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Date of last update: 8/24/2017.

Forum Name: Psychiatric Topics

Question: I can't get close to anyone, why?

 Legislator101 - Fri Jul 30, 2010 10:35 pm

I have a bit of a unique story. When I was growing up my mother was very sick with eating disorders and mental disorders and was in and out of hospitals constantly. When I was twelve, she committed suicide with a .22 pistol in a hospital room. After that point in my life I became self-destructive and suicidal. I was on the edge of taking my own life when an event happened and I became a Christian. Since then, I have traveled all over the world, sharing my story and helping people. I also published my first book in 2009, I am a member of the U.S. martial arts hall of fame, I host a successful tv show, I co-founded a non-profit organization and I own a small for-profit company, and I am also in the process of writing 2 major pieces of legislation for 2 states. Oh, and I'm 19.

I know that I have been blessed in my success in my life, but one thing I have not been able to figure out is why every time I get close to someone, either as a friend or romantically, after about 2 months, I push them away. I will find some reason to put that friendship on hold and focus on other things. I have tried to stop, but I seem to do it without even realizing what I am doing. Why do I do this, and how can I stop?
 Faye Lang, RN, MSW - Sun Aug 01, 2010 3:22 pm

Hello, Legislator101,

Until about the age of 10 or 11, children don't recognize that the world around them doesn't center on them; in other words, when bad things happen, they fear they are to blame. It's part of a child's growth and development. As they get mature and the family system continues to evolve, self-perception/responsibility becomes more realistic. The progression of your mother's illnesses and subsequent suicide would likely have had a profound effect on your innermost sense of self and self-worth. There is a school of thought that suicide is not only an act of despair, but of anger. The undercurrents of such behavior from such a troubled mind communicate themselves to family members in confusing ways. Your age at the time of you mother's illness and suicide suggests that you could have deep feelings of guilt, responsibility for your mother's troubles, and self-blame for the disrupted family system. It could definitely impact a person's ability to trust others to not abandon them. On top of that, when such family trauma ends, there is a sense of relief that it's over, which increases feelings of guilt. People react in different ways and to varying degrees, of course, depending on the nature of the trauma, their own intellectual and emotional ability, and the amount and type of support they receive through the grieving process. All of that adds up to how a person copes after such traumatic events.

There are as many ways of coping as there are individuals. However, there are certain groups of coping styles. Some cope by not coping, falling into mental deterioration and ultimate suicide. Others manage to live with sadness throughout their lives, without ever achieving resolution of their grief. Still others live through acting out their anger and guilt in negative ways. Some become overachievers, which allows the person to demonstrate their value to the world and "all is right with my world depsite my grief". All fear to some degree that a close relationship is a risk and will end in abandonment, so they abandon the relationship first, thus keeping close control of their fears.

You have certainly achieved an incredible amount in your relatively short life, and you describe some issues in forming close emotional attachments. There are several approaches you can take to delve into exactly what your individual thoughts, fears, self-image and coping style actually are. There are many self-help books regarding dealing with suicide, but they aren't sufficient to really address a deep-seated issue, as they allow the person to intellectualize and not get in touch with true feelings. There are Survivor of Suicide support groups throughout the country, which are valuable in putting the experience into the perspective that one is not alone in their struggles. The most effective help is to have psychotherapy, in which the therapist helps the person uncover their deep-seated thoughts, learn to cope in different ways, and talk it through; it's a process. Cognitive-behavioral therapy focuses on what the person can change about themselves, which can be effective, but in a somewhat more limited way.

Obviously, I'm not able to specifically identify what will be most helpful to you in this forum. I do suggest that psychotherapy would likely have the most success, and reading self-help books and attending a support group can be wonderfully supportive as you work through your individual issues.

I wish you all the best, and congratulate you on your personal success.

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