Dear Dr. Archer,
When I was 12 my dad was arrested for murder and possession, and I had to step up to help the family get through some very hard times. I grew up dirt poor and had to work for everything I have.
I've never had any friends, just a few acquaintances from school and work. It's been very difficult and I know there are a million people with similar stories, but I don't know how much longer I can take it. I'm constantly being ridiculed and disrespected, not only by coworkers but by family members as well.
I used to be overweight and I was self conscious about it and what people said to me. I starved myself to lose the weight. After I lost 80 pounds, everyone said it was because I was on drugs.
For the last 8 years or so I've thought about suicide, at least once a month. I always tell myself it isn't worth it, and that things will get better.
I have tried to end my life a few times, but just end up in the hospital. I don't have anybody I can confide in or talk to about this.
You absolutely had a rough childhood, I'll grant you that. You're also right when you say millions of people have similar stories, but that doesn't mean your rough life has to continue.
I want you to remember everything you accomplished starting at age 12, Cotye. How many children could have done what you did to help your family survive?
Children who are forced to work in order to help the family often face problems of mistreatment and abuse, both physically and emotionally, surprisingly even at the hands of the family and neighbors, just like what you experienced.
Poverty seems to be more of an issue than the child's well being. In essence, Cotye, you lost your childhood. Instead of playing baseball and socializing with friends, you had real problems -- adult problems -- to solve.
No one can put a price on what you accomplished, and no one knows what you gave up in order to help your family survive. In fact, Cotye, I doubt those who ridicule you could have done what you did. You are a survivor and a hero and so much stronger than you realize.
Mahatma Gandhi once said, "First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, then you win." Cotye, you're a winner, never forget that.
Get those thoughts of suicide out of your mind, because you have more work to do. Repeat that quote every day if you have to, but realize you have worth and you can overcome anything.
You CAN overcome your past and present. If you need someone to talk to, by all means seek counseling. A good therapist can help you work though your past traumas and pain. Your past is gone; look at your future and realize that you have the capability of making it whatever you wish.
However, if you keep having thoughts of suicide, make an appointment with your family doctor or a psychiatrist. You may have depression, and if so, you might need medication, which could turn your thinking and your life around. If these thoughts persist, do not delay to seek help. Good luck.