saying that she wasn’t trained for dealing with abuse victims and that I’d have to find someone else. So when I thought I was finally going to get some help, I just got let down and that was very disappointing. But it’s been really helpful posting here, it’s great to be able to tell someone everything without having them judge me. So I will probably keep posting here until I’m back in Canada, where I’m hoping it’ll be easier to find a therapist.

    As to your last question, I think having a father figure is just a basic need for anybody. I’ve never had any reliable, trust-worthy males in my life and when I see that just about everyone has a father and a boyfriend that makes me feel inadequate because I’ve never even been in a relationship before. When people talk about sex that makes me feel very alienated due to the abuse in my past. So I feel like I need to have those things too to be a “whole” person. When I was with that guy I felt so safe and happy and I’d never have any running thoughts in my head; my mind just always felt clear. And the thing I enjoyed most was just being in his arms and being touched by him in a non-sexual, comforting way. I miss that a lot and it’s what I think of the most when I think about him.

    I’ve checked my Facebook about 10 times while writing this message and he hasn’t answered. I hope this anxiety goes away and that I haven’t made a stupid mistake by trying to talk to him again. I’m really interested in hearing what you might have to say about all this and am eagerly waiting your response.

    Thanks for listening,
    Luciana

  • #19276
    Youthspace
    Youthspace
    Moderator

    Hey Luciana,

    I imagine it would be beyond frustrating to be so ready for change and healing and not be able to get the therapeutic support you need. From all you’ve posted here though, it seems you’ve already begun your own journey, despite the fact that it’s an uphill battle for you to even get to see someone.(We do connect youth to email counselling through our website. Here’s a link for you http://youthspace.ca/counsellor if that is something you might be interested in.)

    I can hear how much hope you had for this relationship and how just physically being held by him let you sink into those feelings of security and warmth and intimacy that come from being close to another person. I am guessing you let yourself open up more than you ever have before in order to be with him and when he broke it off, it really hurt and so you closed down (deleted him from Facebook, was cold to him) to try to protect yourself. Though in the end, it seems you feel as if it didn’t protect you in quite the ways you wanted. Kind of like in the heat of the moment, you over-protected, like a porcupine getting its quills up, and now looking back, you wish you had found a way to cope with the hurt a bit differently.

    I get the sense that one part of you feels ready to take the emotional risk of being vulnerable by emailing him and possibly being rejected and the other part of you feels as though the anxiety this risk generates is unbearable. I get how much you want to be seen and accepted, how much you want to have a loving and honest relationship with someone and I can imagine how terrifying it feels to put yourself out there in this way.

    The movie playing in your head sounds as though it has positive sides (it’s soothing when you’re dealing with a situation that causes you anxiety, particularly a social situation where you worry that people are judging you) as well as negative sides (it makes it harder for you to engage with others and be present and you can’t always turn it off when you want to). You mentioned how writing, drawing, cleaning and meditating help you shift into being present when the movie is running and those sound like great grounding and self-care tools to me. I wondered other than playing the movie what else you try to do to cope when you’re in a social situation and you are worried people are judging you?

    Know that we will be here for you as you continue to work through these thoughts.

    Youthspace

  • #19283

    luciana
    Member

    Hi Youthspace,

    Thanks again for your support. I haven’t posted in awhile because I’ve been busy during the holidays and also my emotions have been fluctuating so much everyday I don’t even know what to make of them.

    That guy did answer my message and he was as nice and caring as always, but I see that he is trying to distance himself from me now. I certainly don’t blame him but it makes me sad and I regret my behaviour even more. When I started acting cold towards him I was desperately hoping that he would try to win me back, but of course that didn’t happen, he just moved on with his life. Before I was frustrated because we didn’t have a relationship and now I have even less than that and it’s all my fault for being so selfish with him. Looking back I don’t know why he even hung around me, and he probably realizes now how much better his life is without me.

    I ran into him once and it was weird because he is so different in reality than the way he is in my “movies”. I think I idealized him in my mind a lot to a point where I inserted many qualities that simply weren’t there in him. We talked and I realized that we really have nothing in common. The conversations I have with him in my head are so different, and I think during the time we were friends I couldn’t separate the movies in my mind from reality, and I really believed he is the way he is in my mind…I don’t know if that makes any sense to you…it was disappointing to talk to him and realize he’s not what my mind thinks he is. I feel like I’m some crazy person falling for someone who doesn’t even exist.

    Also I think I see people in extremes, like they’re either very good and care about me or they’re horrible and want to hurt me. Like when we were friends I thought he was the nicest and most perfect person in the world, and when he rejected me I was convinced that he’s actually a terrible person and had just led me on intentionally to hurt me. When I saw him last time I realized he’s a good person but he has flaws, and that his rejecting me doesn’t make him a bad person and maybe it doesn’t necessarily make me un-loveable either. That probably sounds so obvious to you… also I wish I could be like him, just able to move on with my life the way he did after I started ignoring him. I wish I were able to not let rejection affect my feelings about myself.

    My mind still plays those same movies, and I still fantasize about being together but I know that’ll hurt me because I’ll get my hopes up again. I liked the image you brought up, about a porcupine getting up its quills, I think that’s an accurate description. I try to avoid getting hurt by putting up barriers but in the end it just hurts me and the other people move on. I have a lot of difficulty keeping friends. It’s easy for me to get to know people and become friends with them, but when we start getting closer I put up those barriers and we drift apart. How can I stop doing that? What do you think I should have done when that guy rejected me? I thought at the time that if I try to erase him from my life I would move on, but it only intensified my feelings for him and I’m still struggling with them.

    To answer your question about what I do in uncomfortable social situations – I guess I try to distance myself from people when I feel like I don’t fit in. I feel alienated from people in general so it’s like my default response to try to separate myself from everyone and even when I feel like I’m getting along with others, I’ll still try to distance myself from them because I don’t want to get close to them and then get hurt. I’ve been told more than once that I’m self-absorbed and maybe even arrogant, but I guess I tell myself I’m better than everyone so that I don’t feel disappointed with myself when I don’t fit in.

    Thanks for suggesting the Email counseling. I might use it later on. I also found out that there is a center here for abused women and it’s easier to find therapists if you go through them. I should have contacted them first but honestly it took me awhile to get the courage to be able to admit my abuse to someone in person…on the Internet it’s easier because nobody knows who I am. I’m registering with them and I hope they’ll be able to find a therapist for me.

    I am looking forward to your reply. Thanks for listening,
    Luciana

  • #19285
    Youthspace
    Youthspace
    Moderator

    Hi Luciana,

    No worries about not posting sooner! We totally get that sometimes life just sweeps you away, and you don’t necessarily have time to even sit down and figure out how you feel until much later. It’s good to hear from you now. :)

    I can hear that out of the experiences that you had with this guy, you’ve been learning a great deal about how your own mind and about how your interactions with other people work. You talk about “polarizing” people in your mind — the way that they affect you leads you to either paint them as black or as white. It sounds like after you’ve stepped away, or calmed down some about a particular instance, you’re able to see that they are much more grey than that, full of their own flaws and strengths. You mentioned that this idea probably seems obvious to us, but what I think is interesting is that it probably feels really obvious to YOU sometimes (like when you were writing this last response) – and perhaps even AS you are actively seeing someone in extreme (correct me if I am wrong). I can imagine that that’s part of what feeds into the confusion about how to manage emotions…. The idea that you are aware that you do this, but can’t stop it, even as it’s happening.

    After all of this, and seeing him and recognizing that he’s not necessarily all that he appears to be in your “movies”, I can only imagine how tiring and saddening it is to still feel so strongly for him! I can hear that it’s making you wonder a great deal about how you manage intimacy in general. I wish I knew the answers to your questions, Luciana, because I can hear how concerned you are with what you’re seeing that seems to be a trend in the barriers that you put up between you and others. In answer to “how can I stop doing that?”, I would ask you WHY you think that you do it — you mentioned that you’re afraid of being hurt. What do you think it would take for you to be able to trust someone?

    I’m afraid that I don’t have an answer to your second question either — mostly because it’s one of those very personal situations where I don’t think that we could possibly have an answer for you, and where I believe you had to try your own path. Which you did. The fact that it might not have worked in terms of removing him from your thoughts doesn’t necessarily mean it failed either — just perhaps that it’s difficult to separate your emotions from your thoughts about someone who you powerfully care(d) for… I know that’s not really a great answer when you’re still feeling trapped by intrusive thoughts about him though, and I can really hear the emotional turmoil that you still feel when you talk about him. I can hear how much you just want to put it behind you — to be able to break the bonds that seem to be holding your emotions to him still. I wonder if there’s anything in particular that you have found helps to relieve your thoughts about him?

    Thanks for sharing about how you deal with challenging social situations — it sounds like your response is somewhat similar (though to a lesser degree perhaps) to the way that you described keeping distance between yourself and people that you care strongly for. Do you think that the two are related, Luciana?

    We definitely understand how much easier it can be to connect over the internet (that’s obviously some of the thinking behind youthspace.ca), and I’m glad that you find it cathartic to talk things out here. It’s good that you’ve been able to find some other places where you can get support as well — I’m happy that the centre you talk about is there as an option. :)

    -Youthspace

  • #19288

    luciana
    Member

    Hi Youthspace,

    The past two weeks have been pretty stressful and difficult. It feels really hard to be happy and I’ve been skipping class a lot because it’s too hard to get out of bed. I don’t know why but lately I’m constantly feeling tired no matter how much I sleep. I went out for the first time in awhile last night and everybody commented on how tired and sick I look, but nothing has changed at all so I don’t know why I’m feeling this way. I keep starting to randomly cry and can’t stop it or control it. I just feel empty all the time, and I’m missing that guy more than ever and I just wish he still cared about me and wanted me. I just want to go back in time and stop myself from cutting him out of my life, because now I have nobody.

    You ask what I can do to relieve my thoughts about him, and the answer is nothing…once he enters my mind he doesn’t leave. I think I want to be with him so badly that my mind clings to him and idealizes him. I can’t even try to do anything to get rid of my obsessive thoughts because I think deep down I don’t want those thoughts to fade. I think this also relates with what we talked about that I “polarize” people while subconsciously knowing that I’m perceiving them to be different from what they actually are. Deep down I just WANT people to be a certain way so I cling to my perceptions, even though they’re false. When I’m confronted with reality that’s when I break down.

    Whenever I run into him unexpectedly I can’t function for the rest of the day, all those overwhelming emotions just hit me hard. So I’m always nervous and worried about running into him at school or somewhere on the street, this causes me a lot of anxiety.

    I’m coming to Canada soon for a month and I think at least that will give me a bit of relief since I won’t have to worry about running into him. It’s easier to not think about him when I’m so far away from him.

    I don’t know if this is something you can help me with, but is there somewhere I can go in Canada for psychiatric help? Like if I have a mood disorder or a personality disorder or something like that, is there somewhere I can go to get diagnosed and get medication? Right now I feel that my emotions are so strong and overwhelming that I can’t do anything to calm them. It’s hard to do meditation exercises and stuff when you can’t get the motivation to even get out of bed.

    Thanks for listening,
    Luciana

  • #19289
    Youthspace
    Youthspace
    Moderator

    Hey Luciana,

    Good to hear from you. I imagine there are moments when it’s hard to even describe how you’re feeling because it’s just so tiring and heavy. It sounds like intense exhaustion that you’ve been feeling late: I know it’s really concerning to feel stripped of energy like that. It sounds like the lack of energy and the emotional shakiness are feeding your sadness about not having this guy in your life much anymore. I can hear how much you miss him, and I suppose it’s heartbreaking to want so badly for someone to be there as company and comfort. :(

    Hmmm, I can understand not being able to relieve your intrusive thoughts about him. It sounds like there’s a part of you that wants those thoughts, even as another part rebels against them and tries to block them out. I can hear that it’s soothing on some level to be able to hold onto those idealizing thoughts…perhaps like it’s a comfort to have that company, even if you fully know that it’s largely elaborated by your mind… Certainly it sounds crippling when those imaginings are confronted by reality! And I can only imagine how much stress it puts on your shoulders to be constantly worried that he’ll be around every corner. That must have you on high alert all of the time — I wonder if that’s part of why you’re exhausted?

    Well, we’re not experts, but I can point you in the direction of some more info about how to get help in Canada. To get psychiatric help, normally you have to get a referral through a doctor (like a normal GP). Here’s a site that describes some of the different help that you can seek, and gives basic info on how that works: http://www.cmha.ca/mental_health/getting-help/#.VLs6NCwYFqw

    If you end up feeling like you want to see a psychologist, which might be another option for you, you can find one through this site, based on what province/territory you’re coming back to: http://www.cpa.ca/public/whatisapsychologist/PTassociations/

    Does that help answer your question? Depending on your province and age, there might be other resources that can help you get in touch with helping professionals.

    Sending you strength and energy,
    -Youthspace

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