I am an 18 year old senior girl. I have always taken challenging courses in school and have, for the most part, done well in them. I have never engaged in any kind of risky behavior, such as drinking or doing drugs. I participate in many extracurricular activities, including captaining the school marching band and acting as vice president of a creative writing group.
Regardless of my level of success, however, it seems that my parents are always complaining that I could do better, that I should have all A’s, that I should have more friends (even though they rarely let me attend any kind of social event), that I shouldn’t be overweight, that I should be first chair in band… the list goes on. They punish me for the smallest things, such as forgetting to do an assignment for school (I’m currently enduring a month-long grounding for this offense) or for my room being untidy.
I have never felt particularly close to my parents, and as I’ve gotten older, this distance seems to have widened. I spend as much time away from home as possible to avoid my parents’ iron grip. I feel as if I don’t belong to my family, and I’m not sure whether I want to belong. We don’t see eye-to-eye on many things. I’ve always been somewhat of the black sheep; I’m not athletic, not competitive, not religious. I think I’ve always been this way; I first tried to run away at age 5 or so, and only stopped trying when I realized that it would be better to just wait it out until college.
I have been struggling with what I believe is dysthymic disorder since I was 12 or 13, when I first began contemplating suicide. These feelings have increased as I’ve gotten older. During my freshman and sophomore years, I would deliberately burn myself; I tried cutting, but the sight of my own blood made me sick. I’ve stopped doing that now, but I still have suicidal thoughts almost every day. I feel hopeless and fearful all the time, and though I can dispel the mood sometimes when I’m around my friends, it always comes back. I feel that I have no control over my life. I just want to be in charge of myself, but I can’t wrest control away from my parents, and they allow me little say in what I do.
I’ve never told anyone else about my suicidal tendencies. I’ve never actually tried to kill myself, but I’m afraid that one day it’ll all be too much. It came close this spring when I was waitlisted for my college of choice. That college represents so much to me: my freedom, a new start. I made it through with the help of my friends, but I know there’ll be other large disappointments in my life.
Some people say that while there’s life there’s hope. For me, it seems to be that while I’ve hope, I’ll keep living. I’m afraid that I’ll lose that hope.I’m depressed and at odds with my parents.
I’m depressed and at odds with my parents.
I’m so, so sorry that you feel so down and unappreciated for all the fine things you do. My guess is that your parents think that holding you to high standards is the way to help you be successful in life. Somewhere along the line, they lost sight of the importance of also letting you know that they love you as you are. The resulting distance is sad for all of you.
You have almost reached your goal of being old enough to leave home and make your own way. Let me remind you that there are over 3000 colleges and universities in the U.S. I’m sorry you didn’t get accepted at the one you chose but that leaves a mere 2999 or so. I’m sure one of them (probably lots of them) would be more than happy to accept a person as accomplished as you. There are probably many that would give you a scholarship too. All you need to do is somehow find the energy to make a search and to apply. Since you are feeling so down, I’m guessing you would find that hard to do. I’m glad you have some good friends around you. Perhaps there are one or two who would get into helping you with that project.
Meanwhile, I do encourage you to get into some therapy. Your school guidance counselor can help you figure out how to locate one and, perhaps, how to enlist your parents’ help in paying for it. (If you have health insurance, most policies will cover at least some therapy each year.) A good counselor can help you manage your feelings and find positive ways to take control of your life. In time, it might be helpful to involve your parents in therapy with you. Your letter suggests that they will have difficulty moving into a more adult relationship with you.
I wish you well.