Excerpt from Girl Talk: Boys, Bullies and Body Image
The story of Cindy: As Perfect as Possible.
Like a year ago – I never really had anyone to talk to so I would bottle things up. That’s really unhealthy and I would explode and have really bad mood swings and really bad, um, depression. I’ve been struggling with depression for like eeeeever. Lately I had my worst depression – my WORST. I call it the “depression abyss.” I realized I really needed help from my parents. I think they knew I was sad sometimes, but not THAT depressed. I mean, I come off as really bubbly and positive when I’m just hanging out or having a conversation.
When I told my mom and dad, I was shaking. I didn’t know what their reaction would be. I was always scared to tell them because I thought they would send me to a mental hospital and get all crazy. But they didn’t. They were really supportive and so now I go to see a therapist every week (or more!). Biiiiig, big step.
What knocked me down enough to seek help? Um, well, I was actually dealing with an eating disorder and a drug issue. Now I’m being treated for both of them. Yeah, that was a HUGE step too! Oh my God, that was craaazy!
Even though I get depressed, I am like the fun party girl. I’m the one that’s like, “Heeeey everybody! Let’s go party today. I know this place.” Like I’m the girl pulling everyone else in. I’m not the one feeling peer pressure; I’m the one passing it around.
All that fun and partying got serious on New Year’s Eve though. I was dealing with bad family issues on top of everything else. I was in the middle mood-wise and then I just dropped. I overdosed. I don’t remember much. I was seizing and my eyes were rolling back. My friends were like, “OK, we’ll give you ‘til 5:30 am and if you don’t snap out of this then we’re going to the hospital,” and by 5:30 I was sleeping. Crazy, right?!
My drug of choice? Um…probably ecstasy. But I used to do like five different drugs at the same time. And I’m tiny. That’s another thing – I don’t like it when people assume the anorexia is because of my body. I’ve always been really skinny. I know I’m really skinny! The anorexia was definitely a control thing. It was like counting calories because I can control counting. It’s mathematical. Anorexia is so tangible. It’s right there………..
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Let me start off by saying…….you should tell your parents every time and any time you feel you are the victim of bullying. Just because you can “handle” the bullying, doesn’t mean you should. I know it may seem scary, but tell an adult. If not a parent, then a teacher or adult relative you trust.
So….How do you bring it up? Sometimes that can be the hardest part. Find a time when you have your parents’ full attention. Maybe this is while you are driving alone in the car with them, eating dinner, or taking a long walk with your mom or dad. Think about what to say beforehand so when you tell them you won’t get too nervous and forget everything. If you aren’t sure how to start the conversation, say, “I need to tell you something that I’m nervous about.” I guarantee your parents will pay complete attention. It’s OK if you get upset while telling them. If you want to tell a teacher instead, that’s OK too. Maybe after school when the rest of your class is gone you can ask to speak with them. Again, practice what you want to say. If it helps to bring a friend along for support, that’s OK too.
I can’t stress this enough. Not wanting to worry or burden your parents by keeping something like this inside doesn’t make you stronger or resilient. Being resilient isn’t about avoiding an issue and adapting to it. Resilience is standing up for yourself, protecting yourself, and demanding that the bullying stops. Don’t built a defense mechanism around the issue to avoid it or pretend that it isn’t actually happening. Say something early on. If you wait, you may just get used to the bullying and “accept” it. That’s not a healthy way to cope!
Okay… Who wants to talk about Snapchat? I’ve received quite a few questions about Snapshot lately, so I thought I’d take the time and address them. So what is Snapchat?
Snapchat is an app that allows you to “snap” a photo and posted it to text. The selling point of the app is that the photo disappears after 10 seconds. It’s a visual chat– a kind of “freeze framing” a specific moment in time. It’s all about spontaneity and no impulse control. Just what kids need more of–right?
The app creates the illusion that the information you send will be secretive and then disappear forever. This is certainly attractive to young kids, who are tempted to send things that are a bit risqué. They feel a false sense of safety in doing so, since their content will magically disappear. Right? Wrong….like everything else on the internet, it doesn’t disappear. The receiver of the information can easily take a screenshot of what was sent, hold on to it and then share with whomever they choose. This app is also becoming a big tool for cyber bullies because they can send and hide behind a mean message/photo and then “poof” it’s gone. Leaving the receiver in a state of shock. Numb and upset by what they just saw. It’s damaging, hurtful and can negatively affect ones’ self-esteem and sense of self -worth.
As an adult, I can somewhat see the value in a tool like this. However, I don’t think I’ve ever texted something that needed to self destruct in 10 seconds like I’m a character from Mission Impossible. However, I CAN see this as a smart marketing tool for businesses sharing information about last minute sales with values customers, pop-up events or secret coupon codes. It can certainly build brand loyalty. But, let’s be honest; teens are the ones mostly using this tool.
Personally, I think there should be stricter requirements attached to opening Snapchat accounts. The only requirement is that you must be 13 years old. That’s still too young. I think it’s more dangerous than kids are realizing. Encouraging impulsive actions that can have a lifetime of repercussions sounds like a recipe for disaster. As a parent, you need to check out the app and decide for yourself. Here is a good video about Snapchat to help you get started.