I’m 14 and in the 9th grade. I’m failing and I’m not sure what to do. I stopped going to school in the 8th grade because I became very depressed and I had a lot of issues with the other kids. I hated school (and still do). I ended up going to court for truancy and all of that. I was diagnosed with depression and anxiety disorder. I felt like my life was crumbling but I acted like it was okay. I got into a lot of bad habits. I didn’t have a single friend and if someone wanted to hang out I’d make an excuse to ditch them. I just couldn’t handle being around people. I started a high school September of 2014. It was alternative and I thought it would work but once again I stopped going because I was afraid and I couldn’t handle the kids. In about October of 2014 I started going to an online school. Right when I started I knew it wouldn’t work out. And now I’m here, failing the 9th grade, completely friendless, I’m on medications and I’m going to therapy but I still can’t get my life together. I try my best to forget about by responsibilities by playing video games or watching TV. But it’s just becoming horrible. I feel terrible about not doing school and I’m so sad and distracted that I can’t focus on what I’m doing. Every time I do anything I feel like failure. I’m scared of failing but I have no motivation to not fail. It’s just so bad, and I want to go to a real school but I’m scared to go back because of all my old friends and stuff. I feel like I can’t do anything. I just lay in bed all day and feel sorry for myself. I feel like if I don’t fix this I’m not going to pass high school. I really need help. I’m considering asking my parents if I could go to a hospital. But that’s also very scary to me. Please give me some reassurance. (age 14, from US)
Thank you for writing in. I think the most important thing that I can tell you is to not give up, it will get better. Depression and anxiety are real and can interfere with normal life activities and responsibilities, such as school or work. They can make it difficult to function well, and sometimes it may feel difficult to function at all. But, they are treatable and if you keep trying you will eventually find the right combination of interventions and situations and you will begin to feel better.
I would suggest either giving the therapeutic school another try or going back to your regular school but with a therapeutic plan in place, such as a 504 plan. With this type of plan they can make accommodations such as having you start back part-time and ease into full-time. Eventually you will be able to improve your grades and move on.
You also need friends at this point in your life. As hard as it is, you need to put real effort into this and reach out. Try connecting with old friends, focus on making new friends (especially seeking the ones who are kind and accepting) and try making friends outside of school. Look for activities that interest you and make you feel better about yourself as well, such as volunteering at an animal shelter or taking a yoga class. Bottom line, you have to reengage in life but you can do it in ways that feel safe to you.
Again, it will get better. You will get better.
All the best,
Dr. Holly Counts