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Could I Have a Personality Disorder and Not Depression?

From a teen in the U.S.: Hello. I’ve known about this site for awhile but it wasn’t until now that I’ve finally decided to ask a question. Basically, like the title suggests, I’m afraid my depression is a personality and that there’s no hope for recovery. I’ll do a rundown because I didn’t just come up with this randomly. I was diagnosed with depression when I was 6 and honestly I don’t think I’ve ever been okay.

I’ve always gone to therapists and I’ve always taken antidepressants but I’ve never enjoyed anything. Though, if I’m being honest I’ve never had a therapist I could talk to so in a way I’e never had one (if that makes sense.) I’ve tried to look for outside sources on this issue but I don’t hear a lot about childhood depression- it’s as if everyone has gotten out of it at some point or another but I just never did.

I was diagnosed with depressive disorder in 2008. I want to add that I’ve always had self harm and suicidal thoughts issues, but currently it leans towards over-working myself (younger ages was peeling my skin and banging my head, 10 -14 was dehydrating myself and overeating,and this year was starvation and purging. I wouldn’t say I have an eating disorder though because I kinda did it for a really odd reason. Basically, I wanted to get a therapist and get out of school so I starved 30 lbs off myself to get that. If I would’ve stayed in school I wouldn’t be alive).

I don’t think I can write out my life story on here but I genuinely do think it’s a personality thing and I’m starting to come to peace with it after so many years. I wouldn’t call it recovery though because with this acceptance has come other issues.

I’m only writing this because I feel extremely alone and because it’s starting to take a toll on my family life. I cannot stand to look at my family because of how miserable I’ve been my whole life and I feel awful for it and rotten for it. I’m going to add I cannot get help for this irl. I’m home-schooled and my parents are too busy to care for me that way. So am I wrong? Is this a personality issue? I didn’t think depression would last this long. Sorry if this made whoever reads this uncomfortable

The reason you wrote to us is that you are uncomfortable. You don’t need to worry about me! I’m glad you wrote. You deserve relief! You’ve been suffering with this for 10 years. I can’t offer solutions on the basis of a letter but I can make a few suggestions about where to go from here.

You didn’t share with me whether your were closely monitored while taking medication. If not, that’s a problem. You should be seeing a psychiatrist regularly to assess the effects of medication and to make adjustments when necessary. It may be that the medications you were prescribed were either not the right ones or were not at a therapeutic dose.

It’s not impossible but it is unusual to diagnose a personality disorder at your age. It is clear, though, that you have significant problems. You are probably right that there is something going on besides a depression. To find out, you do need to see a therapist who specializes in teen issues.

As you already know, seeing a therapist and using therapy effectively are two different things. You need to find a therapist with whom you can be open and honest and who you trust to be helpful. That may take interviewing a few until you find the right one. I hope you will do exactly that. The problems you describe are not going to be addressed with a few visits with a therapist you don’t trust.

I do suggest that seeing a family therapist with your parents would be helpful as well. You’ve tried to get your over-busy parents to attend to you by a variety of self-harm strategies but it hasn’t worked. Like many parents, they may not understand that there are issues underlying the self-harm that must be dealt with. Like many adults, they may think your self-harm is only a way to get attention or to avoid school, not an indication of something more serious. My guess is that they are as concerned as you are but don’t know what to do to help you. A family therapist can help you all work together toward your healing.

If you can’t talk to your parents, please identify another adult you can confide in who can then advocate for you. Often adults are more responsive to other adults than they are to their kids. Your doctor or therapist may be a place to start. You all deserve better than what has been going on for far too long.

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie

from Ask the Therapist

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