What Could Be Wrong with Me?

By Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker

From the U.S.: i think i need a mental evaluation because i have a lot of social issues. i often appear awkward or stupid to others because i don’t know how to respond to them on the spot. its almost like i think too slow or can’t completely pay attention to or understand what they are saying. i often zone out or daydream and i have a habit of saying “what?” every time someone asks or tells me something because it gives me an extra few seconds to get what they’re saying.

i also have really low self esteem and i just hate myself because i never seem to do or say the right things. i often have suicidal thoughts and do self destructive things like stealing/shoplifting, drugs/alcohol etc. i have dreams about doing bad things too. i often lie – sometimes to hide something, or when i don’t have anything else to say, or even for no reason at all most of the time. i get really depressed or anxious and i tend to talk even when people aren’t listening to me even when i know it.

i’m pretty introverted and observant and i only have a couple of friends because i just don’t know how to talk to people, not even my family. i’m afraid of the people i have in my life leaving me, and i try really hard to be a good friend because i don’t want to be any more alone. i always end up caring about people more than they care about me and i take more time to understand them, especially the people i like. i also have times where i feel like i’m not really there or empty, and i get really sentimental like i have all these flashbacks and memories of random things. i’m 15 so is this normal? because ive always felt different from everyone else, and ive been this way for as long as i can remember. what should i do?

A: A good deal of what you’re saying sounds like normal teen issues. You are struggling to find out who you are and how to relate to others. Sometimes memories and daydreams are happier than the present, so you go there in your mind. That’s normal, too. In addition, you are by nature introverted and kind of shy, so you are perhaps struggling more than some of your classmates who are more naturally social. The most positive thing you said is that you do have a couple of good friends and you do value their friendship. That means you do know how to connect with others. That’s something to build on.

I’m worried that you are measuring yourself against some ideal that is difficult, if not impossible, to reach. I assure you, many, many teens (and quite a few adults for that matter) have more trouble than you might imagine figuring out how to be social, how to say the “right” things and how to have the perfect retort. Although they probably serve as distractions, hurting yourself and doing destructive things is not going to make things better and will only further damage your self-esteem. Instead you need to be building on the friendships you have.

Often it is friends who help friends figure things out. If you and your friends have a trusting relationship, you may be able to talk together about how to be more at ease with other people. If your friends aren’t the type of people to do that, maybe seeing a therapist for a little while would be helpful. A therapist can help you put things in perspective, can teach you some new skills and can support you while you try out new ways to be with other people.

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie

Photo

 

 

Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 3 May 2014

APA Reference
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2014). What Could Be Wrong with Me?. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 27, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2014/05/03/what-could-be-wrong-with-me/