Delayed puberty causing problems

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I'm a 16-year-old boy. I got my first noticeable sign of puberty when I was 13. I looked extremely young for my age (and I still do). I had good friends, even a best friend. Back then I thought everything was fine and that my puberty would progress normally. But then, nothing happened. I started looking even younger as years passed by. My best friend found other friends and they formed a group, kind of. They rarely invited me when they went out, so I began asking if I could join them. Sometimes it was fine by them, sometimes it wasn't. I'd hang out with them a few times but it just felt too awkward: I hadn't much common with the group and the distance between me and my friend just grew as he progressed through puberty and nothing happened to me. I started to suspect that my (former) best friend just doesn't really care about me, but, however, I'm not sure if that's the case.

About half a year ago I became depressed and I didn't want to hang out with anyone. My mother set me ridiculous curfews, which just discouraged me more from hanging out with anyone. Yes, I do realize that curfews are a good thing, but it just seems to be so that my mother doesn't realize how old I am: seems like she rather treats me based on my size. My friend asked me a few times what was going on and I just replied how it was. Sometimes he would try and talk to me at school, but I did notice how he enjoyed his other friends' company much more. Summer break began and I didn't hear from him for 3 weeks. I thought that I should clear things up with him and asked him if he thought we're still friends. He said he thinks we are, but not necessarily very good ones since we haven't talked that much. I agreed and we had a quite long chat. He admitted they had formed a group and he hadn't really asked me to hang out. I told him about the problems regarding my delayed puberty. We agreed that we should see each other. But now it's been 2 weeks and I haven't heard from him. I know he has been busy with his summer job, but I don't know if I should be concerned he hasn't even asked me what's up. I just keep overanalyzing the situation. I asked him if he really wanted to be friends and he told me he wanted to be "some kind of friends". I've been thinking about that for two weeks and I still have no idea what that is supposed to mean. Sometimes I just think about the worst-case scenario, him hating me etc., but sometimes I think it's going to be okay.

Regarding my puberty, I had testosterone shots almost a year ago prescribed by my doctor. They certainly helped a bit, my puberty progressed a little again. But still, my appearance basically didn't change one bit. I did grow a little, I'm about 5'6" now (hope I got the conversion right, haha). A few months ago my doctor offered me another course of testosterone as my puberty hadn't progressed that much. I said I'd think about it. I'm definitely taking another course when I visit my doctor next time (about two months later) as it's embarrassing enough to turn 16 looking like this, let alone turning 17 or even 18 looking like a child. My looks are causing me low self-esteem. I can somehow cope with my low self-esteem by doing well at school. But then again, I don't think that is a good thing. On a scale from 4 to 10, 4 being fail and 10 being excellent, I couldn't really "accept" anything lower than a 9.5. I guess I compensated my looks by academical success. I got my grades pretty well above 9.5, practically without doing anything. I'm starting a school next fall which I think corresponds to a high school in the USA. I'm sure I'll do well, but I keep thinking: what if I won't be a good student anymore? My self-esteem would hit the floor.

I really appreciate if you read the whole thing. My English isn't that good as it's not my native language, but I hope you understand it. Any tips or insights regarding my situation are welcome. There sure isn't an easy solution, but I must start somewhere.

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  • Posted

    Sounds like a complicated situation. I can't offer much help, but I wish you well.

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  • Posted

    Mate - I just wanted to give you some words of support. First of all - your English is flawless and I would never have known that it wasn't your first language! You are clearly a very intelligent, self-aware and sensitive young man, and it's a brave step to open up on a forum like this one. Human relationships can be very complicated (the older you get the more you will find that out). The dynamic between any two people has many variables and prone to misunderstandings & miscommunications. There is also the possibility that two people can grow apart. This is particularly painful and awkward when it happens for one person and not the other. I think perhaps your friend expanded his group of close friends, with whom he may have found a bit more in common. They became an established clique and the group deterred any "outsiders" socialising with them. Please try not to take it personally. The relationship between you and your friend is a two-way street though, and will require effort from the two of you to nourish and keep it alive. It sounds like he may have more distractions in his life at the moment so cut him some slack. Time spent together should be more about quality rather than quantity. If it's a friendship worth saving, your friend will not let it die :-)

    It's easy for me to say but keep trying to accentuate the positive things in your life and play to your strengths. It's great to have high standards as long as they don't become a source of anxiety and stress. As far as your self-perception is concerned, I would again take confidence from your strengths. Many successful sports people are shorter in stature but they can be power-houses of speed and strength. Do your family support you and give you confidence? If not, maybe there is a school/college counsellor you could talk to. Take care my friend. You have your whole life ahead of you and the potential within you is limitless and exciting :-)

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    • Posted

      Thanks so much for answering. I've been talking with my friend and even hung out with him a few times – it went surprisingly well, considering the about half a year interval between. The problem is that I'm constantly playing these "what ifs" in my mind. There are times when I think everything is probably going to be all right; then again, at times I just go so deep in depression that I think there is no hope, my friends don't care at all etc. Somehow I always end up thinking he is just keeping in contact with me so he can leave me later – that he just secretly hates me. That doesn't make much sense, but I'm constantly doubting it. I just don't see it that someone could care about me, since I'm not exactly a good human being. The main problem has always been that I'm doubting everyone's good intentions. I'd find myself thinking why didn't he invite me, when he invited his other friend. This will go on and on. I've asked him about this a few times and he has assured me there was a reason for it. This has irritated him a few times, so I've stopped it, as I've realized it's in my head – no amount of assurance could stop me from worrying. Sometimes I just think I've missed developing some essential social skills as I've had practically no friends until 12-13.

      My friend knows about my problems, but I don't find it appropriate to "dump" all this on him. He told me I can (and should) come to talk to him whenever I feel like it – however, I think I should "spare" him from all this as well as I can. I just found it necessary to tell him about this so he wouldn't think I stopped contacting him on purpose. Trusting him when I speak to him doesn't seem to be a problem, but I usually end up thinking about my messages to him for very long, to avoid saying anything "wrong". Also if we have a quarrel, I subconsciously fear that he will leave me as I've just a bad person and he has better friends. I know that fear is irrational, knowing him pretty well, but this is a constant problem for me. Additionally, I'm constantly overanalyzing his statement "to be some kind of friends". That's probably not the best translation for it, but however, it's bugging me. Maybe we just have different expectations. It's also possible that I've expecting things to happen faster than they should – after all, we basically went to zero in regards of contact during the last half year. I just find myself being jealous of his other friends, which is obviously not good, either.

      My family is another story. I live with my mom and his boyfriend and my little brother (well, actually a half-brother). My mom introduced us to her boyfriend two years ago and since that, the atmosphere at our home has felt quite tense, at least for me. I don't know him pretty well, we are quite different people and don't have common interests. I'm pretty "nerdy", I like math, for example, while he is more "practical". To be honest, I don't like him. I can accept that, but the problem is that my mom and him have arguments pretty often. They both have quite short tempers, so I find myself constantly pretty "wary", waiting for the next argument to spark up. Back then when she introduced us to him, I told my mom about my concerncs. She was pretty defensive, accusing me of behaving badly and not accepting that she has a boyfriend. I havent brought up the subject since. While I have somehow coped these two years, I think I can't take the next two years. It could be even longer, as I feel pretty left out in social developement, so I don't see how I could move out at 18. Again, at times I feel it's ok, but when another argument starts, I feel like I can't take it anymore. My dad lives nearby, so the situation isn't as bad as I can visit him if I get too fed up at home.

      It would be a good idea to see a counsellor, but then my family would know. Apparently they think everything is OK and I wouldn't want more trouble. Then again, I just don't see myself coping with all this for very long anymore. I just don't want to even think about the upcoming fall, the darkness and of course, Christmas. I just have too much bad memories.

      Well, this ended up to be a long message. I surely forgot to mention a lot, but I don't mind spending more time in these memories than I have to. Distractions do help, but not during nights. At nights, all my worries just start going around my mind and I can't sleep. I just keep thinking about how nice it would to be "normal" – to have no depression, no diseases (I have diabetes), to live a normal life. I have all kinds of fears, the worst being that my mom will go on with the early curfews, resulting in not being able to see my friends and losing them. I'll have pretty long days when school starts, 8–16. I have no idea what to do.

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    • Posted


      Thanks for your reply. I'm glad that communication & time spent with your friend has improved. Sometimes the best relationships can pick up where they left off after time has passed without any contact. From my own personal experience (and what I've read on this forum) anxiety, depression & insecurity can often lead us into self-destructive behaviour and ways of thinking. Our self-esteem is low so we think we are not worthy of anyone's positive attention; we think everyone else is more deserving than we are. But you deserve to be happy and have friends the same as everyone else. Sometimes it's our own behaviour that sabotages our own chance at happiness. Depression (and the mental exercise of mindfulness) has definitely taught me to give other people the benefit of the doubt, particularly in personal relationships. When I feel hurt or emotional, I try to think the best of a friend's motives (perhaps they are having a bad day). I'm certainly not intending to become a doormat that others can just disrespect, but I would rather think the best of those I care about. Trying to second-guess their motives or challenge them hardly ever leads to a positive outcome. I wish I could suggest some way of distracting yourself from the negative over-thinking. The best way to tackle and overcome this is to replace the negative thoughts with different ones (preferably positive and self-affirming). You are an intelligent young man. Do you enjoy reading for pleasure. I've worked in libraries all my life so I'm never without a good book to escape into ;-)

      My parents divorced when I was a teenage and my brother and I have never got on with our Dad's second wife (our step-monster). It's important to maintain a good relationship with your parents: no matter who else comes into their life, there will always be a special bond between you and them because you are their son. I'm sorry that your home-life is a bit tense but I'm glad that you have your Dad nearby for support. Don't worry too much about the counselling - it's something that you might possibly consider and it would be confidential. If it helps you to cope with things at the moment then it can only be a positive step and you deserve any help that is available.

      Keep in touch buddy. Stay strong & believe in yourself :-)

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    • Posted

      Hi! Thanks again, and sorry for the delay on this answer – I thought it would be a long message and I hadn’t time.

      Things weren’t that bad until a few days. Not great, but I could somehow cope. However, I recently realized I have homosexual feelings. It’s an embarrassing subject, and probably that is why I have just previously pushed it to the back of my mind. And what’s worse is that I have these feelings for my friend, which I have mentioned. I don’t know how long exactly I’ve had them, but it’s probably at least a year, maybe two. It just recently crossed my mind again. While the thought of being gay just makes me panic and anxious, I thought I had to tell someone, so I told my friend I might be gay. He took it very well, which I’m glad about. However, I didn’t tell him about my feelings for him, and that’s where I’m struggling. Logically, I don’t see a point in telling him: he’s straight and couldn’t have feelings of that type for me. But then again, I feel like I’m hiding something and that it could be harder for me to get over those feelings for him without him concretely telling me he doesn’t have feelings for me. I discussed the possibility I might develop feelings for my friends in a general way. He told me that ”anyone sensible” would accept it, even if feeling a bit uncomfortable, as I couldn’t help it myself. I do realize things possibly could be a bit awkward for a while, but I don’t believe in it ruining our friendship or anything like that. It would definitely get it off my chest, but I don’t know what I should do. It just kind of bugs me that I have these feelings, and particularly the fact I have those for my friend. I just find myself sometimes missing him and thinking sexually about him. I’m trying to stop that, as I must get over that ”crush” (not sure what I should call it).

      It just also bugs me that I have so much trouble in my life. I have diabetes, so I’ll probably have complications later in life. I have delayed puberty, which just crushes my self-esteem. And then I’m probably depressed, possibly have OCD and thus always worrying about my health and Googling things. Now this. My mom got my hopes up on the curfew thing a little, so I’m not worrying about that so much anymore. But it just seems like I will never run out of problems – when one resolves, another shows up. I’m constantly worrying I’m missing out a lot. Because I have delayed puberty, I feel like I can’t live a normal youth at all, and that I will kind of have a ”delay” in my life. After all, some people even move out at 16, but that wouldn’t even be a possibility for me – I look young, so people would always thing I’m too young. I’d say most people move out when they’re about 18—20, at least where I live. I’m just so afraid that I’m not ”ready” even by then, as I am so anxious and probably have also a delay in social development. It just looks like other people my age already are almost adults, especially as boys look almost like men. And there am I, in a boy’s body. I just feel like I don’t belong.

      Oh, and to answer your question – I rarely read, but when I do, I do enjoy it. I should probably try it more often.

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    • Posted

      No need to apologise mate. Your words show how mature and thoughtful you are. Life can be a struggle, and those teenage years are when you are trying to find your real identity. Life throws one problem at us after another (sometimes several days attack us at once). But the most helpful way to handle this is to use these challenges as opportunities. If they seem overwhelming, then try to take them just one at a time (prioritise what you can handle or what will make the most immediate difference to your life). Depression and anxiety is all about feeling loss of control and the frustration that comes with that feeling. Try to take back control.

      From the way you described your feelings for your friend, it was obvious that this person held a very special place in your life, so your deeper feelings are not too much of a surprise. Again, the teenage years are when your identity is forming and it isn't unusual for all adolescents to feel crushes for either or both sexes. It was certainly part of my growing up. It's definitely nothing to feel ashamed about. Many people find that the object of their affections does not reciprocate their feelings - they may never even get to talk to that person. I realise how awkward it must be to have these particular feelings for your best friend. It's good that you have been able to broach the topic of sexuality and find acceptance from him. It's obviously now a bit of a minefield: if you are open about your true feelings, he may reject you and the friendship could be lost. All relationships between people depend on a balance. I'm not suggesting you lie to him but telling the complete truth and witholding some truth are not the same thing. I remember some advice my therapist once told me when I was struggling with suicidal depression but unable to open up to my family; the therapist told me that it was ok to give someone else as much or as little information as we thought they could handle, or would maintain the stable boundaries of the relationship. I think this can apply to all communication in close relationships. Unless you feel comfortable, you don't need to open yourself up completely. I hope you continue to "find yourself" in a positive and healthy way. It sounds like you are putting a lot of pressure on yourself, especially when you compare yourself to your peer group. My therapist always told me that it was unhelpful when I beat myself up for not behaving or thinking in a certain kind of way. The expectations themselves can be damaging. When we are young we want to grow up so fast, but these are the best years of your life and they do fly by so fast. I'm not belittling how you are feeling, but I would encourage you to savour your youth. I think you're doing a great job - the best that you can. It only counts if it is good enough for you though ;-) Take care buddy & keep in touch :-)

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