Despite tireless efforts so that my family stays in the dark, I’ve known for years now that there is something wrong with me. I have a family history of mental illness and OCD. I scored high on this site’s OCD test. I’ve attempted to point out behaviors in mind that point to OCD to my family but I’m always shut down. I struggle with anger but, growing up, I was not allowed to express my anger at all. Even as a young child, I was expected to ‘act mature’ and couldn’t even raise my voice a little, or I’d get in trouble. Because of this, I privately turn my anger inward at myself; punching myself, scratching my skin, and getting into fits where I convulse and shake and cry– all while staying completely quiet, of course, because it would not be considered acceptable by my family members. It is how I learned to cope. I have thought before after I had finished having one of these ‘fits’ that if I saw a video of someone else behaving in the same way I would think that they were completely insane. Deviant behavior is held in low regard at my house; even people with tame fetishes my parents and sister proclaimed to be mentally ill and awful people. This way of thinking has been devastating to me, as a person with a few unothodox fetishes and is someone who enjoys ‘kinky’ behavior (I’m not into pedophilia or rape or anything harmful like that, of course). I believe I’m a disappointment for these interests. Certain sounds and physical feelings (for example, the sound of someone humming/singing in the feeling of my hands or arms being kissed or touched and parentheses are simply unbearable. They send me into a panic. These feelings are brushed off by my family if I mention it. I also engage in self stimulating behavior like biting or psyching my fingertips, bouncing my legs and rocking, and very frequent masturbation. Does any of this sound like there is something wrong with me or my just being too sensitive and overreacting like my family says I am wont to do? Sorry if it’s a lot of information; I feel like it’s all connected and if I can get an outside opinion maybe I can do something to help myself. Or maybe it’s nothing. Either way, thanks a lot for reading.

A. It’s impossible to provide a diagnosis over the Internet. Generally speaking, if you are unhappy and believe that something is wrong, you should consult a mental health professional. Your reaction to strong emotions should not involve self-harm. There are better ways to manage strong emotions and these skills can be learned in counseling.

You mentioned that your “unorthodox” sexual interests would “disappoint” your family members but how would they know about them? Unless you tell them they will not know. Sexual interests are not typically discussed with family members. Many people would probably be “disappointed” in the sexual interests of their friends and family members which is why it’s not an openly discussed topic. Sexual interests are private and generally only shared with partners and not with family members.

I understand that you are upset with your parents for being unable to properly address your emotional needs but they are not mental health professionals. You should not expect them to know how to treat emotional problems. Mental health professionals have gained that type of specialized knowledge through rigorous training.

Your first step should be asking your parents for their assistance in consulting a mental health professional. If that does not work then ask the school counselor for their assistance. Those are two good places to start.

In the meantime, try journaling about your strong emotions instead of engaging in self-harm. The goal is to find alternative, healthy outlets for your strong emotions that don’t involve self-harm. You might also try reading self-help books. My favorite books are written by David Burns. Counseling will benefit you immensely. I hope you get the opportunity to try it. Good luck and please take care.

Dr. Kristina Randle