Sunday, April 29, 2018

Overweight teen is bullied, depressed, and suicidal

Dear Rhonda and Dr. Cheri,
Kids at my school who are depressed and overweight get bullied.

My friend is obese since she got depression. She won’t tell me if she’s taking anti-depressants. Anyone who lets other kids know they’re on meds get bullied. She won’t trust me.

Bullies are calling her skanky names like “slut” and stuff. They say, “You’re fat and ugly.” She’s draining me.

I looked at her texts while she was sleeping (don’t judge), and I saw pretty bad messages about how she doesn’t deserve to be on this planet. They tell her to kill herself.

She texted she wasn’t sticking around anymore and they made fun of that.

She saw me looking at her phone and went crazy.

Then she started giving me her “skinny clothes.” I told her to stop. She just glared at me.

Her Friend

Dear Friend,

You’re a good friend. Share with her that you, and many others, love her, and because of that, you cannot not care and must help, which you are doing.

It’s good you’re noticing severe changes in your friend like giving her clothes away. She’s signaling that she’s a danger to herself.

When your friend isn’t able to live up to her peers’ expectations (including yours), she starts the cycle of depressive thinking, which leads her to disordered eating binges. They will, in turn, spur on broader behavioral and emotional problems that make her a target for bullying.

Depressive thinking can often spiral down so far that she doesn’t see or feel a way out of the situation. Suicidal ideation can easily set in because your friend feels her world is out of her control.

The fact that you were courageous enough to act on a prompting that your best friend needs immediate attention overpowers her privacy. Danger signs:

1) Change in attitude, isolation, eating habits, giving things away, depression, an acceptance of bullying, secrecy, and a worsened sense of self-worth.

2) A vicious pattern of binge eating, becoming more depressed, accepting the bullying, and her permanent solution of death.

Common myths:

• If you talk about suicide, kids will get thoughts in their head that it’s okay;

• You can just “get over” hopelessness, anxiety, sadness, and anger;

• All medications for depression are bad;

• It’s just for attention.

“Disordered eating was significantly associated with bullying by peers,” researchers wrote in JAMA Psychiatry. JAMA Psychiatry is a monthly, peer-reviewed medical journal published by the American Medical Association.

Kids and parents – keep this number handy: 1-800-273-8255, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. Suicide is the second leading cause of deaths nationwide for teens and young adults.

Rhonda and Dr. Cheri

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Yesterday--I Don't Live There Anymore

Dear Rhonda and Dr. Cheri,
I was singing “Let It Go” from the Frozen movie with my four-year-old daughter, when it hit me that I can’t let my past go.

My daughter’s the best thing that’s ever happened to me, especially since my family wasn’t.

My sister died from a heroin overdose. My brother molested me, and my parents don’t believe me. They don’t speak to me.

My biggest problem is I can’t “let it go.” I dwell on it and have vicious nightmares. I get depressed and then angry, because I wasn’t believed or believed in. I feel unworthy for all the tears I waste on these horrible people.

Why do I still want them to love me?

Yesterday once more

Dear Mom,

Dwelling on the past may be caused by underlying feelings of worthlessness. It’s common for those with severe trauma to want to rewrite history where their hopes of being loved can appear.

The mentality of “If I can’t get ‘horrible people’ to believe in me, then I’m worthless,” becomes a struggle for them to see your intrinsic value, your goodness, loving, and compassionate characteristics.

The lie of living in the familiar “yesterday” is thinking you can make your past better and easier to accept, when you can actually make it worse by insisting you’re right. The past is unsurprising, but the truth is that you will always be surprised by their inability to love.

People who have experienced severe trauma often continue seeking out those who were supposed to love them unconditionally. Your family hasn’t experienced gaining buckets of empathy that comes with severe and painful experiences. Those people won’t change just because you implore them to change. In fact, they won’t change unless they see a need to change.

Remember this quote attributed to Lao Tzu, author of The Art of War: “If you are depressed, you are living in the past. If you are anxious, living in the future. If you are at peace you are living in the moment.”

Start giving love to yourself first; no one can take away what you give to yourself.

Then you need to give love, acceptance (not of them, but acceptance of your circumstances), and forgiveness to everyone involved, even you.

No one chooses to be a victim, but anyone can choose not to stay a victim. It won’t be easy to make this choice, but this choice will make your life easier.

Try putting signs up in every room saying: “Yesterday – I don’t live there anymore.” And if you believe in God, add, “I am a child of God, therefore, I was born with worth.”

Rhonda and Dr. Cheri

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Fiance Kicks Family Dog: A Warning Sign?

Dear Rhonda and Dr. Cheri,

My fiancé just kicked our little dog in front of my two children. I walked in and saw him. My kids came crying to me.

I couldn’t believe what I saw, four rapid-fire kicks to our dog. He’s a good dog and he didn’t deserve that.

My fiancé was watching my young kids, while I was traveling for my work.

We’ve been engaged for almost a year. We’re supposed to get married in two months. I’ve never seen him do anything like this, but it’s no secret that he doesn’t love our dog.

He’s been watching my kids for about a year and they seem to love him.

My ex-husband was a violent nightmare to me, my kids, and our dog. I once caught my son pulling on our dog’s tail, but that stopped once I left my ex.

My fiancé said he was under stress from our upcoming wedding and apologized over and over. I told him to leave immediately when I witnessed this. The kids both said he’s never hurt the dog before and never touched them, either.

Do you think this was a one-time thing? He’s perfect for us in every other way.

The Fiancée

Dear Fiancée,

No one is perfect.

We highly suggest you make a list of pros and cons. Writing things down will cause you to be more honest.

If you have one descriptor saying he’s controlling, that’s a red flag.

Controlling, in terms of domestic violence, means physical; sexual; psychological; intimidation; and emotional abuse, according to the National Domestic Violence Hotline. Just like bullying, it’s insecure people who exercise power over vulnerable people and their pets.

Numerous studies find a close correlation between pet violence and domestic violence. In fact, pet abuse was identified as one of the four significant predictors for intimate partner violence in a seven-year study conducted by Dr. Jacquelyn Campbell at Johns Hopkins University.

New studies show that between 50 and 70 percent of battered women report that their pets had been threatened, harmed, or killed by their partners. And 85 percent of domestic violence shelters reported women coming to their facilities telling of pet abuse.

Real reasons to divorce a spouse, or not marry one, are the triple AAA’s: Adultery, Addiction, and Abuse. Adultery and addiction can sometimes be turned around.

However, abusiveness is the one characteristic that is unlikely to change. Studies show up to 90 percent of abusers won’t change.

Ask yourself, if your fiancé is so stressed out over your impending wedding, is there a deeper problem that needs to be addressed before you make him part of your family?

Rhonda and Dr. Cheri

Sunday, April 8, 2018

Girl Bullied for Being Poor

Dear Rhonda and Dr. Cheri,

My grandma is writing this letter for me because kids are bullying me about being poor.

I’m 7. My mommy was murdered when I was really little. I don’t remember much about it.

I had lots of fun and lots of friends. Grammy says we lived in the projects. We had a fun playground. Everyone was nice to me.

When Mommy died, I came to live with Grammy.

Kids at my new school are mean to me. They laugh at me and make fun of my clothes. The bullies tell lies about me and said my mommy was poor so she could get free food.

They made up a song about me, “Poor girl, poor girl, bless her little heart, girl” or, “Dirty girl, dirty girl, bless her dirty little heart.” Grammy says the kids say “Bless her heart” to be mean, but it should be nice. I don’t like it here.

My granddaughter is sweet, innocent, and good. My heart is broken.


Dear Grammy

It’s wonderful that after losing her mom, in a traumatic act of violence, that you’re there to console, care, and help strengthen your granddaughter.

Help her learn that poverty is not a sin and she may overcome shame, blame, humiliation, and bullying with your loving guidance.

No one deserves to experience this maltreatment, least of all, our kids. Help her to understand that poverty can be caused be external influences like disasters, diseases, crimes, abuse, addiction, violence, financial losses, imprisonment, and mental illness.

These reasons can make the poverty of our souls feel worse than the literal deficiencies we may experience as individuals, families, and communities.

Those who believe that people who are “without” must be unworthy and deserve to be humiliated and condemned need to learn and gain empathy.

Young children often repeat what they hear from adults or other children and may have learned it’s easier to try to take dignity than to give dignity.

Teach dignity through activities such as:

1) Helping her to stop verbal bullying by standing tall, having eye contact and walking away from the bullies. The exchange of verbal abuse stops when there’s no ball to banter back and forth.

2) Find a friend for your granddaughter in your neighborhood and have them start an empathy project such as writing notes of care, positive thoughts, and compliments to pass out at school.

At this time, there’s a lack of awareness on the part of your granddaughter’s comprehension of your daughter’s murder. When the reality of her mother’s violent death surfaces, therapy for PTSD may become important, as will a support system.

Rhonda and Dr. Cheri

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Wedding traditions and norms for today’s new culture

Dear Rhonda and Dr. Cheri,
Our wedding is in two months. My in-laws-to-be have made it into a monster ball, according to my mom. It’s formal. The in-laws insisted on paying for the wedding and reception, even though my mom, a widow, says she can provide.

My mom thinks formal traditions are ways for people to show-off. My mom has traditions, but they are modern.

Then my mom decided to host (and pay for) our bridal showers. Because my mom used to live here, she said she’d arrange a “couples wedding shower” and invite her artist friends (from when she lived here). I don’t know them and my mom’s not supposed to be the host. Plus, she wants guests to donate money to an animal shelter, instead of getting us gifts.

My mother-in-law said bridal showers should be done two weeks before the wedding because the last two weeks are too busy. My mom says that it’s selfish to expect people from out-of-town to either come into town too early or miss the showers.

She even arranged a work shower and is bringing a cake and decorations, when most people aren’t invited to the wedding.

Mom also organized a lingerie bridal shower for the last week and invited tons of people.

My fiancé and I both tried talking with our parents to no avail.

Sad Bride

Dear Bride,

We feel your best solution is to work backwards, starting now.

What we mean by working backwards is to start with your end result in mind … within your time-frame.

We do assume that your desired best end result is to create a loving and blessed marriage based on honorable goals, with your chosen traditions, and norms based on your chosen values.

If traditions are upheld just for traditions’ sake, then the tradition of a bridal shower would be as it was in the 1800’s, where a bride without a dowry (money and means), had her friends help her raise money to marry the man of her choice.

In today’s terms, good friends may help out their engaged friends with meaningful gifts as tokens of love and support. This tradition started with friendships separate from family.

Remedy your situation now, by having a good friend (who’s offered to help) throw you one small, special shower.

Ask yourself if you agree with and enjoy some of today’s cultural norms like extravagant ceremonies, lingerie parties, and drinking to excess with some people you hardly know.

It’ll be challenging to undo and downsize your wedding, but you might be the first couple in this era to start new and precious wedding traditions.

Rhonda and Dr. Cheri