From the U.S.: Hi, I’m a 13, going onto 14 year old girl and I am so confused about what has been going on with me. I always seem to feel guilty, but I have no clue why. I know I haven’t done anything wrong. It’s a feeling that hurts so badly, it usually happens late at night when I am all alone. I’m also super scared to talk to a lot of people, even my aunts, uncles and cousins. I guess I can say I’m socially awkward?

Late at night I will try going to sleep, but then I just think of going to school, and thinking of how much my family doesn’t like me. I will just start crying and breathing goes shallow. I get a hurting feeling, and I feel so guilty. What has been occurring more recently (specifically tonight and the past week) is that I have been easily aggravated, and I will suddenly be in a good mood and then I just turn nasty. I get so frustrated and I start acting nasty to my parents, and I know I shouldn’t but I can’t help it and I don’t know where the anger came from. It angered me that I cried, and that I don’t understand why I am so angry.

If it helps, I’m not popular in my school, but a good amount of friends that make me very happy. My grades are As and Bs, only struggling with two subjects which is math and Spanish. I had mid-terms next week, so I don’t know if this is all happening from stress or not. I haven’t been too worried about the mid-terms though. Please help explain what may be wrong?

A: Your letter shows you to be an intelligent and sensitive person. I suspect that a number of things are going on. First, you are 13 so your body is changing. Being emotional at this stage in your life is absolutely normal. If it would give you peace of mind, it might be helpful to see your doctor to just check out whether part of the emotionality is about a hormone imbalance.

It’s also possible that you haven’t yet learned the coping skills that someone with your sensitivities needs to know to be less reactive to stress. This, again, is normal. Most people aren’t systematically taught coping skills. You can help yourself by learning some form of meditation, getting regular exercise and making sure you get at least 8 hours of sleep every night, no matter what.

Also, being socially awkward is generally a phase teens go through. That doesn’t make it less painful. But maybe it helps for you know you are not alone. You seem to be doing pretty well despite being nervous about it. I hope you know that not everyone is “popular”. Having a good amount of friends who make you happy is what most people most want and you already have that.

If you continue to be worried that your family doesn’t like you, I do encourage you to have a frank talk with your parents about it if you think you can. They are also adjusting to having a teenager so it may be that you are all having trouble communicating, not that they don’t like you.

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie