I know I am very young, but I feel so hopeless, out of control, and desperate that this was my last resort. I have come to realize that I have depression. One of my family members suffers with Bipolar disorder and depression and is currently on medications to keep them under control. I hate myself. Although people would specify me as “popular” in school, I feel like a loser. All my popular friends could EASILY live without me so what is my point in this world? I used to have one very good best friend, but she ditched me for someone else. We stay on speaking terms, but hang out rarely. Since summer has started, I’ve completely isolated myself and spent all my time alone in my room on the computer. I’ve began to obsessively exercise and become obsessed with counting calories. I’m at a normal weight now (5’5 and 114 pounds) but I look so fat that I’m surprised I’m even a normal weight. I still eat, but I only eat half of what I used to and only healthy foods. I exercise SO much. But there is one thing that keeps me going. My hope that someday this will get better. You see, I went to a performing arts high school camp where I was completely accepted for who I was. I made friends instantly, but the camp was over in 2 weeks and we all had to depart. The only thing to keep me going is the hope that in 2 years when I audition for that performing arts school is that I will make it in. I’ve made friends with all the teachers and am currently taking the ADVANCED ballet and modern classes (I’m going into seventh grade and am taking a class with college students). I really want to be a dancer. I just love how I feel when I’m there. I feel like I belong, like I’m part of a family. Everyone is accepted and loved. I just LOVE that feeling! The school is full of talented people, and I’m afraid that if I’m not skinny enough I cannot make it in. I also just want to stand out. My school now is HUGE like GINORMOUS! No one really stands out unless they are massively popular. In this school, everyone stands out in their own way. I just want this so bad, and it’s the drive to keep me going. But I feel like if I’m fat I can’t do it. I feel like I NEED to continue this diet and exercise regimen for an entire 2 YEARS before I make it in (NO DESSERTS, NO WHITE BREAD, ONLY SMALL PORTIONS OF RICE AND PASTA, ABSOLUTELY NO CANDY, AND NO EATING OUT). But I know that’s impossible to keep it going that long, but I just need to do it. I feel like I can’t, but I really want to. How can I cope with being extremely pressured to be skinny, with my depression and isolation, and with my friend problems? Please please please please help me. i’m desperate.

A. The pressure you feel to be thin is a major concern. It is driving your obsession with being thin. It is an unhealthy obsession. In your mind, you “need” to do it. You have given yourself no choice. Your ability to limit your weight has become paramount.

In addition, your body, its size and shape, has become your primary vehicle for success in life. A thin body, in your mind, has become the one and only pathway to popularity, attention, belonging, and to professional dancing. It is everything. The pressure you feel to be thin only makes sense in the context that you have placed on the importance of body size.

You wrote that you are desperate. I can understand why. All of your hopes and dreams depend on your ability to limit the size of your body. The idea that being thin is the key to your happiness is an illusion. For those who believe this illusion, no amount of weight loss is ever enough. More is always better even when it isn’t.

This problem is further complicated by the fact that your view of your body is distorted. As you mentioned, you are a “normal” weight but continue to see yourself as “fat.” That one line from your letter to me, shows you are no longer able to see the reality of your appearance. If the scale and the charts show that you are a normal body weight, in the normal range, you can not appear to be fat, not to others, not to trained professionals. You can see yourself looking fat in the mirror but that is an illusion. Almost everyone with an eating disorder sees an illusion staring back at them in the mirror. A fat illusion.

It is important to recognize the incorrectness of your thinking. If it continues, it can lead you down a dangerous road. Some individuals who feel extreme pressure to be thin ultimately develop eating disorders.

My recommendation is to discuss this matter with your parents as soon as possible. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Ask your parents if they will take you to counseling. Counseling could help you to develop a healthier relationship with your body. It could also help you to manage your weight in a healthy, controlled manner and address your depression and feelings of isolation.

Now is the time to seek help. You may or may not have an eating disorder. Counseling can eliminate the possibility or stop it before the problem becomes unmanageable. The “find help” tab at the top of this page can help you and your parents locate a therapist in your community. Please take care.

Dr. Kristina Randle

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 9 Aug 2011

APA Reference
Randle, K. (2011). Depression, Isolation, Counting Calories, Pressure To Be Skinny & Ways To Cope. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 24, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2011/08/09/depression-isolation-counting-calories-pressure-to-be-skinny-ways-to-cope/