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I Can’t Tell if I’m Okay or Not

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From a teen in the U.S.: Thank you so much for taking the time to read this! I’ll try to keep it organized.

About two years ago, I started to be much more aware of everything. All of my feelings and memories intensified. It was fun to feel so alive, so I kept chasing the thoughts that led me there (where are we, why do people do what they do etc) deeper down the rabbit hole and now I don’t know where I’ve ended up. I smile all the time, but it’s not because I’m happy. I’m living for other people. I haven’t let myself be angry or yell at someone since I don’t even remember when. Intellectually, I think I get that it’s probably not healthy, but I don’t think I can make myself choose to be different.

I tend to analyze myself, so I identified the two events in my past that affected me. The first was that my dad died when I was 13. I think that’s part of why I fear death, because I understand what it really means to just stop existing and that there’s no rule or pattern saying when it will happen. On the flip side, it’s helped me stop wasting time. And the other event was when my coaches quit on my team sophomore year. I didn’t realize how bad it had been, and as captain I defended the coaches days before they quit. I still blame myself, but I grew up a lot trying to run things on my own after that. I think I was heading toward whatever these feelings are without these two events, but they helped push me there.

My whole family is a tree of hypochondriacs, so there are nights when I’ll stay up freaking out about my heartbeat or not breathing after I fall asleep. I’ve taught myself to just shut that down with logic, but nighttime is still when I think too much.

Most days I can choose to be okay. I can choose to see both the dark and light side. But there are days when it feels like it would be so much easier stop choosing to be okay and to fall off onto the not okay side. I’m just waiting for college to go see someone who doesn’t already know me. Is this normal?

Thank you again!


I Can’t Tell if I’m Okay or Not

Answered by on -


¬†Another question is whether this is “normal” for you. You’ve had two important losses in your young life — losses that taught you not to take life for granted and that you needed to depend on yourself. Those are not bad lessons to learn. It’s also not a bad thing to be analytic, especially in a family where people are hypochondriacal. You’ve learned to stop and think about whether symptoms are real. That is often the focus of Cognitive Behavior Therapy. You figured that technique out all by yourself.

I think we all make a daily decision about whether to see life’s events as mostly positive or negative. The difference is that most people just do it automatically and unconsciously. You are more aware of the choices you are making than most.

Are you normal? I can’t tell on the basis of a letter, of course. What I can tell you is that the range of “normal” is enormous. You have responded normally to life events. Whether you’ve taken it too far is something you’d need to talk to a counselor face to face to figure out. If that would give you peace of mind, I hope you will do so. A counselor can help you dig deeper and gain more insight into who you are and what you might want to work on to be all you can be.

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie

I Can’t Tell if I’m Okay or Not

Therapists live, online right now, from BetterHelp:

Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker

Dr. Marie is licensed as both a psychologist and marriage and family counselor. She specializes in couples and family therapy and parent education. Follow her on Facebook or Twitter.

APA Reference
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2018). I Can’t Tell if I’m Okay or Not. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 22, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 May 2018 (Originally: 22 Sep 2016)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 May 2018
Published on Psych All rights reserved.