A note on mental health

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I was just reading about Scott Stapp, the lead singer for Creed, and his ongoing struggle with paranoid schizophrenia. A quote of his from a video that was described as “concerning” was this: “God has been removed out of American culture … except for it’s printed on our money, because what I’m starting to realize is that’s what’s really become the God of America: money.”
The more dangerous and scary aspects of his psychosis aside, this in and of itself is a brilliant and insightful quote. It’s a shame that it was probably not heard by a lot of people because it was among more paranoid and less-believeable quotes from him.
I find this is one difficulty with psychosis – deep and emotional thought and truth from the person experiencing the psychosis can be lost or not given full worth because of the nature of the situation. I often wonder if people with schizophrenia and similar brain conditions are more in tune and sensitive than people without it, yet we brand them as less than or assume we need to fix them.

90’s Tweens vs. Today’s Tweens

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I read an article from a great blog I follow called Everyday Feminism.  The author, Shannon Ridgway, brings up some good points.  I, like Shannon, spent ages 9-12 in the 90’s.  So, let’s explore how things are different for today’s tweens vs. the 90’s tweens.  (One difference being that we hadn’t coined the term “tween” yet.)

Me, as a "tween".

Me, as a “tween”.

1)  Cell phones.

When I was in middle school, the only people that had cell phones were business-people.  I would call my mom at home from the pay phone at school (I was devastated when the rate climbed from $0.25 to $0.35, because it required two coins).  For those who are curious: when I had no coins, I would call my mom at home via a “collect call”, and say really quickly what I needed.  My mom would answer and hear, “You have a call from MOM PRACTICE IS OVER COME PICK ME UP!  Do you accept the charges?”  That way it wouldn’t charge the house.  Ahhh the resourcefulness…

Now, a lot of young people have cell phones for different reasons.  Whatever the reason, phones are not just for calling and texting: phones have internet access now!!  They can take pictures and post online in under five seconds.  No wonder cyber bullying is so bad.  Remember how bad kids were in person?  Imagine how bad they can be behind the safety net of the ethernet.  Let’s not forget that once something is online, it is out there forever.  Imagine googling yourself in your 20’s and finding that picture of you from middle school at a pool party where someone labeled you “fat ho”?  You can’t escape that stuff!  There is an app developed for sexting (even though that claim is denied from the developers).  Snapchat.  It allows someone to take a picture or record a video.  Once you send it, the receiver is only able to see it for a few seconds before it is deleted.  Well, that’s what we think.  Click this link for more about SnapChat.

Let’s be real: kids have too much power.  They are irrational and impulsive because of their intense emotions and should not have the power to ruin someone’s life…because sometimes they will be irrational and impulsive and they don’t realize that there are some actions they can NEVER take back.

While we’re on the subject…

2) The Internet.

We had the internet.  I went on AOL (for the kids of today, this was basically like texting, but you had to both be signed in and type back and forth on the computer in order to chat).  For me, in my home, the computer was in a spare room and we could only be in there with the door open.  My brother and I also had to SHARE the computer.  The computer was the only thing that had games and internet and word processor to type our school assignments.  We had to time manage and work out deals for computer time.  Oh, and we also had DIAL-UP!  This means that until we got a second phone line for just the internet, we had to make sure nobody needed the home phone in order to go online.  The internet was also very ssssllllllooooowwwww and had a lot less websites than it does today.  In fact, I didn’t ever visit websites.  I only went online to chat on AOL.  Now, there are websites dedicated to making fun of people.  Kids even know how to create websites!  Let’s not even talk about porn; it is rampant and so easily accessible.  Kids have their own computers, if that even matters!  With internet on phones, kids have full access to whatever is online at all hours of the day and night.  Parents: consider limiting your child’s wi-fi access or access to electronics, period.  Have conversations with your children.  You are not powerless.

This is me playing outside with friends.  What a novel concept.

This is me playing outside with friends. What a novel concept.

Facebook came out when I was in my first year of college.  Some people were using Myspace but I didn’t really like it.  It seemed a bit “To Catch a Predator” and it creeped me out.  Facebook, however, was meant to connect you to other students and you could only use it if you had a legitimate university email address.  I am infinitely grateful that we didn’t have facebook before college.  I don’t think that the majority of kids are mature enough to have access to something like this.  I see bikini pictures on facebook of kids I know today and I cringe.  I see publicly displayed breakups and four-page scrolls of comments trash-talking others.  It’s ugly and it shouldn’t exist.  There are parents who properly control their kids access to websites and internet time and phone time, but there are those who do not and I think it is damaging.  It is also too easy to “facebook-stalk” people.  Do you know what we used to do when I was in middle school?  If we had a crush, we would get our friends to prank call the person and we’d have a good laugh.  We would “dare” one another to say hi to the crush at school.  It was easier to not get as obsessed and go into the scary territory of going through the profiles of every girl that posted on your crush’s wall.

Twitter.  This makes kids think that every thought they have should be broadcast to the whole world.  It shouldn’t.

If twitter was around in the 90's, you betcha I would've tweeted this sweet pic from summer vacation.

If twitter was around in the 90’s, you betcha I would’ve tweeted this sweet pic from summer vacation.

Don’t get me wrong.  This isn’t meant to be a rant.  I love vine and twitter and facebook and youtube for the good things they give us.  I love that there is so much great humor out there for everyone now.  Kids are so creative with certain videos they make.  I also love being able to spread information and messages of positivity with so many people.  I just think that we need to control the negativity a bit more by having open, honest conversations with our young people.  Our actions have impact.

3) Reality television.

Otherwise known as “the death and destruction of everything that was once sacred”.  Reality t.v.  Blech.  Why can’t we just be honest about shows being scripted?  Let’s not trick the youth of today into believing this sh#t is real.  Kids have brains that are not as mature as adult brains.  When they see reality t.v. they are processing it into messages about how they should act, how their bodies should look, what things they should have and how they should treat the opposite sex/friends/family.  Reality t.v. has also created a big desire among young people to strive toward 15 minutes of fame.  Most of reality t.v. is centered around women as sex objects.  For children who are not parented in a way that teaches them that reality t.v. is not real and that in real life there are consequences for actions and that not all people act the way they see people acting on t.v., there can be devastating effects.  It’s like a war on the psyches of youth today.

4) Clothing styles.

This look for 5th grade graduation can be described as "mom's shirt and friend's skirt".  I was a not a traditionally feminine girl.

This look for 5th grade graduation can be described as “mom’s shirt and friend’s skirt”. I was a not a traditionally feminine girl.

I really feel like the pressure to look good for girls has not changed.  There were tight clothes, makeup and hair for me and there are those pressures for girls today.  I actually had a boy tell me when I was 15 that he liked when I wore dresses/tight jeans/shorts to school and when I did my hair.  He described me as being a 50/50 girl: hot 50% of the time and not hot 50% of the time.  He said that if I wanted to be hot all the time I should not wear my gray athletic shorts or put my hair up in a messy bun anymore.  (Feel free to take a moment to gag.)  Unfortunately, I think this one hasn’t changed.

noname-8

There I am in the WORTH shirt. I loved and still love athletic clothing. That guy from high school can deal with it.

5) Popular Celebrities.

For us, it was Britney Spears, Jennifer Lopez, Beyonce.  One thing they have that the popular celebrities of today don’t really have as much as, are curves and muscles.  Thank goodness the celebrities of my day made having a butt a good thing – that was one thing I could relate to!  I am not putting down any celebrities for the way they look – it’s just that who is popular impacts the way girls want to be seen.  Miley Cyrus is very thin, Selena Gomez is very thin, Kendall Jenner is very thin, the models are thin.  We had Cindy Crawford and models with some shape.  I think that for my generation there was a bit of a backlash against the uber-thin, but unfortunately for this generation, I think that thin is back in.  Being thin is not bad.  The pressure that young girls who do not fit the “perfect”mold put on themselves to fit the mold is what is damaging.

6) The reality of it all?

I think that growing up is hard.  I think that we make it harder than it needs to be on ourselves and on our young people.  Life is really simple.  Do good, put effort into your work and relationships, be kind to others.  I think that we have changed the definition of happiness and success into something so complicated that we have created more problems than we have solved.

What can we do?  Support our young people and breathe positivity into their lives.  Take some pressure off ourselves and lead by example.  Be our authentic selves and stop letting so many outside influences impact us in negative ways.

Two of my many supports: dad and grammy.  Don't worry--there's juice in that wine glass.

Two of my many supports: dad and grammy. Don’t worry–there’s juice in that wine glass.  Grammy’s however, is straight up whiskey and water.  Atta baby.

My Journey With Homelessness

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I have been thinking a lot lately about my life’s journey and homelessness.  I had a wonderful upbringing.  I come from a two-parent family (and those two parents love each other and their children very much), we always had a home and food on the table, my brother and I were able to participate in sports, music, and other extra curricular activities.  I always had a dress for the prom or winter formal, I had great friendships, I had a car to drive when I was old enough, my university education was paid for (in part my scholarship…pat on the back…but mostly by my mom and dad).  In short, I was given many opportunities that helped shape my childhood and guide me into a successful adulthood.  However, I have a history with homelessness.

When I was young, around the age of 5, the first Monday of every month, my dad and my grandpa would take my brother and myself with them to serve the food our church had collected to the men at a homeless shelter in South Tucson called Primavera.  I remember the long drive across the hot and dusty streets of Tucson, and pulling into what looked like a big shed in the middle of nowhere.  We were always greeted by helping hands.  My brother and I would wait inside while my dad, granddad, and helpers unloaded the food into the men’s shelter.  I was never afraid of the men there who would say hi to us.  As we waited, I would watch them talking in groups, sitting on the aluminum picnic tables, awaiting a hot meal at the end of the day.  I remember off to the left I could just get a peak of the large area lined with cots so close together.  I thought it would be fun for them to have such a big sleep over.

Once the food was ready, the workers at the shelter would suit my brother and I up in our plastic aprons and gloves.  The gloves were so big that the finger spaces extended a good three inches beyond my actual fingers.  I was given a step stool and was always told to “be very careful” to not fall off while serving the food.  They would hand me a large slotted spoon and direct me to give one scoop to each man.  I was warned that some would ask me for more but it was very important I only gave one scoop to each or there would be nothing left for the men at the end of the line.  The thought of men waiting in that long line only to have nothing to eat at the end of it made me very sad, so I was sure to only give one scoop to each person.  Maybe it is the perspective of a young girl where everything seems so big in comparison to myself, but I remember it taking at least 30 minutes to serve the whole line of men.  The line seemed so long…I remember thinking it stretched on forever and ever.

So, the men were called to eat and they lined up and each was given a tray with a plate, a cup and utensils.  They always had a smile for me and told me how pretty I was.  They always said thank you, sometimes, “Thank ya darlin”.  Some wore dirty clothes, some were clean, but torn.  They were old and young, white, Mexican, Native American, Black.  Some had beards and some were clean-shaven.  Some asked for a little extra, or for two scoops and said they wouldn’t tell on me, but I stuck to the rules; there were still so many men left in line.  I remember looking down the line.  It wove around the big warehouse like a snake and I could never see where it ended.

One man who came to me for his scoop of mashed potatoes or corn or whatever it was that I was serving that week told me to pull his finger.  I stared at him and laughed that I would not because I knew what he would do and I did not want to get in trouble for encouraging someone to fart in the food line!  But, he egged me on and said to trust him, stretching out his long, thin finger, black with dirt and fingernails long like a woman’s.  I pulled it and he popped out his teeth!  His gummy smile expanded across his face and his eyes sparkled and I began to laugh.  It was always fun to go to Primavera…it’s no wonder I would always ask my dad when we got to go.  I pulled on my dad’s sleeve to show him the man’s teeth and he laughed, too.

That was the end of it.  The line was done.  My tray of food made it through to the last person and some men were even able to come up for seconds until the tray was empty.  My gloves were taken off of my hands and the apron untied and pulled over my head by a nice lady who tried hard to not mess up my ponytail while she did so.  The workers always said they’d take care of the dishes and for us to go on home.  My dad, granddad, my brother and I would go to the car and drive off.  I always looked back at the big metal warehouse with one light on outside.  If you didn’t know what was inside, you would never think to look twice at it.  The sun was setting and I would fall asleep until we arrived home and dad carried me to bed.  I wondered what the men did before they fell asleep.

Once, we went out to Primavera when the weather was turning ugly.  We went even though it was windy and there was lightning everywhere.   I remember being a little bit scared to drive, but I had my dad and granddad with me and I knew nothing could happen to me when they were around.  We arrived and everyone was setting up to serve the food.  The wind became so loud that the men were all looking around outside.  It began to pour rain and the walls started to shake.  My dad held onto my brother and my granddad held onto me.  The men were shouting to keep the back door shut and that a tornado had touched down.  My mom and dad were from Kansas and I knew what a tornado was but there had never been one in Tucson!  We didn’t even have a basement!  There was a man left outside and the other men were yelling at him to come in quickly, but he shouted to leave the door shut.  The men on the inside did what he wanted and held the door shut.  It took three men pulling on that door to make sure it didn’t blow open.  The aluminum roof was shaking and I remember thinking the whole building could blow down, just like in the Three Little Pigs.  I was so scared but the men around me were telling me it was alright; they were reassuring me.  I was scared for the man outside—they said he would be okay but I could see how frightened and unsure the men near the door’s eyes were.  There was lightning and thunder, so I shut my eyes and held onto granddad until it passed.  One thing about the Tucson monsoon is that it comes and goes and if the trees didn’t turn greener from the rain you would never know it had been there.  The sky turned hazy gray and the air heated up.  The lightning moved into the distance and the rain and wind were gone.  The men threw open the door and the man who had stayed outside said he had hugged the big tree out back and he even saw the aluminum picnic tables get moved around by the wind.  He was covered in rain and laughing.  The men inside were slapping him on the back and everyone was in a good mood because the storm was gone and the man was in one piece.  I later realized that if the man had opened the door, the wind would’ve whipped in and it could’ve collapsed the whole building.  I think he knew this and that’s why he made sure that the door had been kept shut.  I loved the men at primavera.  I was too young to realize that when all was said and done, I was going home to my warm bed and loving family and they were staying there for the night on a cot, in a room full of hundreds of men, only to start all over again in the morning.

Another church group took over going to Primavera shortly thereafter and so I would think about it at times, but I never went back.

My next experience with homelessness was in high school.  We had to do a project on bettering our community.  A lot of my peers collected trash or studied the politics of our city and how we could change legislation to make it better.  I decided to interview the man that stood on the corner of River Rd. and Sabino Canyon Rd. that I passed often.  He always seemed so upbeat and his signs were designed to make people smile.  I wanted to know his story and why he had been on the corner for so long.  Surely someone had helped him by that point or there was somewhere he could go.  Why did he stay?

I brought my dad with me and offered the man $20 and a Gatorade in exchange for an interview.  He agreed and was thankful for the company.  The things that stood out to me about his life story was that he had been married several times.  He even had children and stepchildren.  Why did none of them help this man who was on the street?  One wife, he said, had accused him of molesting his daughter, so he’d had to leave.  I didn’t ask him if it was true and he didn’t offer it up.  It was just a statement, a fact, and that was that.  That incidence had put him on the street for what was his second time.  He had had a problem with alcoholism that had in turn perpetuated the cycle of being on the street.  He had been fired from a few jobs, sometimes for drinking.  He didn’t like to stay in shelters that much, but didn’t really say why.  He seemed like a nice person.  I could sense that he was holding some things back or maybe telling me his life through rose colored glasses, but perhaps he thought the blunt truth would have been too much for a teenager and so he was sheltering me.  Or maybe he was ashamed.  I don’t know.  His current sign had a small bunny stuffed animal on it and he had attached a stick form the back through it’s arm so when cars drove by and read his upbeat saying for the day, he could make the little bunny wave at them.  He said he liked the corner at River and Sabino because the people were friendly and he’d even gotten to know some of them when they were stopped at the red light.  I don’t feel like I understood anything more about homelessness, but I did listen to a man who was willing to tell his story.  I tried to not to pass judgment on him, but I remember feeling like he had options but wasn’t using them.  Why not rehabilitation for drinking?  Why didn’t he like to stay at the shelters, really?  If he was sober now, why didn’t he try to work again?

Fast-forward ten years and I am living in Canada with my husband of almost three years.  I have been working as a case manager at a shelter for homeless women for seven months.  This has been a new learning experience because I am old enough to understand the hardships the women are facing but they are so different because of the way homelessness has been caused through women’s issues.  Women on the street are at so much more risk for violence.  They sometimes have to work the streets for extra money or sleep with a man just to have a place to stay for the night.  Some women are struggling with drug addictions—the lack of supports for their addiction causes them to spend their precious, limited amount of income on drugs or alcohol (which in Canada, alcohol has an 80% tax), making maintaining their housing that much more difficult.  Many of them have been abused, in childhood, adulthood, or both.  Sometimes the abuse of a partner toward the woman has caused child witnessing and children’s aid is now involved in her life.  How does a struggling woman trying to leave an abuser with limited income expect to win over the hearts of children’s aid and get her children back?  The woman is starting from scratch—she needs work, funding, housing, supports.  On top of that, she is emotionally drained from the worry over where her children are and who they’re with, because God knows when she was in foster care she was molested or treated like she wasn’t even there.  So when she was young she found solace in a bad boyfriend who perpetuated the cycle of abuse she experience from her parents, but to her, it’s what she knows so she’s not aware there is anything better for her out there.  No one has ever loved her so why should she love herself?  As far as she knows, this is love.  In fact, her abuser keeps telling her he’s sorry and that she should come back and he makes promises about a life together that she’s always wanted.  He tells her it was her fault anyway and so she thinks if she doesn’t make the same mistake with him she’ll be safe.  Now we, as a society, treat her like she should know better and she should’ve left her abuser years ago.  We think her children are better off without her.  She just needs to get a job; she’s lazy and likes to be victimized.  The same society that did not support this woman as a child is not supporting her as an adult, but we expect her to be a “normal” member of society and function the same.  Why is it so easy for us to know what someone in that type of dire situation should do when we’ve never been there ourselves?

Yes, women can have addictions.  Yes, women can work the streets.  Does that make them any less human?  Do they deserve any less?  Instead of chastising them for what they’ve done or do, why don’t we try to figure out why they do it?  What has caused this life for them?  Then we might have a chance at really helping them move forward.

What about mental health issues?  I would say that 90% of the women who experience homelessness have at least one mental health diagnosis.  I would even go so far as to argue that every single person on this earth struggles with mental health wellness at some point in life.  Anxiety, depression, ADHD—these are all mental health diagnoses.  These diagnoses are becoming better known, but we still put a stigma on people who experience them.  What about Bi-Polar Disorder, Schizophrenia, Paranoia, etc?  Those words are so scary they are rarely mentioned among the public.  It’s because mental “illness” is still taboo and we are not knowledgeable of it.  It scares us.  People are “crazy”, or “psycho”, or “weird”.  We see them as menacing instead of in need.

Women who are homeless are often on, or must go on, financial assistance.  Some landlords will not even show a woman a room or an apartment if she is on financial assistance.  That is discrimination at it’s best.  Canada is actually planning on cutting the funding that helps women who need to pay first and last months rent in order to secure an apartment, or helps them to get eye or dental care.  The government must see these essential needs in life as luxuries to cut them so carelessly.

So here I am, a social worker.  I truly enjoy it, although I do at times feel that burn out that it common in this profession, so I try to take care of myself of the side so that I can continue to serve the woman I work with the best that I can.  I never want to become negative in my work.  That does not serve me well, or the women I work with.

As a child, I felt sad for the men who had nothing to eat and nowhere to sleep.  They made me laugh and I was never afraid of them.  As I grew, I was able to push the thought of them to the back of my mind because society had pushed them out to a tin warehouse on the outskirts of town.

As a teenager, I interviewed a man living on the street.  I was thankful for his honesty but bothered by parts of his story.  I remember feeling like part of him had chosen his lifestyle—or like the saying goes, he made his own bed.  I didn’t understand him or his struggles.  What I understand now is that I had always had supports and options; he had not.  Perhaps that is why I could never apprehend it.

As an adult, I am understanding the issues and more familiar with the supports, or lack there of, that exist.  There are some great organizations and programs but there are not nearly enough of them.  There is such a great need for more programs and shelters and financial assistance.  There is a need for more good social workers that really want change for our community’s homeless people.  There is not enough support out there for people in vulnerable situations, but there is certainly enough animosity.  I know that no one chooses this lifestyle, and I feel bad for ever thinking that about the man I interviewed when I was a teenager.  Nobody wants a homeless lifestyle, no matter how many times they finds themselves losing their housing and ending up back in shelter, or worse, on the street.

I thank my parents and grandparents for opening my eyes to social issues when I was young.  I am grateful to all of the people I have served for being kind to me.  I promise to always respect every person whom I serve and every night I pray to God for the strength and grace to do my job well.  I pray to God for strength and peace to those whom I serve.

…I would teach her about feelings of guilt.

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I may be the most guilt-ridden person out there.  When I was little, if I even raised my voice or was short with my parents and ran to my room, no more than a few seconds passed before I was crying at their feet begging them to forgive me.

Yes, I was raised on guilt.  It worked.  My parents decided that instead of spanking my brother and myself, that they would love us so unconditionally that it would literally wrench our guts if we did anything to defy them (at least for me, I can’t speak for my brother).  There are some things that I have done in my life that I have totally been forgiven for for years, but when I think about them I get sick to my stomach.  I almost want to say that I would rather have felt physical pain than the emotional anguish caused by guilt.  For example, in high school I lied to my parents about spending the night at a friend’s house when I was really trying to get in some extra time with my boyfriend.  My mom and dad caught me, and when I got home, we sat down and talked about it.  My mom was looking at me like she didn’t even know me and my dad kept saying how he couldn’t believe that I would ever be capable of lying to his face so convincingly.  (Who can feel the weight of guilt piling up just from reading this?)  The real kick in the gut: the next morning my dad was sitting outside and my mom told me to go speak to him.  When I went to him I could tell he had been crying.  He was so utterly disappointed in me.  My dad, whom I have only see cry at his own parents’ funerals, was crying because I had lied to him.  (Oh my gosh, I can’t even believe I am writing this–I am feeling those old feelings so strongly just by rehashing the story.)  I am thankful that my parents raised me this way, though, because it had made me so much more conscientious of other people’s feelings (and guess what, I didn’t pretend to spend the night at a friend’s anymore unless I really was going to be with that friend).  I have not done certain things because I was afraid of the guilt I would feel.  For instance, I have never cheated on a boyfriend or my husband.  I have never said anything behind anyone’s back that I wouldn’t say to their face.  I have never intentionally put anyone in an uncomfortable situation.  Other than a few passing moments in high school I have been a rule follower to the core–something that drives my husband nuts (ie-“But the sign says to exit to the right, Honey…”).

The big drawback to having an extremely guilty conscience is that I put myself through hell over minor issues.  Sometimes I even feel strange (I can only describe it as feeling like a bad person, like I did something wrong) for no reason.  Then, because I feel that way, I try to think about what it is that’s making me feel bad and I will actually dig so deep that I find something I can scrutinize enough to make me feel guilty.  I feel guilty about things that most people wouldn’t even think twice about–then, because I feel guilty, the only way to feel better is to “come clean” so I usually apologize or confess to someone and confuse them or make something out of nothing.

This has been the biggest battle that I have had to fight with myself in my life.  I am constantly trying to work through my feelings of guilt in order to function normally in society.  I still hate getting presents because if I don’t love the gift, but I do the polite thing and tell the gift-giver that I do love it (“really, really, I always wanted the K-Fed CD!”), I feel guilty for having deceived them.  But honestly, would the person rather I pretend to like their gift or tell them the truth and embarrass everyone involved?  My best birthday growing up was in 4th grade because I remembered that I actually loved every gift I got so I didn’t have to tell anyone a white lie.  It was the least stressed I ever was at a birthday party.  Do you see how ridiculous this is??  It’s a struggle also because it has manifested into anxiety in adulthood, but I also work on controlling that, mostly with biting my nails…

I just hope that other young girls don’t go through this.  It is really difficult and can hurt your self-esteem if you’re constantly judging yourself for past actions.  Feeling bad and guilty can translate directly into “I am a bad person” or “I’m not worthy of these people’s love”.  For me, it translated into being walked on by a lot of different people in my life, mostly boys.  I think that as women, we tend to be extra sensitive and empathetic, so perhaps we are more prone to guilty feelings.  Granted, guilt is good and it helps us act decently toward one another, but for me, there is a fine line between real guilt and created guilt.  I actually used to wish that I could care so little for others that I could easily dump a boyfriend or tell a “friend” what I really thought about her selfish actions.  But no, I was the one who would rather be dumped than anguish over hurting a boy’s feelings by breaking up with him.  Unfortunately for me, I have had a boyfriend or two that knew this about me and preyed on it.  Once I told my boyfriend that our relationship was fading and I thought we should break up.  He turned it around to make me feel like the relationship was failing because of me and that I was giving up on us.  He convinced me to stay in the relationship, otherwise he had implied that it would be my fault for giving up and hurting him.  Wouldn’t you know…he had been cheating on me!  Why he didn’t take the out when I gave him the chance will always boggle my mind….but that’s for another post to be titled “Men Who Need to Have the Upper-hand”.

If you are struggling with guilty feelings like me, here is what I try to do: I ask myself if the issue is something to really feel guilty about.  Did I hurt someone?  Is the damage irreparable?  If I haven’t hurt anyone, would apologizing or confessing the truth hurt the person more than them just not even realizing what I did?  Most times, the person I think I have offended isn’t even aware of the situation.  If I bring it to their attention I actually create a hostile environment (and then I am actually being selfish because by making myself feel better by relieving my own guilt, I have hurt another person emotionally–I feel better, but now they feel worse).  So try to analyze your guilty feelings in a different way–try to think about why you are feeling bad.  Is it really because of something you did or is it another reason?  Life is too short to go through it feeling guilty.

 

 

…I wouldn’t want her to deal with depression on her own.

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Did you know that, according to the A.D.A.M. Medical Encyclopedia in 2011 (you can find the article at http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0002486/), adolescent girls are twice as likely to experience depression than adolescent boys?  This is one scary statistic.  So, why do young girls become depressed?

Depression is described as being sad, discouraged, and un-motivated.  It can also be a loss of self-worth and a lack of interest in things you used to enjoy.  There are many varied factors that can cause a young girl to be depressed.  The A.D.A.M. Medical Encyclopedia says that depression can be caused by maturing and changing hormones or all different kinds of stress/disturbing events like physical or sexual abuse, bullying, learning disabilities, conflicts with your parents, failing in school, breaking up with your significant other or the death of someone close to you.  You are more likely to become depressed because of one of these events if you feel helpless or are too critical of yourself or if it runs in your family.  A lot of young people with depression also experience other mental health issues like anxiety, an eating disorder, ADHD, or Bi-Polar disorder.

It is extremely important to let someone in on what you’re feeling if you are experiencing depression.  It is ok to feel depressed and it is out of your control.  You don’t need to feel ashamed to tell a relative, teacher, doctor, friend’s parent, or friend that you trust.  Once you tell someone, you have started the process of healing.  You don’t have to face depression alone.  Remember that.  Also, I want you to know that it can get better.

There are several ways to treat true depression (by true depression, I mean the kind that consumes your life and you can’t simply will it away).  You can seek supportive care from your doctor, talk therapy (this is also something to be embraced and not feel ashamed of), or in some cases, you can be prescribed anti-depressant medications.

Depression, like any mental health disorder, does not make you “crazy”.  Many people experience a mental health disorder during the course of their life.  You are not alone and there is support out there for you.

A great resource is the National Institute of Mental Health website.  Here is the web address for their support page:

http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/getting-help-locate-services/index.shtml

Thank you to the A.D.A.M. Medical Encyclopedia found on the website for the U.S. National Library of Medicine for the facts about adolescent depression.