From a teen in the U.S.: i’m positive that i am depressed. i’ve had countless episodes where i have felt empty/numb inside and shut everyone out as well as having lost interest in many things. i’ve only recently started cutting myself, but i’m working on stopping the habit.
depression runs in my family, but my problem is seeking professional help. my parents tend to dismiss things like depression, and i learned that when i found out about my younger sibling cutting herself. i come from a religious family, so they “prayed” about it and eventually got her to stop.
truthfully, my sister cut in order to fit in with some of her friends. with me, however, i do it to feel/alleviate the pain. i’ve struggled with my emotional problems for roughly four years after a traumatic death of a family member, and i’m having trouble with telling my parents that i need help.
i’m homeschooled and have no forms of social contact whatsoever. i’m socially deprived, and at times i enjoy being alone but at others i loathe it. my only forms of socializing are secret social media accounts, and that’s about it. i’m really not sure as to how that means much of anything, but i think it has contributed to my depression. i hate to go about “self-diagnosing” but i’ve done my research, and depression is the only thing that accurately describes my emotions (or lack thereof).
my true question would have to be how to explain to my parents about the situation when there’s a high risk of them dismissing it. they and no one else, for that matter have any idea that i might be depressed, or that i participate in self-harm. i’ve no idea as to how to communicate to them about how i want to seek help, and they’ve reacted negatively to antidepressants with my own grandmother (who has depression).
i hope i’m not bothering anyone with this, and honestly i think it’ss trivial, but i don’t want this to become worse than it already is.
i’m ready and i want to seek professional help. i just don’t know if my parents will accept the fact that their daughter may have problems of her own. i am not asking for any diagnosis; just some help on how to explain my situation.
A: Thank you for writing. You are not bothering me. Your problem isn’t trivial. You have written an articulate letter in which you’ve done your best to both present your problem and be sympathetic to your parents’ beliefs. Many, maybe even most, people do need some help following a traumatic death. That situation plus the fact that there is a family history of depression are enough of a reason for you to see a professional.
I think the place to start is with your medical doctor. I don’t know if there is a medical component to this or not. If there is, treatment can be offered. Of equal importance, though, is that physicians can often do what a teen can’t. Your doctor can tell your parents that you need an evaluation for depression. She or he can also suggest some changes in life style that would benefit you at this stage of your life.
If you parents are not open to having you see a doctor, think about other adults you trust and they respect who might be able to help you have a calm and clear discussion with them. Is there a relative who can give you support? How about a church elder?
At 17, you should be getting ready to leave home. Your isolation is part of your problem. You need more social contacts in order to become more socially secure. If your parents are committed to home schooling, find other ways to get out with people your own age. Join something. Participate in a sport. Volunteer where other teens are doing good work. Maybe find a part time job that will both get you out into the community and let you save some money toward future schooling or a place of your own.
You have made an important start to your adult life by taking care of yourself by reaching out for some help here at PsychCentral. Please find the courage and strength to take the next steps.
I wish you well.