DR. WALLACE: I know you won't consider this important, but I'm contacting you anyway. I'm 17, and for the past year, I have been feeling very sad, and I don't know why. I've got a loving family and good friends. In school, I get good grades, stay involved in activities and work hard to do things correctly. I try to fight back the sad feelings, but at times they take over and then I feel like nothing matters at all. Whenever someone is unkind to me, it makes me feel down in the dumps.
There are times I feel as though I want to curl up and hide under a desk. Many times, I just go to sleep to escape from everything and everybody. I realize that a lot of people feel sad sometimes, so I'm probably just making a big deal over nothing. Am I hopeless? — Sad Girl, via email
SAD GIRL: Absolutely not! I do not dismiss what you are feeling at all. This is a very important matter. It's a very good sign that you reached out to me; this is an important indicator that you are seeking assistance with this ongoing personal issue. Depression is a complex and thorny problem. If it doesn't just go away when you try to shrug it off, there is likely something at the root of it that needs to be discovered and dealt with so you can start enjoying your life more fully. Your happiness is extremely important!
Discuss your situation in depth immediately with your parents. Talk to them today, as soon as you see my answer here in this column. Remember they love you and will always want the very best for you. Ask them to talk with your school counselor, who can have you visit the school district psychologist. Professional counseling can help put you on the path to figuring out what's bothering you. Absolutely do NOT continue trying to deal with these feelings by yourself. I am very proud of you for having the courage to write to me and confront what is bothering you. Trust me; this is a very good sign that you contacted another person — even a columnist you've never met — to seek advice and counseling.
It's important that you follow my advice immediately, and feel free to contact my staff and me again in the future to let us know how things are progressing for you. I am a former high school administrator and am aware of several superb high school counseling programs across our nation. Take advantage of these wonderful resources, and I trust you will be feeling better soon. Thank you for coming to me with your bouts of depression. I'm positive you can be guided to tools and strategies that will help you enjoy better days in your near future.
HOME-SCHOOLED WITHOUT TV
DR. WALLACE: I'm 14 and live with my parents and younger sister. My parents are very strict and religious. Our mother is home-schooling my sister and me. I miss going to school with other kids, but I will admit that my sister and I do learn a lot. We've become very good students!
My reason for writing is that we don't have a television in our house because my parents don't approve of some of the programs that are available on TV. They sold our television about a year ago. I feel lost without the opportunity to see certain programs. I also miss a lot of cultural and educational programs that I used to enjoy before, like the nature channel.
What can I do to get my parents to buy another television? They could even supervise the programs I watch. I feel like our family is living in the dark ages. — Home-Schooled, Joplin, Missouri
HOME SCHOOLED: I can definitely understand your parents' position. Many television programs these days lack decorum and other redeeming qualities — not all, of course, but some. The violence or sexual innuendos on many of the programs make for an unacceptable family viewing. This is likely what is driving your parents' decision.
Firstly, I would not eliminate television entirely. It can be a great learning tool. Some programs are intelligently made and well worth seeing. My solution would be to monitor my teen's viewing habits rather than ban TV from the house. Nevertheless, I cannot fault your parents for having a television-free home. There are far better forms of entertainment.
Finally, in this day and age, many programs are also available for viewing on the internet. If your mother or father has a computer in the home, for work or personal use, perhaps they could locate some nature program shows that they could watch with you once they set it up. This way, they would have control of your viewing, and you and your sister may be able to see some of the select programs they approve of. Feel free to mention my answer to your parents if you feel they might take my advice into consideration.
Dr. Robert Wallace welcomes questions from readers. Although he is unable to reply to all of them individually, he will answer as many as possible in this column. Email him at [email protected] To find out more about Dr. Robert Wallace and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.
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