14 and troubled

By Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker

Q: I feel like I may have a personality disorder or two. I’ve heard that most people have a little bit of a few disorders, and that’s normal, but I’ve taken tests online (which, I know, shouldn’t really be trusted) that point me towards possibly being histrionic and/or dependent, which both sound about right. I’m prone to being obnoxious and loud, and I do crave attention. For most of my life, my dad was working and was always very cold and distant, and it’s very hard for me to get into a good relationship (I’m only fourteen, I know, but I just feel so much different from kids my age). I crave male attention, but not to the point of promiscuity–I feel I’m too good for that, which is confusing in itself. I want everyone to like me, and when they don’t, I feel it’s because I’m not good enough. If I were skinnier, smarter, prettier, funnier, better. I feel like I always pursue relationships that would never work, and when I’m rejected I hate myself for it. I often feel almost inadequate in social situations, as I was homeschooled most of my life, and never really taught great social skills. When I was younger, my family (my mother, brother, and father) often ate out at restaurants or fast food, or my dad would make some big dinner rarely (he was a highly-paid chef). I was rather overweight as a child and over the past two years I began worrying about my weight. Within the last six to eight monthes I began developing an eating disorder, which, along with other behaviour of mine (scratching and cutting, becoming more and more distant), landed me in therapy. I was not labelled with an eating disorder, but my therapist says that if I had let it grow, I would have definitely had one.

I’m growing into a relapse, and everytime I eat I feel guilty. I’m eating diet foods and I’ve cut out sodas, fried foods, pizza, etc. I still feel fat. I just…I need to know what’s wrong with me.
I’m sorry for it being so long.

A: What’s mostly wrong with you is that you’re 14. Most of what you describe is very typical of 14 year olds. It’s not unusual or “crazy” to be insecure in social situations, to want attention, to worry about appearances, to be histrionic and dependent, or to want a boyfriend. What isn’t typical is the cutting, scratching, and isolating.

Fortunately, you’ve developed some good judgment along the way. You aren’t promiscuous. And you got yourself into therapy when you realized that you had started hurting yourself.

I don’t think it’s important or useful to label you. What is important is that you continue to work with your therapist and give that relationship a chance. Your therapist knows you and can offer you far more information than I can since I only have a letter to go on. Be sure to tell her everything you’ve told me.

You are smart and reflective. You are going to outgrow much of what is troubling you. You can work on the rest with your therapist.

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 10 Oct 2008

APA Reference
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2008). 14 and troubled. Psych Central. Retrieved on December 23, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2008/10/10/14-and-troubled/