I really don’t know what to do here. So, for a long time I’ve known my family has a lot of mental health issues and one of the main problems is choosing not to accept them, but things like anger issues, emotional abuse, mental health neglect, and ostracizing have always been issues in my family especially from my dad. A lot of these issues I never even recognized as abnormal until friends recognized “weird” things I was saying casually or odd behaviors that I had. Additionally my younger brother had a lot of problems at school which caused a recognition that some of these issues were real. Since he has been diagnosed with autism, ADHD, and a learning disability. My parents often get very frustrated and angry when one or more of these issues affects my brother’s ability to function “normally”. There is always a lot of screaming, yelling, hate, etc. going on at my house. I am reasonably (I think) upset by these constant outbursts and will often try to distance myself from the fray. Unfortunately I am sometimes too noticeable upon my retreat and I am called out for my exodus. On certain occasions my brother has been given a punishment that will “only stop when I’m ok to come back.” I also have some mental health concerns of my own that are not addressed by my family including anxiety, depression (non- suicidal), and paranoia. While friends and even a few teachers have mentioned something about especially the anxiety to both me and my parents, I’m incredibly fearful of what would happen if my I were to confront my parents on these issues, especially about getting help for them. I have a strong network of a few close friends that are really supportive, but none of them are really sure what the correct move would be. However I never give anyone the full story for fear of everything getting to someone I don’t want to know and to give me room to juggle a story I don’t want to share. (This is where the paranoia comes in.) I would trust them with my life, but I unfortunately don’t trust their ability to keep secretive and not say something I don’t want in this situation. (I realize this is somewhat manipulative, but I have no other way to play the cards the way I want them to be played.) Also big is the fact that my parents have REALLY old-fashioned values, so they are incredibly unsupportive of my choice in career goals. This year I enrolled in a technical for the construction program. Because this is a traditionally male dominated area and I am a female my parents are strongly against this decision. My dad especially hates the idea that I will being doing that kind of work even though working with tools has been an interest of mine since I was a little kid. (My grandfather taught me the tools of the trade and I loved it. He’s gone but I still feel like this memory and skill is a fundamental part of me, even if no one else around me will accept that.) Since I was accepted into this program my father forces me to do any and all “construction projects” around the house. He does them all with me because he is convinced I am incapable of doing the work because of my gender and ostracizes me for any mistakes I make during the task. As well as making points about my choices being wrong if there is ever anything I accidentally make it obvious I don’t want to do. Because of these factors and others I have neglected to add to this post, I have felt at times that getting away is the only option. This is often egged on by searches in ways to deal with issues I have within my household. When searching ways to deal with things like anxiety, bad family situations, being an emotional sponge, the number one recommendation is always to separate yourself from the situation. And while Covid-19 has made it next-to-impossible to get away, I have never really been free of my parents. They are incredibly overprotective and almost never let me out of their sight. I am also 14 so I have no way of getting my own method of transportation away. So this lack of freedom is hardly new for me. This makes getting away virtually impossible anytime not just right now. I have a friend who is also in a tough family situation who I have discussed running away with before (it is statistically much safer to runaway with a friend) but we both have our own fears attached to the issue including missing school time. I have also had a friend address me about the possibility of foster care or family therapy for a short period in this situation. However all of these leave me with a time when I will be back alone with my family without the watch of someone else and I am utterly petrified of the consequences of such an encounter. Additionally in the case of running away especially, I fear for my brother who would likely face the wrath of my parents and I could never allow him to endure that. Especially not with the guilt I face for what I already cannot protect him from. However, I am slowly losing myself and my ability to function mentally and physically. My ability and participation in school and other activities is diminishing and my conscious thoughts are becoming harder to control and focus on. I have no family or trusted adults to turn to. Making my decision and action on this situation, imperative. This leaves me at a stalemate for which I have no way out. So I guess that’s what I’m asking you about. What should I do in this situation, and what would be good first moves to take here to keep everyone in the scenario safe?
- Thank you for sharing your story here on TeenCentral.com. You are in an incredibly difficulty situation and you have been trying to hold it together, but sounds like family life is getting increasingly difficult. You are worried about not just your safety and mental health but also your little brother’s. You feel as if you don’t have a lot of good options right now. You understandably have trust issues, Please continue to reach out to this community for support.
- It is so good that you are reaching out for help, online and with close friends. Please continue to explore online resources, especially this website. If you have not already done so, please look at some of the TeenCentral.com Stories shared by other teens. You had mentioned feeling increasingly overwhelmed by your situation. This is understandable. Please know that there are some resources you may want to use if you need to talk to someone. The HELP section of TeenCentral’s homepage has a list with descriptions of various hotlines you can call to get advice and assistance. For example, Child Help USA, provides assistance to abused teens 24/7. (http://www.childhelpusa.org/). You can speak to someone about how you are feeling. If you would rather text, you can text the Crisis Textline which also has 24-hour support www.crisistextline.org
- You are right to be concerned about your safety. Your safety is an important reason why you should consider other options rather than running away. Even with a friend, it is incredibly dangerous for both of you. Are you sure there is no counselor at school or teacher who you can confide in? It may mean letting your guard down, but if you are feeling as if you have no other options, you may want to reconsider reaching out. Talking with someone about the entire situation may not solve everything, but it may help you to feel less alone and overwhelmed. Consider using the Support Plan in the TOOLS section.
- Please keep talking to your friends to help relieve some of the stress and worry. Also, consider writing some of your feelings down, if you have a safe place to do so. Consider looking at the “Journaling as a Coping Skill for Stress” in the What’s New section for some ideas. Some teens find that writing about their situation helps them to think more clearly about it and provides some stress relief.
- Clearly you enjoy making items and using your hands to build things. Although your dad often insists on joining you, perhaps you can find some time to work on non-school related construction projects just for your enjoyment. They don’t have to be big, but if they bring you joy and help you to focus on something other than your stressful home life, please try and find some opportunities to do so.
- You are under a lot of stress and you are worried about your brother as well. Consider what you can do alone, with friends or even with your brother to help relieve some of the stress and worry. Under the LEARN section at TeenCentral.com, you will find a Wellness section which has guides providing tips and advice about relaxation and other ways to improve your wellness. You may want to read some of these guides. They will not solve your problems, but may help you as you struggle to deal with your situation.