Disturbing Symptoms

By Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker

I’m 15 and I’ve been very depressed lately. I feel empty. Hopeless. Tired, but cannot sleep. It feels like something in my life is missing and I don’t know what or who it is. I’ve lost all interest I once had and I’ve had problems sleeping. I always wake up tired. I feel sad, irritated, angry, empty and emotionless sometimes. But sometimes I feel happy. I don’t know if it’s genuine though.. I can laugh, have fun and do funny stuff. I can laugh until I cry. I can talk without stopping. I’m just.. Too happy sometimes. I guess you call it manic or something? So yeah.. Sometimes I feel angry, irritated, sometimes I feel sad, depressed, empty and sometimes happy, smiley, hyped up. I don’t know why.

And when I’m depressed, I cut, beat myself, cry. Basically, harm myself. And I don’t know if this is interesting but, I used to hear voices and see things. I also felt people touch me. Once someone blew in my ear (it wasn’t a human). I used to hear a woman cry every night before sleep. And I saw white men. They looked like ghosts. And I am very sensitive to sound. An unexpected sound can make me panic and attack the person that is making the sound. I can be very aggressive I guess.. Sometimes the sounds echo in my mind.

I don’t know why I’m like this. I don’t want to be strange. It feels like people are talking behind my back all the time. Talking about how stupid and weird I am.. I don’t want it to be like this.. Please, help me. I’m too scared to talk to someone in real life, face to face.

A: Talking with someone face to face is exactly what you need to do. You have suffered far too long with this. I can’t tell from a letter whether the sleep disorder is causing the emotional upheaval and hallucinations or if there is something else going on that is causing the sleep disorder. It could go either way. Without a proper understanding of the problem, I can’t give you sound advice.

But what I can tell you is this: You need to see a professional mental health counselor for an evaluation. Share your letter with the counselor as a way to get started. Talk about exactly how much sleep you are getting and how often you wake up. If a sleep disorder is the problem, the counselor will give you advice about how to get back into a regular sleep cycle.

If, on the other hand, the sleep problems are a result of an emerging mental illness, then he or she will help you understand the treatment options for that.

You made an important first step by writing. Now please take yourself seriously and get the help you need. You don’t have to live like this. You don’t have to be “strange.” With some practical help and support, you can reclaim the girl you used to be.

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 5 Mar 2014

APA Reference
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2014). Disturbing Symptoms. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 29, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2014/03/05/disturbing-symptoms/

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