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Can anyone understand?
October 29, 1999
5:56 pm
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Helen
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I have been feeling depressed for too long. I have been reading some other peoples' problems and in comparison mine seem tiny and insignificant but at the same time ignoring it has only seemed to make it worse. At the moment I have just started sixth form. For a long time I have been unhappy in this school and have never really known why. I have tried to describe it to my parents and to a doctor but I feel as if they believe I am making something out of nothing and so I have told myself before. But then the hurt just kept building up and I felt as if I was betraying myself by letting it go unnoticed. I've already started waffling - I find it difficult to get to the point, anyway here goes. I am 17 and feel as if the past few years have passed me by without having allowed me to develope or move on emotionally. I have always been a very shy person but have felt more recently that it is becoming more and more difficult to overcome it or accept it. Part of my problem has always been friendships. I have never ever been able to find a friend as trustworthy and similar as the one I had in Junior school. Knowing she was my friend and always there to comfort and support me was like a burst of happiness. That security made me happy. But since I left Junior school we saw eachother less and I have come to realise now that I need someone like that to enable me to be happy with myself. Friendships I have made since then have always seemed pointless and shallow. I went around in a small group of girls for a couple of years and was unhappy. Often they saw that I was vulnerable because of my shyness and so they would tease and take advantage of me. I lost all trust in them and since then these friendships have dwindled and faded. Now I have one true friend, which makes me sad because I know that I am repressing myself by not making new friendships and trying to be happy with myself. I don't know which comes first - having good friendships which allows you to become happier and confident, or being accepting of yourself first which allows you to become more confidant and make new friends. Anyway, school life as it is limits my ability to feel welcome and make new friends. I feel like everybody has already made their minds up that I'm aloof and cold when infact I am a warm person at heart and can make a very good friend. Is it me that is creating this illusion of myself or is it really the truth? I am constantly questioning myself and have no idea what the answers are. I get so confused that often I end up in tears. If this is just normal teenage anxiety like everyone tells me it is then how come it feels so serious to me? I know I have written a lot but I feel like there's an ocean of doubt and worry just bursting to get out, can anyone understand?

October 30, 1999
10:28 am
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Helen,

This does sound like normal teenage anxiety, but with two extra dashes of worrying & focusing on it. Most teens are shy, self-conscious, and afraid they won't be liked, or that new friendships are a rare commodity.

Everyone wants to be liked, accepted, and the feelings of security that come along with that...

Does being liked come first, or does liking yourself? Chicken or the egg question. It can go either way I believe...but the most solid, sure, and part which is in your immediate control, are the feelings you have about yourself. You do sound genuine, and you probably have a warmer heart even than you think you do. When you age a couple more years, those qualities become even more paramount in developing lasting friendships.

Trust yourself, do things you're good at, and keep trying at the things you have a hard time with (face the fear demons).

Keep us posted!

SC

November 1, 1999
8:46 am
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Cici
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Helen...

I'm in college now, but I remember feeling similar feelings when I was a teenager. That anxiety is very common. It's interesting to note that psychologist Thomas Gilovich at Cornell Univ. found in 1996 that other people rarely notice our behavior or appearances as much as we think they do. The researchers asked volunteers to wear Barry Manilow T-shirts, and the embarrassed subjects thought half the people they interacted with would notice. It turns out that a little less than 25% of the people they interacted with noticed.

This anxiety feels serious to you because it is serious to you. Adolescence is a time of great turmoil and change, you're trying to establish yourself and yor own separate identity, and becoming an adult is no small thing. The important thing at this point is to understand that it's ok to feel what you're feeling and accept yourself for who you are, and know that things will get better if you learn to approach situations in a positive light.

Other teenagers can be cruel and disappointing in their behavior. That you notice this and don't take part in it shows a lot of strength of character and deep thinking and sensitivity. Be proud of that! Because you think deeply, you can get involved in activities like peer counseling, which will help you put your own problems in perspective, or tutoring.

Good luck, keep us posted!

Cici 🙂

November 1, 1999
9:09 am
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hazza
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hi Helen,
Cici is a wise one so listen to her and you wont go far wrong.
Try to remember that alot of the tears and normal teenage hormones, getting releases from your body, thats why we usually feel etter after a good old sob!
You are a smart girl, what will count in your life is quality not quantity of friendships. If you only have one friend but they are good then rejoice in that and get out there and have some fun.
Make the decisions that YOU feel are right for you, never make them based on your assumptions of what other people may think.
I stopped seeing nearly all the people i knew because they seemed like fakes to me, so i understand how some people can be shallow, but not every situation in life has to be serious, you can still go see a movie with a person who is no your true soul mate and have good time can't you?
Just try to trust yourself to be your best friend when it comes to the serious things in life, ask you own advice first, but remember that their all sorts of levels of friendship that you can enjoy, but you must not expect certain things from them, just enjoy what different things and different people have to offer, and care for yourself, you are very special.
Keep talking to us
Take Care
Hazza

November 1, 1999
10:42 am
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J. C.
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Hi Helen. SC and others have said a lot of great things here. My suggestions to you are these: Write or call your friend from junior school. This friend appears to be one you can trust your feelings and opinions with. Talk to this friend...or just writing all the things you wish to say could make you feel a little better. It will help with your confidence and I'm sure this friend would be glad to hear from you. It is a good reminder that you are easily liked for being yourself.

You know, being a teenager is some of the roughest times in your life. It can be so emotional. Those raging hormones can get you angry so fast or crying so easily. They can make everything seem so serious when later you realize it can be taken in stride. Fact is, since it feels so serious to you, then it is serious. You are not wrong or being petty in any way by coming here to discuss this with anyone. We were all teens once, and some still are. It isn't easy. Nobody prepares kids for the emotional part of teen life. That is why they have school counselers available. Unfortunately, students don't always recognize the counselors for being there for personal problems, or identity problems. They are trained to be good listeners without judgement. That is my second suggestion...talk to your school counselor about your feelings. He/she can really help you sort things out and decide which way to go with your feelings. Not to mention, a counselor can be a friend too.

Best of luck to you...you only have a few more years of this, so hang in there.

~JC

November 3, 1999
8:03 am
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November 5, 1999
4:24 pm
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Helen
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Thank you so much for the advice - it has helped just knowing that someone does understand and is ready to give help and add a new perspective to the situation. I know that I take it all too seriously but that's in my nature I suppose. It certainly is true that over the past few years I have felt able to cry about almost anything. Perhaps that's why I find it so hard to see a light at the end of the tunnel. I know it sounds silly but even soppy songs can set me off. My Mum tells me part of it is hormones and another part is periods. But dealing with all these emotions at the same time as trying to make a good go of life is so exhausting sometimes.
It's nice to know that I can talk to you ; SC, Hazza, Cici and JC and whoever else is out there. I hope that maybe if anyone else feels the same way as I do at this point in their life that we could be of some help to eachother.
My year has just been on a religious retreat to the Cotswolds, we stayed at this lovely hostel for two days and it was a chance for us all to 'bond'. Unfortunately I was often quiet, finding it difficult to join in with discussions, embarrased when I do say something, embarrased when I don't, ashamed that I should be feeling this way at my age and basically trying to work out how other people find it so easy. Interestingly enough, when we were put into groups, we were asked to discuss what makes us real. One of the girls in our group said that she believed it was being confidant and able to be popular with people. I haven't been able to stop thinking about this comment because although I disagreed with it, it also made me think about the way that others perceive life and the way it should be lived. Maybe some people my age do feel that being popular is all that counts. Maybe it is another way for them to cope with their feelings at this stage in their lives. I thought at first that nobody else felt the way that I do which made me isolate myself even more, but perhaps they've just got a different way of coping with it.
At the moment I'm finding it really stressful staying with the one friend all the time. We have been friends a long time and we do have a lot in common but we depend on eachother to such an extent that we get fed up of eachother and that causes so much tension. I wish I knew how to deal with these things but because I find it difficult to make new friends I've formed a block in my mind that stops me from seeing it as a problem that can be sorted.
One good thing that may help is that my Mum and I are going to start Badminton to help relieve a bit of the stress. Also I am hopefully going to start an art course soon, because one thing I have promised myself that I'm not going to do is ignore my hobbies and talents just because they're not what everyone else my age does. I don't care if they think it's sad, I'm not going to repress this side of myself because it is the one side that I can do something about.

Love Helen

November 5, 1999
5:01 pm
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Helen
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I just want to add how much I believe that you are all very special people. I couldn't believe how quickly it was before I got a reply and I really appreciate it. This website has been the best thing to help so far and I'm so glad that I can talk freely and without any doubt or embarrassment.

November 5, 1999
5:28 pm
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Snow
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Helen,

I feel the same way. I really don't respond to very many of the threads but it's nice to know that I can if I want to and nobody will criticize me for it. This is definatly a safe place.

Snow

November 9, 1999
11:18 am
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J. C.
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Helen and Snow, I'm really glad to hear that you feel comfortable here. I do to. It's really nice to have somewhere to go to just let it all loose without having to worry about judgement. What other kind of responses did you hear on your religious retreat to the question of what makes us real, Helen? Surely, there was a large variety of answers than just the popularity one. What is your answer?

I'm real, because I am breathing. I have a pulse. My heart is beating. I have feelings. I get mad, sad, happy, dissapointed, excited, and surprised. I have laughter, tears, and love to share. I have a voice...and so do you.

~JC

November 9, 1999
4:10 pm
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Helen
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J.C.

A lot of other peoples' answers were the same as those you have mentioned. Many people said feelings and emotions, some said being real was being loved or having love, some said being real is being created by God. My personal answer was that being real is feeling real and being true to yourself, if you do not you often feel fake and superficial. Be yourself - that is what I try to live by but it is really difficult sometimes when you don't have any belief in yourself. Are there any proverbs or statements that you live by?

Helen

November 9, 1999
4:59 pm
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Helen
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Just want to get something off my chest. Today I have been miserable and ashamed. I feel like I keep letting everyone down for not being more out-going. If this is me, then how come I cannot fit in? Why is it so important to fit in? I constantly ask myself this question, and answer it by saying that fitting in means being happy. I am not happy with myself and this affects the way I act. Am I too obsessed with this problem? Is it really a problem? I feel so stale and confused by going over the same things in my mind and I never get anywhere. At the end of it I feel ashamed of myself because I waste time thinking about it when I could be doing other things. I want to see a psychologist but my parents say that I will get over this naturally. I think that if I keep going on like this then I will get worse. Can anyone help?

November 9, 1999
5:41 pm
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Snow
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Helen,

You are not letting anybody down by not being out-going. And fitting in does not mean being happy. Being happy is being comfortable with yourself. You are who you are. Nobody can change that. If they want you to change then they are not true friends. Friends love you no matter what. You need to find out what it is about yourself that makes you unhappy. You are the only one that can change things. But you have to change things for yourself only. Don't do it to try to "fit in". It's not worth it in the end.

Snow

November 10, 1999
10:49 am
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J. C.
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Hi Helen, I understand about the fitting in thing. I was always a loner...and still am...because I just didn't feel like I had enough in common with all the other people around me. I went whenever I felt comfortable with the activity, yet I rarely let anyone else drive. It's really hard knowing that there really isn't anyone you can turn to and be completely honest with your feelings...especially when you aren't exactly sure what your feelings are. As far as someone being true to themselves...I don't believe you have to be to be real, but you do have to be true to yourself to be ethical. I don't know if that makes sense to you. I just think that anyone can make a difference in someone elses life (good or bad), but if you can make a difference in your own life then you are being true (good) or untrue (bad) to yourself. Either way, I think you are still real. Your question was, "Are there any proverbs or statements that you live by?" I'll have to think about it and get back to you, because there are many. However, one does come to mind right away. "When something doesn't work out exactly how you have it planned, then it's time to make a new plan." Sound simple, I know, but I had to deal with an unplanned pregnancy when I was 21, single, and only dating the father for 6 mos. It was very powerful for me at the time. Have you tried talking to your school counselor at all or are you uncomfortable with that idea? I'll check on you again tomorrow.

Your friend~JC

November 10, 1999
10:58 am
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Hi Helen...

I remember these feelings intensely. I just started smoking pot to alleviate them (ha ha ha. Don't do it.). It's really not important at all to fit in. You should embrace your individuality because you are a unique person, beautiful BECAUSE of your individuality.

I'm a loner as well, but by choice. I have several acquaintences and a few close friends. Honestly, it's a huge pain in the ass to invite to many people into your life. The larger your crowd, the less you like the people your hanging out with.

You should really read Viktor Frankl (I know, I tell everyone this, but it's TRUE!!) Man's Search for Meaning. It puts things in such perspective...my mom made me read it when I was angst-filled in high school.

November 10, 1999
11:10 am
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good advice cici, stick to the straight and narrow

November 11, 1999
3:52 pm
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Helen
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Thank you for so much excellent advice, JC, Cici, Snow and Tears. It is the most comforting feeling in the world to know that you are there and are ready to help. JC, we haven't got a school counselor which is why I haven't done anything about this before. We are told that we are free to go to the teachers but I feel like that would be too embarrassing for the both of us. I would also feel guilty because they have their own lives and too much work.

A few weeks ago I was at my utmost limit and even went to the extreme of phoning Childline (something that I am a bit ashamed of now) but at the time I desparately needed someone to talk to and for some reason I knew I would feel easier talking to a stranger. I couldn't get through all night and in the end my mum found me sobbing. I'd told her about it before so it wasn't news to her. I said that I really wanted to see a psychologist. She was really helpful and got an appointment to see the doctor for me soon afterwards.

I've been to see the doctor twice ( I had been to the doctor before about this problem but she put it down to work stress and told me to relax a bit more). Both times were so embarrassing. I felt that she was examining me from a medical point of view and nothing that I was saying actually proved anything. She did give me tranquilisers and asked me if I wanted to see a psychologist. I said yes but then she had a talk to my Dad and he came back to me saying that he didn't think we should take it to such an extreme. Now I'm still having problems at school and I can't help feeling the situation is just getting worse.

Today we went to see some English Lectures in London ( this was my English class). The day was meant to be excellent but for me it wasn't. One of my associates, who I used to be good friends with but has recently decided to ignore me, chose to spend time with my friend and I instead of her chosen friends. This was because she'd had a row or something with her other friends. Taking this seriously as I always do, I fumed because I believed we were being used. Picked up whenever she had no-one better to talk to and dropped when we weren't needed. It also hurt me that she still wasn't talking or listening to me and my friend was acting like this when she was around too. I ended up feeling that there must be something wrong with me if people just don't find it interesting enough to talk to me. Whenever she is around now I get nervous because I know that anything I have to say doesn't matter to her and this makes it worse. To add insult to injury a friend was there that we hadn't seen for ages. We spotted her and went over and she completely ignored us (????!!!).

I don't understand why everytime I go out with these so-called friends I come home feeling rejected and not good enough. I know I should not feel like this, but I can't help it when my 'friends' act like they don't know me.

I'm sorry I ramble on so much but I had to tell someone. I know it must seem like there's just one petty problem after another with me but this is the only place where I can truly vent my feelings.

Thank you for being there
Helen

November 11, 1999
4:04 pm
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Helen
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It's me again. Just want to say thank you for recommending the book to me. I have read your thread about Man's search for meaning and it seems like a really enlightening book - I look forward to reading it as soon as possible.

November 11, 1999
5:37 pm
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Well, Helen, the fact is, your feelings are real. It is really good that you are getting it all out. You really need to have a productive way to express your feelings. To say, 'I really shouldn't feel this way,' doesn't mean you're feelings are wrong. I think you just don't understand your feelings and why you feel the way you do. Nothing hurts more than someone telling you to stop feeling, though. That isn't the answer either. Now, the hard thing to do is to put your feelings into words (after all feelings aren't words and words aren't feelings...usually one is a reaction to the other, the action) and use these words productively. You already did put them into words to explain it to us.

As far as a school counselor, I meant the advisors who are assigned to help you choose your courses each semester.

Anyways, I don't have any real answers for you. I don't have any answers for me when it comes to feeling socially acceptable. All I do know is that you are hurting right now, and I'm sorry. Just hang in there.

~JC

November 11, 1999
9:13 pm
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Helen I can feel your pain, because I was basically in the same boat growing up. We moved a lot and I too was painfully shy. Some schools I had NO friends, others one or two. I was never popular and never fit in. I know how difficult it can be. I joined the army right out of high school which gave me a lot of self confidence I was lacking. I have discovered over time that it isn't important to "fit in". I believe fitting in or following the crowd is for people who have little personality of their own. Be yourself, do what makes YOU happy before all else! You are the number one improtant person in your life and will always be. Don't live your life to please others. And the next time your fair weather friend comes by, tell her that you're sorry but you have other more pressing matters to do, and leave. She'll respect you more, and most importantly, YOU will. Don't ever forget that you are a beautiful person inside and NO ONE can take that away...

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