Question From Emily T.
So I have these issues about how I look. People tell me I am pretty but I don’t believe them. I think that I’m fat and I skip meals. I overthink about how I look and what I eat and my weight (which is average).
I feel depressed because I have a lot of stressful situations going on in my life, such as concerts and tests and stuff, and just a bunch of life issues. I guess I’m a cutter. How can I tell if I am actually depressed? How can I tell if it’s too serious?
I haven’t told my parents either. I don’t have an adult to talk to so please help!
You are attempting to block emotional pain with physical pain and you need professional help. It’s not just that you are cutting, it’s also what has led you to take that action. We all face moments of doubt and stress, but we must learn coping mechanisms that are productive rather than destructive.
You need to tell your parents and/or call a helpline. Self harm masks your emotional pain and the wounds you create cause your body to release healing endorphins that feel good. This makes the behavior very addicting. Once you begin cutting, it becomes very difficult to stop. It does not solve your problems. It just gives you a new one. You need to figure out what is causing you to feel depressed and unworthy.
Click here for more information from S.A.F.E. Alternatives and local helplines.
I would also like to tell you that focusing your attention on your appearance is giving that aspect of your identity far too much credit. You will not find yourself by looking at a scale or into a mirror. You will only find you by looking out into the world and locating your path. Where do you wish to go? Who is waiting to meet you? How will you share your gifts, talents and energy? What will you do with this life that you have been given? These are the things that truly matter.
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Question From Taylor B.
My mom is so … Strict. She doesn’t let me say fart. She doesn’t let me go to the mall with friends, or to the movies by myself! I’m 14! She asks me if I like boys; I say no but I do. I don’t want her getting all up in my business or not letting me go out with a boy.
Your adolescent instinct is screaming at you to shut down. You are smack dab in the middle of pulling away from your parents and figuring out where they end and where you begin. Of course you will continue this process, but as you do, you may want to make some adjustments. When your mom asks you if you like boys, rather than immediately saying, “No,” why don’t you try something different?
What is your mother’s currency? What makes her tick? What is she after? Why has she asked you this question? Offhand, I would say it’s because she would love to know what’s going on inside your head. She wants you to be safe. And she is trying to raise you into a conscientious, thoughtful, respectful, respected, strong, self-assured person.
OK, you believe her to be overprotective. Got it. Check. That is who she is. Do not expect her to change. What will change is your age. You will go from being 14 to being 15. As you do, clamming up will not win you any more freedom, and it will not improve your relationship with your mom or provide you with wonderful memories of your 15th year. However, telling your mom just a little of what is going on in your head will.
You do not have to tell her everything. But give her some information and then say, “I am a teenager and I’m going to need some privacy here, Mom.” Do that with a smile.
In fact, if you can bring yourself to say, “Actually, Mom, I am starting to like boys and it’s really scary. Tell me about your first crush …,” you will be opening up the door to better communication as you move forward through your teen years.
Right now, your mom knows she’s not getting the truth from you. This does not make her any more likely to send you off to the mall on your own. What may earn you more freedom is if you say, “I do have a crush on a boy, but please know that you and Dad have raised me very well. I would never compromise who I am to win the affection or attention of a boy. In fact, I know that giving off the wrong vibe will only win me the wrong kind of attention. I want a boy who will like me as a person. I’m in no hurry to grow up too soon.”
In other words, tell her what she is longing to hear … that she can trust you. That you respect yourself and expect respect from others. That is what shows maturity and will win you increased privileges. I know this feels counter intuitive. You are saying that you don’t want your mother “up in your business.” She is your mom. She is not your enemy. Your safety is her business. Show her that you are willing to work together.
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Question From Dominic L.
I am 13 and I haven’t kissed anyone yet. My friends say I should just do it so I can learn. I’m scared.
No matter what your friends are saying to you, there is no need to kiss anyone until you feel a connection that compels you to want to place your lips on top of that person’s lips. This is an extremely personal encounter. I sure was not ready to do that at 13. Some people don’t kiss until college or beyond. There is no correct timeline for this sort of intimacy. And doing it because others are pressuring you to do it is the absolute worst reason.
Don’t be scared. When you want to kiss someone and you are ready to kiss someone, that fear will melt away into excitement. Remember that a kiss is not something that you do to a person. It is something that you share.
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Got a question for Weezy? Email her at email@example.com 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 (Family Band: The Cowsills Story is currently airing on Showtime Networks), a teacher and a mentor. She has a teen social network/IOS app and weekly video podcast called Our Place, built around a philosophy of cyber kindness. Click here to read previous columns. The opinions expressed are her own.