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Thread: Scared, confused, life

  1. Scared, confused, life

    It's always difficult to know where to start. I wasn't sure if this should be posted here or not as it encompases quite a few issues, so if it's not in the correct place, I apologize.

    I guess the main point of this post is to get some ideas on how to go about getting help. It's not as easy for me as I would wish. I've gone into talk to a school counsellor. I asked what the confidentiality laws were in the state, and basically they said that if I told them what was going through my mind, they would be required to inform my parents and a few other people what I had said. That may not seem bad because parents should be an important part of their child's life, but let me back up a little more and give some background information.

    My first memory is my father throwing my brother on the garage floor (cement) and watching my brother's head start to bleed. I know this sounds bad, but it wasn't always that bad. My daddy and brother are both bipolar..my brother being four years older than I am. (My sister is also bipolar, in her thirties). Since elementary school, I remember my mom going in at lunch time to give my brother medications, none of which really did any good. One time in first grade, maybe second, I freaked out and my teacher asked what was wrong and I replied that it had something to do with my brother. She, of course, told my parents..that was the first time I got the whole guilt trip of: "our family is perfect, nobody needs to know otherwise, our business is our business and if you tell anyone otherwise you will betray us all." I know this might not seem like a huge deal to anyone, but to me, being honest and consiterate to the people I love even if they don't love me back is one of the most important things. I cannot stand guilt, although I get put thorugh guilt trips multiple times a day. I often go to school with tears in my eyes because my parents feel it necessary to bring things up just before I get out of the car..they like to make me feel inferior and know that I won't tell anyone (except a few friends) what is going on and why I'm upset.

    Moving forward from second grade to the end of fifth, this is where things actually begin. For a few months before summer began to the summer itself, my brother would come home on drugs, stealing cars, being in jail, things that my parents tried to pass off as natural teenage things, but drugging him with medications that would not work for him. I would stay up late to see him come back home because I could calm him down sometimes before he came in and saw my father. I would wait up and bake most nights (I love to cook) then meet him at the door and try to calm him down, but at this point, his tempers were way out of hand. Being me, though, I had to try to make everything right. For as long as I can remember, if people around me are sad, I am sad, I have to have everyone else around me happy because I cannot stand to be happy if nobody else is. So my brother would come home, sometimes not be able to be talked out of his moods, throw channel changers, desk lamps, he tipped a couch on top of me one time, but it would always end with a hug. He couldn't control himself and he knew this, he told me these things when he was feeling that he knew himself. As the summer went on, he got worse, and finally, things snapped. One night, well a great series of things happened, I can see it all in my head, but that would take me another 10 minutes to type out and I'm sure people aren't interested in knowing anyway..but at the end of it all, my brother and father both ended up being cut up and beat up by each other, the police came and took my brother away to a mental instituition. During that night was the first time I cut myself. I didn't mean to, I was using the object for protection and it slipped, I didn't actually realize what I had done until I woke up the next morning after people being taken away to the other town. My father, of course, got out of everything.

    The next few months, I found myself cutting more and more even when I would yell at myself not to, it became a common part of life and ways of coping. I went with my mom to visit my brother twice...it wasn't the best of experiences, but none the less at the end of a few months, my brother came back stabalized on new medications, having a new doctor assigned to him back in out town. My parents had made up excuses to our family friends as to where he was over the summer, I wasn't allowed to talk to my friends because they thought I would tell about some things..

    Moving on, a few years went by, things still happening at home, my father still provoking people, my brohter still acting up, myself still trying to fix everything, and then we moved. This was between seventh and eighth grade. We lived in a hotel for the summer, my brother and I got to be very close. Our parents were both at work all day, I was in summer school (I had gotten into a very good private school with 300 kids in seven total grades and they wanted me to go to summer school to get to know people), at the end of this summer, my brother and I had grown very close, our parents seeming to be at least tolerable, then they decided they didn't want their jobs down there..we came back, my dad quit and is still unemployed while my mom found another job back here.

    The next few years are little repetitions of things...I end up taking walks at night (just got back from one as a matter of fact) when people start to get mad...I stay until I am yelled at to leave, then I leave, come back, and get yelled at for going. It's all part of the cycle. I've been trying hard to stop the self harm over the past year or so, I've only cut twice since the beginning of the summer. Through all this, I have been passed out from suicide attempts three times, but none ever worked. I guess if I had really wanted to die, I could have, but the game of life and living as well as a mix of fate and questioning made me stay...life has really turned into just that, a game. I know I haven't gone through as much as some people, certainly not as much as my brother or anything like that, but at the same time, dealing with all the guilt of his situation comes back on me double what he feels. He doesn't care what other's think as naturally as I care more than anything that other people are happy.

    I have gone in and talked to a school counsellor because I know they have certain confidentiality codes..or I should say I tried to talk to the counsellor (I have the same one as my brother, being our years apart) ..it turns out that he did not even know that my brother was bipolar nor most of the things that had actually happened, so bringing up some of those things made my guilt level go up way high..anyway, I asked him what the confidentiality laws were and he basically told me that if I was going to talk about what I came to talk about that he would have to tell my parents and some other adults..so I had to leave. I've been struggling with myself for quite a while, my friends have been supportive, but naturally can't really relate. I always have places to go and people to get hugs from, but sometimes even that isn't enough.

    I'm not really sure what this post turned out to be, it doesn't really pose a question, it just turned to more of a vent, but if anyone has anything to say or comment on, it would be nice. Thanks for reading.

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  3. #2

    Scared, confused, life

    I'm not certain about the chronology here but it seems to me you must be at least 14 by now -- am I close? What general part of the world do you live in, Freezing? I'm not sure that your school counsellor is correct about laws respecting confidentiality...

  4. Scared, confused, life

    I am 16, turning 17 this comming week. I live in the Northwestern part of the United States..Montana. He said if things involved suicide or abuse that those were the circumstances which he would have to report. There are things I could talk about, but frankly, I know I would slip, I shake uncontrollably whenever I go in there even to change my schedule or something now, and frankly, the guy scares me.

  5. #4

    Scared, confused, life

    Okay. Here's what I would say to a client your age:

    There are some things that you might tell a therapist that go beyond the limits of confidentialty:

    1. if you tell me that you intend to harm yourself, I will do whatever I am able to do to prevent that -- this may or may not mean informing other people about the risk without your permission

    2. if you tell me that you intend to harm another person, I will also do whatever is necessary to prevent that -- and again this may mean releasing information without your consent

    3. if you give me information about recent or ongoing child abuse, I am required by law to report that information

    There may be other things that I would feel it is important for your parents to know, but that would not be done without your permission.

    Now, in most parts of North America and the UK, these conditions would apply. And things falling outside those three conditions would be confidential.

    Does that change your mind about what this counsellor told you?

    Whether it does or does not, if you do not trust or have confidence in this person, clearly he is not the person for you to be talking to... but there may be others who would be a better match.

  6. Scared, confused, life

    heart_of_fire, I suggest that you keep on talking. I think ideally that would occur with a caring therapist or at least a very good friend. Have you explored any other counseling options aside from the school counselor? One of your concerns seems to be matters of confidentiality. Perhaps you could discuss that up front with your chosen therapist so that you can safely divulge some things, even if it's not all things. More than anything right now, you could probably benefit from somewhere safe to express some of your feelings and inner turmoil.

    If I understood you correctly, you're still quite young and still going to school. I always think it's a bit insulting to suggest that just because someone is young they can't cope well with life's challenges or hardships -- many young people manage to cope quite bravely with what they end up with, in spite of their lack of life experience. But I think that lack can make it more difficult for them too. Sometimes that needs to be said and heard: It's hard because it's hard. But anyone who was trying to deal with what you're trying to deal with, regardless of their age, would find it difficult and painful. The fact that you're in pain has nothing to do with your age, it has to do with the reality that this is a painful situation.

    I don't have any personal experience with cutting, but others here may and might be able to provide you with some insights. I read one time that cutting is a means of demonstrating the depth of your inner pain and making it real. That makes sense to me, maybe it makes sense to you too. If that's true for you, maybe finding some other means of bringing your pain out of you and demonstrating it would help you address your urges to cut. Some people find artistic endeavours such as writing poetry or painting to be helpful.

    I'm not you and I can't know what it's like to experience your personal pain, but I do know what it's like to experience pain and feel very alone in that. Something that I found helpful was a Buddhist practice of meditation called tonglen [tung-lan]. Tonglen is a very simple breathing meditation. Breath in. Breath out. Easy-peasy. I came across an audio version that describes the practice that I especially liked. On those late nights when I felt alone, and felt that there was no one I could talk to, or no one who could understand what I was feeling -- I found it more comforting to hear a human voice. If you have real player, you can listen to that brief talk here.

    Maybe that will bring you some comfort, maybe it won't. You'll have to decide what works best for you. What can be helpful though is to identify the things that do bring you comfort so that you're able to soothe yourself when necessary. Those things then become part of your personal toolbox of self-care. Some things that have helped me have been listening to music, writing, talking with a friend, massaging a pet, going for a walk, doing something physical that I enjoy, such as dancing or puttering in the garden, or beautifying a space -- no matter how small it is. I also had people in my life who would give me a hug, without question. I liked not having to explain why I wanted the hug, or why I felt hurt. I could just take the comfort of the hug and leave it at that.

    You seem to want to be able to draw closer to your mother, although I might be misreading that. Still, that might be something that your school counselor could help you with, yet still maintain those aspects of confidentiality that you don't want to violate or feel you can't cross. If not your mother or father, are there any other adults in your life you feel close to -- an aunt? a neighbor? a teacher? Someone you trust who treats you respectfully, including recognizing your vulnerability right now?

    I'm also wondering if you're concerned about your own state of mental health. You noted that your father, sister, and brother all have bipolar disorders. Are you worried that you do too?

    I'd like to encourage you to reach out where you can, into the spaces that feel safe for you. Some people find it very reassuring to get support from a specific faith. If you're one of those people, you could also consider speaking with your religious leader. I've also heard that the Unitarian Church offers free/low cost counseling services. They're very accepting of a number of different faiths and religions and from what I understand, don't try to reform people. That might be an option for you to consider as well.

    Meanwhile, keep talking. You don't have to ask specific questions. You don't have to answer the questions of other people. You're here to help yourself. I'm new to this place myself and don't know how long I will be around. But there are others here, coming and going all the time, who may also be in a position to offer support or some insights that might help you. That's the benefit of a larger group.

  7. Scared, confused, life

    That's partly why I am on internet forums. I've a social person and like to talk to people, but for some reason, it's just too hard about these types of things. I feel guilt easily, it's one of my most common feelings. Although I am not perticularly fond of my parents, I still respect that they want to hold certain images in the community and don't want their little kid putting them in a bad position. I know that sounds like a seven year old's words, but it's just how I feel. I feel guilt, whenever I get over it, they'll find some way to bring it back to me. My daddy is good at brining me down, my mom is good at making me feel guilty for whatever it is that may be going on. If my dad gets mad at my mom because my brother did something, my mom will tell me it's my fault that my brother is acting out of hand, although he is twenty. The guilt just gets to me.

    I have looked into two other things, local help lines and local youth groups. The help line one of my friends actually called while we were at a teen shelter that I volunteered at for three years while we were in seventh grade, I've called it back twice since then, but it hasn't really even spiked me more than a friend. There is a group at my school that only about 10 people know about which is for young self harmers and I have looked into that, although I don't feel like that is one of my main problems seeing as how much I have kicked it in the past few months.

    I'm not a stupid person, and I know the only person who says I am is my father, I guess I've just run out of ideas on my own. Maybe there really isn't anything more I can do if I can't talk to anyone else. I don't know.

  8. #7

    Scared, confused, life

    What about your family doctor? Many GPs these days have some training in counselling and brief therapy... even if yours does not, he or she may know of other resources in your area...

  9. Scared, confused, life

    ...it's just too hard about these types of things. I feel guilt easily.

    My situation was not quite the same, but similar. When I first began reaching out for help I didn't feel I could share all the details. Later, I began finding safe spaces where I could say those things directly instead of indirectly. That was an important part of my healing process.

    I think too, that you might benefit from having somewhere to say what you're feeling about having to maintain silence. I can understand that you love your family and want to protect them, but I can also understand that the way you have to protect them is hurtful to you. It's a real bind. Recognizing those two needs -- that you need to not hurt them, but you also need to not hurt yourself -- can also help you identify the places where you can meet those mutual, but opposing needs. It could be, for example, that a non-local help line might meet your needs better, or a counselor from a different town, or one that doesn't know your parents at all and isn't ever likely too. That way, you can protect your family, while still taking care of yourself.

  10. Scared, confused, life

    Thanks a lot for your post, TM. You hit a lot of things quite accuratly and made me think about others.

    You mentioned a good list of things to do, most of which I already have on my own list, but there was a new one I'll try. I do want to be closer to my mom, actually my dad left for a few days...just got up and left. While he was gone, my mom and I actually talked, I approached her about colleges and things and she was actually open to talking to me, it was very odd, but at the same time so nice. That is probably part of why I don't want to betray her and adding to my guilt. Not sure. I don't have any family close besides my brother whom I mentioned I have gotten close to. I talk with hime once in a while, but I really do not feel comfortable talking to adults. Neighbors intimidate me, teachers..well most I'm just not comfortable with, most of the people I can talk to are kids my own age,,by that I mean 13 to 25..most of my friends are in college here and such, so they help to talk to when I can.

    I have kind of wondered if there was anything wrong with me since I have read bipolar disorder is somewhat hereditary and my father, sister, and brother all have it...however, I think more of what I am going though is just reactions to their actions...however I could be making up excuses to look away. I'm really not sure.

    Thanks again :)

  11. Scared, confused, life

    Quote Originally Posted by David Baxter
    What about your family doctor? Many GPs these days have some training in counselling and brief therapy... even if yours does not, he or she may know of other resources in your area...
    My parents asked our family doctor about that while my brother's behavior escalated. Mainly, there are people at the hospital that they would reccomend and that was all.

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