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Please note that replies are provided for informational and educational purposes only and are intended to support and complement — not replace — any existing relationship between a reader and their mental healthcare professional. This is NOT an emergency service or a therapy service, and it is not suitable for addressing suicidal or homicidal intent. If you are feeling suicidal, please call 911.

Internet Love

Question: I found this guy on-line and we started talking. At first I wouldn’t trust him but then i started to like him more and more. He would come on-line just to chat with me. He asked me out a few times. He also asked for my phone number which i wouldn’t give to him. He said he wanted to take me out for dinner but I refused to go. He’s 15 years older than me. I’m 20 and he’s 35. We had already talked about this. One day he told me he was going out of town.He said he’d be back in 2 days. I kept waiting for him. He was gone. Finally after 2 weeks i sent him an e-mail saying that i knew he was married and that he was a player and blah blah. he didn’t respond. So last Sunday I sent him an e-mail because i was desperate i asked him if i had done something wrong and he said no he didn’t have time for chatting online and there were other priorities he needed to focus on. he also wished me the best.But i still have feelings for him i dream about him every night and i cannot stop thinking about him. what am i to do?

Answer: I hear your sadness and confusion after your online chatting with an unknown man. The internet is a great resource for us but it also poses many problems and challenges. One of the primary challenges is trying to relate or get to know someone solely through this means of communication.

First you need to trust yourself. Your initial reaction to talking to this individual was that you did not trust him. It is always important to listen to your instincts. I agree with your approach of not providing a strange man over the internet phone numbers, addresses, personal information, etc. You had several very legitimate reasons to be very hesitant about pursuing this relationship and your choice was initially not to.

You raised the issue of the 15 year age difference between you. This is a large age difference between any two people. In your situation it’s an age difference between someone in the youth stage of their life versus someone approaching midlife which makes this 15 year difference even larger. The difference between a 40 year old and a 55 year old is much less because both have lived many years in adult life, they have solidified their identities, their values, their wishes and dreams, etc.

Clearly you were flattered by his attention and hoped to maintain this online relationship. It is important to realize that you did not respond to any of his overtures and he chose to move on. The trigger for your emotional reaction was the withdrawal of his attention towards you. The intensity of your feelings are related to loss and feelings of rejection. Have you had other negative experiences in your life like this?

The reality is that this is an individual who you found randomly online, whom you did not know, had never seen, and had some very preliminary conversations with. Your feelings fall more in the category of initial curiosity and infatuation rather than feelings based on companionship, friendship, or someone you love. I think it is important at this time in your life to clarify who you are and what type of people you want to include in your life. Over my many years in practice whenever I see an individual trying to “make a relationship work” or working at it harder than the other person, I always counsel clients that this is of significance and that a healthy intimate relationship should not require work and grow and develop naturally. If you’re looking for further guidance I think this is a good jumping off point for counseling which would lead to the resolution of your grief, clarification of your values, and improve the quality of your future relationships.

Response by Dr. Patrick Kennelly

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This post was submitted by roze.

Tumbling Fear

Question: Okay I’m not sure if I am posting this in the right place but here I go anyway. I started power tumbling when I was three. I improved quickly but still at a normal pace. I never really had much fear there was a small amount when it came to new skills but nothing extraordinary. Then after I got pretty good randomly I started to lose skills for no apparent reason. For a while it was just one skill then it progressed and it only took one minor fall to lose all the backward skills I had. I’m struggling hard but it just seems like the more I fight the more I lose. When it comes to the fear it feels less like fear, but more like I lose the ability to picture what I am supposed to being doing and I balk. Is there any strategies or tips to help?

Answer: You are describing a common performance anxiety problem that can happen to athletes in any sport, like the second baseman who suddenly can’t make the throw to first base or the golfer who develops the “Yips”.

Our nervous systems don’t particularly like to experience anxiety (we don’t like how it feels) and we begin to block it out of our consciousness or our experience, but at a cost. The cost of it is tightness and paralysis in our performances.

You need to get a good workbook on mental training for athletes and/or get a good sports psychologist or mental coach. They can help you over this type of “Yip”.

Response by Dr. Wayne Glad

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This post was submitted by Nikki.

Wednesday, February 17th, 2010 at 11:28

exploration

Question: Hi I don’t know if this is the right place for this but here i go. I’m a 20 year old female dealing with some serious guilt. When I was around 9 years old up to 11 my mom’s friend would bring over his daughter and hang out she was around 4 about to turn 5. We played the usual stuff mommy and daddy but somehow we started dry humping full clothed. It felt good and it happened more than once.It became a normal part of play even influenced my interactions with other kids at the time. Of course back then I didn’t see it as dry humping but i think i knew it was wrong. The thing is i was a lot older and should have stopped it right away and i feel as if I took advantage of her/manipulated her though I never actually forced her. I bumped into her the other day and she was with a bunch of her friends and was really hostile i think she cursed at me or something but I’m not sure it was her who said it. This is causing me a lot of stress i cant focus on school its the last thing I think about before i go to bed….it’s like I’m waiting for it to come out :(I talked to a counselor at school and she downplayed it said I was young and it was sex play but i still feel horrible. How do I move on from this and should something I did in my childhood haunt me for the rest of my life? Thanks for any response in advance.

Answer: Hi. Thank you for sharing about your situation. Guilt can be a difficult emotion to manage and often the path for its resolution can remain elusive. It sounds as though you are a good person who made a bad choice at a young age when you really did not fully understand the multiple implications of your behaviors. No one should be haunted by excessive guilt or feel as though they are a terrible person, and that holds true for you as well. It is important to process and work through your distressing thoughts and feelings, so you can put this behind you. Anyone on our staff would be happy to meet with you.

Response by James R. Matter, Psy.D., LCPC

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This post was submitted by safina.

Tuesday, January 26th, 2010 at 12:46

13 year old daughter scared to fall asleep because she fears death.

Question: For the past 3 years my daughter has had a hard time getting to sleep. She is 13 and a bright girl. We have tried many approaches playing quiet music, small water fountain, reading books, no TV or computer after dinner and adding extra exercise to her lifestyle. Recently, as I was putting her to bed she mention she was scared to fall asleep because she was going to die or I was going to die. In her mind something bad was going to happen. This is all leading to her getting sick and being tired in school. Do you have any suggestions or should I schedule an appointment? And if so, who are your staff would be best to help my 13 year old daughter. I need to help her so she can relax and go to sleep.

Answer: Hello, thank you for sharing about your daughter. It sounds like you have worked very hard with your daughter to discover a solution to her sleep difficulties. Read more…

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Anxiety Issues

Question: I face a problem which friends and family regard it as insignificant and says that its a limitation in mind. I don’t believe so. I am not strong. Whenever i pick something heavy, my hands shiver. People who I know ask why do I shiver so much. When they ask me to hold out my hand, its never still…they see it shivering which I admit it is. And the other problem is with regard to me being at the wheels. whenever I am in my vehicle, I experience emotionally strange sort of behavior. I start shivering and my legs start shaking violently. The fear of accidents and failure becomes enslaving and totally controls me. I become totally depressed and ashamed that I cant drive 4 wheelers.

Please advise on my road of action that I should follow….

Answer: Hello, thank you for posting your question. First off, I recommend that you get a medical check-up with your physician. The physical symptoms you described (feeling weak, problems with balance, coordination, and motor movement) could be due to a medical condition which only a physician would be able to detect. The emotions you described are probably reactions to your physical complaints, meaning they are an expression of anxiety and concern about what the physical symptoms might mean. Again, the first step is to receive a medical evaluation from your primary care physician.

Response by James R. Matter, Psy.D., LCPC

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Sex addiction

Question: My boyfriend is 49 yrs old and has sex with at least 300 women. We have sex 30-40 times a month for one hour or more each time we make love. I found out he was having sex with other women. Is he a sex addict?

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Child anxiety towards natural disaster

Question: I am Ian Haris from Singapore. I have 2 daughters (age 6+ and 1+). My elder daughter has been feeling very afraid of natural disasters. We (my wife and myself) noticed this about 2-3 days ago when she started praying to GOD to protect us from all these disasters (she seldom do that….always hooked on PC games!). She is even afraid of the slightest gush of wind outside the house. She said that a hurricane is coming. When we brought her down to buy some groceries, there was mild wind…very comfortable that we all would love when they swipe our faces. But my daughter went totally out of control. She was crying, and shouting non-stop. At one point which set the alarm for us was when she said that she wants to die….she does not want all these sufferings.

When finally she calmed down, we spoke to her and found out that she has been watching news of recent earthquake in Indonesia. She was affected by the dead bodies, rumbled houses and injured children.

Now she is very quiet. Please advise what we should do. Thank you very much.

Answer: I am sorry to hear about your daughters distress. As you are aware your daughter has been traumatized by exposure to the images and sounds of the unfortunate earthquake in Indonesia. At her age she has not developed any of the cognitive and emotional tools to counteract such a disaster. Even adults are overwhelmed by the impact of such a tragedy.

Initially after a trauma a person goes into shock, an initial defense against the impact of the trauma. Shock is followed by fear, anxiety and depression. Your daughters crying and shouting were the signs of panic setting in and her inability to calm herself. Her wish to die is her is her cry for help and the only means she can think of to end the distress.

Your daughters sense of security and well being needs to be restored. You as parents can provide this by how you respond to her. When interacting with her you need to be calm, soft and self assured. She needs to be held and physically soothed through gentle touch. She needs verbal reassurance as well as an explanation of what occurred emphasizing that this event is unlikely to occur again. She needs to be able to see that your are handling the crisis well and you are able to provide her reassurance and protection. Her quiet demeanor may be a sign of the after effects of this experience and a sign that she has not returned to feeling her normal self. A return to her normal routine with empathetic behavior toward her by relatives and teachers would be of great benefit. If she doesn’t return to her normal self, then I would recommend a consultation with a mental health provider who could assess and guide your daughters recovery.

Response by Dr Patrick Kennelly

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Monday, October 5th, 2009 at 12:01

Every time my dad sees me naked, I get aroused. Is it gay?

Question: My dad and I have never minded seeing each other naked. Its not a problem for us, until now. We usually don’t lock the bathroom doors when we shower (because we only have one bathroom), so its common for my dad or for me to enter the room to use the toilet or just to brush our teeth while someone is taking a shower. But since a few years back, every time my dad sees me naked I get aroused. We don’t have a shower curtain (its one of those glass doors), so he always sees when I get an erection.

Why do I get erections when my dad sees me naked? Is it gay? What could my dad be thinking about that?

Answer: Unfortunately you have not provided enough information with this complex issue that allows me to respond through this format. I would initially recommend that you and your father change your routine to avoid the occurrence of this event for both of you. I would recommend that you seek the consult of a psychologist who would be able to go through your development and history to provide you a proper assessment and make appropriate recommendations. If you would like to speak to me further about his issue, please update your question or feel free to contact our office.

Response by Dr Patrick Kennelly

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Monday, October 5th, 2009 at 11:56

What’s wrong with me?

Question: I’m an 18-year-old female from Utah and for the past three and a half to four months I have not been myself, I’ve been extremely depressed and paranoid and feeling very alone. Three major events happened four months ago: I graduated from high school, I found out my dad was looking at pornography while my mother was sleeping, and my best friends’ girlfriend broke up with him so he had become very distant and cold towards me. Since the end of high school many of my friends left to go to college so I don’t see them, and those that are still here never talk to me any more or they make plans and forget to invite me and because my best friend isn’t as close to me as he used to be I feel like I have no one to talk to or confide in or even just someone to hang out with. I feel very alone and most days I sit at home by myself just watching tv or playing video games. When I do go out and socialize I feel the constant need and pressure to be liked and for everyone to approve of me. I’m a very introverted person so most of the time I stay very quiet so I don’t say something stupid. I often wonder what it would be like to die and who would care or even notice that I was gone. I don’t want to kill myself, I’m not suicidal; there are many things I want to do before I die, but I just wonder if anyone would miss me, or if I was raped or assaulted or something, would someone be there to help me or console me. My best friend used to be the person I would confide in, but because he’s been so cold towards me I feel like I am alone. I find myself thinking about him a lot and worrying and wondering if he is ok or thinking about how frustrated he makes me and why we aren’t as close. It’s like I’m clinging to him so much because I feel like he is the only real friend I have left and it’s very hard for me to find someone that I’m comfortable opening up to. Whenever I am with him I have this constant fear that he can tell what I’m thinking and that I am annoying him or he wishes he was somewhere else. It frustrates me that he won’t confide in me and tell me about his problems or ask if I’m ok like he used to and I don’t know why. I know that four months isn’t a very long time when it comes to determining if these are actual symptoms of a mental illness or something of that nature but it’s a long time to me especially when it comes to people around you realizing that you’re acting very strange and maybe even crazy. I want to get therapy but money is very tight for my family right now and we don’t have health insurance so this was the only thing I could think of, and it’s much easier than opening up in person to a complete stranger. I just want to know if there’s something wrong with me and what I can do to start feeling like myself again.

Answer: I’m sorry to hear about the changes and let downs in your life recently. The combination of your friends leaving for college, the disappointing news about your Dad, and the loss of your best friend’s attention has brought on a loss/grieving process and a depressed mood. The loss of so many important people in your support system at once has left you feeling alone and isolated. Normally you would be able to talk to them and their support would relieve your distress. Without them you have found that you haven’t developed other ways to comfort and reassure yourself. It sounds like your best friend is in need of support at this time. I would suggest that you try to be supportive of him, give him your attention at this time and that may help both of you reopen your communication.

You mentioned that you wondered what it would like to die and are trying to get other people’s attention, but their lack of knowledge of your needs and your shyness have not allowed you to find other support. Your instinct to seek therapy at this time is a good one. With so many conflicts about the closest people in your life a therapist would be able to sort things out for you, develop a plan to address the issues with your Dad,your friends and best friend. You certainly are not crazy but experiencing the kind of mood changes and lack of confidence most people would experience in your situation. The time to seek counseling is now before your symptoms worsen and so you can get the support and guidance you need at this time.

Call your local county mental health department or the National Association of Mental Illness for a referral since you do not have health insurance THEY WILL BE ABLE TO LOCATE A COUNSELOR FOR YOU.

Response by Dr. Patrick Kennelly

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Sunday, August 30th, 2009 at 22:14

Borderline Personality Disorder

Question: Hi, I had a girlfriend who suffers from self sabotage and depression (maybe borderline personality disorder). She has been raped, and when she was younger, had an abortion. She just had thyroid cancer surgery in January as well. She has been doing great since the surgery and we’ve known each other for two years, but have been dating for only a couple of months. When she wanted to go to my family reunion and I told her I thought it was a little early to meet my family, she started crying and she hasn’t called me in several weeks. I assume that I will never hear from her again, but can you tell me about what she may be going through? Thanks for any help you can give me.

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Tuesday, August 11th, 2009 at 18:37