Remember Your Helper is a Human too

Taken from: http://buslist.org/phpBB/viewtopic.php?t=47409

Sometimes, people from Internet forums similar to this one send instant messages or emails to other people from here asking for help. I think that's kind of cool, but if you do this there are a few important things to remember.

  • The person you're talking to is human, just like you, and is allowed to have boundaries. No matter how badly you're hurting, you need to respect those boundaries.
  • If you're trying to help someone from the board, it's good to have an idea beforehand of what you can handle. You might want to consider setting some of these limits:
    • One of my rules is that I will not talk to someone who is actively self-injuring while we talk. If they can't stop long enough to talk to me, there's probably not a lot I can do except encourage them to reach out for real life help.
    • Another is that if I’m trying to help you, you have to be willing to help yourself. If we talk for half an hour and you keep saying "yes, but..." I am allowed to conclude that we're not getting anywhere and end the conversation.
    • Another huge one is that if you try to guilt-trip me, it won't work. If you threaten to commit suicide because you're angry at me, I will tell you that it's your choice and I can't make it for you, but that I cannot stay in the conversation with that threat hanging over me because I can't be of any help anymore. Same thing with threats to self-injure or actual self-injury; if you start that, the conversation ends. I don't want you to die and I will help you get help, but if you start threatening me my ability to be helpful to you ends.
    • If I am talking to someone and I feel overwhelmed or unable to deal with their problems, I get to say so and try to help them find a professional nearby to phone. My willingness to talk is a gift, but I get to decide how much I can handle and when I have had too much.

I have these rules, and encourage other people to have them, because it is impossible to help other people unless you're taking care of yourself. Gently but firmly setting limits is useful for both people involved.

Threatening to commit suicide or self-injure to keep someone talking to you is abusive. Hurting yourself because you're angry at someone and then telling them that you did so because of them is abusive, and sending them photos of the injury is beyond that. In an instance like that, I would let them know that I couldn't help them in future; I’m not willing to give them the chance to abuse my goodwill and willingness to help again.

Change is Inevitable - Adapt, or Suffer.

Every day is a different day, and everything changes by the moment. You have limited control over what happens second by second, but you always can influence your reaction.

Moving out on your own, finding out my mother has cancer, buying my first house, getting engaged, losing my job due to the economy, and getting married. Quite a lot of things are happening in my life. It's all about how you deal with everything.

I moved out with my (then) girlfriend when her Mother and her stepfather split up. They had to sell the house, and her sister already found a spot close by where her and her mother would rent. It was a 2 bedroom apartment, for 3 people (the sister's boyfriend). There was realistically no room for my girlfriend. I decided to take the next step with her and move out into our own apartment, which ended up being in the same 4 building complex, but in a separate building from her mother and sister. Money was tight but we made out well being thrifty and watching what we spent. After getting settled, we saved lots of money and enough for a down payment on a house.

As we were starting our search, my parents came for a visit. It was a nice visit, and as they were getting ready to go, my mother turned around and said, "Oh, by the way, I have cancer." I was shocked, and my girlfriend was too. Everything was going well and on their way out they just -decided- to tell us. We had them sit down and tell us more, and she has multiple myeloma. They have known for 2 years but it was in Stage 1, so the doctors say that treatment does not outweigh the side effects, so they don't normally treat at stage 1. She then told me that she's now in stage 2.

Over the next few months, she went through a clinical trial with Princess Margret Hospital and the Mayo Clinic. Her treatment was successful and she was in 100% remission at the end of it. As a kicker to the cancer, she also went through a stem cell dialysis treatment, whereby they harvest your stem cells, give you a HIGH HIGH dose of chemo to kill off all your white blood cells and stem cells, wait until you have no immune system, and then re-insert some of the harvested stem cells, after being treated of course. This treatment was hard on my mother, she felt ill and nauseous for most of the time she was in the hospital. I was even turned away from visiting one time because it was so hard on her. Overall, the process was successful, and even a year after, she's in remission.

While the treatment was going on, my girlfriend and I found and purchased our first house, after 3 months of searching and getting frustrated that all the good houses were getting taken for much higher than we thought. It needed some work..... A lot of TLC, but I'm handy, so it's not that bad. It's looking good now, but I'm still working on some things, like painting. About a year after we bought the house, I popped the question and poof - we now have a wedding to plan.  All I'm seeing is $$$$$$. It costs so much these days for weddings. It's surprising too because the economy is doing badly, you'd think you'd be able to get services and products for a bit cheaper than when the economy was good..... Nope - quite the opposite. Many things have gone up in price. Our budget was $25,000, and at this point, I'm guessing it will push the $30,000 mark, without the honeymoon. So, we've been saving as much as we can for the wedding, and then one day at work, in the morning, my boss comes to me and another co-worker and says we have a meeting in the other building. We got laid off. What's going to happen now? I have the government's employment insurance, but that will only last so long, and it's not much, but it's something. I was the breadwinner of the house. Now we're living off of only my fiance's salary.

The job search is not well. Any posted advertisement has easily 3,000 applicants. The chances of getting an interview is very slim to nil, and finding a job with a good salary is even harder. Building a good resume and cover letter is no longer enough to get the interview. A good networking base is what's necessary in today’s job search. Tapping into networking is not as easy as many think. Sure it's easy to tell everyone you know you're looking for a job, and in what area, and what you'd like to do. Getting to the next level of networking is harder. It's not just asking for referrals, it's asking the referrals for referrals. The thought is that someone in your extended network will have the job for you. Getting to that someone is the challenge. It's been 3 months that I've been out of a job and actively searching for jobs. I just re-designed my resume since was not getting any notice.

Change is happening every moment. You only have control over what you do after the change. Your control can make the difference between a bad change, and a good change. The change about my girlfriend was made into a positive. I moved out with her and it brought us closer together. The change with my Mother has made me realize that even though we may have a long time still, enjoying her company every time I see her is more precious to me now. The change with buying my first house has been a really good change. It's made my life much better. I think the best change has been the one where I've found my best friend in life and we're getting married. The only change in my life that's not yet a positive is the job hunting. This will soon turn into a positive though, and it's all of what you make it to be.

Why Should You Be Keeping A Journal?

As you know, many, many teens from all around the world write in to HelpingTeens and ask for the help and guidance that they need. Being on staff for over 6 months, I have seen a lot of help requests. They vary from depression, suicide, sexual issues, family problems, friend issues, etc. There is one piece of advice that I have found very useful in replying to at least ONE request every day: TRY KEEPING A JOURNAL.

I know that a lot of people thing that writing in a journal is just for GIRLS, or poetic people, or things like that. But journal writing can be a helpful and releasing experience. There are tons of different kinds of journals. Personally, I have an English journal (a requirement at my school), a personal journal, and a few journals with my friends. And they help me get things off of my mind that bother me.

Some people write in and say they have so much going on in their life with family, school, friends, and any other sort of problem someone might have. A lot of times people say that they want to say something, or talk to someone, but they can't because they don't feel comfortable. Well, they can tell someone! They can let it out in a journal. A journal is where you can just let everything out and put it all on paper however you feel and you have the security of knowing you can get it out of your system without anyone else knowing. (that is, unless you CHOOSE to show them your journal).

Now that we have cleared up the fact that journals CAN be useful to EVERYONE. A journal is a journal let's leave it at that. But everyone has their own way of letting their feelings come out. Here is a list of how some people express themselves in a journal or journals:

  • Just writing in their own words how their day went and anything that is on their mind.
  • Writing a story, not necessarily with them in it, but about someone in a situation like their own.
  • Poetry
  • Drawing
  • Word art. Writing a word with a picture. Examples include: if you were in a really good mood, maybe write the word happy in a bubbly kind of letters, or if you were very sad or upset shape the letters of the word LOST (or something) in the shape of teardrops.
  • Let the words go onto the paper as they come out of your mind. They don't even have to make sense, or be in like sentences or paragraphs. However you feel works.
  • Write a letter to someone that you will NEVER have to send.

Those are just a few and I have to admit, I have used each one of them at least once! They just help to let out what you are feeling is building up inside of you and you can let them out without telling the world something personal.

Online Journal Sites
(They allow you to keep a journal online)

No Seatbelt. No Excuse!

"This is Michael. Today he's going to hit his girlfriend so hard, she ends up with permanent brain damage."
"Three dead this vehicle; the girl is critical. They say the guy without the seatbelt did the damage."
"No Seatbelt. No Excuse!"

Seatbelt Wearers: The next time you get into a car and buckle up your seatbelt, look who's around you and make sure everyone has their seatbelt buckled up. If you don't, you may never see who killed you in that accident.

Seatbelt avoiders: The next time you get into the car, and don't buckle up your seatbelt, look at everyone else in the car. It's the last time you'll see them alive. You will be the one responsible for killing them.

Many people who get into cars, put on their seatbelt don't think twice about anyone else in the car. How many times have you rode in a car where someone's seatbelt wasn't buckled up? Did you ever think about what would happen in a car accident with them?

An idea that is usually pushed by parents is that you will go right through the windshield killing yourself in the process. This message has a really big drawback - the person being tought this may only be thinking of himself or herself. Parents rarely mention that the one not wearing the seatbelt could hurt or kill everyone else in the car.

This video, produced by DOE/Axa Insurance in Ireland, is one of the most moving videos I've ever seen.

Michael and his girlfriend are having a good time in the park when a couple of friends pull up in a blue car. They join them in the car, and Michael's girlfriend does up her seatbelt; Michael doesn't. None of them tell him to put it on because they may be thinking that if they get pulled over, it's his ticket, not theirs. No one thinks of the worst outcome. If they do think of what would happen in an accident, they would think that Michael will be the only one who got really injured or killed as they are all wearing seatbelts. The movie clip goes on and shows a 2 lane road, with a curve going around a hill, and a street on the right (Where they are, they drive on the left, so making a right crosses the path of oncoming traffic). The driver puts his signal on, and stops as he sees an oncoming car. It's too late. There's no where to move as he honks on the horn to alert the other driver. The driver of the oncoming car (probably impared from drugs or alcohol, fell asleep at the wheel, or just wasn't paying attention) ends up hitting them head on causing Michael to be launched into the front of the car where, on his way, his shoulder hits the driver's head, knocking it into the driver's side window. Michael hits the windshield. An approching car from the rear is going too fast around, and doesn't have enough time to stop before slamming into the car. Michael at this point, is launched back into the back seat of the car. On his way into the backseat, his knee snaps the neck of the front passenger where he collides with his girlfriend, head to head, killing himself, and giving her permanent brain damage.

Do you care about your friends, family and yourself?


"Who Are We Talking About?" - Gossip - Why Is It Bad To Gossip?

Isn't it easy to "gossip" about other people? To talk about the actions that they make that, don't make much sense to us? Isn't it easy to kind of get carried away with our own little group of friends and criticize others' behaviors, simply because we don't know them, or don't understand them? It's very easy, but is it a good behavior that we don't have to worry about, or is it something that causes harm to other people?

I think that we all know that talking about other people can easily cause hurt feelings, and it make the people we talk about more reserved and shy. It can easily leave them with bad memories of school and of the people in their schools. It can also hurt ourselves because I don't believe that the most of us want to hurt other people. I believe we just don't understand them or know much about them and so it's easy to laugh at their mistakes. But in the end, we're only going to be left with feelings of regret and shame.

Why then, do we gossip?

It is sometimes hard to understand other people and when we don't understand them, then sometimes it's easier to talk about them, to laugh at them then it is to try to understand them. This is human nature. Most people enjoy "gossip" even if they won't admit it.

The best way to overcome this not-so-good behavior of talking about other people is to learn more about them and to attempt to understand them better. For instance, why do you talk about them? Is it because of their religion? If so, go to one of their religious services, with an open mind. Is it because they don't have as much money as you do? If so, then go a week without buying yourself anything, or having your parents buy you anything. Go a week without any money at all on you and you'll begin to understand them a little better. Is it because they live in a different neighborhood than you do? If so, then go to that neighborhood and stay a while. When we understand why people do or act or are the way they are, then we find their situations less amusing, and less interesting and we naturally don't talk about them as much. Putting ourselves in their shoes really can help us learn to accept their differences rather than criticize them.

Another thing that you could do is become active in volunteer organizations. You may be able to volunteer at the local hospital, bringing cards to the very sick. You could volunteer at an old person's home, and become friends with them. You could volunteer to read to children during the story hour at the library. You could teach Vacation Bible School. Once you turn eighteen, you'll be able to volunteer at places like Junior Achievement and Big Sisters of America and volunteering will help you become the person that you would like to become. It will show you things about yourself that you don't right now know exist, and it will help you stop talking about other people.

One other thing you might try is keeping a list that records five good things about yourself every day. They can be physical characteristics or personal ones: it doesn't matter as long as they apply to you and you can take pride in them. Whenever you start to feel bad about yourself, take the list out and re-read it and re-read it again and again. Eventually, if you keep this list long enough, day after day, then you'll begin to see that you really are a very good and special purpose, even with all of your not-so-good choices, which we all have. Forgiving yourself for those choices is necessary because we have to learn to accept ourselves before we can accept others.