Expert advice

Paul Morgan: mental health advisor

Paul Morgan is Deputy Director of SANE Australia, the mental health charity. He is a leading expert in promoting understanding of mental illness in the community. ASK ME A QUESTION

How to forget that special someone?

Monday, September 8, 2008
You describe being obsessed, having intrusive thoughts, feeling sad, crying frequently, being unable to concentrate on work or study, and that your relationship with your husband is suffering.

Question:
I'm over 40 and married. I'm now so much in love with another man, but there are many good, moral reasons that we should not be together. I have tried very hard to forget him, but I always fail. I cannot get him out of my mind; his face appears in my dream whenever and whatever I do all day. It really disturbs my life: I often feel sad and cry so many nights; I can't study; I can't do my job properly; I'm not interested in going out or having a conversation or having sex with my husband anymore. I was a happy, optimistic person before I met him. Please help me to forget him so I can get back to my normal, happy life with my family. Thank you.

Answer:

Before answering your question, I'll stress that it's not for me to say what you should or should not do in moral terms, or to make any comment on your private emotions. These belong to you. However, you don't mention whether the man involved knows how you feel, if he feels the same way, or even if you know each other particularly well. In other words, is there any basis for the feelings you describe, or are they the result of something else, which is unrelated.

You describe being obsessed, having intrusive thoughts, feeling sad, crying frequently, being unable to concentrate on work or study, and that your relationship with your husband is suffering. All these things alone, regardless of the cause, suggest it would be helpful to discuss how you feel with a doctor or psychologist.

Sometimes, we are unhappy with some aspect of our life, and becoming obsessed with something — or someone — becomes a way of trying to avoid it; a kind of "psychological hideaway", which actually has little to do with that thing or that person.

If you can, please make an appointment to see a health professional to discuss how you're feeling at the moment and how it is affecting your life. The discussion will be confidential, and it can make a world of difference.

If you would like more information or want to discuss this further, call the free and confidential SANE helpline on 1800 18 SANE or send an e-mail via www.sane.org.


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