I have long-running case of depression and generalized anxiety disorder, with plenty of childhood triggers. I do see a therapist but due to the holiday schedule, I won't be seeing my therapist for a few weeks. I want to do some work by myself, because crying to sleep nearly every night is getting exhausting. I want my subconsciousness to chill out and be less triggered. I want tips, stories, and resources.
Difficulty: I live with my parents, and I get triggered by them.
Childhood --> Overwhelming Anxiety and Helplessness
I've been seeing a therapist but it hasn't been long, so I'm still at the stage of "everything makes me feel raw and weepy" and less healed. The therapist has been using insight therapy and it seems like that the root of my anxiety is in my childhood, my parents having been emotionally/socially absent, and feeling like I have to fend for myself and having a great fear that I can't.
Even until now, many daily challenges cause me stress, because my emotional self sees it from the lens of "Can you take care of yourself? Or is this the point where you're going to die a horrible death?" I'm in my 20s, finished university, have lived alone and held down plenty of jobs. So yes, this framing is ridiculous, but that's how my emotions see the world and hence why I am stressed all the time.
I used to see another therapist where I did some CBT. My thoughts are a lot more realistic and helpful than they used to be, but I don't think it's my consciousness that's the problem--it's my subconscious. My emotional reactions are still overwhelmingly of the life-or-death variety. I used to take meds but currently am not on any, and I'd like it that way for now. I still can go to work and have fun once in a while, so while this emotional volatility isn't as paralyzing as it was before, I can't live like this and I'd like to heal my damage however I can outside of therapy too.
I'd love to hear advice, and any resources that you can provide me.
1. How to re-parent your inner child?
2. How to make your emotional reactions match up with reality?
3. How to deal with your parents, without expecting them to change?
More About the Parents and my Childhood
Part of the complicating factor is that I am currently living with my parents. Strangely enough, my depressive episodes happen just as often as when I was living alone and worrying about whether I can fend for myself... so I don't think it's necessary for me to move away from them. I actually think it is a great opportunity to slowly repair our relationship, especially since they were absent for so long. The difficulty is that both parents don't seem to understand emotions (which is why I never quite learned to manage mine), and one parent has the tendency to minimize my problems through the use of humour/teasing at my expense, and the other parent is of the "suppress your emotions, understanding them is useless" variety.
They still think that just because they were able to provide for my physical and financial needs that it makes them blameless, and it's a puzzle to them why I am dealing with mental health problems. Their childhoods weren't typical and certainly lacked supportive parents, so in a way, they couldn't provide me with what they didn't have. But outside of providing food and shelter, they didn't do much else, and I had a very isolated childhood (plus immigration woes) while being expected to raise myself.
Many social skills, coping skills, and learning experiences that other people had at a younger age, I had to learn by myself just in the past couple of years. Consequently, whenever I think of my years prior to adulthood, I feel great sadness at all the time wasted, especially since I had to deal with so much unnecessary difficulty that is invisible to others and to my family. I'm only learning how to blame myself less for my childhood, and that I really shouldn't have been expected to parent myself. The book, Running on Empty: Overcome Your Childhood Emotional Neglect
really helped me acknowledge these facts and allow more compassion for myself and others.
It's ridiculous to expect to put child-rearing on autopilot, never make lunch ("you were too picky"), never help with homework, missed out on all but one of the parent teacher conferences, only provide criticism and never constructive feedback, criticize child for lacking emotional stability instead of teaching skills or sending the child to a professional, rarely bring the child to a medical professional, never bring the child to anywhere outside of the same supermarket, and yet expect the child to grow up to be a emotionally healthy and successful adult. I think I turned out reasonably well not because of what they've done, but despite what they didn't do. I don't expect parents to provide all of the care work, but I didn't have a trusted adult or an extended family to turn to either. I was literally by myself with some absent anti-social parents. The internet was my parent.
Reconciling with parents?
My parents weren't abusive, we had a mostly cordial relationship, but they just were barely there. They were socially and emotionally neglectful. They couldn't do better because of their own blind spots, financial and personal pressures, and probably their own mental health problems. I don't expect them to fix me or themselves, but should I expect them to acknowledge their responsibility and stop minimizing my current mental health problems? How can I repair my relationship with them regardless of how defensive they get? I'm only learning how to trust them again. Again, I'm interested in patching things up instead of leaving. I put them out of mind for the past several years and lived far away from them, and it didn't fix things. I'd say the avoidance and distance made things worse, because I began to imagine them to be malicious rather than the ignorant and socially-challenged souls they are.
I'll bring this all up in therapy, but yes, I'd like to hear your experiences and suggested resources. Oh internet, please teach me important life skills.