Friday, October 20 , 2017, 10:15 am | A Few Clouds 66º

 
 
 
 

Louise Palanker: Period Drama, Social Lockdown, Friends with Depression

Question from Gretta

I think I just got my period. How do I tell my mom?

Weezy

You just tell her. Use the exact same words you have typed to me: “I think I just got my period.” This is a shock to you. For your mom, the shock would be if you did not ever get your period. She knows you are getting your period.

Your mom is your own personal in-house feminine hygiene expert. If she’s about 40 years old well, she’s probably had around ... Hold for me to do math ... 240 periods! Partake of her experience and wisdom.

Of course this feels weird. It’s new, it’s happening to you and it takes place down there. So, it is as distracting as a bloody nose that lasts for a week AND involves your private area. What could be a more awkward monthly event? Imagine if boys were told, “Listen, son, gravy is going to leak out of your penis for a week every month. You’ll get used to it.”

Some girls eagerly await their period and see it as a female right of passage. Those girls quickly come to know it as the messy, sometimes painful inconvenience that it tends to be. But there is great beauty in the unwinding path of nature and in joining the menstrual cycle of life.

Look, we women put up with a lot. We do it with strength and with sisterhood. We help each other. We keep supplies on hand. We share them. We offer tips and hints. For example, did you know that a second pair of underwear over the pair with the pad helps to hold it in place? Especially overnight.

Your mom is full of information that will shed light on what is happening to your body. Open up a dialogue with her now. You will have many questions as you continue to grow. Your mom wants to help you. She knew that this day was coming the moment she heard the doctor say, “It’s a girl!”

Why don’t you share this video with your mom?

(I’m A Mom Too, Meghan video)

                                                                 •        •        •

Question from Cassie

Hello, Weezy. So, I will be a junior next year and I have not really experienced the teen life. I’ve never been to a football game. My mom is overprotective. I’ve never been over to my friends’ houses or hung out with them alone.

I’m about to turn 17 and, whenever I want to do something, I have to bring my 21-year-old sister with me. It kinda kills the fun. My sister was not as social as me so my mom never had to work to keep her at home. But I am more outgoing and I really need more freedom.

I feel like if I tell my mom, she will just yell at me or tell me that I’m not old enough to go on my own. I know how to behave and what I should and should not do. I just want to have fun. I’m getting older and I just need to experience things on my own.

Weezy

I agree with you. Your mom is keeping both you AND your sister on lockdown. Your sister should be out advancing her own social skills rather than chaperoning you.

Why don’t you invite your mom to have a conversation with you about life, learning and acquiring independence? Tell her that you need her help and advice. Explain to her that because you will soon be an adult you are the verge of facing many difficult choices and unique situations that will require good judgment. Therefore, you would like to be able to have some independent experiences now while you are still a minor so that you can come home to your mother and discuss them with her. Tell her that her feedback is very important to you.

When you speak with your mom, do not just complain. Offer suggestions and compromises. Maybe you could invite friends over so that she can get to know them. Tell her that if you are out with friends and she texts you, you will respond within five minutes.

Oftentimes when a parent limits a child’s freedoms it is because the parent wants to feel safe and free from fear. She may be overprotecting you to protect herself.

The hard thing to do is to give a child a little bit more rope every year and to be ill at ease until that child walks back in that door. In the short term, it may feel easier for your mom to keep you home than it is to allow you to venture out into the world, stumble and get back up.

But your mom’s responsibility is not only to teach you values, she must also trust you to use them. That is difficult to do and it is scary. But if your mom keeps you “safe” for too long, you will not have an opportunity to develop your own social muscles and calluses.

Don’t expect your mom to change a lot; she probably won’t. But you should offer her this argument with no crying or whining or raised voice. Show her that you ARE a mature person. Present your case with purpose and with respect.

Regardless of what freedoms she is willing to grant you now, you WILL be an adult soon enough. We each are given an opportunity to learn not just from our parents’ lessons but also through their mistakes. Children grow and thrive best when safety and security are balanced with increasing increments of freedom and independence.

                                                                 •        •        •

Question from Allison

OK so ... all of my friends have depression and are suicidal ... One friend in particular is extremely depressed, has anxiety and doesn’t live in a good environment. I feel like I have to become a therapist to help my friends ...

I’ve told them to seek professional help but they say that they’re scared. I don’t blame them. I have depression and anxiety, too ... I’ve suggested other things, too, like music or drawing, and they say that those don’t work.

I’ve felt pretty useless lately ... That’s why I want to learn how to become a therapist to help them, because I’m someone whom they can trust. But I don’t know how to do that.

Plus, how can I help other people if I’m struggling with taking care of myself? I’m depressed, too ... I probably have social anxiety, as well. I feel like I have this bubbly personality and I present myself as a girl with no problems to help them.

I don’t know what to do anymore. I’m afraid of losing them.

Weezy

You need to take care of yourself before you can help others. At your current stage of development, what you have to offer is simply friendship. Before you will be able to help anyone with depression you must first be an adult and second be a therapist. You are neither of those things yet. Your No. 1 responsibility is to yourself.

Kids with depression and anxiety will tend to gravitate toward one another, and this can be dangerous. You are equipped to understand your friends and to provide support. You are not qualified to provide mental health therapy. You and your friends must each be willing to seek professional help. Friendship should go both ways. You need to get as much as you give.

I understand that you are concerned about losing these friends. But your first concern should be finding yourself. Once you are sturdy and strong you will be better able to plant your feet and reach a hand out to others. Until then, tell your friends that you do not have anything more to offer them and that you yourself feel vulnerable, too.

You don’t always have to be the strong one. You can also be honest about your own needs. Lead by example. Let your friends see that you are going for professional help. Click here for more information from Teen Line.

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Got a question for Weezy? Email her at [email protected] and it may be answered in a subsequent column.

Louise Palanker is a co-founder of Premiere Radio Networks, the author of a semi-autobiographical coming-of-age novel called Journals, a comedian, a filmmaker (click here to view her documentary, Family Band: The Cowsills Story), a teacher and a mentor. She has a teen social network/IOS app and weekly video podcast called Journals Network, built around a philosophy of cyber kindness. She also teaches a free stand-up comedy class for teens at the Jewish Federation of Greater Santa Barbara. Click here to read previous columns. The opinions expressed are her own.

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