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The Art of Narrative PsychiatryStories of Strength and Meaning$
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SuEllen Hamkins

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780199982042

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2020

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780199982042.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 28 February 2021

Finding Happiness: Rising from Despair and Turning Away from Anxiety

Finding Happiness: Rising from Despair and Turning Away from Anxiety

Chapter Nine Finding Happiness: Rising from Despair and Turning Away from Anxiety
The Art of Narrative Psychiatry

SuEllen Hamkins

Oxford University Press

“Anxiety is ruining my life,” Addie Markiewicz had said to me at her first appointment at age sixteen. Now, four years later, she entered my office, dropped her backpack on the floor, plopped down comfortably on the couch, picked up one of my blue throw pillows and began fiddling with the zipper. A junior in college, Addie had long, dark hair, blue eyes, fair skin, wholesome good looks, and a dry, at times mischievous sense of humor. In our weekly sessions, she could be alternately reticent and forthcoming. A gifted student with lots of friends, she volunteered at a daycare facility for children with special needs and was a respected and beloved babysitter for several families in the area. She had helped to form an advocacy group at her college for students who were dealing with mental health challenges. She had a loving relationship with her parents, whom she called her “best friends,” and her life had been free of any major trauma; on the contrary, her childhood had been characterized by a loving, supportive family and a close-knit community of which she was a cherished member, many of whom shared her Polish American heritage. For the first three years of our work together, I met with Addie for twenty minutes every week or two and she also met with a psychotherapist. After he moved out of the area, I became her primary psychotherapist, meeting with her weekly for fifty minutes. She had made great strides in overcoming profound despair, an ongoing sense of unreality, severe anxiety, and unwanted compulsive urges that had dogged her since she was twelve, but at times one or more of these problems flared up again, and we were still chipping away at them, working toward a fuller recovery. From our first appointment, she had identified a problem of feeling an overwhelming urge to spend hours and hours on her homework until it was flawless, accompanied by a keen anxiety lest there were any mistakes.

Keywords:   antipsychotic medications, citalopram, confidentiality, lamotrigine, personified problem, schizophrenia, temporal lobe epilepsy

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