I don’t want to be a burden to people

By Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker

I’m depressed but want to know if there’s anything majorily mentally wrong with me?
I’ve never asked or had the courage to seek for help before, mainly because I don’t want to be a burden to people and feel my ‘problem’ (if I have one) isn’t important.

My main issue is that, I lack confidence, only recently have I been able to make ‘casual’ conversation yet it’s still uncomfortable. Although I do have friends, they’re only girls and I can only be myself when we’re alone mostly. I’ve always think three times of what I’m going to say to someone if I don’t know them well, and even after I say it… it repeats in my mind and I feel uncomfortable even though what I said may have not been embarrassing or ridiculous at all.

Throughout my whole life I’ve admired people for their confidence especially if they’re ugly or different. I’m always thinking of the reasons which make me unsociable or make me keep to myself.

The first would be that my father was an abuser, he abused every single one of my siblings (4 brothers, and 2 sisters), and my mother (during pregnancy and more), except one sibling because she has a chronic illness and the hospital would have questioned her bruisers or injuries when she was checked up.

Our family use to live in a town which was mainly full of white Christians/atheists and lacked culture diversity. My family is Muslim, (father being white and mother Iranian) and my father converted to Islam. He has no heart and used (still uses) Islam as a means of getting his way through society negatively Him and my mother have been divorced since I was 1 or 2, and I have no memories of him.

I can’t have a close relationship with a boy and I’m wondering if it’s because of my past or if there’s even a reason to it. Whenever I’m around someone who threatens me, I like, or just simply don’t get a good vibe from, I go quiet and can’t speak and reply with short and blunt answers, face expressions or nothing at all. The last close relationship I had was around 4 months ago, and that lasted around 2 years but now he’s gone, I’m completely depressed and I don’t do my work any more, I don’t go out and I’m moody with all my family. And I think everyone around me is watching me.

I disrespect my mum. my sister just recently took off her scarf and now goes to pubs and clubs, and I don’t know what else she does. My brother is married to someone he’s not happy with but is too nice to stand up for himself. My other brother blames us (the family) for pushing away a girl he wanted to marry and now he’s not himself and judges everyone. My other brother is self-centred and doesn’t realise his own actions. And my other sister is the most selfish, ignorant person I have ever met. My mum’s only knowledge is in her experiences, which are religion and motherhood. Yet, I can’t speak to her because she just simply doesn’t understand and is too ignorant, like many people I know, to understand what I say. The only people who have the same intelligence on my level is the boy I was with, this other boy in my school and god. Is it inevitable that my family are bad with relationships just because my parents didn’t work out?

I feel the world is going to end soon, and don’t see the point in striving to get far. My cousins I just met (my dads side) I now can’t talk to because of family complications.

I’m stuck between two sides of me, when I wear my headscarf I’m quiet, humble, lack self-confidence and am too concious of my looks. When I don’t wear my headscarf I’m bubbly, cute, reveal my body more, and feel I can do whatever I want. I don’t want to take off my scarf, but with it I lack something.

I have many dreams every night, and with them I make poems, but these dreams are very graphic and disturb me. Whenever I have them I go to my mum to interpret them but that’s the only time I talk to my mum. The last dream I had was about the world ending.

I feel no one appreciates me. And I wonder why I’m like this, when I was even too young to remember anything disturbing or have an affect from my dads doings. If anything I should be the normal child in my family.
I just want to know what’s wrong with me, if anything is wrong or if I’m just over reacting.

A: You have a complicated life so you tell a complicated story. I probably can’t address all of your concerns in a letter but maybe I can give you a start.

You live in two worlds (headscarf and no scarf) but you don’t feel you belong in either. You have done what is called “pairing.” Psychologically you have put together a way of being in the world with the scarf. When you wear the scarf, you behave in the way of Islam. When you take it off, you feel more free to explore the world your sister likes. My guess is that you feel you can’t win. With the scarf, you feel awkward and unable to be social. But without it, you feel guilty. One way you handle the tension is to feel superior to everyone else. But because you are also sensitive, you realize your opinions about just about everyone else except god are probably not fair.

To answer one of your many questions, you may not have known your father personally but you know him by reputation. It seems that all of your older siblings are still reacting to their much longer and damaging relationship with him. They didn’t have a positive role model for relationships and they haven’t been able to make a positive role model for you to follow either. In that way, your father is still very present in your family.

You are asking important and very complicated questions. You are struggling with finding an identity for yourself that is comfortable. Although it is a more difficult struggle for you because of your background, it is nonetheless a usual and important part of growing up.

I think it would be helpful for you to find a therapist who specializes in cross-cultural issues. Yes, there are such people. There is no reason for you to have to discover for yourself the kinds of solutions that others who walk in your two worlds have already found to be helpful. A therapist who shares your two cultures will be able to give you support and guidance that will make more sense to you. Please consider asking a trusted teacher or your doctor for the names of likely therapists. This is not being a “burden.” It’s their job to help kids like you.

I hope this helps a little. I wish you well.
Dr. Marie

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 4 Dec 2009

APA Reference
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2009). I don’t want to be a burden to people. Psych Central. Retrieved on December 18, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2009/12/04/i-dont-want-to-be-a-burden-to-people/