It seems like at school everyone’s talking about sex: who’s doing it, and who isn’t. It seems like everyone’s either having sex, or wishing that they were. Am I the only one who’s waiting?
No. You most definitely are not. In fact, LESS than half of high school students have had sex! Often, a lot of the “sex talk” is just that - talk. We see sex in the media all the time, and often it colors people’s perception of what is important.
Everyone around me seems so cool and together. They have great clothes and talk about all the fun stuff they do. I hate so much about my life right now - my classes, my clothes, my hair. Why do I feel so different? Do I need help?
Everyone has feelings like that occasionally, especially during high school. Emotions do go up and down, sometimes without any provocation. Sometimes these mood swings and feelings are caused by hormonal changes, and are feelings that you can help control. Take care of yourself: eat right, get plenty of sleep (adolescents need 9 hours or more), and make sure to get some form of exercise. Staying healthy and fit will help you feel better about yourself. Also, take time to develop some of your talents, and to really look at what you like about yourself. Focus on positive qualities, and look for friends who do the same. If you still often feel depressed, or have severe feelings of self-hatred, you may want to talk to a professional. I can help you find someone to talk to, if you’d prefer not to talk with me about some of these issues. (Teachers and school counselors can also be a good resource.)
My friends spend hours on their appearance – it’s like they’re obsessed or something?
I’m proud of you for being balanced. You always look nice, but don’t go overboard. Some people become preoccupied with their appearance because they are insecure. And people who spend hours working on or stressing about their appearance miss out on all the fun and meaningful things they could be doing!
What are eating disorders?
Many people are concerned about their appearance, and lots of them try certain forms of dieting and exercise at some point in their lives. This is a normal and typical way of trying to affect your weight or appearance. Some people, however, suffer from eating disorders like anorexia, bulimia, or compulsive or binge eating in which the issue of their weight and appearance becomes so preoccupying that it affects their health, activities, and relationships. Both men and women suffer from these disorders.
Anorexics always think that they are too fat, no matter how thin they are, and they actually starve their bodies in order to lose weight. This can lead to many serious health problems, including irregular heartbeat, digestive problems, thinning hair, stopped menstrual cycles, and even death.
Bulimics secretly eat (or binge) a lot, and then make themselves vomit or take laxatives to keep the food from being absorbed into their bodies. Bulimics may look like as if they are a normal weight, but they are often dehydrated and experience digestive and teeth problems, irregular heartbeats, and bone problems.
Compulsive or binge eating is when there is a loss of control over how much a person eats, but is it not followed by purging the body, the way bulimics do. Binge eaters tend to become obese if they don’t learn to manage their eating practices.