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Psychotherapy and Mental Health Questions

Right in the middle of a nervous breakdown; What's wrong with me?

I am so glad I found your site. After several months of attempting to effectively deal with my issues, out of sheer desperation, and as a stab-in-the-dark, I goggled "what's wrong with me" and came across another question and answer exchange on your site. I found it extremely useful and educational but it left me with some old and new concerns so I thought maybe this was my opportunity to get some answers (or at least ideas). Now I just have to try not to get my hopes up in waiting for a response! Of course I would certainly appreciate one soon, as much as any other individual that posts on your site I'm sure.

I am a 28-year-old married, working female. I have always been an emotional, anxious, awkward individual, but I owned that and I never let it really affect my life in any big negative way (I didn't think). Recently, however, I've had more and more difficulty overcoming these challenges so that I am now to a point where I cry daily (sometimes multiple times daily) and have daily thoughts of anxiousness, sadness, frustration, uselessness, self-loathing, guilt (sometimes lasting all day).

I now feel like I'm not heading toward a "meltdown" or "breakdown", but that I'm right in the middle of one. I've been here for months and I'm stuck. Just when I think I'm feeling better, once again I lose all feeling of control and rationality because of some often incidental event, making everything else seem to pile up. You should understand that I have always been an extremely organized, rational, well-meaning, even positive individual. And I believe I am an intelligent individual. So first of, it does not make sense to me that I can even be feeling this way. I have had no abnormal tragedy in my life, thank God. How should I be allowed to feel the selfishness of fear and vulnerability when I don't really know what those terms mean compared to some people's experiences?

So I guess I'm looking for any answers, explanations, thoughts or ideas as to how I got here... and how I get out. I do feel I have attempted various methods of managing my stress levels, with varying degrees of success. (I've tried to change my mood/outlook and be more positive and selfless. I've tried to give myself time off to "recoup". I've even decided that maybe it's not the best thing to keep it all inside and have confided in a couple of people about a couple of things - but I am a very inarticulate person, at least face-to-face, and have difficulty understanding my emotions let alone expressing them.) So in the end all my methods come down to me still feeling overwhelmed, empty, or even wronged in some way ("it's unfair") - except I have no-one to blame but myself, right??

There is constantly a battle being waged in my head. Scratch that, make it MULTIPLE battles. I am exhausted every day after work. I am exhausted every morning and have to fight to get out of the house (sometimes knowing I have to see and be around people is the toughest thought). I'm exhausted from the mental difficulty, from the crying, from the lack of sleep, from the pain in my back and neck.† I used to be SO involved and have SO much more desire and energy! Theatre, choirs, sports, school, work, committees...† While attending university it was nothing for me to have a 16 hour day, every day. Now all I can say is "I need to do less", "I want more time". Which says a lot, because part of my attempt at feeling better has been to make the very tough decision to quit some responsibilities. I really only have work and a couple of other things now.

I can feel myself getting more emotional now and can see it in reading this back so I will leave it there - hopefully this gives you a good idea of what situation I find myself in. Can you help?



  • Dr. Dombeck responds to questions about psychotherapy and mental health problems, from the perspective of his training in clinical psychology.
  • Dr. Dombeck intends his responses to provide general educational information to the readership of this website; answers should not be understood to be specific advice intended for any particular individual(s).
  • Questions submitted to this column are not guaranteed to receive responses.
  • No correspondence takes place.
  • No ongoing relationship of any sort (including but not limited to any form of professional relationship) is implied or offered by Dr. Dombeck to people submitting questions.
  • Dr. Dombeck, Mental Help Net and CenterSite, LLC make no warranties, express or implied, about the information presented in this column. Dr. Dombeck and Mental Help Net disclaim any and all merchantability or warranty of fitness for a particular purpose or liability in connection with the use or misuse of this service.
  • Always consult with your psychotherapist, physician, or psychiatrist first before changing any aspect of your treatment regimen. Do not stop your medication or change the dose of your medication without first consulting with your physician.

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