Hole in My Heart

By Kristina Randle, Ph.D., LCSW

I’m 20 years old, in my second year of college, with my whole life ahead of me…and I know I’m becoming more and more depressed. The scary part is, I have no idea why.

Growing up, I don’t think I had a particularly exciting childhood. I didn’t watch most of the shows, play most of the games, or listen to most of the other music other kids paid attention to. I was the odd one out, always. I preferred to read books over playing hopscotch, things like that. I was alienated beacuse of it, and it didn’t help that I was the fat kid. But my parents were nice enough to me growing up and I was never beaten up or anything…I just felt unloved and paranoid that other kids were talking about me, because it turns out I was usually right.

Now, years later, I’m on my own and standing on my own two feet. But I find, inwardly, I am falling farther and farther away from who I used to be. I’m a Christian and just did a missions program at my college…I developed a strong passion and love for helping others, espeically when we went to Southeast Asia on a month-long missions trip to help needy people.

But sitting here in my room alone, watching a beautiful spring evening fade to darkness, I know I need help. I have been a cycling bulimic for 5 years now; I go through cycles of bingeing and purging quite regularly, my most recent episode being last night. I pleasure myself sexually several times a day and feel hideously guilty every single time. Last night I picked up a knife and brushed it against my skin to see if I would have the guts to cut. I do NOT, because I know I have too much to live for.

Another thing is I am a compulsive skin picker and have been since junior high, when the teasings started. It was like I picked up the habit and can’t stop. It ruins my face and makes me feel even worse about myself, thus starting a vicious cycle of ruined self-esteem.

I pull people close because I need them then fear I will wind up pushing them away if I do that. And more often than not, this is how things wound up.

To sum up everything…I’m overweight, I’m reaching for things which don’t satisfy, and I know there is something really wrong with the way I’m pulling away from my own life when I have so much to offer!
I don’t know what to do. I’m too scared to seek medical help, but I want to stop burdening my friends with my problems because they don’t need to hear it. Help!!!

A. Despite your fear, you seem open to getting help. You recognize there are problems with your behavior. You’re able to pinpoint what they are and you sense that your symptoms are diminishing the quality of your life. You know things could be better than they are. You’re insightful and you care about the direction of your life. You want to change. These qualities make you a good candidate for therapy.

The only thing holding you back at this point is fear. I’m wondering why the fear? Did you have a bad experience in the past with therapy? Do you feel like you shouldn’t need help? Some people believe that they should be able correct their own problems and when they can’t, they feel like a “loser” and just give up. Others are “too proud” to go to therapy. There are also some who do not believe in therapy or that a “stranger” could really help. If any of these categories describe you then unfortunately, you’re only prolonging your personal suffering.

All of the problems you’ve described are very treatable. They are some of the most common reasons people enter therapy. I’ve known many individuals with similar problems who sought treatment and were able to recover. By going to therapy you could recover as well.

The only way to deal with your fear is to face it. That means seeking help even if it’s uncomfortable, unpleasant and you don’t want to. There are plenty of things in life that we don’t want to do but we must do them anyway, for the sake of our health and well-being. It’s part of being a responsible adult.

As you mentioned, you have your “whole life ahead of you.” Depression and the other problems you’ve described may prevent you from living the life you want. That’s exactly what you don’t want to do and by not seeking treatment you risk diminishing your life in a manner that should be unacceptable to you. Don’t let fear hold you back from getting on with your life.

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 8 Jun 2009

APA Reference
Randle, K. (2009). Hole in My Heart. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 21, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2009/06/08/hole-in-my-heart/