Stressed Out At Home And At School
Published: September 28, 2008
I'm really stressed out. I have a ton of homework to do, my parents yell at me all the time, I get yelled at at school, I get picked on or beat up by bullies everyday. I'm a 12 year old girl in 7th grade, and all this stress is making me depressed! I havn't been eating right lately, and I get SO tired but I can't sleep! I'm always worrying about something and my friends are gettign tired of me putting myself down. I want my friends to be happy, but the only way to do that is for me to be happy. But the only way I can be happy is to do better on my homework, but it doesn't help when my parents don't even believe in me! I'm so stressed out it makes me cry myself to sleep every night and I'm just plain depressed. I used to cut myself but I stopped because it really hurt my best friend. Can you do anytihng to help me? Any advice? I'm desprate!!
Signed: Stressed Out At Home And At School
Dear Stressed Out At Home And At School,
TeenHealthFX can appreciate that you are feeling stressed out and depressed from what you have described. It sounds like you are feeling beaten down at home and at school – to be yelled at, to have your talents and abilities questioned, to be picked on, and to be physically hurt in school by bullies – these are all ways to have either your spirit or your body beaten down.
FX is glad to hear that you stopped cutting – not just because it was hurting your friend, but because in the long run it isn’t going to change anything for you and won’t help you to learn any healthy coping mechanisms. And while it may feel hard to know what else to do, FX has some ideas and hopes that you will try some of the following:
- It is very important that the relationship issues between you and your parents are addressed. The yelling that goes on, and your feeling that they do not believe in you, are going to be very hurtful to you and your relationships with one another. FX thinks that it is important that you talk to them about the way you feel, and let them know that it is very important to you that all of you find a way to make this situation better. If talking to them on your own doesn’t help, consider meeting with a family therapist. A family therapist can help all of you to understand how you are contributing to the problems in the relationship, and what you each need to change to improve the situation. If your parents are resistant to the idea of therapy, have someone like your family doctor or school counselor speak to them on your behalf to encourage the family therapy.
- As for the bullying, it is very important that your parents and school counselor are made aware of this situation. You should not feel that school is a dangerous atmosphere for you, and your parents and the faculty at school do have a responsibility to ensure that you are safe in your learning environment. FX recommends that you, your parents, and some staff at school (such as the principal, school counselor, or some of your teachers) meet to discuss how this issue is going to be handled.
- Talk to your parents and/or your school counselor about your participating in group therapy. Group therapy with peers can be very helpful to address interpersonal issues, such as conflict and bullying. There may be a group available at your school or at a local hospital or clinic that you can attend.
- Think about whether you would like to meet individually with a therapist. If you did, you would have someone with whom you could share any thoughts and feelings, as well as a person to turn to for support and guidance with the various issues you mentioned above.
- Make sure you have a good support system in place in terms of adults you can turn to for support and a shoulder to lean on. This could include your parents, a counselor at school, a teacher, your primary care physician, a neighbor or friend’s parent, or an extended family member. It is important that you have adults in your life whom you can trust and who will be caring and helpful to you.
- With the homework issue, FX is unclear whether the standards are just being set too high here, or whether there are areas of your school work you are having trouble understanding. If standards are being set too high, it is important that you develop more reasonable, realistic expectations for yourself and that you praise yourself when you do well (even if it isn’t perfect, since nothing ever is!). If this is a comprehension issue, speak to your parents, teachers, or guidance counselor about getting extra help and/or tutoring to help you better understand and complete your assignments.
- Make a conscious effort not to put yourself down. As soon as you catch yourself saying something negative about yourself – stop yourself in mid-sentence. Tell yourself that you are being way too hard on yourself and come up with something positive to say. It might go something like this, “I can’t believe I only got an 80 on my science test. I must be some kind of idiot if I can’t even get in the 90’s! But, wait. Maybe I’m being a little hard on myself. After all I studied the best I could and tried hard on the test. I have a lot stressing me out right now and that makes taking any kind of test harder for anyone. And on top of that, science can be a really hard subject! So considering all of that, I’m proud that I got an 80!” It will take time and effort to change these types of negative thought patterns, but it can be very helpful if you keep at it.
- Try to develop (preferably with the help and guidance of a trusted adult) some healthy coping mechanisms to deal with your stress. There are several ways people can get out their stress and boost their mood. You could try exercising regularly, journaling, drawing, doing something musical, talking a walk, learning and practicing yoga and deep breathing, or doing some imagery work – like imagining a scene that is peaceful and happy when you are feeling unhappy and stressed. Think about what might work for you and begin to incorporate them into your daily routine.
If you live in northern New Jersey and need help finding a therapist you can call the Access Center from Atlantic Behavioral Health at 888-247-1400. Outside of this area you can log onto the US Department of Health and Human Services Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website for referrals in your area. You can also contact your insurance company to get a list of in-network mental health providers or check with your school social worker or psychologist to get a list of referrals in your area.
You stated that you stopped cutting. But in case you get the urge to cut, or do cut again, you can also contact the Self-Injury Hotline (information only, not a crisis line) at 1-800-DON’T-CUT, 1-800-366-8288.