Happy On The Outside

Published: October 31, 2014
Dear TeenHealthFX,

I’m a genuinely happy person usually, but my mind is not at all healthy. I do a good job of hiding my mental instability. Most people believe the happy, outgoing, confident persona I carry. They should, I mean I am happy, outgoing, and confident sometimes. What few people know is how much I truly hate myself. I’ve hated myself since I was about 12, I can’t tell you why, I just do. To compensate for feelings of inadequacy and self-hate, I have a multitude of unhealthy habits which torment my life. I love starving myself. Being completely empty to the point where I’m not sure if I can walk down the hallway is pleasing for me. I obsess over my weight, calories, and fat. Often times, despite what little food I consume, I end up making myself vomit. I usually do this once or twice a day and that is with consuming less than 800 calories a day. In addition, I cut myself using a razor. It started with one or two cuts, but turned into 30-50 cuts per night. Usually it’s done on my leg where no one ever sees, but last week I cut my wrist and no one noticed, so I tried it again. The second time, my manager at work noticed. She was shocked and stared at me in disbelief, waiting for an explanation, but I had none. Now, everyone at work knows and I feel so ashamed. All of their reactions were the same â??... But you’re so happy?? My manager has since tried talking to me about it, but I panic and change the subject. I’ve never opened up to anyone about it. I want to talk to her, I’m just afraid. Mental illness is ruining my life, and I know that it will eventually be the death of me. I’m 19, I live away from my parents, and at times I feel too alone. I have so much support from my work family, but I find myself pushing away from them the more they try to help. I don’t want to need any help. I don’t want them to have to check my wrists before they speak to me and look at me with pity in their eyes. I hate myself so, so much, and it’s killing me.


Dear Happy On The Outside,

Why makes you think that what was in their eyes is pity? They could be expressing concern, empathy or they simply care about you. Maybe you’re not as good an actress as you think and you have some genuinely good qualities that attract people to you. The only person you are deceiving is you. You have convinced yourself that you are this awful person to the point that you are full of self-loathing, disgust, shame and guilt. The feelings are so powerful that you have this strong need to severely punish yourself. 

Although you don’t say what happened to you,  TeenHealthFX has a strong conviction that whatever it was, it wasn’t your fault. Fear caused you to be silent, locking it inside, and convincing yourself that you deserved what happened. It has been eating away at you for years and the hurt has become unbearable. There is so much pain and sadness in your words that could only come from someone who has been hurt badly. What could you have possibly done at age 12 that would cause you to inflict this hate on yourself. 

You are not going to be able to keep up this outward façade of happiness up forever. The cracks in the wall are already starting to appear. Why not let the wall crumble and replace it with the real you? There is a tendency to think that we build walls to keep people out.  The truth is that they keep us in; isolated with our thoughts and fears with no place to run. Edgar Allan Poe once wrote, “I remained too much inside my head and ended up losing my mind.” Even Poe recognized the dangers of cutting ourselves off from people. 

TeenHealthFX can only imagine how scared you must be. You have punished yourself long enough and it is time for you to heal. It is not something you can do by yourself and you’re going to have to seek help. A therapist will help you peel back the layers and help you find that little girl you lost so many years ago. Therapy will also help you to develop the coping skills so you don’t have to hide. It will take some time, but it is possible for you to learn to love yourself. It is what you deserve. 

If you get to the point that you are seriously considering suicide or are afraid of your impulses then you need to seek help immediately. You can call 911 or go to your nearest hospital emergency room. In northern New Jersey you can also call the crisis hotline from Atlantic Health at 973-540-0100. Outside this area call the Suicide & Crisis Hotline, 1-800-999-9999, 24 hours, 7 days a week 

If you live in northern New Jersey and need help finding a therapist you can call the AccessCenter 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.



Signed: TeenHealthFX