I want to know if anything is wrong with me. I crave attention, positive or negative and have done for many years. Over the past year i’ve started to have depressive episodes in which i contemplate hurting myself, and have done, but only minor things to get attention or to avoid having to do something (feel stressed due to being anxious about situations) ive even contemplated killing myself once, though i was under the influence of alcohol, but without the intention of ever commencing the act as i couldn’t do something like that as it would hurt the people i love. i feel ashamed of being like this as i come from a loving family and have great friends and a great life so why do i feel this way!?!

A. It is human nature to desire attention. Attention is validating. It is a way of letting us know that we matter to someone. Children in particular need attention. When they do not receive it, they may act inappropriately to receive it. The same is true with teenagers. If they do not receive an appropriate amount of attention, they too may misbehave. “Acting out” might be your way of ensuring that someone pays attention to you. Harming yourself is physical evidence that your desire for attention is real. Self-injury ensures that those around you will see your pain. Thus self-harm may be a form of “guaranteed attention” but it is a misguided approach to meeting your needs.

My main concern about your behavior is self-injury. Self-injury is, by definition, self-destructive. An additional concern is your contemplation of ending your life. Thankfully you have decided otherwise but that might not always be the case. Your behavior may progress to the point where you lose control, especially if you are intoxicated.

You stated that you are ashamed of your behavior. Shame might hinder you from receiving the appropriate mental health treatment. Many people have struggled with the same problems. Your depression, anxiety and self-harm need to be treated. You should see a mental health professional. Speak to your parents, report these problems and request that they assist you in finding the appropriate mental health care. Please take care.

Dr. Kristina Randle