I'm a 20-year-old male from Bulgaria. As you're reading this you probably wonder where Bulgaria is. It's a small post-communist countryin Eastern Europe.

I'm writing to you because I think you will understand my pain and probably help me. I found no one to share my feelings with and I often feel misunderstood and I need to wear a mask of confidence and pretend to be someone else in order to survive. I want to share my story with someone and have someone comment on it, so if you have time please drop a line or two in reply.

So here's my story. Since I remember myself I've always been shy and felt uneasy around people. My parents took care of me and never abused me, although I think they took this a little further by being a little over-protective. They gave me love and respect but they never gave me understanding, and that's one of the reasons I'm writing to you.

So I've been shy and not really adaptive and when I started school I was psychologically abused by my peers and my teachers. I was always made fun of, called bookworm and the like. I was very nervous when I needed to express an opinion or talk in front of the class, I never voluntarily did anything. So when this abuse started I shared my pain with my parents who took the wrong measures.. They talked with the other kids and with my teacher, which resulted in even more abuse. I was considered a weirdo and was generally not spoken to. Kids didn't want me for their friend and I didn't want them too. I had a very few friends there.

Later I started playing outside in my neighborhood. Things turned out pretty much the same way here, I was psychologically abused for being smart and shy, for not doing all the "cool" stuff and for being afraid to do mischief. I was really afraid, mostly because I didn't want to disappoint my parents and have them disapprove of me (they never yelled at me but I sensed when they disapproved of me and when I disappointed them). So I was abused and told my parents and grandparents who also took care of me, they again told off the other kids which resulted in even more abuse and I was again considered weird and a loser.

I have quite a few memories of this abuse, but I don't share the details right now because I don't want to prolong the letter unnecessarily.

So my parents tried to help but actually caused me more trouble...

They've always insisted that education is the most important thing of all, and I think they still don't understand that there are other important things like socializing, finding love and most importantly meeting emotional needs.

So they insisted on education and I didn't disappoint them, I scored highest marks on various tests and I've always excelled in school, although my needs were never satisfied...

In fourth grade something awful happened to me... Feeling outcast and never understood I stopped going out and playing with the kids and stayed at home playing video games and that kind of crap Then I started putting up weight, so by the end of fifth grade I was pretty damn fat.

This resulted in even more abuse... I couldn't get rid of this excess weight for all those years, in ninth and tenth grade (16-17 year old) I was having serious problems, I was obese. This obesity even caused me health problems but the psychological problems it has caused me are almost irreversible. I've never felt more unlikeable, unloved, abused, misunderstood and unable to express myself.

I always had to hide my true feelings and act like the others thought I should. I had some friends because I wore the mask pretty well and they often didn't have the chance to see underneath... but those were not real friends, they expected me to do what they wanted instead of listening to me and understanding my pain (not that I ever tried to explain it to them...).

There were times I was extremely afraid and living in fear and pain, I was afraid when I was getting back from school that I will be mocked by the same guys who abused me in my neighborhood a few years before that. I was afraid to go to school and face the abuse there, the mocking, the jokes and all the hidden messages. Later this fear started to fade out and I started to look for solutions, but all this psychological wounds can't heal so fast...

During all this time I had already stopped sharing my feelings with my parents.I probably stopped after their improper handling of my issues in the first years of school. I was afraid that if I told them they would do something stupid or they would misunderstand me. They've never admitted I was obese, even when the facts were pretty damn straight...

So I was feeling misunderstood, lost, confused, unlikeable... It was nearly unbearable. I had no one to share my pain with and I had to pretend all the time.

So I found friends on the Internet, most of them had never seen me so they accepted me for my skills. Even though I felt they were real friends of mine I never shared my feelings with them, although I was able to share more. They accepted me for my knowledge so I soon became interested in computers, programming and the like. I became part of a computer geeks community and had fun there. But this was asubstitute for my unmet emotional need to socialize and to have friends, and you know you can never get enough of a substitute.

So until the end of high school I was going with the flow, never sharing, never being myself and always pretending. My "friends" started to drift away because I didn't go out with them on parties and stuff. I just couldn't, I was too shy and felt too inadequate on parties. I couldn't dance, couldn't have all the fun, and I was afraid they would mock me.So for the Nth time in my life I was abandoned by those whoI considered friends. Only my online friends left...

After I finished school I set a goal to lose weight, I convinced my mother there was a problem with my weight. I read a lot about diets, researched the psychological aspects of losing weight, relapse prevention and so on, so I finally managed to lose weight... I lost 20kg in 3 months. By the way, while at school I think I developed some eating disorder, because I was afraid to eat in front of the other guys, and I starved the whole day then I ate a lot at home, which only helped me get even fatter.

I stopped my diet because I had to move to another city to study at a university. There I found new people who accepted me differently. I live with one of my online friends now, at the dorms. And I work (yes I have to work, life is hard here) with one of the other. I must say they really proved real friends... although I'm afraid to share this story with them for fear of being rejected, again.

So my life changed a lot, but the psychological abuse lef its mark on me. I still need to lose some more weight, I never feel I'm alright. I have self-doubts and easily get depressed. I've NEVER even kissed a girl, and I'm afraid and don't know how to approach women.

Although I do have friends I'm still unable to share my problems with them, I'm afraid they will drift away, but I can't really let this happen because I will be abandoned again. So I never felt love, and let me quote metallica here "what I've felt, what I've known never shined through what I've shown". Yes, I've always pretended and continue to pretend, hide my pain and try to cope on my own, but I find it extremely hard and I often get depressed and feel helpless.

I read that emotionally invalidated people and people with unmet emotional needs don't finish their projects, and this is absolutely true about me. I didn't even finish my "project" to lose weight even though it was going pretty well.

Please, if you read this, please answer... I need help, I don't want to die alone and I don't want to pretend my whole life that I'm okay, because obviously I'm not.