Q. My best friend is having issues, she won’t tell me what they are, I can’t help her, and I don’t feel close to her like I used to. Also, my dad has been having an affair, my parents are getting a divorce, and neither is ever home except for really late at night. I’m OK with that though because they are very mean. My dad tells me I am worthless and lazy and says stuff like “I have to put up with your mom, now I have to put up with you!” My mom is the worst though. She snaps at the simplist things, screaming at me in our front yard in front of neighbors because I am taking too long to wash the dog, threatening to leave me and move back to Florida because I am not dressed for an Orchestra recital, discussing with me my dad’s affair in deplorable detail even after I ask her to please stop, telling me how I am the sorce of all her pain and suffering. Two weeks ago we were visiting family. I guess I made her mad, as soon as we got there she said “we are leaving, get your stuff” then “tell them what you did! tell them how you singed the papers! tell them what you did kelsey!” (I singed something saying I would live with my dad). Needless to say, I think I have depression. I’m not the same. I could give you a list of symptoms but they pretty much cover everything in the book. I have heard you give advice before when people say they have depression and don’t know how to get help. You say tell your parents. Well I can’t. Seriously. So what do I do? Is there some way I can get medication and/or help without my parent’s finding out? I just turned 16. Should I wait untill I am 18 and can seek help without having to have parental consent?
A. If you know from reading my responses that my advice is to tell your parents then you probably also know that I often suggest going to a school counselor in these types of situations. I think that when individuals are put into these terrible situations by their parents and thus feel they cannot talk to their parents, the school counselor is the second best place to go for help. Another alternative would be to go to any relative that you feel close to or comfortable with about your need for help.
The school counselor can meet with you about your home situation and if he or she feels it is necessary, can refer you to outside professional help. I cannot guarantee that the school counselor will not go to your parents but it is likely that he or she would not, unless the counselor felt that you were putting yourself in serious danger (i.e. considering suicide). As far as going to a counselor on your own, who is not the school counselor, whether or not informed consent applies to you depends on the state in which you reside. All states have different laws and ages at which they consider parental consent issues. In sum, I cannot answer this question directly because it depends on the laws in your state.
You should not wait until you are 18 to get help. Try the school counselor and talk to him or her about what you have been experiencing. I am not sure if medication would be the correct treatment for you at this time. It might just be that you need a trained professional to help you work through the unpleasant and frankly abusive situation that you have been placed in by your parents. I applaud you for taking the initiative to get yourself help during this complicated time. You strike me as someone who is mature and brave. I would encourage you to please write again if you have any further questions.