Laura: A case example
Laura is a 36-year-old single woman, who is a laboratory technician in a big biotechnology company. She has a Master’s degree in science and is a highly competent professional. Laura loves the outdoors and likes to spend her weekends hiking and biking with friends. She describes herself as somewhat shy and cautious in her relationships with other people. Laura has had a couple of “serious relationships” with men but none lasted very long. Usually, she says, the relationship would be “wonderful” in the beginning but after a few months she would get bored and feel that the relationship did not fulfil her needs. When the relationship broke up, Laura would feel disappointed, empty and angry.
She would usually confide in her best friend, Francis. Recently, however, Francis got engaged and even though Laura initially felt happy for her, she has also been having feelings of jealousy and a deep sense of loss. “Our relationship” she says ” will never be the same once Fran gets married. In fact, it has already changed…she’s just not available as before and she doesn’t seem as interested in spending time with me.”
Laura had felt a change for the worse in her mood during the few weeks before Francis’ engagement but says that since the engagement her mood has markedly spiralled downward. She has felt sad and generally upset and she has not been able to get enough sleep. In fact, she has found herself waking up at 4 or 5 a.m., not being able to fall back to sleep. “I basically lie in bed” she says “and obsess about how my life sucks and how worthless I am. I think to myself: ‘Nobody loves me, nobody cares, I’m all alone in this cruel world’. And then I start sobbing and sobbing…I can’t stop myself…and then it’s time to get ready for work and I don’t want to get out of bed.” Laura missed 3 days of work last week, something that has not happened in a long time. On the days she did go, she found it difficult to concentrate on her work and was unable to complete an important and rather urgent experiment. “I feel worthless” she says, “why bother going to work if you’re not going to be productive?” Laura expressed feelings of guilt about her reaction to Francis’ engagement. “Fran is the happiest woman on this planet right now” she says “and I can’t be happy for her. I’m just a horrible, selfish person…and there are moments when I think I do not deserve to live.” Indeed, Laura admits she has had thoughts of killing herself, telling herself that nobody would care if she died anyhow. In the past 3 weeks she has felt so down that she did not go out with friends and stopped going to yoga classes. In therapy she said “I can’t go on living like this-this is hell!”