You may know me from a previous letter (I had asked you how to prepare for MFF) and I apologize for writing again so soon. The length of this letter is also kinda insane, but it takes a bit of explaining.
Right after said convention I was diagnosed with major depression (and what we believe to be chronic depression because my grandfather also has it, but that is to be proved later if this persists for over a year). I had a therapist who I didn't like, but my mother refused to change. Because this was during the school year, I wasn't sleeping well and I missed the bus a lot of days.
My therapist told me I was just being defiant and I was just being lazy. She told me I couldn't sleep because I wasn't trying hard enough. I asked my mother to change my therapist several times, but she didn't listen. My mother thought that I was just in denial of the truth.
This persisted onto January, to the point where I was suicidal and self-harming. Around Easter, I told my mom I needed more help, and she got me evaluated at a local mental hospital. They wanted to do inpatient therapy because I did have a plan, but we decided to do a partial day program instead because I had already missed too much school.
I was probably the happiest during the period where I was in this day program. I related to other kids who were also struggling. We all kinda came together to support each other without stressing each other out. I was doing better, but I was most definitely still depressed.
It was also around then I began questioning gender identity. I don't want to draw any conclusions (I'm only 13!), but I would just prefer to be called they/them while I figure things out. I told my mom this, and she said it was a teenage phase and I was just trying to be a special snowflake. She seemed to overlook the fact that I legitimately hated my body. Not because of weight, but because I'm too curvy and too feminine looking. I don't like long hair, I've always wanted a lower voice, and she/her pronouns irk me.
I know I shouldn't have been so hurt by it, but it wasn't like I was actively binding my chest. I just wanted to be called they/them pronouns while I tried to figure out what was going on.
Four weeks of being in the day program later, and I was discharged. I kept fighting to stay in and kept telling everyone that I wasn't ready yet, I hadn't learned enough of the coping skills, but my mom said I needed to hurry up and leave because she didn't want to drive me there anymore.
So here I am, starting therapy again (with a new therapist at the least) and trying to survive. It's been three weeks since I've left the program and it only seems like I've backslid more. I've stopped self-harming as much, but I still do occasionally, and most days I sit in bed and think of how better everyone else would be without me and other self-degrading things. I usually tell my mom I'm drawing and talking to friends on my phone, and she believes it.
This is where my problem comes in: My mom makes suicide jokes, makes fun of me for wanting to be called they/them pronouns, and instead of calling me depressed, likes to call me "crazy". I'll give an example for each.
Say the car is really hot, my sister says (jokingly) she's going to jump out of the window if my mom doesn't turn the air on. My mother says "wow you must REALLY hate yourself if you're gonna do that!!"
If my mom is talking about my therapy, she'll say she's tired of driving me everywhere and something along the lines of "If you didn't start acting all crazy I wouldn't have to take you."
And finally, just general comments like "how many people are you if you're a they??" "see, if you have boobs that means you're a girl."
She ignores how much I actually hate myself and how much I'm actually struggling and it makes me really uncomfortable every time she says stuff like this. I've told her several times to just use the word depressed and not crazy, but she hasn't listened.
If you have any advice on how to tell her how uncomfortable this makes me, or how to cope with it in the meantime, it would be much appreciated.
Ioga (age 13)
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Troubled letters such as yours always go to the top of the pile, so here we are.
Sounds like you're dealing with two things: 1) Gender dysphoria (the feeling that your body doesn't match who you are inside), and 2) Lack of a support system (either professional or personal). One or the other is bad enough, but combine the two and I can see how you would be in a lot of distress and pain (hugs to you).
Let's tackle #2 first. There are good and bad therapists. Clearly, the first one you had was abysmal. Then you had a bit of a halcyon period at the hospital. That sounds like it was a good environment, but your mother wouldn't let you stay. Your mom continues to insult you and act as if you are more of a burden than someone she loves unconditionally. I would guess (correct me if I am wrong) that she gave birth to you at a young age (perhaps as a teen) and that, in addition, her own mother (your grandmother) was not a great mom. Consequently, she herself never learned to be a good mother. Another possibility is that she was not socialized well as a baby (for example, if she was neglected by your grandparents, this can be very damaging to emotional health) and she consequently lacks empathy for her own child. A third possibility is that she has a substance abuse problem that makes her unpleasant.
Therefore, when you ask me for advice on how to approach your mother and tell her she makes you uncomfortable, I have to respond that there probably is no good way because your mom lacks empathy. Whether you tell her frankly or with more subtlety, she's not going to get it. In fact, confronting her could exacerbate the problem, making her feel like you are even more crazy (e.g., "There's nothing wrong with me, it's just that my daughter is nuts.") In other words, I would say your mother needs psychological help just as much as you do, perhaps more. I would suggest you talk about all this with your new therapist and ask for their advice on what to do with your unsupportive mother. One possibility is to have both of you attend a therapy session together. This can be an awesome way of airing out any bad feelings between the two of you. In asking your mother to come with you to a session (after arranging it with the therapist), don't say, "because you need help, too." Just say that your therapist would like your mom to sit in for one or two talks.
As for #1, perhaps we should hold off on that for a while until you get through puberty. You, wisely, note this yourself. Again, your identity issues are fodder for your therapist. This can be a process that lasts for years before you figure it all out.
In the meantime, you still need to find some personal support. Do you have friends you can talk to? Perhaps in the furry community? Or, do you have other relatives who might prove to be more sympathetic and willing to lend an ear? You need to find someone besides your mom and a paid therapist that you can talk to, even get some hugs.
I hope this is helpful. If you wish to talk more about this with me, that's what I'm here for.
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