Cosmina Boier from Italy, Genova: “Esteemed Mrs Lelia, for about two years, I have been experiencing some strange condition that makes me believe I have serious problems, and although I have seen 100 doctors, they didn’t find anything physical, they only tell me to see a psychiatrist. I have, he gave me some pills that gave me confusion and dizziness, I admit that medication has diminished some of the symptoms, only that now I have started all over. To make myself clear, some unnatural thoughts come to mind, full of hatred, which, I suspect, are the reason for my dizziness and nausea; whether I eat or not, I am still skinny… I am only bones, although I seem to have nothing! I know that you are a therapist, if only you could give me some advice, please do so because I am desperate! I am deepening into an ocean of sadness I cannot come out of, I am so afraid of anything that is going to happen that I even panic from a door-slapping by mistake, or from stronger wind-blowing or water too cold to drink; things are getting too far, I don’t want to be hospitalized with the mentally ill. Thank you! May God help!
Lelia Marcu: For problems like yours, it is better to have complete therapy, because, there surely exists a number of causes that have led to your condition, exactly like a cocktail, but one which does not help, a destructive one. The first thing you should do, before therapy, if you decide to go for it, is try, with all strength, to restrain your thoughts, the way our Saints in Orthodoxy taught us to do. In fact, the Saints were the best, the greatest therapists of the world because, being prepared not only spiritually, they knew how to look into, if I am allowed to say so, all the secrets of the heart and mind, with enough ease, evaluating a situation from all possible angles. In virtue of the confidence entrusted to us by the Great Figures of Heaven, we may take into consideration this piece of advice as being useful no only regarding problems like yours (note that I am speaking about several problems, not just one, the way you described the situation) but also regarding any problem of any kind.
Thought-restraining has the gift of doing away with negative thoughts and replacing them with positive ones, filtering what is useful or not, even if that particular something seems useful, filling moments when we do nothing with time for introspection and healing. How are we supposed to restrain our thoughts? This is a question I am asked by everyone: when a bad thought, of fear etc. comes up, we should not allow it develop, but even from the moment it has aroused in mind, if possible, change it immediately with another, better, more positive. To be clear: if you are afraid that you are going to have a panic attack, you should tell yourself, first, that by thinking about it, you will induce it and it is time you stopped hurting yourself. Then, if things have gone out of hand, no matter how close to it you are, you should restrain it by inserting in mind a good thought, telling yourself that this is just a mere panic attack, one does not die out of it, that you have to calm down your feelings as much as you can, just because you already know that you are not going to die from it, trying to convince yourself the situation is not as bad as you think and that you are going to control it. The best thing to do when the panic attack happens is ignore it, preoccupy yourself with something else, don’t think about your having it but think about a good book or a film, about your conversations with friends or relatives, anything else except this cunning thought, panic.
Certainly, this is a general course of action. In particular, however, things turn out to be different, because each suffering inside your soul needs personal treatment and this may be done only by an experienced therapist. The important fact is to do away, as much as possible, with the fear in your thoughts and your heart. Fear is a poisonous weed, that is why it needs to be rooted out. The root, dearest lady, needs to be searched for by all means, without the fear of what you yourself might discover in your soul or even with the doctor’s help. The truth, whatever it may be, frees you from the bonds of any fear, panic, lack of appetite, from the unfair fight of the organism and mind, of the immune system with anything that belongs to the imaginary and not to reality. Fear, panic, are only moments, nothing that might not disappear as smoke if we worked on it, prove being the fact that it goes away like smoke after a short time you have experienced it. It’s only that for a positive attitude you need to stick to something, you need to believe in a life-buoyant, to believe there is a boat that should lead you ashore. I would trust God, I would cling to the only One I am sure is guiding me to the shores of this sea of life, even by taking me on His ship, not just by using a boat or a mere life buoyant… good in themselves, I can’t say otherwise, but only for a period. I would aim Higher, to that Boat I know would never sink!
I am looking forward to your writing again, hugging you with love and wishes of health!
I am by your side… here… waiting.