So much is wrong

By Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker

I don’t have anywhere to turn. This will be extremely long, and full of unnecessary detail…because I never know how to sum things up. I’m sorry. For years I have known something was wrong with me. I go insane trying to figure it out, trying to just make it right. I try putting myself out there and making the effort to fit in but I always end up with my differences pointed out to me again, feeling helpless and hopeless.

I have never had many friends besides my family. All throughout high school, I considered my older sister and my cousin my best friends. I can’t make any kind of bond with people unless I am somehow forced to do it (for example, if they’re family), or unless they force themselves into my life. There have been 4 other significant people in my life that I got really close to, but I have never actually felt comfortable with them. And in the end I always manage to find a way to push them out of my life. As much as I long to have these people around, I can’t help but to feel a sense of relief when they leave my life. Then I don’t have to worry about constantly maintaining the relationship anymore and trying to act like I feel the connection when in reality I’m always just waiting for the time to pass so I can just be alone again. No matter how much time I spend with someone, the discomfort never goes away. I can never get used to anything. It takes so much work to do things that I am supposed to enjoy. I always have to be on guard. Always doing everything I can to prevent embarrassment. But that proves impossible, because there isn’t much of anything that DOESN’T embarrass me. I am embarrassed to even be a human being. When I am completely alone, I get embarrassed by my own thoughts. Embarrassed to the point of my heart rate picking up, sweating and having a hard time catching my breath. I can’t escape it, or even understand what’s so embarrassing most of the time.

I so strongly desire for people to accept me. I do everything that I do in an attempt to make myself acceptable for everybody else. But it doesn’t take much of anything for me to feel rejected. I know somewhere inside that it shouldn’t bother me as much as it does, but I can’t help it. Awkward moments are my worst nightmare. Being the person I am, I always seem to create them…even though I wish to avoid them more than anyone else seems to. Being corrected when I do or say something wrong…like being corrected for something as small as a pronunciation mistake will absolutely ruin me. The smallest moments define everything. No amount of acceptance can overpower the tiny moments of disapproval. I constantly feel on the verge of humiliation. It’s so much pressure, I can barely get through the day anymore. No one understands how hard the simplest things have become for me. I feel incapable in life. It’s like I’m just not cut out for it, I can’t see myself ever making it far. I want a good life, a normal life. The idea of getting married and having children and a great career. It all sounds so refreshing in some sense…but I know it’s not a possibility for me.

I can feel that my family is getting frustrated with me because though I have my drivers license and I have been driving for about two years…I am still terrified of driving. When I do drive, I take back roads. It’s not even that I am afraid to drive because it can be so dangerous. It’s actually because I am afraid to come off as a bad driver. If there are people around me on the roads, all I can think about is how they must be talking about how horrible of a driver I am. I always end up freaking out and feeling so unstable behind the wheel. I honestly don’t feel like I should be on the roads. I get so irrational, it seems dangerous. The times in which I am forced to drive on the highways have been okay. When I make it to my destination, I will sit back and try to feel accomplished for conquering my fear and driving on a highway…but I can’t. Because it’s like I don’t even remember the experience. How can I make any progress when each and every time I come out of the experience with no real memory of how I did it? I get more and more afraid of driving over time. I haven’t driven in over a month now. And the thought of actually getting back behind the wheel sounds scarier than ever. No one understands.

I just graduated high school, and I still have never had a job. I apply to places, and I try to make it seem like I actually am trying to get a job. But the idea of actually getting a job makes me want to curl up in bed and never leave it. I just know that the world is going to devour me and destroy me. I am too fragile. It won’t take long once I get a job for everything to really cave in on me. I’m so afraid to lose my mind completely. I can’t take anymore disapproval, I can’t live around too many more bad moments. I’m only 18, and I feel like the only thing I have to look forward to in life…is finding out what comes after it. It scares me. As far as school went, I was a good student in elementary school, but as soon as I got to middle school my grades dropped way down. My mom always blamed it on laziness. She always threw it in my face how my other two siblings had an excuse to have low grades, because they had learning disabilities. But she doesn’t understand how this has disabled me in so many ways. When middle school came around was when things really started.

That’s not to say that I was ever really “normal.” For as long as I can remember I have had these voices in my head. When I was little, they were the voices of a mother and a daughter. They had constant conversation in which they would discuss everything they saw me do, and how they perceived me as a person. It was usually always positive commentary. They always seemed to admire me and enjoy talking about me. It was the one place where approval was always sure to come. It was comforting. They are comforting. As I got older the mother and daughter kind of diminished. I started convincing myself that the voice in my head was that of a person that I admired, it could have been anyone. From famous people, to people that I saw at school that I wanted to impress. I want the approval of the people around me so bad, and the only way I can truly get it is if I give them a place inside of my head. It’s always been like I’ve had them watching my life as if it were on TV. It’s gotten to the point where I feel like I don’t make any actual connections to the people I know in real life because everything that I do seems to be in an attempt to get praise from the voices in my mind. Every hyper mood I get in is only so because I am showing off for the people in my head. It makes me feel so twisted because it’s like ACTUAL people in my life think they know me…but they don’t. They only know the person I pretend to be for the approval of people who are inside of me. I don’t make connections to real life anymore. I haven’t for a long, long time. I’m starting to wonder if I ever really have.

I just can’t understand anything. Not the people around me, or the world that they’ve created. I feel resentful toward all of it. Every idea and every set of rules. I feel like none of it should apply to me. I am too different. I get so hostile at the thought of abiding by the set rules people have created about life. Why is it wrong for me to want to be alone? Why do I have to be embarrassed all the time? Why can’t people just be as accepting as the ones inside of my head? I get so angry so often. Every time I go out in public, and I hear someone laugh…I will look in their direction and I swear they are laughing at me. I walk by people and swear that I hear them saying really cutting things about me. I always feel like everybody sees right through me. Sometimes I have even been lead to believe that they can hear my thoughts. It makes me so angry that people outside of me have SO much power over what goes on inside of me. People just make me so angry in general. Sometimes I just want to take back every single little interaction I have ever made with anyone. I want to show everyone nothing but indifference. Sometimes when people talk to me, I can feel them trying to make me show them emotion, trying to get a rise out of me. I get so angry at them. But I try not to show the anger either. I am so ashamed of everything that I have to stand for. I can’t explain it.

Just recently my family and I moved away from the house that I grew up in. I thought it would make me so emotional, I told myself that they day we moved I would probably be hysterical…but I didn’t feel anything at all. It still hasn’t really hit me that we left. I went away to my brothers’ house for a few days about a week ago. When my parents were taking me home…I kept thinking we were going back to my old house. It’s like…I’ve been so occupied in my mind, I have completely blocked out the weeks that had gone by in my new house. I mean, I didn’t forget about it. I remembered it, but it didn’t seem real. It all looks like a blur. Like a dream. Even the present looks like a dream anymore.

Whenever I go out to public places like the mall or the grocery store…aside from hearing everybody talking and laughing about me. None of it seems real. All of the extra noise from people talking sounds SO much louder than it should. It’s like everyone is talking over the loud speaker right into my ear. And the lights always look so extremely bright, the way they do when you’re dreaming. I get so stuck on trying to convince myself that this is real, that this is my life that’s happening to me right now. No matter how hard I try, I can’t truly touch my own life. I see it all happening around me, but I’m so lost inside.

I can’t comprehend much. People can tell me things over and over but I never really get it. There’s always something that I’m missing. There’s always that one bit of common knowledge that everybody else in the world has, that I never seem to have learned. I feel stupid. I feel ignorant and small. People expect me to be so smart, but I feel so incapable of learning and gaining knowledge. It’s like I’ve got this filter. The only things I can really take in are the messages of disapproval. There isn’t room for much of anything else. And this lack of knowledge only leads to more disapproval.

I have been hurting myself since I was 12 years old. My mom never had eyes for anybodies pain but her own. I always felt so stupid for going through anything because she always found a way to prove to me that she dealt with worse things. She always made me feel like I was so shallow. I have tried to explain to her that it goes in so deep. I flat out told her before that something is wrong with me. She simply told me nothing was wrong with me, and expected that to fix it. Every time she found more marks on my body, she would cry to me and ask me, “Am I such a horrible mother?” I understand that she had a hard life growing up, but she enjoys that. She can’t let herself be happy, then she won’t have anymore pain to brag about. I almost feel like I’m fueling her self-pitying when I do hurt myself, and I just can’t deal with her fake tears over it anymore. That’s what has stopped me from doing it lately.

I have seen about 3 different therapists in the past. I always found a reason to stop seeing them. I was never comfortable opening up verbally to them. I’ve only ever opened up in writing, to myself. I saw 2 different psychiatrists too, who always prescribed me depression medications that never made me feel any different. I haven’t seen anyone professional since I was 15. And at that time they always told me that they wouldn’t give me any formal diagnosis’ because I was still a teenager and that made it iffy. After feeling like something was wrong with me for that long, hearing them say that made me feel 10 times more hopeless. One of the psychiatrists told me that she suspected me to be bipolar…I never thought that was the case, personally. I feel like there is so much wrong inside of me, there can’t even be a label for it. I feel hopeless. Like nothing can ever make me okay.

For the past few months, suicide has been on my mind more than ever. There are times that I really sincerely don’t want to go on with my life. But at the same time, I feel like that’s sacrificing way too much. If I crave approval and life this strongly…then I am trashing all of my chances in receiving that by ending my life. It’s just that at the end of the day, all that I really have is the pain. And it seems like the only way to stop it sometimes is to just stop breathing. I have nowhere else to turn.

What could possibly be wrong with me…and is there any way I can ever make it right?

Thank you for your time, because I know I used A LOT of it. Again, I’m sorry.

A: First of all: There is no need to apologize. We’re here to listen and to do the best we can to help. You strike me as an extremely sensitive young woman who has needed someone to really, really listen to you for a very long time. There is no crime in that. It could be that you were so desperate for a sympathetic ear that you made up the people in your head to be the kind of supportive people you couldn’t find in life.

Some kids don’t get the kind of support and care they deserve when they are young. That’s just true. So some kids have to hang on until they are old enough and mature enough to seek out what they need. It seems that may be your situation. No one can choose where they come from. But we can choose where we’re going.

It’s been over 4 years since you’ve seen a therapist. In that time you’ve grown up; you’ve thought a great deal about your issues; you’ve thought more about what you want and need from a helper. I hope you’ll give someone a chance to help now.

I can’t venture a diagnosis on the basis of a letter. Understanding complicated problems like this requires more exploration. A therapist will be able to ask questions that will hone in on just what the central problems might be. It takes collaboration to get it right.

Your letter is an articulate, thoughtful presentation of your concerns. I suggest you make an appointment with a therapist who has experience with young adults and simply ask him or her to read it as a way to introduce yourself. It will help you both get down to business right away.

The clinic at this website offers a sliding fee scale. Do ask your doctor or someone you trust for recommendations as well. Please remember that you don’t have to stick with the first therapist you see. Trust your instincts. You need to feel comfortable enough with the person that you will be willing to open up and really do the work of therapy. Sometimes it takes a few tries before a person makes the right match.

In the meantime, do consider using the hotline at the Boys and Girls Town is you find yourself thinking about hurting yourself or suiciding. Counselors are there 24/7 to talk to people like you. Their number is 800-448-3000. If you’d like to learn more about the organization, go to this link.

You took an important first step in writing. Now please take the next one and find a supportive and kind therapist to work with and stick with it. You are definitely worth it!

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 29 Oct 2010

APA Reference
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2010). So much is wrong. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 24, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2010/10/29/so-much-is-wrong/