Q: For quite a while now, over 10 years, I’ve felt depressed. Sometimes, periods of relief would happen, but then the depression would always come back. Lately, I think it has been agitated by my lack of self-esteem. I’ve never had a boyfriend and I struggle with the criticism I have received over the years for not being the blonde ideal that most guys seem to want. The only way I can seem to get control of my anger and hatred towards myself is by cutting, sometimes stabbing myself, with razors, pics, small knives, etc.. But it is starting to not be enough; I’ve been entertaining thoughts of suicide lately & have given myself a deadline. If I can’t find any happiness within a year, I will die. What I’m writing about though, is that someone told me recently that I should seek therapy, but I’m not sure how that could even help. What I really would like to know, is how therapy could help in my situation? I know that question might sound silly, since it is the most common suggestion given for people suffering from mental illnesses.

A: If you had a heart problem would go to a cardiologist? If you broke your leg would go to an orthopedic specialist? If you had diabetes would you go to an internist? I’m just still amazed that people resist getting help for their emotional problems. Why is it any different? You don’t have to have a serious mental illness to see a therapist. But the problems you are talking about here are very serious. Self-harm and suicidal thoughts are very serious issues and I most definitely think you should see someone for help. It is difficult to explain exactly how therapy works or why it works but it does. Therapists specialize in problems relating to thoughts, feelings, and behaviors in addition to dealing with biochemistry and general life issues. There is something transformative about finding someone totally neutral to talk to about your deepest darkest feelings. They are also experts on helping you find solutions and new ways of looking at things. Please give it a try and if at first you don’t feel comfortable, try another one until you do. Good luck.