Last winter, I was extremely upset and sad for no apparent reason. I had plenty of friends but I just often felt alone and that no one cared about me. My self-esteem is pretty low, and I absolutely hate my body. I feel disgusting after I eat, and even though I try to eat pretty healthy, I still binge eat almost every night. I self-harmed a bit, mostly because I wanted to see if anyone would notice. My parents work a lot and when they didn’t notice even when I wore short-sleeves, I got really upset. Killing myself often crossed my mind and I also had thoughts of violence, not only directed at myself, but at other people as well. These thoughts scared me a lot but suddenly I started feeling much better and was extremely happy for months on end. Now I am starting to feel the same way again. This time around I have been hoping to die, but not by suicide. Every time I get in the car, I hope that it will crash and I’ll either die or get to go to the hospital for a very long time. I know it is bad but I often wish I could be in a life threatening accident just to have something interesting in my life and have people take care of me. I have also attempted to break my own bones in addition to cutting my wrists. Even though I have these terrifying thoughts of killing myself or someone else, I know I won’t ever really do it. This is why I often hope a random accident will happen to me so I don’t have to do it to myself. Also, when I see horrific things on the news or on TV, it fascinates me, and I don’t think this is normal. I get angry very easily and at small things, like if someone mispronounces a word. In addition I have experimented with some drugs and alcohol, and I feel like my use is getting out of control because I have started to do it alone. Nothing traumatic has ever really happened in my life and I am just trying to figure these feelings out!! (age 16, from US)Confusion and Sadness
Confusion and Sadness
A: You are correct to think that these feelings are not normal and could be signs of depression or Seasonal Affective Disorder, which is a type of depression that can occur during the winter months. These are psychological disorders and don’t have to have anything to do with traumatic experiences. Depression can also run in cycles, so sometimes you might feel fine, while other times you experience the symptoms.
The fact that you have had suicidal thoughts, have self-harmed, and feel that your drug and alcohol use is “getting out of control” are all reasons to seek professional help as soon as possible. If you aren’t sure how to speak to your parents about this, consider printing your letter along with my answer. You can also speak with your school counselor or nurse, or another trusted adult. You deserve to enjoy your teen years and there are successful treatments available. Please give them a try.
All the best,
Dr. Holly Counts