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Dear Dr. Robert,
After stumbling upon your website, I decided to write to you.
I am 18 years old, and for a few years I have struggled with depression and suicidal thoughts.
I can't exactly pinpoint when they started. However, I started writing in a journal in 2004 (when I was 12) and on a date marked 2005 of that year, I first wrote about my suicidal thoughts.
I can't remember if this occurred before or after I wrote that entry, but I have several memories of when I felt very depressed, lonely or had the urge to self-mutilate or cause self-harm. One I remember clearly; I remember I had a very strange day where I was feeling very confused and frustrated with myself, although I remember at the time I could not figure out why. I felt very lost and uneasy, for no apparent reason. I remember pouring out some feelings of frustration to my mother, and telling her how restless, anxious and frustrated I felt. She thought I was just getting bored and restless of being inside the house and I recall her making several suggestions as to if I wanted to perhaps go to the park or go to McDonalds. I didn't want to do any of these things, and as the day wore on I felt more restless and anxious. At one point in the afternoon, I remember crying and my mom, frustrated with me said: "What is that you want, exactly?" and I recall taking a knife from our kitchen drawer and holding it close to my wrist and saying "Killing myself!" My mother thought this was absurd and laughed at me saying, "Well go ahead then!" I don't remember what happened exactly after, but I know I didn't end up hurting myself.
I also recall many instances in my childhood where I had periods during which I felt extremely lonely and isolated, even though I had several friends which I could call to play with. 
In 2005, when I wrote that entry, my depressive thoughts had begun to escalate. They have only gotten worse over the past five years, and I begun to have anxiety attacks (at least I think that's what they are) which I have hidden. I am able to control my emotions somewhat until I go into the bathroom or my bedroom where I am by myself and then I begin to have some kind of attack. I am unable to control myself and cry uncontrollably, "screaming" silently and usually scratch at myself. They are kind of difficult to explain. I have no thoughts at the time or if I do have a thought it is one that just goes over and over in my mind. I turn very red and shake and basically cry and moan and feel as if I want to get out of my own body. Sometimes I am uncontrollably angry during these periods and damage things or have thoughts of wanting to injure or kill someone. Sometimes these "attacks" last for long periods of time, and sometimes they are shorter, lasting around 10 minutes. Afterwards, I usually feel very numb and tired, and my mind feels vacant. 
This past year, I've been experiencing many problems with concentration. I can't concentrate for long, which is a complete contrast to last year. Last year, I was capable of studying for incredibly large stretches of time. This year, I can barely study for an hour and a half without getting restless, bored and losing all concentration. I have also been having more of these anxiety attacks and my suicidal thoughts are getting a lot more frequent. I have also been more prone to bingeing on food and alcohol; from October-December of this past year I went through a period of going through frequent alcohol binges.

These past few months I have been bingeing uncontrollably on food. I feel like especially these past few months I have not been myself at all; I feel more and more lost as to who I am and don't feel like being around anyone. I get moody a lot and get those anxiety/anger attacks. Today, I was doing some research online and I decided to take an online test. It revealed that I was at a "very high" risk of having borderline personality disorder. I took two other tests which revealed the same results. I looked up the symptoms for this disorder and I have 5 of them. I know they're just online tests, but could I possibly have this disorder? Or could this just be a period of my depression reaching a lower point?

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This is the first part of my question. The second part has to do with my past. I have several memories which have always bothered me from my childhood. I have wondered whether or not they are significant or whether they were just part of childhood "sexual exploration/development." I remember when I was young once, I was very angry although I can't remember why I was angry. I was probably around the age of 6 or 7. I remember coming home and I had this place mat that was on my desk in my room. On the place mat, I had several doodles of stick figures and a bee amongst other things. I remember that day I drew penises on the stick figures and on the bee. I don't remember what caused me to do such a thing or why I was so angry. Another memory I have is that when I was about 7, I told my best friend that we should go into the closet in my room. I then told her if she would show me her privates, I would show her mine which we did. I also have a memory of us (my best friend and I) at about the same age asking our friend Paul (who was the same age as us) to see his privates (since he was a boy and we were girls, curious to see). I'm not sure if the latter two memories are just part of a sexual exploration children go through when they're growing up because they're curious or not. One thing that has always disturbed me though, is the fact that I've never been truly comfortable around my father. I've never liked being affectionate with him; I've always felt uncomfortable with hugging him or even putting my arm around him. This, combined with the fact that I am easily prone to sexual thinking has always made me wonder. The fact that I had periods of feelings of loneliness or isolation even as a child combined with those facts has always made me wonder if something happened to me as a child, or am I just reading into the matter too much?
Thank you so much for taking the time to read all this. I've never told anyone about any of this but I think it's important I write down as much about myself as I can to try and help figure out if I do have some kind of disorder and/or if something really did happen to me.
If you do post this on your site, could you please keep it anonymous? Thank you very much in advance.

ask dr-robert

Dear Anonymous--

As to your first question, the symptoms you mentions such as suicidal thoughts, depression, self-harming, loss of concentration on schoolwork, violent fantasies, the possibility of borderline personality disorder, and what you are calling "panic attacks," all seem serious enough to require a psychological evaluation. In fact any one or two of them even without the others would be enough to demand such an evaluation, and I suggest you ask you mom to help you get one right away. This should not be put off or delayed at all. I consider this urgent. If your mom has any doubts that this is necessary, please show her your letter and my reply.

As to the second part of your question, some of the things you mention might indicate early sexual abuse, or not. This is a very complex matter which can only be approached by means of the personal, face-to-face help of an expert psychologist. When you have the appointment to speak about your depression and related symptoms, along with the possibility of borderline personality disorder, you will also be able to discuss your worries about sexuality and possible sexual abuse.

Be well.

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