Need help making friends
I'm 15 years old and I live in Portland Maine. I have lived here my entire life and I don't care for it much. I am extremely shy and I don't have any friends. People tell me that when you look in the mirror the person staring back is the best friend you'll ever have (as true as that may be, its not the same). I feel alone a lot.
I'm having real problems making friends. I'm afraid to walk down the hallway at my school and greet acquaintances. My old friends all left me behind because they thought I was "Shady". I'm depressed a lot and I cry every night. Now I'm stuck all by myself and I don't know what to do. I know that you guys can't get out here and make friends for me, but I'm hoping that you can give me advice on how to do it for myself. I really need friends in my life. Any advice that you could provide would be very appreciated.
I'm really glad that you wrote, because what you're going through right now sounds very painful. You don't have to keep on this way, though. That's the good news. The bad news is that it's going to take work on your part, and you're going to need to do something that you may not like: tell someone (ideally, your parents) what's going on and ask for them to take you to a counselor or therapist because you need someone to talk to.
Being all alone without friends is enough to make anyone depressed. But it's really hard to make new friends while you're depressed, so it's a vicious cycle that you need help in breaking. A counselor could talk with you about what's going on and help you to figure things out. What happened to make your friends consider you "shady," for example, and how can you do things differently from now on (in your choice of friends or in how you act with them) so that you don't have to go through this again? These are the types of things a counselor will help you to figure out.
Depression is serious, so please take it seriously. You've suffered enough already. Don't let it go on any longer or get any worse. Decide that you are going to do something today to make it better, and do it. The first step is telling your parents or a counselor or teacher or other adult that you trust what you're going through. You were resourceful enough and courageous enough to write this letter for help, so you can talk to someone right there in Maine also.
In the short term, try doing little things that would make yourself feel better. Treat yourself to something special that you enjoy - a new article of clothing, maybe, or taking the time to sit and listen to your favorite music - whatever it is that you enjoy doing. Look around at school and see if you notice anyone else who is usually sitting alone and looks like she might need a friend. Set yourself small goals, and see if you can accomplish them. Maybe you want to start with a goal of going to school, and picking one person to make eye contact with, smile, and say hello to when you walk by. If you're scared, it's OK. Just try to do it, and if you do it, congratulate yourself and build from there.
Are there any places outside of school that you could make friends - a youth group at church or if you were to take a part time job or volunteer somewhere, maybe? Getting out and meeting new people may help you to feel better and start becoming happier. Remind yourself that you already do know how to make friends, because you've done it successfully in the past.
A final idea is to call 1 800 367 6274, which is a nation wide self help group clearing house, and see if there are any support groups for depressed teens in your area. You may be surprised to find that you're not the only one feeling as badly as you do. Many, many people feel badly, but often they hide it from others. It may be easier for you to make new friends in a supportive environment with others who have been struggling too.
Good luck, Jane, and take care.
Susan Maroto, LCSW
This question has been answered by Susan Maroto. She is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker working out of Mount Laurel, New Jersey. She uses an eclectic approach to holistic healing, mind-body relationships, life transitions, depression, and anxiety.For more information visit: http://www.therapywithsusan.com/