Pregnant, Emotional, Depressed and Cutting

Published: June 27, 2012
Dear Pregnant, Emotional, Depressed and Cutting,

I'm 16 and pregnant due in october. The father is not with me physically but we are in a relationship (long distance). I have a lot of mood swings. I will be up in my room and be fine, go downstairs and suddenly feel angry at everyone. My pesky siblings make me snap, and very often I end up thinking of violence. very rarely do i slap them, but I do have a lot of arguments with me. It seems im angry with everyone and anyone, even in the shops if some kid goes up to his mom nagging her for something, don't get it and they go into a tantrum, i get really pissed off with their sudden outbursts. I think i'm overreacting a lot, but I have a lot of anger with everyone, and thoughs of cutting are not rare. I will snap very easily at anyone, have sudden crying outbursts, and my mood will change within the hour. I feel very stressed, but i have no idea what to do. I feel constantly dissapointed, as plans change and appointments get canceled. I try not to get my hopes up but its still so frustrating. I want to go to a mental health advisor, but i have been to MANY (as i have been sexually abused in the past), and i have always hated them. Their advice on "try to channel yourself", just makes me pissed off because it DOES NOT WORK. I have TRIED, and it's bullSht. I have been to over 20 of these proffesionals, and never had a positive experience, which is why im doubtful about going now. Please help! Signed: emotional, depressed and cutting.


Dear Pregnant, Emotional, Depressed and Cutting,

TeenHealthFX is sorry to hear that you are struggling so much with your emotions right now. It sounds like there are some strong feelings you are dealing with, particularly anger and disappointment. FX thinks that it would be very helpful for you to have a better understanding of what has been contributing to your anger and disappointment, as well as to find some healthy outlets for these emotions so they don’t get bottled up and then leave you feeling like you want to explode or self-cut.

One thing FX wonders is how you are feeling about being pregnant at 16. Was this a planned pregnancy? If not, you may have many feelings of anger, sadness, and disappointment about the ways in which your life is already changing when it was perhaps not what you had envisioned for yourself. Even if this pregnancy was planned, it is still possible that there are feelings and situations coming up for you that you hadn’t anticipated about how your life is changing and will continue to change.

FX also wonders how you are feeling about the baby’s father being away from you right now. Is part of your anger and disappointment that he is not near you to be helpful, supportive, or be part of your pregnancy experience? It can be tough to go through things alone – especially something as significant as a pregnancy – so FX is wondering if you are feeling somewhat alone right now.

Some of the examples you gave about when you can lose your temper are around children being “pesky” or having a “tantrum.” FX is also wondering how you are feeling about becoming a parent – setting limits, dealing with misbehavior, dealing with emotional meltdowns. There are many joys of parenting and wonderful moments, but part of parenting is being the rock for your kids when they can’t hold it together – the tantrums when things don’t go their way. How are you feeling about being that rock? Did you feel you had someone there for you as a rock when you were growing up? You mentioned that you were sexually abused – and many people who were sexually abused as children also felt emotionally deprived growing up. So FX wonders if you got the support and nurturing you needed as a child. If not, there might be resentment for you in having to give something to your children that you never got as a child.

There may certainly be issues around being a young mother and having your significant other away from you now, but your history of sexual abuse could definitely be affecting how you have been feeling. People who have been sexually abused as children often deal with more depression, anxiety, substance abuse issues, eating disorders, and even issues like PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) as adults than people who have not been abused. Anger and self-harming behaviors, such as self-cutting, are also not unusual for survivors of sexual abuse. There are a lot of things that can trigger memories of abuse – things like smells, furniture, cars, colors, or anything associated with the abuse. And things like childbirth, Pap smears, gynecological exams, and even current consensual sexual contact with a partner can definitely trigger memories of abuse. Being sexually abused, your body felt intruded upon – and it would be understandable for your body to feel intruded upon with various aspects of pregnancy, childbirth, and even prenatal exams given your history.

 

As for where to go from here, FX suggests the following:

  • FX is hoping that you are getting prenatal care. If you are not, please find a reputable ob/gyn so you can start getting care for yourself and the baby ASAP. Given your sexual abuse history, you might want to think about whether you would be more comfortable with a male or female doctor. FX strongly encourages you to speak to your doctor about how you are feeling and to make him/her aware of your sexual abuse history so he/she can take that into consideration in terms of treatment recommendations.
  • FX thinks that you can definitely be helped by a qualified, reputable therapist. Like any other profession there are therapists out there who will be better than others. FX thinks that it is important to find a clinical social worker or clinical psychologist who has extensive experience in working with teens and in working with people with sexual abuse histories who can help you to deal with the emotions you are currently struggling with. You need a place where you can feel safe enough to talk about the disappointment, anger and sadness you have been experiencing – someone who can help you process these feelings in session, not just come up with methods of channeling them. Trust is a major issue for people who have been sexually abused, so it would be normal and understandable for there to be some trust issues for you when it comes to your working relationship with your therapist. That said, you need a therapist who can address these trust issues as this will be an important part of your treatment.
  • FX wants you to think about your support system (especially given that the baby’s father is not near you right now). Do you feel you have enough support and help in your life right now? If not, think about how you can expand your supports. Are there family members who could be a shoulder to lean on right now? Can you look in your area for pregnancy classes that will connect you with other mothers-to-be, as well as new mom classes once the baby is born, so that you will have other women you can have in your life for support? You could check with your ob/gyn, your local hospital, and with your local La Leche League (an organization to help mothers with breastfeeding) for ideas about classes.
  • Parenting can be difficult at times for anyone of any age, but it can be particularly stressful for teens. Education and support are going to be extremely important for you. You can talk to your doctor about local programs for pregnant teens, and consider the resources listed under Links for Teen Parents: Education, Advice and Support for Young Families and Parents-to-be.   

If you are interested in more information on child sexual abuse, The National Center for Victims of Crime has information on child sexual abuse, as does RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network).

Consider the following referral sources and resources as well:

  • If you live in northern New Jersey and need help finding a therapist you can call the Access Center from Atlantic Behavioral Health at 888-247-1400. Outside of this area you can log onto the US Department of Health and Human Services Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website for referrals in your area. You can also contact your insurance company to get a list of in-network mental health providers or check with your school social worker or psychologist to get a list of referrals in your area.
  • If you don't have a doctor and live in northern New Jersey, you can call the Adolescent/Young Adult Center for Health at 973-971-5199 for an appointment with an adolescent medicine specialist or contact your local teen health center or Planned Parenthood. You can also contact your insurance company for a list of in-network providers.
  • You can use the RAINN National Sexual Assault Online Hotline or call RAINN at 1-800-656-HOPE if you need crisis intervention services, referrals to resources in your area, answers to questions about your abuse, and general support.

 

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