Am I mentally sick?


(NY)

I'm a 14 year old girl and I don't know where to turn. I think I have a mental disorder. I get irritated at the tiniest things, and have trouble getting over them. Some days I feel perfectly normal, but other days--like today--I feel like my life is going nowhere and I'm completely worthless. sometimes I even hurt myself. I never break the skin, but I'll stab myself with something not too sharp, like a hair clip. Some days I feel like such a selfish brat and I usually desperately want attention. Is there something wrong with me?


Ben's Answer:

Desperately wanting attention does not mean there is something wrong with you. It doesn't mean you have a mental disorder. It does sound like you're going through a hard time though. I personally think that the ages of 12-14 are the hardest for most people to deal with. Having days when you feel irritated by everything, or days when you feel worthless or hopeless is what a lot of kids secretly feel, even if they don't show it, or admit it. Even the most "popular" and seemingly happy kids often feel this way, but they may hide it well. We all need love and attention; wanting that does not make you a brat. But putting yourself down, calling yourself names, is not a useful way to improve your situation. If you want to be happy, you have to learn to be a friend to yourself. Getting down on yourself will only make you feel worse.

It would be a good idea if you confided in an adult that you trust, and told them how you are feeling about all this. Whether it's your parents, grandparents, an aunt or uncle, sibling or teacher, it could really help. If you can't find anyone in your life who is able to be there for you in that way, then ask to see a counselor or therapist. Sometimes just talking about things can make a huge difference.

You can even call an anonymous, free teen hotline anytime, just to talk to someone who is caring and able to give you their full attention day or night. If you ever have any thoughts of wanting to hurt yourself, this would be especially important.
Here's one teen line that you can try:

Adolescent Crisis Intervention & Counseling Nineline 1-800-999-9999

There are other numbers you can also try, listed on the "Free Hotlines" page of this website.

You're going through the hardest period of childhood; don't despair, things can get better. Don't keep it all inside. Find someone to open up to and talk about your feelings.

Take Care,
Ben Schwarcz, MFT

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