Depressed or Simply Unhappy?

By Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker

At the age of 13 I was diagnosed with Adolescent Scoliosis, a problem with the spine. I had to wear a back brace, as an already shy person this didn’t help as I felt like a freak. When I was 14 I found out the back brace wasn’t working and I needed to have an operation to prevent conditions getting worse.MY friends didn’t even speak to me. Before summer started my mum found out my dad was cheating on her to my complete surprise. I didn’t see it coming and throughout the whole summer I was looking after her and constantly worrying about her.

I did well in my GCSE’s considering. My A-levels were quite the roller-coaster. Not only was the work difficult but I had to battle the back pain I still get and I was lonely as my friendships were not very strong. Particularly in my second year I found it difficult to relate to them as they were all turning 18 but not me. My results were poor even though I’d worked hard. Throughout my A-level years I felt under intense pressure as my teachers expected high grades but I felt so negative about my prospects due to the back pain I would have to put up with during exams and my low expectations.

Currently I am studying a foundation degree but I am still feeling down and not optimistic about the future. I have no friends that I can talk to and no one I can go out with. I am constantly getting upset and having bouts of hopelessness. Things that would make me happy such as my boyfriend saying he loves me and me meaning the world to him don’t seem to register. When doing assignments and work I sit there knowing that I should be able to do it but I can’t seem to concentrate. When at home I sleep to pass the time even when i’m not tired as my usual hobbies do not make me happy anymore. With my history it is difficult with my history to know whether I have any sign of depression or whether I will grow out of it. I have been waiting it out for at least 3 years thinking it is teenage hormones. I know I am still young but with my history I am not sure whether this i! s normal or if I am depressed.

A: Please give yourself lots of credit. You have dealt with far more than most young people ever have to deal with and still managed to get decent grades and to be a support to your mum. I think you are one amazing young woman.

You are having a very normal reaction to an “abnormal” situation. No one is prepared to deal with chronic pain or chronic illness. It often wears a person down. You have done very well to make it this far without professional help and support. I’m surprised and dismayed that the medical doctors didn’t refer you to a counselor long ago.

I can’t make a diagnosis on the basis of a letter. But I can tell you that what you are reporting is consistent with a diagnosis of depression. You may have used up most of your reserves for coping with an extremely challenging situation. Please don’t feel bad about yourself for that. It’s like a battery that has been constantly discharging. At some point, you have to recharge it for it to keep working.

I think you need to see a mental health counselor to talk about all you’ve been through and to renew your inner resources. From all you’ve said, I have every confidence that you will make good use of therapy. Your therapist will help you learn new ways to cope and may help you find some new ways to manage the pain.

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie

Photo

 

 

Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 30 Nov 2012

APA Reference
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2012). Depressed or Simply Unhappy?. Psych Central. Retrieved on December 21, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2012/11/30/am-i-depressed-or-just-unhappy/