Perhaps you’ve been thinking for a long time that there are changes you’d like to make in your life, and, you didn’t know where to begin. Now is the time, and Dr. Sue can help. Call or email Sue today to get your first appointment and get started making the changes you want in life.
Codependency is a feeling of unrest and disquiet of the spirit which can range from an underlying sense of not wanting to go on to just feeling out of place in your world. This article will speak to the very basics of the condition with the hope that it will ring a bell for the reader and urge you to get help which is so readily available today. I hope that you end up with a definition of this condition and how best to treat it. Treatment centers have month long programs to deal with it. I believe it can be dealt with by a combination of coaching and counseling with a high rate of success as long as you are dedicated to treating this seriously and consistently.
Codependency is a condition brought on by growing up in a dysfunctional family and promoted by our culture. When your parents are unable to be fully present to you because they are unable to be fully present to themselves and each other, you can be deeply affected. You grow up without being shown how to love with openness and spontaneity, as well as discipline. You gradually turn off your ability to be fully alive. You learn distorted ways to protect your self from abuse (i.e., core beliefs and coping patterns) that interfere with intimacy.
This process can take place subtly, much like water eroding a rock little by little. Eventually you adapt by burying your heart and personality, and denying that you need your parents’ love in the way you really do.
Here are some doubts and concerns of clients which reflect the harm that codependency can cause in one’s life:
-Did my parents really love me? Really care for me? If they really loved me, why didn’t they treat me with more dignity and caring? Why were they so distant, so self-absorbed and sometimes even abusive and violent?
-I got burned growing up. My family hurt me so much, why should I give anyone else a chance to hurt me again?
-I feel drained and my helping others is never enough. I can’t fix the problem and people just get mad at me for interfering.
-Is being intimate something I can learn or am I doomed to feel alone even when I am with others?
-Is it possible to have a good relationship? Sometimes I feel I give my heart but they want my soul. Recognize energy drainers.
These statements may sound familiar to you. You may have heard them said, or said them yourself. They reflect what I call the “Dilemma of Love”.
The AMA has recognized codependency as a disease, meaning it has an onset, a progression, and a finality. When you try to take care of unhealthy parents and protect your family system, you have no time to be a child or are never taught, in age appropriate ways, how to be an adult. You are not allowed to have feelings and needs because they are too threatening. Your emotional growth becomes stunted. This is all very subtle. You learn to play your role, follow the rules and do what is expected of you. You feel you have to act this way to help your parents and family. Usually on an unconscious level you believe that if you truly love your family, your will keep trying to save it. As you continue to abandon yourself, your fall prey to the disease of codependency. Breaking this cycle and facing the issues might require help.
In her book, “Choicemaking”, Sharon Wegscheider-Cruse calls codependency. . .
“. . .a specific condition characterized by preoccupation and extreme dependence (emotionally, socially and sometimes physically) on a person or object. Eventually this dependence on another person becomes a pathological condition that affects the codependent in all other relationships.” Anne Wilson Schaef has identified this same pathological condition in our society as a whole. She looks at how a society can operate as a dysfunctional system just as a family can.
Codependency now refers to people who are afflicted by their own addictive process. They may come from families in which there were no noticeable addictions. Everything may have looked fine on the surface, but the parents were emotionally unavailable to the children and to each other. Because addiction is built into our society most people, regardless of their family background, need to recover from some form of addictiveness.
The prefix “co” in the term codependency means “in relation to” an addictive process. It reflects the reality, recognized by clinicians, that a family of addictive disorders exists that includes alcoholism, drug / chemical addiction, gambling, sex addiction, and compulsive spending as well as compulsive deprivations such as anorexia nervosa, sexual anorexia, compulsive saving and hoarding, and some phobic responses. Causes are plentiful. The most important new insight of all is that the compulsive deprivation of one substance or behavior is frequently used to balance off the excess of another—in the same person.
You can become addicted to substances, people, ideas, activities, behaviors or anything that takes away the pain of reality and gives you a sense of personal identity. The addictive process is the same regardless of the addiction. Therefore, to free your heart and become fully alive it is necessary to heal on two levels: to arrest your addictions, as well as to heal your underlying disease of codependency.
As with any other disease, if you do not seek help or therapy your codependency will progress. As you fall prey to addictive traits and continually live from a false self, you will eventually break down under the strain. Untreated codependency invariably leads to stress-related complications, physical illness, depression. Anxiety, and eventually death. Fortunately, although it is a chronic and fatal disease, it is also treatable.
It is especially challenging to treat because it can be subtle and insidious. You may have a successful career and look all together on the outside, but feel tense and uneasy on the inside. This can make it difficult for you to seek support. You may not be able to make sense of the way you feel and you may not see a cause for your pain. Codependents often say, “Everything’s fine in my life. I’m married, I’ve got a family and great kids. I should be happy, but I feel so empty.”
It is important for you to understand that you are not at fault for having this illness. It was passed on to you through the generations whether you wanted it or not.
It is possible to suffer from this even if your parents were not emotionally unavailable. This is called “late onset codependency”. If you come from a relatively healthy family but you stay with an untreated partner, possibly with some personality disorder or syndrome, you can get caught in the abuse cycle of a dysfunctional relationship. This means your partner lives by dysfunctional rules and you can develop interdependent or codependent symptoms as an adult. You can still be affected by the addictive messages in our media and in society at large. This leaves you vulnerable to developing some degree of co-dependence. It is not a black or white situation, and it helps to know the signs. It is on a continuum.
As with any issues, your responsibility begins once you are aware you may have this illness and begin to research what can be done to treat your problems. At this point you can begin to recover your personal power and choose the kind of life you want. There is so much hope today and as I have said working with a really knowledgeable licensed coach/counselor can bring you the freedom to be who you want to be and help your marriage. I hope this article has given you an idea of the scope of what you are up against and the hope of overcoming the issues and recovering fully and to maintain that recovery for the rest of your life.
There is no more suitable place for advice, beside calling me, than visiting my online blog for more information about co-dependency issues. Group sessions can be done by phone from anywhere in the country. Christian and Spiritual beliefs are considered in all therapy and when choosing groups. Learn to overcome codependence without narcissism.
Choosing the right counsellor or psychologist to help you or your loved one navigate the path through life’s difficulties can be a difficult decision. Dr Anita Prag, southern suburbs psychologist in Bergvliet, Cape Town, South Africa, has established herself as an excellent psychologist and counsellor. Not everyone is actually cut out to be a psychologist, however there’s nothing stopping a person from studying and qualifying as one, provided they get the grades and receive the necessary qualification. Unfortunately there are some psychologists out there that have brilliant credentials and may have passed their graduation examinations with flying colours, however they lack certain qualities that make a really good psychologist.
A psychologist needs to be more than intelligent enough to complete the many years of university studies. A good psychologist needs to have feel for their clients’ needs and difficulties. I know this may sound a little esoteric, but it true. Certain people are by nature more intuitive and empathetic than others. It’s happened to all of us at some time or other. Something is troubling us deeply that we are keeping to ourselves. We manage to get by without most people picking up on it, even our spouses or close friends. And then you run into an acquaintance that doesn’t necessarily know you all that well, and the first thing they ask is “What’s wrong, you seem troubled?”. This is the kind of intuition I am talking about. It is not something that can be taught or learned from a book, but rather a God given talent.It would be wonderful if there was some way that we could ensure that these kind of people found their way into the counselling and psychology professions, but unfortunately many of them never do. I suppose the career choices we make are not always the right ones and there are many factors that influence which path we take. often pressures from parents or family force us into career choices that aren’t suited to us. Maybe there is the expectation to take over the family business, or perhaps there just isn’t any financial means available to study.
To understand why Anita has established herself as the leading southern suburbs psychologist, click here to visit her website and get a better understanding of her values, methodology and commitment to her patients. Working from her practice on Main Road Bergvliet, Anita consults with patients that are dealing with a variety of life difficulties. Dr Prag is particularly skilled in dealing with these areas:
- Bereavement Counselling – coping with the loss of a loved one
- Couples Therapy – guiding couples through difficult times and helping them mend their relationships
- Child Psychology – focusing on children that are struggling with emotional problems through play therapy
- Scholastic Assessments – dealing with concentration and attention difficulties
I mentioned earlier that some people are just natural born carers, counsellors or are meant to become psychologists to allow them to share their gift and ability to help people. Anita Prag is one of these psychologists. If you are lucky enough to live in the Cape Town southern suburbs and need a psychologist, do yourself a favor and make an appointment with Dr Anita Prag.
Depression affects people in different ways and for different reasons. Its causes are many and each person needs to be spoken with as a unique individual. It is not an event but a continual experience of negative thoughts and unhappy feelings.
You may not know what it is that is causing these gloomy days and that is why I am writing these indications of depression so in case you are experiencing any of them you might identify what is going on for you and get some relief.
To be on the safe side, be sure to see a professional health practitioner, to make sure what you are experiencing isn’t a different serious medical condition or illness.
Here are SOME of the indications of depression:
1. Feeling of sadness that is not easily identified to specific events. Almost anything of a sad nature brings you to tears and you may find yourself sobbing, knowing it has to be more than what is happening at the moment. Or you may have frozen tears, wanting to cry but can’t; you walk around in a state of perpetual sadness and gloom.
2. Feeling alone and lonely. Thinking that no one understands you or your problems.
3. Keeping everything you feel inside, not sharing your troubles with anyone else. Finding it difficult to pick up the phone and say what is bothering you. You may even con yourself into thinking this is heroic, not wanting to bother anyone with your problems.
4. Wanting to go back to sleep as soon as you wake up. Being drawn to sleep or lie in bed often and/or for long periods of time. Wanting to pull the covers over your head.
5. Feeling tired and run down with no pep or enthusiasm for anything. Losing interest in things and people around you. Having trouble FEELING anything except a vague emotional pain in the center of your being.
6. Feeling hopeless, not believing anything will get any better. Unable to enjoy the day or often even incidents that would normally make you feel pleased or happy.
7. Feeling angry, irritated, frustrated in a general way. Being critical and judgmental of people and things on a continual basis.
8. Not feeling a spiritual connection to any Higher Power or any source greater than yourself that could be of solace to you. Sensing there isn’t any force for good in the universe and everything is just a random catastrophe.
9. Critical, negative thinking, often bordering on a paranoid stance: thinking everyone is out to get you or you are being punished for something
10. Trouble concentrating and focusing. Having difficulty making goals and certainly having trouble attaining them. Not being able to follow through on tasks, becoming easily distracted and confused.
Depression is anything from a mild dissatisfaction in life to suicidal thoughts and feelings. It is treatable and can be cured if care is maintained. It is important to get help if you think you fit into at least 3 of these indications. Trust yourself to be honest in answering these inside yourself and reach out if even one of them is truly bothering you.
There are many treatment options available for dealing with depression. One of the most common is prescription antidepressant medications. This can help a large percent of the population but there are side effects and it needs to be accompanied with cognitive counseling.
There are a smaller percentage of people who are unable to take antidepressants, either because of severe side effects or they simply don’t work for them. In that case, coaching and counseling would be most beneficial with someone who has been successful in treating depression.
This article was suggested to me by someone who has experienced depression, and thought it would prove helpful to anyone questioning a vague sense of being lost and forlorn or seriously giving up on life.
If you have lost your joy of life and reason to be, if you feel you are in a downward spiral going nowhere, if you are often feeling immobilized and are having trouble getting things done, do NOT give up hope.
There is light at the end of the tunnel when you face your depression and reach out for help