During my Junior year of High School, I started having an especially hard time with my emotions; sad about the way I look, and more suicidal than ever before.
My psychiatrist told my mother and I about a program for teens dealing with different problems. A program at the U of U called Teenscope.
Some of the teens go to the program’s classes and therapy for an 8-hour day, others attend the 8 hours, and then sleep each night upstairs in the hospital. The teens who stay upstairs have all their belongings taken from them, in order to keep them from harming themselves. The doctors take their shoes to try to keep the teens from running away, etc.
I remember when I first heard about this, I did not want to go. I don’t like change, I was already having a hard enough time at school. Going to a new ‘school’, trying to make new friends. I was also worried about what kids at school would be thinking if I were gone for such a long time — I’d be at the program for about a quarter of my junior high school year. I didn’t want people to know I have depression, to feel bad for me, or whatever.
My psychiatrist assured me that they work everything out with the school. I would go to Teenscope each school day, have different sessions and types of therapy; one-on-one with different psychiatrists, group sessions, music therapy, a PE-type class, art. We would then have an hour each day to work on homework from our schools, so we could stay caught up.
Teenscope was an incredible chance I had to learn so much, from not only psychiatrists, but teens, individuals my age, who were struggling themselves, with whatever it may be: drugs, alcohol, gang relations, anxiety, depression, suicidal thoughts and actions, etc.
Group therapy sessions were always so eye-opening. The other teens had no idea why I was there until I told them, and they all found it unfathomable that I could feel the way I do about myself, and think the thoughts I do.
The same went from my direction. I became aware of their struggles and the heartache in each person’s life. I grew to know each one of those kids and become their friend. I would have never known what they were going through by just seeing them physically.
At my time at Teenscope, I was diagnosed with Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD.)
Wikipedia says BDD “is a type of mental illness, asomatoform disorder, wherein the affected person is concerned with body image, manifested as excessive concern about and preoccupation with a perceived defect of their physical features.”
“…causes psychological distress that causes clinically significant distress or impairs occupational or social functioning.”