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Dealing with Depression/I'm Not Sure What's Wrong

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Hello Mr. Frank Sara,

I am a 17 year old girl from Colorado, in the past I have been diagnosed by my therapist to have Mania Disorder, a kind of mood disorder. I used to take medicine for it but it made me feel too artificial and I didn't like it so I stopped about two years ago. I still have a few full bottles of Lamictal from it. I used to go to a therapist but didn't feel like it made me any better or worse, and then my family started getting bad financially so I stopped going.

I am naturally a very good student and an overall incredibly nice and high-energy/happy person. I'm usually very smart and responsible for everything. My life is very much about helping others and making others happy. I'm looking to become an English or Science teacher or a therapist. I play volleyball competitively and have been active to be recruited to college for my high athletic skills.

About a half year ago, I broke up with my long-distance boyfriend of two years. He treated me like his sexual play thing and that's not who I am and yet my internal needs to make him happy made me into someone who I never wanted to be. This lowered my self-esteem and I finally broke up with him to save my own sanity. Things started becoming really good in my life from then, I was free from his grasp and everything else in my life started getting really good.

I think problems started to occur when my parent refinanced our house, and my dad continued to not do his taxes and not pay himself (since he's the boss of two failing companies) so my mother started getting stressed and edgy. Naturally, she lets it out on me because I'm the only child she has at home now-a-days. It's mostly the yelling that gets to me, and she's mostly been like this my whole life, since she's very hot-headed. It used to be that when she started yelling, I would easily be able to block out what she says to try to upset me. I would ignore what she said and move on. Recently, though, every time she starts yelling about anything, I have to cover my ears because her yelling makes me scared, angry, and extremely depressed. If she curses, even if it's just casually to flavor a sentence as she pleases, I have this sudden urge to cry, even if it's not about me. One time she started yelling at me because my grades were down and I made the mistake of hitting her to get her to shut up, and she turned on me and beat me severely. Yet I refuse to turn her into the police because in some way it feels like this pain keeps me alive and I love her until she starts yelling and hitting me.

Another thing that started to happen is that volleyball became more of a pain than a love. I would work so hard at practices and I would do private lessons to make me better--I even visited a few colleges and played with their teams, fit right in and the head coach complimented me on my perfect form--and I improved by an extreme amount during the season, but the problem is that we have three girls that play Middle Blocker/Right Side, my position. Both of them don't work nearly as hard as I do and don't have as much athleticism as I do. One of them always hits the ball out of bounds, but it a pretty good blocker, the other is slow and only tips, never hits, but she can jump high and if the set is bad, she still finds a way to tip it onto the other side, but she never blocks. I am fast and very effective with my hits but I don't have that many blocks because last year I broke a girl's nose while blocking and can't close the block between the outside player and myself since then. Volleyball is my life, and to these girls, volleyball is a hobby. When we're at a tournament or a National Qualifier, I never see the court. My coach has barely played me the entire season and it has been breaking me down slowly. When I tell colleges to come watch us and they show up to watch me play, he doesn't even think to put me on the court. Mid-season I told him that I wanted more playing time and asked what I needed to improve on, he told me and I improved with those things and yet he still doesn't play me. It hurts me because to the 50-some college coaches that have come to watch me play, it looks like I'm not out because I'm not as good as the other girls, and the other girls aren't even that good. I've talked to my coach several times and yet he still refuses to play me and it hurts me so much.

After things went down for me, my grades started to go down for the first time in my life, which really destroyed me because my high GPA is my pride and it started to decline last quarter and my mom became more vicious. I've been so much more depressed (even a time when I was cutting myself because of my depression) than I feel that I am now and yet my grades have never dropped that low before. My mom has not let up about that time-period in which they dipped like that and now watches my grades like a hawk. After I got them to come back up again, I still can't shake this horrible feeling I have. My volleyball coach was fired and a new, nicer coach is stepping in to fill in for the rest of the season and my parents got me a car and I finally got my license and for the first time in my life feel freedom from my parents. Yet for some reason I have become so pessimistic about everything. I spend my days exhausted and drained of all motivation to do anything. I have a good sleep cycle that gives me a good 8 hours of sleep, I wake up tired, I create a new sleep cycle in which I get 10 hours of sleep, I wake up tired, I shorten my sleep cycle to 5 hours, I wake up tired, I mess up my sleep cycle, I wake up tired. I spend my days dragging on like a zombie and I don't know what to do. Even today, I have 14 hours of sleep, and I feel like I'm going to pass out because I'm so tired. I get home and say "I have to do this, this, and this for homework tonight... I'm going to go play videogames/play Magic the Gathering, I don't NEED to do my homework." I used to have a good, tight group of friends that I only get to see during lunch and yet when it's lunch time, I just go to the library and just sit there, I don't even go to eat lunch unless I have volleyball after school. I don't do my chores, I don't clean my room, I don't take care of the animals, I've parted myself from everyone but one friend and somewhat my sister in college. Even then, when I'm with my friend I feel happy and laugh on the outside, but on the inside I feel horrible and disconnected. My mother yells at me even more for not doing things and yet I can't do things because I've lost all motivation to do them. I have no motivation to work out or even go to volleyball anymore, I've ditched it the last few times because I didn't feel like going. I've stopped emailing the coaches that have been recruiting me for college because I don't feel like talking to them. I come home and play videogames, telling myself that I'll stop and do my homework in a few hours, and it's only because I need a break, and then I go upstairs and make a new Magic deck or play with my sister until its time to go to bed. I've been late everyday to school because I don't have the motivation to go even though I love school. I've just been dragging myself farther and farther down and I don't know when it'll stop. I don't know what's doing this to me and I don't know what to do. I appreciate any advice that you give me, thank you.

~Nat

Answer
Hi there,Nat,

Everything you have described in your detailed message is very consistent with clinical depression, which is a very treatable, medical condition.  Successful treatment depends upon addressing the issue as quickly and comprehensively as possible.  To that end, I highly recommend that you begin personal counseling, and medication managment from a psychiatrist -even if you feel that you don't benefit from it at first --stick with it.  Like everything, sometimes we have to "shop around" for a counselor we "mesh" with or that "feels right."  And the same holds true for medications -sometimes the strength and dosages need to be tweaked several times until the therapeautic level is reached.  Other times, a medication may not have a beneficial effect, and others must be tried.  Exercise is also a very effective, natural antidepressant, especially a good 30 minute brisk walk or run daily.

The more social ties you can hold on to, the better, since isolation feeds depression.  So, please try and force yourself to get out and do things with your friends -even if you don't feel like it.  Talk with someone you trust about how you've been feeling.

All the best to you!

~ Frank

Dealing with Depression

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Frank Saia

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I can assist with issues related to: Depression, Relationships, Self-esteem, Anxiety (mild-moderate), Overeating, Grief/Loss, and Existential/Spiritual concerns. ***Please Note: I am not trained in medicine, and therefore cannot assist with questions of a medical nature, including those related to medications and their effects. A Psychiatrist is a medical doctor schooled in Psychology, and is best-suited to respond to such inquiries. ***Disclaimer: I volunteer as a way to serve others, and offer assistance in the form of information based on my training and experience. I do not provide advice, and cannot assume responsibility for any actions or outcomes related to the questioner; such responsibility rests solely with the questioner. ***If you or someone you know is contemplating suicide, help is available. Please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (in the U.S.) at 1-800-273-8255. If the risk is immediate, call 911 or the number for your local Emergency Personnel Services.

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I am trained at the master's-level in Mental Health Counseling, and have worked for many years in the Social Services field.

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I am trained at the master's-level in Mental Health Counseling, and have worked for many years in the Social Services field.

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