This started around 1 or 2 years ago. My parents had got a divorced and my dad started seeing this girl, that was around four years ago. The girl was nice to me and my brother, who is about a year older than me. She had three other kids, currently 10, 7, and 4. I started feeling like I’ve got anxiety when I was twelve. My grandma was diagnosed with anxiety, and currently takes pills for it. I had a few anxiety attacks around the beginning of this year. I gold cold chills, I couldn’t stop shaking or crying, I’d feel dizzy, and it happened around 3 times, mostly near night. I told my dad, and he told me I was retarded, that I was just acting special. Thats one of the reasons I haven’t gone to a therapist. I feel my parents would call me stupid, or think low of me if I did. But my dad’s girl friend is always mean to me. She’s nice to my brother most of the times, but not to me. She was nice at first, but then after my dad stopped asking she became really rude, and didn’t seem to care. She’s always rude to her own mom, and is always taking her money, yet if I say anything at all on my mind she gets mad. She yells at me for everything, but when anyone else does it, she just tells them. The other day she screamed and was calling me useless, telling me that I couldn’t do anything right, and I could never listen, but when I told my dad, he just said she was having a bad morning. I can’t talk to her. She’s always so mean, just like I can’t talk to my dad like I used to. She yells if I say anything while shes talking to my dad, but no matter how many times I try to talk privately to my dad, she’s always got something to say. When I was cleaning her bathroom I found dieting pills. Which explains why she always thinks she’s skinnier than me. She is always calling me fat, saying that I can’t do things because I’m not good enough, and not letting me have a say in things. This one time I pulled out a pair of her shorts when I was folding /her/ laundry, I thought they were her 10 year old daughters shorts. I just wanna say that she is a lot bigger than me, even her daughter thinks so. Lately I don’t know what to do. I started staying in my room in the basement, except when she told me to do things and to eat, and I got in a lot less trouble with her. But lately even when I’m in the basement she’s always got something against me. I don’t know what to do about this, my friends don’t help, they hardly even listen, but every day I just feel closer to crying, and lately all of it’s just making me want to die. I told my dad several times I didn’t like her, and he always said to get over it. My dad’s bought a house with her and everything. He hasn’t proposed or anything, but somehow I know there’s no escaping her. (age 14, from US)The Whole World Seems like It’s Against Me
The Whole World Seems like It’s Against Me
A: Unfortunately, you are probably right, there’s “no escaping her” so you’re going to have to try to make the best of it. It sounds like you thought your dad’s girlfriend was nice in the beginning, but things have gone downhill since then. I’m sorry that things have gotten so uncomfortable for you lately. Even though you said your dad has minimized your feelings in the past, I think you need to continue to ask for help. You have some serious concerns about not being treated as well as everyone else in the home, but even more importantly, you have had anxiety attacks and are getting more hopeless about your situation. If you get help now while you are young, you could avoid lots of problems later. If your dad doesn’t do anything about it, try talking to someone else.
I’m curious what role your mother plays in your life now because you haven’t mentioned her. Can you talk to her about your concerns and see if she will take you to therapy? If you don’t live with her now, have you considered moving in with her?
From what you describe in your letter, you could benefit from individual therapy for the anxiety and stress and family therapy to make things more comfortable at home. If your parents don’t get you help soon, speak with your school counselor or nurse. Some schools actually provide counseling now, but if not, they can help you get connected with someone who does.
In the meantime, I would suggest that you start journaling about your feelings. It’s a safe way to express yourself without worrying about the judgment of others. Use it to vent your frustrations about what is going on at home, but also to find positive things in your life. It may also help you talk to your dad in a more effective manner. Instead of just telling him you don’t like his girlfriend (which will make him naturally defensive) speak to him about very specific instances in which you felt hurt and give him examples.
The other saving grace is that you are at an age when your focus will begin shifting to things outside of the home, such as friends, school, extracurricular activities, hobbies and so forth. If you find enough things that make you feel good, you may have a lot more patience to deal with the aspects of your life that you don’t like right now. I hope things get better for you soon.
All the best,
Dr. Holly Counts