Am I Normal?

Normal. Does that really apply to any of us? Even if it doesn’t, you may feel like you are an outsider or that you deal with things no one else you know does.

The more you look, though, you may find that being “abnormal” is the norm. Your struggles, challenges, and idiosyncrasies belong only to you. But you may find that there are others that deal with the same things you do.

Take a look at some of these questions asked by others like you. You might just find you are not alone and maybe even find some answers along the way. If you don’t find what you are looking for, you can send us your own questions at .

Q & A FROM TEENS

Risky Behaviors

Anorexia:
My friend just told me that she thinks she might be anorexic. She’s afraid and I’m afraid for her. I tell her she’ll be ok but I’m not sure if that’s really true. Her mom is aware of her problem and has said that if her refusal to eat continues much longer she will take her to see a doctor. She’s my best friend and I want her to be ok. What can I do to help her? Signed: Anorexic Friend?

Dear Anorexic Friend?,

It is good that your friend’s mother is aware of the situation and will seek medical help. She is also very lucky to have you as a friend. Your support and concern for her is very important and hopefully, with some medical attention she can get the help she needs.

It’s important to know that eating disorders usually result from underlying issues that may have nothing to do with the person’s body or their relationship with food. Often, their behaviors around food are their way of dealing with these deeper issues. This is why your friend needs outside help dealing with her eating disorder. Counseling can help her cope with these underlying issues while developing a more healthy relationship with food and with her body. For help within Tennessee, call 1-888-291-HELP or go tohttp://www.centerstone.org. If you have any further questions, please let us know.

Suicide:
I really want to be happy. Most of the time I just think about killing myself though. I’m not sure why. What can I do? I’m tired of hurting and don’t want anyone else to know how I feel. Signed: Just Want To Be Happy

Dear Just Want To Be Happy,

This is a very difficult topic to talk about but very serious. It is very concerning that you think about killing yourself so often. Being this unhappy often means you are suffering from depression. In order to feel better, and happier, you must reach out to someone you trust – someone who can help you get professional help. Talk to them about how you are suffering. Tell them exactly what you told us. They can help you find a professional who can evaluate and treat you. You can also talk to a trusted adult such as a teacher, counselor or school nurse or your doctor. They can help you talk with your parents and help you find treatment.

If you are afraid you might hurt yourself or are afraid of what you might do, immediately call 911 or go to your nearest hospital emergency room for help. If you live in Tennessee you can call the Centerstone hotline at 1-800-681-7444, 24 hours a day / 7 days a week. If you are outside this area, call the Suicide & Crisis Hotline at 1-800-999-9999, 24 hours a day / 7 days a week.

Goals

Achieving Goals:
I really want to be on my school’s soccer team. I have played in a rec. league before, but I’ve never had to try out to play. What can I do to prepare? Signed: Gooooooal!

Dear Gooooooal!

It’s great that you’ve set the goal of making your school’s team, and the fact that you want to know how to get there is important. Those are two key components of goal setting: identifying what you want and figuring out how to get there.

The first thing you should do is try to make your goal as specific as possible. What position do you want to play? What color is the uniform? Try imagining yourself playing the perfect game on the school team. The more “real” and specific your goal is, the easier it will be to hold onto while you are working hard to achieve it.

Next, take a look at the skills you have and think of ways that you can improve them. What are your strengths and weaknesses on the field? How can you strengthen your weaknesses and further improve your strengths? This is a good time to get advice from people who can help you achieve your goal. Maybe you could ask an old coach to tell you what drills you could work on to improve your skills, or maybe you could ask a friend who is already on the team what helped them make it. You should also think about the pros and cons of being on the team and make sure it’s really what you want.

Finally, make a plan and start working. One of the best ways to achieve a goal is to set smaller goals along the way. This will let you gauge your progress. Good luck with tryouts!

I’m a senior this year, and lately I’ve been really worried about getting into the right college. My parents keep asking me about my applications, and with all my schoolwork and extracurricular activities, I haven’t even had time to think about writing those essays. I feel like all my responsibilities are crushing me! What should I do? Signed: Graduating Soon

Dear Graduating Soon,

With the pressures that you face, life can seem pretty overwhelming! First, you should talk to your parents about how you’re feeling. Just talking about it can help alleviate some of the stress. If you still feel like you would like some help dealing with the stress of getting into a good school, you may want to consider working with a coach. Coaching can help you ask the right questions to find your own solutions to stress and academic pressure. Just like a trainer helps an athlete win a gold medal instead of just finishing the race, a coach can help you not only reach, but exceed, your goals in a balanced, healthy way.

Coaches can also be great resources in times of crisis: they can help you reduce anxiety, improve your relationships, and give you practical tools for controlling emotions like anger, sadness and moodiness. Coaching can help bridge the gap between where you are and where you want to be. If you live in Middle Tennessee, contact Centerstone to get more information on coaching or visit our website http://www.coaching4teens.org. You can call (615) 279-6790 or email us at .

Funded through private donations of community leaders who are concerned about the stress teens are dealing with today, Centerstone’s coaching service is free to you.

Communication

Sibling Rivalry:
My little brother is driving me crazy! He’s always around and borrows my things without asking. Sometimes when it happens I yell at him, and then I get in trouble with my parents. I’m so frustrated. How can I make him stop? Signed: Bothered by Brother

Dear Bothered by Brother,

It sounds like you might have a communication problem with your little brother. The next time your brother borrows your things without asking, talk to him about it. Be sure to do this when you are calm, and be kind when you speak to him. Yelling and name calling only make the problem worse.
Tell your brother why it bothers you that he takes your things. Focus on “I” statements, rather than “you” statements (like, “I get really upset when you take my things, and it makes me feel like you don’t respect my space,” instead of, “You are a jerk for taking my stuff all the time, and it makes me really angry.”). Take responsibility for yelling at him, and let him know that you’re sorry. And let him talk, too.

You may want to set up a system for borrowing each other’s things, like always getting permission from the owner before using someone else’s things or setting up a specific time to borrow things. If you need some “alone time,” make a space where anyone who wants to talk to you has to have permission. This can be your room, or if you share a room, a particular corner that is just yours. Make an “alone space” for your brother, too. There may be times when he needs some space from you. It’s natural to fight with your siblings sometimes, but you should try to work it out. After all, he will be your brother for a long time.

General Questions

What happens when I send in a question?
If I submit a question, will you put my name with the question? What if I don’t want people to know I was the one who asked it? What if I call the Centerstone hotline? Signed: Just Wondering

Dear Just Wondering,

At Centerstone, we take privacy very seriously. We won’t post your name if you ask that we don’t. As for calls to Centerstone, all calls are completely confidential. Your privacy is guaranteed. Our Triage Line is staffed by our crisis team, is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.

Please don’t let worries about your privacy stop you from reaching out; we really want to help. If you don’t live in Tennessee, there are plenty of other great crisis resources. Here is a state-by-state listing of crisis lines in the U.S.: SAMHSA – Crisis Lines