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Why Do I Feel Emotionally Detached?

From the U.S.: I am 13 years old. At the age of 5, a night of 2010 started a 5-6 year long divorce. Our father was abusive, something I hadn’t learned until later. Recently, one of my close friends started to have episodes of depression in school. A few weeks before this, I started feeling emotionally unattached. As if I could shut off my own emotions. And sometimes I feel as if the world is shrouded in black and white, and ask myself why I’m here. Others, to my friends especially, I appear bright and happy, and they never notice what’s happening to me.

Thank you for writing. At 13, you are emerging from childhood and beginning to understand the emotional landscape in a new way. It is not unusual for a kid to not understand that they are in an abusive environment. Whatever home is like when we are kids is our “normal”. It is only when kids start spending more time with other families and sharing more personal information with friends that kids who were hurt begin to understand their own emotional pain and the pain of others. It can be overwhelming.

One way kids defend against the flood of feelings is to try to distance from them. Does that sound like you?

If so, a way to help yourself is to find a counselor. Since your mom got a divorce, I’m guessing that she will understand why you need some practical help and support that a therapist can offer. Your school guidance counselor or a teacher your trust or your doctor can help you and your mom find a therapist who understands teenagers.

You made an important first step by writing to us here at PsychCentral. I hope you will follow up and see a therapist who can be really there for you in a regular way.

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie

from Ask the Therapist

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