codependency pt. 2

It is important to be aware of the signs of when something is becoming codependent. Often there will be an overall feeling that the other person is responsible for your own happiness as opposed to feeling like you are in control of your own happiness. For example: ‘if only she would stop working so late, I would be better off’ or ‘I would really like to go to dinner with a work colleague but Im worried my partner will feel threatened by it if i do’,

There are just a few generic examples of what someone could potentially feel in a codependent relationship. There can often be a sense of needing to do everything together and go everywhere together. It is great to spend quality time with your partner but there is something very unhealthy about feeling like you need to spend all your free time with your partner.

Codependency is a way of relating and in some cases people who are in codependent relationships will have a history of previous codependent relationships whether it is with family, friends or partners.

codependency vs emotional support

At times it can feel difficult to understand the distinction between being codependent and being supportive. Codependency thrives where there is a serious lack of autonomy. Any sense of autonomy within a codependent dynamic will often be met with anger and rejection because it threatens the dynamic.

Emotional support does not depend on anything. It is being supportive, sympathetic and caring without making it about yourself. Some people may need more emotional support but as long as you do not need them to need you it is not codependent. In theory the two are fairly easy to differentiate between however in reality it is more difficult and the lines can become blurred.

What may have started out as emotional support can turn into something codependent if both people allow this to happen.


The definition of dependency is the inability to function without someone else’s help and codependency is specifically an extreme emotional reliance on someone. Both dependency and codependency are seen as emotionally unhealthy because within those two states there is no room for autonomy. The only way dependency can thrive is if there is a lack of autonomy to begin with. It is important to make the distinction between dependency and being supportive.

Often people will give examples of addicts being in codependent relationships. That one addict needs another to justify their actions. Codependency can be extreme but it can also be very subtle. Either way in the long term any relationship of that sort can be emotionally harmful. A more subtle example of a codependent relationship is a person who needs their partner to need them for emotional support and will somehow hinder their partners progression towards autonomy.

Codependent relationships exist in friendships, romantic relationships and familial relationships. Money can also be used to further entrench a codependent relationship. For example a younger brother may rely on a older sibling to regularly give them handouts. The older sibling is frustrated by this but yet keeps on giving his little brother handouts. There is an aspect of being relied upon and needed by his younger brother that keeps them locked into this codependency. Thus stopping the younger sibling from trying to sort out their own finances.

Disconnection/Detachment Pt.2

The emotional dangers of disconnection can be seen on a long term scale. The more a person becomes detached the more they are likely to be alienated from any real emotional response to somethings.

For example: A wife makes an inappropriate comment about a colleague to her husband. A non-detached response could be an expression of him feeling that the comment was not called for. A detached response could be silence or even an un-opinionated acknowledgement of the comment.

Not having an emotional response to experiences can create an internal void that leaves a person feeling empty.


In society we often hear people talking about how detached they feel. Feeling detached is feeling cut off from a part of life or for some people their whole life. It is not being able to gain access to feelings and thoughts. Detachment or disconnection is a defence against difficult feelings but often was tends to happen is that eventually the disconnection develops so that it defends against all feeling.

There are different ways that disconnection manifests. It can manifest in response to a trauma of some kind. In certain family dynamics expression of feeling is not experienced as tolerable so a response to that experience is a turning away from feelings that are seen as inappropriate within that dynamic.


Trauma is an event that has had a profound impact on oneself. For some people this trauma takes time to process. Trauma can be anything from an ending of a relationship to long term abuse.

Trauma is about the type of event that has occurred and the impact it has on the individual. For example some people may not consider a break up traumatic and may think of it one of those things that happens but to others it can be devastating.

Eventually if trauma is not processed it puts your emotional well being at risk. In my experience disconnection is one of the most common aspects of unresolved trauma. Other common feelings include depression, anxiety, feeling overwhelmed and nightmares/flashbacks.

Often some people only realise an event is traumatic when they begin to explore it in therapy. When something is very painful the psyche can build a brick wall around it to prevent it from causing more distress. For this reason some parts of therapy can be very painful because it is a slow breaking of that brick wall that then enables the trauma to be processed as opposed to be locked away and unconsciously effecting a persons behaviour.

What is PTSD?

PTSD stands for post traumatic stress disorder. Basically it refers to negative feelings that are experienced after a traumatic event. It could be a month after and event or years. When anyone experiences a trauma it can be a shock. One of the effects of shock is a feeling that what just happened hasn’t really happened. This state of shock can last a very long time and is a kind of defence against feeling the emotions associated with the trauma.

Suicide Part 2

In a previous blog I raised the question of the difference between feeling suicidal and becoming suicidal. Feeling suicidal reflects feeling like the world would be better of without you and having fantasies about your death. This is more common than people think.

Becoming suicidal means making an actual plan to end your life ie: purchasing pills, writing a note etc. Both feeling and becoming suicidal are important and should not be ignored.

If you are immediatley concerned about yourself or someone else:

samaritans : 116 123


With self harm on the rise amongst young people it is important to look out for those who might feel suicidal. But how does someone know when someone else is feeling suicidal and what is the difference between feeling suicidal and becoming suicidal?

First lets look at identifying suicidal feelings. Extreme withdrawal can be a huge sign especially if that person has a history of anxiety and depression. They may withdraw more than usual, this maybe worth looking into. A lack of engaging with the environment around them is also a indication. Certain drugs can cause feelings to be intensified, so if someone is taking psychoactive drugs it maybe a concern.

It is not to say that if a person matches the above behaviours then they are definitely suicidal but that it is something to look into. Being supportive to another person who you might think is in a suicidal state is more help than you realise. They may not want your support but they also may do. Either way you recognised what was going on and tried to intervene.

Stress Management Pt 2

In my previous blog I spoke about a simple breathing technique to help stay in the moment and manage stress. Another technique is thinking about what is in your control vs what is out of your control. In reality this technique is often a process that happens after the stressful event.

At times when we think back to a recent stressful event is can feel punishing and painful. There maybe complex feelings which come up such as feeling you are to blame for everything or why did things have to go that way. These feelings can circulate and become a source of anxiety.

Thinking about the situation in terms of what you can/could control ie: your responses and actions can help you to reflect on the situation with a little more mental space. This technique won’t stop the anxious feelings that are born out of the stressful even but it can help you to hopefully lessen the blame on yourself for other peoples actions.

Another way to manage stress is to create a support network. A support network can come in different forms, co-workers, friends, family or therapy. Many people are able to offer support for others but find it nearly impossible to ask for it themselves. The thought that they should be able to cope and manage everything may inhibit the need for help. For some people there is a fear that asking for help or support is a sign of weakness or failure.

Stress Management

There are a few ways in which stress can be managed. But it is important to remember that as life goes up and down so does stress. Therefore ones ability to be able to manage it will also go up and down. There are no rules or dead certs that if you do this one thing every morning your stress levels will ultimately decrease and you will find your way on a happier path. This is simply not true and in my experience most people find that unhelpful as it creates an added pressure.

I find it more helpful to think of small and simple techniques that anyone can use when they feel stressed out. If your unable to use that technique then its okay too. The idea is that there should not be any pressure to deploy any stress management technique because that will only cause more stress.

One of the most common techniques is breathing. Most people will also recognise this as a technique to help with anxiety which is often a manifestation of extreme stress. Breathing in for 3 counts and out for 3 counts can help to ground oneself in a highly stressful situation. You can take as many breaths as you feel you are able to. The breathing helps you to create a tiny bit of space for yourself in an overwhelming environment.


Everyone encounters stress on a daily basis. Some days can be more stressful than others and some stressors are more familiar than others. For example that particular family member that seems to get under your skin or taking a different route home. To some these can be seen as small stressors to others they’re huge.

Stress has become such common place in our society that it is difficult to recognise the effects it has on our bodies. Headaches, skin problems, stomach problems, muscle tension, apathy and fatigue are the most common physical symptoms.

Statistically the top 5 reasons that cause people stress are job pressures, relationships, money, health and social media. Now imagine all 5 of those things causing you stress a majority of the time, that’s a lot of stress. Yet most people have and do experience those high stress levels without knowing how to manage it or better still how to lessen it.


Identity is a word society uses to refer to who they are as an individual.

The overriding feeling associated with a lack of identity is usually being unsure of oneself. An aspect of this is being unable to make up your mind. What you do and don’t like? These are feelings that can create a large amount of anxiety because there is a feeling of being ungrounded.

Identity helps to ground an individual, no matter what the situation, if a person feels they know themselves they are likely to get more out of that situation. Essentially having an identity is about how well you know yourself which then leads to a knowledge of what you want out of something as opposed to not knowing. Which can result in opportunities passing you by.

Isolation and social media

Isolation has always been present in our society. Humans need other humans, relationships are important and its what helps us to thrive as individuals. The growing presence of social media makes being isolated harder to notice. Having a relationship with your screen is not the same as having a relationship with a person.

Im sure many of us have encountered social gatherings where the majority of people are on their phone because relating to the screen on your phone has become more familiar than relating to another person.

In our phone our lives can be perceived to rich and full but in reality there is an emptiness that is born out of a lack of meaningful relationships.

Feeling like an outsider...

Whether it is in your family, friendship group, work or college. Feeling like an outsider is awful not matter what the situation. 

Feeling like you can't quite get into the conversation even if you want to and feeling as though you observe more than taking part. These are common feelings associated with feeling like an outsider. 

The more you feel like you can't take part in something the more habitual it becomes. Feeling like your always on the outside can stop you from really getting the most out of an experience. The experience can begin to feel removed from you thus resulting in you feeling like your not really there. 

The reality is that you are there but something is happening internally that stops you from getting involved and that involvement turns feeling like an outsider into feeling very much part of the experience..

Self Esteem Part 2

How do you know if your suffering from low self esteem or just having an off day? Usually people with low self esteem will think they are the sole cause of that bad day whereas people with higher self esteem would be able to put their bad day into perspective and come to a rationale conclusion.

People suffering with low esteem can spend days tormenting themselves over something that is not their fault. All the feelings that go along with having low self esteem can very painful. To name a few of those feelings; isolation, frustration, hatred, depression and feeling invisible.

Having low self esteem can make it very difficult to process the surrounding environment which includes relationships. When bad things happen they feel it is always their fault and when good things happen they may unconsciously attempt to sabotage them because they feel undeserving.

Poor self esteem cannot be changed overnight. If you are someone with low self esteem you have most likely suffered with it for a long time. Trying to understand why someone has formed such a low opinion of themselves is crucial in getting that person on a path that leads to a higher opinion of themselves. 

Self Esteem

Self esteem reflects a persons general opinion of themselves and their value (self worth). These opinions come from childhood, how a child is related to and how the world is viewed all have a huge impact on someones self esteem.

Over time these opinions about the self become entrenched and go on to effect all areas of a persons life . For example someone could feel like they are a failure which may get in the way of taking up opportunities.  

Not being able to recognise your own worth can lead to staying in damaging relationships that match a persons distorted view of themselves. For example an individual with no self worth may find themselves being belittled by their partner which the individual feels they somehow deserve. 



Over the last decade society has rapidly changed how they view gender. Some have embraced those changes within society whilst others have remained opposed to those ideas. I believe throughout history some people have always felt that they do not understand the gender they are born with but it is not until recently that those difficulties are being taken seriously.

Feelings towards gender and sexuality can be so overwhelming and confusing. Although society has become more accepting of how people express their differing gender roles a lot people still experience discrimination and that can highlight an individuals feelings of shame towards themselves. 

I feel it is important that individuals who struggle with their gender feel able to explore the painful feelings that come up. Therapy offers a safe and non-judgemental space to do be able to do that without trying to put a label on you. People don't fit into boxes and can't be covered up with labels but they can have the opportunity to be themselves. 


Substance Misuse

Substance misuse can be seen as a way of coping/escaping reality. It can present itself in various forms such as drugs, alcohol, food, sex, tv, shopping etc... People who find themselves addicted to something do not do it out of choice. No one wakes up one day and decides that they are going to be addicted to a particular drug.

There is usually something within that individuals reality that has become too difficult to bare. Addiction can start out as something very pleasurable but then just becomes away of avoiding painful feelings. 

It is not the drug itself that has become addictive but the turning away from pain and life that has become so addictive. The drug or drop of alcohol is just the vessel used to avoid feelings.

Emotional Language

As humans we are able to feel a number of different emotions at once. Identifying these feelings can be very difficult and trying to communicate these feelings to another person is even harder.

When one does finally begin to try and talk about how they feel it can seem as though its impossible, as if there were no words at all.

Some individuals have spent much of their life not being expressive and not being able to voice how they feel. Learning to express emotions can be a very scary process and may even seem threatening. 

Threatening because one has become so adapt at going through life not noticing their emotional state let alone being able to vocalise how they feel.

Learning to listen to yourself and developing your emotional language takes time. Whilst being in therapy one learns slowly how to talk about what they are feeling.