I am 18 and I just graduated from high school. I am so tired; I put on a front all the time to make people think that I am just so happy when really I cry myself to sleep every night. I just don't know how much longer I can do this. I wouldn't call myself suicidal but I have cut myself before or I'll punch myself just so I can feel and see the wounds on the outside. I want people to see how I hurt. When I was in the 11th grade I had a teacher pull me over to the side and ask where I got all the bruises (I said my brother). Then I noticed those looked so gross so I would cut myself on the wrist where no one ever seemed to notice and when someone did I said it came from a cat or dog. Cutting was one thing I didn't want anyone to know I did. The times I cut have been when I was let down by a guy, which happens to me so often. I don't do anything wrong. I think it might be because I don't have sex. When I'm dating a guy I am happy. I just need some advice. I'm tired and a lot of times I just want to get in my car and drive away from here! I only do this when I'm upset because of a guy. I can never make relationships work. The only time I'm happy is when I'm seeing someone.
I can't tell anyone about how I cut. Will I grow out of this or is it just going to get worse?
Stacey (18 year-old girl)
You are suffering from severe depression. I know, because at your age I was in the same hell as you are. For seven endless years, I was constantly miserable, life didn't seem to be worth living, and I hopelessly knew that it was because I was faulty, and things would never get better.
Stacy, they did get better. I am now a psychologist, a healer, precisely because I have suffered myself.
You are now at the start of your adult life. May I suggest, that when you have defeated your enemy, the Depression that has taken hold of you, you also dedicate your life to helping other sufferers?
I know nothing about your circumstances: what country you live in, are you starting College or University or work, do you live with your parents, what your financial resources are like. So, I can't make specific suggestions. All I can say is that I have beaten this monster within, and so can you.
I have a few little hints about your problem, and about your nature as a person.
You are happy only when you receive loving attention from a guy. This implies to me that within, you don't value yourself at all. You need external validation. 'This guy likes me, so I can't be all that bad.' Then, when he goes, 'See, this proves I am no good after all.' And then you feel a need to punish yourself for being no good.
Of course, what most of these young fellows want is sex. What you want is love and commitment. You are perfectly right: that's why they try it on with you, and when you decline, they look for someone 'easier'.
Good for you, Stacy. This shows that you are strong and morally good.
A great many people, particularly girls, wreck their lives by trying to buy love. It never works.
If you were as bad and worthless as you think, would you have the strength, intelligence and courage to say 'no' to a guy, even though you know that this means that you'll probably lose him?
This proves that the Depression is telling you lies.
Why are you in this hell?
Again, I can't make specific guesses without a lot more information, but the general picture is clear to me. You can get an idea too by looking for books on Depression by Aaron Beck. He has written several excellent self-help books that explain the way Depression is formed, and what to do about it.
My answer to you so far has been 'Narrative Therapy'. Beck is a leader of 'Cognitive Therapy'. This is based on the concept that emotions and moods follow thoughts. Thoughts are influenced by very basic, simple beliefs we acquire as children.
People like you and I, who are subject to depression, acquired beliefs of these three types:
- 'I am faulty in some way.' Yours may well be something like 'Nobody could possibly love me.' Mine was 'I am stupid and useless and stuff up everything I try.'
- 'The world is a terrible place.'
- 'It is hopeless, things will never get better.'
Depression tells you these lies. It puts despair-colored glasses over your eyes so that you only see the bad. And the worse you allow yourself to feel, the stronger it gets.
Stacey, research shows that about eight sessions of Cognitive Therapy will almost always defeat Depression. This is a small investment of money when you consider that it will improve the quality of your life for perhaps another eighty years!
Seek out a local psychologist who uses Cognitive Therapy, Narrative Therapy or both. Ask your parents to invest in your happiness. If they don't have the resources, get a part time job at any honest task that'll earn you a dollar, and save up for your therapy.
If you still can't afford local fees for counseling, consider my email therapy.
Have a good life, my dear. You can.