She was 17, a junior in high school, a mousy looking girl, kind of nerdy. She was a high honor student, and a student manager of the girls basketball team. She told me she admired the jock, prep girls and wanted to be like them but she wasn’t that well coordinated to be an athlete.
Her grades had been dropping through the spring and she became depressed. Her pediatrician put her on Prozac and said she needed counseling so she came to see me.
She said she’d been a virgin and not very popular and finally a boy took an interest in her but on the second date he told her he was breaking up with her unless she “put out”. She told me she didn’t even know at first what this meant until he was clear that he wanted sex. She said she was confused, upset, and didn’t want this first romantic relationship to end so she agreed. She lost her virginity to him on their second date, and then he promptly bragged to his friends that he had “scored” with her, and broke-up with her any way.
All his friends wanted to go out with her and after having sex with four or five guys she said she got a reputation as the junior class slut. She was devastated, became depressed, and now felt more isolated than ever.
“What do you make of all this?” I asked her.
She paused for some time and then said, “I guess I would rather be used than be alone.”
I was stunned, and for a minute at a loss for words. The silence was palpable but also soothing. I felt like I was sitting in the presence of a Buddha.
I finally said to her, “I’m amazed at your insight. You’d rather be used than be alone. I have a lot of thirty, forty, fifty year old clients that haven’t figured this out yet and you’re only 17! You are what they call an “old soul.”
She got through the school year, pulled her grades up, and while still withdrawn, the depression slowly seemed to lift and the school year ended. We didn’t meet over the summer and I assumed she was okay. Then in September she called and asked to see me again. She said she was feeling much better and told me she had asked her pediatrician if she could stop her anti-depressants and he asked her how her counseling was going. She said she told him that we hadn’t been meeting since school ended in June and the pediatrician told her to see me for a “check-up” and if I agreed that her depression had improved he would work with her to taper off the antidepressant. So she came to see me.
She looked much better, had gained a little weight, smiling, even bubbly, a changed person. I asked her, “What has happened since we last met?”
“I’m a senior this year, and things are going great. I’m managing the basketball team later this fall, and I’m working part time at McDonald’s and I’m planning on going to college next year. I’m feeling great and I want to stop the anti-depressants and my doctor told me I had to talk to you first,” she said.
“Things seem much better. Any symptoms of depression?” I asked.
“No, they've all cleared up and I feel, and am doing, better than ever,” she replied.
“Do you remember that thing we talked about last spring when you told me that you would rather be used than be alone?” I asked.
“Yeah, sure,” she said smiling.
“And what do you think now?” I asked.
“Oh, I’d rather be alone any day,” she said laughing.
“Indeed,” I said, “it is better to be alone than to be used. You go girl!”
And that was that. Obviously I have remembered her story to this day and feel graced and blessed by my encounters with a 17 year old teenage old soul.