Hello and thank you for your question:
It certainly sounds like you are going through an awful time and I can see why Mom may think that it’s just a teenager thing. The truth is, there is really no harder time in life than adolescence, but it sounds like you have more going on than just “growing pains” or whatever they call teenage problems.
Teenagers suffer terribly; nearly half of my patients are teens and the problems seem similar on the surface. There are a few things that teens have in common and that causes anxiety and depression in them.
First, they feel that no one understands them. And the hard fact is, most adults really don’t. We try to compare our adolescence to yours and that’s unrealistic. Life isn’t the same for you as it was for me. It really is much harder now.
Second, cutting, burning, and popping pills is common but a scary thing for adults to know about, let alone try to understand. So, when our child tries to tell us how hard things are, we may block it out, not believing that she really has some serious problems going on.
Third, adults are still a little skeptical about mental health issues. Sometimes we may think that it isn’t real, and doesn’t need help. They may be ashamed that someone in their family needs a doctor for this kind of thing.
Fourth, adults may think that if we ignore the problem it will go away. Truth is, the child learns to bury their feelings and “pretend” that things have gotten better. Then they cut themselves, or use drugs.
Here’s what I suggestshow your mom this letter and ask her to take you to a doctor for some help. You may have a physical issue that can be addressed by your pediatrician. Or, it may be an emotional issue.
Either way, you are in trouble and need a professional. You can find some local therapists by clicking on Find A Therapist. You may even need medications, but first, I would suggest you find a therapist who specializes in working with teens.
He or she may recommend your seeing a psychiatrist for medications, but ask your mom to help you take the first step. Hurting yourself with cutting and burning is very serious and should not be ignored by a parent.
I hope this helps,
Dr. Diana Walcutt