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What’s Causing This?

by Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker

From a teen in the U.S.: I’m not entirely sure how to explain this.. Recently I’ve been wanting something to be wrong with me. I’ve had depression for as long as I can remember and have gone to therapists for it as well as trying Zoloft. While going through treatment I found myself not even wanting to get better. Self harm has also been a struggle of mine that started because it brought pleasure/made me feel better about myself.

I’ve looked into factitious disorder as well as masochism, but I don’t seem to have more than a few symptoms.. I used to do things like cry or act upset in order to get attention from family members and sometimes I don’t only want something to be wrong, but I want others to know it as well.

The past few months I’ve had split seconds of wanting attention from others, but it changes quickly to wanting to detach myself from everyone in order to keep how I feel a secret.

Usually I feel the need to detach myself during depressive episodes, but sometimes I can be okay and still want to close myself off. I don’t want to go to a professional about any of this if I don’t have some sort of disorder.. I know that not wanting to be happy isn’t normal and actually wanting there to be something wrong with me is sick; especially when more recently, I don’t want anyone to know there’s something wrong with me.

I don’t know if it’s simply another form of self pity, but I do want to know why I have such mixed feelings. None of this is healthy and I would like to know what’s causing it.. if it’s at all possible at this point.

You are correct that this isn’t healthy. Although you have had some treatment for depression, it sounds like maybe you didn’t help your helper as much as you should.

A therapist only has what you tell her to work with. Did you talk about it when you felt your therapy wasn’t working? Did you let your therapist in on your self-harming behavior? Did you talk about your feelings of detachment? If not, there was very little the therapist could do to help you out of the depression.

You don’t have to have a “disorder” to see a therapist. It’s enough that you are feeling some distress and that you worry about the mixed up feelings that leave you feeling healthy. If you are honest with your therapist, you will get both specific help and support for making change.

I strongly urge you to go back to the therapist who already knows you — unless you really feel you could not connect with her. If that’s the case, start over with someone new. Take your letter with you to share during your first appointment. It will jump-start your session.

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie

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