Excerpt from Girl Talk: Boys, Bullies and Body Image
“Girl Talk: Boys, Bullies and Body Image,” is a book featuring a compilation of interviews with teens girls on the topic of self-esteem. The book also provides an effective and practical system designed to RAISE (Resilience, Attitude, Independence, Self-Respect and Empowerment) teen self-esteem. After interviewing over 160 culturally and socioeconomically diverse teen girls between the ages of fourteen and seventeen, ten powerful and distinct stories have emerged. Below is the story of Cindy, as told by Cindy, a 17 year old perfectionist struggling with her own identity, who masks her anxiety and depression with drugs and alcohol.
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.
With my depression, it was so hard to control my emotions and my own brain. Like sometimes I wouldn’t be able to feel at all and sometimes I would feel EVERYTHING like 1000 times more. My emotions were all over the place, but at least I could control what I ate.
My parents didn’t know about my anorexia until I told them. I tell my parents about 40 percent or less. That’s the thing. That’s why it was so hard telling my parents about my drug problem. When I do drugs at a party or something like that, I’m always lying to them about where I am. So with that – me telling them I’m into drugs and stuff – that’s also me telling them, “I’ve been lying to you for like three years of my life. You don’t really know who I am anymore.” That was the hardest.
I see my self-esteem as an eight out of 10. Even so, I will protect those certain parts of me that are weak: the drug addict, the depressed girl, the anorexic…
I want to project the positive part of me. The part of me that will claw and scratch and kick my way out of that depression abyss.
I am the athlete, the party girl, the scholar…
I am a fighter.
Dr. Carol Langlois is a former University Associate Provost and Dean, trained therapist, researcher and author. Dr. Langlois hosts a blog, Girl Talk w/ Dr Carol, which offers practical advice and guidance on self-esteem issues as a tool for parents and teens. You can also find Dr. Langlois on Twitter where she tweets information, articles and tips related to this very important topic. Check out her book trailer for “Girl Talk: Boys, Bullies and Body Image,” which is a compilation of interviews with teen girls on the topic of self-esteem.