A Downward Spiral
At 14 I experienced something traumatic— not that it was happening to me directly, I just happened to witness someone else’s untimely death. I spoke with a crisis counselor about three days after the incident, but that was it. I seemed to go back to normal and it wasn’t until around my 15th birthday the following summer that I realized that something had changed in me. I wasn’t myself; I wasn’t excited about things like birthdays and I was starting to lose interest in my passions. I was confused and hurt and tried talking to my then-married parents about it, but they brushed it off as “teenage hormones.” They said I’d be fine.
Things intensified over that winter. By the time I turned sixteen, I had lost twenty pounds, contemplated suicide multiple times and was at my lowest point. After an entire year of debating I was finally allowed to see the family doctor, who put me on medicine, but again— my parents weren’t convinced. They decided it was still hormones, even though I had a diagnosis. Their lack of support didn’t allow me to get any better. After three months on the medication, I was really starting to feel a bit better, a bit more alive, but I had to cancel appointments due to scheduling conflicts and my doctor would not refill the medication without me seeing her, so… I stopped taking it.
As you might imagine, things got worse. The following summer, I came back to that doctor. She put me on the same medication. My parents divorced, my dad moved away. Now there was no time for my mom to listen to anything I had to say. The same situation with the medication happened again, I got off of it, and it got worse. While I was still on the medication, though, I started having more symptoms of anxiety. I started worrying about my sisters’ wellbeing. I thought— hey, if I wear this particular bracelet, nothing bad will happen to them. I thought, if I say this prayer once— three times— —nine times— —perfectly or else I have to do it again—nothing bad will happen to them. If I don’t say it, something will. It seemed a lot like OCD. I kept this hidden from everyone around me because I was humiliated.
On top of that, I started depersonalization. I look in the mirror and don’t know who I’m looking at. I see old pictures and feel like I’m looking at a different child.
Finally, this winter, I went to another doctor. It was a facility that offered therapy too. I went to one appointment. The following appointment with the doctor, I was late, and she scolded me for not calling. She said that I was lucky I was still allowed in because it was against policy. I felt awful that she said that, that I was late. So, I stopped going. I didn’t continue therapy. I hid in myself because I was too ashamed to go back.
And now I’m here, almost 18, getting increasingly mentally ill. I don’t know what to do and where to go from here.
- Witnessing a tragic event in your life, such as an untimely death, can be very upsetting and stressful which could have very negative impacts on one’s mental health over a long period of time.
- You are very brave for trying to continue to seek help even when previous counselors or other methods have been unsuccessful due to scheduling or other mental concerns.
- It would be valuable to find someone you are comfortable talking to, either another counselor, a close friend or family member, who doesn’t make you feel embarrassed or ashamed.
- It may be constructive to include your parents in some of the counseling sessions. The counselor may be able to help you communicate with your parents that there is a larger mental health problem that is not due to a hormone imbalance.
- You’re a good person for caring about your sisters’ well-being and wanting nothing bad to happen to them. Having a direct conversation about your concerns and letting your sisters know that you care about them may ease some of the unsettled anxiety.
- Creative outlets, such as music or artwork, may also be therapeutic for psychological and emotional healing. Volunteering may be another way to create positive energy.
- In what ways could you help yourself heal from the emotion trauma of witnessing a tragic event?
- How could you communicate with your parents to let them know how you are really feeling?
- Is there anyone is your social network who you would feel comfortable talking to?
- Are there positive elements in your life that you could focus on? Do you have any goals for the future?