Hi there, so I'm new to this forum and this has actually been bothering me for a long time now. This might get really long though but I appreciate any help.

How would you distinguish having a mental disorder from just a cry for attention?

It's just that recently a rather heated debate I had with someone made me question once again whether or not I really had a mental disorder or if I was just being over dramatic with my situation. I've never been to a therapist but I've been thinking of going lately. I'd just like to get some thoughts before I might end up wasting I good chunk of money for something that I could have just endured.

Some background on me. I'm a 19 year old college student. My family background isn't as bad as others but with two working parents and 2 more siblings I can say I was a bit neglected. My mother focused on her work and I can't really say I felt much support from my father who was there but wasn't really THERE for me. I have an amazing older sister who I was greatly envious of when I was a child... actually even now. She was doted on by my father who leaned more towards scientific and academic achievements. I was the weird one who drew pretty pictures of no real significance, or at least that was what I felt from him. I admit I was also a bit jealous of my brother who was talented and charismatic. He, on the other hand, was doted on by my mother and so that left me as the kid who tried to gain their approval and ultimately failed and gave up. In our family, we also didn't talk about feelings or anything sappy of the sort. Whenever I cried my father used to give me a stern look and eventually, I learned to cry in hiding or not at all. I was often ridiculed when I was young, silly jokes from the family but they still hurt at the time.

My life outside the house wasn't any better. When I was in elementary I didn't really care (too much playing I guess) but once I hit high school I felt unbearably lonely. I remember telling my family one time that I didn't have any real friends and I was completely serious. They (my father, sister and brother) ended up making fun about it and ripping on me for a good hour or so; that incident ended in me laughing and going to my room to sleep it off. It was during first year that I ended up cutting. I know that it was stupid now but at the time it felt like an appropriate punishment to myself and others. I wanted to hurt myself out of disgust and low self-esteem. Which also involved a repulsive incident with my grandfather when I was younger. I wanted to hurt people by hurting myself. I wanted them to feel guilty and I guess I wanted their attention even if it was negative. I didn't show my family though. I was scared shitless of what they would do or how they would feel. But I did sometimes show it to some of my "friends". I thrived on their reactions but I could still feel that they didn't really give a fuck. It was by the half of second year that I met my bestfriend. She stuck by me and was the main cause why I stopped cutting.

Moving on, lately my moods have been up and down. Sometimes I feel like I can tackle the world and other times I feel like I'm nothing but shit. I still keep in contact with my bestfriend but I also don't want to rely on her. I don't want to hurt her or bother her when I talk about my suicidal urges. I also don't want to trouble my family with my problems because I can now appreciate and understand the things they've done.

I'm sorry for the wall of text but at any rate the reason why I'm worried whether or not I'm just being overdramatic is because nothing really traumatic has happened to me (excluding that bastard of a grandfather). The person who I was debating with had his parents beat each other and he was from a broken family. My bestfriend and my other great friends also come from broken families. None of them seem to be as moody or as bitchy as I am. Overall, my life hasn't been terrible. I know now that my parents were working hard for me and that my family was the way it was because that was how everyone coped. The weird thing is that, that doesn't make me feel any better. It doesn't give me an explanation or a justified reason as to why I feel like shit for a prolonged time or why I have to be afraid of falling into that depressive pit of self-deprecating shit even when I'm fully content. So I'm wondering if I should go to a therapist or if I should just suck it up. What do you guys think?


1964 days ago
Hi there

I am not sure what the incident with your grandfather was but if it was what I think then a lot of your reactions could be related to it. Childhood abuse leaves deep mental scars. Any time there is self injurious behavior, then there is cause for concern. I am glad you have managed to stop cutting but still, I do think therapy may be helpful in letting you release a lot of the pent up hurts. It sounds like your family really did not behave well toward you as making a child feel "wrong" for releasing tears or making fun of them when they confide things is a very immature reaction! All this put together could have a lot to do with your fragile emotions.

If there is any underlying mental health problem, then only a qualified professional can help to diagnose you. Be sure to choose a therapist who has experience with childhood trauma, and one you will feel comfortable opening up to. What you tell your therapist is confidential, so you should be able to be totally honest with them.

hope things get better for you!

1964 days ago
I agree with Chemar - only a therapist /doctor can determine if you have any psychological issues. Even if people don't have a diagnosis, they can still get support for life problems. If you've been abused by your grandfather, this can affect you psychologically. Have you told your parents? In addition you can still have emotional issues even if your life is content - depression affects anyone even if they seem to have everything in life.

From your post it sounds like you didn't feel appreciated for who you were or are now. I agree if you've had suicidal thoughts and self injured, this is a sign you need some counseling. You shouldn't have to bottle up your feelings. You probably felt discounted when you were growing up. I hope you work this out and don't let secrets seethe in you.

1964 days ago
Dear Starfall,

First of all, who wants attention by admitting they are suffering with suicidal thoughts/cutting/depression or symptoms of a mental disorder? To this day, unfortunately, mental disorders are still stigmatizing.

Second, mental disorders/illnesses are biologically based caused by genetics. Scientific research has been showing that one's genes can have mutations in which the brain chemistry suffers, i.e. not enough neurotransmitters, inability to process them properly, too much or too little. PET scans of the brain also show that activity may stay 'stuck' in one area of the brain as opposed to other areas which the brain seems to be underusing.

If you google 'the human genome project' and type in depression, you will see the research which show this. There is not just one type of depression/bipolar etc.. Many different areas of a chromosome can be affected as well as different chromosomes. Later on in life, stresses can result in full blown symptoms.

This is no different than having diabetes, asthma, epilepsy or any other physical disorder. Nobody tells a person that they are 'just' looking for attention' because they have asthma or epilepsy. Severe stress can cause flareups in these disorders as well. They often need medication to stabilize the illness. Then they are taught skills to maintain health and in recognizing when their illness is in high overdrive.

Also, no one would tell someone having an asthma attack to use their 'willpower' to suck it up, or that they were pretending to not be able to breathe or that their parents have given them everything in life so why are they struggling to breathe.

You said that you had friends who had worse backgrounds than you but weren't as moody as you. Well, not everyone has a genetic predisposition for mental illness. If they did, everyone would be under psychiatric care. The right medications can make a world of difference especially in addition to verbal counseling.

Very often, college can be very stressful, and as a psychiatric nurse, I have seen students having to be hospitalized for the first time in their lives. They most often would be very distressed, saying "what did I do wrong for this to be happening to me?" They did nothing wrong. They did everything right in seeking out treatment however.

It is not our fault that we have an illness. But it behooves us to seek out treatment, read all that we can to educate ourselves about our illness, & to have patience, perseverance and compassion for ourselves as we begin the path towards healing.

I think you know how you have been struggling and suffering. Don't compare yourself to others, only to how you felt before all these symptoms began. Someone else's background is irrelevant to yours. When a person feels pain and suffering, it is 100% for them. A person who loses two legs is not more or less deserving of treatment than a person who lost one leg or one finger. There is enough help to go around for everyone who needs and wants it. The sooner you get into outpatient therapy the faster you will be onto the road to recovery.

Good Luck!

1963 days ago
I do just want to mention that, in addition to the very important role of genetics, there can be other and varied primary causes for mental illness, including PTSD from traumatic events, and even certain types of infections! plus more. Again why it is important to see a professional who can evaluate all aspects to arrive at a more accurate diagnosis.

1962 days ago
Thanks guys, I'll try to save up for a diagnosis or something. :)

1962 days ago

IMT you can join our forum section where you can get info and support from others in various sections, as well as use other resources there. Just click COMMUNITY top right of the page and you can then register for the forum support groups.

HTH and God Bless