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Thursday, November 23, 2017

Therapy Can Help You to Stop Sweeping Uncomfortable Feelings Under the Rug

Are you prone to sweeping uncomfortable feelings under the rug to avoid conflict?  If you are, then you probably know that if you sweep enough under the rug, it piles up and eventually it becomes a big mess.  In this article, I'm focusing on how psychotherapy can help you to stop avoiding uncomfortable feelings so you can have more genuine communication with your loved ones (see my articles: Are You Having Problems Communicating in Your Relationship?Relationships: Improving Your CommunicationAre You Too Afraid to Talk to Your Spouse About What's Bothering You?Overcoming a Communication Stalemate in Your Relationship,

Therapy Can Help You To Stop Sweeping Uncomfortable Feelings Under the Rug
Sweeping uncomfortable feelings under the rug to avoid uncomfortable conversations is a common problem (see my article: Changing Maladaptive Coping Strategies That No Longer Work For You: Avoidance).

Most people who have this problem say that they don't like conflict and they would rather avoid talking about their feelings.

When people come to therapy for this problem, they usually come because the problem is having an negative impact on their close relationships, but they don't know how to change it.

Let's take a look at a fictionalized vignette, which illustrates this problem and how therapy can help:

A Fictionalized Vignette About Overcoming the Problem of Sweeping Problems Under the Rug

Ed began therapy at the urging of his wife, Meg, who was tired of dealing with Ed's communication problems.

Meg could sense when something was bothering Ed and he was denying it.

Therapy Can Help You to Stop Sweeping Uncomfortable Feelings Under the Rug

The usual pattern, according to Ed, was that when Meg did something that annoyed him, he would tell himself that it wasn't worth discussing and he would keep his feelings to himself.

Knowing Ed well, Meg would ask him if anything was bothering him, but Ed would deny it.  She would encourage him to talk, but Ed would continue to deny that anything was bothering him.

After a while, Ed would blow up about a relatively minor thing that Meg did, which would surprise her.

During those times when he blew up, Ed knew that he was overreacting, but he didn't know why or how to stop it.

Later on, he would apologize to Meg, but she was getting fed up.

As Ed gave his therapist more details about these incidents, it became apparent to both Ed and his therapist that his habit of sweeping things under the rug led to an eventual blow up because it became overwhelming to him.

Rather than dealing with situations as they came up, Ed was stuffing his feelings until he couldn't take it any more.

Ed talked to his therapist about his family history where his father, who had a temper, would go on tirades every night, upsetting the whole family (see my article: Is Your Fear of Being a "Bad Person" Getting in the Way of Asserting Yourself?).

From a young age, Ed vowed that he would never be like his father, and that's when he started stuffing his feelings, especially anger and sadness.

By the time he came to therapy, Ed knew he might jeopardize his marriage if he didn't change, so he wanted to learn how to overcome this problem.

Over time, Ed's therapist helped Ed to become more aware of his feelings as they occurred and to find ways to express himself appropriately.

His therapist also helped Ed to distinguish his father's angry tirades from his own feelings.

Since there were times when Ed was cut off from his feelings, especially uncomfortable feelings, his therapist helped him to sense his feelings in his body (see my article: The Body Offers a Window Into the Unconscious Mind).

Gradually, Ed learned to pick up on physical cues that would tell him that he was having a feeling that made him uncomfortable.

For instance, he learned in therapy that whenever he would feel annoyed, he would get a knot in his stomach, so this was a cue for him that he was annoyed or angry.

Another cue for Ed was that whenever he felt sad, he would get a sinking feeling in stomach.

Having these cues helped Ed to identify his feelings because these feelings were embodied.  Then, he would practice in therapy how to talk to his wife about his feelings.

Initially, he realized that he didn't feel he was entitled to express his feelings.

His therapist pointed out to Ed how he would try to rationalize away his feelings by saying, "This isn't really important" or "I don't want to make a big thing out of nothing."

It wasn't easy for Ed to come to grips with his problem, especially since his problem was so tied up with his family history.

So, Ed and his therapist also worked on helping Ed to overcome his childhood trauma, which was at the root of his problem (see my article: Psychotherapy to Overcome Past Childhood Trauma).

Eventually, Ed became more comfortable acknowledging and expressing his feelings.  And the more he practiced doing it, the easier it became for him.

He also came to see that he wasn't like his father, and this was a relief to him.

Therapy Can Help You to Stop Sweeping Uncomfortable Feelings Under the Rug

One day, Ed came to therapy and told his therapist that his wife was happy that he was now able to express his feelings.

People who tend to push their uncomfortable feelings under the rug are usually afraid of their feelings.

They might use all kinds of rationalizations about why they don't express their feelings, but these rationalizations have nothing to do with the root of the problem.

There can be many different issues as to why people avoid expressing uncomfortable feelings.

A common problem is a family history of a volatile parent or a family that didn't acknowledge uncomfortable feelings (see my article: Psychotherapy Can Help to Overcome the Effects of Growing Up in a Family That Didn't Talk About Feelings).

Getting Help in Therapy
As I mentioned earlier, most people who have this problem don't come to therapy until there are serious consequences in their life.

If you have a tendency to sweep uncomfortable feelings under the rug, a skilled psychotherapist can help you to identify the root of the problem and learn new skills to overcome this problem (see my article: The Benefits of Psychotherapy).

Learning to acknowledge and communicate your feelings, including feelings that are uncomfortable for you, will allow you to have more genuine relationships with your loved ones (see my article: How to Choose a Psychotherapist).

Rather than continuing to suffer with this problem and potentially damaging your relationships with your loved ones, get help from a licensed mental health professional.  You'll feel better about yourself and you'll improve your relationships.

About Me
I am a licensed NYC psychotherapist, hypnotherapist, EMDR and Somatic Experiencing therapist who works with individual adults and couples.

I have helped many clients to overcome communication problems, so they could have more fulfilling relationships.

To find out more about me, visit my website: Josephine Ferraro, LCSW - NYC Psychotherapist.

To set up a consultation, call me at (212) 726-1006 or email me.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

How to Cope With Difficult Family Get-Togethers

Many people become anxious when they have to attend family get-togethers because these get-togethers can become contentious.  Your family members and you can lapse into old dysfunctional patterns especially if there's a long history of dysfunction in the family  (see my article: Regressing to Feeling Like a Child Again During Family Visits,  Overcoming Dysfunctional Ways of Relating in Your Family and Learn to Develop Healthy Boundaries With an Enmeshed Family).

How to Cope With Difficult Family Get-Togethers 

Family get-togethers are "supposed to be" joyous occasions where family members share a meal and talk happily over the dinner table.  

But the reality is that in many families there is often a lot of tension and pressure, especially if there's a long history of conflict among family members.

When there's tension and pressure, most family members walk on eggshells trying not to say or do anything that might start an argument.

There might also be a big disconnect between how you would like your family to be and how they are, leaving you feeling very disappointed.

It's possible that  everyone will come together and have a genuinely good time, which would be great.

But if you know your family has a history of conflicts and that the strain of a family get-together puts everyone on edge, you'll need to change your expectations about what's possible (see my article: Holiday Time With Your Family: Balancing Your Expectations).

Tips For Dealing With Difficult Family Get-Togethers:
  • Change your expectations (as previously mentioned).  You might want your family to be like "The Waltons" or like an episode of "Father Knows Best," but your desire alone won't change your family dynamics.
  • Don't try to "fix" your family members.  Accept that they are who they are and it's not your responsibility to try to "improve" them.  This will go a long way to avoiding arguments.
  • Avoid topics that could start arguments, like politics or religion.  
  • Keep the conversation light, if possible.
  • Try to gently and tactfully change the topic if a family member brings up a contentious topic.
How to Cope With Difficult Family Get-Togethers
  • Don't try to settle family scores at the family get-together, especially if it's a holiday.  This isn't the time or place for this.
  • Volunteer to help out, which could decrease the tension about things that need to get done.
  • Try to be patient with family members who annoy you, like relatives who don't pitch in with cooking, cleaning or taking care of the children or people who tend to complain a lot.
  • Take a break, if you need one, by going for a walk if things become too tense for you or, if you can't leave the house, go to the bathroom, splash cold water on your face and take a couple of deep breaths before you reengage with your family. 
  • Try to shift your perspective about family members to try to find something positive, if possible  (there's an old saying, "Even a broken clock tells the right time twice a day").  Usually, things aren't all bad.
  • Ask yourself if your anticipation of a contentious time might be clouding your perception of what good there might be.
  • Ask yourself how you might be contributing to the negative environment.
  • Keep your perspective.  Remember, even if things go very wrong, that nothing lasts forever and the visit is time limited, so it will soon be over.  You will survive.

About Me
I am a licensed NYC psychotherapist, hypnotherapist, EMDR and Somatic Experiencing therapist who works with individual adults and couples.

To find out more about me, visit my website: Josephine Ferraro, LCSW - NYC Psychotherapist.

To set up a consultation, call me at (212) 726-1006 or email me

Is It Possible to Feel Gratitude Even When You're Sad?

I've written prior articles about gratitude for this psychotherapy blog (see: Psychotherapy, Balance and Gratitude,  Keeping a Gratitude JournalThe Importance of Expressing Gratitude To Your Spouse and Being in the Present Moment).  I'm focusing on a particular topic relating to gratitude in this article, which is a question that often comes up in therapy:  Is is possible to feel gratitude even when you're sad?

Is It Possible To Feel Gratitude Even When You're Sad?

It might sound pollyanaish or naive to talk about feeling grateful when you feel sad.  But cultivating an attitude of gratefulness on a regular basis helps you, especially during the times when you're not at your best.

Why is this?  Well, when you develop the ability to find things in your life that you can be grateful for, you're developing a particular skill that will help you during good times and bad.

In many ways, it's easier to focus on the things that aren't going well in your life and, at any given time, you might have numerous challenges.

But if you have developed a habit of looking for the positive things, the things that are going well in your life, no matter how small, it helps to alleviate some of the emotional pain that you might be going through.

Is It Possible to Feel Gratitude Even When You're Sad?

Developing a habit of noticing things to be grateful for doesn't mean that you're trying to deny that you have problems or that you're upset or depressed (see my article: What is the Difference Between Sadness and Depression?)

It's a way of getting a bigger perspective about your life and the people in your life that includes the challenges as well as the positive aspects.

So, how to you do this?

How to Begin to Develop the Ability to Notice Positive Aspects of Your Life:
If you've never tried to develop the ability to find the positive things in your life to be grateful for, you can start in small ways by jotting down things that were positive each day.  

Make a List:
This list can be as simple as the smallest things:  
  • Someone smiled at you and lifted your spirits for a moment.
  • You heard your favorite song.
  • You remembered a happy memory.
  • You heard from a friend.
  • You noticed a job online that you could apply for to get out of your current job.
  • Someone complimented you.
  • You found a parking space easily.
  • The sales assistant in the store was helpful to you.
Keeping a Gratitude List

And so on.

Getting into the habit of noticing the positive aspects of your life each day helps you to begin to be attuned to these experiences on a regular basis.

It can also help you to realize that, even though you might be sad, life is complex and good feelings can still coexist with sad feelings.

Developing a Sense of Gratitude

Once you've begun to notice that there are usually at least one or two things that make you feel good and that you can appreciate, you can learn to deepen these feelings by using the mind-body connection.

Using the Mind-Body Connection to Deepen Your Sense of Gratitude
It's not unusual, especially if you're feeling sad, to notice positive aspects of your day and experience them in only an intellectual way.

Experiencing something in an intellectual way is very different from feeling it on an emotional and physical level.

One way to go from experiencing these positive aspects from purely an intellectual perspective to deepening the feeling to an emotional and physical level is to use the mind-body connection.

Using the Mind-Body Connection to Deepen Your Sense of Gratitude

One method that I use with my therapy clients when they're starting therapy is called "internal resource building."

When we're engaged in internal resource building (also known as developing coping skills), I ask clients to bring in 10 positive memories from their life, no matter how long ago it was and no matter how fleeting the memory might be.  If they can't come up with 10, I'll use whatever they bring in and that's just fine.

I ask the client to close her eyes, get back into the memory and notice what emotions and sensations she feels in her body.  Then, we use some form of what is called "bilateral stimulation" (from EMDR Therapy) to reinforce that feeling.

The bilateral stimulation can be done with "tappers" (one tapper in each hand) that provide alternate or bilateral buzzing in each hand.  This is done for only a few seconds to focus on the positive aspect of the memory and to try to prevent negative aspects from coming up so the memory remains positive.

Since you won't have tappers, you can use another EMDR therapy technique, which is alternate tapping.  Alternate tapping, which is a form of bilateral stimulation can be done by using your hands to gently tap, and it can be done in several ways:  

  • Alternate tapping of your leg--right leg, then left leg, back and forth (see Laurel Parnell's Book, Tapping In).
  • The "Butterfly Tap" where you cross your arms in front of your chest and do alternate taps of your upper arms
  • Bilateral music that goes from one ear to the other (see Bilateral Music).

The idea is that you're focusing on the positive emotion that you're feeling in your body, and this helps to strengthen the positive feelings.  

By strengthening the positive feelings, your experience of gratitude usually goes from an intellectual experience to a felt sense of gratitude.

It also provides you with a reprieve from your sadness.

So, to answer the question that I posed at the beginning of this article:  Yes, it is possible to feel both sadness and gratitude, but it can be challenging to feel gratitude when you're overcome with depression or unresolved trauma.  At that point, you might need the help of an experienced psychotherapist.

Getting Help in Therapy
There's a difference from feeling sad and feeling depressed.

When you're depressed, it's harder to access positive feelings and gratitude and you could benefit from seeking help from a licensed psychotherapist who has an expertise is helping clients to over come depression.

Depression is episodic and you can have multiple episodes throughout your life.  Getting help from a mental health professional can help you to overcome these depressive episodes so that they are shorter than they would be without help.

Getting help in therapy also helps you to develop the necessary coping skills to help you lead a more fulfilling life (see my article:  How to Choose a Psychotherapist).

If you've tried to cultivate an ability to feeling grateful, but emotional problems or a history of trauma are hindering you, rather than suffering alone, find a skilled therapist to help you through these challenges.

About Me
I am a licensed NYC psychotherapist, hypnotherapist, EMDR and Somatic Experiencing therapist who works with individuals and adults.

I have over 20 years of experience as a therapist and I helped many clients to overcome their problems.

To find out more about me, visit my website:  Josephine Ferraro, LCSW - NYC Psychotherapist.

To set up a consultation, call me at (212) 726-1006 or email me.

Living With Uncertainty

I've written prior articles about excessive worrying (see my articles: How to Stop Worrying: What is Chronic Worrying?Steps You Can Take to Stop WorryingOvercoming Anticipatory Anxiety, Learning to Stay Calm During Uncertain Times and Are You Catastrophizing?).  In this article, I'm focusing on living with uncertainty because so many people are talking about worrying, checking the news several times a day, getting alerts on their phone, and so on.

Living With Uncertainty

To a certain extent, we all live with a degree of uncertainty all the time--whether we're aware of it or not.

When we feel more vulnerable and fragile in our personal lives, we might be more aware of the possibility of uncertainty than at others times when we're feeling confident and positive.

Coping Strategies For Living With Uncertainty

Practice Living in the Moment:
When you feel particularly vulnerable about things that you have no control over (e.g., nuclear war, a sudden economic downturn, etc), a good strategy is to recognize that your thoughts might be running away with you and bring yourself back to the present (see my article: Being in the Present Moment).

Ask yourself, "Am I alright right now?"

If the answer is "Yes," then you know that you're racing ahead in your mind and worrying about things which may or may not happen, and worrying about it won't help.

One of the reasons why I like mindfulness is because when you practice mindfulness, you keep bringing your mind back to the present instead of dwelling on uncertain possibilities (see my article: The Mind-Body Connection: Mindfulness Meditation).

And while you can't always live in the present moment, if you spend some time each day--even if it's just five minutes--practicing mindfulness, you'll probably feel a lot calmer.

Be Aware of Your Thought Patterns
Do you have a tendency to project your worries and fears into the future?

Ask yourself how many times you've done this in the past and how often these worries materialized into problems.

If you're like most people that tend to worry, you'll realize that most of the time your worries came to nothing, and you might have worked yourself up into a frazzled state thinking about everything that could go wrong.

Write About Your Worries and Fears
There's something about writing, especially when you're worried, that helps to concretize and externalize your thoughts and feelings (see my article: Journal Writing Can Relieve Stress and Anxiety).

Rather than allowing yourself to ruminate about your worries, when you write and then read what you wrote, you tend to question the negative assumptions that you make.

After a while, you realize, once again, that you have a particular thought pattern that is getting in your way.  It might be that you've engaged in this pattern of thinking for many years--possibly since childhood.  Maybe one or both of your parents tended to catastrophize and you learned to do it too.

Be Selective About Watching News or Monitoring Social Media
Broadcast news tends to sensationalize the news in order to get the public's attention and high ratings.

Be selective about the kind of news that you watch so that you're not getting frightened and alarmed on a daily basis.

You might even want to take a break from broadcast news for a while--possibly read a quality newspaper instead which doesn't attempt to sensationalize the news.  You might discover that you're a lot calmer.

The same goes for social media.  There are some sites that are constantly pumping out sensationalized news to get your "clicks."

Ask yourself what it might be like not to monitor the news on social media all the time.

Think About What You Can Do to Feel Empowered
One of the things that I keep hearing is that people feel so disempowered about things that are going on in the world.

While it's true that you're probably not going to be the negotiator for world peace, maybe there are things that you can do that will help you to feel empowered, like volunteering for an organization or cause that is important to you.

Even if you don't have time to volunteer, maybe you can make a phone call to your city councilperson or senator about an issue that's important to you.

Taking action can be empowering.

Getting Help in Therapy
There are times when the world around you can trigger certain emotional vulnerabilities that you have (see my articles: You Can't Change Your Past, But You Can Change How the Past Affects YouPsychotherapy to Overcome Your Past Childhood TraumaOvercoming Trauma When the Past is in the PresentUnderstanding Why You're Affected by Trauma That Happened a Long Time Ago, and Coping With Trauma: Becoming Aware of Emotional Triggers).

The strategies that I mentioned above can be helpful, but if you keep getting triggered, this is usually a sign that there are underlying issues that need to be resolved.

One of the benefits of psychotherapy is that it can free you from your history so you can live your life unencumbered by problems from the past (see my article: The Benefits of Psychotherapy and How to Choose a Psychotherapist).

A skilled psychotherapist can help you to work through these issues so that you don't keep getting triggered.

When you're free from a traumatic history, you're free to live your life in a calmer, more meaningful way.

About Me
I am a licensed NYC psychotherapist, hypnotherapist, EMDR and Somatic Experiencing therapist who works with individual adults and couples.

To find out more about me, visit my website: Josephine Ferraro, LCSW - NYC Psychotherapist.

To set up a consultation, call me at (212) 726-1006 or email me.

The Psychological Stages of Forgiveness

Forgiveness is one of the most misunderstood concepts (see my articles: Does Forgiving Mean Forgetting?Asking For Forgiveness: The Power to Make AmendsDeciding Whether or Not to Forgive Your Father, and Deciding Whether or Not to Forgive Your Parents).

The Psychological Stages of Forgiveness
Most people think that if they forgive someone who has hurt them, they're doing it for this person.  But getting to the point where you forgive someone is something that you do for yourself in order not to continue carrying around hurt and anger inside you.

When you've been hurt, you're not always ready to forgive the other person immediately.  This is normal, especially if the person really hurt or betrayed you.  It might take time--if you decide to forgive this person at all.

Psychological Stages of Forgiveness
Everyone is different, so even though I'm outlining these psychological stages of forgiveness, recognize that each person goes through the process in his or her own unique way.  Also, the stages aren't necessarily linear, and you can go back and forth between these different stages before you reach a resolution for yourself.
  • Understand What Happened:  If you have been unexpectedly hurt or betrayed by someone close to you, it can be such a shock to you that you might need time to understand what happened.  Instead of being hasty before you know the details, make sure  you understand the situation and the circumstances.
  • Understand Your Own Feelings About What Happened:  Once you've determined the details of what happened and you think you have the facts, you might not be sure how you feel about it initially, especially if the hurt or betrayal was unexpected.  You will probably need time to absorb what happened and sort out your feelings.  Take time before you say or do anything that you might regret, including "brushing things under the rug" because you don't want to deal with it (Coping With Secrets and Lies in Your Relationship).
The Psychological Stages of Forgiveness
  • Be Aware That Complete Forgiveness Doesn't Usually Come All At Once:  Once you understand what happened and you've had time to sort out your feelings, you might have an intention to forgive the other person.  But despite your intention, complete forgiveness might not happen all at once.  Forgiving someone for a very hurtful situation usually happens from surface to depth.  In other words, you make a commitment to yourself and the other person that you want to accept an apology, but that doesn't mean that everything is back to normal between the two of you.  It might be a while (if ever) before you trust this person again.
  • Don't Use the Forgiveness Process as a Power Play:  Whether or not you decide to forgive the person who hurt you is up to you.  As I mentioned earlier, the process of forgiveness is for you, not the other person.  But if you know that you want to eventually forgive this person, don't use this as a power play by holding your forgiveness over the other person's head as a bargaining chip.

Getting Help in Therapy
There are some situations, especially in cases of major betrayal or abuse, where you might be confused as to how you feel and what you want to do.

If you've tried to get clear on your own feelings and you're still confused, you could benefit from getting help from a skilled psychotherapist (see my articles: The Benefits of Psychotherapy and How to Choose a Psychotherapist).

While you don't have to continue to have this person in your life if it will make you unhappy, holding onto anger and resentment is only going to hurt you more (see my article: Holding Onto Anger is Like Drinking Poison and Expecting the Other Person to Die).

Rather than allowing hurt and anger to eat away at you, you could work through your feelings with a licensed mental health professional who can help you through the situation and provide you with the necessary tools for you to have closure and move on with your life.

About Me
I am a licensed NYC psychotherapist, hypnotherapist, EMDR and Somatic Experiencing therapist who works with individual adults and couples.

I have helped many clients through the psychological stages of forgiveness.

To find out more about me, visit my website: Josephine Ferraro, LCSW - NYC Psychotherapist.

To set up a consultation, call me at (212) 726-1006 or email me.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Taking Care of Yourself When Your Spouse is Depressed

In a prior article,  Is Your Spouse Depressed?, I focused being with a spouse who is depressed.  In this article, my focus will be on you and how to take care of yourself if your spouse is suffering with depression (see my articles: How Do We Balance Our Own Needs With Being Responsive to Our Loved Ones?Are You Concerned About Your Spouse's Depression? and Caregiving For a Depressed Parent as a Child and a Depressed Spouse as an Adult).

Taking Care of Yourself When Your Spouse is Depressed 
Although you might be primarily focused on your spouse, you also need to take care of yourself or you could compromise your own psychological and physical health, and you won't be helpful to your spouse.

Taking Care of Yourself When You're Married to a Depressed Spouse
  • Be Aware That You'll Need to Take Extra Care of Yourself:  Being around a depressed loved one can be exhausting mentally and physically, which is why it's so important to take extra care of yourself.  Eating nutritious food, exercising, getting enough sleep, and seeing your doctor for regular appointments are among the self care activities that will help you (see my article: Is Self Care Selfish? and Tips For Staying Calm During Stressful Times).
  • Develop Your Own Emotional Support System:  Although it may be obvious that your spouse needs help, when you're under the stress of being around a depressed spouse, you need emotional support too.  Close friends and supportive family members are important to maintain your own sense of well-being (see my article: Understanding Your Emotional Needs).
  • Accept Your Own Feelings:  While you're probably compassionate towards your spouse, inwardly, you might also feel a little resentful.  While it wouldn't be helpful to your spouse to harp on your resentment, it's important for you to know that this is a normal reaction, especially since you're probably under a lot more stress while your spouse is having a depressive episode.
  • Recognize That You Can't "Fix" or Control Your Spouse:  You can encourage your spouse to get help, but you can't fix your spouse or make him or her get help.  It's one of the most frustrating things to contend with when their loved one is depressed:  You can't control it.  So, do what you can to encourage your spouse, which is different from nagging, but recognize that your spouse has to seek out help on his or her own (see my article: Getting to Know the Only Person You Can Change: Yourself).
  • Recognize That It's Not Your Fault:  Along with recognizing that you can't "fix" or control your spouse, recognize that it's not your fault that your spouse is depressed.  Depression occurs for many reasons, but no one can make someone depressed.  Be supportive, but don't try to take on your spouse's problem directly.
  • Set Boundaries With Your Spouse:  While your spouse is going through a depressive episode, s/he might find it hard to keep up with certain responsibilities.  That's understandable, but you can't take on everything.  This will take judgment and tact on your part.  Within reason and if possible, be honest about what you can and can't do, so you don't become depleted by taking on everything, especially if your spouse seems to be able to do more than s/he has been doing (Is Your Fear of Being a "Bad Person" Keeping You From Asserting Yourself?).

Getting Help in Therapy
Don't underestimate the toll that your spouse's depression can take on you--even if you're following all the recommendations that I've made above.

It would be easy for you to say that your spouse is the one who is depressed and so your spouse should get help in therapy, not you.

While it's true that your spouse could benefit from therapy, it doesn't negate the fact that you might also need more help than family and friends can provide, especially if they tend to be critical or unhelpful.

A skilled psychotherapist can help you to get through this difficult time so that you maintain your psychological and physical well-being.

Rather than suffering on your own, you owe it to yourself to seek help from a licensed mental health professional to get through this challenging time.

About Me
I am a licensed NYC psychotherapist, hypnotherapist, EMDR and Somatic Experiencing therapist who works with individuals and couples.

I have helped many individuals and couples to get through challenging times, including episodes of depression.

To find out more about me, visit my website: Josephine Ferraro, LCSW -NYC Psychotherapist.

The Challenge of Breaking Up With a Person Who is Narcissistic

I've written about narcissism in previous articles (see my articles:  Narcissism: An Emotional Seesaw Between Grandiosity and ShameA Relationship With a Narcissistic Partner: Where Did the Love Go?Coping Strategies For Being in a Relationship With a Narcissistic Partner and How Narcissism Develops at an Early Age).  In this article, I'm focusing on breaking up with a person who is narcissistic.

The Challenge of Breaking Up With a Person Who is  Narcissistic

While breakups are never easy, breaking up with someone who is narcissistic has unique challenges:

Get Ready For an Emotional Roller Coaster
When you end a relationship with someone who is narcissistic, you can generally expect to experience an emotional roller coaster, especially if your ex doesn't want to end the relationship.  If you've already discussed the reasons why you want to end the relationship, your best course of action for your own self preservation is to have no further contact with your ex.  

Talking about the breakup over and over will be perceived by your ex as a chance to either convince you to take him or her back or, if he or she is convinced that you've made up your mind, s/he might become emotionally abusive and malign you to people that you know (The Breakup: When the Need For "Closure" Turns Into Harassment).

You might think that you know your ex, but going through a breakup with someone who is narcissistic can show you a whole other side of your ex that you didn't know existed.

Beware of Your Ex's Narcissistic Rage 
When things were going well between you, you might have only seen the charming and funny side of your ex.

But when people who are narcissistic feel wounded or abandoned, they often display narcissistic rage, which can be astounding to experience because your ex will probably see the breakup as a wound to his or her self worth and sense of self.

This often involves a dramatic unleashing of rage at you and possibly to other people in your life.

Your ex might demean you, call you names, tell people you know how much you hurt him or her, try to humiliate you and, generally, become hurtful and spiteful.

The Challenge of Breaking Up With a Person Who is Narcissistic: Beware of Narcissistic Rage

When someone is in a state of narcissistic rage, s/he usually can't be reasoned with without causing the situation to escalate.

The person who is narcissistic needs to be in control, and if you're the one who took the initiative to end the relationship, this will upset his or her sense of having control.

Your ex will probably want to have the last word about your relationship with you and with others.

Even if s/he praised you to others before, now s/he might say that s/he never really knew you until now and you're just a terrible person.

And don't be surprised if some people that you know end up believing your ex when s/he tells them how awful you are.  People who are narcissistic can be very convincing.

After you've talked to these people, rather than exhausting yourself emotionally and physically by defending yourself, let it go.  The more you struggle around these issues, the more gratifying it will be to your ex who wants to create chaos as part of the revenge.

How to Survive a Breakup With an Ex Who is Narcissistic
As I mentioned earlier, the volatility will only escalate if you keep trying to explain why you're ending the relationship, so it's best not to keep going over the same thing.  

End contact.  In the short term, this will probably infuriate your ex, but nothing will be accomplished by maintaining contact if you know you want to end the relationship.

You will need to set limits with your ex, especially if the emotional abuse seems like it might become physical.  If your ex makes physical threats, you will need to find out your rights with regard to a restraining order--although in most cases, it doesn't go this far.

In most cases, the person with a narcissistic personality will be looking around rather quickly for the next person who will make him or her feel good because the breakup can leave your ex feeling empty and low.

Once your ex finds someone else who will admire and idealize him or her, you probably won't hear from your ex again.

Getting Help in Therapy
Going through a breakup with someone who is narcissistic can be overwhelming, and you might need  help from a skilled psychotherapist to help you to get through it.

You can especially benefit from seeing a licensed mental health professional if you have a pattern of choosing narcissistic romantic partners (see my articles: Choosing "Mr. Wrong" Over and Over AgainFalling For Charisma Instead of Character, and Choosing Healthier Romantic Relationships).

It's important to understand the underlying issues involved so you don't keep making the same mistake (see my article: The Benefits of Psychotherapy  and How to Choose a Psychotherapist).

Rather than struggling on your own, seek out help from an experienced therapist.

Making healthier choices for yourself will give you a greater sense of well-being and allow you to lead an healthier and happier life.

About Me
I am a licensed NYC psychotherapist, hypnotherapist, EMDR therapist and Somatic Experiencing therapist who works with individual adults and couples.

To find out more about me, visit my website: Josephine Ferraro, LCSW - NYC Psychotherapist.

To set up a consultation, call me at (212) 726-1006 or email me.