Boring Life

By Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker

I have no idea why I think like this when I have a good life. I’m 16. I have dealt with occasional self harm since October 2011, but since 2012 summer its become more frequent. Not really often, only every couple weeks. I just don’t know why I even cut anymore, I just get caught up in the moment of anger or anxiety, so I cut myself.

Ever since I was 12 years old, I’ve always thought there was something wrong with me (or maybe I just wish something is wrong with me). My mind is full of conflicting thoughts. Ever since then I’d always search “personality disorder quizzes” online, I’d take them and most would come out with strong results for borderline personality disorder, or bipolar disorder. Though I know those quizzes aren’t reliable.

When I’m at school or with friends I feel fine for the most part, but maybe 2 out of the 5 school days a week I’ll just shut myself down and won’t feel like talking to anyone and I’ll just be very irritable.

In relationships (not that I’ve had many) I never let myself get close to the person, do anything sexual, hang out.. etc. I’m always overcome by anxiety and thinking the worst will happen.

Whenever I have plans to do something social, I always get the feeling in my stomach and I get extremely nervous for no reason at all.

Sports (I do track) I always want to be the best even though I’m not. And I’m never motivated to run in the off season but there’s always this voice in my head that makes me and I’m miserable. During season I always try to overcompensate injuries just so I don’t have to do anything at practice.

I just always feel this need to have a story, or have an interesting life. Maybe that’s why I cut, but I really feel like nothing’s wrong with me. I have this good life, with a nice family and house, I had a good childhood. Nothing bad has happened to me. But then I think, no sane person would just cut themselves, right? I mean, I don’t even know.

I always envision bad things happening to me: car accident, cancer, teen pregnancy, just so I would have an excuse to not do anything in my life and get attention from people.

And every day (excluding summer, winter, spring breaks) when I get home I have to do the EXACT same things at the EXACT same times or I’ll get very irritable.

Honestly, I think nothing’s wrong with me, I just want something to be wrong with me. Sorry this was long, but every aspect of my life is consumed by these thoughts (I left a lot of key parts out of this because of the word limit though) and I have no idea if I should get help or not.

Please help me, I don’t even know what to do about this anymore.

A: I can tell by your letter than you are a smart, sensitive young woman who thinks deeply about many things. Unfortunately, a little knowledge can indeed be dangerous. You are way over-thinking. The result is that you are making yourself anxious and upset about very normal feelings and thoughts. When people get over-anxious about things, they tend to get into quite a spin.

The kids who get the most attention are either very high or very low achievers or behave in ways that scare other people. Just doing what you’re supposed to do and doing it reasonably well doesn’t get a lot of applause or a lot of concern. It’s not fair but it seems to be how it is. You like attention. You like excitement. But you haven’t found a way to be outstanding and haven’t found something to be so passionate about that it gives you the rush you crave. On top of that, it sounds like maybe you are dealing with some anxiety that is holding you back from getting out there in life to find what will energize you.

To up the excitement level in your life, then, you need to find an activity and people who do it. You can do that without risking your life or your health. You can do it without resorting to fantasy. As you rightly pointed out, self-harm and making up stories aren’t really satisfying methods. Cutting hurts. Internal stories are just that — internal. You need a project that grabs your attention and that makes you feel like you’ve done something significant.

For some kids, performing in some way does the trick. For others, pulling off a big art or science project is just what they needed. For still others, getting involved in a project or cause with people they admire is the antidote to life that is too ordinary.

I suggest you sit down in a quiet place and ask yourself what you would be doing if you weren’t anxious. Just let the ideas come. You will probably get at least a hint about a direction you can take. Then start taking some small risks. You could take on some backstage work if you don’t feel ready to perform. You could assist others in a project you believe in if you’re not ready to be a leader. You’ll get to know new people and you’ll develop new skills. Most important, you’ll be able to point to whatever it is and proudly say to yourself, “I helped do that!”

The world needs passionate people who are passionate about making change, seeking new discoveries and making new art. I hope you find an area that makes your heart sing and that lets you make a difference.

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 29 Jan 2013

APA Reference
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2013). Boring Life. Psych Central. Retrieved on December 18, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2013/01/29/boring-life/