Okay, so since I was young I had a lot of social problems: trouble in school, fights with my parents, fallouts with my friends. Now that I’m older, I’m 16, and for the past 2 or 3 years, it has been really severe. I know I’m a teenager and everyone always tells me that all teenagers have trouble controlling emotion, but sometimes I feel like someone has flicked a switch and I can’t think anymore. I’m just driven by what I’m feeling.
I’ve been suspended from school four times for swearing at teachers and being highly disruptive. I have no attention span but I still got the highest grades in my school in the Junior Cert exams. This is another reason why people think I’m being cocky and innapropriate.
I have scars on my wrists from all the times I’ve cut myself. After a year of doing this I finally told my best friend and afterwards I felt so guilty I got sick and cut myself four or five more times and stole a bottle of vodka from a shop and drank until I passed out.
I ran away from home after a fight with my parents, and threatened to kill myself if they didn’t treat me better. I’m on my final warning with the police for numerous assaults and shoplifting. The list of difficulties I have caused could go on and on.
I also get extremely bored and lonely and when I do I sneak out my window to smoke weed or drink spirits. Sometimes I do crazy stuff like when they were doing roof repairs on the Cathedral I climbed to the top on my own at 4am, 300ft above the ground in the rain in winter, and I jump off cliffs which people have died on.
Sometimes I know what I’m doing is wrong and unfair but, if I think about that too much it just drives me back to cutting my wrists.
I went to a behaviour therapist last week who spoke with me for an hour and concluded that ‘poor emotional regulation’ was normal for people of my age. However, I had been too scared to tell her about the cutting or the illegal stuff. Now I have no real way out. My parents say it’s just ‘poor emotional regulation’ too. I have anxiety along with cutting and hating my girlfriend, who I broke up with a few times, over nothing. Then I started crying over to my family and friends.
All I want is to be able to be close to people around me without being uncontrollable.
Does this sound like any disorder or anything you know? Is there any way, other than counselling which I tried and it just angered and upset me, that I can get help?
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Not only is there something wrong with you, and you appear to know that, but there is something wrong with all of these adults that do not seem to recognize that. It is not usual or normal for teenagers to go through the experiences you are having. Getting into trouble with the police, getting high grades in school while being suspended and having severe fights with your parents resulting in running away, are not normal adolescence. I don’t know how experienced your therapist or counselor was, but she overlooked the plain fact that you are in trouble, even though you withheld information. My guess is that you became angry with this therapist because of the failure to recognize the fact that you have been hollering for help for a long time. Indeed, what does it take to get these grown ups to listen?
I have no way of knowing your diagnosis but I can make some suggestions based on the few things you have mentioned. Remember, you need to be seen by someone competent to figure this out and I urge your parents to have you seen by a Licensed Clinical Psychologist. Here are some of my guesses, but they are only guesses:
1. It is entirely possible that you have ADHD or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. Getting into trouble in school and not being able to focus your attention are both symptoms of this problem. In addition, smoking pot and drinking fall under the same category. Certainly, anger and arguing are part off the picture if this is what you have.
2. On the other hand, you may have Bipolar Disorder with mood swings from being hyper and on top of the world all the way to deep depression and that could include self cutting. Bipolar could also account for smoking pot and drinking and even for anger and arguing.
3. Perhaps you have some type of depression such as, Major Depression, Dysthymic Disorder or some other type. This could happen in combination with the other two diagnoses or by itself.
By the way, drinking, smoking pot or using other drugs, will only worsen your symptoms, even if it might feel good while you are doing it.
I can assure you that you have better judgment than these adults because you know that something is wrong. With the correct help and with your excellent grades and what seems to that you are quite smart, you can be a real success and enjoy your life.
When you are referred to the right therapist, a licensed clinical psychologist who earns you trust, you should be able to discuss everything that is going on with you.
I can assure you that working with the right person, you will come to feel good about psychotherapy.
By the way, because your parents continue to dismiss your problems, you can ask them to read this, if you wish to. Hopefully, then, they will take your calls for help more seriously.
Best of luck