RTE's Operation Transformation psychologist Dr Eddie Murphy has some advice for a woman feeling 'confined' by her lifestyle.
Dr Eddie; I am a 27 year old women and I think my life is a complete mess. On the outside I have everything, relationship, job, no debt, money but on the inside I am cracking up, stressed, depressed and somewhat anxious. I am confused as to know why I am feeling like this?
I live in a small rural town. I live at home with my parents and siblings while spending a lot of time with my boyfriend. This is my only happy place. We get on great and we look forward to going on city breaks. I work in my family business which means I do a lot of evening and weekend work.
I have to answer to everyone for the things I do. I feel like screaming. No aspect of my life is my own. I feel confined to it at some level.
Inside my head I am negative, even if I am in a good mood I ask what I have to look forward to and then dismiss it. I have very little motivation to do anything.
I was at the GP and he prescribed antidepressant medication.
I get angry and frustrated easily. I suppose I fell into everything I didn’t excel in school, didn’t like it really and didn’t go to college. I did a Special Needs Assistance course but have not worked in that area.
Everyday I am in a battle with my own mind.
Everyday I am in a battle with my own mind.
Dr Eddie Replies;
It’s always a challenge to hit the right spot when giving information in these contexts. As you were clinical assessed by your GP I would encourage you to follow his advice.
However I never believe that is all we can do when we are experience negative moods.
For some people their life can be extremely stressful and an accumulation of life events; unemployment, bereavement, relationship strife can lead to sustained low mood.
On the other hand I believe a lack of engagement and stimulation can lead to negative emotional states.
I was struck by your using the word 'confined' and when you say that no aspect of your life is your own.
From what you have described, you left school, live at home and work in the family business.
In a way all of this fell into place for you yet you feel confined. Life appears very humdrum.
I wonder where is the stimulation in your life? Where is that sense of personal agency?
This is something I think is work you considering. Personal Agency is about starting, finishing and controlling actions in your world. You have fallen into a world where you are fed, housed and waged from home and from here you desire to scream out.
I wonder what your plans and desires are. Do you wish and strive for independence from the settled life you have which confines you?
Another important task I believe is to become aware of your internal dialogue, your thoughts.
The search to find the root of your unhappiness is not in the past but it’s the ongoing automatic negative thoughts (ANTs). The consistency of this negative internal chatter keeps negative moods going.
Squash those ANTs
(Automatic Negative Thoughts)
First is awareness, become aware of what’s happening then capture these ANTs. Secondly, squash them by challenging them with 6 key questions;
If my best friend had this thought, what advice would I give them?
Where is my focus, is it on the past or on the future or in the present?
What would my ‘Wise Mind’ do?
Is there another way I or someone else can/would think about this situation?
What resources and strengths in myself can I use in this situation?
In a years’ time will I think about this situation differently?
This can bring about a shift in your thinking and move you towards the right direction.
I encourage you to get active on this negative mood. Understand what drives it.
Gather good supports around you like your friends and I would suggest professional help.
Don’t wait for things to change on their own. This is the time to express your personal agency in these matters of the head and heart. Your task then is to find out and answer the question ‘what is important for me to get up for in the morning?
What I mean by this; is for you to start finding the meaning and passions in your life. Unlocking these will give you fulfilment.
I believe that this holds a significant key for you. If you unlock this door and you find fulfilment this will positively impact on your mood and more importantly YOUR life.